Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Class of '07 Fabulous 55 ... what happened?

A couple of items in today's Austin American-Statesman take a look back at how well the paper's Class of 2007 Fabulous 55 high school football players panned out when they went to college. Not so well, indicating how difficult it is to accurately evaluate prospective football recruits and how misleading such lists can be. Check out the story and the list.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Three reasons why rankings of college football recruiting classes are full of it ...

College football fans love the annual rankings of college football teams' recruiting classes. Interest peaks around National Signing Day, which is February 1 this year. But as a measure of predicting success on the football field, these rankings of recruiting classes are pretty much meaningless, looking at team performance four years later. By that time, most of those players would be seniors or redshirt juniors. We’d expect them to have moved into starting positions, or at least be making strong contributions to their teams’ success. So likewise, we’d think that we’d have college football teams performing in line with the perceived strength of those recruiting classes. Here’s why we need to think again:

1)     Most of the recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 fail to produce teams that perform at that level. In 2008, the recruiting classes of six college football teams were ranked among the top 10 by all of three national recruiting sites (Rivals, Scout, and ESPN). Those teams were Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Miami, Georgia, and USC. But of those, only two – Alabama and USC – ranked among the top 10 in the final Associated Press rankings for the football season four years later, in fall 2011.  And another three of those consensus top-ranked recruiting classes – at Miami, Notre Dame and Ohio State – produced teams that didn’t even make it into the A.P.’s  top 25 at the end of the 2011 season.

2)     Many of the recruiting classes ranked low – even very low – produce teams that perform at very high levels. For example, Stanford’s 2008 recruiting class was ranked No. 50 by Rivals and No. 43 by Scout, and didn’t appear in the ESPN’s top-25-only rankings. But Stanford ended up the fall 2011 season as the No. 7 team in the nation, according to the final A.P. poll. Arkansas is another example. At the end of the 2011 season, it was ranked by A.P. as the No. 5 team in the nation. But its 2008 recruiting class was ranked No. 36 by Rivals, No. 24 by Scout, and No. 18 by ESPN.

3)     Rankings of recruiting classes don’t – and can’t – take into account all of the intangibles that affect player and team performance in the future. There’s no way to know which recruits will be able to adapt to the physical and emotional demands and faster pace of the college game. It’s a tough transition for many. Other factors include the nearly 50 percent turnover rate among NCAA Division I head coaches every three years. New coaches often bring different offensive and defensive schemes that might not fit the skills and talents of players recruited by previous coaches. These and other issues are explored in Beyond Friday Nights: College Football Recruiting for Players and Parents, a great read for anyone interested in college football recruiting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

NCAA reforms ... the lastest

Where do we begin in noting all that came out of the NCAA’s annual convention, which concluded on Saturday?  NCAA president Mark Emmert is really shaking up things, especially in Division I college football, which might make you wonder how many toes he’s stepped on and thus how long his tenure will be. After all, the NCAA is made up of member organizations whose representatives hire the NCAA president. But Emmert’s original five-year contract was extended for an additional two years by a unanimous vote of the NCAA’s Executive Committee last week. That means he’ll be around until at least October 2017, which would seem to be enough time to push through quite a few needed reforms that he’s backing, with more to come, no doubt. So his extension might be the biggest single item to note in all of the news from last week.  Hmmm … will the NCAA’s big football powers try to deal with this within the organization, or will they think of pulling out of the NCAA and starting their own, separate association?  That’s a topic for another day.

For now, let’s take a look at some other big, recruiting-related, Division I items coming out of last week’s annual NCAA meeting:

·         The $2,000 stipend proposal seems to have strong support among the college presidents and chancellors who make up the Division I Board of Directors, although they sent the proposal to a committee (okay, a “working group”) to work out implementation details and come back with recommendations in April.  After any changes are made to the proposal at that point, the NCAA membership would then again have the opportunity to give it give a thumbs up or thumbs down.

