this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Early Morning Buzz Kill/Recruiting
So, it's been accepted as fact that Rodriguez, Barwis, and the rest of the staff "do less with more" than most other coaches. People generally point to WVU's sterling records and lofty rankings, combined with a seeming slew of two and three star talent coming in the door. We've talked about the amazingness of Mike Barwis, and assume that WVU was transforming these 2 and 3 star recruits into 5-star performers. Finally, as we have been signing a few 3-stars it's been a running meme that Barwis and the staff turned out amazing results with players like this, so we shouldn't worry.
All this, I'm afraid, ignores the context in which WVU's success came. In the past 7 years (an arbitrary number, but all it's all the available date in Rivals), the Big East has, as whole, recruited as follows:
2008 - 0 teams in Top 25 recruiting classes
2007 - 1 team in top 25 (WVU)
2006 - 1 team in top 25 (Pitt)
2005 - 0 teams
2004 - 0 teams
2003 - 0 teams
2002 -0 tea,s
By contrast, in the past 7 years, the Big Ten has produced 23 classes ranked in the Top 25. The SEC, absurdly, has produced 48. Shockingly, Mississippi State has produced more Top 25 classes in this time frame than the Big East as a conference (they've gone to a single bowl game in 7 years, by the way). So, it is possible - almost likely - that WVU succeeded with two and three star players because it wasn't an absurd handicap - the conference in which they played was stocked with them.
Looking at other successful Big East teams we find:
UCONN - 1 four star player recruited in the past 7 years.
Cincinatti - 0 four-stars, 0 five-stars
Lousiville - 16 4-stars, 1 five-star
Pitt - 20 4-stars, 1 five-star
WVU had: 14 4-stars, 2 five-stars
So, WVU's talent level was, at least, comparable to the top teams in the conference. This wasn't a team that succeeded with comparatively poor talent - it was a team that had, for the conference, superior talent.
None of this means that I believe the staff will be unsuccessful. What it DOES mean is that WVU wasn't doing "more with less" than the rest of the Big East - they were doing what they should have with more talent. Luckily, Michigan generally has excellent talent levels. If that is maintained - and it appears that's not a problem - then we should have continued success.
None of this should be taken as an indictment of recruiting three-star talent. Every successful team recruits a large portion of their class at this level, and I have no expectation of Michigan being different. Just, we should likely not have an expectation of the staff and Barwis turning all this three-star talent into five-star performance, as the three-star talent at WVU was, actually, superior to much of the Big East.
I personally believe that lower level recruits like Feagin who pick a Big 10/SEC type team, especially one of the higher profile teams, get a bump over if they had picked say Louisville.
But that brings up another question - is it a bias, or a reflection on the fact that they were underrated to begin with and are being rated more where they should have been, based on the fact the bigger programs are recruiting them?
As for bowl games, I don't put a lot of stock in judging conference superiority by one arbitrary game a year that takes place 50 days after the season. If M and Florida switched conferences before last year, who do you think would have had more success?
If RR makes BCS games and beats the likes of Oklahoma and Georgia, that'll do. The stars of recruits will make no difference nor will the perceived strength of the Big Ten or any other conference.
While you might be skeptical of aggregate bowl records, if Michigan plays like they did against FLA all season they would have been in a very different bowl. The only team on the schedule that would have posed a problem would have been Oregon. They would have done to OSU what LSU did. Which is what makes me want to smash my head against the monitor. Why didn't they play LIKE that all season? And I don't mean that well but that style (well the defense playing much better helped). Sure when Henne was hurt things would have to be simplified but they used brand new running plays that had FLA completely lost. Every team was scheming to stop the zone left and yet DeBord continued to run one running play as if they didn't realize there were any others...
I was wondering about Miami, et al as well. Thanks for the info about those teams.
Anyway, no buzz kill for me. I think the hidden point about the original post is the arbitrary and "greatness by association" nature of recruiting rankings to begin with: i.e. Miss St. in the top 25 purely b/c it's in the SEC.
If anything my buzz is even greater b/c it shows that Rich Rod and crew really know how to find, develop/coach talent, and put those kids into a scheme that will best utilize each one.
do these numbers from '02-04 include Miami, VaTech and Boston College before they moved to the ACC? (though BC actually moved in '05, a year after Miami and VT)
I think you almost have to split the Big East analysis into 2002-04 and 2005-Present since it's kind of comparing apples to oranges when you suddenly lose some of your top football teams.
EDIT: looks like my thought process was beaten by a few posts, but I guess the point still stands...
Martin - you're misunderstanding me. I know Michigan always gets 3-star talent. I even said that in my diary. I'm not upset about Rodriguez attracting 3-star talent. My argument is that the AMOUNT of 3/2 star talent that Michigan attracts is dwarfed by the amount you see on a Big East roster. I never, once, said RR intends to recruit only 3-star talent. I don't think that's the case at all.
The only point was this: people say that RR does "less with more". That, I think, is largely untrue because his roster, made up of a slew of 2 and 3 star talent, is no worse than the rest of the Big East.
Two points that kind of derail things...
1. The amount of success could be proportionately more than other conference juggernauts, based on the same level of talent throughout the various conferences. That would mean they were still getting "more" from "less" on a comparative basis.
