When asked about their success, the famous phrase spoken by humble coaches in any sport is “I have great players.”
A detailed analysis of college football recruiting over the last five years indicates this statement has never been truer than in college football.
The analysis, produced by a writer for SB Nation who calls himself “The Kraken”, also shows – despite a mass exodus of talent to the NFL- FSU will still be a contender for a national title this year.
The writer took Rivals and Scout’s Team Rankings of recruiting classes for the past 5 years (2011-2015) and combined them together to get an average ranking between the two services.
Then he weighted those averages like this: First Year players (FR) comprised 10.04% of the two deep, Second Year players (FR*, SO) 22.18%, Third Year players (SO*, JR) 22.59%, Fourth Year players (JR*, SR) 26.78%, and 5th year players (SR*, GR) were 18.41% of the two deep. The assumption here is a highly recruited Junior and Senior class will have more impact on the field than the same highly recruited Freshman class.
Using this information, a composite ranking was calculated. The inferences were powerful.
For example, over the last nine years the team that won the National Championship was ranked #2, #6, #1, #1, #10, #6, #2, #5, and #6 before the season started using this composite formula. This means no program ranked outside the top ten of this analysis won the national championship.
The writer says, what most fans know and explains the interest in recruiting and recruiting rankings, “[r]ecruiting matters and recruiting rankings matter.”
So what does this years composite ranking say about the upcoming season.
The rankings, shown in the table above, supports a lot of what a knowledgeable football fan already knows-there are elite teams that recruit well year after year.
However, a point worth restating is just because a program loses big name players, recruiting at a elite university can make players household names in no time.
And this is where FSU comes in.
The ranking shows the top four programs to be Alabama, Ohio St., FSU, and Auburn. These rankings, based on 5 years of recruiting, takes into account the talent that left last year for the NFL, and clearly indicates FSU has the talent to be a contender this year.
How about FSU’s opponents this year?
Here is a surprise. The University Florida is ranked #10 and the highest ranked opponent that FSU will face. Next is Clemson at #13 and Miami at #19.
This means these three schools will field the best talent against FSU. Obviously, this does not factor in coaching and other intangibles such as match-ups and schemes.
Also, this year FSU will face no opponent who has recruited more talent over the last five years.
What about preseason rankings and the recruiting analysis ranking?
The second column in the table gives the pre-season rankings of the teams. A total of nine teams have recruited well, based on the recruiting rankings, and do not show up in the preseason rankings. These include Texas, Florida, Michigan and Miami.
More interesting are the three teams with high preseason (PS) rankings that did not make the top 25 in the recruiting rank. They are TCU (PS-2), Baylor (PS-4) & Michigan St. (PS-5).
We will revisit this chart at midseason and compare recruiting rankings to results from the field.