Deep breaths, people.

It’s the last week of January, and that can only mean one thing for college football fans – recruiting anxiety.  That’s right, it’s that time of year when normally sane people irrationally fret over the decision making process employed by a few dozen seventeen and eighteen year old kids (not exactly an age known for rational behavior, to make things even crazier).

Go to the Georgia message boards, and you’ll get more than a light taste of this.  All those open slots!  All those uncommitted kids still taking visits!  They’re not coming!  The sky is falling!  Bad season means bad recruiting class!  Repent, the end is near!

Never mind that Rivals and Scout both have Georgia’s current batch of commits ranked in their top ten.  Hell, what do they know?  Georgia’s not filling needs!  Besides, everyone knows that this five star kid was a flop and that four star kid never started.  Yada, yada yada…

I don’t have all the answers to all that, but I offer this post from Doc Saturday as a sort of virtual Prozac to all you worriers.  It’s an antidote to the can’t-see-the-forest angst that consumes many of us at this time of year.  Essentially, things boil down to this:  as a general rule, programs that recruit well will see that reflected in their winning percentages.

Hinton matched up Rivals recruiting rankings for all D-1 colleges against their respective winning percentages and concluded…

Teams that brought in an annual 400-1,000-point advantage over their opponent on any given weekend won two-thirds of the time last year, by 10 points per game; teams that “out-recruited” the opposing sideline by at least 5,000 points from 2004-08 won a whopping three-fourths of the time, by more than two touchdowns. In other words, for every Oregon State over USC and Ole Miss over Florida, there were three cases of Oklahoma over Baylor, LSU over Mississippi State and Ohio State over Northwestern. But you knew that.

So the rankings are definitely not precise enough to predict the national championship (or, unless you’re talking about USC, even most conference championships). But they are especially good at grouping programs into classes that tend to hold up over time. They establish the ceiling and floor of a program’s potential: If your team isn’t a top-10 recruiter over at least a three or four-year period, it’s not going to be carrying off any crystal footballs, either.

There’s a reason schools are paying people like Ed Orgeron and Trooper Taylor ridiculous sums of money, and it’s not because of sartorial excellence or their mastery of public etiquette.  It’s because they sign talent.  And all things being equal, over the long haul, more talent is better than less talent.

There’s plenty of stuff to get exceedingly worked up about at Georgia (see my previous post for an example of that).  This year’s recruiting class?  Not so much.

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