As far as I’m concerned, Matt Hinton does the Lord’s work with his posts skewering what I refer to as the macro versus the micro approach to recruiting success. What I mean by that are the people who conflate the individual success story of the plucky obscure signee who becomes an All-American into an overall approach to recruiting. You know who I mean – the people who claim that they’d rather have a team made up of hard-working two and three-star recruits than see their school chase after the high-profile guys, because, after all, look at the all-stars who weren’t highly sought after coming out of high school, yada, yada, yada…
The next time somebody makes that argument within earshot, send him or her here. In particular, this:
On the other hand, if you consider the initial grade as a kind of investment – a projection of the how likely a player is of becoming an elite contributor compared to rest of the field – well, you’d put your money with the “experts” over the chances of finding the proverbial diamond in the rough every time:
Of course, a large number of players in that sample size haven’t finished their careers, but you can divide up the numbers over any time period you’d like – one year, five years, 10 years: The ratio always looks identical on a per-capita basis, and it is not a crapshoot. Four and five-star players are roughly seven times as likely as two and three-star players to land on an All-America team, and the numbers in the NFL Draft tend to be even even more lopsided toward the hyped recruits. All the more reason to want as many of them as you can get your hands on.
Coaches chase the studs not because they’re a guarantee of success, but because the odds are better that they’ll succeed. If you could sign an unlimited number of recruits and winnow the chaff, it wouldn’t matter. But when you’ve only got 25/85 chances to get it right, logic suggests you’re going to gravitate towards the surer option every time you get the chance. Or does anybody really think Nick Saban does what he does because he wants to finish first in Rivals’ recruiting rankings?