2. You would really have to look at how the Big East fared compared to the rest of the BCS conferences, but in particular how WVU fared against non-Big East competition. That's how you would see if they did more with less. In other words, simply look at the games where they clearly had "less", and see how they did. The two I know of for sure are Georgia and Oklahoma, and that's enough for me. Michigan hasn't kicked the snot out of anyone but ND lately, and they're not Oklahoma.
Again, I'm not particularly concerned about how we're recruiting, at all. I object to the assertion of "look what he did with inferior talent!" when, in fact, his talent wasn't inferior. And, Wolverine - there's a paucity of quality OOC games:
2007 - 3 MAC teams, Maryland, and the aforementioned Oklahoma
2006 - Marshall, Eastern Washington, East Carolina, Ga Tech
2005 - Wofford, E. Carolina, Maryland, Georgia
2004 - E. Carolina, James Madison, Maryland, Florida State
2003 - Wisconsin, E. Carolina, Cincinatti, Maryland
So, against BCS schools: 4-1 vs. Maryland, losses to Florida State and Wisconsin, wins over Georgia, Ga Tech, and Oklahoma. Only once was Maryland a "good" team - and that was the one loss. So, I'm not sure the out of conference says that incredibly much.
For the record: I think it makes more sense to lump bowl games into aggregate Out of Conference.
And, when Miami and Va Tech were in the Big East (teams with vastly superior recruiting), WVU was 1-5 against them. So that doesn't bolster much.
Your argument isn't sufficient to determine if you are right or wrong. Simply saying that they recruit the same as rest of the Big East, then claiming they did great in-conference with the same talent level is a straw-man argument.
I made no actual claims myself, except to suggest some ways you could actually check that claim out. Looks like you did a bit up above, and I gotta say that's not too shabby.
As has been pointed out to me:
I don't think Urban Meyer had SEC talent at Utah, or Tressel has Big 10 talent at Youngstown, but they succeeded. I don't mean this as a knock on Rodriguez, at all.
I think he's a phenomenal coach. I just think that people tend to hang on to magic potions like the Barwis love, the assertion that he does "less with more", etc. The fact is - we don't need these less-than-factual arguments to think that Rodriguez is a good coach. He'll succeed because he coaches the game well - not because of a magic ability to transform players or a shaman-like S&C coach.
"in the past 7 years, the Big Ten has produced 23 classes ranked in the Top 25"
Just curious, how many of the 23 were UM, OSU and PSU? 21? It seems to me UM, OSU and PSU get better talent than the rest of the BigTen
"He'll succeed because he coaches the game well - not because of a magic ability to transform players or a shaman-like S&C coach." I think that hits the nail on the head. Also, let's not forget what Rodriguez did with the WVU program itself - brought it out of mediocrity and turned it into into a national powerhouse. I think that's the true measure of a coach.
And, yes, I see the irony in my tag. It's just a joke.
Michigan State #13 in 2004 according to Scout, #16 Rivals
Ohio State did get ranked every year in the top 25 according to Scout
Minnesota #17 in Rivals 2007
In Rod I Trust:
I'm not sure what that means.
can you imagine a mac team beating the snot out of oklahoma last year?
(by the way, 7 of the 14 four star players WVU recruited in 2007 and 2008)
Just to be clear - I'm not saying WVU is a MAC team. They found some diamonds in White and Slaton, to be sure, and their 5-star, Devine, was a monster in that game. But, I don't think that you can boil the entire argument down to 2 games spread across 3 years (Georgia, Oklahoma).
I saw that, Jamie - that's gotta hurt. But, I really don't think I appreciated how poor the Big East talent level is, now that Miami and Va Tech left. They sported a strong bowl record because they played an overwhelming number of small conference teams. They also sport better records because they play 5 OOC games in the regular season, and they all seem to schedule Temple.
Maybe they still think Temple is in the Big East?
I do agree with your premise that the whole "RR and WVA did more with less and that is why they achieved so much" is as much myth as anything else. Fact is, they had more talent than anybody else in the Big East and were expected to win the league titles in these recent seasons. The league is a mixture of new Div I schools like USF and Uconn, schools like Lville who are stepping up to the BCS league from a mid major and fallen powers like the Orange.
But, whats worth pointing out is that in year 2 and 3 of his WVA tenure, he had success against the big boys Miami and VT. They played a classic game, albeit in defeat, losing by 2 to top ranked Miami and beat a top-10 VT team in back to back seasons. What stands out in those games is not that his spread and shed, ninja offense tore through those guys, but rather WVA brought it physically in those games. They pushed the Hokies all over the place, and its rare to see VT get manhandled like that. The next year, there was a lot of talk about VT getting revenge and showing WVA who is boss. Yeah, not so much, it happened again. Did the legend of Barwis begin with those Hokie smackdowns?
So, in those cases, he did achieve more with less, simply by coaching them up and getting them to play with froth at the mouth. Had the Big East stayed the same, it would be interesting to see how he would have done since he clearly upgraded the talent at WVA since then.
His bowl wins, as far as I am concerned, prove more that WVA is closer in talent and speed--especially on offense--than people are willing to admit, and less that he's doing more with less. OU and UGA just could not keep up with WVA's speed and it caught them off guard early in each game and they found themselves in too big of a hole to catch up.