WTF Stat/Fact Of The Week: Michigan Has Had 1(!!!) Recruiting Class Ranked Higher than OSU In The Past 10 Years

Submitted by Santa Clause on April 12th, 2017 at 11:20 PM

I was bored and really curious to see the numbers on this. I know all the Rich Rod and Hoke caveats apply, but in my opinion, this is another reason why we keep losing to Ohio St. In the past 10 years, it seems like they have had that one playmaker (or ref) that was a thorn in our side while we came so close, but not close enough. 

The last time our recruiting class was ranked higher than Ohio St was in 2007 according to Rivals. I would love to use 247sports Composite but I'm not sure if their database/website was even active back then. So for that reason I trust Rivals more for the ealier years. Rest assured, any year past 2009 I used 247sports Composite to make sure things were as fair as could be.

With Harbaugh as our coach, we have already seen him recruit to the levels of Ohio St in just a few short years, and I have no doubt in my mind that we will not only be beating OSU on the field, but in recruiting also. GO BLUE!




April 12th, 2017 at 11:23 PM ^

Well, OSU has been way better than Michigan for well over a decade.  This is either a cause of the better recruiting classes, or it is an effect of them.  Probably both.  


April 13th, 2017 at 12:47 AM ^

Ohio State cheats.  Michigan doesn't.  It's a testament to Harbaugh that he is recruiting even close to the second-most prolific cheaters in college football.  Bama, obviously, is first.

Harbaugh offers the best NFL training and a great 40 years after football.  OSU offers a pile of money right now.  Tough choice for a 17 year old, especially one with a poor family.


April 13th, 2017 at 1:35 AM ^

Don't be that guy who can't accept the results so you have to play the "cheating" cards. They had an established run with Tressel and then hired an elite coach, they are competing in the playoff consistently, and putting an insane amount of guys in the NFL. We hired 2 clowns b2b before getting our elite coach, it takes time to level the playing field.

Harbaugh is getting there, the next 10 won't look like the previous 10. But the hard truth is they beat our ass for the last decade on and off the field, take accountability and give credit where credit is due.

Ghost of Fritz…

April 13th, 2017 at 7:45 AM ^

The fact that OSU has had very good coaching staffs during the Tressel and Meyer eras, which lead to winning a lot, is the biggest reason.  But cheating has helped OSU's recruting too. 

During the Bruce and Cooper eras OSU underperformed.  Tressel came in and locked down the state of Ohio for recruiting.  This denied Michigan the talent from Ohio that Michigan had gotten during the Schembechler, Moeller and early Carr eras. 

Then Meyer came in an kicked up OSU's recruiting to an even higher level by adopting a more national approach, and also signing much larger classes than Tressel had done.

But cheating also has been a factor. Tressel knew that players were getting lots of benefits, allowed it becasue it helped his recruiting, and then lied about it when the NCAA came snooping around. 

That sort of culture/arrangement absolutely helps recruting.  Prospects come for a visit and see the cars the players are driving, and are told they will be 'taken care of' by boosters etc.  That does help recruiting.

Meyer?  No smoking gun yet.  But it is clear that he is not a guy that colors inside the lines.  A culture of cheating probably is helpiing OSU recruiting right now.  Maybe not Ole Miss level cheating, but still actively deciding to permit lots of obvious impermissible benefits that players receive from a network of boosters. 

So it is both.  Great coaching staffs (which leads to lots of winning) + a certain level of cheating = great results on the recruiting trail. 


April 13th, 2017 at 10:18 AM ^

"Prospects come for a visit and see the cars the players are driving." Just so you know, that has happened at Michigan too. Maybe not now, but when I was on campus, I happened to live in the same apartment building as several big time athletes. There is absolutely no way they could afford that shiny black mercedes benz. Was it cheating? I don't know. All I know is the optics of revenue sport athletes driving those wheels is that something fishy is going on.

I happen to really like teams that play with integrity, and do things the right way. But I think that some people are too quick to throw around the charge of "cheating." The way the whole thing works is crummy. I am completely fine with paying revenue sport athletes some kind of stipend. And you'd have to be an idiot not to realize that there are always gray areas that aren't black and white.

Ghost of Fritz…

April 13th, 2017 at 12:54 PM ^

...There is a huge difference between the worst and near worst offending programs and the programs that have imperfect rule compliance.

To one degree or another all programs fail to prevent boosters from giving prohibited benefits.  That is a big reason why programs don't rat each other out.  Everyone lives in a glass house of sorts, so all are reluctant to throw stones.

However, there is a huge difference between the worst offenders (Ole Miss case or Clemson offering Rashan Gary 6 figures) and the near worst offenders (Tressel's system at OSU), versus the programs that are merely unable to always prevent boosters from giving impermissible benefits. 




