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College Football Recruiting - How Accurate Are The Rankings?

Here's a shock. The recruiting experts aren't always right. Two weeks ago the Oklahoma Sooners closed out the nation's 10th ranked recruiting class for 2012 according to Rivals but in 2008 they were #6 on National Signing Day. As we've already mentioned last week you can't really grade out a recruit the year they sign but four years later the true story is unraveled.

The same is true for the classes as a whole where they're ranked based off of expectations. They 2008 Oklahoma recruiting class won two Big XII championships, played in a BCS championship game and won three consecutive bowl games from 2009-2011. Was that the 6th best accomplishment among the 2008 recruits or was it better...or possibly worse...than the rest of the Top 10 classes?

Rank School Total Recruits Average What Happened
#1 Alabama 32 3.72 Stars The Tide have compiled a 48-6 record since 2008 and a 3-1 bowl record. They won an SEC championship in 2009 and BCS championships in 2009 and 2011. Their 2008 class included Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
#2 Notre Dame 23 3.96 Stars The Irish are 2-1 in bowl games since signing the 2008 class but didn't get to go bowling in 2009. They are 29-22 since signing the 2008 class.
#3 Florida 23 3.82 Stars The Gators haven't lost a bowl game since the 2008 class signed. Among their four post season wins is the `08 BCS championship. They also won the SEC championship that season. The Gators are 41-13 since 2008.
#4 Ohio State 25 3.85 Stars The Buckeyes made three consecutive BCS bowl appearances from 2008-10, winning in `09 & `10. They won the Big Ten in 2009 and have compiled a 39-13 record since signing the 2008 class.
#5 Miami 33 3.33 The Hurricanes haven't won a bowl game since signing the 2008 class. They are 0-3 from 2008-10 and din't go bowling in 2011. They have a 29-22 record since 2008.
#6 Oklahoma 21 3.81 Won three consecutive bowl games from 2009-2011. Lost in the BCS Championship Game in 2008. Won the Big XII championship in 2008 and 2010. Oklahoma has a 42-12 record since signing the 2008 class.
#7 Georgia 24 3.67 Since signing the 2008 class the Bulldogs have put together three 10-win seasons. They played for two SEC championships and have a 2-2 bowl record. Georgia is 38-16 since 2008.
#8 USC 19 3.89 NCAA sanctions have kept the Trojans from participating in bowl games over the last two seasons. Before that USC was 2-0 in bowl games in 2008 and 2009 with a Pac-10 championship and Rose Bowl win in 2008. The Trojans are 41-12 since signing the 2008 class.
#9 Florida St 30 3.33 The Seminoles are a perfect 4-0 in bowl games since the 2008 signing class came on board. While they were shutout in winning an ACC championship Florida State does have a 36-17 record over the last four seasons.
#10 Michigan 24 3.67 After suffering consecutive losing seasons in 2008 and 2009 the Wolverines found their way to the post season in 2010 and won the Sugar Bowl in 2011. They have a 26-24 record over the last four seasons.

Obviously they got it right with Alabama having the top class in `09. Four years later they've won their second national championship and they have the most wins among the Top 10. What about the other nine though? Notre Dame needs to be lower. Florida and Oklahoma need to be higher and a few others need to be jumbled around. Four years later they should look more like this.

Rank School `08 Rank Record
#1 Alabama #1 48-6
#2 Florida #3 41-13
#3 Oklahoma #6 42-12
#4 USC #8 41-12
#5 Ohio State #4 39-13
#6 Georgia #7 38-16
#7 Florida St #9 36-17
#8 Notre Dame #2 29-22
#9 Miami #5 29-22
#10 Michigan #10 26-24

They really missed the boat on Notre Dame and Miami who quite honestly (along with Michigan) didn't live up to deserving a Top 10 ranking over the last four seasons. Especially when you consider that teams like LSU (two SEC Championships and a BCS Title since 2008) and Oregon (LaMichael James was a part or Oregon's 19th ranked class of 2008) were not in the Top 10.

Using only the Top 10 from 2008, with no other options, Rivals was about 50/50. Alabama and Michigan were spot on as the best and the worst in the Top 10. Then you've got Florida, Ohio State and Georgia who were within one spot of where they were ranked in `08. If you say that's close enough to be good then you have a 50% accuracy rate.

Its not just the recruiting experts who get it wrong every now and then. Every year coaches miss out as well. Let's look to Austin, Texas for a prime example. In 2009 the Longhorns were sold on 5-star prospect Garrett Gilbert. It wasn't just Texas though. Arizona, Nebraska, Stanford, Texas A&M and Texas Tech all wanted him as well. In 2010 Gilbert led the Longhorns to their first losing season since 1997 and in 2011 he left the Texas football program as a complete bust.

It just goes to show that recruiting rankings are pretty much as crap shoot and everyone knows it. There are just too many intangibles facing an 18-year old kid that makes prognosticating his collegiate career next to impossible. Understanding that actually makes getting 50% right pretty good.