“Big 12 teams don’t recruit particularly well.”

Allen Kenney argues Big 12 coaches make up for that with their coaching acumen.

On the other hand, Big 12 teams often punch above their weight. Take a look, for instance, at how their SP+ efficiency rankings for 2019 shook out relative to their 247 roster rankings.

There are some notable underperforming teams in there – looking at you, Longhorns. For the most part, however, teams either played up to the potential of their talent or well above it. (Bear in mind that four programs had brand new coaching staffs in place last season, including two underperformers, KU and WVU.)

It’s only natural to compare that to the SEC, the land where recruiting just means more.

How did that compare with the Mecca of college football last season?

Lots of underachieving once you get past the big dogs.

True, but there were a fair number of those big dogs — five in the SP+ top ten, compared with one Big 12 team.  Based on the above, Allen reaches the conclusion that, “You could argue that the trend towards doing more with less speaks to the quality of coaching in the Big 12.”  He goes on to propose the data shows the Big 12 has the best assemblage of coaching in the P5.

To which I say, eh, maybe, but so what?  First of all, I can’t ignore the fact that four SEC coaches were shown the door this offseason.  Given what it takes for a head coach to lose his job these days, that’s certainly an indication that some programs were not being managed at the highest level.

Whatever, though, because how can you fully evaluate the job a college head coach does when you exclude recruiting from the equation?  Look no further than the Sugar Bowl — even if you are of a mind that Matt Rhule can coach rings around Kirby Smart, Baylor still came up well short against a Georgia squad missing a number of regular season starters that still had more than enough depth on the roster to spare.

There’s only so much scheme can make up for over the course of a season.


Filed under Big 12 Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics

15 responses to ““Big 12 teams don’t recruit particularly well.”

  1. Dante

    I get what they’re saying about coaching talent but part of coaching at the collegiate level is recruiting. You can’t ignore it and call them superior coaches when they’re not also pulling in elite talent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Muttley

      Yeah, I’ve got a radical theory that enough good players can actually beat a good coach on occasion, maybe even beat a really good scheme, and thus recruiting should be seen as part of the coach’s job.

      Call it the Talent and Skill vs. Paul Johnson theory.

      In college football the head coach is also the GM.

      “Hard work beats genius every time.”- Jay Leno


  2. Sanford222view

    I would also ask, does SP+ factor in that the lower SEC teams are having to play a lot of highly ranked teams? It may. I just don’t know enough about the metric. If not, would it not be easier to overachieve against an easier schedule in the BIG 12?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Biggus Rickus

      It does. 2019 wasn’t a particularly strong year in the SEC, with Arkansas and Vandy falling off a cliff. Every team in the bottom half of the list regressed in 2019.


  3. Biggus Rickus

    It’s a one-year sample. Nobody in the SEC finished lower than 53rd in 2018, Lowest finish was 70th in 2017. I’m not digging through the Big 12, but I’m sure they didn’t vastly overachieve in ’17 and ’18. Even in the one-year sample, there are three teams who grossly overperformed. I don’t think this makes the case he wants it to particularly well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ASEF

    What am I missing? 3 teams in an an entire conference have SP+ numbers better than their recruiting rankings (for practical purposes, 60/54 or 40/39 are on par performances) and that’s indicative of an entire conferences coaching acumen?

    I love football numbers, but that’s a big miss on application. Borderline stupid.

    The B12’s incessant need to spin their mediocrity (“you can’t judge a B12 defense by the points or yards they give up because the offenses are so innovative, etc) is becoming an annoying offseason tradition. By the way, Lincoln, how would you grade your defense against LSU? B+ on the B12 curve?

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Greg

    Big 12 teams are playing Big 12 teams, SEC against SEC teams. The only way to compare (rankings) would be head to head.

    Gotta feeling the Big 12 would not do so well….


  6. Mayor

    The chart demonstrates graphically what we all knew intuitively—that LSU outcoached its opponents.


  7. Macallanlover

    I feel the “absoluteness” of recruiting rankings drives a lot of inaccurate conclusions in CFB. Do people really think assigning/projecting a career NFL value to the thousandths of a percent for 85 18 year olds, competing against 9-12th grade players is how we should judge performance 1-5 years later? How much difference is there between #1 and #5? Or between #40 and #50? Two, or 5 players that were given one more star, or one less? And they may not even be healthy for some, or all games played that year.

    Seems nonsense to me. When a team with a significantly lower roster rating consistently bets teams with a better rating, it may be the relative coaching of the teams involved, or it could mean the “system” is simply not that accurate in every case. I think it is almost certainly a combination of the two, and I don’t fault the raters of the recruits, it is a mission impossible level task. (Just recently, a service adjusted their rankings, some players moved over a hundred spots up/down on the list in just the past few months! And we think they may not be way off over a period of years at this stage of development in their lives?) I think too many people take it way too seriously, especially when you apply this type of comparison.

    And yes, there are “general correlations” that support the overall conclusion of recruiting better players pays off in the win column, I am all for it. But we are missing the coach’s evaluations, and the how well the class fits the particular needs of the team that year. Hell, we punish them for taking the best kicker and punter in the nation because those positions only get 3 stars and drags the ratings of top teams down. Really? That is crazy thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Matt

    I would need to look at the W-L records more carefully to confirm, but since teams in a conference play each other, wouldn’t you expect to see lower ranked teams in a conference underachieving in this metric where, as in the SEC, the higher ranked teams are performing well? Likewise, where the higher-ranked teams are not doing as well in this metric, as in the Big 12, wouldn’t you expect to see some of the lower ranked teams doing better?


  9. practicaldawg

    Much is made of “coaching up,” but it’s generally referring to coaches outside the SEC that don’t play SEC schools every weekend. Baylor is definitely a good example. Recruiting matters a lot. Coaching matters a lot. But who you play also matters a lot when it comes to Ws.


  10. Mayor

    We keep talking about what an idiot Dan Mullen is (and I do think he looks and acts like a dork) but if this metric is to be believed he must be doing something right.