Michigan Mailbag Question: Recruiting Rankings
Regarding the recruiting rankings provided by Scout on Bleacher Report, why are schools ranked by total points? Ohio State has the most points with 4,799 - but they needed 25 commits to get those points and averaged 192 points per recruit. However, Georgia only needed 20 commits to get 4,121 points - averaging 206 points per recruit. Do you think the schools should be ranked by average points per commit instead of team total?
Thanks for the question.
People all have their own opinions — plain and simple. Each site has different people in different areas, so whoever pushes their area higher gets players ranked higher. There are a lot more ranking outlets than just Scout and Rivals. You have Tom Lemming, Scout, Rivals, Scout Inc., Emfinger, and so many other groups. (Back in the old days, Rivals used to take Tom Lemming's top 100 lists and usually switched around about five names on the list.)
There are also regional differences: Lemming, for instance, knows the Midwest and Big Ten area very well. Emfinger specializes in Texas and the Southwest. They also have hometown schools they tend to tilt towards. One thing's for certain: with all these new all-star games coming out, you will see rankings only get farther away from each other, rather than closer, because people are going to push their kids as being the better prospects. Each site is pushing their rankings to be the better one, but nobody really knows until 4-5 years down the road which team ended up with the best recruits and which ranking was the most accurate (but what fun would that be to wait that long to say who is the best?)
We're not rating-type guys at all. We don't believe in them. They are for message board fans to discuss and kill time until the season comes around.
Our best advice is to be skeptical of all these rating systems. Wait two or three years and then judge by performance on the field. All these ranking systems will get some kids right, some kids wrong, and totally miss some others. There are no guarantees. What we look for are difference-maker athletes. We think that quality should always trump quantity.
One stud quarterback is more valuable to us than three average or good quarterbacks. These types of athletes make every one around them better. Therefore, we would agree that average points per commit would be a better system. What I look for is how many elite, highly ranked kids you have compared to the other programs: take your top ten recruits and put them up against every other team's top ten prospects and see who ends up looking better.
The problem is, in most years, probably only about half of your recruiting class will make a big difference for your team throughout their playing time. You can always find special team-type players and, if you are at a bigger program such as Michigan, you should always be bringing in top talent to compete. That is why we believe the quality of your recruits matter more than how many you get. Another point about rankings is that some of these are based on how many recruits a team has: many times a team that had 25 recruits is higher ranked than a team with 17, even though the eight recruits on the bigger team might never see the field, but they generate more "points" to rank their teams higher. This indicates quantity more than quality.
The best thing to do is not get all excited if your team drops a few spots or is higher in a few spots. Take them all, throw them together, and then rank them yourself. The thing is as fans, they always want their recruits to be the elite kids and if they are those elite (five-star kids), they will beat on their chest and say how great the recruiting services got them right. If their team gets a bunch of (three-star kids) they will say the recruiting services got them wrong and will be big-time sleepers and that the recruiting services do not know what they are doing. In some ways that is what makes it fun, but it also makes it tiring to follow when there is so much difference in the rankings and how some of the fans react to the rankings.
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