BATON ROUGE, La. — It’s getting closer and closer to crunch time, LSU football fans. The dead period is behind us and the sprint toward National Signing Day is in full swing, with just more than two weeks between Monday and Feb. 1.
National Signing Day is the most exciting day of the offseason calendar. It’s a day where you get to imagine what the future of your program is going to look like, and it’s always positive. The higher your team is ranked, the better you get to feel until the season begins.
But do recruiting rankings translate to immediate success?
It’s obvious that recruiting rankings matter. There’s a reason that Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State are always good. But for the LSU football team, how have recruiting rankings been reflected in the team’s postseason performance?
Well, in the last 10 years, it hasn’t been much.
As you can see in the graph above, LSU’s postseason AP Poll ranking is rarely close to its preseason recruiting ranking, in this case the 247 Sports Composite Team Rankings.
In 2010 and 2012, the rankings were pretty accurate. Heck, in 2010, LSU football was ranked No. 8 in both recruiting and the postseason AP Poll. But beyond that, the data is so scattered that its technically negatively correlated.
The only times LSU outperformed its recruiting ranking were 2011 and 2012, when the Tigers finished the season ranked No. 1 and No. 13, respectively, after finishing eighth and fourteenth in recruiting.
Yes, this data is a flawed sample set. Recruiting rankings don’t adjust for quality of competition or acquiring needs. Just stars obtained. But if you compare how well LSU recruited versus the rest of the SEC West to how well LSU played in division, you’ll find a similar trend.
|Year||LSU’s SEC West Recruiting Rank||Where LSU Finished in the SEC West|
Again, this data features virtually no correlation. But at least here there’s a slightly more evident pattern.
No, there’s no connection between LSU’s SEC West recruiting standing and its performance the next season. But if you connect the dots two years in advance, you notice a bit more of a pattern.
With moderately strong correlation (an R value of 0.5752 for you math heads among us), recruiting rankings correspond to LSU’s SEC West finish two years later. For example, in 2005, LSU had the best recruiting class in the SEC West, then won the SEC West in 2007. Same can be said of 2009 and 2011.
Second-place recruiting finishes in ’08 and 2014 led to second-place on-field finishes in ’10 and ’14, and third place in ’11 begat third place in ’13.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be excited about National Signing Day. On the contrary. It just means you have to play the long game. If you’re excited for Feb. 1, that just means you’re in it to see LSU succeed in 2019.
This week’s LSU football poll question
As I mentioned in the previous section, we’re dead in the middle of recruiting season in the LSU football world.
So, this week, I put it up to you: What do you think is LSU football’s biggest need in the recruiting class for this year? Where do you think LSU needs to improve the most to take the next step? Which positions are the thinnest and which need the most star power?
Vote in the poll below. We’ll recap your answers in Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.
Is this the chance to take down ‘Bama?
Alabama’s athletic director, Bill Battle, will be stepping down soon as the man at the helm of the Crimson Tide’s athletic programs.
As you know, it’s foolish to ever count Alabama out while Nick Saban is still leading the program. But if there was ever a time to question the stability of the Tide’s power, it would be in a two-week span where the school parted ways with an offensive coordinator, lost a national championship game, saw a major assistant coach leave and now is losing its athletic director.
If there were ever a time for LSU to swoop in and try to steal some of Alabama’s thunder, it’d be now, right before National Signing Day as Alabama is trying to put the finishing touches on another No. 1 class. If there are any battles left between the two schools, and you know there are, LSU’s coaches can argue that this new staff is in it for the long haul. Saban and his constantly moving staff can’t make the same assertion.
It’s a small gap, but football is a game of inches after all.
Arbitrary Analysis, part 1
As is a bi-weekly tradition here in the Bayou Bengal Briefing, it’s time for another Arbitrary Analysis!
Here in the United States, this upcoming week is going to be a political one. On Friday, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the next President of the United States, meaning there are only five days left in Barack Obama’s tenure, counting Monday.
Whether you loved the man, loathed the man or couldn’t care less about the man, Obama’s presidency did coincide with a handful of really great moments in LSU football history. So, this week, in honor of his last week in the White House, I’ll be counting down my picks for the five most notable LSU football wins during the Obama administration.
Let’s start off this week’s list with No. 5.
