Recruiting Success

Ever wonder just how worthwhile (or worthless) recruiting data are? Does having the #1 ranked recruiting class really predict how well a team will do?

To explore this fascinating issue (fascinating by virtue of the fact that no actual football is being played right now,) I looked at how the Rivals ranking of recruiting classes compared over a period of time (2002-2008.) Why did I choose that time span? Because that was the time span I could easily access the data for Rivals, which ranked all 119 Division 1A schools.

I then took each team’s win loss record as a percentage, and ranked that.

Then I did a simple calculation, comparing the Rivals Rank to that of the Win Percentage Rank, by dividing the former by the latter. I originally dubbed this a rank ratio, but someone with higher math skills than mine suggested that a ratio is like 1:2 and that this is an “index.” So be it. The Rank Index was born. A team that is ranked close to or at it’s recruiting rank would have an index of 1 or close to it. The higher the number, the better a team/coach out performs it’s recruiting rank. The lower the number, the more talent is being squandered, and/or the more a team’s recruiting rank was over-rated.

Here are the results:

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Team Win-Loss % PCT Rank Rivals Rank Rank Index
1 Boise State 87.90 2 76 38.00
2 TCU 76.55 8 64 8.00
3 Utah 73.98 11 59 5.36
4 West Virginia 75.37 9 40 4.44
5 Hawaii 65.69 22 85 3.86
6 Bowling Green 61.14 30 106 3.53
7 Navy 60.07 35 119 3.40
8 Boston College 71.51 14 43 3.07
9 Louisville 67.67 18 53 2.94
10 Texas Tech 68.98 15 41 2.73
11 Texas 85.62 3 8 2.67
12 Wisconsin 68.33 16 42 2.63
13 Virginia Tech 74.49 10 26 2.60
14 Ohio State 85.16 4 10 2.50
15 Northern Illinois 57.14 46 109 2.37
16 Iowa 66.94 19 44 2.32
17 Fresno State 60.22 34 77 2.26
18 South Florida 61.69 28 63 2.25
19 Air Force 52.26 59 116 1.97
20 Brigham Young 59.52 36 66 1.83
21 Oregon State 62.39 27 49 1.81
22 Connecticut 57.32 45 81 1.80
23 Toledo 54.79 50 90 1.80
24 Florida Atlantic 49.57 66 118 1.79
25 Cincinnati 57.63 42 74 1.76
26 Nevada 52.84 56 94 1.68
27 New Mexico 53.31 55 89 1.62
28 Central Michigan 48.48 69 110 1.59
29 Miami (OH) 50.84 64 100 1.56
30 Tulsa 54.85 49 72 1.47
31 Southern Miss 58.82 39 57 1.46
32 Ball State 45.59 78 107 1.37
33 Georgia Tech 58.82 38 52 1.37
34 Wake Forest 53.94 52 68 1.31
35 Houston 52.47 58 75 1.29
36 Troy 52.54 57 73 1.28
37 UTEP 40.29 86 110 1.28
