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Jan
18
2015

What were the recruiting rankings of this year’s Final top 25 football teams and what did we learn from them?

fsugator

Recruiting is the foundation for building the best teams in college athletics. Anyone that says otherwise either doesn’t really follow college sports or supports a school that recruits poorly.

That’s the conventional thought. How true is it? I decided to take the final top 25 teams from this year Coaches Poll,  and pull their Scout and Rivals recruiting ranking from the last 5 years, as those are the classes that would make up this year’s teams.

Let’s take a look at the rankings first from Scout.

Final 2014 Ranking Team Avg Recruiting Ranking Scout 14 Scout 13 Scout 12 Scout 11 Scout 10
1 Ohio State 7.0 5 1 3 6 20
2 Oregon 15.6 20 17 15 13 13
3 TCU 42.2 38 43 38 28 64
4 Alabama 3.6 1 4 2 7 4
5 Michigan State 33.0 23 47 37 27 31
6 Florida State 7.8 3 16 11 1 8
7 Georgia Tech 53.2 47 72 59 46 42
8 Baylor 36.8 25 26 30 52 51
9 Georgia 11.8 12 8 14 4 21
10 UCLA 21.0 20 3 12 56 14
11 Missouri 35.0 32 35 34 47 27
12 Miss. State 32.4 39 20 18 45 40
13 Wisconsin 41.0 29 37 69 38 32
14 Arizona State 36.0 17 30 43 64 26
15 Clemson 18.4 28 12 17 12 23
16 Boise State 50.4 66 42 56 65 23
17 Arizona 43.2 30 27 46 70 43
18 Kansas State 75.4 54 68 95 61 99
19 Mississippi 24.2 18 10 58 20 15
20 Utah 45.6 69 53 33 39 34
21 USC 11.8 10 18 20 5 6
22 Marshall 68.2 65 71 88 43 74
23 Auburn 7.2 8 13 8 2 5
24 Louisville 42.6 43 50 42 33 45
25 Memphis 82.8 82 102 84 71 75

Here are the Rivals rankings.

Final 2014 Ranking Team Avg Recruiting Ranking Rivals 14 Rivals 13 Rivals 12 Rivals 11 Rivals 10
1 Ohio State 9.0 3 2 4 11 25
2 Oregon 17.2 26 22 16 9 13
3 TCU 37.8 50 30 37 26 46
4 Alabama 1.8 1 1 1 1 5
5 Michigan State 32.8 22 40 41 31 30
6 Florida State 6.4 4 10 6 2 10
7 Georgia Tech 54.6 47 85 57 41 43
8 Baylor 39.2 35 31 45 46 39
9 Georgia 10.2 7 12 12 5 15
10 UCLA 18.4 18 8 13 45 8
11 Missouri 35.0 34 41 31 48 21
12 Miss. State 35.0 37 26 30 44 38
13 Wisconsin 55.0 33 57 57 40 88
14 Arizona State 37.2 21 34 38 58 35
15 Clemson 13.6 13 14 14 8 19
16 Boise State 63.2 65 62 54 53 82
17 Arizona 40.8 28 37 46 56 37
18 Kansas State 60.8 47 66 59 69 63
19 Mississippi 20.6 19 7 40 19 18
20 Utah 41.6 67 44 28 37 32
21 USC 7.2 10 13 8 4 1
22 Marshall 63.0 63 58 68 55 71
23 Auburn 7.6 9 8 10 7 4
24 Louisville 42.2 40 52 42 29 48
25 Memphis 74.8 89 90 72 66 57

Now finally the we rank the teams by average recruiting class.

Final 2014 Ranking Team Avg Recruiting Ranking
4 Alabama 2.7
6 Florida State 7.1
23 Auburn 7.4
1 Ohio State 8
21 USC 9.5
9 Georgia 11
15 Clemson 16
2 Oregon 16.4
10 UCLA 19.7
19 Mississippi 22.4
5 Michigan State 32.9
12 Miss. State 33.7
11 Missouri 35
14 Arizona State 36.6
8 Baylor 38
3 TCU 40
17 Arizona 42
24 Louisville 42.5
20 Utah 43.6
13 Wisconsin 48
7 Georgia Tech 53.9
16 Boise State 56.8
22 Marshall 65.6
18 Kansas State 68.1
25 Memphis 78.8

What do we make of this data?

We broke the recruiting rankings down into 5 groups of 5 based on their rankings.

Average Recruiting Ranking of Teams 1-5 Average Recruiting Ranking of Teams 6-10 Average Recruiting Ranking of Teams 11-15 Average Recruiting Ranking of Teams 16-20 Average Recruiting Ranking of Teams 21-25
20 25.9 33.9 46.6 40.1

The playoff teams tended to recruit the best.

If you expect to compete for a national title, you better recruit at an extremely high level. TCU is a possible exception to this rule. They finished 3rd in the final poll, but were only 17th in recruiting among top 25 teams. 3 of the top 6 teams (Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State) also had 3 of the top 4 average recruiting classes. Those three schools were your 3 last National Champions. These were also 3 of your 4 playoff teams. Oregon your 4th playoff team, had the 8th best recruiting average among top 25 teams. 

Top 10 teams average averaged a recruiting ranking of 22.95, while teams 11-25 averaged 40.2

The surprising thing here is not that as we already knew the top 10 teams tend to recruit far better than the 11-25 teams, it’s the outlier Georgia Tech compared to the rest of the top 10. The Yellow Jackets over 5 years with a total of 10 different recruiting ranking results didn’t produce one single top 40 recruiting class. Even more shocking is that among the top 10, they were the only school that didn’t have at least 2 top 30 recruiting results.

Frankly Georgia Tech had no business being a top 10 team if you go by recruiting rankings. This is a testament to Paul Johnson’s unique triple option offense as an equalizer in talent discrepancies, or maybe Johnson just did an excellent job recognizing under the radar ability. Either way, Georgia Tech threw a wrench in conventional thinking.

Power 5 conference top 25 teams better at least average top 45 classes.

The Power 5 had 22 schools in the final top 25. 20 of those schools had average classes ranked in the top 50. Georgia Tech – that we’ve already mentioned, and Kansas State whose average recruiting class was 68 are the exception. We knew Bill Snyder was a coaching genius, and we just have more proof of that.  15 of theses 22 Power 5 schools averaged recruiting classes higher than 40. 

Recruiting rankings can be overcome in individual games.

It’s evident that the better you recruit the better your results. In individual games this can be overcome. Let’s look at the Big 6 games and playoff games. 

Ohio State vs Oregon, Alabama vs Ohio State, Florida State vs Oregon, Arizona vs Boise State, Mississippi State vs Georgia Tech, Mississippi vs TCU, Michigan State vs Baylor

The lower ranked recruiting team went 5-2 against the higher ranked recruiting team.

Did we learn anything we didn’t already know? 

The answer is no. With National Signing Day just around the corner, we just more proof recruiting is life blood to future college football success. They don’t guarantee wins… There are simply too many other factors involved, but I’ll take my chances with a top ranked class over your team lesser recruits over the course of a season. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, and this season TCU nearly made the playoffs with an average recruiting class of 40. Georgia Tech was a top 10 team with an average class of nearly 54, and Kansas State was a top 20 team with their average class at 68.

It’s no coincidence that the head coaches (Gary Patterson, Paul Johnson, and Bill Snyder) of those schools all having career winning percentages of over 60%.

Boise State, Marshall, and Memphis get high marks for finishing in the top 25, but they did not compete at the Power 5 conference level so they are more difficult assess. Boise State did beat Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, and we did note that.


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