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Recruiting Services and the Star Rankings




If you follow college football with any interest and live in any of the SEC home states then you are well aware that the National Signing Day for football recruits is just hours away.  I am a huge college football fan but I will be glad when this signing day is over and out of the way.  Why?  So that the few sports talk shows that I listen to can get back to business and discuss something other than recruiting.  In Mississippi it is difficult to find a quality sports talk radio station with quality programming to listen to during the day.  During this recruiting season it becomes impossible to find something you can bare listening to.  Certainly I am not an expert on the subject of these recruiting services and how valid outfits such as Rivals and Scout are when it comes to ranking 17 year olds but I do have a few well thought out opinions.  These opinions are based on conversations with some of the writers for the services that I have bumped into at press boxes or other venues.  Trust me they get a laugh out of the seriousness with which some of the recruitniks out there take this stuff.  They also get a laugh taking your money to the bank due to the lack of common sense. First I will say that I am aware and agree that schools that consistently rank in the Top 10 in the recruiting rankings consistently win even though it is not always at the Top 10 poll level.  Second I am aware and fully agree that several schools that consistently rank outside the Top 10 seem to flirt with the Top 10 polls on a consistent basis.  Examples would be Virginia Tech, Nebraska, TCU, and Wisconsin to name a few.  Note:  Take a moment on Thursday after the signing day parties to view the recruiting rankings of the schools listed above plus some others and see where they stand.  Third I do know that in most all rankings by espn, rivals and scout the star level is based on which schools are recruiting the player.  It is not based on the individual evaluation of the particular player by that service.  It is this key factor that I get a laugh watching grown men, and in some cases women from Alabama, shell out big bucks to have a recruiting service or other web site tell them what their coaching staffs could tell them on signing day.  The average recruitnik feels as though he has received confirmation when rivals tells the recruitnik what the recruitnik wants to hear when in reality rivals is only telling the recruitnik what the coaches told rivals.  How can anyone really think that anyone knows who has the best recruiting class between Florida and Texas?  What if Florida needed more offensive linemen than Texas?  What if Texas only has 20 scholarships to offer compared to 26 for Florida? How can you rank a LB as the #1 recruit in Mississippi over an offensive lineman or running back?  Was it because more schools needed a LB in 2011 thus he was recruited by more schools?  Or was it because he was a better LB than the top WR in the state?  These are the kind of questions that are never asked or answered thus you wind up with a recruiting ranking that does not reflect the entire picture.  The sad part is it is not fair to coaches in many cases.  There are coaches out there that feel the pressure to sign for rankings in some cases to satisfy this thirst by the fan base.  Don’t laugh; I really believe it happens particularly to young coaches in many cases. Now I can hear someone out there saying “yeah but Alabama always has top 10 recruiting classes and they are always knocking on the door of the top 10 polls, so that proves the point of the rankings”.  No it doesn’t.  It proves the recruiting service identifies the players Alabama is recruiting as juniors in high school and assigns them high rankings based on that fact.  Let me give you an example.  Let’s say a former Florida Gator football player has become an assistant high school football coach in another state such as Louisiana.  The former Gator is coaching at a small 2A school that doesn’t get much attention but they have a great player that is going unnoticed.  Many high school coaches try to convince a school such as Florida they have a star in the making the gators should be recruiting.  The reality is the Gators simply can’t follow up on all these type of calls.  Back at the small school their star player as a junior is only getting interest from directional schools such as La Tech and a Conference USA school like Southern Miss.  Because of this lack of interest from big schools the kid is only a 1 or 2 star in the rankings.  However remember that former Florida Gator who is now an assistant coach?  Well he has a hot line to the University of Florida and he gets directly to the coaching staff and he explains they have a diamond in the rough and the Gators need to give this kid a look.  He gets a look, recruiting services become aware that the Mighty Gators are recruiting this kid from a small 2A school in Louisiana and instantly he become a 4 star recruit.  The kid didn’t get any better.  Had there not been a connection he would have been the 2 star that went to La Tech or USM and perhaps become a star in the NFL. Yes this signing day the same schools will finish the day with the highest rankings and they will have signed some great players.  But there will be some schools in the 20-35 range that will sign great players as well and it will show up on the field during the next 4 years.  Remember TCU, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin just to name a few.

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