Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

04 Feb 2011

ESPN: Recruiting Like An Elite Program

We're not breaking any new ground by demonstrating that recruiting success has a strong connection to on-the-field success in college football. Bill Connelly wrote a terrific two-part ESPN analysis last season on the significance of recruiting ratings and the fluctuations in recruiting success for certain teams. Last fall, I added a piece here at Football Outsiders on the strong connection between historically elite programs and elite recruiters.

Nearly every national champion (and national championship game participant) in the BCS era has had two things in common heading into the season: top-20 program success over at least a five-year period, and top-20 recruiting success in terms of cumulative talent. It has been ten years (Oklahoma, 2000) since a team came out of nowhere to win it all. Both of last year's BCS championship game participants, Oregon and Auburn, were top-20 in both Program FEI and weighted four-year Rivals recruiting ratings heading into 2010.

So which teams might be in position to join that elite cohort and possibly contend for national championships themselves in the near future? Programs like Florida State and Notre Dame haven't experienced elite success lately, but are in good position to reclaim past glory based on recruiting. Outside of the usual suspects, Clemson and South Carolina are the best candidates to keep an eye on. They each had a solid National Signing Day this year (Clemson especially), but more importantly, they've been recruiting like the elite cohort for four or more years.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 04 Feb 2011

2 comments, Last at 04 Feb 2011, 6:12pm by Mr. Charisma


by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Fri, 02/04/2011 - 1:53pm

There isn't a program in America better at wasting talent than Clemson. They have a rare ability to come up small in big games.

by Mr. Charisma (not verified) :: Fri, 02/04/2011 - 6:12pm

Football Outsiders: Not quite spelling like an elite program.

UPDATE: FO 'recruts' a spelling coach.