Maryland officially retired from their years of mediocre football in the ACC to the spotlight of the Big Ten on July 1, when the conference change became official. In the past 10 seasons, Maryland has posted an overall record of 57-66, with their highlight season coming in 2010, which saw a 9-4 Maryland squad destroy East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Since that game, good news has been sparse in the football program, but could the move to the Big Ten be the spark to send the team back into their winning ways?
Conferences are an always changing landscape that can sometimes be hard to keep up with. In the past three years, schools with respectable football programs entered into new territory with a new commissioner and a new badge to etch on their chest. We want to analyze the recruiting impact involved in switching conferences, whether it be positive or negative, of recently converted teams in Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas A&M and West Virginia.
A lot of this work is inspired by Chris Fuhrmeister's article, with numbers from his piece included.
Colorado (2011): Big 12 to Pac-12
Missouri (2012): Big 12 to SEC
Nebraska (2011): Big 12 to Big 10
Texas A&M (2012): Big 12 to SEC
West Virginia (2012): Big East to Big 12
Maryland (2014): ACC to Big Ten
The past three years has seen a lot of conference alignment, but the Big 12 felt the shifts the most. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and A&M all left the conference but welcomed West Virginia and TCU as newcomers.
247sports Rankings impact
We wanted to see first and foremost if there was any dramatic change in the recruiting rankings from before and after the conference change.
*2015 Rankings are concurrent and are not finished yet
Missouri and Colorado are the only two teams on the list that saw a drop in average class rank from before the switch to after. Missouri's drop in class rank may shift soon after their improbable 12-2 record last season, just their second in the SEC. Colorado has seen less fortune than the Tigers, going 8-29 in their first three seasons playing on the west coast.
Texas A&M is the biggest benefactor from the conference change and that comes to no surprise, considering the prominence and strength of the SEC. Their recruiting ranks from year to year are steadily dropping thanks to Johnny Manziel, Texas high school football and the conference shift.
It's too early to tell the recruiting impacts of Maryland just yet, but we can see some promise of lower rankings from the 2014 to 2015 shift which has seen a 12-spot improvement on Randy Edsall and staff's behalf. Nebraska, the only other analyzed team that switched to the Big Ten, has seen an average of five spots higher in the rankings since changing conferences.
The geographical impact: players state by state
|CA: 8||CA: 10||CA: 7||CO: 5||CA: 9||CA: 7||CA: 10||CA: 13||CA: 12||CO: 3|
|CO: 4||CO: 4||CO: 5||CA: 5||CO: 2||HI: 3||TX: 7||CO: 3||CO: 4||CA: 2|
|TX: 2||FL: 2||TX: 2||TX: 3||NJ: 3||CO: 2||CO: 3||TX: 3||TX: 2||TX: 1|
|HI: 2||ID: 2||OH: 2||IL: 1||TX: 2||AZ: 2||DC: 3||WA: 1||UT: 2||UT: 1|
|KY: 1||TN: 2||ID: 1||NV: 1||AL: 1||NC: 2||AZ: 1||HI: 1|
|ID: 1||PA: 2||UT: 1||OH: 1||AZ: 1||TX: 2||HI: 1||MS: 1|
|WA: 1||HI: 2||AZ: 1||OK: 1||FL: 1||DC: 1||LA: 1|
|AZ: 1||AZ: 1||NJ: 1||KS: 1||HI: 1||MO: 1|
|FL: 1||LA: 1||KY: 1||TN: 1||NC: 1||NJ: 1|
|American Samoa: 1||KS: 1||CT: 1||OH: 1|
|TX: 10||MO: 9||TX: 12||MO: 10||TX: 9||TX: 6||TX: 6||MO: 11||MO: 8||MO: 4|
|MO: 6||CA: 6||MO: 8||TX: 7||MO: 6||MO: 3||MO: 5||TX: 3||FL: 7||KS: 2|
|CA; 5||TX: 5||OH: 2||CA: 2||AR: 1||CA: 1||FL: 2||AL: 1||TX: 3||GA: 1|
