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17 Aug 2007

Which Football Factory Comes First?

Guest column by Dan Davis

With the recent advent and advancement of recruiting websites, a new level of competition has been introduced to college football fans. While debates concerning the top schools have raged for decades, fans now have the ability to more accurately measure which college football programs perennially produce the most talent. Which Florida school is really the best: Miami, Florida State or Florida? Which is the better Big Ten school: Ohio State or Michigan?

I have composed a list of the ten most successful collegiate programs since the year 2000 (the 2000 NFL draft, after the 1999 NCAA season) when it comes to generating NFL talent. To measure this, I have developed my own point system. Schools can earn points in five categories.

1) Each school earns points for each player drafted. The number of points is based on the round the player was drafted in:
1st round: 3.5 points
2nd round: 3.0 points
3rd round: 2.5 points
4th round: 2.0 points
5th round: 1.5 points
6th round: 1.0 point
7th round: 0.5 points

2) Schools get 10 points for each NFL starter.

3) Schools get 15 points for producing a player who has made it to the Pro Bowl. They get a 5-point bonus for any player with three or more Pro Bowls.

4) Schools get 5 points for each NFL player with a career of 5 or more seasons.

5) Finally, schools get 1 point for each player on an NFL roster.

Obviously, this is not to simply gauge which school has the most players in the NFL (Miami, 61), or which school has the most first round draft picks (also Miami, 25). That would simplify the manner too much. This study is interested in which schools turn out both the most and the best talent. While my system slightly favors performance over mere presence, it does not seem fair to simply credit a university for having the most players when many of those players may be solely backups or minimal contributors.

A few notes about the point system:

1) This is by no means scientific. The system certainly has its fair share of holes. For example, Texas only gets 29.5 points for Vince Young. Young's rating is slightly discredited since he is only a rookie. In four years he could be worth 41.5 points, the maximum value. Furthermore, teams get no credit for projected starters from draft picks. So essentially, while Laron Landry and Brady Quinn will most likely be starters for their respective teams, they were only worth 4.5 points each. This makes a difference for teams like LSU with four first round draft picks who could potentially start, because that would be an extra 40 points, enough to move them ahead of Florida (even with Jarvis Moss and Reggie Nelson starting).

2) I've given schools credit for every player in the league who has been a starter or Pro Bowl player at any point in his career, even if they are no longer at that level. While this may somewhat skew the rankings, it's not a large enough point difference to move one school ahead of another. Also, I counted as a starter any player who started more than 8 games or so in a given year. However, players who are penciled in as starters do not receive starter points. For example, Broderick Bunkley from Florida State will be a starter this year, but played minimally last year. He does not count as a starter.

3) Schools are not awarded points for producing undrafted free agents. If that player turned out well, the school still earned points for his performance, by not his draft status.

After all the number crunching, these are the rankings I've arrived at:

1) Miami

And it's not even close. Was there really any question about this? I think most ardent followers of college and NFL football are well aware that Miami has been a veritable NFL talent factory since 2000. And it's not just quantity (though they have produced the most players); their quality is stellar. Since just 2000, Miami has produced Pro Bowl players Ed Reed, Jeremy Shockey, Sean Taylor, Frank Gore, Clinton Portis and Andre Johnson. All told, they have an outstanding 28 starters, and 16 Pro Bowl players.
Draft pick points: 148.5
Starter points: 280
Pro Bowl players: 16 for 235 points
Experience points: 110
Player points: 61
Total: 834.5

2) Florida State

This is perhaps the most shocking team on the list. I knew they'd be mentioned, but I never expected them to be this high. The Seminoles have produced some of the best at a couple positions: the NFL's best left tackle, Walter Jones, and the best weakside linebacker, Derrick Brooks. Combine that with names like Javon Walker, Warrick Dunn, Samari Rolle, Anquan Boldin and rising stars Ernie Sims, Kamerion Wimbley, Alex Barron and Michael Boulware and the 'Noles can't be ashamed of their production.
Draft pick points: 122.5
Starter points: 220
Pro Bowl players: 10 for 160 points
Experience points: 95
Player points: 49
Total: 646.5

3) Ohio State

Ohio State falls just behind Miami in sheer number of pros produced with 60. While the USC-Texas 2005 encounter consistently gets the billing as the most star-studded National Championship game ever, it's my sneaking suspicion that Ohio State and Miami's 2003 showdown may have actually been better. Coincidentally, those were the two best National Championship games this decade. It's hard to argue with the top flight guys Ohio State has churned out: Nate Clements, Orlando Pace, Shawn Springs and Terry Glenn are all Pro Bowl performers. (LeCharles Bentley deserves a mention, because he was well on his way to being one of the best in the game before suffering a career-threatening injury). But Ohio State's real testament is their emerging talent. Guys like Will Smith, A.J. Hawk, Nick Mangold, Chris Gamble and Mike Nugent are well on their way to superstardom and perennial Pro Bowls.
Draft pick points: 127.5
Starter points: 250
Pro Bowl players: 7 for 110 points
Experience points: 95
Player points: 60
Total: 642.5

