With it being National Signing Day, and to many college football fans out there, the first milestone on the wait for college football to begin I decided to do a little research on how much recruiting success translates onto the field.
Now I will tell you from the start my method isn't really all that scientific or anything like that just observations from a fan. Opinions of course will be welcome by all, good or bad, but if you have something bad to say back it up with something of substance.
Anyway what I am doing here is taking the past few national champions and comparing the previous four classes for each school from each of the 3 major services. The reason? Well I want to see which service is most accurate because Scout and Rivals seem to vary wildly when it comes to certain teams. So with out further ado:
As a side note ESPN didn't begin their coverage of the recruiting until 2006 so for all classes before that year only Scout and Rivals will be used.
2010-11 - Auburn Tigers
Rivals Scout ESPN Avg.
2010 4 6 4 4.66
2009 19 16 25 20
2008 20 18 19 19
2007 7 6 7 6.66 Overall Average - 12.58
So Auburn had a team of players where the senior leadership came from an outstanding class, as well as, the most recent class of freshman. Sandwiched between the oldest and newest class Auburn still sat with Top 25 classes, but just the mid to lower portion of the top 25.
2009-2010 Alabama Crimson Tide
2009 1 2 2 1.67
2008 1 1 3 1.67
2007 10 22 17 16.3
2006 11 18 18 15.67 Overall Average - 8.83
The scary part is Alabama's last two classes are just as good as the most recent two before their title winning effort and that team was led by a lot of kids who were not seniors. As long as they keep recruiting like they have been since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa and Chizik keeps the recruiting like he has in his first two years there are going to be some wars in the Iron Bowl. As an Auburn fan I look forward to it.
2008-2009 Florida Gators
2008 3 12 4 6.33
2007 1 1 2 1.33
2006 2 2 1 1.67
2005 15 11 13 Overall Average - 4.91
This group of Juniors and Seniors won their 2nd title in three years. This team was led by a slew of underclassmen and didn't have a ton of senior leadership which would seem to indicate the kids saw the field early and never looked back.
2007-2008 LSU Tigers
2007 4 5 6 5
2006 7 7 8 7.33
2005 22 19 20.5
2004 2 2 2 Overall Average - 8.2
One of these years are not like the others, which is deceiving. It wasn't that LSU didn't recruit as well as always. LSU just had 13 players sign that year. It was just a small class not a bad class.
So we see where the last 4 champs have finished each year with each recruiting service leading up to their championship. Now I know there will be a handful of players who are 5th or even 6th year seniors, but the bulk of most teams are going to be comprised of the previous four recruiting classes on average.
Now I am going to look at how the teams finished the seasons in the polls to see how well how good they recruit translates to how they finish.
2007 #1 Average finish - 6.25 Average Recruiting Score - 8.2
So LSU is coaching them up right on pace with how they are recruiting over the four years sampled by their finishing average being slightly better than their recruiting average nice job by the Mad Hatter and his staff.
2008 #1 Average finish - 8.5 Average Recruiting Score - 4.94
Despite finishing with two National Titles Florida has been a team that either has an amazing season or an above average season. Following top ranked seasons with outside the top 15 seasons. Despite posting among the best classes in the coutry during that span so it would appear that they don't have the end results on average in comparison with the classes they bring in, but I'm sure you won't hear Gator fans complaining about winning 2 titles in the past five years.
2009 #1 Average finish - 3.5 Average Recruiting Score - 8.83
Alabama's average finish is higher than it should be because two of the four seasons they finished the season unranked and I really didn't feel like coming up with a formula to take that into consideration. However only one of those unranked finishes is under the current coaching staff. Since Nick Saban has been there the Tide has reloaded their team and not had to rebuild it. Bad news for Tide fans is St. Nick has been there 4 years now so the clock is ticking on his departure.
2010 #1 Average finish - 7.5 Average Recruiting Score - 12.58
Again with two unranked years one under the old staff and one under the new guys Auburns average finish is higher than it really should be. There has been a significant rise in the recruiting under Gene Chizik and his staff. So there could be more high ranked finishes with this team if today's haul of recruits says anything. 3 of the past 4 champions finished in the top 5 today in one recruiting service or another so. It looks like the teams that recruit the best are the ones that are finishing the best. There are 3 notable exceptions to this rule though. TCU, Boise St, and Utah have managed to have very high and undefeated seasons inspite of not having the super recruits on campus.