Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recruiting, coaching, luck - what's the ratio?

One of the greatest age old debates in college football is whether it's about the X's and O's or the Jimmys and the Joes. I came into this blogging thing leaning heavily toward the former's side of the fence. But there's no question that recruiting is the lifeblood of a good college football program.

Take this matrix (h/t Brad) over at The Wide Angle View of College Football put together by Dave. It gives average recruiting rankings back to 10 years. Here's a snapshot from the top:

When I focus in on the five year overall column, it's easy to see that Georgia is atop the middle of the SEC pack, looking up at Alabama, Florida, LSU and Auburn. Also, this quote from Dave's writeup rings especially clear:
Each class will have some kind of impact on a team for the next 5 years so don’t take them lightly.  Solid talent stratification is important in keeping performance consistent.  You will find that most programs are range bound in recruiting in that over a 5 year period, in spite of big ups or downs in single classes, recruiting is often stagnant or stuck in a range of rankings.
So, all of that together brings up some interesting off season type questions for me:

  • Is there really that much difference in the 10th ranked class and say the 7th (LSU) or even the 6th (Florida)?
  • Is it safe to say that once you sustain a top ten recruiting ranking for x number of years, it's the coaches (aka the X's and the O's) that get you to the top of the real rankings (formerly known as the BCS rankings)?
  • Then again, how much does luck come into play?
Sure, that last question bears at least a little more weight after Auburn's run this past particular after two miracle plays help shape their season. But it truly is a mix of recruiting, coaching and just some old fashioned luck. I'm not sure what the exact ratio would be, but I'd put recruiting with a heavy majority.