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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Attracting Quality Recruits

Wednesday's Detroit News featured this article on 2006 Michigan football recruiting, just a few weeks before the national signing day of February 6th. It notes that we have gathered another strong class, which could rank among the best in the nation if we reel in a few remaining targeted stars.

I am always torn about these rankings. I want Michigan to rank high, as that suggests we will continue fielding solid teams, capable of challenging for national championships (or at least building double digit fourth quarter leads.) But I also find the whole process of middle aged men chasing teenage boys around the country and then rather arbitrarily ranking them pretty ridiculous. Does it really matter if one guy says we're #4, another says we're #8 and still another that we're #13? Or even #17, as we are currently ranked at rivals.com?

If that relatively low ranking alarms you, consider this: we have fewer commitments than any other team ahead of us, with the exception of USC (#2). It seems likely we will add more players between now and February 6th than those teams above us. Plus, we have more of the elite players than almost any other school and are still in the running for others.

Looking over articles on 2006 recruiting led me to remember recruiting classes of the past. I don't know who this Mike DiSimone is, but he has a pretty thorough and interesting Michigan football website, which includes detailed information on recruiting classes stretching back over ten years.


Ben said...

We're also a Top Ten class on Scout.com, with fewer recruits than anyone ahead of us.

I find that a more useful metric is the "average star rating" of teams.

It seems ridiculous that a point system ranks a class ahead of another simply because a particular school has more available scholarships that year (Notre Dame).

IC said...

Excellent point Ben and thanks for pointing out Scout.com, which looks like a more informative site than Rivals.

Based on average star rating, Michigan would currently be ranked fifth (behind USC, Florida, Miami, and Texas.)

IC said...

Not sure where we would currently be ranked in the BCS recruiting rankings...if only someone would post excerpts of the BCS contract.

surrounded in columbus said...

enjoyed the post- like you, i'm torn over their usefulness. it's like the proverbial passing of an accident: it's morbid to stare but hard not to anyway?

on one hand, ranking recruiting classes is probably the most worthless exercise in college football. on the other, it's hard not follow. what else are you going to do this time of year? watch beer pong on espn 8?

one of the sports rags did a piece a few years back tracking #1 ranked classes and their on the field results 4-5 years later. none had won NC's as seniors. the few that had won a championship at all had done so as underclassman. the conclusion was that highly ranked classes that arrived at an already talented program might put you over the top, but they seldom did it themselves.

part of the problem w/ the system (such as it is- you could argue the problem is that there is NO system) is that just one player can boost/skew your class ranking. unfortunately, sometimes these "hot" players never pan out. for example, everyone in columbus was wild about justin zwick coming to tOSU. he was the star of his recruiting class and the name everyone talked about. i even had one neighbor suggest that Sweater Boy bench Krenzel in 2003 so Zwick could start sooner (seems silly now). that class has had success on the field w/ the upper classmen, but as they head into their senior, they're looking at a team w/ now defense and zwick is just an after thought.

which leads to a second problem- highly ranked classes hurt you the next year (or two). none of the big names want to go where they'll be on the bench. following a "#1" class into a school the next year is pretty dicey if you think you can go somewhere else and start. tOSU had had trouble recruiting tailbacks after Clarett made his splash (like we did w/ qbs after landing Henson). when he flamed out, they struggled to replace him for two seasons.

finally, rankings rate the players in a vaccum. they seldom account for matching up talent to needs at a program. is anyone else old enough to remember the "great" Lou Holtz/ND #1 class that featured (drum roll) Ron Powlus?? in addition to being a personal bust, Powlus was all wrong for Holtz's style of offense.

Holtz probably shouldn't have recruited him- he needed guys who could run (Kevin McDougall?) not drop back passers- but Powlus was so highly touted he couldn't help himself. because Powlus was so hyped, the class (and ND's expectations) were too.

don't get me wrong- i love reading about recruiting (and others opinions on their quality) but it's hard for me to get too worried one way or the other. don't let that stop you from writing about it (especially if they say something good abou OUR recruits).