This stipend was approved, for immediate implementation, by the NCAA Board of Directors last fall as a way to provide help full-ride scholarship athletes pay for miscellaneous costs – things like a movie, laundry, transportation, or meals out – beyond the tuition, fees, room, and board for which scholarships pay. Although the stipend wasn’t mandatory, 160 schools objected to the measure by December, which meant that it was suspended and had to go back to the Board last week for another look. Much of the opposition was based on the cost of the stipend to schools, and the limited resources with which many of them have to pay for it. And if they didn’t implement it, they felt – it would seem legitimately – that they would be at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting student-athletes.  Concerns about gender equity issues – since football programs put many more men, compared to women in other sports, on full scholarships at a given school.

It’s interesting to note, though, that the student-athletes who signed national letters of intent in November – and who were promised the stipend at that time, when it was in place – will still receive it. Students who signed after the measure was suspended in December will not.

·         Allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships – instead of only year-to-year scholarships based on performance –  seems to be a done deal, pending a vote by the entire Division I membership in February. Although concerns about this measure were also voiced by schools in December, not enough of them objected to cause suspension, and the Board stood by it at the NCAA meeting last week.

·         Parents can now be considered agents. This measure would prevent parents from “shopping” their student-athlete children to schools. In other words, parents could no longer ask a school for money (something other than a scholarship) in return for their kids to sign with that school.

·         Proposals to limit the number of scholarships – by five in football – were defeated. It would seem that savings in this area would have provided money to fund the $2,000 stipend at many schools, but that analysis might be too simplistic and na├»ve, I realize. And, of course, a reduction in scholarships would eliminate opportunities for some student-athletes to play college football in roles other than walk-ons that pay their own way.  Bummer.
Comments?  Insights?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Grad rates for Alabama and LSU ...

Sports commentators across the country have analyzed the Alabama and LSU football teams from one end to the other. But I'd bet that probably only here, on the Beyond Friday Nights blog, will you find the graduation rates for these two football powers in one place! 

BCS Championship Bowl --
GSRs:  Alabama, 69; LSU, 77

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Grad rates for Bowl teams ...

Talk about evenly matched, at least in the classroom ... check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Sunday's bowl game. Bowl --
GSRs: Arkansas State, 73; Northern Illinois, 73

Friday, January 6, 2012

Compass Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Saturday's bowl game, one of the last of the season.

BBVA Compass Bowl --
GSRs: SMU, 72; Pittsburgh, 65

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cotton Bowl grad rates ...

NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) offer one of the best available insights into the academic perfomance of players on college football teams. Check out the GSRs for Friday's bowl game.

AT&T Cotton Bowl --
GSRs:  Kansas State, 62; Arkansas, 56

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Orange Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Wednesday's bowl game. Draw your own conclusions about these and other bowl team grad rates posted previously. Comments welcome!

Discover Orange Bowl --
GSRs:  West Virginia, 75; Clemson, 62

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sugar Bowl grad rates ...

Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for the teams in Tuesday's bowl game. Draw your own conclusions about these and other bowl team grad rates posted previously. Comments welcome.

Allstate Sugar Bowl --
GSRs:  Michigan, 71; Virginia Tech, 79

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Graduation rates for Jan. 2 bowl teams ...

Six bowl games are on tap for Monday, January 2. Check out the NCAA graduation rates (officially known as the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR) for each team. Once again, I'll invite you to draw your own conclusions, and let us know in the comment section below!

Ticket City Bowl –
GSRs:  Houston, 57; Penn State, 87

Outback Bowl --
GSRs:  Michigan State, 62; Georgia, 65

Capital One Bowl –
GSRs:  Nebraska, 67; South Carolina, 55 Gator Bowl –
GSRs:  Ohio State, 67; Florida, 76

Rose Bowl –
GSRs:  Wisconsin, 66; Oregon, 63

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl –
GSRs:  Stanford, 87; Oklahoma State, 65