4) Georgia

I would bet my bottom dollar that everyone reading this (besides Bulldogs fans) is shocked by this one. Other fanbases recognize Georgia as a perennial college football power, but I suspect most didn't think they would fall this high. But they've earned the ranking. Since 2000, Georgia has basically fielded an NFL defensive line every year. Check out their list of defensive linemen: Richard Seymour, Marcus Stroud, Robert Geathers, Phillip Daniels and Charles Grant. David Pollack gets an honorable mention, because he seemed well on his way to stardom before his tragic injury. Oh yeah, and there's that cornerback in Denver you might have heard of Champ Something. Georgia (like everyone else) lacks the Pro Bowl power of Miami, but they have produced an outstanding 26 NFL starters. The only measurement which places them behind Ohio State is the sheer number of players produced.
Draft pick points: 95.5
Starter points: 260
Pro Bowl players: 6 for 115 points
Experience points: 115
Player points: 55
Total: 640.5

5) Michigan

Michigan has long been one of the top producers of NFL talent. It's little surprise that they crack the top five. Although long regarded as one of the top quarterback manufacturers in college football, they currently have only one starter in the NFL at that position. Luckily for them, he's widely considered either 1a or 1b (depending on what you think of Peyton Manning) by every imaginable source. Tom Brady headlines an exceptional lot produced by Michigan. Charles Woodson and Ty Law have at times been considered two of the very best cornerbacks in the league. But their offensive linemen are remarkable: Jon Jansen, Jon Runyan, Jeff Backus, Maurice Williams and, of course, Steve Hutchinson. Toss in a handful of more-than-solid contributors -- Cato June, Amani Toomer, Shantee Orr, Braylon Edwards, James Hall and Ian Gold -- and it's easy to see why they are ranked so high.
Draft pick points: 80.5
Starter points: 220
Pro Bowl players: 7 for 125 points
Experience points: 130
Player points: 58
Total: 613.5

6) Tennessee

There's a reason Phil Fulmer is considered one of the best coaches in the business. Just take a quick glance over the talent lineup in the NFL, and it's easy to recognize why. Tennessee has produced a smattering of talent covering all areas of the football field. They've produced a handful of solid wide receivers (Donte Stallworth, Peerless Price and Cedrick Wilson, and this group will soon include Robert Meachem); more than a couple of great defensive linemen (Albert Haynesworth, Leonard Little, Shaun Ellis and John Henderson); two very good running backs (Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry); a Pro Bowl tight end (Jason Witten); and, of course, the crown jewel for the Volunteers, Peyton Manning.
Draft pick points: 105.5
Starter points: 210
Pro Bowl players: 6 for 95 points
Experience points: 100
Player points: 52
Total: 562.5

7) Florida

Florida might be best known for the fact that despite all the high-flying offenses Steve Spurrier produced, their NFL talent at the quarterback and wideout positions never panned out at the next level. But it's impossible to ignore the girth of talent they've produced on the other side of the ball. Jevon Kearse (who, when healthy, is one of the best in the game) headlines the list, which also fields Lito Sheppard, Ian Scott, Mike Peterson, Channing Crowder, Kevin Carter, Alex Brown and Gerard Warren. This is not to say they haven't produced any offensive talent; Max Starks more than capable at offensive tackle and Darrell Jackson is a highly regarded wide receiver. You also can't neglect Fred Taylor, who quietly racks up thousand-yard seasons as he goes.
Draft pick points: 91.5
Starter points: 180
Pro Bowl players: 3 for 50 points
Experience points: 110
Player points: 55
Total: 486.5

8) Louisiana State

Though a major talent void struck Baton Rouge throughout the ‘90s and the major instate talent fled to other schools (Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor to name a couple), LSU has rebounded nicely and once again rebuilt an extremely strong talent base, thanks in part to former coaches Gerry DiNardo and Nick Saban. LSU alums lack the high profile superstardom of most other schools on the list, with the most recognizable names being Anthony "Booger" McFarland, Kevin Mawae, Alan Faneca and Joseph Addai. But they have produced a great number of quality NFL players. Marcus Spears, Andrew Whitworth, Michael Clayton, Corey Webster, Bradie James, Devery Henderson, Eddie Kennison, Kevin Faulk, and Robert Royal are all more than capable NFL players. But the real strength of LSU lies in the future. With four 1st round draft picks this year (including two in the top 10 and No. 1 overall) and a good chance at two more next year, LSU could easily shoot up these rankings in a few seasons.
Draft pick points: 68.5
Starter points: 190
Pro Bowl players: 4 for 70 points
Experience points: 90
Player points: 53
Total: 471.5

