Seeing stars and snake oil

Sunday Morning Quarterback has a post up about the relationship between recruiting rankings and winning percentage that is a flat out tour de force. Highly recommended if you have any interest in the subject (and if you’re reading blogs like mine, you probably do).

I’ll give you just a taste, because you should go there and read the whole thing, given the work he put into it:

So: Rivals was very, very good at picking the top teams – of the top 25 winningest teams of the last six years, all were either pegged in or very near their respective positions by the recruiting rankings or achieved them by winning against overwhelmingly lower-ranked opposition; of the top 25 teams according to the recruiting rankings, 18 are in the top 30 in winning percentage. This is to be expected when you spend most of your time distinguishing between a small number of high-profile, four and five-star guys but can’t possibly make the same level of distinction among a much larger number of two and three-star prospects with more variability among them than the star-based rankings are designed to show. If Rivals indicates a team’s talent is good, it’s probably right; if it indicates it’s just average, or below average, that team probably still has a shot – but only to an extent. You’d be wrong if you cast your lot with the gurus completely, and wronger if you ignored them.

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