April 13th, 2017 at 12:25 PM ^

Does OSU cheat now?  No idea.

Did they have a scandal under Tressel involving cash, cars, tats - yes.  

They were better than us for the past decade because they had better coaching and player development (Tressel and Meyer) vs. (RR and Hoke).  I mean, we didn't lose to Rutgers and Maryland because OSU was cheating.

However, to completely ignore their SEC ways is also a bit disingenuous.  The guy who got really screwed in all of this regarding legacy was Lloyd, who, late in his career, wasy always competitive in those games but came up just short -I'd have to believe that 1 or 2 shady recruit/player management (see Maurice Clarett) had an impact on the outcome of those games.

I Like Burgers

April 13th, 2017 at 11:22 AM ^

Ohio State has been better than Michigan for at least 20 years.  Since 1996, the Buckeyes are 166-30 (2nd best record in CFB over that time) while Michigan is 122-68 (22nd overall).  Head-to-head over that stretch, Ohio State is 14-6.

Or, to put it another far more sobering way, all of the current students and players on the team haven't lived in a world where Michigan has been the better school for any stretch of time.

Ghost of Fritz…

April 13th, 2017 at 12:52 PM ^

...time periods, 1996-2006, and then 2007-present.

Michigan was still near the top in W-L record from '96-'06.

Then the bottom fell out from 2007-arrival of Harbaugh.

So it is sort of misleading the way you pick '96-present as the period of comparison.  Up until 2006, Michigan was still a top ten program in terms of W-L record. 


April 13th, 2017 at 2:13 PM ^

Well, 20 years ago we were the undefeated National Champs. We beat them again in '99 with Brady, and in Columbus in '00 with Henson.

Then, following that home loss, they jettisoned Cooper and hired a successful coach with very questionable ethics (this isn't excuse making, Tressel was fired for it and slapped with a "show cause").

If you want to start counting the time of their dominance I think you should start there. We got 2 Heisman winners out of Ohio in the 90s - we're not getting players like those out of Ohio any more. This is why last year's screw job was so hurtful... it wasn't only the pain of the loss, but the damage of the impression that we can't beat them lasting another year. Gotta end that, simple as that.

The question really is - How could we ever expect to out-recruit osu, with their on field success, relaxed academic and behavioral expectations, and most importantly massive advantage in talent base and lack of a B1G rival in their state to compete with in recruiting?!

We'll quite simply just have to start beating them with the "4th ranked" recruiting class to their 2nd. That is not likely to change barring another scandal/probation.


April 12th, 2017 at 11:28 PM ^

Man, I'm not sure what else you may have missed, but we have not been a better program than OSU since like, 2002? 2003? 

It's not traitorous to say this, you only harm yourself if you deny how much room for improvement you have. Once we start beating them on the field, the recruiting will tilt. We've already begun to catch up, but now we need head-to-head wins to pass them.

I Like Burgers

April 13th, 2017 at 11:38 AM ^

I did some research on this a few months ago and looked at the rolling four-year averages for like top 60-70 teams in CFB.  Basically take all of the wins and losses over four seasons (like from 96-99) and figure out the winning percentage.  Then do the same for 97-2000, 98-01, etc.

The only four-year stretches where Michigan had a better rolling average from than Ohio State was from 1996-1999 through 1999-2002.  After that it was all Ohio State, by a wide margin.

Also, Ohio State and Michigan were 4-4 head-to-head over that 1996-2002 stretch so its not like Michigan was dominating the Buckeyes.

I Like Burgers

April 13th, 2017 at 1:05 PM ^

The results were interesting.  I did it because I wanted to see where Michigan really ranked over the last 20 years or so and who had some of the best stretches over that time.  Picked a rolling four-year average because I felt like that showed who was best over a stretch of time instead of just one good year or two.

I think most of us probably feel like over the last 20 years or so, Michigan would be a fringe top 10 team and would take being compared to Iowa or Nebraska as an insult, but in reality that's exactly what they are and they've been more like a fringe top 25 team for the last 20 years.  Here are the winningest teams over the last 20 years:

1. Boise State .853

2. Ohio State .847

3. Oklahoma .795

4. USC .781

5. Alabama .771


Other noteworthy teams:

9. Wisconsin .719

20. Penn State .647

21. Iowa .646

22. Michigan .642

24. Nebraska .638


April 13th, 2017 at 6:32 AM ^

What George Pickett said ...

I don't have easy access to Cooper-era recruiting stats, but OSU has been a football factory for a long time.

At baseline they should be *expected* to out-recruit Michigan. They have more in-state talent, they're a bit closer to the southern region, and (unfortunately) they can play the "tradition" card just as well as anyone else. Academic scores are a notch below Michigan's, but that doesn't matter to most players. 


