2014 Recruiting Projections…

2014 Recruiting Projections…

 

The Class of 2014 recruiting season has reached its halfway point.    A review of the current team rankings can be seen by going on to the Rivals, Scout and ESPN websites.  These preliminary rankings can go a long way in providing a summer fix for avid college football fans.  It is important however to keep in mind that these rankings are based on current commitment lists and that these rankings will change dramatically by next February.   At the same time, it is fun to look at today’s lists and to envision what the final rankings may look like.  Each of these recruiting services uses their very own unique and complicated computation system to arrive at their team rankings.  For the purpose of my projections, I try to keep things simple, particularly this far away from signing day.   My first assumption in ranking teams in late July is to rank teams based on their NCAA yearly allotment of 25 players.  My next step is to use the current player average for each team.   I have noticed over the years that this system tends to produce reliable results in terms of projecting the final rankings.   For the purpose of my projections, I utilize the star ratings given to players by Rivals.     

 

Below are the Big 12 rankings based on this system.  For comparison sake, the July 25-Rivals rankings are in parenthesis.  Based on this information, Texas has not changed its system of trying to lock Texas players.  Similar to past years the Horns have jumped out early and have almost completed their 2014 recruiting class.  By using this method, the Horns are currently ranked #1 in the Big 12 and #5 in the country by Rivals and #7 by Scout.  Based on these numbers and on projections, Texas may end up edging out Oklahoma for the top spot in the conference, but I would not ake that bet to Vegas just yet.  In the end,  I expect Texas with its 21 member commitment class that currently averages out at 3.21 will possibly eke out a top 25 national finish, but I suspect that in the end, OU will beat out the Horns for the top conference spot.    Oklahoma has a lot of upside with only 11 commitments while being in on a number of top national players still left on the board.    Oklahoma’s current 3.09 average is a great start for a big finish down the road.  Many high school players still interested in the Sooners are likely waiting to see how the Sooner season plays out this year.   A surge in the rankings throughout the 2013 season is a real possibility.    Based on preliminary findings, It can be assumed that the Sooners will finish no lower than 2nd in the conference and no lower than #28 nationally.   Again, the possibility of OU edging out of Texas for Big 12 supremacy is a real possibility.   As for the rest of the conference, Kansas and West Virginia are doing better than the summer rankings would lead us to believe.  Both have commitment lists that average 3 stars.   On the other hand Baylor, the darling of recruiting boards of late will not finish in the top 35 when the dust settles; same goes for the rest of the Big 12 teams.  OSU in particular will need a big lift between now and signing day to keep its streak of top 30 classes intact.      

One last thing, with the playoff season only one year away, conference RPI’s supported by solid recruiting classes should be kept in mind.    As expected, the SEC continues to lead the way nationally with twelve (12) conference teams on target for outstanding recruiting years.   The Big Ten with eight (8) and Pac 12 with eight (8) are projected to finish the recruiting season 2nd and 3rd.   Conferences with their classes that average 3.0 or higher are listed below along with their conference sizes.   2014 realigned conferences are used for this comparison.

 

SEC = 12/14 – 86%

Pac 12 = 8/12 – 67%

Big 10 = 8/14 – 57%

Big 12 = 4/10 – 40%

ACC = 5/15 – 33%

 

Class of 2014 Rankings as of 7/24/13…

 

(Projected 2013 class rankings based on five star averages)

Big 12 (four teams rated at 3.0 and above)                  

                                                                                               

  1. (3.19)  Texas (5)                                                                                          
  2. (3.09)  Oklahoma (34)
  3. (3.00)  Kansas (55)     
  4. (3.00)  West Virginia (66)
  5. (2.88)  TCU (53)
  6. (2.71)  Kansas State (64)
  7. (2.69)  Texas Tech (26)
  8. (2.68)  Baylor (19)      
  9. (2.67)  Oklahoma state (36)     
  10. (2.60)  Iowa State (51)

               

 