38 Penn State 63.62 24 30 1.25
39 Colorado State 46.26 75 93 1.24
40 La-Monroe 34.42 98 113 1.15
41 Louisiana Tech 44.99 80 92 1.15
42 San Jose State 39.97 87 100 1.15
43 Ohio 38.62 89 102 1.15
44 Western Mich 45.74 77 87 1.13
45 Marshall 48.24 71 80 1.13
46 La-Lafayette 39.18 88 98 1.11
47 Rice 38.59 90 99 1.10
48 New Mexico St 31.13 105 115 1.10
49 North Texas 36.75 95 104 1.09
50 Missouri 60.81 32 34 1.06
51 Arkansas State 43.82 82 86 1.05
52 California 66.50 21 22 1.05
53 Wyoming 38.53 91 95 1.04
54 Akron 45.25 79 82 1.04
55 East Carolina 40.71 84 87 1.04
56 Florida Intl 26.80 112 114 1.02
57 Mid Tenn State 40.81 83 84 1.01
58 Tulane 35.74 97 97 1.00
59 USC 90.11 1 1 1.00
60 Army 19.70 118 117 0.99
61 Memphis 47.99 72 71 0.99
62 Buffalo 22.77 115 112 0.97
63 Clemson 61.27 29 28 0.97
64 Kent 32.79 100 96 0.96
65 Purdue 54.13 51 48 0.94
66 Idaho 20.45 116 108 0.93
67 Eastern Michigan 27.06 111 103 0.93
68 Utah State 23.70 113 104 0.92
69 Oregon 63.45 25 23 0.92
70 Pitt 57.68 41 36 0.88
71 Washington St 48.96 68 58 0.85
72 Minnesota 51.92 60 51 0.85
73 Northwestern 47.44 73 62 0.85
74 Kansas State 53.85 53 45 0.85
75 UAB 37.45 92 78 0.85
76 Auburn 71.61 13 11 0.85
77 Oklahoma 81.89 5 4 0.80
78 Temple 20.45 116 90 0.78
79 Rutgers 50.34 65 50 0.77
80 Kansas 51.62 62 47 0.76
81 Maryland 60.48 33 25 0.76
82 SMU 23.48 114 83 0.73
83 UNLV 29.00 110 79 0.72
84 Central Florida 40.42 85 60 0.71
85 Vanderbilt 32.26 101 70 0.69
86 Indiana 32.26 101 69 0.68
87 Kentucky 44.86 81 55 0.68
88 San Diego State 33.40 99 67 0.68
89 Virginia 57.63 43 29 0.67
90 Oklahoma State 57.48 44 27 0.61
91 Iowa State 36.90 93 54 0.58
92 Arizona State 57.80 40 23 0.58
93 LSU 77.98 7 4 0.57
94 NC State 50.96 63 36 0.57
95 Baylor 30.63 108 61 0.56
96 Duke 16.99 119 65 0.55
97 Michigan State 48.34 70 38 0.54
98 Syracuse 31.06 106 56 0.53
99 Nebraska 59.18 37 18 0.49
100 Tennessee 63.31 26 12 0.46
101 Them 66.58 20 9 0.45
102 Stanford 31.39 104 46 0.44
103 Alabama 60.96 31 13 0.42
104 Colorado 46.55 74 31 0.42
105 Miami (FL) 68.04 17 7 0.41
106 Arkansas 55.71 48 19 0.40
107 Washington 29.08 109 39 0.36
108 Arizona 36.82 94 32 0.34
109 Illinois 31.86 103 35 0.34
110 Georgia 80.35 6 2 0.33
111 Notre Dame 57.05 47 15 0.32
112 UCLA 53.48 54 17 0.31
113 Mississippi State 30.87 107 33 0.31
114 Mississippi 46.00 76 20 0.26
115 Florida State 64.95 23 6 0.26
116 Florida 73.05 12 3 0.25
117 Texas A&M 49.08 67 16 0.24
118 South Carolina 51.66 61 14 0.23
119 North Carolina 36.71 96 21 0.22

