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Oklahoma State Still Among Most Efficient Recruiting Teams in the Country

OSU is doing more with less than most teams in the nation.



There are so many ways to look at college football teams and programs. So many ways. There are no absolutes, no 100 percent correct answers and arguments other than “Bama is good and so is Clemson it seems” are pulverized on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

Which is why all of this is so dang fun.

After looking at how the final 2018 AP Poll correlated to the last five years of recruiting for Oklahoma State and other teams, I decided to extend both recruiting rankings and team rankings (as determined by win-loss percentage) a few years.

So I went back and grabbed the 247 Sports annual team recruiting rankings back to 2010 to see which team was the best. It was shockingly Alabama (their average finish in the recruiting rankings over nine years is 1.8 LOL). Ohio State was second. Florida State was third. USC was fourth. Oklahoma State was 31st.

Then I compared this to the win-loss percentages nationally for the last five years (I extended the recruiting rankings back to 2010 because a team five years ago would have been made up of players from 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014).

Anyway, what I came up with are two charts. The first shows the top 50 recruiting teams in the country and how their classes panned out. I grouped them and labeled them (v homemade).

Top 50 Recruiting Teams (Since 2010)

You want to be in the bottom left here, but if you have to pick an axis to be close to, you want to be closest to the Y-axis (the vertical one).

Click to enlarge.

A few notes and thoughts.

• Texas and Tennessee are embarrassing. They recruit like Notre Dame and LSU and win like Pittsburgh and Arizona.

• Wisconsin is unbelievable. Fifth overall in winning percentage and 43rd in recruiting rankings. The mega-Oklahoma State.

• Oklahoma State is grouped in with teams like TCU, Michigan State, Washington and Stanford that produce at a high level without recruiting at a high level. All of these teams are extremely efficient with what comes in the front door.

• USC, Oregon, Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Miami are lesser versions of Texas and Tennessee. Not coincidentally, most of them have undergone coaching changes in recent years.

The opposite of this is looking at it the other way. So I made a chart of the top 50 winningest teams to see how they’re recruiting. This is probably the better way to look at it (and I enjoy it more), but I wanted to be fair to both ways.

Top 50 Winning Teams (since 2014)

You want to be in the bottom left here, but if you have to pick an axis to be close to, you want to be closest to the Y-axis (the vertical one).

Click to enlarge.

A few notes and thoughts.

• Don’t schedule Toledo, Houston, San Diego State or Memphis.

• Boise joins the Wisconsin circle. The only reason they weren’t there in the previous chart is because they don’t recruit in the top 50. I think it’s fair to look at Wisconsin > Boise because of conferences.

• Virginia Tech ?

• TCU and Stanford really stood out here. Stanford is ninth in wins and 22nd in recruiting. TCU is 10th in wins and 30th in recruiting (although for two of these years they were recruiting outside of a Power 5 conference).

• Oklahoma State again is among the Washingtons and Penn States of the world. Unfortunately for the Pokes, five years is a bad number because that 2014 season was sandwiched by 10-win campaigns on either side.

• Kansas State — 50th in wins, 67th in recruiting. You are who you are.

Regardless of your interpretation of the data, these are fascinating graphs to look at. They meet the eye test in most cases, too. I can watch Georgia and OU and Alabama and think, Yeah, those are elite players that perform at a high level. I can watch Texas and think, My kids’ playroom is more organized than this!

And I can watch Oklahoma State and think, Man, they’re really good with solid but not elite talent, I wonder what they could be with just a little bit more?

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