As a follow up to my post analyzing 5 star recruits, one of the posters suggested an analysis of recruiting class rankings and how they relate to actual success on the football field. Much like 5 star recruits, the results were very intriguing.
In order to analyze the recruiting classes, I took a look at the 2002, 2003, and 2004 top 25 recruiting class rankings. Then, I looked at the final AP rankings for the years of 2006, 2007, 2008 (the senior years of the class) to see how they correlated. Obviously, this is not perfect because there are plenty of starters that are not seniors and there are transfers and such to factor in, but this gives us a good general look at recruiting classes. To do this, I calculated the average change in rankings between the recruiting class and the correlating final 25 AP rankings. For example, I compared the #1 recruiting class ranking of Texas in 2002 with their final AP ranking of #13. So, in that case, they moved -12 spots. I then did that for all of the teams and got the average disparity between the two over the course of 3 years. On a side note, if a team dropped out of the top 25, I determined they moved -25 spots, even if they were #24 recruiting class and ended up out of the rankings 4 years later. This isn't perfect but it is the best way to reflect overall movement.
So, onto the results. There is quite a disparity between the recruiting class and the final rankings. On average, each team dropped 14.64 spots from where their recruiting class would indicate they would finish. Furthermore, on average, 13 teams had a top 25 recruiting class and completely dropped out of the AP rankings 4 years later. According to these results, the top 25 recruiting class moniker is overrated. Each year, 10-13 teams manage to finish in the top 25 without a top 25 recruiting class 4 years previously.
Furthermore, it seemed to be extremely rare that a team inside the top 25 recruiting class would actually end up with a BETTER ranking 4 years later. It only occurred 7 times over 3 years of analysis.
In summary of these results, only about half the teams with top 25 recruiting classes actually end up with a top 25 team four years later. Again, like 5 star recruits, the bust rate is just about 50 percent.
Now, there are a few teams who consistently get good recruiting classes and consistently do not finish in the top 25. Teams like Miami, Florida State, South Carolina, all had good recruiting classes from 2002-2005 and finished WAY below where their talent suggested they should.
This data reflects the unpredicatability of recruiting talent. Teams who get good players consistently and know what to do with them (Texas, Florida, Oklahoma) are consistently good. Teams who get talented players but do not know how to properly coach and develop their talent (Miami, Florida State, South Carolina) underachieve woefully.
So, you may be wondering where Maryland fits into all of this. Well, in 2004, they had the #17 recruiting class. What was the MO of the 2008 Terps Season? 7-5, talented, but underachieving. Sounds like an indictment on Fridge's coaching ability more than his recruiting ability.