About CFB Matrix

Biggest Gains/Losses in Average Recruiting Classes ’02-’11


By Dave Bartoo, Founder, CFBMatrix

In the recent news, there has been some discussion as to the validity in the rise of recruiting ranks by ‘non-traditional’ powers.  As a site that distinguishes itself through recruiting rank based model and analytics, I took some time to look into the top teams with the largest average recruiting class gains and losses over the last 10 years.  While this article is a by-product of all the other recruiting based trends within the site, recruiting trends and year over year recruiting performance plays a significant impact on expected win/loss record and BCS title contenders.

The top gainers in average recruiting class rank is dominated by the Big East, PAC12 and the SEC.  Cincinnati had the largest average ranking increase with just over 32 average spots from 2007-2011 versus the 2002-2006 period. The top gainer in the Pac12 Conference is the Stanford Cardinal, with a +16.9 increase, which saw huge strides under Jim Harbaugh.  The most dramatic gains (percentage) were at Alabama, where a 6 year average of 23.5 was replaced with an average class of 2.3 after Nick Saban took over.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction highlighted the bottom 10 and lead easily by the Colorado Buffaloes with an average class rank drop of just over 24 spots per year from ’07-’11. The list, dominated by Big 12 and PAC 12 teams, has some interesting company. In this list you can see a part of the strong correlation that recruiting rank has with performance as some conference doormats from the PAC 12 , Big 12 and Big East are listed. There are a couple of surprises in this bottom ten in Arizona State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma.

Arizona State is clearly trending downward, but it has not shown as much on the field to this point, as many other teams on their schedule were also trending down in recent years. Texas A&M, whom the CFBMatrix model had shown possessed elite talent from 2002-2006, has seen a small decline in talent. And Oklahoma, who many pick as a front runner to win the 2011 season National Title, still has elite level talent, but it is not near the levels of previous years early in 2000.

What may be missed is that nearly 70% of all AQ schools have had less than a +/- 10% change in their average recruiting class ranking in this quick study.  As recruiting rank (weighed ave of all ranking systems not just ‘one’) has shown to be a predictor in over 70% of all CFB games, it is important to be moving up but clearly it is very difficult to do so.

Top 10 Recruiting Class Average Rank Increases

Rank Top 10 Teams w/ Largest Positive Ave Class Difference Conference Ave Class Ranking*         ’02-’06 Ave Class Ranking* ”07-’11 Ave Class Difference
1 Cincinnati Big East 85.2 52.5 32.7
2 Alabama SEC W 23.5 2.3 21.3
3 Baylor Big 12 61.7 44.5 17.2
4 Stanford PAC-12 N 45.2 28.3 16.9
5 Vanderbilt SEC E 72.2 59.8 12.4
6 Kentucky SEC E 58.7 46.8 11.9
7 Utah PAC-12 S 69.5 57.8 11.8
8 Oregon PAC-12 N 29.0 19.0 10.0
9 South Florida Big East 56.7 47.5 9.2
10 Rutgers Big East 50.8 42.0 8.8

Top 10 Recruiting Class Average Rank Decreases

Rank Top 10 Teams w/ Negative Ave Class Difference Conference Ave Class Ranking*         ”02-’06 Ave Class Ranking* ”07-’11 Ave Class Difference
1 Colorado PAC-12 S 34.6 58.6 -24.0
2 Purdue Big Ten – Leaders 38.6 58.4 -19.8
3 Connecticut Big East 57 75.4 -18.4
4 Iowa State Big 12 47.6 65.8 -18.2
5 Arizona State PAC-12 S 28.6 40.6 -12.0
6 Texas A&M Big 12 14.2 23.6 -9.4
7 Texas Tech Big 12 30 39.4 -9.4
8 Washington State PAC-12 N 44 53.4 -9.4
9 Syracuse Big East 52.2 61.2 -9.0
10 Oklahoma Big 12 5.6 12.6 -7.0

*The CFBMatrix and www.collegefootballmatrix.com Composite Team Rank is made up of all available national public data on players and teams. As no site has proven to have superior team and player ratings for our model, a blended rank provides an ability to reduce bias and provide a more accurate level of recruiting ranking across all college football teams. In our modeling this Composite Ranking works better for determining season records, results and expected finish within each conference.

