Following Michigan's embarrassing defeat to Ohio State Saturday 7-42 last Saturday, I was left wondering how it could have all come to down this?
I substracted away the 2007 graduation losses, the coaching change, the transition to a new system, the lack of gametime experience, etc.
I was left thinking about recruiting. I thought a lot about Michigan recruiting.
Hasn't Michigan football been recruiting better players and higher talented classes than Ohio State for the last 5 or 6 years? The answer surprised me.
The answer is yes. This means that Michigan has, by default, also recruited the pants off of Penn State and Michigan State for that matter.
Here are some interesting observations about Michigan and Ohio State recruiting since 2002:
Trend 1: In 2008 Ohio State may have finally turned the corner on Michigan for good in the area of recruiting.
Why "for good"? Well, Michigan had historically been blowing the Buckeyes' doors off on the recruiting trail. Since 2002, OSU has not consistently surpassed UM's classes in college football recruiting rankings. In 2009 that changes. Ohio State has by now re-established its dominance over the Big Ten conference and over it's hated rival Michigan. This is making itself more evident (not less) in OSU recruiting hauls.
Here are Michigan's and Ohio State's Recruiting Classes as ranked by Scout.com.
2002: UM 19th OSU 3rd
2003: UM 8th OSU 25th
2004: UM 5th OSU 11th
2005: UM 2nd OSU 7th
2006: UM 9th OSU 13th
2007: UM 6th OSU 4th
2008: UM 15th OSU 1st
Michigan has been pretty tough to beat in recruiting in the Big Ten with consistent Top 10 or Top 15 national recruiting class rankings.
However, OSU has recently bested Michigan two straight seasons on the national recruiting trail. While Michigan is undergoing a coaching change right now and a major transition to a new scheme, Rich Rodriguez's challenges at Michigan may have only begun, because Jim Tressel seems to be gathering better and better talent each successive year. Unless Rich Rodriguez can recruit on par with Ohio State in consecutive seasons, beating Ohio State on the gridiron will only become more challenging.
Trend 2: Ohio State has yielded more results out of it's recruits than Michigan has (OSU's player development has been superior to Michigan's) during the same period of time.
Just consider the team's records over the same period:
2002: UM 10-3 OSU 14-0
2003: UM 10-3 OSU 11-2
2004: UM 9-4 OSU 8-4-0
2005: UM 7-5 OSU 10-2
2006: UM 11-2 OSU 12-1
2007: UM 9-4 OSU 11-2
2008: UM 3-9 OSU 10-2
Michigan has achieved only two ten win seasons to Ohio State's five during the same period, although Michigan has tended to shellack OSU on the recruiting trail.
Just take the 2005 classes as a textbook example.
The 2005 class of Michigan (ranked 2nd only behind, ironically, Tennessee) was better than Ohio State's class(ranked 7th), yet the end product for those 2005 freshman recruits ending as seniors in 2008 (for most of them) couldn't have been more different.
Michigan wound of 3-9. OSU 10-2.
This suggests a few things:
1.) Ohio State has been developing it's recruits better than Michigan. (This is attractive to future recruits)
2.) Ohio State is retaining more recruits than Michigan.
(This is attractive to future recruits)
3.) Ohio State wins conference championships and play for national championships.
(This is even more attractive to future recruits).
Both school churn out their share of NFL players. But Ohio State there too appears to be gaining an upperhand on Michigan over the last 4 years.
Typically it takes at least 3 to 4 back-to-back recruiting classes under one head coach to get an idea of how good a program can be. This is not scientific because there are other important variables in the equation for college football team success, such as having an exceptional quarterback, running back or defensive player, overall team "chemistry", a team's mental toughness, and team injuries.
In 2008, Michigan has a great opportunity to close the gap with Ohio State and make some solid gains on the recruiting trail.
Mr. Rodriguez and staff can start off by reeling in for Michigan both DT/OT Mr. William Campbell and OT Mr. Taylor Lewan.