April 13th, 2017 at 9:19 AM ^

I agree.  Virtually every high school football player in the State of Ohio dreams of suiting up for the Crimson and Gray.  Hell even the ones that get scholarship offers revoked still praise the school, I'm talking about that one QB last year or so.


Michigan has split loyalties between UM and MSU.  Combine 2 big ten teams in a less talent rich state and you are going to end up with lower recruiting classes.  The scary thing to me is if PSU can start locking down Pennsylvania in the same manner OSU locks down Ohio it might become what it once was.


April 12th, 2017 at 11:32 PM ^

Not really a WTF stat when you consider how mediocre our program was for most of that time while they've been winning 80-90% of their games.

Maize in Cincy

April 12th, 2017 at 11:34 PM ^

Harbaugh is not recruiting to the level of OSU, but then again nobody except Bama is.  Urban is like coach Cal at Kentucky in basketball. They are an NFL factory, they don't come to play school.  Hopefully it doesn't last much longer.

Wolverine 73

April 13th, 2017 at 11:23 AM ^

You have to be in the same vicinity with the Bucks, it doesn't matter if you are 5 and they are 3. Coaching, emotion, and the vagaries of injuries and home field, and whether you hit on a superstar player who can carry the team will then determine the game winner. You just can't consistently be 20 behind in rankings and expect to win.

steve sharik

April 12th, 2017 at 11:44 PM ^

Both bluebloods, only difference is really that Ohio has a larger population, more major cities, and better in-state talent. All else equal, they should have higher-rated recruits. 

I mean, why aren't you all "WTF?!?!?" about Alabama out-recruiting us the last decade? (Or even LSU?) Hell, they've been 247 composite's #1 for about 8 straight years.


April 13th, 2017 at 4:47 AM ^

This has nothing to do with the state of Ohio. It's that Osu has been in the National Championship Game in 2002, 2006,2007, 2014, and was a CFP team this year. Michigan can recruit nationally no problem, but a lot of recruits will always choose them over us because we have one shared national championship since their grandfathers got back from WW2.

Don't get me wrong, Harbaugh is changing this. Our time is on the brink, but my maize goggles can see past the point that we haven't done anything on a national level since 1997.

M_Born M_Believer

April 12th, 2017 at 11:58 PM ^

But does this really surprise you or anyone else who has been following this?

One other thing I like you pointed out. It just seems that OSU has had that 1 special player that was the difference maker year after year. From Clarrett to Smith to Pryor to Miller to Barrett and Samuel they had the difference maker. When Michigan was winning in the 90's we had Timmy B, Woodson, and Henson just to name a few. Hell the most recent win is when Denard was playing at top form.

Football is certainly a team sport, but in an evenly matched contest the team that has "that" player has the advantage because they just seem to make the play(s) when needed the most.

So I ask the Mgoblog world, does JH have that special player on the team this year that will simply be the difference maker?

While I believe that Gary will be the best player on the field. A D-Lineman will have a more challenging time being the game changer. Note that almost every name I mentioned above was an offensive player (or in Woodson case the GOAT of GOAT). So will it be Evens? Wilton?


April 13th, 2017 at 12:02 AM ^

No. We need that QB who is the absolute difference maker. Think of the past years when we lost to OSU, they have had the game hanger at QB in all of those years. This past year, Barrett wasn't great but he made enough timely plays with his legs to make a difference, and well, our QB made two detrimental mistakes. This year though, Speight could be above Barrett and God I hope so.

M_Born M_Believer

April 13th, 2017 at 1:44 AM ^

Or maybe I wasn't clear enough. I agree that the most important game changer is the QB position. Most of the game changers I listed above on both sides were the QB. I only noted that I believe that Gary will be the best player, BUT the reason I specifically listed Evans and Speight is for the exact reason you noted. The QB has the ball in his hands on 90%+ of the offensive play or almost half the plays in the game. That position inherently will have the most opportunity to be the game changer.

Can Speight out play Barrett. I actually believe so. In addition, with JH as the head coach now, combined with the talent he is bringing in at QB (i.e. Peters and McCaffery). The likelihood of this rivalry swinging back into our favor looks promising.

It just needs to happen on the field now. Speight has to outplay Barrett. I get it, it's a team game.....yada...yada....yada. It is simply much harder to win if your QB is outplayed......

Can Speight do it. I believe so....

EDIT: before any snarky remarks. I am also well aware that Evans is a RB....


April 13th, 2017 at 9:28 AM ^

Exactly.  All those "difference makers" he listed were QB's with the exception of Clarrett.  And that was before the spread took over.  In today's college football game you need your QB to be the difference maker.  Michigan hasn't had an elite QB since Brady.   Henne and Denard were good but one was pocket cannon and the other was grossly misused.