First off I cannot stress enough how well this podcast I am linking describes the overall recruiting game. This podcast on SBNation is an interesting listen – they discuss “how the nuts and bolts of college football recruiting come together in the days, weeks, months, and really, years before National Signing Day.

I have written many times that star ratings are given tons of weight by everyone involved in college football recruiting – including the college coaching staffs – even when they say it doesn’t matter.  Now you’ll hear about how coaching salary contracts are starting to include recruiting class ratings (based of recruits’ stars awarded)  involved as bonus items… something that I knew had happened at Maryland.

This podcast is detailed and covers recruiting just the way I have come to understand it after talking with player’s and recruit’s parents over the last eight years.  Two years ago I sat with TE Scott Orndoff (class of 2013) and OL Brandon Ford’s (class of 2016) fathers at the hotel bar before the Pinstripe Bowl and talked for a couple of hours about their son’s recruiting experiences… it was eyeopening and very entertaining to say the least – two wonderful men and very open and honest.  Their thoughts as told to me are  mirrored in the podcast’s recruit’s father’s descriptions of his son’s experience before committing to USC.

Please listen to it folks- I found it to be 100% accurate and really very informative.

I have mentioned before on here my reasoning for the thought and practice of picking one college football recruiting website and sticking with it.  When we do that on the POV, and on here that is Rivals.com’s Pitt site, it adds consistency and a common baseline to our recruiting discussions.

So, with that I wondered if a little behind the scenes look at Rivals.com is in order.  I have written many times that I think Rivals’ Pitt beat writer Chris Peak is the best local media type around Pitt football.  My opinion of him is formed from many things; he’s a helpful guy for one.

When I started writing for The Pitt Blather way back in Dave Wannstedt’s tenure I used to data mine all four websites; Rivals, Scout, ESPN and then later 247 Sports (they started in 2010) for interesting Pitt info and then also began to notice which sites were the most accurate in their individual and class recruit ratings and Rivals constantly came out on top.

I’m not exactly sure what all the other sites do to get their content but Chris Peak just had an interesting Q&A article asking about the business side of Rivals.com and I find it interesting.  Basically Chris wrote this when asked how his employment works:

I’m an independent contractor, contracted by Rivals/Yahoo to operate this site. There are contractual obligations regarding what’s expected in terms of content, message boards, coverage, etc. But there is a lot of autonomy: if what I’m doing keeps the site moving forward in terms of subscriptions, then I’m free to operate the site as I see fit. It’s a pretty good setup and I think that Rivals understands that the individual site publishers often know their market best, so rather than force pubs to do this or do that, they let us do what our market needs, what our readership and audience need, in order to make the site as effective as it can be.

Huh, I wonder if he’s actually the guy who keeps the actual website up and running, does the graphics and all the behind the screen’s stuff that is the nuts and bolts of the website itself.  If so that is a hell of a lot of work.

And a follow-up question was posed to Chris about the networking aspect of the business…

Does the Rivals organization have an annual conference or something like that where all of you team page publishers get together either in person or via video chat? Just wondering if you get to interact with anyone P5 contributors outside of the ACC? If so, who do you like/recommend checking out? – ShibaPanther

I believe spring practice will start in the second full week of March.

I don’t know of any eligibility issues at this point; some of that stuff doesn’t become apparent until you get later in the spring semester.

And yeah, we usually have an annual conference. We gathered in Vegas one year, which was tremendous and terrible at the same time. Since then, we’ve been in Chicago, Baltimore and Atlanta a couple of times, coinciding with the Rivals Five-Star Challenge (the conference would be on Thursday and Friday morning and then the recruits arrive Friday afternoon for the weekend camp). It’s a good chance to get together with other site publishers and talk shop, so to speak – and let me tell you, you don’t know excitement until you’ve had dinner with a bunch of dudes who run recruiting websites.

Later on he talked a bit about how the writing gets done on the site.

Chris, you are doing yeoman’s work on this site lately, but any thoughts on replacing Ryan (Donnally) strictly for more in depth recruiting news?? – recruitsreadtheseboards

Yeah, I would like to bring in another recruiting writer. The problem is – and it’s not really a problem – I’ve gotten a lot of response to an ad I placed, and I haven’t gotten a chance to sort through the resumes and find a good candidate just yet. We’ll get somebody in here full-time and maybe a few freelancers as well. I just need to see who fits best. In the meantime, you’re stuck with me.

I find this next bit interesting and wish I had the time to get more up-to-date info but this article from 2014 talks about how well Rivals.com’s previously ranked #1 recruiting classes fared as they progressed through college eligibility.

On the one hand, nine of the past 12 teams to finish No. 1 in Rivals.com’s rankings played for the national title within three years, and seven won the title. The only Rivals No. 1s not to play for the title within three years were USC in 2006 and 2010. Alabama is still within a three-year window from it’s No. 1 recruiting ranking in 2013.