SEC (twelve teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.58)  Georgia                                            
  2. (3.55)  LSU                                    
  3. (3.53)  Alabama                                          
  4. (3.50)  Texas A&M                      
  5. (3.45)  Florida                                             
  6. (3.44)  South Carolina                               
  7. (3.44)  Auburn                                             
  8. (3.30)  Tennessee                        
  9. (3.30)  Vanderbilt                       
  10. (3.22)  Kentucky                          
  11. (3.20)  Arkansas         
  12. (3.06)  Mississippi
  13. (2.69)  Mississippi state                           
  14. (2.58)  Missouri                          

 

ACC (five teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.64)  Notre Dame                     
  2. (3.50)  Clemson                                           
  3. (3.28)  Florida State                   
  4. (3.21)  Miami                                              
  5. (3.11)  Virginia
  6. (2.95)  Louisville                         
  7. (2.92)  Virginia Tech                  
  8. (2.88)  North Carolina                               
  9. (2.82)  Georgia Tech                   
  10.  (2.86)  Syracuse                                         
  11. (2.77)  NC State                                           
  12. (2.70)  Boston College                               
  13. (2.64)  Pittsburgh       
  14. (2.64)  Duke                                 
  15. (2.33)  Wake Forest                    

 

Big Ten (eight teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.50)  Michigan                         
  2. (3.36)  Ohio State       
  3. (3.23)  Penn State                       
  4. (3.17)  Northwestern                  
  5. (3.09)  Wisconsin                       
  6. (3.08)  Michigan State               
  7. (3.00)Purdue                                               
  8. (3.00) Minnesota
  9. (2.82)  Nebraska                         
  10. (2.80)  Rutgers                                             
  11. (2.71)  Maryland                        
  12. (2.67)  Illinois                                             
  13. (2.63)  Iowa                                 
  14. (2.57)  Indiana                                            

 

Pac 12 (eight teams rated at 3.0 and above)

 

  1. (3.43)  Washington                    
  2. (3.30)  USC                                   
  3. (3.29)  Stanford                                           
  4. (3.25)  UCLA                                 
  5. (3.14)  Oregon                                             
  6. (3.11)  California
  7. (3.00)  Arizona State                  
  8. (3.00)  Utah
  9. (2.91)  Arizona            
  10. (2.86)  Colorado                         
  11. (2.75)  Oregon State                   
  12. (2.63)  Washington State                                          

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National rankings…

(Teams with player average of 3.0 or higher)

 

1.   (3.67) Notre Dame                   

2.   (3.64) LSU                                    

3.   (3.57) USC                                    

4.   (3.53) Alabama                          

5.   (3.50) Texas A&M                     

5.   (3.50) Michigan                         

5.   (3.50) Clemson          

8.   (3.48) Tennessee     

9.   (3.45) Florida                             

10. (3.43) Washington                   

11. (3.40) Georgia                           

11. (3.40) South Carolina                                             

13. (3.36) Ohio State                      

14. (3.28) Florida State 

15. (3.25) Oregon                            

15. (3.25) Auburn                            

17. (3.25) Stanford                          

17. (3.25) UCLA

19. (3.23) Penn State                     

20. (3.21) Texas                

20. (3.21) Kentucky                        

22. (3.20) Miami                              

23. (3.14) Vanderbilt                     

23. (3.14) Arkansas                         

25. (3.11) Virginia                           

25. (3.11) California                       

25. (3.11) Mississippi                     

28. (3.09) Wisconsin                      

28. (3.09) Oklahoma                      

30. (3.08) Michigan State             

31. (3.08) Northwestern              

32. (3.00) Iowa                 

32. (3.00) Utah                  

32. (3.00) Kansas                             

32. (3.00) West Virginia

32. (3.00) Arizona State

32. (3.00) Utah

32. (3.00) Minnesota      

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Go West Young Man, Go West…

Go West Young Man, Go West…

 

Big 12 officials should take the advice of Horace Greeley and go west.  Within two years college football will be dominated by the College Football Playoff which will pit the four best teams in college football against each other.  A selection committee similar to the one used to seed teams for the basketball tournament each March will be called upon to select the final four teams for the new CFP.  As of today, there are five BCS conferences along with independents Notre Dame and a slew of mid-major type teams for the selection committee to choose from.  Similar to college basketball, a team’s rating performance index (RPI) will go a long way in deciding who will be in and who will be out.   Just as importantly, conference RPI’s will play a huge role in determining qualifying teams and their seeds for the four team playoff.    

