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.