Who’s Got The Talent And Who’s Doing What With It — Part Three

Here is the third installment in our look at talent and achievement over the last decade in college football.  Continued thanks to site contributor MB for his amazing effort in compiling these numbers.  Go here to read the first part of the series and here for part two.  Please note that the methodology used for these numbers will be explained at the end of the series!

Another stat that we like to follow is the talent gap between the most talented team and the second most talented team in the country.  What this shows is how much talent Miami and USC accumulated in 2000-2002 and 2006-2007, respectively. We also have the data for 1998 and 1999 which indicated talent gaps of 18 points and 10 points, respectively.  It is very rare to have 100+ point talent advantages (let alone 200+!) yet Miami did it three times and USC did it twice…interestingly…only one BCS title from those 5 occurrences.  Maybe those teams had too much talent?  That is a topic for another day.

Talent Gap Between #1 and #2 Most Talented Team in College Football 2000-2007 Based on NFL Draft-Table 10

Talent Gap
Year Team #1 vs #2
2000 #1 Miami 148
#2 Georgia
2001 #1 Miami 202
#2 Florida
2002 #1 Miami 106
#2 Ohio St
2003 #1 Miami 6.5
#2 Ohio St
2004 #1 Florida St 17
#2 USC
2005 #1 USC 15.5
#2 Ohio St
2006 #1 USC 119.5
#2 LSU
2007 #1 USC 228.5
#2 Florida

We can also evaluate the talent metrics by conference. While it is no surprise that the SEC has been the most talented conference throughout the decade, there are some interesting trends developing since the ACC/Big East re-alignment in 2004…this may have some bearing on the Big 10’s interest in expanding in the near term. Look at the shift in talent away from the Big East (primarily Miami and Virginia Tech) as well as the decline in talent in the Big 10…

Most Talented Conferences Based on NFL Draft 2000-2007-Table 11

Average Performance Points
Rank by 2000- 2004- 2000-
2000-2007 Conference 2003 2007 2007
1 SEC 101.1 97.3 99.2
2 Big 10 95.2 87.2 91.2
3 Pac 10 85.2 83.8 84.5
4 ACC 69.6 94.9 83.9
5 Big East 93.7 49.6 71.9
6 Big 12 68.8 67.2 68.0

Looking at single season talent levels, the SEC dominates with six of the top 10, but the ACC grabs the top 2 spots driven by the talent levels at Florida St and Miami during 2004 and 2005.

Most Talented Single Season Conferences Based on NFL Draft 2000-2007-Table 12

Average Talent
Rank Year Conference Points
1 2004 ACC 111.0
2 2005 ACC 106.9
3 2000 SEC 102.8
4 2003 SEC 102.0
5 2001 SEC 101.3
6 2004 SEC 99.5
7 2006 SEC 99.3
8 2001 Big East 98.9
9 2002 Big 10 98.9
10 2002 SEC 98.3

Conversely, when we look at the least talented single season conferences, the Big East shows up every year since realignment. The Big East and the Big 12 each appear 4 times….the SEC and the Pac 10 none. The Pac 10 is the only conference that does not show up in either list.

Least Talented Single Season Conferences Based on NFL Draft 2000-2007-Table 13

Average Talent
Rank Year Conference Points
1 2004 Big East 34.2
2 2005 Big East 38.8
3 2001 ACC 56.1
4 2006 Big East 58.8
5 2005 Big 12 58.9
6 2000 ACC 64.5
7 2006 Big 12 64.8
8 2003 Big 12 66.3
9 2007 Big East 67.1
10 2001 Big 12 68.2

Before we break this down further let’s do a quick recap of where the various teams are ranked in recruiting, NFL talent and performance. We have listed all teams that appear in the top 25 in any category and show their ranking in all 3 categories.

Rankings Summary-Table 14

Ranking
Rivals Talent Perform
Points Points Points
Alabama 12 19 10
Arkansas 24 T24 33
Auburn 13 13 12
Boise 70 63 14
Cal 21 18 31
Clemson 19 28 30
Florida 2 7 3
Florida St 4 5 11
Georgia 5 6 8
Iowa 42 15 21
Louisville 53 32 25
LSU 3 10 5
Maryland 27 T22 35
Miami 8 1 7
Michigan 10 11 17
NC St 39 T22 48
Nebraska 18 20 16
North Carolina 22 31 56
Notre Dame 14 17 27
Ohio St 9 3 6
Oklahoma 6 8 2
Ole Miss 23 T24 46
Oregon 25 21 13
Oregon St 50 38 20
Penn State 20 12 19
South Carolina 15 35 34
TCU 61 45 24
Tennessee 11 9 18
Texas 7 4 4
Texas A&M 16 36 39
Texas Tech 44 62 23
UCLA 17 37 36
USC 1 2 1
Utah 60 33 22
Virginia 30 29 47
Virginia Tech 26 14 9
West Virginia 41 68 15
Wisconsin 43 16 28

We want to clear that the above rankings are not all necessarily “apples to apples”…for example the performance rankings go through 2009, but the NFL draft points are not complete for the 2009 season (need 2 more drafts). Also, the recruiting data is for 2002-2009, but the 1998-2001 classes had an impact on performance in 2000 and 2001. Having said that, it is important to note we will break each of these down in a more detailed manner to mitigate and eliminate these issues. Nonetheless, we thought by putting all the rankings side by side, the conclusions become more clear.

A team such as UCLA just does a poor job of evaluating and/or developing talent. The Bruins do great in recruiting, but fail to send their fair share to the NFL and struggle on the field. Notre Dame just does not utilize its talent…14th in recruiting translates to 17th in NFL…yet 27th on the field. Teams such as Boise, Oregon St, Virginia Tech, and Utah…they find diamonds in the rough and develop them for their systems and make it work. USC recruits well, develops well and produces on the field…same with Florida, Ohio St and Texas.

So which teams are the best (and worst) at “converting” recruiting talent into NFL talent?  We’ll cover all that in the fourth and final installment of this series coming up tomorrow.  We’ll also have a full appendix explaining the methodology for calculating these lists.  Check back!

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About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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