In a nod to my soon-to-be brother-in-law (USNA class of 2009), I'm including Navy in this list.
I ruffled a few feathers when I listed Army in a previous rankings list a couple of months ago, so hopefully this will smooth things over.
In all honesty, though, Navy is truly an enigma in the FBS world.
Navy's recruiting class ranks (rightfully) somewhere between 90 and 120 in any given year (2010's class ranks 111th according to Rivals.com).
In reality, Navy (along with Army and Air Force) really could have gone the way of the US Coast Guard Academy, and play Division III athletics. After all, not a single athlete at any of these academies is there to play a sport. Not a single one gets a dime of athletic scholarship money (after all, we the taxpayers pay for their education because we, the taxpayers, reap the benefits for their many years of brave service to our nation).
Recruiting isn't the easiest task in the world, either. Let's pretend you're the coach at Navy. You want Player X to be your next quarterback. He's big, strong, fast, and smart. He'd fit in great with your offensive scheme. So go get him, right?
Not so fast. First, he has to be eligible for military service. Next, you'd have to get a Congressman or Senator (or the President or Vice President) to appoint him to the academy. You don't just "get in" to the Naval Academy. And even if you get all of that done, you have to convince Player X to not only attend the Naval Academy, but to then give up at least five years of his life after that to serve in the Navy or Marine Corps, and give up any chance of playing the NFL, at least until his term of service was over.
That's a tough sell for a kid who lives and breathes football.
The fact that Navy finds its recruiting rankings in the 90-120 range isn't a surprise. The fact that they're successful, is.
Navy hasn't really had a bad season since 2002's 2-10 debacle. Navy has been to a bowl game every year since 2002 (and has even managed to negotiate a bowl tie-in—quite a feat for an independent not named Notre Dame).
Navy hasn't lost to Army since 2001. Navy has beaten Notre Dame two of the last three years.
Navy is, top to bottom, impressive when you consider the recruiting non-starter the coaches deal with and their resulting basement-bottom recruiting class rankings.