As I noted in the CFBMatrix modeling, there are the 13 teams that will compete for a bid into the BCS National Title Game. All 13 of these teams share recruiting trends and metrics that all winners and losers of the BCS title game have shown since 2002. To get to this elite level, you must recruit yourself into this position. I understand that rules are made to me broken and eventually, someone will break the model but if it once every ten years, then I will take my chances being correct 95% of the time.
But what about the teams that were on the verge of making the CFBMatrix modeling cut? It happens every year that a team gets on a recruiting roll only to have a down year. Elite teams cannot have down years, especially in the year of a title run. If you don’t think recruiting ranking is not important, tell me the number of teams with recruiting class not in the Top 25 in the year they win OR lose the college football national title game? Let me save you some time as you know answer is “none”. For winning, especially on the elite level, recruiting is everything. Unless of course you are a non-BCS team that wins a dozen weak OCC games and lets the computer flaw of winning all your games vault you into the top 20.
For the 2011, there were 3 teams that the CFBMatrix model identified that recruited themselves out of National Title contention for 4 years. That is not to say that any of these teams do not have other issues, but it all starts with elite talent and the following teams had it. In order of the biggest falls:
The UCLA Bruins. Since I started the modeling in 2004, there has not been a single team take such a dive in the recruiting rankings. For just a minute, put aside the fact that the Bruins had one of the worst talent to wins ratios of the decade in 2010 and look at the recruiting numbers. My composite team recruiting ranking showed the previous 3 years of class rankings at #11, #9, and #8. Only USC, LSU and Michigan had three straight of #11 or better in that time period. But in 2011, the class dropped to #49 in the country! It is just unbelievable to contemplate that possibility before the season started. So while the head coach goes around replacing his old staff with the same hiring process as used to hire the first group of coaches, the UCLA Bruins took a huge step backward in talent. For Bruin fans, it is hard to envision what could have been with this level of recruiting from 2008-2010. What they should expect is another sub .500 season.
Miami Hurricanes. What many fans may not accept or realize, but the CFBMatrix model had Miami as and ‘elite’ talented team for many years under Randy Shannon. Unfortunately, he significantly undercoached the talent that should have been competing for ACC and National Titles. The Hurricanes were always a Tier II or Tier III team because he had a career negative game coaching effect of nearly 3 games per season. While he struggled to coach and was on our ‘hot seat’ list for 3 seasons, he could recruit the players! Four straight years of top 20 classes until his release in 2011 should have got Canes fans much more than they received for their season ticket donations. But this transition, as it does most of the time, really cost the Hurricanes on the recruiting trail with a #36 composite class in 2011. For the CFBMatrix model, this takes them from elite talent with a bad game coach to out of National Title contention with lower talent and a new, unproven coach. On the positive side, the AD made a good move in getting a new head coach. The first trend that he must establish is winning. A better record in 2001 versus 2010 is a MUST in order to expect good results in the future.
Texas A&M Aggies: This is really a team right on the fringe of elite talent in the CFBMatrix model. Not much to talk down for A&M as the 4 year class rank is still in the top 20. Before 2011, they had three straight top 25 classes. The #29 class of 2011 is the real trigger here for dropping them out of the NC Berth model. They should still be considered a top 20 talent and bordering elite but this is a step back for the Aggies. The baseline model has them loosing just two games in 2011 so expect them in the top 15 at the end of the regular season, but they have little chance to be there for a NC title berth.