With National Signing Day behind us, and the Irish larder “full,” I thought it might be a fun way to start the week by looking at how our opponents fared and have fared over the last four years. Before I begin, though, I want to explain my methodology, such as it is. First, I decided to use Rivals. I used one ranking site for clarity. Why did I feel that important? Well, for example, Rivals has ND ranked eleventh overall for 2014, whereas Scout has the Irish in at an eyebrow-raising sixth. Because my point wasn’t to compare individual classes, I wanted consistent numbers. After deciding on a source, I pulled the rankings back to 2010 for every team on our 2014 schedule. Then, I made a table.
So what jumps out at you? To me, the following does:
Only USC and FSU have put together “better” recruiting classes in the last five years than Notre Dame.
Brady Hoke put in some strong classes in 2013 and 2012, but with only sixteen recruits signed in 2014, Michigan’s ranking tumbled. Whether that means Michigan’s downward trend in the polls will continue is anyone’s guess. But I sure hope it does.
Stanford’s 2013 rank of 64 is clearly an outlier and can partly be explained by the Tree only signing 12 players that year. Looking at the rankings on either side, though, you don’t see the ball bouncing all the way back from their high mark at 5 (2012), so that the rebound from 64 to 14 could presage a discussion of whether Stanford might be losing steam. I really, really hope so.
We should slaughter Rice. Whereas last year’s Opening Day opponent, Temple, pings between the 60’s and the 100’s, Rice has only cracked 90 once. And you saw how quickly Temple rolled over for us.
North Carolina’s put together some surprisingly decent classes. Perhaps they should offer a class in recruiting.
Lane Kiffin squanders more talent than Paul Verhoeven. The man’s a cancer and I hope he infects Alabama.
All in all though, recruiting classes are but tea leaves. You can read them all you want, but they don’t come together without a lot of help. Unrated players can come out of nowhere to dominate, while five-star guys can fizzle. A class’s rank is really only determined after its fifth-year players pass on and the complete book can be written.