Every Signing Day the story is the same. College football coaches all over America talk about how they've reached their objective of recruiting a class which will "allow them to compete for championships."
But have they? SB Nation's Bud Elliott, Pete Volk, and Chris Fuhrmeister set out recently to answer that question. They noticed an interesting statistic:
Every BCS champion since recruiting rankings could be accurately tracked (2005, or four classes after Scout joined Rivals in rating players) has met a benchmark: it's recruited more blue-chips (four- and five-star players) than lesser-rated players over its four previous signing classes.
Obviously there are other factors which go into winning a college football national championship. But recruiting rankings as they are now constituted are pretty darned accurate, and play a major part in the winning equation. With Youtube and Hudl now ubiquitous, video of truly jaw-dropping recruits will almost always be discovered. The major recruiting services now employ former college and high school coaches to assist in identifying and evaluating recruits, guys who actually know what they should be looking for, and maintain a network of contacts in the coaching ranks to put them onto the next big thing. And if that weren't enough a circuit of spring and summer camps, clinics, and combines give recruits the chance to bring Muhammad to the metaphorical mountain if the mountain won't come to Muhammad.
The days of finding a Thomas Davis jumping out of a gym in southwest Georgia with little fanfare are over. Sure, there are those two star recruits who develop into NFL first rounders. But the scrappy, overlooked exception doesn't disprove the well-groomed rule: all other things being equal, blue chippers win football games.
The guys identified 11 schools that have bested the magical ratio of blue chippers to average recruits, pulling in classes 50%+ composed of four and five star recruits. The good news: Georgia is one of them. The bad news, with a 51% blue chipper rate, we're the eleventh of eleven squads meeting that criteria. Alabama leads the pack with a whopping 73% of recruits classified as blue chippers.
I won't give you all the numbers, and I encourage you to take a look at the article to see some of the schools who surprisingly haven't recruited as well as some may have thought. But for now, I think this article confirms what a lot of us had come to suspect: there are only a handful of schools with the talent on hand to compete for championships in any given year. But having that talent is necessary, not in and of itself sufficient, to win it all.
Until later . . .