9) Texas

Perhaps the most impressive achievement for Texas is that they made the top despite producing 13 fewer players than the next lowest school (Florida State). Texas has produced top flight NFL talent for ages. Mack Brown certainly didn't introduce the concept to Austin, though he may have perfected it. Texas has produced a montage of NFL players ranging from defensive linemen (Shaun Rogers, Cory Redding, Marcus Tubbs and Casey Hampton) to running backs (Ricky Williams, Priest Holmes, Cedric Benson) to defensive backs (Quentin Jammer, Michael Huff), not to mention wide receiver Roy Williams and linebacker Derrick Johnson. Then, of course, we have the poster boy for Longhorn football: Vince Young. As far as these ratings go, Texas achieves more with less than anyone on the list.
Draft pick points: 79
Starter points: 160
Pro Bowl players: 6 for 100 points
Experience points: 60
Player points: 36
Total: 435

10) Nebraska

Nebraska has been a collegiate powerhouse throughout history, making a bowl game every year since 1969. Eons of talent have traveled through Lincoln on their way to successful NFL careers. Though Nebraska now is not as dominant as they were in the ‘90s, they still produce a very good crop of NFL talent on a yearly basis. Headlining the solid list is running back Ahman Green, who's on the downside of his career, but had four or five brilliant years in the early 2000s. Other contributing Nebraska alums are Richie Incognito, Cory Schlesinger, Scott Shanle, Correll Buckhalter, Josh Bullocks, Demorrio Williams, Kyle Larson, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Mike, Josh and Kris Brown. Though none of the players stand out as perennial bests at their respective positions, each is a more than capable pro. They've been highly effective throughout their careers.
Draft pick points: 68
Starter points: 170
Pro Bowl players: 3 for 50 points
Experience points: 80
Player points: 42
Total: 410

Best of the Rest:

11) Auburn: 401
12) Cal: 387.5
13) USC: 377
14) Notre Dame: 358
15) Penn State: 339

I was a bit surprised to see USC this low, and even more surprised to see Cal ahead of them. However, USC should skyrocket up the list, because the aggregated talent in Los Angeles seemingly grows by the second, with new superstars on the rise seemingly daily. Pete Carroll's recruiting will no doubt launch USC not only into the top 10, but near the top of the list.

I was also shocked to see Oklahoma not make the top 15. To me, that ultimately makes what Bob Stoops does all the more impressive, particularly beating Florida State in the National Championship game with only one real superstar: safety Roy Williams. Oklahoma's recruiting classes have been substantially improved lately; it should be scary to see what Stoops can do with that.

The Southeastern Conference absolutely dominates the list. All told, the SEC teams in the top 10 produced 215 NFL players. Those four teams alone have produced enough talent to field four entire 53-man NFL rosters. They also produced 84 starters, nearly enough to field four teams with starting caliber talent at every position. They produced double the amount of players of any other conference on the list. And Auburn was barely on the outside looking in, just nine points from the ten spot.

Looking at recruiting classes and draft classes of the past couple years, LSU and USC have the most potential to shoot up the list. Ohio State's recruiting has been down a bit, while Miami and Florida State have been struggling. Florida and Notre Dame could also make a substantial move if they continue their level of recruiting success.

While I didn't do player breakdowns according to players' state of origin, I think it's impossible to ignore the prominence of the three major Florida schools on the list, considering a good collection of their recruits come from their home state. Long ranked as one of the top recruiting states along with Texas and California, I think Florida no doubt produces the most talent in the land.

You may personally disagree with my list or its ordering and that's fine, but I tried my best to find some sort of statistical answer for this question. While I don't think my formula is by any means perfect, I do think it's a good indicator of which schools currently have contributed to the NFL talent base.

Dan Davis is currently an English major at Oklahoma Baptist University, where he works for the student publication The Bison. Dan's other sports writings can be found on his blog. Submit ideas or rough drafts of guest columns to info-at-footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Guest on 17 Aug 2007

47 comments, Last at 21 Sep 2007, 11:35am by dennis egan

Comments

1
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 1:53pm

I like the list, but I disagree with the weighting of pro bowl appearances. I think it should be five points per appearance per player, possibly with a cap at 25 or so.

2
by brick (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 1:56pm

If you are gauging the ability of a program to produce NFL tallent since 2000, why would you be giving credit for players who were drafted prior to 2000 (Walter Jones, CWood, T. Law...)?

