It seemed crazy at the time that the Arizona Wildcats coaching staff would have preferred to play in a bowl game not even associated with the Pac-12. Fresh off a thrilling New Mexico Bowl appearance, why wouldn't Albuquerque want the Cats back? And why wouldn't RichRod and co. want to play just one state over?
Well, that little trip to Louisiana may have paid off in a big way this week with recruiting.
Over the last three weeks or so, Arizona has picked up three, THREE, commitments in the 2015 class from the state of Louisiana. First, it was running back Orlando Bradford (Shreveport). Then this week has seen back-to-back commitments from DB Antonio Parks (Reserve, LA) and ILB Kendrick Jackson (Haynesville).
To put into perspective just how crazy it is that there are three players in the same class from Louisiana coming to Tucson, I looked back at some of the recent Arizona rosters.
2012: McKnight also had Jarrell Bennett, a redshirt freshman receiver.
2011: McKnight also had Cortez Johnson, a freshman corner.
2009: The online roster's disappeared
2008: None. Zero players from the Bayou.
This year, Patrick Glover joins McKnight, even though Glover technically went to Mountain View HS and Scottsdale CC.
So, is it all the bowl game trip? Probably not. Reserve, LA is not close to Shreveport, but Haynesville is about an hour away.
It probably has a little bit more to do with associate head coach Calvin Magee, who hails from New Orleans, and went to college at Southern, which is in Baton Rouge. Magee has been the lead recruiter on these three commits.
But the bowl game certainly plays a role. Obviously, Arizona hasn't been hard on Louisiana, landing just three total recruits out of high school there since 2010. Now, three in three weeks. There's new ground for the coaching staff to take advantage of after that bowl victory over Boston College. Recruiting Arizona and California is all well and good, but how often are the Wildcats going to land the best talent when going against the likes of USC, UCLA, Oregon and others on a regular basis?
Now, there's a fresh pool of talent, one that can be sold on blazing a new trail from the Bayou to the desert. And now, that trail has three players leading that change.
Maybe playing that weird bowl game in a weird place at a weird time against a team we'd never dream of playing will have a long-term positive impact afterall.