 

It is important for college football fans to keep in mind that the last weekend of the season will have a real influence on the selection committee.  It is that weekend when the conference championship games are played along with the Big 12 round robin finale.  Herein lay the rub for the current Big 12 Conference set up.  With selection Sunday likely to be the day after championship Saturday, the memory of games played that Saturday will be fresh on the minds of selection committee members. 

 

With this in mind, it is conceivable that the Big 12 round robin winner may need to run the table and end up that Sunday with an undefeated record in order to edge out the SEC, the SEC runner-up, the Big Ten, the Pac 12, the ACC, and a slew of at-large teams like Boise.   Contrary to popular opinion, as of today, there is no rule stipulating that a conference will be limited to one team in the new final four playoff system.  In other words, a one loss or possibly even a two loss SEC runner-up team could have a leg up on a one loss Big 12 round robin winner.  Making matters worse for the Big 12 winner will the advent in 2014 of the new ACC that will be bolstered by Louisville and Notre Dame, a move that will certainly strengthen the power rating of that conference.      

 

Obviously, Bob Bowlsby and the Big 12 brain-thrust have not thought this issue through.  Granted soft non-conference schedules can go a long way in securing an undefeated season, but conference leaders should not be banking on those odds.   There may be a better way…A few years back the Pac 12 came calling and it appeared that a move to align certain Big 12 teams with the Pac 12 was a done deal.  Texas with its arrogance ruined that party, but times have changed and Texas has come back to earth with a couple of mediocre seasons and the bust of its Longhorn Network.  Big 12 officials must now reconsider an alliance with the Pac 12, with or without Texas.

 

While recent conference payouts have been encouraging, television revenue from a Big 12/Pac 12 alliance could create record revenue for conference members.    Self-serving OU fans should also look at this alliance in an even more positive light.   OU has a tradition of mining the California high school ranks for top notch football talent.  This practice could be expanded as the Sooners use their dust bowl connections to get a leg up on the Big 12 competition.    There are a lot of Sooner fans in California that would fill stadiums any time the Sooners ventured west, a fact that will impress California athletes who are considering a move out of state.  California players are not predisposed to stay in state like they are in Oklahoma.    Recruiting this talent to Norman would be an easy task, particularly in light of the fact that these players can return home state a couple times each year to play in front of friends and family.   The Big 12/Pac 12 alliance could produce a win-win situation for the Sooners.  

 

The Big 12/Pac 12 alliance would create an overnight sensation for the conference winner.   The Big Ten and ACC winner could not hold a candle to the new conference. Same goes for the SEC runner-up.   Only the SEC winner could compete with the new conference for the top rung of the CFP.    For fans, the alliance would allow long standing rivalries to stay intact as well.   The OU-Texas, USC-UCLA, and Stanford-Cal, not to mention lesser known state rivalries would stay in place.  Regardless of the conference set up, the conference championship game could be played along with the other major conference championship games the 2nd Saturday in December.  Neutral sites form St Louis to L.A. would salivate over the opportunity to host a BCS Bowl-type championship game.    The Big 12/Pac 12 winner would be the odds-on favorite for the national championship game year in and year out.  

 

While the Sooners may occasionally benefit from the current watered down Big 12 conference system, a few years of sitting out the national championship tournament will change all that.   If Sooner fans think that recruiting defensive lineman is hard in today’s Big 12 versus SEC world, consider how it will be if the conference winner is assured of sitting out the national championship hunt year after year.    Now is the time for OU officials to pressure the Big 12 to look out for the long terms interests of the program.   Time is of the essence…

 

Here is a look at possible Big 12/PAC 12 scenarios….

