Every year, there is a dreadful disease that hits a handful of SEC football programs, and it’s torturous for fans, boosters and administrators alike.
We call this epidemic “Recruit But Don’t Win On Saturdays Syndrome,” and a handful of the afflicted reside within the nation’s toughest conference — which is probably the cause itself.
In an effort to sniff out the suffering, SEC Country crunched a few numbers to determine which teams have outperformed their recruiting talent, and which ones have underperformed despite securing slews of blue-chip prospects. We’ll give you the results of this simple exercise first, and then explain how we arrived at these values.
A positive “Perform” number means a team outperformed its recruiting talent on the field. A negative number denotes underperformance. The “Recruiting” and “Wins” columns are based on how a team performed in each category compared to the SEC average. Likewise, positive is good and negative is bad.
Here’s how every team stacks up:
- Range: Recruiting (2010-14) and wins (2011-15) have been staggered by one year because of redshirting, and to better account for the totality of a given class.
- Although Missouri and Texas A&M were not in the SEC in 2011, they were still factored in for that year for sake of range consistency.
- The range begins in 2010 because that’s when 247Sports was founded, thus marking the beginning of truly reliable 247Sports Composite ratings.
- Taking each SEC team’s average class Composite rating for 2010-14 and average win total for 2011-15, we weighted those against the SEC averages for the same time windows. The average SEC composite rating was 238.83, and the average win total was 7.96. The numbers we calculated from this answer the question “by what percent did Team X beat or fall short of the SEC average in either Composite rating or win total?”
- Finally, we calculated the differences between the two categories — weighted win averages and weighted recruiting ratings — to provide a number that reflects overperformance and underperformance. The analysis runs on the assumption that a team recruiting above the average should be expected to win above the average (much like Alabama, Georgia and LSU). A team that recruits below the average should be expected to produce below-average wins.
Disclaimer: Although we know no recruiting rating can possibly be a perfect assessment of “talent,” the 247Sports Composite was our best option in that it offered an objective formula that factored in the valuations of multiple major recruiting services.
- That South Carolina tops this list should not surprise you. Despite landing mega recruits such as Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore, the Gamecocks overall still finished with slightly below-average recruiting hauls (2.4 percent below the SEC average). Yet they averaged 8.6 wins, and that even includes last year’s miserable 3-9 season. Impressive.
- Missouri would have ranked much higher were it not for five-win seasons in 2012 and 2015. The Tigers won a combined 31 games and two SEC East titles in the other three seasons. Going by the Composite rating, Mizzou had the second-lowest recruiting average in the SEC. Auburn also would have ranked higher if not for its 3-win season in 2012.
- Removing Ole Miss’ two-win campaign in 2011 would put the Rebels third overall on the Perform list. Their recruiting hauls from 2010-12 were well below average, and for Hugh Freeze to secure anywhere from 7-10 wins in his first four years is truly remarkable.
- Amazingly, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have both averaged 6.2 wins over the past five seasons, tied for the conference’s second-lowest mark. But Tennessee beat the SEC’s Recruiting average by 4.16 percent, while the ‘Dores came in dead last at -23.09 percent. Those Derek Dooley years, man.
- OK, Alabama. Yes, the Crimson Tide has averaged a ridiculous 12.4 wins since 2011. But of course, its recruiting hauls also have been the nation’s best for six years running. So based on talent alone, Alabama should be dominant every season. What’s amazing is that, per the numbers, coach Nick Saban and his staff still have managed to “outperform” all the elite talent they lure to Tuscaloosa. Winning national titles will do that for you. Simply incredible.
- Before Kevin Sumlin arrived in College Station, Texas A&M signed two pretty uninspiring classes. The 2010 class had four 4-stars and zero 5-stars. The 2011 class was exactly the same in that regard. So for the Aggies to win 11 games in 2012 took something truly remarkable — something like a 3-star redshirt freshman quarterback beating Alabama and winning the Heisman.
- Georgia, Florida, LSU and Auburn have all recruited at close to the same level for the our measured time frame. But Georgia and LSU have averaged 10 wins per year, while Florida and Auburn have averages of 7.8 and 7.6, respectively.
- The difference in how an eight-win season and a 10-win season factors into the formula cannot be overstated. Those two wins might not seem like much, but they are often what separates the also-rans from the elite in what is only a 12-game regular season.
- There is no bonus for “winning the big game,” meaning the likes of Georgia and LSU are not penalized for inevitably blowing it sometime in November. All wins were valued equally.