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July 26, 2009

Recruiting in the big picture: How are we doing?

Spartan football is off to another sound recruiting start with nine commitments, and I’ve been considering, here in the Big Ten’s mid-summer doldrums, who the real recruiting competition is at MSU’s middle, or upper-middle, BCS level. I’ve looked into Rivals’s rankings from the past four recruiting class lists (2006-2009) and put up their average by school from those years below.

My assumptions, in terms of which teams fit this list, include one that most of us can agree on: We’re simply not at the level of OSU, Florida, USC, etc. at this point. So, I’ve put aside teams who are consistently in or near the top ten in polls and recruiting classes, but I’ve included formerly top teams that are in a wobbly phase now, like ND and FSU. I’ve left out AA because, frankly, I’m bored with them.

Meanwhile, I have not included teams like UNLV, Iowa State, Indiana, Buffalo, New Mexico, UNC, Duke, and Rice, or even recent upstarts like South Florida and Connecticut, who in the big picture have clearly not been top-50 teams. I’m also struck with a number of recent underachievers in both wins and the polls relative to their recruiting successes: ND, FSU, South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee, UCLA, and Nebraska. And, two super-overachievers: Boise State and Utah.

Closer to home, MSU with an average of #35 in Rivals recruiting rankings over the four years has played more or less to the predicted level, with last year making up nicely for a painful fall under Bobby and John L.

In the broader Big Ten I think Iowa, #46, is an out-performer due to great coaching, but to me it looks like MSU is now in the process of passing them with a much better recruiting base and now equal-to-better coaching. Personally, I would not want to have Iowa’s recruiting challenges, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

Meanwhile, Purdue appears to be in a serious struggle with recruiting. Wisconsin is clearly sliding, while it seems like Minnesota is on their way up but a little behind us right now. And, I’ve left out Northwestern and Indiana due to weak football traditions and a lack of recruiting power.

Here is the list of the average (rounded to whole numbers) of Rivals rankings from 2006 through 2009, with apologies if those excluded step on toes. It’s late July; seems like time for speculation to begin in earnest. Is there anything in this or other data that suggests to you where we are relative to our closest competitors and what’s next for a Dantonio-lead program?

SCHOOL     RIVALS 4-YEAR AVERAGE

Notre Dame           10

Florida State         10

Auburn                  14

South Carolina       16

Tennessee             18

Clemson                20

UCLA                     21

MIssissippi             23

Nebraska                23

Illinois                    27

Texas A&M             27

Arkansas                27

California               29

Pittsburgh              31

Arizona State         31

Maryland                32

Oklahoma State      33

Oregon                   34

Michigan State       35

Colorado                 36

Missouri                 36

Arizona                  37

Texas Tech            39

Kansas                   40

Wisconsin              40

Washington           41

West Virginia         43

Minnesota              44

Iowa                      46

Boston College       47

Oregon State         49

Louisville               52

Utah                      58

Purdue                   62

Brigham Young       64

Texas Christian      71

Washington State   72

Boise State            75

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