Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Recruiting vs Results

We've talked until we're blue in the face about recruiting rankings. Some people want to place the rankings of, and other sites as the future of our program. The main problem is of course information. For fans, there's really no other source but internet sites. These services are it when it comes to judging how your coach is pulling in talent. Coaches are publishing their evaluations or talent lists, so where else do you turn?

The recruiting services themselves are part of the problem. They do an admirable job at times trying to judge hundreds and hundreds of players, but be real - most of them are dealing with a staff of 10 people or less doing the work. They are dealing with a few highlight reel film clips, some camp statistics and a limited amount of personal game attendence. How much can they REALLY evaluate without a staff of hundreds. They do the best they can to provide a service that financially supports their efforts.

There is an interesting website that tries to take recruiting rankings and show a correlation to on-the-field success. They took the past 4 years of recruiting vs the success rate of those teams to see which "underacheived" and "overacheived" based on where recruiting results told them they should be.

The results showed that Georgia Tech has the best record of "overacheiving" in the ACC, and is actually the #15 "overacheiving" school in the nation.

Results vs Recruiting Rankings
(net difference, + means "overacheiving", - means "underacheiving")
+32......... Georgia Tech
+31......... VaTech
+15......... Boston College
+14......... Clemson
+3.......... Wake Forest
-3.......... Miami
-11......... North Carolina
-16......... FSU
-16......... NCST
-18......... Maryland
-21......... UVA
-34......... Duke

You can read the site for more details, but here are some points:
- didn't include class of 2001, which had significant starters for GT & others
- transfers not included
- newer class rankings are given less weight since those players don't generally contribute as much
- on-the-field rankings were based on an average of leading polls.

If this study has any truth to it, then as a fan of Georgia Tech, one could conclude that our coaching staff either:
A.... is a much better evaluater of talent than other schools
B.... is a much better developer of talent than other schools.
C.... both "A" and "B"
D.... lucky

Coach Gailey has made it clear in past interviews that his staff has their own system for evaluating talent and do not rely on recruiting services to track top talent. Personally I would think this is standard at every college, but evidently it is not. Check out this article, which is very interesting, about how Miami is going to experiment with a "new" system of evaluating their own talent. I find this article interesting, but completely appalling if I'm a Hurricane fan. So what you're telling me is that Larry Cocker and staff have been lazy and relied on Rivals and Scout and other more "secret" recruiting services for their talent evaluation instead of their own system. They actually say Miami will be a Guinea Pig. Are you kidding me?

"At most colleges, they feel they don't have the time or resources to turn over every rock searching for players," Garcia said. "Most colleges take the easy way out, going after the kids being recruited by the major powers. Everyone else wants them so you feel you have to go get them."

Garcia has encouraged Miami's coaches to ignore recruiting lists and trust their own evaluations. The goal is to find more of the hidden gems that helped transform UM into a dynasty the past two decades.

This is groundbreaking? I'm sorry, I don't get it. You should be doing this already. If you not, that's lazy.

"Go look at any pro team's draft board and you'll be amazed at how many players are being selected in the first three rounds from small schools that were overlooked by the big powers."

Well duh. I don't care how good of a system you have, the big powers don't corner the market on talent. What they tend to do is corner the market on KNOWN high school talent. That's why the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL, Jerry Rice, went to Mississippi Valley State. He wasn't a KNOWN talent, but he sure developed into one didn't he?

Does Coach Gailey have a superior system for evaluating talent? Personally I think it's one of the top 25 systems in the nation. He consistently fields better teams and the best drive of that is talent. His classes have been consistenly ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, yet we never finish there, have been to 9 straight bowl games, etc, etc. There's got to be something here to Coach Gailey's system.

Does Coach Gailey have the ability to "coach up" talent through superior play-calling and a system that allows you to plug-in people to be effective? I think there is some truth to this as well, although I can't say how superior this might be. Tech fans will certainly differ on this, but we know the defensive system has been very effective at plugging in different players. I'm not so sure the offensive scheme fits this mold, but the defense seems to.

Does Georgia Tech have the facilities, support, strength/conditioning program and nutritional program that can develop kids into superior talent? I don't know, but I get the feeling we're way above average here too.

So what are we missing? We have a better system for evaluating talent, maybe a better O/D scheme (or system, at least on D), great facilities, strength/conditioning, nutrition programs, etc. What we're missing is the overall pool of players we have to chose from. It's a lot smaller than for most schools. We have to get the kids that can cut it academically 1st, then meet all those other on-the-field criteria. So as a result, many of the players we get do in fact have to be "coached up", or bulked up. Some underecruited kids like Vance Walker prove the Gailey-talent system works, but face it - we need our share of Calvin Johnson's as well. CJ was a national 5-star recruit and look what he's done on the field. He was not a secret in high school. The recruiting services are not stupid and not worth throwing in the trash either. So we need to land more nationally recruited kids to go along with our underrecruited kids or "diamonds in the rough". Then it would help if we wouldn't flunk out a bunch of them because of poor policies and untrained registrars.

All in all, this has me feeling pretty good about things. The recruiting services have the current Jacket class ranked in the #30 - 40 range as a team. That's the strongest of the Chan Gailey era so far. If we are better evaluators of talent, then it's probably better than that. Many of the kids have already been upgraded with more "stars", so there just might be something to that man from Americus. There's a lot to be positive about. Yes, there are concerns - special teams, QB efficiency, etc, but future should be bright............