FanPost

The Fifty States of College Recruiting

PURPOSE

The purpose of this little project was to determine which football programs are the best at retaining the top talent from their states. Many of our programs live or die by whether they are able to retain home state talent, and this is an attempt to quantify how well a state’s programs do on this crucial issue.

METHODOLOGY

I used data from 247sports.com. It aggregates the rankings put together by various recruiting services, so hopefully various regional biases and/or flaws in one particular ranking system should wash out. The data set was the top 12 recruits from each state from 2003 to 2013. The top 12 recruits are separated into tiers. The top four recruits per year are worth six points. The middle four are worth five points, and the bottom four are worth four. For particularly good recruits, those who were rated in the top 25 nationwide according to 247sports, the recruit is worth eight points. If an in-state university retains these recruits, they receive all the associated points. If the recruit escapes, the state receives zero points.

Admittedly, there is a weakness with this methodology. As 247sports is a new rating system, the number of recruits listed in smaller states in 2003-2008 is small: in many cases only four or five players per year. We reach a dozen top recruits a year by 2009 in almost all states. However, this means there is an unavoidable recency bias for a number of mid size states (Kentucky, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, et cetera).

RESULTS

Raw data linked HERE: Raw Data Here

Here’s the data from the small states division.

Alaska

0

Delaware

0

Montana

0

N. Hampshire

0

North Dakota

0

Rhode Island

0

South Dakota

0

Hawaii

13.9

Nebraska

40.17

West Virginia

45.76

New Mexico

54.37

Idaho

78.15

Wyoming

100

As you can see, there are many places that don’t keep good players home, both because there aren’t that many to begin with and in some cases, there are no Div. I programs in the state. Paucity of data is also a problem here. There are only two recruits listed on 247 from Wyoming, and Wyoming kept both of them.

Meanwhile, Idaho has run away with the small state title. Idaho is helped by being very hard to get to from places that aren’t Idaho, so there’s not a ton of incentive for out of staters to come in for recruiting trips. But more importantly, as Idaho schools lock up in state talent quickly, they can devote more time to recruiting outside the state to better their class. Hawaii, meanwhile, produces very good talent, but can’t seem to keep it on the islands.

Here’s the data from the large states division.

Illinois

18.83

Maryland

19.39

New Jersey

20.85

Nevada

23.53

Connecticut

25.2

New York

26.92

Colorado

30.27

Mass.

32.33

Arizona

33.59

Tennessee

38.57

N. Carolina

41.62

Missouri

42.33

Georgia

42.74

Pennsylvania

43.33

Minnesota

43.64

Oregon

44.08

Virginia

44.15

Indiana

45.38

Kansas

47.87

Washington

51.43

Texas

54.31

Ohio

55.34

Oklahoma

55.7

Kentucky

58.75

Arkansas

58.87

S. Carolina

60.11

Wisconsin

60.16

Florida

63.46

Michigan

68.03

Utah

68.13

Louisiana

69.07

California

69.83

Mississippi

71.87

Iowa

73.22

Alabama

76.11

Now we see something else unsurprising. Alabama at the very top for retention. But when a state racks up four straight national titles, it makes perfect sense. Then at the bottom is the shitfight between Illinois and Maryland to see which state is most awful at retention. Illinois, with three schools located in it (N. Illinois, Illinois, Northwestern) is arguably more pathetic. Especially something you can see from the data. In 2010 to 2012, of the 36 best players, the trio of NIU, UofI, and N’western kept ONE recruit from leaving. Just one. The implication: if you can’t lock down a significant portion of your in state talent, you’re pretty much doomed in modern college football.

Meanwhile, some odd numbers pop up here and there. Oregon’s score (44.08) is worse than Washington’s (51.43) despite football in the state of Oregon being much better than football in the state of Washington for the past seven or eight years. Iowa is very very good at keeping its talent in state, between the work of Iowa and Iowa State, with a modest assist from Northern Iowa. Colorado? Colorado is bad, no two ways about it. But when you drill down into the data, the distribution of recruiting shifts. In the early years, of the recruits that stay home, UC-Boulder keeps most of them, with the odd one or two going to CSU. Nowadays, the ratio has reversed itself, the product of a coach who knows what he’s doing at CSU and the ongoing dumpster fire in Boulder. Meanwhile, if Arizona could just keep its talent in state, they’d be doing quite well. But instead, schools from across the country come in and plunder it on a regular basis.

SEC States.

Tennessee

38.57

Georgia

42.74

Texas

54.31

Kentucky

58.75

Arkansas

58.87

S. Carolina

Florida

60.11

63.46

Louisiana

69.07

Mississippi

71.87

Alabama

76.11

As you can see, there’s something to the continued angst directed at Coach Richt. Georgia is no good, very bad, at in-state talent retention by over ten percentage points. Only one state is worse: Tennessee, which has been dealing with, shall we say, anarchy at the head coaching position since 2007.

It will take a bit more work to get this information for every state, but it is very interesting to see where the talent goes once it leaves the state. Take a look at the two pie charts for Mississippi and Illinois. Even when talent does escape the state of Missssippi, which is rare, 95% of it ends up in Mississippi, Alabama, or Louisiana. Talent from Mississippi just doesn’t go far away. And then there’s Illinois. Where the top talent is divided among schools from twenty-one states.

So now, we can tell who truly is best (and worst) at keeping top talent home, and where that talent is headed when it leaves.


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