What exactly can we glean from these numbers?

USC and Tulane pretty much perform as expected for their recruiting classes. For Tulane, that’s not necessarily a plus. About half the teams perform better, and half perform worse.

Someone criticized the data by concluding that since Georgia and Florida were so low on the list, the data was useless. Au contraire. Keep in mind that both those schools have consistently recruited well, according to Rivals. It is impossible for USC to out-perform it’s recruiting class, and for each team ranked high, it becomes very difficult to live up to expectations. What these numbers suggest is that Florida and Georgia are not performing as well as they are recruiting. In the case of Florida, it is not a matter of wins and losses or National Championships–the data indicate that they should be winning, and perhaps winning more than they are.

It also sugests that schools like Boise State, Utah and TCU are doing more with their talent than other schools, in terms of producing wins. Schools like Florida State are under-performing.

As I expected, PSU did not perform overly well–38th overall and fourth in the Big Ten. Here’s how the conference fared:

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Big TEN PCT PCT Rank Rivals Index
12 Wisconsin 68.33 16 42 2.63
14 Ohio State 85.16 4 10 2.50
16 Iowa 66.94 19 44 2.32
38 Penn State 63.62 24 30 1.25
65 Purdue 54.13 51 48 0.94
72 Minnesota 51.92 60 51 0.85
73 Northwestern 47.44 73 62 0.85
86 Indiana 32.26 101 69 0.68
97 Michigan State 48.34 70 38 0.54
101 Them 66.58 20 9 0.45
109 Illinois 31.86 103 35 0.34

Another way to look at these numbers would be to examine just the numerical difference between a schools Rivals Rank versus its win-loss pct. rank (subtraction versus division.) In this case, teams with highly ranked recruiting classes aren’t penalized as much for not producing winning seasons. Here’s what that table looks like:

table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;}.tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}

Team Win-Loss % PCT Rank Rivals Rank Rank Index Difference
1 Navy 60.07 35 119 3.40 84
2 Bowling Green 61.14 30 106 3.53 76
3 Boise State 87.90 2 76 38.00 74
4 Hawaii 65.69 22 85 3.86 63
5 Northern Illinois 57.14 46 109 2.37 63
6 Air Force 52.26 59 116 1.97 57
7 TCU 76.55 8 64 8.00 56
8 Florida Atlantic 49.57 66 118 1.79 52
9 Utah 73.98 11 59 5.36 48
10 Fresno State 60.22 34 77 2.26 43
11 Central Michigan 48.48 69 110 1.59 41
12 Toledo 54.79 50 90 1.80 40
13 Nevada 52.84 56 94 1.68 38
14 Connecticut 57.32 45 81 1.80 36
15 Miami (OH) 50.84 64 100 1.56 36
16 Louisville 67.67 18 53 2.94 35
17 South Florida 61.69 28 63 2.25 35
18 New Mexico 53.31 55 89 1.62 34
19 Cincinnati 57.63 42 74 1.76 32
20 West Virginia 75.37 9 40 4.44 31
21 Brigham Young 59.52 36 66 1.83 30
22 Ball State 45.59 78 107 1.37 29
23 Boston College 71.51 14 43 3.07 29
24 Texas Tech 68.98 15 41 2.73 26
25 Wisconsin 68.33 16 42 2.63 26
26 Iowa 66.94 19 44 2.32 25
27 UTEP 40.29 86 110 1.28 24
28 Tulsa 54.85 49 72 1.47 23
29 Oregon State 62.39 27 49 1.81 22
30 Colorado State 46.26 75 93 1.24 18
31 Southern Miss 58.82 39 57 1.46 18
32 Houston 52.47 58 75 1.29 17
33 Troy 52.54 57 73 1.28 16
34 Virginia Tech 74.49 10 26 2.60 16
35 Wake Forest 53.94 52 68 1.31 16
36 La-Monroe 34.42 98 113 1.15 15
37 Georgia Tech 58.82 38 52 1.37 14
38 Ohio 38.62 89 102 1.15 13
39 San Jose State 39.97 87 100 1.15 13
40 Louisiana Tech 44.99 80 92 1.15 12
41 La-Lafayette 39.18 88 98 1.11 10
42 New Mexico St 31.13 105 115 1.10 10
43 Western Mich 45.74 77 87 1.13 10
44 Marshall 48.24 71 80 1.13 9
45 North Texas 36.75 95 104 1.09 9
