If Preseason Polls Were Based on Recruiting Rankings

The USA Today Coaches Farce Poll was released on Friday, and I'm sure everyone has seen it. If you haven't, it looks a lot like last year's end of the year poll at the top, minus Utah. LSU came in a respectable ninth despite a sub-par 8-5 season, no doubt a tribute to what Jordan Jefferson did in the Peach Chik-Fil-A Bowl and John Chavis did over 14 years at Tennessee. Well, that and the fact that LSU has recruited like gangbusters over the past four or five years. That got me thinking. What if recruiting rankings were used to come up with the preseason top 25? I mean we don't really know anythiing about these teams except how much talent they have, right. See how things would have fallen below the fold.


So, what I did was go back over the past five recruiting classes and cataloged the top 25 from each year. I used the Rivals rankings, Scout rankings and ESPN rankings. If a team made the top 25 in any of the past five years (ESPN only has the last four years online) from any of the three recruiting services, I went back and found it's ranking outside the top 25 from the other years and applied it (for example, Tennessee was 10th last year on Rivals, but 35th in 2008). In the case of ESPN, they only do a top 25, so if a team finished outside the top 25, I gave it its highest ranking from the other two services.

Each ranking had a corresponding point value: 1st got 100 pts, 2nd got 99 pts, 3rd got 98 pts, etc. I then weighted the yearly rankings. This year's incoming freshman class (2009) was worth one point, 2008 worth two points, 2007 worth three, 2006 also worth three and 2005 worth one. That means the theoretical junior and senior classes counted for three times more than the incoming freshmen while sophomores were right in the middle. The fifth-year seniors were equal to the incoming freshmen, because they generally are very small in numbers due to attrition. 

Here's how it turned out:


Rk Team Pts


1 USC 2830

2 Florida 2809

3 Texas 2735

4 Georgia 2715

5 LSU 2713

6 Notre Dame 2640

7 Michigan 2636

8 Ohio State 2611

9 Alabama 2592

10 Miami 2588

11 Auburn 2567

12 Oklahoma 2554

13 Florida State 2533

14 Tennessee 2444

15 Clemson 2422

16 South Carolina 2382

17 Penn State 2316

18 Nebraska 2286

19 Pittsburgh 2273

20 North Carolina 2269

21 Texas A&M 2267

22 UCLA 2253

23 California 2242

24 Virginia Tech 2241

25 Ole Miss 2231

This list is obviously not 100 percent accurate, but it will be interesting how it compares to the end of the year top 25. A few things were of note to me:
  • USC and Florida's numbers are amazing considering there was a total of 2,900 possible points. 
  • LSU fits in right about where you think it might at No. 5. 
  • Jevan Snead doesn't count towards any of Ole Miss's recruiting classes because he was a transfer. But does anyone believe he is good enough to make a team with 25th-ranked talent a top-five squad?
  • After last season's magical run, every one keeps saying this year was the year everyone was pointing to for Alabama. However, it seems next year will be the first time the Crimson Tide will be truly scary. 
  • Nobody has does more with less than Virginia Tech, and right now Oklahoma State (28th).
  • Nobody has does less with more than Charlie Weis, as well as Auburn, Miami and Michigan right now
  • Oklahoma at 12th? Blame it on a clunker of a class in 2007. It wasn't the quality, it was that they just didn't sign very many players.
  • Ten SEC teams ranked amongst the 49 that had at least one class in the top 25. Those ten all fell in the top 36. Kentucky and Vanderbilt, both of whom won bowl games last year were the two that didn't.
  • USC's utter dominance will come to an end soon. Yes, the Trojans will still be one of the best teams in the country, but they've fallen off recruiting the last two years from their seemingly never-ending string of 1-2-3 finishes. In 2008, their average ranking was 8.0 before 5.7 a year ago. It might take two years and someone proving they are worth a crap in the Pac 10 before anyone in the media notices. You heard it here first, USC will lose three games in either 2010 or 2011.
  • Only two teams have had a top 10 recruiting class (when averaging the three services rankings) each of the past four years: USC and LSU.
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