Can Recruiting Rankings Predict the Success of NCAA Division I Football Teams? An Examination of the Relationships among Rivals and Scouts Recruiting Rankings and Jeff Sagarin End-of-Season Ratings in Collegiate Football

Trent J Herda 1 , Eric D Ryan 2 , Jason M DeFreitas 3 , Pablo B Costa 4 , Ashley A Walter 5 , Katherine M Hoge 6 , Joseph P Weir 7  and Joel T Cramer 8
  • 1 University of Oklahoma
  • 2 Oklahoma State University
  • 3 University of Oklahoma
  • 4 University of Oklahoma
  • 5 University of Oklahoma
  • 6 University of Oklahoma
  • 7 Des Moines University
  • 8 University of Oklahoma

The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationships among National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football teams' 2002 recruiting rankings from the Rivals (RIV) and Scouts (SCO) recruiting services and the Jeff Sagarin end-of-season performance ratings from 2002–2006. The RIV and SCO recruiting services included rankings for 100 common NCAA Division I football teams for the 2002 recruiting season. Each recruiting service included a total point system rating (TOTPTS) and average star rating (AVESTAR). The Jeff Sagarin NCAA football ratings system was chosen as an indicator of the teams' performance. Pearson product moment correlation coefficients (R) and the corresponding predictive indices (R2) were used to examine whether the 2002 RIV & SCO TOTPTS and RIV & SCO AVESTAR ratings could predict the Jeff Sagarin end-of-season ratings and total number of wins for each football team for the 2002 through 2006 seasons. In addition, R and R2 values were computed to examine whether the 2002 Jeff Sagarin end-of-season ratings and total number of wins could predict the following season's recruiting rankings (2003 RIV & SCO TOTPTS and RIV & SCO AVESTAR). The results indicated that RIV & SCO TOTPTS and AVESTAR predicted up to 45% of the variances in the end-of-season ratings and total wins. Thus, other factors (besides recruiting rankings) must be contributing to the end-of-season ratings for the 100 NCAA football teams included in this study. In addition, up to 51% of the variance in RIV & SCO AVESTAR and TOTPTS was predicted by the previous year's end-of-season ratings or total wins, which suggests that more successful seasons tend to yield better subsequent recruiting classes.

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JQAS, an official journal of the American Statistical Association, publishes research on the quantitative aspects of professional and collegiate sports. Articles deal with subjects as measurements of player performance, tournament structure, and the frequency and occurrence of records. Additionally, the journal serves as an outlet for professionals in the sports world to raise issues and ask questions that relate to quantitative sports analysis.