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Recruiting Rankings: Quality vs. Quantity

We're taking a look at the recruiting rankings for Texas Tech and the Big 12 and try to break down the quality vs quantity argument associated with the ranking system.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

There was a great SBN article in Friday morning's links post that brought to light the asinine intrinsic value of team rankings in recruiting. I, for one, think team rankings are absolutely pointless until that class has been signed. And even then, you're not really looking into all the players that made it on campus or stuck with the team.

Much like preseason polls/rankings, ranking team's recruiting classes before their signed can be quite misleading.

But there is another sort of early recruiting ranking of which you should be skeptical at this point in the season: team rankings. Like recruit ratings in the summer, these are highly misleading. Why?

Numbers. The earlier in the year, the greater the variance of the size of the classes. Team recruiting formulas are designed to compare teams with reasonably similar numbers of players. Yet every summer, we see fan bases and media outlets alike making a huge deal out of the teams in the recruiting rankings that common sense and historical data indicate will not finish where they are at that moment.

Case in point: Kentucky. Last year, Mark Stoops' Wildcats reached the top of rankings on June 19, and members of Big Blue Nation went wild. However, when all was said and done, 21 programs signed more four- and five-star recruits than the Wildcats, according to the 247Sports Composite.

So, I wanted to look specifically at the Big 12 and see how the 10 of us did in end-of-recruiting-cycle rankings. Again, this is an imperfect measure as I am not (and cannot) account for every player that signed but didn't make it to campus or has since left the team.

Come National Signing Day, top-10 classes almost always have at least 24 commitments with half or more being rated as blue chips. Top-20 classes typically have at least 35 percent blue chips.

The Data

These ratings are based on the 247 individual and composite rating. So, let's take a look at the teams in the Big 12.

Team Commits Blue Chip % (rank) 4-year BC% 14 BC% 13 BC% 12 BC% 11 BC%


10 50 (3) 16 (6) 18 19 19 9
Iowa State 6 0 (8) 3 (10) 8 4 0 0
Kansas 9 0 (8) 7 (8) 4 3 0 10
Kansas State 6 0 (8) 5 (9) 4 16 0 0
Oklahoma 7 57 (2) 54 (2) 39 46 70 61
Oklahoma State 8 25 (5) 22 (3) 25 26 26 11
Texas 10 90 (1) 70 (1) 43 73 89 73
Texas Christian 16 6 (7) 18 (5) 8 13 25 25
Texas Tech 7 29 (4) 19 (4) 4 8 21 41
West Virginia 13 15 (6) 15 (7) 24 14 17 4

*current data as of 6/27/14

We're comparing where the team is at right now to their 4 year average to see if it indicates the team is ahead of the recruiting cycle, on pace, or behind. I also included the data from the previous 4 years to try to show trends, if any.

What does it mean?

First, I want to look at the trends in the 4-year averages and note some things that stuck out to me.

Texas Tech has seen a dramatic decrease in blue-chip recruits since the 2011 season. We all that recruiting cycle was the feather in Tuberville's hat, but if things don't turn around, Tech will not be challenging for the conference title or beyond. Same with TCU.

Baylor has seen a steady influx of blue-chip recruits for the past 3 seasons and the results are starting to pay off. What I also see here is that you don't need a class with 50% or more of blue-chippers to challenge for titles. You need consistency. Same with Oklahoma State.

And then we see teams that over-achieve based on their recruiting rankings, like Kansas State. *Insert obligatory Wizard reference here*

Finally, we see that in 2013 and 2014, every team signed at least one blue-chip recruit. We're starting to see much less disparity in terms of distribution of these blue-chip recruits. Percentages ranged from 4 to 49 in 2014. Whereas in 2012, three teams signed zero, while Texas' class was almost 90% BC'ers.

Tell me what you see and what you make of all this.