So that’s a very good bit of prognostication on Rivals part.  Scouts didn’t fare so well…

At Scout.com, only five of its past No. 1 teams played for the national title within three years, with all five winning a championship. Texas 2002, Tennessee 2005, USC 2006, Ohio State 2009 and Florida 2010 didn’t play for the title in that time frame. Texas 2012 and Ohio State 2013 remain within the three-year window.

I know sometimes Pitt fans will say that one or more of our Recruits will be re-ranked and jump, usually, for 3s to 4s.  That doesn’t happen at Rivals as much as you may think – or maybe just not with the middle-of-the-pack programs like Pitt’s.

“Rivals.com is the definitive leader when it comes to the rankings for college football and college basketball,” said Eric Winter, the head of Rivals. “Rivals releases rankings five or six times a year. We don’t re-rank every other day. We rank based on all-star camp season, all-star game season, high school football season, other non-Rivals camp participation, and junior days at colleges.”

So right there you can see that if a kid is going to be re-ranked it happens earlier in the recruiting process.  As I wrote before I know fans think recruits get jumped up if the get better scholarship offers late in the process or sign his LOI with one of the big schools but that really isn’t the case.  That re-ranking usually happens pretty early on after his senior year of HS football is finished.

I know that of all four recruiting sites Rivals get the most ‘eyeballs’ on the recruits than the other sites do.

I really wish the media would follow college football’s off-season doings more closely than they currently are.  The Rivals conference Peak mentions would be very interesting to read about I think.  As would be coverage of the college football coaches conventions that go on.

The biggest and most well attended of those is the American Football Coaches Association convention held in January. This is where staff coaches’ resumes get passed around and the firings and hiring happen.  Take a peek at the schedule:

Events

SAT, JAN 6

ARRIVE IN CHARLOTTE

SUN, JAN 7

HS COACHES ACADEMY
BUZZ SESSIONS
AFCA SKILLS AND DRILLS FIELD NEW

MON, JAN 8

DIVISIONAL MEETINGS
HONORS LUNCHEON PRESENTED BY AMWAY
GENERAL SESSION
INTERACTIVE SESSIONS NEW
AFCA SKILLS AND DRILLS FIELD NEW
TAILGATE PARTY

TUES, JAN 9

GENERAL SESSION
AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACHES AWARDS SHOW

WED, JAN 10

CHALK TALKS
DEPART CHARLOTTE AFTERNOON

MISC: 

Here is a list of the best recruiting class ranked schools since the Internet recruiting sites started back in 2002.  Before you take a look at it try to guess which number slot Pitt sits in between #1 to #130.  Where we ended up makes sense when you look at our overall past 16 year history in terms of wins and losses and where we usually sat in the post-season FBS rankings.

Interesting that in that 16 year time period we averaged #41.3 in our recruiting classes.  Wannstedt’s 2006, ’07 and ’08 classes helped with that as they were 21st, 26th and 28th respectively.  He also landed an average of six Blue Chip recruits over those three years… any wonder why we had our best years in modern Pitt football in 2008, ’09 and ’10?

The worst year we had in recruiting since 2002 was the transition year of 2015 when Chryst was being replaced by Narduzzi – that class ended up 65th.  Interestingly enough the 2011 class when the DW firing turmoil was in full bloom was a bit better at 58th.

This website is kind of interesting in that it talks about some of the ways a recruit, his parents and his coach can work to get his name onto college’s recruiting radar.  Granted this website is done by a business who takes you money to get that done…

Here is the Pitt web page where kids who want to play ball for us can make initial contact with the coaching staff – Recruiting Coordinator – so to get his name in the Pitt ball cap.

The other day Peak had the P-G’s Paul Zeise on his latest Rivals Podcast and the talk started off with Stallings and BB then turned to what Paul thought the football team would do over the next two years…

And a last bit of info…

Odds of Becoming an All-American, by Recruiting Ranking

5–Star: 1 in 4.
Top 100: 1 in 6.
4–Star: 1 in 16.
3–Star: 1 in 56.
2–Star: 1 in 127.
All FBS Signees: 1 in 45.

31 thoughts on “Some National Recruiting Insights

  1. I agree that sticking with one site provides consistency and certainly Rivals is as good, and better, than anyone else. I also believe Peak, who seems to have an as good as inside track of Pitt athletics as anyone, is usually a voice of reason, and seems to keep a pretty even keel.

    I have no issue whatsoever with Rivals being the official recruiting site.

    BTW here is a column of last week from Peak and is assessment and thoughts of the recruiting class
    https://pittsburgh.rivals.com/news/the-panther-lair-com-3-2-1-column-on-pitt-recruiting

    As you can see, it is well thought of and comprehensive

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    1. That is really a feel good piece, and give a lot of insight into the coaches game plan. Hopefully the game plan works out and some of these guys really have the “wow” factor we hope four. Ricky Town should be a much more capable back-up that the two that left, hopefully we don’t find out, sorry Ricky.

