Larry Burton (Syndicated Writer) Sometimes you get the best story ideas from the least likely of places. A lady handing me my lunch through a drive-thru window noticed my Alabama tag on the car as pulled up. She asked me if Nick Saban was going to get all the good ones again in this year's recruiting.
I told her we should get another top class.
"Do the top recruiting teams always win a championship?" she said.
"No not always, but it sure can't hurt," i responded. And there became the idea for this story.
I got curious and started digging, and boy did some interesting facts pop out at me.
Below are ten teams with their four year recruiting class average by rivals and their respective finishes in the AP final poll. (n/r means not ranked)
Team 2006-2009 recruiting average AP Finish 2006 2007 2008 2009
USC 2.75 4 3 3 22
Oklahoma 4.50 11 8 5 n/r
Florida 5.0 1 13 1 3
Texas 7.0 13 10 4 2
Georgia 7.25 23 2 13 n/r
Florida State 8.75 n/r n/r 21 n/r
Alabama 10.00 n/r n/r 6 1
LSU 10.75 3 1 n/r 17
Miami 11.50 n/r n/r n/r 19
And now the shocker
Boise State 74.75 5 n/r 11 4
As a writer, I've always said that statistics can tell either side of an argument, but these do tell a tale that many will want to argue and debate with their own statistics. They are:
First of all, the big shocker. Putting aside the easy conference argument, Boise State certainly does more with less, from a talent standpoint.
The great assumption you can make here is the fact that Chris Petersen is one heck of a coach who gets the most out of some of the least talented players of almost any bowl team.
From the bottom half of NCAA Div. I talent, he has one of the highest average finishes and that alone may make him the best coach in America.
Secondly, for the last four years, no one has had more talent than USC, yet they still stumble against lesser teams each year. The same can be said for Oklahoma.
Still, USC had some great teams and high rankings to show for it.
Third Conclusion: Only two teams on this list of ten actually won a national championship, Florida and Alabama. But during that 4 year period, Florida had a recruiting number twice as good as Alabama's average.
Therefore, Nick Saban can certainly wring every drop of talent out the players he has in order to overcome teams laden with at least more talent on paper.
Fourthly, speaking of doing a lot with talent, let's look at teams that don't. LSU has almost the same talent on the field as Alabama according to rivals with almost identical numbers, yet LSU's four year average finish is quite dismal in comparison and shows why Les Miles is on the hot seat this year.
It's called squandering talent.
And lastly, despite the most stellar careers in all of football, it is easy to see why Florida State fired Bobby Bowden. They had, according to rivals, a much better talented team for the last few years than Alabama, but in the past four years they had not one finish in the top 20. Talk about doing nothing with a lot of talent.
Bobby Bowden, as good as he was, had great talent and did absolutely nothing with it. One bad year would be an anomaly, four in a row is shows it's no bad year, freak injury or tough schedule.
Also Miami should have better results with all the talent they have. Randy Shannon's seat has been warm for a while too.
So while you celebrate your school's recruits ask yourself first what your team ends up doing with that talent.