3
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 1:57pm

Interesting, if not enlightening. I wonder how much of the ranking order is due to the arbitrary formula, especially since #2-5 are within 33 points of each other... it would be cool to tweak the formula and see what happens.

4
by DrObviouSo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 2:16pm

I'd like to see the same thing done with state of origin/state of highschool. PA vs Texas would have to be the top two, I would guess.

5
by CA (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 2:51pm

I dislike the arbitrary nature of the point assignments. This piece would have been better if you had simply listed the number of players from each school who fall into each category. That way, the reader can determine his own weighting system. Of course, there are many other potential measures that you did not include, but, obviously, you can't list every possible category.

I strongly object to the inclusion of Pro Bowl selections in the formula at all, let alone their heavy weighting. Pro Bowl selections are such a poor measure of player quality among the non-offense-skill-position players that they deserve to be ignored completely. Among offensive skill position players, DPAR would be a much better measure of productivity than Pro Bowl selections. Among players whose performance is difficult to measure with traditional statistics, the Pro Bowl merely measures player popularity, name recognition, and perceived quality in an environment in which, as the Outsiders have shown, perception often fails miserably to match reality. Consider the possibility, for instance, that players build name recognition in college by attending top football factory schools and then ride that hype to Pro Bowl selections (Charles Woodson).

In fact, to some extent, attending a high profile, highly regarded football school may assist players in all of these categories. To some extent, this list could be viewed as a list of the schools with the best reputation (or most hype) for producing NFL talent rather than as a list of the schools that are actually best at producing NFL talent (although there presumably would be quite a bit of overlap between those two lists).

6
by kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:02pm

Re #4: I’d like to see the same thing done with state of origin/state of highschool. PA vs Texas would have to be the top two, I would guess.

The #1, #2, and #7 teams on this list are all from the state of Florida, and with the exception of the University of Florida, they are known as schools with very little national recruiting profile (mostly they just fight over in-state stars). Meanwhile, Texas has one team on the list (at #9, with by far the lowest number of NFL players), while Pennsylvania has a team ranked #15.

Not only is the state of Florida such a fertile recruiting ground that it can support, not one, not two, but THREE perennial national-championship contenders, its leftovers are still better than what many states offer. Despite being located in a relatively fertile recruiting region in New Jersey, a large part of Rutgers' surprise season last year can be attributed to the fact that they have begun aggressively recruiting the state of Florida (they actually have billboards along the interstates advertising themselves to potential recruits, and are possibly the 4th largest recruiting presence in the state). In addition, even after those four schools get their fill of players, there's still plenty of talent to go around. Just witness USF, who a decade ago didn't even have a football team but whose rise has been meteoric since- 4 years in Div 1-AA, 2 years as a Div 1-A independent, 2 years in C-USA, and now 2 years in the Big East. They went from not having a football program to having a football program in a BCS conference within 8 seasons, and they reached the top half of that conference within 2 seasons, finishing last season ranked 29th and actually cracking the top 25 for the first time on several preseason polls. AND, after all that, you've got UCF, which is no slouch itself, having produced NFL players Daunte Culpepper, Brandon Marshall, Doug Gabriel, and Asante Samuel in the past decade, among others. If you put Florida, Miami, Florida State, Rutgers, USF, and UCF together in one conference, it'd actually be better than several existing BCS conferences (ACC and Big East, I'm looking at you). Think about that for a second- the state of Florida could almost be its own football conference, and it'd still be one of the best in the nation. And this is despite the fact that everyone else is recruiting them, too (many schools have a recruiter whose main job is just recruiting Florida).

Now, I can't for the life of me think of any logical reason why the state of Florida should be so consistently light-years ahead of every other state in the nation when it comes to producing football talent. It's not the most populated state in the nation, and it's not the most football-crazy state in the nation, although it is perhaps the most populated football-crazy state in the nation. Still, explanations aside, Florida has just been on a whole different level when it comes to producing talent.

7
by Tracy (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:02pm

It would be very interesting to see the conferences ranked by this method, too (normalized by number of schools in the conference). My suspicion is that the SEC would come out far ahead, followed by the Bi 12/Big 10 bunched together, and The Pac 10/ACC/Big East would form a 3rd level bunching.

8
by James G (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:05pm

Interesting overall, but I have to agree with number 2. It is this fact that makes Florida State's appearance on this list not at all shocking. From about 1987 to about 2000, Florida State was clearly the best overall program during that stretch and produced many pros, but since 2000, they have definitely fallen. I'd be interested to see how they stack up with and without the players prior to 2000. I imagine Penn State at 15 also benefits from some of their pre-2000 players.

