Life ain’t fair: the 2021 Blue-Chip Ratio.

Bud Elliott is back with this year’s edition of his Blue-Chip Ratio.  A reminder of what the BCR measures:

Put simply, to win the national championship, college football teams need to sign more four- and five-star recruits (AKA “Blue Chips”) than two- and three-star players over the previous four recruiting classes.

This has been true basically as far back as modern internet recruiting rankings have existed.

… All scholarship signees count. Transfers and walk-ons do not.

And why it matters:

The requirement to stack talent on top of talent makes sense when considering the violence of the sport of football. Even those teams who stay relatively healthy need depth to survive the season. Teams who sign elite class after elite class have greater competition in practice, and greater quality of depth.

Recruiting rankings are not perfect. But they are damn good, especially in the aggregate. Four- and five-star recruits are about 10 times more likely to be drafted in the first round than their two- and three-star counterparts. And five-stars are about 33 times more likely to be All-Americans as two-stars are. For every two-star who becomes a big success, there are multiples who will be going pro in something other than sports.

That is not to say that development does not matter. It certainly does. But nobody wins a national title by player development in lieu of elite recruiting. Plenty of coaches who are regarded as elite have never sniffed winning it all because they can’t get enough talent. On the other hand, there are examples of coaches who are not regarded as premier head men who have won it all thanks to elite recruits. Not to lump them into the same category, but nobody ever accused Gene Chizik, Les Miles, or Mack Brown of being tactical masterminds.

Coaching matters. But recruiting is by far the most important piece when it comes to separating the good from the great. After all, coaches only get 20 hours weekly with their players by NCAA rule.

The BCR isn’t a guarantee of a national championship.  Rather, it’s more a matter of if your team isn’t in the top fifteen or so, it’s not going to win one.

Here’s how 2021 looks.

Alabama’s percentage is the highest Elliott’s ever calculated, which ought to give you an idea how good Georgia’s number is.  To give you an idea of how those percentages play out in terms of roster numbers, take a look at this:

The spread between Georgia and Florida is fourteen points.  That’s about twelve players.  I don’t care how much the Portal Master™ portals, he ain’t making that gap up, especially when Kirby’s doing at least as good a job mining the transfer market.  Now, sure, there will be years when the stars align properly, as they did in 2020, and Florida will have the upper hand, but over time, this isn’t a winning hand for Dan Mullen.

What to do, then?  Well, if you’re a Florida fan who realizes his coach ain’t gonna beat ’em straight up, it’s the right time to handicap the others, all in the name of the greater good.

Now we have to be really honest with ourselves. Are we okay with Alabama and Clemson winning a 12-team tournament every year, or do we actually want a tournament that is more wide-open?

If we want the latter, it isn’t enough to just expand the field. Instead, I think that the NCAA needs to institute a salary cap on football recruiting.

What if Clemson had to decide between going after a big-time recruit in Florida or building a football facility with a slide? What if Dan Mullen could actually sell his winning record rather than having to sell the facilities that are now under construction?

Where do you set it? I’m sure there are mathematical models that could do a better job than just ballparking, but $1.5 million annually seems reasonable, annexed to some percentage of television deals. If you wanted, you could even have it be a 4-year rolling average so a team could spend $3 million one year but then would have a greatly reduced budget the next.

Immediately the giant advantage that Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, Texas A&M and Texas enjoy goes away, or is at least severely limited. In fact, this entire proposal only limits 6 total programs if $1.5 million is the cap number.

Bless his heart.  Once thing he neatly skips over is how recruiting budgets didn’t mean shit last year in the wake of the COVID shut down.  Remind me how Alabama, Georgia and Florida finished with a level spending field.

Yes, there’s your Daily Gator:  better to have the NCAA commit another antitrust violation than to force Dan Mullen to end his vacation on the lake sooner to work recruiting a little harder.


Filed under Alabama, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting

49 responses to “Life ain’t fair: the 2021 Blue-Chip Ratio.

  1. Salty Dawg

    Senator, please indulge me! I hope this link works!