      Salahuddin is the possible game changer for this year, if he has what it takes.

      I do love that we have some d-ends with potential.

      But the season rests on Our new O-line coach and his ability to cobble together a productive group, and of course Pickett living up to his potential.

      Like

  2. Not a rating service, but PittsburghSportsNow does a great job keeping us updated on Pitt recruiting and it is free.

    I think the odds table that you posted at the end says a lot. Much greater odds to be AA when you are 4 or 5.

    That is why it is so important to get your share.

    Narduzzi has been putting together decent classes, but he has yet to get his own future All-Americans or first round draft picks. Guys that will make a living at the next level. At least as far as we know.

    He has to overcome the many obstacles and get kids to come based on the strength of his personality and a shared vision of the future.

    Wanny was able to convince kids he could get them into the pros and he had a coaching staff to back that up.
    He also loved Pittsburgh and his alma mater.

    Maybe Lyke and Bostick were trying to get him to come back as a recruiting coordinator.

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  3. I edited the article to highlight that long, and very good, SBNation podcast and put it up front and center – great podcast to listen to in full on a Sunday afternoon and i suggest every college football fan do so. It explains things in great detail.

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  4. After listening to the podcast again it makes me think of what a fiasco Robert Foster and his father made of his recruitment…and really embarrassed his mother in the national media.

    I’m not upset he went somewhere other than Pitt but just the machinations you know went on behind the scenes.

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  5. The last chart says it all. Even the most stubborn member of the “stars don’t matter crowd” is capable of understanding that the higher rated a recruit is, the higher the probability that they will be a great player. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions, but overall, these numbers don’t lie.

    Thanks for a very interesting article.

    SantaCruzer

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  6. You need a few elite players on both sides of the ball. Pitt was at its best when that happened. You also need coaches that know how to best utilize that talent…the right players, in the right positions, at the right time.

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  7. Yeah, I don’t think this ’18 class is a bad one. I just don’t see many recruits in the last two classes who are going to have star power production to win football games.

    Who is going to replace Conner, Boyd, Orndoff, Price, etc… The kids who were real difference makers?

    Pickett is the guy we are all counting on and while he’s shown some real skill of all the positions that needs a supporting cast. It would be great if a RB could break out big time.

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  8. Not sure if any of us can really comment on how much difference a big time QB can make to a team. It’s simply been so long since we’ve had one. Peterman was really good, but maybe not the type of guy who can raise up and inspire all by his play. Every school gets that type of QB now and the. I think PSU has one, and I think we might. Boy, it sure would be nice. The QB is the one position who can make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

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  9. Oh, and by the way, our OL isn’t any worse than the mess the Nitters had when they threw their guy out, and he didn’t make any more experience than Pickett.

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    1. Lost hill to the nfl and then seems we forced two others out. What is the trend? Losing him to Alabama wouldn’t be a black eye. Would suck though.

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  10. Guys I think partridge probably thought he’d get the dc job, hope to improve the d and seek another head coach job. I hope he stays but one wonders if he was salty taleni and blair were cut lose leaving him nothing to work with. If he goes to Bama does well in a year or two he’ll be their dc. I like narduzzi but one wonders how he treats these guys maybe I’m crazy, but it seems like no one likes to work here. We can’t keep 9 assistants let alone hire a tenth!!!

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    1. Who are the coaches who haven’t been happy? I haven’t heard of anything. Cheyney didnt seen to mesh with narduzzi. And canada was always on the move but seemed happy until offered 1.5 million

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  11. It’s been said about 1/3 of college coaches move after each season. Do we really expect it to be much different at Pitt? Not getting the DC job certainly opened up the possibility that Partridge would look elsewhere if offered.

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  12. whatever Bama wants, Bama gets. Just like a year ago when LSU wanted Canada and gave him $1.5M.

    Lats year, the total coaching payroll for Bama was $18M, with the assistants getting $6.5M. At Pitt, it is very likely that the entire staff payroll doesn’t reach $6.5M

    This is the real world

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  13. Bc we don’t create an experience. don’t make football a priority. Dont have a stadium. Don’t win. We aren’t Alabama because we don’t do the necessary work to be Alabama.

    If you have morons driving the car don’t expect they will drive you anywhere good.

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  14. Agree with Upitt but would go one step further. The morons would be forced to do better or get out — If God ( the trustees) spoke from on high and said,thou shalt win or my wrath is upon you. There is positive motivation and negative motivation but they both are a force allso you have to pay enough .

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  15. “We aren’t Alabama because we don’t do the necessary work to be Alabama” anyone agreeing with Mr Upitt with a comment like that has to have a screw loose like he does. It’s silly shallow comments like this that are driving many people away. To help you out, I’ll remind you all, it’s money and other problems, not hard work

    Like

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