Why 19 classes? Well, hold your horses; I will get to that.
Like most fans who visit this website, I am a HUGE follower of all things that have to do with college football recruiting. And also like most of you reading this, I find nothing more satisfying than seeing my beloved Florida Gators on top of the team rankings at the end of the recruiting cycle. I am not really sure why; after all, we all know that ranking a bunch of 18-year-old kids who have never played a down of college football is less than scientific and actually a bit idiotic. Regardless, we all love lists and if someone is going to make one, I want the Gators be on top! Sometimes we are even lucky enough to reach that goal, but most of the time we end up falling short (unless we are Alabama).
So now that recruiting is over for the 2012 cycle (well, except for when Stefon Diggs commits to the good guys in about a week), it’s time to look back at the various recruiting sites and see if we can’t come up with a consensus list of the best-of-the-best classes. To start this process, we must select the recruiting services we will use. For my analysis, I used Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. Not only are these three of the top recruiting services in the nation, but they assign a score to each recruit and therefore each college’s class received not only a ranking but also an individual score. ESPN also has a good recruiting service, but I was only able to find their final team rankings without an actual score assigned for each class, so they’re left out of this analysis.
The reason why having a score is important is because in my analysis I am attempting to grade the various classes on a curve. We all remember when we were graded on a curve in college and not being able to stand the brainiac who scored damn-near 100 on every single exam. The same theory applies here. For instance, if Alabama has the No. 1 class and has a total score of 3,000 points and Texas has the No. 2 class and has a total score of 2,999 then I would argue that both of those classes deserve an “A+” grade. On the contrary, if Alabama has a score of 3,000 and the next highest score is 1,500 then you would have to admit that the Crimson Tide were heads-and-shoulders above the rest and subsequently deserve a nice ass-kicking when they came out of study hall.
Another thing I looked for was consistency. I didn’t want to reward a school like Tennessee or Oklahoma State that appeared in the top 25 of one recruiting service but was left off of the others. Therefore, I only included those teams that appeared in the top 25 of all three recruiting services that I reviewed. What was left was the 19 best recruiting classes in the nation.
The final step was to give a number grade to each team for each separate recruiting service. This was actually fairly simple. Let’s take Rivals as an example. Rivals ranked Alabama as the top class with a score of 2,621. Second was Texas with a score of 2,481. Therefore, the Tide received a score of 1.00 in my analysis (2,621/2,621 = 1.00) and Texas got a score of 0.95 (2.481/2.621 = 0.95). So, if a team was ranked No. 1 by all three services, that team would have a total score of 3.00 and would have 100% of the total possible points. I did this for all 19 teams that appeared in the top 25 for all three services, combined the results, took the averages, and voila! (See the chart to the right.)
So there you have it; Alabama wins again! I am sick of hearing that, but it’s comforting that they didn’t come out on top by as much as one might think. Based on the above results, the Tide’s class is ahead of the Longhorns’ by only the slightest of margins. However, Alabama and Texas outdistance the pack by a good margin. The difference between 2.93 (Texas) and 2.78 (Ohio State) doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more than five percentage points.
Then there are our Gators. National Signing Day seemed like a kick to the stomach at times, but Florida actually did pretty well if we look at the entire recruiting cycle. The Gators finished the race in fourth place as the final team to receive a score of 90% or higher. And unlike most teams which are done with their 2012 classes, the Gators haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. If the aforementioned Diggs does indeed choose Florida on February 10, third place overall may be in reach for the orange and blue.