|OK: 2||KS: 2||MS: 1||PA: 1||FL: 1||LA: 1||KS: 1||FL: 1||TN: 3||Il: 1|
|FL: 1||TN: 1||IA: 1||OH: 1||IL: 1||ND: 1||OK: 1||IL: 1||GA: 3||TN: 1|
|ND: 1||FL: 1||AR: 1||MI: 1||KS: 1||IL: 1||CA: 1||AL: 1|
|OK: 1||IL: 1||OK: 1||OK: 1||MI: 1||GA: 1||IN: 1|
|MI: 1||KS: 1||CA: 1||OH: 1||KS: 1||IL: 1|
|IL: 1||LA: 1||IA: 1||PA: 1||KS: 1|
|KS: 1||MS: 1|
|CA: 9||TX: 7||TX: 9||TX: 8||TX: 5||TX: 5||CA: 3||NE: 5||TX: 4||NE: 2|
|NE: 4||AZ: 6||NE: 5||CA: 6||NE: 4||NE: 4||AZ: 2||CA: 5||NE: 3||MO: 2|
|MO: 2||CA: 4||CA: 3||NE: 2||CA: 2||FL: 2||IL: 2||FL: 4||LA: 3||CO: 2|
|CO: 2||KS: 4||AL: 2||MD: 1||CO: 2||OH: 2||OH: 2||OH: 3||FL: 3||FL: 1|
|FL: 1||NE: 3||LA: 2||KS: 1||KS: 2||CA: 2||TX: 2||TX: 3||KS: 2||GA: 1|
|UT: 1||MO: 1||FL: 1||ND: 1||MO: 2||AL: 1||NE: 1||LA: 2||MS: 2||TX: 1|
|TX: 1||CO: 1||MO: 1||CO: 1||OH: 2||AZ: 1||CO: 1||MO: 2||MO: 2||KS: 1|
|AL: 1||LA: 1||IA: 1||FL: 1||IL: 1||GA: 1||AZ: 1||AL: 1||LA: 1|
|NV: 1||FL: 1||GA: 1||GA: 1||KS: 1||LA: 1||MD: 1||GA: 1|
|KS: 1||ND: 1||IL: 1||MA: 1||MO: 1||IN: 1||NV: 1|
|OH: 1||LA: 1||UT: 1||IL: 1||VA: 1|
|KS: 1||MN: 1||NJ: 1|
Texas A&M (2012)
|TX: 18||TX: 15||TX: 22||TX: 24||TX: 29||TX: 15||TX: 15||TX: 23||TX: 15||TX: 15|
|CA: 2||CA: 1||CA: 1||LA: 3||LA: 3||LA: 3||MS: 1||LA: 3||LA: 2||LA: 1|
|OK: 1||LA: 1||OK: 1||KS: 1||CO: 1||CA: 1||CA: 1||CA: 2||AZ: 2||FL: 1|
|MS: 1||UT: 1||KY: 1||FL: 1||LA: 1||VA: 1||PA: 1||MS: 1|
|UT: 1||OH: 1||KS: 1||MD: 1||AZ: 1||MS: 1|
|PA: 1||KS: 1|
|OH: 1||HI: 1|
West Virginia (2012)
|PA: 5||OH: 6||VA: 5||FL: 6||VA: 4||FL: 6||FL: 13||PA: 6||FL: 5||FL: 6|
|FL: 4||FL: 4||FL: 5||PA: 4||FL: 3||DC: 3||TX: 5||FL: 4||PA: 4||MD: 3|
|OH: 3||PA: 4||AZ: 4||OH: 4||OH: 2||OH: 3||OH: 4||MS: 3||OH: 2||OH: 2|
|VA: 2||WV: 3||MD: 3||VA: 3||GA: 1||PA: 3||MD: 3||OH: 3||MD: 2||WV: 1|
|MD: 1||VA: 3||WV: 2||WV: 2||CA: 1||WV: 2||NJ: 2||GA: 3||CA; 2||NC: 1|
|NY: 1||MD: 2||PA: 2||MD: 2||NJ: 1||TX: 2||GA: 1||MD: 3||NC: 1||NJ: 1|
|MS: 2||OH: 2||AZ: 2||PA: 1||CA: 1||MN: 1||NJ: 1||OK: 1|
|AZ: 1||CA: 2||DC: 1||TX: 1||IA: 1||PA: 1||WV: 1||WV: 1|
|MI: 1||KS: 1||AL: 1||WV: 1||NC: 1||AZ: 1||DC: 1|
|NJ: 1||AL: 1||MD: 1||GA: 1||KS: 1||KS: 1|
|KY: 1||MS: 1||TN: 1||MN: 1||TX: 1||MS: 1|
|GA: 1||CA: 1|
|MD: 6||VA: 6||MD: 6||MD: 12||MD: 5||NC: 4||MD: 8||MD: 9||MD: 5||MD: 5|
|VA: 4||NJ: 5||VA: 2||VA: 5||DC: 3||MD: 3||PA: 4||FL: 3||PA: 3||PA: 2|
|PA: 4||MD: 3||NJ: 2||SC: 3||VA; 3||FL: 3||GA: 3||DC: 3||VA: 2||FL: 2|
|DC: 1||NY: 3||NC: 2||GA: 2||FL: 3||VA: 2||DC: 2||GA: 2||NJ: 1||TX: 2|
|DE: 1||GA: 3||CT: 1||DC: 2||GA: 3||DE: 1||NY: 1||IA: 1||DC: 1||VA: 2|
|CT: 1||DC: 1||SC: 1||PA: 1||PA: 2||SC: 1||CA: 1||CT: 1||TX: 1||WV: 1|
|NJ: 1||TX: 1||DC: 1||NC: 1||NJ: 1||GA: 1||MA: 1||DE: 1||NY: 1||OH: 1|
|MI: 1||OH: 1||PA: 1||NJ: 1||NC: 1||TN: 1||NJ: 1||CA: 1||OH: 1||DE: 1|
|SC: 1||SC: 1||NY: 1||PA: 1||IA: 1||AZ: 1|
|WV: 1||NJ: 1||VA: 1||CA: 1|
|NC: 1||SC: 1|
We know, we know, this is a tad bit overwhelming but the main thing to look for is a trend of where the players geographically come from and how that was impacted by the conference realignments. Early on in the recruiting process still, Maryland has attracted more Texas players than they had in the previous ten seasons. Maybe they are expanding their reach because of the conference change and better television exposure in the Big Ten. Players from Maryland and Virginia and DC will always stand atop the list of commits, but Maryland is starting to dig farther and farther into the trenches of Big Ten country, reeling in players from Iowa and creating pipelines in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Texas A&M saw the smallest shift in talent but that is because of the surplus of talent loitering around Texas. The state of Texas has Friday night lights, Matt Saracen and talent creeping all through the Lone Star State, so why leave to recruit? Contrary to A&M, West Virginia's recruiting is quite sporadic. West Virginia isn't known to produce the most prestigious football talent, so the staff looks elsewhere. They have found success in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida in particular.