    Liked by 16 people

  2. jcdawg83

    I wonder what ESPN thinks about it? After all, ESPN is running college football now. If the recent past is any predictor of the future, the “salary cap” idea will be a real thing in a few short years. The march to turn college football into the NFL isn’t going to stop and a salary cap is a big part of the NFL.


  3. Russ

    So, I don’t get the Gator’s argument. He’s saying we need to handicap teams like Clemson because they’re in the playoffs every year, yet they basically have the same BCR as Florida. What am I missing?


  4. Counterpoint to the Gomila tweet: isn’t the 50% threshold the real key (as Bud Eliot says in his intro)? 50% blue chippers means 44+, i.e. your two-deep at every position. After that, it’s getting a better practice squad, and better injury insurance. Which obviously has some value, but to say that Georgia is 11 blue chippers better than Clemson, that’s roster slots #57-68, getting well into the third and fourth stringers. Sure, steel sharpens steel, but when we’re talking about fourth-stringers, the impact is getting to be pretty indirect/diminished. At that point in the roster, you also have to consider that it will have very little impact at the beginning of the season, and by the end of the season the original recruiting rankings are significantly offset by player development and personal growth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ASEF

      Not really. Hovering around 60% is usually indicative of roster holes. Those don’t matter when Clemson is playing a team with 30% blue chips or less (see: entire ACC schedule). They do matter when the opponent is similarly or better armed. See: OSU wide receivers laughing as they run past Clemson’s helpless safeties. And OSU’s RB laugh as he runs over them.

      Hell, Georgia’s at 80%, and how exactly is the secondary going to look game 1?

      14 more blue chip players isn’t just a marginal advantage. It’s 14 more mulligans on the injury or bust front. It’s in effect a larger roster. A bigger army. More jet fighters. Pick your analogy.

      Liked by 2 people

      • RangerRuss

        That’s called a Force Multiplier in the yankee Army. Jordan Davis is an example.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s a good point. A better metric would be the percentage of positions at which there are 2 or more blue chip players. But much more labor intensive to develop data for that.


        • ASEF

          Yeah. Some positions are more important than others, and half a dozen 5 star guards and centers are all for naught if your 3 star tackles can’t handle an elite edge rusher.

          But elite, 80% rosters are best equipped to expose the holes in a 66% roster. Sort of like OSU exposed Clemson’s safeties. I could tell all year they wouldn’t hold up against future pros. And they didn’t.


  5. A Ban

    Several layers still missed in comparing teams.

    Teams like Clemson were able to beat Bama years ago with far fewer blue chippers because their starters were comparable. At times depth can kill you but not every week.
    Some blue chippers are ok, some elite. The ratio makes some teams look better than they are. Conversely there are still a lot of non blue chippers that blossom later.
    QBs…. when you have a great one you overcome some of the gap quickly.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Exactly. Shorter version: when 80% of your players are blue chip, you need a narrower definition for blue chip.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ASEF

      Opposite, actually:

      Clemson walked over Alabama because Alabama had 3 crucial injuries on defense (two edge rushers and a #1 CB), and the back-ups weren’t ready. That’s how Ross and Trevor had a field day on 3rd downs. Trevor never worried about getting hit, Smith couldn’t stay with Ross. Ballgame. Two 5 star elite talents, and Bama couldn’t negate them.

      Also, every Bama offensive coach had a foot out the door for a new gig. Venables marveled afterwards that Alabama did nothing new on offense. No wrinkles, nothing.

      “Player development” had nothing to do with that outcome.

      On the flip side, Blue Chip Ratio + Player Development had a lot to do with Alabama, 2 years later, walking over the team that walked over Clemson. And Clemson getting hammered in its last two playoff games by LSU and Ohio State.

      Dabo had to sign an entire class of 3 stars, 31 guys, to fill holes in his roster. 1/3 of his counters. He’s got real depth issues when he’s on a stage against an elite roster.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Clemson also plays in a pathetic conference where they get to playing themselves into form every year and rest a lot of starters bc no games are close.

