Does Steve Spurrier get more out of the talent he has available at South Carolina? Does the head ball coach recruit enough big stars to win consistently? Or, like me, do you think way too much emphasis is put on recruiting and star rankings overall.
If recruiting classes were the final say on a team's talent, you would think Coach Spurrier did OK, but he needs to do better. Heck, his recruiting classes over the past five years only averaged ranking No. 16 in the nation with ESPN Recruiting and No. 17 in the nation with Rivals.
That's not what we need. We need top 10, top five or top three classes, right? Yet, his Gamecocks finished No. 8 in the nation in the polls last year. Isn't that really the only true measuring stick of how well a team and coaching staff are doing?
Is this really what college football has come to now? Just a few years ago, there were one or two well known recruiting magazines that rated incoming high school players. Recently, that information pool has exploded with Rivals, ESPN Recruiting, Scout.com, Super Prep and another half dozen or so online services, each one with their own system for ranking athletes.
Fans are lighting up message boards bragging or complaining about where their favorite school ranks on the 2013 recruiting rankings. 2013? That signing day is still six full months away! People are reporting on and getting excited over where these high school kids are verbally committing to play that far out.
How many of those commitments will change? Many will change, I assure you. Yet we pontificate on who we need to get, who we must sign, who we can't do without?
Add into this the wide-open reporting arena and you have information overload. Bleacher Report itself has several recruiting articles listed about each major football school. By my estimation, right at this second, there are over one hundred articles on this site alone speculating about recruiting.
The college football starved fans here as the season draws near are eating this information up. I say that's great! Great reporters writing great articles, great ranking services, organizing and ranking the players. Then, in our great free enterprise system, they all are selling advertising to publish the information so we fans can get our fill on recruiting. It's just great, right?
Just remember, it's a "buyer beware" world out there. Anyone who puts too much weight on where a high school kid verbally commits to play a year from now is going to have a lot of big ups and downs.
I will be the first to say that talent does matter. But the difference in a 4-star versus a 5-star recruit is only in the eye of the evaluator. What good coaching staffs want are the best athlete they can get that will work in their system. Many times a 3- or 4-star guy will do just as well, or better in a certain system, than one ranked with five stars.
Want to see a "for instance"? Take a look at Wisconsin. Two-time Big Ten champions, with double-digit wins (32-8) the past three seasons. They were ranked No. 10 in the final AP poll of 2011. Yet, the highest ranked recruiting class they brought in the past four years was No. 28 in the nation according to Scout.
In a previous Bleacher Report article, I reported on Wisconsin recruiting class ranking for the previous four years, according to Rivals.com, SuperPrep.com and Scout.com. The average ranking for a Wisconsin recruiting class was No. 40 in the nation. Rivals even ranked Wisconsin's 2010 class outside of the top 50 in the nation. Yet, they are 32-8 and conference champs two years running. That is the best example of coaching up the talent you recruit I have seen. But Carolina does it as well.
So, in answer to the question originally posed here, Steve Spurrier and his assistants do win more with less according to the various recruiting services. However, the magic to that is they recruit the very best players they can get to fill the individual needs of their program. Then, they coach them up! Turning 85 scholarship athletes into a cohesive, winning team, regardless of their recruiting rankings.