No. 5: LSU ends Ole Miss’ title run (2014)
It was the first year of the College Football Playoff and Ole Miss was the Cinderella story the SEC craved. Coming seemingly out of nowhere, Ole Miss shocked the college football world by upsetting Alabama and starting the season 7-0, climbing all the way to No. 3 in the national polls.
Then the Rebels visited Death Valley.
In what ended up being the Rebels’ worst performance of the regular season by total yards, passing yards and yards per play, LSU’s defense shut down quarterback Bo Wallace and company, leading to a 10-7 LSU win.
Quarterback Anthony Jennings seized the lead for LSU, connecting on a touchdown pass with Logan Stokes with five minutes remaining in the game. But LSU owed the success of the drive to its run game. Twelve of the 13 plays LSU ran on the 95-yard marathon drive were run plays, with Kenny Hilliard accounting for 47 yards and freshman Leonard Fournette raking in 35 of his own.
With two seconds left, defensive back Ronald Martin intercepted Wallace to seal the victory.
Check back to the Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday for our No. 4 pick.
This week in NFLSU action
And then there were four.
After a weekend of two blowouts and two nail-biters, only four teams remain in the NFL Playoffs. Of the four remaining teams, only one features major contributions from former LSU football players.
Here are some updates from action this weekend:
Spencer Ware busts through the ?️ for the TD! https://t.co/d2BprK6aNa
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 16, 2017
- Former LSU running back Spencer Ware could’ve been the hero. With less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Ware rushed for a touchdown to bring the Chiefs within two points of the Steelers. But, thanks to a holding penalty, the Chiefs failed to convert on their two-point conversion, eliminating Ware and his teammates from Super Bowl contention.
- With the win in that game, former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger advances one step closer to his first Super Bowl as the Steelers’ third-string quarterback. The Steelers next face former LSU pass rusher Barkevious Mingo and the New England Patriots.
- In a game for the ages, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers outlasted Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, 34-31. Former Thorpe Award-winning LSU cornerback and Cowboys starter Morris Claiborne played for the first time in months, recording 4 tackles and breaking up 1 pass. The Packers do not have a former Tiger on their roster.
- As he’s made a habit of doing this season, Atlanta Falcons rookie linebacker Deion Jones intercepted another pass, this one against the Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in a do-or-die playoff game. Jones added 5 tackles and 1 TFL as the Falcons advanced to host the Packers next weekend.
Last weekend in non-revenue LSU sports news
The winter and spring sports seasons are in full swing at LSU. Here’s a recap of some of the action you might’ve missed watching the NFL playoffs this weekend:
- The No. 1-ranked LSU gymnastics team took down No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Friday night. Ashleigh Gnat posted LSU’s first perfect 10 of the season as LSU won, 197.575-197.100.
- The LSU men’s basketball team did not beat Alabama, falling at home to the Crimson Tide, 81-66. LSU led for 25 minutes of the game and held the lead late into the second half, but Alabama pulled away, ending the game on a 25-10 run.
- LSU’s women’s basketball team lost to its third top-5 opponent of the season Sunday, losing to No. 5 South Carolina, 84-61. In the losing effort, Chloe Jackson posted her fourth straight 20-point game.
- Multiple Tigers runners set career bests and rewrote the school record books with their performances in the track and field team’s appearance in the Commodore Invitational over the weekend.
Do you like Jazz?
Sorry to quote an Internet meme/bad movie, but let’s end Bayou Bengal Briefing on Monday by talking about Jazz.
No, I’m not going to go on Ryan Gosling’s rant from La La Land about how pure of an art form jazz is. But if you haven’t seen La La Land, it’s a good time. No, let’s talk about Jazz Ferguson.
The former LSU wide receiver became the latest former LSU wide receiver to transfer on Sunday. Ferguson isn’t headed all too far, though. He’s staying in-state with the Northwestern State Demons.
Ferguson makes five LSU wide receivers to transfer away from Baton Rouge since 2015. When coupled with Travin Dural’s graduation and Malachi Dupre’s declaration for the NFL Draft, the Tigers are going to be unexpectedly thin at wide receiver next season.
What’s the solution? Size. Size. And more size. LSU will likely play four wide receivers who are listed at 6-foot-3 or taller, from D.J. Chark and Drake Davis (both 6-3) to Dee Anderson (6-5) and Stephen Sullivan (6-6). If you like wingspans, LSU will be the team to watch in 2017.