Tuesday, February 06, 2007

7 out of 10 isn't good enough. | by Pat

National Signing Day is tomorrow so to get you in the mood, here's a trio of links to introduce the concept and execution of recruiting for those who aren't hopelessly and pathetically obsessed. (I keep telling myself that admitting it is the first step towards recovery.)

First things first. Before the recruiting process can even start, a coach needs to pass an NCAA-administered test on the complicated rules of recruiting. In order to be eligible to contact recruits, a coach must score an 80%. A practice version of the test is available online here. Can you pass it? In the interest of full disclosure, I took the test and scored 70% which suits me just fine. It's high enough that I don't feel dumb, but not so high that I feel like I'm paying way too much attention to this stuff. (ok, I am paying way too much attention to this stuff.)

Ahhhh, but coaches aren't the only ones with a big impact on the recruiting process. With the huge interest in recruiting websites like Rivals.com and Scout.com, the evaluation of recruits and the resultant "star" rankings is reshaping a booming cottage industry. And this particular niche market is becoming so powerful that it in turn is affecting not only the recruiting habits of college coaches, but also their job security as assumptions based on said rankings affect the levels of expectations for particular schools. That leads to one big question. Who are these guys doing the rankings? The Washington Post has a very interesting insight into the lives of one of the well-known recruiting analysts with a recent profile on Scout.com evaluator Bob Litchenfels. It's a worthwhile read that gives a behind the scenes peek at how the industry works and the people that run it.

Finally, while we spend tomorrow fawning over the final class recruiting rank and project these players future, it's interesting to look back and see just how accurate these rankings we love to recite actually are. Thanks to Wizard of Odds for pointing out that Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union-Tribune investigated the past four years of recruiting rankings and came up with a very interesting graphic detailing the cumulative four-year recruiting class ranking and the accompanying finish in this year's Top 25. Notice that Penn State and Cal are the only two teams out of 11 that finished lower in the recruiting ranking than the Irish and still managed to remain ranked this year. Does the dropoff mean that the schools with lower ranked recruits yet managed to be ranked have better coaches? Or are the unranked/lower ranked schools with high recruiting rankings merely benefiting from name recognition in the recruiting process? Probably a little from column A and a little from column B. Still, previous recaps done on BGS (here and here) show that while there are plenty of misses among the top ranked guys, there are still enough hits to warrant paying some sort of attention to the consensus rankings.