46 Rice 38.59 90 99 1.10 9
47 Ohio State 85.16 4 10 2.50 6
48 Penn State 63.62 24 30 1.25 6
49 Texas 85.62 3 8 2.67 5
50 Arkansas State 43.82 82 86 1.05 4
51 Wyoming 38.53 91 95 1.04 4
52 Akron 45.25 79 82 1.04 3
53 East Carolina 40.71 84 87 1.04 3
54 Florida Intl 26.80 112 114 1.02 2
55 Missouri 60.81 32 34 1.06 2
56 California 66.50 21 22 1.05 1
57 Mid Tenn State 40.81 83 84 1.01 1
58 Tulane 35.74 97 97 1.00 0
59 USC 90.11 1 1 1.00 0
60 Army 19.70 118 117 0.99 -1
61 Clemson 61.27 29 28 0.97 -1
62 Memphis 47.99 72 71 0.99 -1
63 Oklahoma 81.89 5 4 0.80 -1
64 Auburn 71.61 13 11 0.85 -2
65 Oregon 63.45 25 23 0.92 -2
66 Buffalo 22.77 115 112 0.97 -3
67 LSU 77.98 7 4 0.57 -3
68 Purdue 54.13 51 48 0.94 -3
69 Georgia 80.35 6 2 0.33 -4
70 Kent 32.79 100 96 0.96 -4
71 Pitt 57.68 41 36 0.88 -5
72 Eastern Michigan 27.06 111 103 0.93 -8
73 Idaho 20.45 116 108 0.93 -8
74 Kansas State 53.85 53 45 0.85 -8
75 Maryland 60.48 33 25 0.76 -8
76 Florida 73.05 12 3 0.25 -9
77 Minnesota 51.92 60 51 0.85 -9
78 Utah State 23.70 113 104 0.92 -9
79 Miami (FL) 68.04 17 7 0.41 -10
80 Washington St 48.96 68 58 0.85 -10
81 Northwestern 47.44 73 62 0.85 -11
82 Them 66.58 20 9 0.45 -11
83 Tennessee 63.31 26 12 0.46 -14
84 UAB 37.45 92 78 0.85 -14
85 Virginia 57.63 43 29 0.67 -14
86 Kansas 51.62 62 47 0.76 -15
87 Rutgers 50.34 65 50 0.77 -15
88 Arizona State 57.80 40 23 0.58 -17
89 Florida State 64.95 23 6 0.26 -17
90 Oklahoma State 57.48 44 27 0.61 -17
91 Alabama 60.96 31 13 0.42 -18
92 Nebraska 59.18 37 18 0.49 -19
93 Central Florida 40.42 85 60 0.71 -25
94 Kentucky 44.86 81 55 0.68 -26
95 Temple 20.45 116 90 0.78 -26
96 NC State 50.96 63 36 0.57 -27
97 Arkansas 55.71 48 19 0.40 -29
98 SMU 23.48 114 83 0.73 -31
99 UNLV 29.00 110 79 0.72 -31
100 Vanderbilt 32.26 101 70 0.69 -31
101 Indiana 32.26 101 69 0.68 -32
102 Michigan State 48.34 70 38 0.54 -32
103 Notre Dame 57.05 47 15 0.32 -32
104 San Diego State 33.40 99 67 0.68 -32
105 UCLA 53.48 54 17 0.31 -37
106 Iowa State 36.90 93 54 0.58 -39
107 Colorado 46.55 74 31 0.42 -43
108 Baylor 30.63 108 61 0.56 -47
109 South Carolina 51.66 61 14 0.23 -47
110 Syracuse 31.06 106 56 0.53 -50
111 Texas A&M 49.08 67 16 0.24 -51
112 Duke 16.99 119 65 0.55 -54
113 Mississippi 46.00 76 20 0.26 -56
114 Stanford 31.39 104 46 0.44 -58
115 Arizona 36.82 94 32 0.34 -62
116 Illinois 31.86 103 35 0.34 -68
117 Washington 29.08 109 39 0.36 -70
118 Mississippi State 30.87 107 33 0.31 -74
119 North Carolina 36.71 96 21 0.22 -75

USC and Tulane are 0. Schools like Florida and Georgia move up. North Carolina still pretty much sucks. The Big Ten looks like this:

table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;}.tableizer-table th {background-color: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}

Team Win-Loss % PCT Rank Rivals Rank Rank Index Difference
25 Wisconsin 68.33 16 42 2.63 26
26 Iowa 66.94 19 44 2.32 25
47 Ohio State 85.16 4 10 2.50 6
48 Penn State 63.62 24 30 1.25 6
68 Purdue 54.13 51 48 0.94 -3
77 Minnesota 51.92 60 51 0.85 -9
81 Northwestern 47.44 73 62 0.85 -11
82 Them 66.58 20 9 0.45 -11
101 Indiana 32.26 101 69 0.68 -32
102 Michigan State 48.34 70 38 0.54 -32
116 Illinois 31.86 103 35 0.34 -68

Eventually, I hope to re-analyze these data in terms of how a given recruiting class reflects a team’s rank 2,3, or 4 years down the road.

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1 Comment

Filed under rankings, recruiting

One response to “Recruiting Success

  1. Great post and research. We've always known that Rivals add or subtract a star based solely on the scholarships offered. Highly subjective.

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