Evaluating recruiting classes is an inexact science. However, there is a strong link between recruiting rankings and winning championships.
SBNation’s Bud Elliott has found that over the past decade, signing more 4- and 5-star recruits than 2- and 3-star recruits is a requirement for any team that hopes to make it to the national championship game. The higher the number of top recruits a program signs over the previous four years (which he calls the Blue Chip Ratio), the greater chance a team has of winning a title.
That may not be surprising, but the teams considered to have “championship-caliber” talent in 2016 might be.
Five SEC teams have a Blue Chip Ratio of 50 percent or higher this season: Alabama (.77), LSU (.66), Auburn (.57), Texas A&M (.53) and Georgia (.52). The SEC has more teams that reach the championship-level threshold than any other conference.
Alabama and LSU are obvious. Both teams are loaded with talent, and both are considered contenders to make it to the College Football Playoff and the national title game. The Crimson Tide has brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the country each of the past four years. LSU has had a top-6 class each of the past three years.
The next three SEC teams with championship-level recruiting, however, aren’t expected to live up to that billing this season.
Auburn is coming off a 7-6 season, and head coach Gus Malzahn enters 2016 squarely on the hot seat. The Tigers have had success on the recruiting trail, however, signing a top-10 class each of the past three years and the No. 11 class in 2012.
Texas A&M also enters 2016 with questions about its head coach, Kevin Sumlin. Three of the Aggies’ last four starting quarterbacks have transferred out of the program, and another coach in Texas said the environment in College Station wasn’t exactly healthy.
Then there’s Georgia, which appears one step farther down the path that Texas A&M and Auburn are on. The Bulldogs have also brought in a ton of talent recently, but they fired long-time head coach Mark Richt last year because he failed to turn that talent into titles.
None of those three teams are being picked to win a national championship this season, but they have recruited the talent necessary over the past four seasons to be able to do so under different circumstances.
The next three highest Blue Chip Ratios belong to other SEC teams: Tennessee (.44), Florida (.39) and Ole Miss (.38).
Here are all 13 teams that have a Blue Chip Ratio considered to be “championship-caliber” in 2016:
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All rankings come from the 247Sports Composite unless otherwise noted.