That also helps explain the low numbers for USC and Oklahoma, teams that weren't very good at all in the late 90s.

9
by mmm... sacrilicious (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:14pm

#6: I think part of the explanation for Miami, FSU, and UF dominating with homegrown talent lies in the fact that many Florida high school stars stay in-state and play for one of the three. Pennsylvania and Texas are both known as states that produce players for a great number of major 1-A schools - Penn State, Rutgers, Michigan, Pitt, West Virginia, and Maryland are just a couple of the schools that get quite a few players from Pennsylvania, while Texas high schoolers essentially support the entire Big 12 South.

I'm not saying that Florida isn't one of the top talent-producing states, because it definitely is. But I don't think it's as far ahead of the competition as you imply.

10
by Lionsbob (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 3:30pm

uh the Big 12 South has 4 schools in it from Texas and then 2 from Oklahoma...I think his point was that not only does Florida retain a majority of it players, but they are actually good-as in look all 3 are in the top 10 list.

11
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 4:46pm

The first takeaway from this for me is that this reenforces just how awful a head coach Larry Coker is.

Second is, since when has Michigan - or any Big 10 school, for that matter - "long been regarded as one of the top quarterback manufacturers?"

After Brady, you get the likes of John Navarre, Brian Griese and Jim Harbaugh. At least Harbaugh was solid. But if I'm looking for a QB, I don't look at Michigan.

12
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:04pm

#9, I was going to make the same point. California produces tons of players, but lots of them go to out-of-state schools. Two of California's most recent High School stars (both from Ventura County) were at the top of the recruiting list, but left the state - Jimmy Clausen and Lorenzo Booker.

I'm guessing one reason that California's players leave, but Florida's stay is that California does not rabidly follow its college teams like is done in so many other states. There isn't the built-in desire to one day play for the home school, like kids who grow up in Ohio or Florida.

Also in the article "Although [Michigan has been] long regarded as one of the top quarterback manufacturers in college football..."

Have they? Prior to Brian Griese, how many NFL QB's have they produced besides Jim Harbaugh?

13
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:09pm

Sorry Dean, I asked the same question as you about Michigan QB's.

14
by senser81 (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:17pm

Michigan has produced quite a few QBs. Even if most of them were journeyman, its still an accomplishment IMO to send so many QBs to the NFL. I don't know what other schools people would point to in regards to producing QBs. Looking through some old drafts, it seems like Michigan's QB always ends up in the NFL. Navarre (amazingly), Henson, Brady & Griese, Todd Collins, Grbac, Harbaugh. I even think Scott Dreisbach took some snaps for the Raiders.

15
by DrObviouSo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:18pm

I fully admit that I don't really know a whole lot about high school football. The Texas and PA comment probably come more from hype than number of players produced.

I know of businesses that have gone out of business trying to stay open on friday nights in PA during high school football season, but that probably doesn't translate well into this measurement.

16
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:29pm

Thanks to Drafthistory.com, here is the list of ALL Michigan QB’s drafted since 1970:

John Navarre
Drew Henson
Tom Brady
Brian Griese
Todd Collins
Elvis Grbac
Jim Harbaugh
Steve Smith
Rick Leach
Larry Gipa

17
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:32pm

To rate all the colleges, I took a list of all QB's who were drafted and assigned them a point value based on the round they were drafted. I used 23 minus the draft round. So, a first round pick was worth 22 points. (I picked 23, because the lowest drafted QB was in the 22nd round.)

The top 10 schools since 1970 are:
USC Total 215
Stanford Total 195
Washington Total 192
Brigham Young Total 169
Ohio State Total 168
California Total 163
Florida State Total 162
Miami (FL) Total 161
Michigan Total 155
Oregon Total 143

I'm surprised Michigan comes out so high. But they do mostly because of the past 10 years or so. They've BECOME a good QB school, but they have not LONG BEEN a good QB school.

18
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:36pm

Here's the list of USC QB's, just for comparison:

Carson Palmer Bengals
Kyle Wachholtz Packers
Rob Johnson Jaguars
Todd Marinovich Raiders
Pat O'Hara Buccaneers
Rodney Peete Lions
Paul McDonald Browns
Rob Hertel Bengals
Vince Evans Bears
Pat Haden Rams
Mike Rae Raiders
Mike Holmgren Cardinals

19
by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 5:57pm

Compare it to Miami, or to Maryland and a handful of others. Seems like there was always someone coming out of one of the Louisiana schools back in the 70's (Bert Jones, Joe Ferguson, Bradshaw, etc).

And the California schools always seem to be turning out QBs.

I suspect that Michigan list only looks impressive if you only compare it to other Big 10 schools.

