Importance of Rankings

#1

25vol

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#1
I already posted this on the football board, but I figured a lot of people frequent here and not there. Please delete mods if you don’t think it belongs.

I’ve been seeing a ton of negative sentiment on this board and others lately regarding recruiting rankings and whether they matter, so I decided to dive into this myself.

I think we all would like to believe they don’t matter considering how far behind we’ve been the past few years and CJH’s tendency to coach up 3* guys to 4-5* levels in some cases.

Anyway, here’s some data I’ve gathered on the last 10 national champions and their composite rankings in the three years preceding their championship. This is available on the 247 website for anyone who’d like to see it for themselves.

Some observations I’ve made from looking at it:

• 80% of champions have had at least 2 top 10 finishes before their championship.
• 60% of champions have had a top 10 finish all 3 years prior.

What I also think is that exceptional performance by players/coaches can overcome the rankings, as you can see from Clemson in ‘16/‘18 and Michigan in ‘23.

But what you don’t see is a single national champ that didn’t have a top 10 finish. If we can recruit 5-9 rated classes, I think we’ll get there, but top 15 classes aren’t going to cut it, especially not in this new SEC climate.

A8BF7035-5B3E-4B9F-A35E-D7E8181B538A.png
 
#3
#3
Those classes come after you hit on one of these qbs that become your Desean Watson or Tim Tebow. If none of them pan out Heupel is gone in 5 years anyway. If you stay in this 10 - 15 range with a top qb, you're in the 2nd and 3rd round of the playoffs and the recruiting takes care of itself.
 
#4
#4
Well thank goodness you’ve decided to discuss an original topic that’s totally not been beaten to absolute death in the past…..
Nice one. In my field. I find that when people discuss the same stuff over and over ad nauseam, using data to prove they’re full of **** usually does the job.

I collected this data myself and analyzed it. I think that’s a few levels above the people in this site who spout nonsense with nothing to back it up.
 
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#5
#5
Nice one. In my field. I find that when people discuss the same stuff over and over ad nauseam, using data to prove they’re full of **** usually does the job.

I collected this data myself and analyzed it. I think that’s a few levels above the people in this site who spout nonsense with nothing to back it up.
What is the causation relation though? How many programs had top 10 recruiting classes and no championship?

Ie. I am sure there are years bama had top 10 classes but did not win it. Probably Ohio St had some top 10 finishes with no championship. Likely some others. So, if there os a really good program their prized recruits get generally rated higher. Also, how manu stay there - in particular, now in the NIL world, for example Chase Burns, but many in football.
So there is a relation to how high ranked and reputation and rating bias. That has to be eliminated for it to be accurate and quite hard to do without data. We beat bama two years ago and it was high ranked recruits vs not ranked high recruits.
Excepting a team fiasco, we certainly would have been in playoffs with a chance to win natty.
Lots of 5 stars don’t finish that way, lots of 3 stars finish like 5 stars. It shows when a staff recruits a good team vs one ranked high. i.e. Butch and cornbread. If your taking a 5star who is trouble and never plays just for fans to be happy, that is not a good thing.
 
#7
#7
What is the causation relation though? How many programs had top 10 recruiting classes and no championship?

Ie. I am sure there are years bama had top 10 classes but did not win it. Probably Ohio St had some top 10 finishes with no championship. Likely some others. So, if there os a really good program their prized recruits get generally rated higher. Also, how manu stay there - in particular, now in the NIL world, for example Chase Burns, but many in football.
So there is a relation to how high ranked and reputation and rating bias. That has to be eliminated for it to be accurate and quite hard to do without data. We beat bama two years ago and it was high ranked recruits vs not ranked high recruits.
Excepting a team fiasco, we certainly would have been in playoffs with a chance to win natty.
Lots of 5 stars don’t finish that way, lots of 3 stars finish like 5 stars. It shows when a staff recruits a good team vs one ranked high. i.e. Butch and cornbread. If your taking a 5star who is trouble and never plays just for fans to be happy, that is not a good thing.
I agree that correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but this data shows a strong correlation between elite composite rankings and winning championships. An elite composite rank seems necessary to win in most cases. While it’s not always the only factor—coaching, development, and other variables also matter—the data suggests that consistently high recruiting classes are a crucial component for it. It’s not about guaranteeing a win but about stacking the odds significantly in favor of it.
 