 

Possible Expanded Pac 12/Big 12 Conference alignments…

 

Pac 12 (two division set up)

Washington

Washington State

Oregon

Oregon State

Stanford

California

USC

UCLA

Arizona

 

Arizona State

Utah

Colorado

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State

Texas

Texas Tech

Baylor

TCU

Note: West Virginia would find its way back to an east coach conference more suited to its geographic needs. 

 

Pac 12 (three division set up)

Washington

Washington State

Oregon

Oregon State

Stanford

California

 

USC

UCLA

Arizona

Arizona State

Utah

Colorado

 

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State

Texas

Texas Tech

Baylor

TCU

 

College Football Playoff seeds…

 

  1. Big 12/Pac 12 winner
  2. SEC
  3. Big Ten
  4. ACC

 

Big 12/Pac 12 vs. ACC

SEC vs. Big Ten

National Champion:  Big 12/Pac 12 winner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recruiting = Winning…

Recruiting = Winning…

Unfortunately for some college football fans, the study of recruiting is not worthy of discussion.    For the rest of us, recruiting is an intense matter that necessitates substantial research and thought.   In defense of the arm-chair recruiting experts, teams that have a great year on the recruiting circuit do not always see immediate results.   And then there is the incessant argument of “what about Texas?”   Point taken, but it must be understood that on many occasions a program’s initial foray into the world of top notch recruiting may not produce immediate results.   It is likely that it will take two or three years for top 15 recruiting classes to show their worth on the gridiron.   So often programs new to the recruiting elite are coached by new coaches who will spend the first year running off what they consider to be deadwood from the previous coaching regime.   This means that the first class, while talented will be thrown into the fire-pit way too early.   It will take a couple more top 15 classes to create the needed depth to produce real wins and a genuine turnaround for the program.  In any case authentic students of the game realize that recruiting and the talent difference that recruiting creates is essential for any great team to have staying power.    In today’s 3 & done college football world, the art of evaluation and recruitment may have replaced the X’s and O’s process as the benchmark of a successful football program.  

A classic example of this fact will present itself in Oxford, Mississippi over the next couple of years.    Ole Miss., long a middle of the roader in the SEC had its first Rivals, Scout, and ESPN top 10 class in 2013.  2nd year coach Hugh Freeze brought in three of the top players at their position in the country, not to mention the top overall recruit in Robert Nkemniche.    Freeze is following up that class with another strong group this year.   If history repeats itself, Ole Miss will be a force to be reckoned in the western division of the SEC in 2014.  

Recruiting wars can also produce conference powerhouses as well.  For testimony of this fact a look at the four year recruiting summary for college football can come in handy.  Currently the SEC is in complete control of the college football world and the reasons for this domination are borne out by this summary page.   The SEC has dominated the college football recruiting world over the past four years which has in turn made this conference the king of the college football hill as well.   Below is a compilation of football teams by conference that have been ranked in the top 15 at least once over the past four years.  The four year list includes this year’s list as well.   Readers should keep this list in mind when making plans for the 2014 playoff year.    Keeping with the times, the recruiting power rankings include those teams that will join the Big 10 and ACC, at least on a part time basis in 2014.   

Troubling to the rest of the college football world should be the fact that the traditional SEC behemoths Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M, have been joined by non-traditional programs like Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee.  The SEC name is selling itself to high school players as six (6) of the top fifteen (15) and eight (8) of the top twenty (20) recruiting classes for 2014 reside in the SEC.   Currently, the SEC school (Kentucky) known primarily for basketball is ranked #5 and #11 by rivals and scout respectively.  Can you imagine Kansas or Iowa State having a top 10 football class?    Unfortunately for Big 12 fans, the emergence of the middle range SEC teams will only serve to enhance the ratings performance index (RPI) of the SEC and create an even greater uphill challenge for the conference winner to make the playoffs in 2014.  With playoffs only a year away, 2013 will be a critical year for the conference on the field and in the recruiting trenches.  

