I have examined these figures using a per capita breakdown (employing a flawed methodology which Devin Kani corrected for me) and an evaluation of recruiting based upon Division I-A schools in a state. Now we will repeat the latter analysis using only B.C.S. conference teams.
Sorry, guys. Nothing personal, I promise.
As before, this approach involves taking certain liberties. The best "mid-major" squads are better than the worst B.C.S. conference teams; I'd pick Fresno State to beat Stanford on the gridiron and T.C.U. would have to be favored over Baylor.
Nevertheless, the potential distribution of in-state talent among major conference schools is suggested, however broadly, by looking at these figures in this manner. Here are the numbers of B.C.S. teams in the 10 states with the greatest representation in the National Football League:
California - 4 (Cal, Southern California, Stanford, and U.C.L.A.)
Florida - 4 (Florida, Florida State, Miami, and South Florida)
Texas - 4 (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech)
Georgia - 2 (Georgia and Georgia Tech)
Ohio - 2 (Cincinnati and Ohio State)
Louisiana - 1 (Louisiana State)
Pennsylvania - 2 (Penn State and Pitt)
Michigan - 2 (Michigan and Michigan State)
Virginia - 2 (Virginia and Virginia Tech)
- South Carolina 2 (Clemson and South Carolina)
My fellow superfluous initial aficionado and Red and Black alum, C. Trent Rosecrans, stole my thunder somewhat, but his math is correct, as these are the figures:
- Louisiana - 76.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- California - 49.8 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Georgia - 45.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Florida - 44.8 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Texas - 44.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Ohio - 39.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Pennsylvania - 29.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Michigan - 25.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- Virginia - 24.5 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
- South Carolina - 24.0 N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school
This makes matters appear a good deal more interesting . . . and not just because it confirms that even a halfway decent recruiter ought to be able to get L.S.U. to a B.C.S. bowl game at least once every couple or three years.
For instance, given the extremely similar distribution of local N.F.L. talent among the pair of in-state B.C.S. conference schools in the Great Lake State (25.0), the Old Dominion (24.5), and the Palmetto State (24.0), the cumulative overall quality of Michigan and Michigan State, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and Clemson and South Carolina ought to be approximately equal. For what it's worth, excluding games against one another, the combined 2005 records of those in-state institutions were 11-10 for the Spartans and the Wolverines, 17-6 for the Cavaliers and the Hokies, and 14-8 for the Gamecocks and the Tigers.
Of all the Division I-A head coaches in Michigan, South Carolina, and Virginia, this guy is the one who's getting the most out of his talent? That ought to make us all feel ashamed . . . especially if our last name happens to be "Vick."
Partly due to recruits being lured out of state by schools that recruit nationally---but mostly due to the success of such competing B.C.S. conference teams as the Buckeyes, the Bulldogs, and the Nittany Lions---we see less impressive results than perhaps we should from the Bearcats, the Yellow Jackets, and the Panthers.
Cincinnati, which is new to major conference competition in football, may succeed in narrowing the gap in the future, but Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh would appear to have fewer excuses. In retrospect, Nathan tried to tell me that last autumn, so perhaps I should not have admonished him as I did.
I also find intriguing the fact that the numbers of N.F.L. players per B.C.S. school are virtually identical for Georgia (45.0), Florida (44.8), and Texas (44.0). Absent above-average in-state recruiting efforts by the likes of the Bulldogs' Mark Richt and the Longhorns' Mack Brown, an even distribution of local talent among the major conference schools in the Peach, Sunshine, and Lone Star States would produce approximately equal quantities of quality personnel at Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, South Florida, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech . . . yet no one supposes that there are not vast disparities among and between those teams.
The next beast of the Big East?
In light of the similar numbers of N.F.L. draft picks to have been selected from the Seminoles (62), the Hurricanes (60), and the Gators (56) between 1996 and 2005, U.S.F.'s membership in the Big East could pay huge dividends down the road for the Bulls as they endeavor to become the fourth big-time football option available locally to Sunshine State recruits. With a few more upset wins like last year's 45-14 thrashing of Louisville, South Florida could parlay its newfound major conference status into significant recruiting success.
Finally, these figures remind us that football remains a game of emotion. The average B.C.S. school in Ohio should have a significant advantage over the average B.C.S. school in Pennsylvania in terms of access to local N.F.L.-caliber talent . . . yet, last year, Penn State beat Ohio State. An even greater average talent disparity ought to distinguish the Bulldogs from the Gamecocks . . . yet, last season, a well-coached South Carolina team very nearly upset a well-coached Georgia team on the road. A still larger differential should have benefited the Bayou Bengals when L.S.U. took on the Red and Black in the 2005 S.E.C. championship game . . . yet the 'Dawgs won in a rout. On the other hand, perhaps such unexpected "upsets" as Georgia Tech's win over Miami and the Longhorns' win over the Trojans should not have been so surprising, after all, given what the numbers suggest.
Of course, all of that may just go to show that my math is so skewed by the various variables that their illustrative value is minuscule. Nevertheless, it has been a fun exercise and the data gleaned thereby may offer the vaguest glimpse of which teams should be good, which teams should be better, and which teams may be worth watching in the future.