20
by Vince Verhei :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 6:17pm

#18: You forgot Matt Leinart. But for sheer numbers, Washington still wins:

Isaiah Stanback Cowboys
Cody Pickett 49ers
Marques Tuiasosopo Raiders
Brock Huard Seahawks
Eric Bjornson Cowboys
(Bjornson played TE for the Pats and Cowboys, but he was a QB/WR at Washington, so I'm counting him here.)
Billy Joe Hobert Raiders
Mark Brunell Packers
Cary Conklin Redskins
Chris Chandler Colts
Hugh Millen Rams
Steve Pelluer Cowboys
Tom Flick Redskins
Chris Rowland Seahawks

Also, Warren Moon and Damon Huard went undrafted. That's 15 NFL QBs in 30 years.

21
by stan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 6:23pm

On a per capita basis, Mississippi's high schools produce more NFL players than any other state. I believe that South Carolina is second. Somewhere on the web is a chart which I saw referenced on Homer Smith's web site a few years ago. I don't recall now where Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida ranked, but I would be shocked if they weren't all pretty high.

Again, that is on a per capita basis.

As for a conference comparison, anyone who has ever paid the slightest attention to the draft or to recruiting rankings (as suspect as they can be) will know that the talent level is substantially higher in the SEC than in any other conference.

SEC schools put an extraordinary emphasis on recruiting ability in their hiring decisions. Head coaches emphasize it in their hiring of assistants. As a result, you will often see SEC teams with remarkable talent play inconsistently. They are generally not as sound fundamentally or schematically. It's not all on the coaches, however. I would bet good money that the average SEC player scores lower on IQ type tests than players from other conferences.

(anecdote for what it is worth -- I remember watching Miss St in a bowl game. They had a 3d team DE who, at 300 lbs, ran down the RB on a sweep. Wow! Impressive athletic talent and 3d team! Then he was offside on 3 of the next 10 snaps.)

22
by David (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 6:30pm

No mention of Temple? Somehow in last year's Superbowl we ended up with the most starters, out of any college.

23
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 6:36pm

#20, I also missed Matt Cassel. They were both in my points total, I just missed them in the copy paste.

24
by peachy (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 7:58pm

re: 8

I don't know that FSU would fall very much if pre-2000 draftees were excluded; although their recruiting has been down a bit recently, their principal weakness the last few years has been lack of coaching talent.

25
by Drew (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 8:09pm

Because of the weighting of players who made it to the pro-bowl, starters, and those who have been in the league for 5 years, this is essentially a list of the best football factories during the early 2000s. Players drafted lately are less likely to be starting (especially o-linemen and receivers), much less likely to have made it to a probowl and cannot have been in the league for 5 years.

By combining those weighting with a relatively-short 7-year time-frame, this system gives great weight to teams that produced good talent between 2000 and 2004.

26
by andrew b. lee (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 9:27pm

i'm not surprised by florida state's #2 ranking. every year the first 3 rounds r loaded with FSU players. what IS surprising is that FSU can't seem to win with all that talent. and recently, neither can miami. but it also seems like florida is producing more talent recently also. i bet with the rise of florida and the decline of miami and fsu (in terms of wins), more draft picks will be coming from florida.

27
by Optimistic Packer Fan (not verified) :: Fri, 08/17/2007 - 9:36pm

My knee-jerk reaction to the formula is that it doesn't value long-term success enough. I'd like to see games started as the basis for that component so that players who starts every game for several years would be more valuable than a guy who starts for most of a season because the players ahead of him were injured.

28
by Dave (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 12:25am

#12, one major reason why CA players leave the state is that there are only 7 I-A schools (USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Fresno State, San Jose State, and San Diego State) in a state that has half again as many people as the second most populous state (Texas, which has ten I-A schools -- Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Rice, Houston, North Texas, and UTEP).

I wonder where my Orange stand on that list; they've fallen off the map lately, but McNabb, Harrison, and Keith Bullock have to be worth more than a little.

29
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 4:58am

Basically what this list proves is that Bobby Bowden should've retired after he finally won a legit title in '99 (I just can't count the '93 title as real) because he's completely lost it as a coach.

Also, how many good NFL players have the Canes produced after 2002? Other than Frank Gore, I sure can't think of any. Winslow maybe, if he can ever stay healthy.

Florida high school football is the best in the nation, bar none. I believe their high school all-stars have beaten Texas's every time they've played in the last decade.

Also Ron Zook has done less with more than possibly any coach in the history of football.

30
by kibbles (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 10:47am

Basically what this list proves is that Bobby Bowden should’ve retired after he finally won a legit title in ‘99 (I just can’t count the ‘93 title as real) because he’s completely lost it as a coach.

