In a recent article at the Georgetown Voice, coach Rob Sgarlata offered a candid comment about Georgetown's need to recruit nationally.
"Can we beat a lot of the scholarships in the Northeast at times for those who would pay $60,000 to go here versus nothing to go to Lehigh, Colgate, and Lafayette? No," he said. "That's why we're in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Washington, and Louisiana. I need to get 16 to 20 kids next year. If I can't do that with nine coaches recruiting nationally with Georgetown's brand and find kids of the same caliber that everybody else is getting in the Northeast, then we have a problem."
Texas and Georgia are two states where Sgarlata's recruiting efforts have proven successful. For Texas, which represents eight percent of the national population but a meager three percent on the Hilltop, is more fairly represented on the football team, with seven members out of 86. Same too for Georgia, which usually draws 3 to 5 players on any given Hoya roster.
The nation's largest state, California, is underrepresented by comparison. The answer to a great Georgetown trivia question (What state produces more applicants to Georgetown than any other state, and no, it's not New York or New Jersey), the Hoyas have only four players from the Golden State on the 2015 roster, from leading high schools such as Corona Del Mar, Harvard-Westlake and Loyola.
It's not that Sgarlata can't sell Georgetown's brand there, but that Georgetown can't get the visibility on the West Coast. California has some of the best high school teams in the nation but Georgetown is out of sight, out of mind...or in some cases, not looking deep enough. The son of a family friend was the starting center on last year's top rated California high school team and wanted to play at Georgetown. The staff never contacted the high school coach.
What Georgetown misses, others are picking up. An article in the always informative Big Green Alert blog notes the penetration of California high school alumni on Ivy League rosters this season:
And Georgetown? The blog notes that "All of that got me scrambling over to the only truly national school on Dartmouth's schedule this fall, Georgetown. There are 14 Hoyas from Florida and 10 from New Jersey but just four from California. There are seven from Texas."
Recruiting takes time and money, to build the contacts at schools and even junior colleges where bright and talented athletes want an opportunity to play at a national school. It won't happen overnight, and it doesn't help when there is so little visibility of Georgetown football in these communities. Maybe some high school junior is going to get up at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning to watch the PL network game of the week, but it's no given. Maybe there's a first generation kid in Modesto or Mendocino that's heard good things about Georgetown, but he might feel like the school isn't looking for him. More likely, there's a talented linebacker or receiver that simply gets more attention from Penn or Harvard and it's an easier sell.
A number of teams have sucessfully made scheduling trips to California. Men's basketball has played 16 games in Califiornia since 1972, though only once in Northern California. But football has played west of the Mississippi River just once since 1950, a 2001 game at San Diego. It was well played, well attended, and a thrilling finish. From HoyaSaxa.com:
"The defense never gave up. The Hoyas held USD to a 3rd and 4 with 2:12 left, and held Rasmussen short of the down marker. On the punt, sophomore Kyle Shenton deflected the punt and Georgetown caught yet another break at the San Diego 45 with 1:59 to play. With 1:16 to play Kurt Bennett drove to the 26. [Drew] Peterson missed an open Bennett in the end zone two plays later. On 3rd and 3 from the 19, RB Dawon Dicks drove to the 16 and picked up the first down with :39 to play.
Georgetown's last timeout was used with 23 seconds after a pass to Bennett at the 10. A pass to [Luke] McArdle went to the three with 16 seconds to play. With 12 seconds to play, Peterson found Trenton Hillier in the corner of the end zone with 6 seconds to play, 24-21. San Diego's last chance was a hook-and-ladder play, which drove forty yards to the Georgetown 35 before being stopped."Today's high school seniors were all of two years old when that game was played.
Yes, travel to California for coaches cost money, lots of it. But submitted for approval: on September 30, 2017, the Hoyas host Harvard at woebegone Multi-Sport Field. They'll get 2,500, 3.000 and hope for good weather. But wait...think big.
Move the game west, specifically to San Francisco's historic Kezar Stadium, downsized from its NFL heyday but centrally located and able to seat 10,000. Get the local alumni and media to promote (and subsidize) these two schools coming to Golden Gate Park, with Harvard's first visit to the Bay Area since it played Stanford in 1949.
More than a game, it's a recruiting trip for the coaches, a travel experience for the players, an opportunity for engagement with the alumni, and the kind of media attention you'll never see around the fringe of the MSF.
Let's not forget why Notre Dame plays games at Stanford or why Army is playing a game in San Antonio next year: a national school needs national recruiting. What better way to send a statement for California recruits than to play a game there?
OK, we now return you to Georgetown Football, 2015. "Loretto, Pennsylvania, here we come..."