Last week, one of our newest writers, Moons, wrote a solid and well-received piece on whether or not bowl games serve as a “springboard” for success the following season. Moons suggested that a bit of micro-analysis or team-specific inquiry could flesh out his general theory and add a little nuance. In today’s piece, I decided to look specifically at the Irish. What I found was that while there was no correlation between a bowl appearance, much less a win, for that matter, and a better record the next season, bowl appearances do seem to predict an improved recruiting year.
Before we get into the numbers, let me identify my sources. To get the records and bowl appearances and scores, I used the archives provided by und.com. To get the recruiting class rank, abbreviated on the table below as “recruit class rank,” I used the rankings as compiled by Rivals at Yahoo! Sports. Here’s what that all looks like in a table:[table “” not found /]
So, the numbers show that of the ten bowls, the next year’s recruiting class improved six times, declined three times, and was unchanged once. I am not suggesting a cause-and-effect relationship, but maybe there’s something to this notion of momentum that has come to clothe bowl season. In this era of tweets and instagrams, it is likely possible for someone far more savvy than yours truly to cull through the timelines and pages of recruiting classes to come to see if there’s some direct influence.
We know, though, that for the players on the roster, going bowling is a highly-anticipated reward in an otherwise heavily-policed world of NCAA rules compliance. You know they get paid to go, right? Like cash stipends and swag? Think “your” Irish are, or should be, above “all that”? They’re not. And shame on you for framing the issue that way. The Irish were wild about the package put together by the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl. To recruits, and dare I suggest that to recruits volunteering for the rigors of the Notre Dame student-athlete experience the effect is likely enhanced, the probability of playing in premier bowls in premier locations is likely added cherries, or PlayBox 7’s, on the cake. For an idea of what the kids got for Christmas, as it were, this year, check out this article here.
Notre Dame’s academics will continue to challenge the coaching staff on the recruiting trail. We just “lost” Prentice McKinney, a highly-touted safety and member of our 2015 recruiting class, to North Carolina as it became more and more apparent that he just wouldn’t be able to make the whole “student” thing work at ND. On the heels of season in many ways “lost” to academic suspensions that came on the heels of a season, 2013, that saw Everett Golson kicked out for academic reasons, the ability of the Irish to play in bowls year after year, I feel, is critical to our recruiting efforts.