Also, how many good NFL players have the Canes produced after 2002? Other than Frank Gore, I sure can’t think of any. Winslow maybe, if he can ever stay healthy.

It's too early to judge this year's draft class, but I hear that Devin Hester kid had a pretty good year last year. 2004 saw the Canes produce Sean Taylor, John Vilma, D.J. Williams, Kellen Winslow, and Vince Wolfork... in the first round alone. That's gotta be one of the best draft classes from a single school of all time. 2003 also provided Andre Johnson, so if you include Gore, that brings the list of pro-bowl or borderline pro-bowl players up to 8 since 2002 (almost two a season). Not too shabby at all, especially since that number is likely to grow as some more 2006 draftees see the field. And that's just borderline pro bowlers.

Florida high school football is the best in the nation, bar none. I believe their high school all-stars have beaten Texas’s every time they’ve played in the last decade.

Also Ron Zook has done less with more than possibly any coach in the history of football.
My favorite Ron Zook moment was when, after Meyer won the national championship, Zook actually criticised him for TAKING SO LONG. Zook said he had this magical four-year plan, and despite horribly underperforming in year 1, year 2, and year 3, if he had stayed in town he would have produced a championship in year 4. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, straight from the Horse's mouth- Urban Meyer is an overrated coach because Ron Zook would have totally won a championship before him at Florida.

Sometimes I wonder if Ron Zook even realizes what he's saying, or if his mind just goes on vacation and his lips move and form words entirely independently of all rational thought.

31
by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 4:48pm

On the NFL.com player pages they list the high school for each player. I wish they were available on a data table so I could sort them and count how many players went to high school in each state.

32
by Richie (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 4:55pm


#12, one major reason why CA players leave the state is that there are only 7 I-A schools

#28, that's interesting. I hadn't noticed that. But this sparks two new questions.

1) Why did 2 of California's top prospects over the past 5 years (Booker, Clausen) choose to leave the state? They surely could have played in state.

2) Why does California have so relatively few I-A schools?

33
by SuperHusker (not verified) :: Sat, 08/18/2007 - 11:53pm

Not bad, but you need to weight all the results by the inverse of state population.

34
by Dave (not verified) :: Sun, 08/19/2007 - 11:46am

#32, As for your first question, I'm not sure (though I'd guess USC being pretty much set at QB had a lot to do with Clausen). But every year a few top prospects from most big recruiting states leave. In the huge recruiting states (Florida, Texas, and California), lots of top prospects leave every year. And the high-profile national recruiting programs in those states (USC, Texas, Miami, etc.) bring in a few out-of-state superstars every year.

As to the second one, I suspect it's part local politics and part geography. If CA had the ~15 I-A schools they'd have if I-A schools were distributed by population (there's about 1 I-A school for every 2 million people in the US), then there'd be five or ten in the greater LA area. And since all but two of them wouldn't be USC or UCLA, they'd have a lot of trouble drawing media and non-alumni fan support. Same thing, to a smaller scale, in the Bay Area (where San Jose State can't get any attention, behind Cal, Stanford, the 49ers, and the Raiders), and even in San Diego (where we pretty much ignore the Aztecs in favor of the Chargers). Still, I think UC-Davis is in the process of moving up.

35
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Sun, 08/19/2007 - 12:45pm

Also I believe there are fewer football players per capita in California by quite a bit. Texas and Florida are not that much smaller, and football is much bigger there.

36
by Vass (not verified) :: Sun, 08/19/2007 - 3:27pm

#22 - Also, how many good NFL players have the Canes produced after 2002? Other than Frank Gore, I sure can’t think of any. Winslow maybe, if he can ever stay healthy.

Hmmm...

D.J. Williams
Jonathan Vilma
Sean Taylor
Vince Wilfork
Antrel Rolle
Kelly Jennings
Devin Hester
Roscoe Parrish
Vernon Carey
Sinorice Moss
Rocky McIntosh (good enough for Bears to want him in Briggs trade)
Greg Olsen/Brandon Meriweather/Jon Beason (rookie I know)

Since 84, they've had 47 first rounders... Second place: Ohio St. with 32.

37
by Vass (not verified) :: Sun, 08/19/2007 - 3:28pm

errr... I mean #29

38
by Pete (not verified) :: Mon, 08/20/2007 - 9:42am

I remember hearing about players who moved from other states to Florida in order to play in some of the better high school programs. Obviously, this is not an option for most players. However, facing tough competition on a daily/weekly basis can help to hone a player's edge. It may also help to get noticed by the recruiters.

The focus on football in the Southeast (and Florida, in particular) tends to be greater than any of the larger states, IMO. What other states or areas are more focused on football?