#8
#8
Honestly some good points, it’s just that we’re all sick to death of this debate.

Plus everyone knows they only matter when they make Tennessee look good.
LOL! Touché, sir.

I hope no one gets the wrong idea from my post. We are currently on an upward trend in recruiting and it’s getting better. Our composite last year was actually an improvement over ‘22, even though our record didn’t show it(QB is an important position. Who knew?).

I expect this year’s composite to be even better than last year considering what we’ve brought in from the portal.
 
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#9
#9
I agree that correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but this data shows a strong correlation between elite composite rankings and winning championships. An elite composite rank seems necessary to win in most cases. While it’s not always the only factor—coaching, development, and other variables also matter—the data suggests that consistently high recruiting classes are a crucial component for it. It’s not about guaranteeing a win but about stacking the odds significantly in favor of it.
Most people know this, despite the copium you see thrown out every time a team signs a 3 star or a class full of them. It being easier to win at a high level consistently when you have better players than when you have worse players is common sense.
 
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#10
#10
I agree that correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but this data shows a strong correlation between elite composite rankings and winning championships. An elite composite rank seems necessary to win in most cases. While it’s not always the only factor—coaching, development, and other variables also matter—the data suggests that consistently high recruiting classes are a crucial component for it. It’s not about guaranteeing a win but about stacking the odds significantly in favor of it.

This may be the best summary of the argument I’ve seen…I’ve been on here for about 20 years and I’ve seen this debate countless times…people bring data to try to make the point or refute it…the fact is that it’s not a black and white issue like some want to make it…data shows it is unquestionably a factor but that’s it…it’s just a factor…one of several key factors
 
#11
#11
One thing that ought to be noted is we’re now in a new era - that being the transfer portal era.

So in years past, elite recruiting was stockpiling depth that couldn’t go anywhere.

Now, kids can transfer. Total game changer.

Look at Alabamas 2023 #1 ranked class. It’s only been one year but they’ve already lost:

5 star S Caleb Downs
4 star QB Eli Holstein
4 Star CB Tony Mitchell
4 star WR Malik Benson
4 star DB Dez Ricks

Granted, they had a coaching change so that’s noteworthy.

But look at georgias #3 ranked 2022 class.

Gone are the following 4 stars:

edge Marvin jones jr
Cb Jaheim singletary
DL Bear alexander
Edge Darris Smith
CB Marcus Washington
Edge CJ Madden
WR D’nylon morrisette

Three stars
LB EJ Lightsey
WR CJ Smith
OT Aliou Bah
DL Shon Washington
OT Jacob Hood
RB Andrew Paul
OL Griffin Scroggs

They had 30 signees that year for the #3 overall class, but 14 of them have already left.

I guess in a sense if you keep stacking elite talent, the best of the best stay and that gives you an advantage naturally. Iron sharpens iron. So you have to recruit well to build your roster and then supplement through the portal. But I just don’t think you can compare the current NCAA landscape to that of ten years ago. Not with portal additions.

Also - a huge game changer is elite QB play and quality coaching. I’m almost certain we had like 70 scholarship kids on 2022 so by that alone we probably should have gone 6-6 at best. But elite QB play and coaching got us a cheating gamecock loss away from potentially being in the playoffs.
 
#12
#12
One thing that ought to be noted is we’re now in a new era - that being the transfer portal era.

So in years past, elite recruiting was stockpiling depth that couldn’t go anywhere.

Now, kids can transfer. Total game changer.

Look at Alabamas 2023 #1 ranked class. It’s only been one year but they’ve already lost:

5 star S Caleb Downs
4 star QB Eli Holstein
4 Star CB Tony Mitchell
4 star WR Malik Benson
4 star DB Dez Ricks

Granted, they had a coaching change so that’s noteworthy.

But look at georgias #3 ranked 2022 class.