In parenthesis you will find the number of top 15 recruiting classes over the past four years.  These numbers also include the current Rivals list for 2014.     

               

SEC (22)

  1. Alabama (4)              
  2. Georgia (3)
  3. Texas A&M (3)
  4. Auburn (3)
  5. Florida (2)
  6. LSU (2)         
  7. Ole Miss. (2)
  8. Tennessee (2)
  9. Kentucky (1)

 

ACC (14)

  1. Clemson (4)
  2. Florida State (3)
  3. Notre Dame (3)
  4. Miami (2)
  5. Louisville (1)
  6. N.C. State (1)            

 

Big 10 (8)                  

  1. Ohio State (4)  
  2. Michigan (3)
  3. Nebraska (1

               

Pac 12 (7)                     

  1. USC (3)                                        
  2. UCLA (2)                                      
  3. Oregon (1)                
  4. Stanford (1)

 

Big 12 (6)       

  1. Oklahoma (3)           
  2. Texas (3)

 

Below are the Rivals recruiting rankings for this year, as well as the past three years.  Top 15 Big 12 teams are highlighted in bold print, as well as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.  

 

Rivals 2014 rankings 

      (as of 7/10/13)

 

  1. Tennessee                                 
  2. Texas           
  3. Florida State                             
  4. Alabama
  5. Kentucky    
  6. Miami                                         
  7. Texas A&M                
  8. Notre Dame                              
  9. Clemson     
  10. Michigan    
  11. Ohio State                 
  12. Louisville
  13. Mississippi
  14. Georgia                                       
  15. North Carolina St.                   

               

2013

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Florida
  5. Michigan
  6. LSU
  7. Mississippi
  8. UCLA
  9. Auburn
  10. Florida State
  11. Texas A&M
  12. LSU
  13. USC
  14. Clemson
  15. Oklahoma

                               

2012

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. Ohio State
  5. Stanford
  6. Florida State
  7. Michigan
  8. USC
  9. Miami
  10. Auburn
  11. Oklahoma
  12. Georgia
  13. UCLA
  14. Clemson
  15. Texas A&M

               

2011

  1. Alabama
  2. Florida State
  3. Texas
  4. USC
  5. Georgia
  6. LSU
  7. Auburn
  8. Clemson
  9. Oregon
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Ohio State
  12. Georgia
  13. Tennessee
  14. Oklahoma
  15. Nebraska

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preseason Picks for 2013…

Preseason Picks for 2013…

Picking winners before the first snap of the year can be tricky.  It can also be a lot of fun.  To assist you with this process, I have created a consensus of opinion from six preseason publications.  Those publications include:  Athlon, Sporting News, Phil Steele, Sports Illustrated, ESPN and Texas Football.   While the opinions of these forecasters vary, a consensus of opinion can go a long way in providing readers with a great starting point for the upcoming season.  Preseason prognostications tend to emphasize how a team finished the year before, a team’s returning starters, and the tradition of the football program.   A fourth factor often overlooked by these experts is the nuances of the schedule.   More about that later… 

The standard list of suspects can be found of most lists year in and year out.   In recent years the SEC will have no less than five teams on everyone’s list to go along with and one team each form the other BCS conferences.   The same goes for this year except the exclusion of the Big 12 on many preseason lists.   As a matter of fact the consensus list has Oklahoma State as its highest ranked Big 12 team at #15.   Of the six preseason publications, Phil Steele, shows the Big 12 the most love with Texas and Oklahoma State ranked #4 and # 8 respectively.    The unpredictable Phil Steele also has Florida State ranked #3, a much higher ranking than any other writer.    Steele also does not have Stanford, Texas A&M, South Carolina, ranked in his top 10 which is way outside the norm for this year.   Finally, Phil Steele shows Boise State no respect at all with a ranking of 33.  