Here, we are going to analyze the quality of recruits the teams are getting. As Bud Elliott found, blue-chip ratio is indicative of success -- no national title winner in the modern recruiting era has ever had lower than a 50% blue-chip recruits over their past four recruiting cycles. In this graph, we considered blue-chip recruits to be four star and five star commits. The number represents the percentage of players from that class that were blue-chip, can't miss athletes.
Colorado has struggled to stay afloat since moving to the Pac-12. They have only managed to sign one blue-chip player since the conference switch but other teams like Texas A&M have had a field day with the conference switch. In the class of 2014, the Aggies reeled in 14 blue-chip recruits including three five star caliber players according to 247sports.
Nebraska hasn't seen much of an improvement at all in their recruitment of big name players since converting to the Big Ten in 2011. In fact, the number of four and five star players has dropped 28 percent since their inaugural year in their new conference.
Maryland has seen a pretty substantial improvement in this area under Randy Edsall, culminating in a 2014 class nearing 25%. The 2015 class is off to a slow start in that area, and the staff will have to close out well (or hope three-star commits like D.J. Moore get bumped up to four stars).
Production - Wins and losses
At the end of the day, it's all about winning. So for a second, let's throw away recruiting and analyze records in years leading up to the conference switch and years following the switch.
*Bold symbolizes the teams record in the first year in the new conference
The most noticeable disappointment comes from West Virginia. It is hard to tell whether that shift has come from a new conference and different level of competition or simply a struggle to find the next Rich Rodriguez. The other teams, excluding Colorado, have flourished and asserted themselves into the new conference with dominance and grit.
Bonus: Miles traveled
We wanted to lastly examine how far away teams had to travel to conference away games versus how much they traveled the year prior to them going into the new conference.
Colorado: 2,513 miles to 5,000 miles
Missouri: 2,272 miles to 3,231 miles
Nebraska: 1,565 miles to 2,730 miles
Texas A&M: 2,394 miles to 2,587 miles
West Virginia: 2,041 miles to 4,809 miles
Maryland: 1,791 miles to 2,225 miles
Maryland sits in a good position because of the short trip up the road to Penn State. In West Virginia's first year in the Big 12, they had to make two very long trips down to Texas.
So who is Maryland most similar to?
Looking at all of the numbers and picking out similarities, I would say Maryland most resembles Nebraska out of the recently switched schools. Nebraska has assimilated well into the Big Ten, but they need to keep their talent in the state while continuing to look for blue-chippers to come to the program. Nebraska consistently ranks in the top 35 in the rankings but often fluctuates every other year between the thirties and twenties. Maryland ranks poorer in final recruiting rankings but the switch to the Big Ten can only encourage on-the-fence recruits to commit to Maryland.