Monday, February 04, 2013

Successful College Football Recruiting As a Clear Predictor of Future Team Success

You've got, who you've got.

Matt Hinton, Dr. Saturday at Yahoo! Sports hits the nail on the head when he writes about college football player recruitment in "Star Power: Be they ever so humble, recruiting rankings still do the job".

Compare the 2013 recruiting commits for top SEC, Pac 12 and Big Ten schools, plus Notre Dame, just using the recruits in the "Top 100" at Scout.com:

Alabama - 10
USC - 9
Michigan - 7
Ohio State -  6
Notre Dame - 6

UCLA - 5
Texas A&M - 4
LSU - 4

Florida - 3
Georgia - 3
Washington - 3
Oregon - 3
Texas - 3
Mississippi - 2
Virginia Tech - 2

Penn State - 2
Miami of Florida - 2

Oklahoma - 1
Clemson - 1
Auburn - 1
Mississippi State - 1
North Carolina - 1
Florida State - 1

Baylor - 1
Maryland - 1
Louisville - 1

Nebraska - 0

We were astonished to read that Nebraska did not draw a single recruit ranked in the Top 100 of this year's recruiting class. What gives?

Even in the days when Nebraska was the nation's leading force in college football, it never ranked better than 7th in recruiting (see Hail Varsity Magazine) -- nothing against Lincoln, mind you, I grew up there, and it is a great place for that and for football, as long as you have the nation's best head football coach, which both Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne arguably were in their prime for the Huskers, or close to that.

However, as Patrick Runge in Nebraska Football: 3 Reasons Huskers' Fans Shouldn't Sweat Recruiting Rankings has calculated, Nebraska recruiting since Osborne's retirement has plummeted to where it is now an average of 9 spots lower than was the average recruiting rank under Osborne. NINE spots means NOT IN THE TOP TEN, which the Huskers clearly no longer are.

Given Dr. Saturday's analysis, should Nebraska fans in fact sweat recruiting? The answer is, yes, they should, because their expectations of having a "Top 10" team are then simply illusions. At best, given their recruiting, they can hope for a spot in the "second ten", and in bad years they will fall out of the "Top 25".

Patrick Runge is more correct in his previous article via Bleacher Report at Nebraska Football: Changes Bo Pelini Must Make to Avoid Transfers, where the need for Nebraska to do better recruiting and take better care of the recruits they do have is examined.

It is of course true that top recruits are not everything, and many lower-ranked players have developed into All-Americans, as even walk-ons have played a great role in Nebraska football history, but there is no denying that the Cornhuskers currently are losing the recruiting wars, and they had better do some solid analysis to discover why that is the case and seek remedies, before they drop out of the elite football ranks altogether.


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