Gone are the following 4 stars:

edge Marvin jones jr
Cb Jaheim singletary
DL Bear alexander
Edge Darris Smith
CB Marcus Washington
Edge CJ Madden
WR D’nylon morrisette

Three stars
LB EJ Lightsey
WR CJ Smith
OT Aliou Bah
DL Shon Washington
OT Jacob Hood
RB Andrew Paul
OL Griffin Scroggs

They had 30 signees that year for the #3 overall class, but 14 of them have already left.

I guess in a sense if you keep stacking elite talent, the best of the best stay and that gives you an advantage naturally. Iron sharpens iron. So you have to recruit well to build your roster and then supplement through the portal. But I just don’t think you can compare the current NCAA landscape to that of ten years ago. Not with portal additions.

Also - a huge game changer is elite QB play and quality coaching. I’m almost certain we had like 70 scholarship kids on 2022 so by that alone we probably should have gone 6-6 at best. But elite QB play and coaching got us a cheating gamecock loss away from potentially being in the playoffs.
I would love to see everyone’s updated class rankings. Not sure exactly when the best time to do that would be, but I think that would be very telling in this new era. We know all too well that 3 stars outperform and 5 stars bust all the time.
 
#13
#13
What is the causation relation though? How many programs had top 10 recruiting classes and no championship?

Ie. I am sure there are years bama had top 10 classes but did not win it. Probably Ohio St had some top 10 finishes with no championship. Likely some others. So, if there os a really good program their prized recruits get generally rated higher. Also, how manu stay there - in particular, now in the NIL world, for example Chase Burns, but many in football.
So there is a relation to how high ranked and reputation and rating bias. That has to be eliminated for it to be accurate and quite hard to do without data. We beat bama two years ago and it was high ranked recruits vs not ranked high recruits.
Excepting a team fiasco, we certainly would have been in playoffs with a chance to win natty.
Lots of 5 stars don’t finish that way, lots of 3 stars finish like 5 stars. It shows when a staff recruits a good team vs one ranked high. i.e. Butch and cornbread. If your taking a 5star who is trouble and never plays just for fans to be happy, that is not a good thing.
It’s probably better to think of it as kind of minimum of requirements.

And I think 247 sports has pulled similar data and their argument is that you have to a minimum percentage of blue chippers to have a chance for a natty and they seem have the data to back it.
 
#14
#14
Another thing to consider is… is it better to land a 5 star who either transfers after a year or two or heads to the draft after three years - or a high three star or four star who sticks around for 4-5 years and develops.

Not including this past years secondary who I feel like we nudged out the door…. We seem to have exceptional buy in from our roster. The few who have left have ended up at the likes of Memphis, USF, Charlotte, etc.

Even loaded positions like WR - guys are sticking around getting developed.
 
#15
#15
Another thing to consider is… is it better to land a 5 star who either transfers after a year or two or heads to the draft after three years - or a high three star or four star who sticks around for 4-5 years and develops.

Not including this past years secondary who I feel like we nudged out the door…. We seem to have exceptional buy in from our roster. The few who have left have ended up at the likes of Memphis, USF, Charlotte, etc.

Even loaded positions like WR - guys are sticking around getting developed.
Yeah but are the guys are stick around good enough to win you championships? If they are, I’m all for it.
 
#17
#17
I already posted this on the football board, but I figured a lot of people frequent here and not there. Please delete mods if you don’t think it belongs.

I’ve been seeing a ton of negative sentiment on this board and others lately regarding recruiting rankings and whether they matter, so I decided to dive into this myself.

I think we all would like to believe they don’t matter considering how far behind we’ve been the past few years and CJH’s tendency to coach up 3* guys to 4-5* levels in some cases.

Anyway, here’s some data I’ve gathered on the last 10 national champions and their composite rankings in the three years preceding their championship. This is available on the 247 website for anyone who’d like to see it for themselves.

Some observations I’ve made from looking at it:

• 80% of champions have had at least 2 top 10 finishes before their championship.
• 60% of champions have had a top 10 finish all 3 years prior.

What I also think is that exceptional performance by players/coaches can overcome the rankings, as you can see from Clemson in ‘16/‘18 and Michigan in ‘23.

But what you don’t see is a single national champ that didn’t have a top 10 finish. If we can recruit 5-9 rated classes, I think we’ll get there, but top 15 classes aren’t going to cut it, especially not in this new SEC climate.

