SB Nation published a study today that takes an in-depth look at the relationship between recruiting and coaching.
The study analyzed Scout.com recruiting data and wins/losses of every BCS team going back to 2006 to see which coaches got the most out of their “apparent talent” and which coaches got the least out of their “apparent talent.” The result was a mammoth performance chart that has had college football fans and media talking all morning.
The best coaching job on the chart: Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder last season. The Wildcats, with an average recruiting ranking of 2.02, won 11 games and a Big 12 championship. The study’s author declared it was the “best season relative to apparent talent by a wide margin.”
Other familiar faces on the high side of the chart: Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy in 2011, Nick Saban twice with Alabama, Mark Mangino with Kansas in 2007 and Gary Pinkel with Missouri in 2007.
On the bottom end of the chart you will find: Turner Gill, Paul Wulff, Rick Neuheisel, Mack Brown and Charlie Weis.
The study is interesting, and you should definitely give it a look.
But it raises an interesting question, at least to me. Does the study show where coaches have under/over achieved? Or does it show where recruiting services got things incredibly wrong?
Gundy made the list with a team that featured Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Joseph Randle, some of the best skill players the Big 12 has seen in recent years. That team wasn’t low on talent. Alabama twice? Doesn’t make sense to me.
If you look at last year’s K-State team, for a closer example, it didn’t have below-average talent. The Wildcats had Collin Klein (Heisman finalist), Arthur Brown (2nd round NFL draft pick), Chris Harper and Braden Wilson (both draft picks), and they had 13 seniors get invited to NFL rookie camps. Factor in Ty Zimmerman, John Hubert, B.J. Finney, Cornelius Lucas and Tyler Lockett, and it’s obvious you have a very talented team.
It’s just that a decent number of those players were two-star recruits in high school who didn’t get many BCS scholarship offers outside of K-State.
Snyder won with talented players that few other programs wanted. Perhaps that’s a better way to describe Snyder’s coaching success from last season.