recruiting rankings are a gravely serious matter
It's been 25 years since Seinfeld debuted. This was reason enough for saveferris to create another one of those Big Ten teams are analogous to pop culture thing things. I'm about to do one of those ruin the diary by providing spoilers when I argue with its conclusion things, so if you want to add to the discussion do the OP a favor and say it on his post.
Spoiler section: I'm fine with Michigan as Jerry even though starting these things with the home team as the main protagonist is pretty trite. It sets up the rivalries with Newman and Kenny Bania. Big disagreement: you've got Wisconsin and Iowa mixed up. What school falls ass-backwards into things AND is a hipster doofus AND believes in strange deities?
What school is known for its incredible output of big, gumpy dudes who keep pushing handy relationships that feel really awkward?
Also because they're a mechanic who wants to be noticed. I'd make Rutgers Estelle Constanza and Maryland just Frank. 1) Their only connection to this show is their relationship to George (PSU), who stopped hanging out with them when he discovered his other friends. 2) Between the two of them, Jerry Stiller may not be a Seinfeld star but he's still a valuable onscreen commodity who gave us Festivus and other classic moments, and is only annoying because he talks about money too often, like Maryland; Estelle is just a walking "Joisy" stereotype and calamity.
There's a joke about Northwestern going to Florida in here.
If they lived in the Midwest they'd be married already. I once attended a very hip party in Brooklyn. My best friend's wife is like the pinnacle of Brooklyn cool, and she's also just really awesome, thus she interacts in the highest of hipster-professional circles, and one time I was visiting and tagged along to be this Midwestern object of curiosity among indie film makers, neighborhood magazine editors, and one girl who claimed she did irony as a living. My most successful joke was to remark that we here in the Northwest Territories were ecstatic to learn that flannel was back in style. Then I got into a long conversation on the balcony/fire escape about how we tend to get married by our mid-20's, which is really early to them. Maybe it's because there's nothing else to do. Maybe it's because we like our comfort (flannel, remember) more than the bother of drawing things out.
This is all a lead-up to m1jjb00's finding that only four Midwest recruits in the 247 top 300 are still uncommitted. We have fewer top players than any other region, true, but that doesn't explain why 84% of them are already signed to a school when the next closest region is 69% and the average is 61%. Because y'all got commitment issues. #flannelandproud
Etc. Reordering recruiting rankings by % of 4-stars in the class < giving + credit per player; Michigan's ranked low because we have a 10-man class that would be big at 15, and a lot of teams are already past 20 (Mississippi State is at 27 because Mississippi State is the SEC who's the worst at SEC-ing). See: Jake Ryan as Captain America. Also this wallpaper:
[After the jump: a drone flies over the Big House to annoying music, a small change to the helmet that's destined for a "Michigan to Change Its Helmet" headline as soon as such people catch wind of it, and the true story of O-I-H-O.]
Drake Harris and Chase Winovich
All the three pointers. Hands up! Bad luck. Bad defense. What to do with Stauskas? Hey, they're still pretty good.
Curling digression. Proposal for winter decathlon. Which would be awesome. Downhill, slalom, 500m speed skating, cross-country, etc.
We run down all 16 recruits, hype up the wide receivers, express disappointment that the class did not reach at least 18 guys. What was with Montae Nicholson? Redshirt complainin'. Always redshirt complainin'.
"Across 110th Street."
"Nautical Disaster," The Tragically Hip
The usual links:
Rivals ranks Five-Star Challenge camper Steven Parker 123 spots higher than any other service.
Rivals released their updated 2014 Rivals100 today, and this would've gone without more than a passing mention if not for this tweet that accompanied the release:
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
Fans of recruiting often throw out unsubstantiated claims about bias in the player rankings; this "fun fact" from Rivals, though, is just begging for some investigation into potential issues with their rankings. Does Rivals favor recruits who show up to their camps?*
I decided to take a look at the players in the Rivals100 who are listed as participants in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge; they represent 51 of the top 100 prospects on Rivals. My rather unscientific method of looking for potential bias was to look at each Five-Star Challenge participant's ranking on Rivals and compare it to their highest ranking on any of the other three services; if there's consistent bias in the rankings, Rivals should be the high outlier for this specific set of prospects. You can pore over the full (chart?) chart here; below is a summary of what I found:
- 26 of the 51 Five-Star Challenge participants (50.9%) were ranked higher on Rivals than any of the other three recruiting services.
- 11 players from the group were ranked at least 20 spots higher on Rivals than elsewhere, compared to eight whose highest ranking was 20 or more spots above their placement on Rivals.
- Five FSC participants in the Rivals100 were ranked 50+ spots above their next-highest ranking, including significant outliers OK S Steven Parker (#46, 123 spots higher than Scout) and TX OL Demetriux Knox (#35, 92 higher than Scout). Only two such players — AZ OL Casey Tucker (#79 on Rivals, #27 on Scout) and FL LB Kain Daub (#86 Rivals, #24 Scout) — fit the opposite criteria.
- On average, the 51 FSC participants were ranked 5.3 spots higher on Rivals than they were anywhere else; that number would obviously be even higher if we were looking at the industry average instead of the next-highest rank.
Where the numbers get really interesting, however, is when we look at the relationship between Rivals, ESPN, and Under Armour. As of this year, Rivals's recruiting rankings are "presented by Under Armour." Meanwhile, ESPN and Under Armour are still partnered for the Under Armour All-American Game. When I mentioned this potential conflict on Twitter earlier today, our friend TomVH noted that both Rivals and ESPN have input into the Under Armour AA selections:
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) August 19, 2013
Since Rivals and ESPN both have potential conflicts of interest regarding Under Armour All-American prospects, I revisited my chart and looked for prospects whose highest non-Rivals ranking came from ESPN. Of those prospects, six are committed to the UA game. These are those six players:
|Name||Rivals100 Rank||ESPN Rank||Delta||Highest Non-ESPN Rank||Non-ESPN Delta|
This is, to be sure, a limited sample, but I can't say I'm surprised to see that each player's highest ranking drops — significantly, in the case of the top three players on the chart — when the two services with ties to the Under Armour Game are removed. When running the numbers for the full set of 51 Five-Star Challenge participants and using the highest non-ESPN rank for Under Armour All-Americans, the gap between Rivals and the other services widens significantly — the prospects are ranked an average of 11.1 spots higher on Rivals than the other services.
Rivals received some immediate backlash when they published the tweet at the top of this post; they repeatedly replied to commenters with this explanation when pressed about potential bias in their rankings:
@travatrave It shows how many of the kids we were able to evaluate first hand and in person, no bias at all.
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 19, 2013
This isn't an illegitimate explanation; Rivals got the chance to see a large group of top prospects in a setting that no other recruiting outlet was allowed to attend, and that should rightfully lead to some disparity in player rankings — both to the positive and negative. The fact that the Five-Star Challenge participants skew to the positive, however, along with the trend of major outliers among Under Armour All-Americans, suggests that some bias is present when it comes to recruits who participate in a Rivals-sponsored event.
Recruiting rankings, as we well know, are by no means an exact science, and my methodology here is far from ideal. That said, the role of sponsors in recruiting rankings is worth watching with a critical eye.
*Notably, the Rivals Five-Star Challenge is only open to Rivals reporters. No other outlet is allowed to cover it.