View attachment 657347
I understand what you and your numbers show but Bama, Ga, and Clem have been recruiting like this for many, many years. So These numbers don't tell a true story. Ok and Tex Oh St have recruited at this level and hit only now and then.
 
#18
#18
I understand what you and your numbers show but Bama, Ga, and Clem have been recruiting like this for many, many years. So These numbers don't tell a true story. Ok and Tex Oh St have recruited at this level and hit only now and then.
They do tell a true story, though. Yeah, TU and OSU have consistently underperformed relative to their rankings. That’s a fact. But that doesn’t invalidate the clear trend shown here. This is a classic example of survivorship bias—focusing on successful programs like Bama, Georgia, and Clemson while ignoring the broader pattern that no team has won a championship without at least one top 10 class in the preceding years.
 
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#19
#19
I think there are several things that go into the teams that win championships that get lost just looking at the recruiting averages.

at the very least you also have coaching stability, which also helps with recruiting. over the last 2 decades of "modern" football and coaches are averaging almost 5 years at a school before they win a title.
Saban, the GOAT, at the best school ready to cheat and with all the help from the SEC and NCAA one could get, took 3 years to win a title.
Smart was 6 years in at Georgia
Harbaugh 8 years
Dabo was 7 or 8 depending on if you count the half year when he replaced Bowden
Meyer was 2 years at Florida, 3 years at Florida
Orgeron was 3 years after being a coach at LSU for 2 seasons previously.
Fisher was at FSU 4 years as HC before winning a title, after being coach in waiting for another 5 years.
Chizik had a one year break before the Cam experience but was at Auburn for 4 years when he won.
Miles was at LSU for 6 years before winning.
Brown was at Texas 6 years before winning.

going off that, the way to be under the average is essentially to have the best in the business. Saban and Meyer are probably the two best over their time. then you have Cam Newton and Joe Burrow. short of literally having a GOAT on your team or coaching staff your are going to need several years, no matter your recruiting.

I would also be leery of looking at the overall recruiting numbers, just because not every spot matters as much as the next, and not every player plays. plenty of schools have been consistent top 10 or Top 5 recruiting and not won it. so I think a deeper dive is needed than just looking at the overall. I would look at the NFL rankings, and see how those champions did in those groups to see if the recruiting actually lead to a championship or if its just a relatively unrelated number when looking at the composite.
QB
OT, DE
DT, CB, WR
everyone else.
 
#20
#20
Another thing to consider is… is it better to land a 5 star who either transfers after a year or two or heads to the draft after three years - or a high three star or four star who sticks around for 4-5 years and develops.

Not including this past years secondary who I feel like we nudged out the door…. We seem to have exceptional buy in from our roster. The few who have left have ended up at the likes of Memphis, USF, Charlotte, etc.

Even loaded positions like WR - guys are sticking around getting developed.
Really good point honestly. And only time will tell what is a stronger driver for champs: Retention vs. Attraction. I honestly feel more than anything our roster has improved by losing the guys we’ve lost. Not all of them, of course.

But most of the ones we’ve lost were 3* guys who really weren’t developing great and them leaving made room for more talented underclassmen. Our roster definitely feels more “traditional” than most other teams in the SEC.

We don’t take in a ton of transfers(relative to our peers anyway) and most guys you hear talk about our program say the feeling of “family” is what attracted them here. I think that’s a good thing compared to say Ole Piss who has a roster full of mercenaries ready to leave the moment they get a higher offer. Who wants to cheer for a team like that?
 
#21
#21
I appreciate OP for doing their own research and compiling it to start a conversation and back it up.

I'm not going to slam someone for sharing our passions (Tennessee and recruiting) and attempting to have an informed discussion.

OP are you familiar with the Blue Chip Ratio from Bud Elliott (also of 247)?

Those classes come after you hit on one of these qbs that become your Desean Watson or Tim Tebow. If none of them pan out Heupel is gone in 5 years anyway. If you stay in this 10 - 15 range with a top qb, you're in the 2nd and 3rd round of the playoffs and the recruiting takes care of itself.

I think this is closest to how it will be going forward. Build your roster base, leadership, culture through traditional high school recruiting. Find a star(s) or depth piece(s) in the portal. Can't go too far one way or the other -- high school heavy (Clemson) or portal heavy (Ole Miss). Or whatever Colorado is doing.