From a personal perspective, I agree with Phil Steele and disagree with the consensus of opinion regarding Texas.   I suspect that this will be the year that Texas overcomes its “Mack” factor and puts together a solid year.   I disagree with Phil Steele’s elevation of Oklahoma State and Florida State to title status.   I believe both programs are overrated by Steele and will not finish out the year in the top 10.   As for Boise State, I believe Phil Steele is way off base here as well.   I would bet the house that the Chris Peterson will have his Broncos ready to play and that the Broncos will finish the season in the top 25 again.

Taking a look at the consensus list, I believe that Texas A&M at # 5 is rated too high.   Johnny Manziel will suffer a case of sophomoritus and drop off a bit this year.   I look for Alabama to bring Johnny Football back down to earth on September 14.    I have a better feeling about TCU, Oklahoma, and Oregon than the one presented by the consensus list.   TCU is loaded with returning starters including two quality quarterbacks not to mention a Bill Snyder-type coach in Gary Patterson.   In spite of a coaching change in Eugene, Oregon will not miss a beat as Marcus Mariota will become this year’s Johnny Manziel.   Oklahoma with its coaching shakeup will be hungrier this year and after a couple of early season losses will finish strong.  While the move may be slowed in South Bend and possibly in Dallas, the Blake Bell era will produce big results that will make the Sooners a load for anyone by the end of the year.   

Finally, it will be fun to start thinking ahead to next year and the advent of the College Football Playoff.   As mentioned earlier I take the nuances of a team’s schedule into consideration when making my picks.    With all of this in mind, I have created my top 10 end of year list along with mock end-of-year playoff system based on the RPI system that will be used by the CFP selection committee in 2014.   Remember that beginning in 2014, final four playoff teams will be given bonus points for difficulty of schedule and conference affiliation.    For SEC bashers who have grown tired of multiple SEC teams in the national championship mix each year, the new playoff system may be a good thing eventually.   Until the rest of the college football world catches up with the RPI of SEC conference and its teams, the final four playoff matchups will likely continue to consist of two SEC teams.   Unfortunately, wishful thinking and a new playoff system will not produce the changes for a while.    The Big 12 and the other conferences need to step it up to work themselves into the playoff mix.     

Preseason top 25 consensus of opinion among six preseason publications…

                               

                                                                                                               

  1.             (1.2)       Alabama                                             
  2.             (2.7)       Ohio St.                               
  3.             (4.7)       Oregon                                                
  4.             (7.0)       Stanford                                             
  5.             (6.8)       Texas A&M                                        
  6.             (7.7)       South Car.                                          
  7.             (7.8)       Louisville                                           
  8.             (7.9)       Georgia                                                               
  9.             (9.2)       Florida                                                 
  10.             (9.3)       Notre Dame                                      
  11.             (10.3)    Clemson                             
  12.             (13.0)    Florida St.                                          
  13.             (14.3)    LSU                                        
  14.             (14.7)    Michigan                                            
  15.             (15.0)    Ok. St.                                                  
  16.             (15.1)    Texas                                                   
  17.             (19.7)    Boise St.                                             
  18.             (19.8)    TCU                                       
  19.             (21.3)    Oklahoma                                          
  20.             (23.5)    Nebraska                            
  21.             (23.8)    Wisconsin                          
  22.             (24.3)    Oregon St.                                         
  23.             (24.6)    Fresno St.                           
  24.             (25.5)    Arizona St.                                         
  25.             (25.6)    Northwestern                                  

 

 

Sports Profs’ projected end of year BCS rankings…

 

  1. Ohio State
  2. Alabama
  3. Oregon
  4. Georgia
  5. Stanford
  6. Louisville
  7. Texas
  8. Stanford
  9. South Carolina
  10. Clemson

 

Based on these picks a CFP would look like this…

 

# 1 Ohio State vs. 4 Georgia

# 2 Alabama vs. # 3 Oregon

CFP Game: Ohio State vs. Alabama

 

Make your top 10 selections on the website’s comments section.