Some of this confirms what you, myself and every college football fan around knows intuitively: for the last half-decade, no one in the country has been as dominant on the recruiting trail as the power trio of Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State.
Now, true, that’s not the entire story.
The on-field success of Clemson and Oklahoma have shown that conference and national championships can be won without top-five recruiting classes, but they also each serve as examples for the disconnect between signing day and game day. The Tigers were able to close the talent gap with Alabama, in part, because Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Mitch Hyatt, Austin Bryant and other key pieces of the 2015 recruiting class chose to return to college for their senior seasons instead of going pro. If fellow 2015 signees Calvin Ridley, Da’Ron Payne or Minkah Fitzpatrick had chosen to do the same, then maybe that showdown in Santa Clara goes differently. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has done enough work on the recruiting trail to contend for Big 12 championships, but this average does not have a factor for the addition of Heisman Trophy-winning transfer quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
But it’s a large part of the entire story. Kirby’s recruiting has made Georgia relevant nationally and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change any time soon. Whether it pays off with the ultimate reward, well… that’s why we’re along for the ride, ain’t it?
(As an aside, if you’re wondering why Athlon’s average for Georgia differs from CBS’, it’s because Athlon screwed up the 2015 rankings of Georgia and LSU.)