Jay from BGS has discovered this too, and his Steele-inspired piece proved my folly of sitting on a good idea just because I was trying to space out my football-oriented entries. Well forget that, here's my article on recruiting.
While Phil says he doesn't follow recruiting per se, he does subscribe to multiple services, and uses their input in calculating his PS numbers. Teams can bounce up in a particularly good year, based on a strong class in-state, for example, or UTTER FAIL by nearby programs, like 2005 when Iowa vaulted to #6 based on Illinois and Notre Dame firing Turner and Willingham. (For context, this year they were #42.) Teams can fall off the map for a year, too, but overall you'd think it would be hard to remain consistently in the Top 10.
In reality, seven schools have been in the Top 10 four years straight, and two more made it in three of four years. Since recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, does good recruiting correlate with wins?
First let's look at who consistently dominates the rankings:
Since I used four years of recruiting rankings, I wanted to look at four years of games, even though I realize the recruits of 2006 weren't on campus in 2005.
* Was really 9-3, Alabama had to vacate a win due to a textbook scandal
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE OHIO STATE
What conclusions can we draw? I see a few common threads on this list of schools. One is consistency in the coaching regime. Look at the tenures: Mack Brown entering his 12th year; Stoops his 11th; Carroll, Tressel and Richt their 9th. Miles and Meyer are entering their 5th, but the SEC guys have been much more stable than the Prozac-popping ride Irish fans have been on. Michigan just made a change, but before him they had three guys in almost 40 years. That's more stability in the top job than Pope (ironic that they are historically anti-Catholic).
And the two schools that just missed my cutoff are Penn State and Florida State, D-I's two longest-tenured coaches (Joe Pa entering his 44th, Bowden his 34th in Tallahassee). Notre Dame is on the low end, with Charlie entering his fifth year.
Another is the ability to overcome the occasional bad year. There is almost no way LSU loses five games again this year, based on all that talent they've compiled. Likewise with Michigan ... expect them to get better quickly. Look at Georgia: nine wins is a "down" year for Richt. And ND? Erratic, with a bad year causing a hangover the next year.
Combining those two points, you get consistency in the record.
The other main takeaway: what the hell has Notre Dame been doing wrong? Look at those four-year winning percentages:
Everyone with consistent Top 10 recruiting has a .750 or better winning percentage, except, ironically, the two winningest programs in college football history.
ND has many problems, and one blog article, no matter how persuasively written or how suave the author, cannot address those off-the-field factors*. But this analysis shows that from a Jimmys and Joes perspective, there is no reason why the Irish can't produce results like their recruiting peers, year in and year out.
* I'm not oblivious to issues of Midwestern weather, academics, 85-scholarship limit, expansion of television access to smaller programs, parietals, etc. They just are not the focus here. Let's prove we belong on the same field, and discuss those topics another time.