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Via SMQ -- Recruiting Rankings and On-Field Success

Bumped from the diaries. Gracias to Aerobab for the quick link.

SMQ pieced together an incredibly interesting analysis that correlates the CFB recruiting rankings for the 2002-2007 classes to the teams winning percentage over the same timeframe.  He applied a very appropriate control in that he only looks at BCS teams' performance against other BCS teams.  

While I'm one of those that don't pay much attention to recruiting, let alone recruiting class rankings, I do find some of the findings quite interesting.  Primarily I'm speaking of the numbers drawn between the conferences.  SMQ shows that the SEC has 6 "underachievers" (conceivably 7, including UF with a -9 differential) and zero "overachievers".  On whole, only two SEC teams exhibited any positive correlation at all (Auburn +3, Kentucky +4).  Conversely, the Big East has 5 "overachievers" (margins of +15, +17, +21, +34, and +40) and zero "underachievers".  Does this mean that Big East teams can't recruit worth a squat but are able to coach the kids to victory?  Does this mean that top recruits purposefully bypass the Big East Conference for the "greener pastures" of more prestigious conferences (Read: SEC)?  Does this mean that the SEC coaches can recruit like crazy, but can't coach worth a darn? Does this mean that the top recruits landed by the SEC were virtual busts or were overrated themselves from the onset?  Does this mean that parity in the SEC is more pronounced than ever?  Does it mean anything at all?

Looking at the SEC as a whole, we have 8 teams in the top 20 in overall recruiting class average (4 Eastern Division teams in the top 13!).  It is here where I believe team parity to be a major factor in the production of the 6 or 7 "underachievers".  I mean heck, this year we had a VERY talented LSU team win the MNC with TWO conference losses!  When teams within a conference (especially within a division) are lumped together at the top of any list pursuant to future expectations, there is typically only one way to slide - down.  Flipping this argument over once more, when teams from the Big East are all lumped on the bottom in overall recruiting class average (5 in bottom 20 and all 8 in bottom half of all BCS teams) there is only one way to slide - up.

What are your thoughts/observations on his analysis?

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