Ralph D. Russo from Associated Press Sports recently wrote an article that examined the correlation between recruiting rankings and success on the field. The study conducted here spans three seasons from 2004-2006 for recruiting and from 2006-2008 for on the field success (when the recruits of 2004-06 had a major impact.)
Four of the top recruiting services - Rivals.com, Scout.com, Max Emfinger, and Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports - were all factored here. With 10 points for a No. 1 recruiting class down to 1 point for a No. 10 recruiting class, each school's three-year recruiting performance was tallied. (For example, USC was rated No. 1 by all four services in 2004, so it received 40 points for that season.)
1. USC - 103 points
2. Florida State - 66
3. LSU - 55
4. Oklahoma - 53
5. Michigan - 52
tie Florida - 52
7. Tennessee - 38
8. Georgia - 37
9(t). Texas - 31, Miami - 31Now, using the final rankings in the AP poll for each of the last three seasons (2006-08) and a 25-point scale, 25 points for a No. 1 ranking and 1 point for a No. 25 ranking, here are the top teams on the field over the last three seasons.
Results on the Field
1. USC - 68 points
2. Florida - 63
3. Ohio State - 62
4. Oklahoma - 54
5. Texas - 50 1/2
6. LSU - 48
7. Georgia - 40
8. West Virginia - 39
9. Boise State - 36
10. Virginia Tech - 35
Some notes worth mentioning from the author:
'- Michigan was 13th in the AP rankings from 2006-08, finishing eighth in 2006 and 18th in '07 before going unranked last season.
-Ohio State had 19 points in the recruiting rankings, finishing in the cumulative top-10 in 2004 and '06, but out of the top 10 in '05.
- Florida State finished 2006 and '07 unranked in the AP poll and was No. 21, good for five points, in last season's final rankings.
- Miami has not been ranked in the final AP poll since 2005.'
Not counting Ohio State (who has finished #13 or higher in recruiting rankings every year since 2003), only three teams (#8 West Virginia, #9 Boise State, and #10 Virginia Tech) were able to finish in the top 10 for on the field success without a top tier recruiting class. And it's not too hard to figure out how these teams finished in the top 10 with sub-par recruiting classes when compared to the rest of the top 10 - very mediocre competition from very mediocre conferences.
It is interesting to note that since 1998, every school that has won a national championship is in that Top 10 recruiting list above with the exception of Ohio State, whose case I explained above.
It's going to be difficult to get back into that elusive Top 10 recruiting list. Clearly, the combination of recent success and program prestige play the most important roles. It's also evident that with recruiting success comes extremely high expectations, just ask Phil Fulmer, Larry Coker, and Lloyd Carr. To be the best, you need to recruit the best.