Over at the mothership, SB Nation recruiting editor Bud Elliott, Chris Fuhrmeister and I found that every national champion as far back as we can count had a "blue chip ratio" of at least 50% in the previous four recruiting cycles.
Blue chip ratio is what Elliott coined as the percentage of recruits brought in that were either four- or five-stars, and it's further proof that recruiting ratings do matter. While Rivals, Scout, 247 and ESPN are not at all perfect, there's a clear connection between bringing in top-tier talent and winning at the highest possible level.
Only 11 programs have the necessary blue chip ratio to be considered contenders for the national title next season, and if the pattern holds, a champion will be crowned from the group of Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, Florida State, Michigan, Florida, Auburn and Georgia.
Maryland, not so surprisingly, does not come anywhere close to the list, but things are certainly looking up when compared to the end of Ralph Friedgen's tenure. Not even the most optimistic of Terrapin fans have national title hopes in the near future, but it's clearly a predictor of future success, so let's take a look.
Here are the Big Ten rankings for blue chip ratio:
|Team||%||'13-14 v. '11-12|
|Ohio State||68||Up 17%|
|Penn State||21||Up 2%|
|Michigan State||16||Up 8%|
Maryland's in seventh -- the exact same place they were in the class of 2014 recruiting rankings -- firmly behind the first tier of the conference but certainly in the mix behind that. For a cross-conference comparison, that puts the Terps on par with Baylor and above Missouri, Arizona State and Louisville.
Most notable, of course, is the last column of the table. Maryland's blue-chip ratio has increased from nine percent to 18 percent since Randy Edsall took over (averaging out at 13 percent) -- a promising trend that looks to continue to increase the talent on the team.
The most important thing this increase in talent will provide? A more sustainable level of success. Friedgen was able to deliver some great seasons with the Terrapins -- notably his first three -- but the inconsistency and constant up-and-down seasons were maddening for Maryland fans.
But hey, using just the later numbers is a little unfair to Friedgen, right? Friedgen may have struggled recruiting at the end of his time with Maryland, but there were certainly some highs early on.
The Terps' blue-chip ratio heading into the 2005 season, which is the farthest back we can count (and also happens to come at the end of Friedgen's peak on the field and the recruiting trail), was 15.9% -- just slightly higher than Edsall's current mark (and lower than Edsall's mark over the past two recruiting classes).
So what does it all mean? Randy Edsall is recruiting slightly worse than Ralph Friedgen did at the beginning of his tenure, but significantly better than Friedgen did at the end. If Edsall can continue to keep this pace up, it's a promising sign for the future of the program.
Obviously, there are plenty of other factors -- Friedgen is one of the game's most revered offensive minds, and while Edsall has improved his win total in each of the past two years, he has still not matched the nine-win mark of his predecessor's final year. Can it be accomplished in the Big Ten? Keep raising that blue chip level and we'll see what can be achieved.