      I’m going to enjoy watching Dabo come back down to earth immensely.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. Greg

    Good read and comments……hopefully JT is the difference at the all important QB position.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Teacher Martin

    Playing in an easy conference like Clemson can help too.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. godawgs1701

    I’ve read the Gator’s plan three times now and it has yet to make any sense to me. There are myriad reasons that recruits would pick Alabama or Clemson over Florida. It isn’t just about the football building.

    Jesus, how did we lose to these clowns last year? Jacksonville 2020 continues to be the most baffling, infuriating day in recent memory.

    Liked by 4 people

    • spur21

      How you ask – a broken ankle – a cheap shot on our QB and missing players (9 ?) from injuries. Payback will be sweet.

      Liked by 5 people

    • originaluglydawg

      One play. Marcus RJ and Stetson both hurt on that second touchdown play. If they weren’t injured, I firmly believe the Dawgs had the touch and game plan to really score a lot of points in that game. As it was, SB’s shoulder was a rag after the hit and a lot of the game-plan went out the window with MRJ’s injury too.
      I say it often and I’ll say it again. I hope Georgia beats those mfs by fifty at least, and I hope SB4 gets to direct the last few scoring drives.

      Liked by 8 people

    • Honestly, this isn’t even the most frustrating, inexcusable loss to Florida this decade. The complete no show in 2014 was the most half assed, unprepared loss UGA has down there, 2015 included.

      It was the true breaking point for Richt imo, thus all the rumors surrounding the Belk Bowl. The powers that be were done with him after that imo.

      Liked by 6 people

    • Salty Dawg

      It was 2020. Everything was baffling and infuriating to say the least! What an awful year for everyone, everywhere. This year will be different! GO DAWGS!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. originaluglydawg

    Current Gator wisdom is that Developer Dan don’t need no stinkin’ blue chippers.
    There is an elephant in the Swamp living room (or maybe he’s at’s summertime after all) and those mfs will start to realize it in the next six months.
    Did they really just give him a huge pay raise? That’s gonna leave a mark at buy-out time.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. dawgphan34

    This is just by memory, but was it always so many teams? I thought that it used to be a closer to maybe 8-10 teams that recruited at that level. Obviously not 3 at this 80% clip.

    It seems like the talent has consolidated, which means more teams with enough talent to win a title, but less teams who get an amazing talent every few years.


  11. ASEF

    Look at the difference between Oklahoma and Texas with the same ratio. System, QB talent, position emphasis.

    And then look at how Oklahoma fared when it faced Alabama and then LSU. And then how Clemson has fared the last two times it stepped on a stage with equivalent or better blue chip ratio.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. willypmd

    Probably should start counting transfers given the existence of the portal and the strong likelihood of multiple five stars swapping teams every off season…

    Otherwise, in Kirby I trust. The guy is a roster management machine and finally figured out that we should hire an elite OC to pair with the elite talent he brings in.

    Future is bright in Athens…

    Liked by 5 people

  13. miltondawg

    I would be interested to see a two-year BCR. I was a little surprised that Texas A&M was 61% especially compared to UF and Texas. If the four-year BCR isn’t much better for A&M, they aren’t beating Bama for the West anytime soon barring catastrophic injuries all over Bama’s roster.


  14. charlottedawg

    The BCR isn’t a guarantee of a national championship. Rather, it’s more a matter of if your team isn’t in the top fifteen or so, it’s not going to win one

    This is the right way to think about recruiting and by extension why it’s so important. You can also change it to top 10 as opposed to 15. You can develop a 3 star into a first round pick but you’re not coaching up a roster of 3 stars into something that will survive the gauntlet of a conference championship game and two playoff games. The clock turns midnight on Cinderella looooong before the dance is over.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Gaskilldawg

    No, as NCAA football is set up you won’t see a salary cap in college football. A salary cap is a restraint of trade that is a labor law exception to Antitrust laws. A salary cap in professional sports is lawful when the players’ collective bargaining units agree to it. NCAA does not allow teams to pay a salary and there is no collective bargaining with players.