#RR Updated – Feb 13, 2012
Truly 2012 was a huge separation between the haves and the have nots. With the rebuilding of Michigan still in process and the collapse of the Sweater Vest, teams that normally never had a shot at the Big Ten title took full advantage. In the last 8 years no team had won the Big Ten that was not in the top third of adjusted 3 year recruiting rankings. But nothing is perfect and there are times that 80%+ correct is not good enough.
However, victory is only as good as your next game or season and the Wolverines and Buckeyes not only had above average recruiting cycles but most of the rest of the B1G teams fell on their faces. Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Illinois all had bad to horrible recruiting cycles versus their 4 year national recruiting rank. This gap, if it continues, makes a annual OSU/UM conference championship a near lock in the future.
Ohio State: Meyer didn’t do too much but have one of the biggest jumps since September top 75 rankings of +21 spots and finished with one of the best OSU classes in a decade. It’s too bad this is a bowl ban year as this team is set to win at least 10 games.
Michigan: Hoke has them winning and Michigan recruits itself every year. This was a very good one for Hoke as Big Blue finished 6 ranking spots above their 4 year national composite rank. For programs like Michigan it is all about finding the right coaching fit if the AD has their head on straight.
READ: An even bigger note to the success of Michigan and Ohio State was the failure of the next level of teams. The have and have nots gap opened a little with great classes mentioned above but was really widened by most of the following teams. If this continues for another year or two the Big Ten Championship game will get very boring as UM and OSU will be playing nearly every year.
Nebraska: Thud. That’s the first shoe falling in the Big Ten with teams and down recruiting classes in 2012. On the plus side the Huskers went from out of the top 75 to #33 in the last 90 days of the cycle. However, the talent base in Lincoln stepped back with this class. Pelini wins at a rate nearly exact to his FARR rating. This means the worse the talent, the less he wins.
Michigan State: Splat. From #26 to #39 in the closing months of the 2012 cycle and -8 spots under their 4 year ranking, the Spartans did themselves no favors for the future. Already a mid-tier Big Ten recruiter, Dantonio cannot keep up the coaching magic every year. Improve recruiting or expect steps backward.
Iowa – 2012 netted a slightly above average class for a slightly below average coach. Ferentz has been a rock solid for predictions with his recruiting in the Matrix. Four of the last five years he as won exactly -1 games below par expectations. Sure, there is always hope for the one lightning in a bottle year for Hawkeye fans but long term this team is a below average performer with this recruiting and this coach in the Big Ten.
Purdue – Of all the Big Ten teams, the Boilermakers had the biggest jump in recruiting rank over their 4 year national ranking. The #46 class in 2012 was a full 13 spots above the ’08-’11 ranking. Another couple of years of improved classes coupled with the trend fallback of other programs could get Purdue into the 7-8 wins in 2013 and forward.
Penn State: Ouch! We all seemed to know that the Nittany Lions would struggle recruiting kids this cycle, but I didn’t think it would be this bad as PSU fell 34 ranking spots since September 1. For a lot more reasons than recruiting, the last 6 months has been brutal on the program. But bad recruiting is like the aftermath of a speeding ticket. It’s not the ticket, nor the fine but the cost of insurance down the road. This #48 recruiting class is the cost of insurance. What was a top 20 national 4 year recruiting ranking is slipping into the middle of the pack. 2013 must turn this downtrend.
Northwestern: The Wildcats got the national memo that the ‘smart’ schools are on a national trend of recruiting improvement. Following along with Stanford, Rutgers and Vandy, the Wildcats had a solid uptick of recruiting new talent. The #54 class is nothing to crow about, but it is 11 spots above their 4 year national ranking and right near the top half of the conference (which for a ‘power’ conference is pathetic)
Wisconsin: ????? -22 ranking spots since the start of their Rose Bowl run September 1st (told ya BCS game appearances don’t matter) and -8 spots under their 4 year national rank. The Bielema magic is only good in spurts. Coming into 2011 he was just +2 games above the FARR pre-season game predictor model due to scheduling. Odds tell me that this decrease in talent will slowly erode the win totals at Camp Randall, especially if it continues and teams outside of UM and OSU can get recruiting trending up.
Indiana: The Hoosiers stood at #31 nationally on September 1 but then it all fell apart. The Kiel Experience went nuts and Indiana football went through one of the worst coached seasons in 2011. The #58 class was still above average in Bloomington, but recruiting in the high 50s and low 60s with poor coaching gets you a game out of last place at best in the Big Ten.
Minnesota: The Gophers worked hard this recruiting cycle, hosting more Official Visits than anyone in the Big Ten. But it was for not as they finished with the #68 class, 11 spots under their previous 4 year ranking. Set your expectations on low Gopher fans and hope for an exceptional 4-5 wins in the coming seasons.
Illinois: Thud The last shoe of Big Ten recruiting and it was a big one. #71 at Illinois? 31 spots below their last 4 years ranked under Zook? Just a flat out disaster. Seems like just yesterday they were making that crazy B1G run to the Rose Bowl to get crushed by USC. Now they are flat on their back and looking like a program that is about to freefall to the bottom third of the conference. Another year of this kind of awful recruiting and the only wins will be bad OOC games and the odd conference wins at home.