All Teams #1-#66 Recruiting Class Average Change Rank

Rank Team Conf/Division Ave. Class Rank*      ’02-’06 Ave Class rank             ’07-’11 Ave Class Difference
1 Cincinnati Big East 85.2 52.5 32.7
2 Alabama SEC W 23.5 2.3 21.3
3 Baylor Big 12 61.7 44.5 17.2
4 Stanford PAC-12 N 45.2 28.3 16.9
5 Vanderbilt SEC E 72.2 59.8 12.4
6 Kentucky SEC E 58.7 46.8 11.9
7 Utah PAC-12 S 69.5 57.8 11.8
8 Oregon PAC-12 N 29.0 19.0 10.0
9 South Florida Big East 56.7 47.5 9.2
10 Rutgers Big East 50.8 42.0 8.8
11 Indiana Big Ten – Ldrs 70.3 61.8 8.6
12 Boise State MWC 80.2 72.5 7.7
13 West Virginia Big East 42.3 34.8 7.6
14 Mississippi SEC W 28.7 21.8 6.9
15 Northwestern Big Ten  – Lgnds 69.5 62.8 6.8
16 North Carolina ACC – C 26.7 20.8 5.9
17 Washington PAC-12 N 32.4 27.6 4.8
18 Notre Dame Indep 17.0 12.3 4.8
19 Nebraska Big Ten  – Lgnds 28.6 24.0 4.6
20 Louisville Big East 49.8 46.0 3.8
21 Minnesota Big Ten  – Lgnds 57.8 54.0 3.8
22 Ohio State Big Ten – Ldrs 12.8 9.2 3.6
23 Texas Big 12 8.8 5.6 3.2
24 Auburn SEC W 13.3 10.5 2.8
25 Clemson ACC – A 28.7 26.0 2.7
26 Missouri Big 12 42.2 39.6 2.6
27 Kansas Big 12 57.0 54.6 2.4
28 LSU SEC W 8.8 6.6 2.2
29 South Carolina SEC E 20.8 18.6 2.2
30 Virginia Tech ACC – C 32.2 30.2 2.0
31 Michigan State Big Ten  – Lgnds 39.8 37.8 2.0
32 Illinois Big Ten – Ldrs 40.0 38.0 2.0
33 California PAC-12 N 29.6 28.0 1.6
34 Florida SEC E 9.2 7.6 1.6
35 Georgia Tech ACC – C 48.5 47.3 1.3
36 Duke ACC – C 63.0 62.6 0.4
37 Oregon State PAC-12 N 46.8 47.0 -0.2
38 Mississippi State SEC W 34.2 34.6 -0.4
39 UCLA PAC-12 S 22.4 23.0 -0.6
40 USC PAC-12 S 3.6 4.8 -1.2
41 Penn State Big Ten – Ldrs 22.6 24.8 -2.2
42 Arkansas SEC W 25.6 28.0 -2.4
43 Pittsburgh Big East 34.2 37.0 -2.8
44 Georgia SEC E 5.6 8.6 -3.0
45 Boston College ACC – A 42.8 46.2 -3.4
46 Michigan Big Ten  – Lgnds 9.8 13.4 -3.6
47 Wisconsin Big Ten – Ldrs 43.4 47.8 -4.4
48 Florida State ACC – A 6.8 11.2 -4.4
49 Wake Forest ACC – A 59.2 64.0 -4.8
50 Tennessee SEC E 9.2 14.0 -4.8
51 Oklahoma State Big 12 29.2 34.0 -4.8
52 BYU Indep 60.2 65.6 -5.4
53 Iowa Big Ten  – Lgnds 36.2 42.4 -6.2
54 Oklahoma Big 12 5.6 12.6 -7.0
55 Syracuse Big East 52.2 61.2 -9.0
56 Texas Tech Big 12 30.0 39.4 -9.4
57 Washington State PAC-12 N 44.0 53.4 -9.4
58 Texas A&M Big 12 14.2 23.6 -9.4
59 Miami (Fl) ACC – C 7.2 17.4 -10.2
60 Arizona State PAC-12 S 28.6 40.6 -12.0
61 TCU MWC 56.2 69.0 -12.8
62 North Carolina State ACC – A 27.6 42.6 -15.0
63 Maryland ACC – A 24.8 41.2 -16.4
64 Iowa State Big 12 47.6 65.8 -18.2
65 Connecticut Big East 57.0 75.4 -18.4
66 Purdue Big Ten – Ldrs 38.6 58.4 -19.8
67 Arizona PAC-12 S 31.0 52.0 -21.0
68 Colorado PAC-12 S 34.6 58.6 -24.0
69 Virginia ACC – C 24.2 51.6 -27.4
70 Kansas State Big 12 39.2 69.8 -30.6

Dave Bartoo can be reached at dave@cfbmatrix.com.  He can provide contributed articles, stats, graphic, input or segment time to any publication or radio show.

Links to forums discussing this article

Cincinnati – Bearcat Banner