Obviously you have to have a great QB. You have options to hit on recruiting and development, or find your guy in the portal now.
 
Last edited:
#22
#22
I think there are several things that go into the teams that win championships that get lost just looking at the recruiting averages.

at the very least you also have coaching stability, which also helps with recruiting. over the last 2 decades of "modern" football and coaches are averaging almost 5 years at a school before they win a title.
Saban, the GOAT, at the best school ready to cheat and with all the help from the SEC and NCAA one could get, took 3 years to win a title.
Smart was 6 years in at Georgia
Harbaugh 8 years
Dabo was 7 or 8 depending on if you count the half year when he replaced Bowden
Meyer was 2 years at Florida, 3 years at Florida
Orgeron was 3 years after being a coach at LSU for 2 seasons previously.
Fisher was at FSU 4 years as HC before winning a title, after being coach in waiting for another 5 years.
Chizik had a one year break before the Cam experience but was at Auburn for 4 years when he won.
Miles was at LSU for 6 years before winning.
Brown was at Texas 6 years before winning.

going off that, the way to be under the average is essentially to have the best in the business. Saban and Meyer are probably the two best over their time. then you have Cam Newton and Joe Burrow. short of literally having a GOAT on your team or coaching staff your are going to need several years, no matter your recruiting.

I would also be leery of looking at the overall recruiting numbers, just because not every spot matters as much as the next, and not every player plays. plenty of schools have been consistent top 10 or Top 5 recruiting and not won it. so I think a deeper dive is needed than just looking at the overall. I would look at the NFL rankings, and see how those champions did in those groups to see if the recruiting actually lead to a championship or if its just a relatively unrelated number when looking at the composite.
QB
OT, DE
DT, CB, WR
everyone else.
I understand your point, but that’s not what the data here is showing. Yes, there are outliers like TU, Ohio State, and TAMU who, despite having some of the best classes, haven’t won crap.

But the correlation is clear in this data. There have been no exceptions as far as I can tell. Composite rankings are just one of many factors, but they are crucial, imo. Great coaching and leadership are what elevate these teams to championship level.

This data is not an indictment of our staff or recruiting. Our recruiting is not exceptional yet, but it has steadily improved since CJH arrived. I expect this trend to continue. If we make some noise in the new SEC, elite recruiting will follow naturally, without the need for coaching changes. This school practically recruits itself anyway.

We can’t ignore the data showing cold hard truths. We are on the brink of elite status.

I will update this data when the new composites are out. I believe people will see it in a better light if this positive trend continues.

5343A39A-1EBC-4051-A336-596DF2506FD1.png
 
#23
#23
I appreciate OP for doing their own research and compiling it to start a conversation and back it up.

I'm not going to slam someone for sharing our passions (Tennessee and recruiting) and attempting to have an informed discussion.

OP are you familiar with the Blue Chip Ratio from Bud Elliott (also of 247)?



I think this is closest to how it will be going forward. Build your roster base, leadership, culture through traditional high school recruiting. Find a star(s) or depth piece(s) in the portal. Can't go too far one way or the other -- high school heavy (Clemson) or portal heavy (Ole Miss). Or whatever Colorado is doing.

Obviously you have to have a great QB. You have options to hit on recruiting and development, or find your guy in the portal now.
Thanks for your appreciation. I am probably not as familiar as some people are but I know what it is and how it works. I think we’re right on the cusp of 50% right now which is great.

I love how we’re handling the portal/recruiting right now and there’s really no comparison when you factor in the culture that CJH has built here. Almost every recruit/transfer you read about that comes here almost always talks about how great our culture is.

That’s not something you can buy with money and I think it will pay massive dividends in the future when we start really becoming a threat to win the conference every year.
 
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#24
#24
OP is there a way to look at changes in a recruit’s rankings after commitment especially say to the top five or ten teams over the last decade? If there’s some bias as far as ranking adjustments by where a recruit commits it would show up there.
 
#25
#25
OP,

Get the information for each
National Championship team the past 10 years.
- then gather what they’re HS star ranking was.
- only for the two deep of each team

And see what that reveals…
 

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