To improve your team’s record there are three components to do so. the first, and most important, improve your recruiting. For elite teams, it is recruiting maintenance. The second is get a good coach. Many teams recruit well but the head coach and staff is poor resulting in loses to less talented teams. The third is scheduling as who is played and where will decided +/- up to 3 games each year.
Getting back to recruiting, it is difficult to make big talent impacts off one recruiting cycle. Most FBS teams are within their 4 year average class +/- 10 recruiting ranking spots every year. Classes contribute for 4+ years so one great class does not it make a sweeping impact. But trends have to start somewhere and in 2012 there were plenty of teams that had huge gaps in their 2012 recruiting rank versus their 2008-2011 CFBMatrix rankings. A move greater than 10 spots is significant is the rankings as it is a critical number for schedule adjustments for predicting wins and losses as well as few teams make that kind of move in a year. Only time will tell if 2012 was a one-hit-wonder for these teams.
Biggest Team Gains
Although they are mired deep in the FBS total recruiting rankings, the hire by Arkansas State of Auburn’s former OC Gus Malzhan appeared to be a big impact in his first year. The previous 4 years the Red Wolves average class was 109 so dropping a 66 (fyi Boise State was #64) is a huge leap. In the Sun Belt (#14 overall recruiter) it is even bigger. While 2011 was a banner year for Arkansas State, a few more classes like this and undefeated seasons will be expected.
This is not the first time the Cavs are sitting on this list. They had a big jump in 2011 as well. If there is a rising program in the country coming up from the bottom it is this team. Previously recruiting in the 60s this is their 2nd straight top 30. Coupled with a coach that is now a proven winner and one that beats teams that out recruit them. When they get 4 years of top 25-30 talent (just like VT) and the elite recruiters still can’t count then look out.
Don’t tell Colorado you have to win to recruit. I don’t believe it, and have always said you recruit to win, not win to recruit. After just a handful of wins in 2011, the Buffs pull the #35 class in the country. By doing so land a better class than 30 other AQ school that had more wins in 2011.
TCU, with it’s move to AQ status within the Big12 should have been no real surprise to fans. After years in the 60s and 70s they pull the #37 class in 2012. That is a Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State type of class. The Utah Utes continue their hot streak since moving to the PAC12. Two years and the two best classes in team history. Whittingham can really coach and the PAC12 South, outside of a sanctioned USC and the systemic issues at UCLA is wide open for Utah.
Stanford, with their monster #5 class not moved up to the #3 four-year recruiter (#16 overall) in the PAC12 passing UCLA and very nearly passing Oregon (#15). That makes four straight top 25 classes for Stanford and puts them with a handful of teams that can make a NCG run.
Don’t count out the ‘smart’ schools. Of the top gainers in 2012, 4 are widely considered a ‘smart’ school or one restricted by academics a bit more than the average Big 12 school. Stanford, Vanderbilt, Rutgers and Northwestern all had classes 10 to 21 ranking spots ahead of their average. They only one that dropped significantly was Georgia Tech down 10 spots below their average.
Biggest Team Loses
Wow! Did Central Florida just run out of money. It is very rare that a non-AQ makes the AQ leap and is not rewarded with better recruiting. But down 49 recruiting rank spots versus their 4 year average is truly unthinkable. It is a good thing they are moving into the Big East but may not get their before they loose their AQ bid with recruiting like this.
Apparently recruits didn’t think much of a basketball school hiring Charlie Wies. Kansas recruiting has always been bad and save one special flash in the pan year, the Jayhawks are going to stay at the bottom of the Big12. The class is 34 spots under their average and under the CFB recruiting Mendoza Line (UConn).
When your team is in a division where the average class is 17 over 4 years and you, Ole Miss, pull a #51. Not good, not good at all.
Zook had a tough time breaking the top 40 in recruiting classes but #71? 31 spots under the Illini 4 year average. I know the Big Ten is trending down as a whole in talent, but 71 is by far the worst for 2012 in the B1G. It much get back into the 30s and 40s in 2013 or they already have the wrong coach and a crippled program.
So releasing JoePa, firing Butch Davis, retaining O’Brien and Spaziani all equate to terribly low ranked recruiting classes. Penn State drug out forever, so I can see that. UNC is a systemic mess with talent. Eagles fans, at least half, would tell me they are not surprised. With UNC down, why did the Wolf Pack swing and miss so bad? It’s not like Duke is taking all the in-state talent. either way, it’s not good for their immediate futures and weakens the ACC.
I’ll give USC a pass as they are still #2 overall for the last 4 years of recruiting and had just 12 kids commit. The Nebraska and Georgia Tech numbers really surprise me. Both are coming off solid seasons. Johnson is a very good coach and Pelini not too far below average. Their 4 year averages were not too high to start so I have no idea why the recruiting in 2012 was so far off the average.