I agree that I would prefer to see a different value for measuring a player's quality than so much weight on Pro Bowls. DPAR sounds like a reasonable choice.

39
by Peter Libero (not verified) :: Mon, 08/20/2007 - 10:21am

32: The difference between Florida and California in terms of top prospects leaving is pretty small, in the last few years (I'm too lazy to go back much farther)

Based on Scout.com, and only counting high schoolers (the JUCO advantage for California is enormous... I don't know why.):

2005: California had 7 5-stars, 1 left the state (#2 to Nebraska).
Florida had 5 5-stars, 1 left the state (#3 to Tennessee)

2006: California had 7 5-stars, 2 left the state (#2 to Notre Dame, #6 to Michigan).
Florida had 5 5-stars, 2 left the state (#1 to Notre Dame, #5 to Clemson).

2007: California had 9 5-stars, 2 left the state (#1 to Notre Dame, #7 to Michigan).
Florida had 8 5-stars, 1 left the state (#4 Noel Divine to West Virginia, and a highlight reel near you).

2008: California has 8 5-stars, 1 undecided, 1 leaving the state (#4 to Notre Dame).
Florida has 7 5-stars, 2 undecided, 1 leaving the state (#1 to Ohio State).

TOTAL: California had 30 5-stars over the last 4 years, of which 6 left the state.
Florida had 23 5-stars, of which 5 left the state.

So in other words, the odds are about the same. Actually, considering the caliber of schools in Florida is clearly better (3 top-echelon programs, as opposed to only one in USC), I would say California has had remarkable success keeping their top recruits for the past 4 years.

40
by Dave (not verified) :: Mon, 08/20/2007 - 11:30am

#35, it might be. CA is, I think, slightly below average in I-A players per capita; it's just that we've got half again as many people as Texas, so we end up producing the most anyway (though not by a large margin). I suspect that's mostly demographics; CA's got extremely large Asian and Hispanic minorities (neither of which typically are all that into football), and a smaller than average African-American percentage of population. Now, the state that's really awful at producing I-A football players is my former home of New York, which has a population base bigger than PA or Ohio (and about on the same level as Florida or Texas), but produces far fewer I-A players.

41
by senser81 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/20/2007 - 1:48pm

re: #18

Nice list. Too bad about half those guys never threw a pass in the NFL.

42
by pat on the back (not verified) :: Tue, 08/21/2007 - 12:20pm

I'm surprised that nobody has brought up the fact that an 18-year-old from PA is more likely to want to spend his winter looking at scantily-clad women on a beach in Miami than a steel-worker's daughter in a parka at State College.

43
by colin (not verified) :: Tue, 08/21/2007 - 4:57pm

perhaps worth considering is that california's top schools are generally much much better academically and have much higher standards than the top SEC schools, which are almost all big state schools with mediocre academics and practically no academic admissions standards for athletes. a quick check of the new US news rankings reveals that you have to get past 6 UCs, stanford, usc, most of the acc, and most of the big 10 schools before you even get to the highest non-vanderbilt SEC school (florida). not only is the SEC advantaged in keeping their own players, whether this actually happens or now, they're also probably not distracting their athletes with pesky things like coursework as much as their tougher northern and western brothers would be.

44
by miamiQBs (not verified) :: Wed, 08/22/2007 - 5:00pm

Miami QBs played in NFL last 25 years:

Jim Kelly
Bernie Kosar
Vinny Testaverde
Steve Walsh
Craig Erickson [sure 1st round pick if hadn't torn ACL in Senior Bowl]
Gino Toretta
Ryan Clement
Scott Covington
Ken Dorsey
Brock Berlin

45
by Miles Archer (not verified) :: Sun, 08/26/2007 - 11:56pm

I'm thinking that not all positions rank equally. For a long while, my school (Cal) produced a lot of NFL punters and kickers and not much else. I have to think that a quarterback is worth more than a kicker, all things being equal.

So, instead of counting the number of players, weighting it to some sort of value makes sense. The only objective value that I could come up with is salary. What if you could total all the NFL salaries for each school. Would the ranks still be the same? I'll leave it to you capologists to figure out if actual dollars or cap figures are a better measure of worth to a team.

46
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2007 - 3:34am

I'm a Notre Dame fan...I hate the Miami 'Canes, but it really is obvious that Miami is THE DEFINITIVE NFL factory, even if they are back to being mediocre!

47
by dennis egan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 11:35am

The draft is a "suspect indicator". Who was that QB from Washington State drafted at the top while Brady was drafted in a late round. How many points does Brady get for three Super Bowl rings? The analysis should be heavily weighted based on performance --- i.e., making a roster, starting, longevity, wins, pro bowls, playoff appearances and playoff wins.