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October 11, 2012

Recruiting means more in the SEC



The jump from the Big 12 to the SEC wasn't supposed to be seamless for Missouri, and it's been anything but. The Tigers are off to an 0-3 start in conference play and are fighting for bowl eligibility in their first year in the conference.

Now, PowerMizzou.com is taking a look at the biggest change between Missouri's old and new conferences: recruiting. We broke down the conference recruiting rankings between 2005 and 2010, and compared them with the conference standings between 2006 and 2011. The results, which we call a "quotient of change," shows what many already guessed:

In the SEC, recruiting is most important. It's much more difficult to finish at the top in conference standings when you consistently finish in the lower half of conference recruiting rankings, according to Rivals.com.

Before we jump into the numbers, here's the premise for our imperfect formula:

1. Recruiting rankings were averaged between 2005 and 2010. Conference standings were averaged between 2006 and 2011. The reason for this variation is that the bulk impact of a recruiting class likely won't be felt until a year after those freshmen arrive on campus. So, the 2005 recruiting class would have a bigger impact on the 2010 season than in 2005.

2. The top team in both divisions were listed as conference co-champions. So, for the Big 12 in 2007, Missouri and Oklahoma were co-number ones. We did not count the winner of the conference championship into the equation because it skews the overall number of games played.

3. If two teams from different divisions of a conference had the same conference record, the tie-breaker was overall record. If two teams from the same division had the same conference record, the tie-breaker was head-to-head result.

4. If teams jumped to new conferences in that span (Nebraska and Colorado), their conference standing average was determined over a five-year span, instead of six. Their recruiting rankings still were averaged over a six-year span.

5. The "quotient of change" was finding the difference in between average recruiting ranking per team and average conference finish per team, and then adding those numbers together for the conference total over that span.

Below are the average recruiting ranking and average league finish for each team. The final column is the difference between those two numbers for each team.

Big 12: Recruiting Rankings vs League Finish


AVG Recruiting Ranking AVG Conference Finish Differential
Texas 1.7 4.2 -2.5
Oklahoma 1.8 2.5 -0.7
Nebraska 4 3.6 +0.4
Texas A&M 4.5 7.2 -2.7
Oklahoma State 5.8 4.5 +0.7
Missouri 6.5 3.7 +2.8
Texas Tech 7.5 6 +1.5
Colorado 8 9.6 -1.6
Kansas 8.2 8.7 -0.5
Kansas State 8.3 6.8 +1.5
Baylor 10.7 8.8 +1.9
Iowa State 11 10 +1.0


Notes: The Big 12 had six teams exceed their recruiting rankings, compared to the SEC with four. The biggest difference is that the Big 12 had three teams exceed recruiting expectations while also finishing in the top half of the conference. The SEC had just one ... Missouri made the biggest leap with a quotient of change of 2.8 ... Texas and Texas A&M were the biggest fallers. Texas had a quotient of change of (-)2.5. The Aggies were just south of the Longhorns with a (-)2.7 quotient of change.

SEC: Recruiting Rankings vs League Finish


AVG Recruiting Ranking AVG Conference Finish Differential
Florida 2.3 3.7 -0.6
Georgia 3.2 4 -0.8
Alabama 3.7 4.5 -0.8
LSU 3.7 3.3 +0.4
Tennessee 4.5 7 -2.5
Auburn 4.7 5.5 -0.8
South Carolina 6.5 6.5 0
Ole Miss 7.5 8.8 -1.3
Arkansas 8.7 5.2 +3.5
Mississippi State 10 9.3 +0.7
Kentucky 10.8 9 +1.8
Vanderbilt 12 10.2 +1.8


Notes: The same top four teams for average recruiting finish were also the top four teams for average conference finish ... The two biggest outliers were Arkansas, whose quotient of change was (+)3.5, and Tennessee, whose quotient of change was (-)2.5. That allowed them to essentially flip spots from recruiting finish to conference finish, where Arkansas went from ninth to fifth, and Tennessee went from fifth to eighth.

In the SEC, the overall quotient of change is (-)0.2. In the Big 12, that number is (+)6.17.

This may be an imperfect formula, but over a six-year average, the recruiting rankings in the SEC more or less mimic the conference standings. In the Big 12? Not so much. In the Big 12, led by Missouri, five teams improved at least one full spot on average from recruiting rankings to league standings over a five-year period. In the SEC, only three teams made that large a leap and two of them (Vandy and Kentucky) were still two of the league's three worst teams over those five seasons.

Over the 2005 to 2010 stretch, Missouri's recruiting classes would have ranked 12th, 13th, 10th, 8th, 12th and 9th in the SEC. Its best class by Rivals.com, the 2010 class which finished 21st nationally and fourth in the Big 12, would have ranked ninth in a 14-team SEC. It's average (hypothetical) SEC class ranking would be 10.6. Even if Mizzou's quotient of change remained the same as it was in the Big 12 (which this makes look unlikely), the Tigers' average SEC finish would have been 7.8.

Mizzou's 2012 recruiting class was placed 31st in the country by Rivals.com. That placed the Tigers fifth in the Big 12 (including A&M because they were both still members). In the SEC, that same class ranked 11th. With its current record, Missouri would be tied for 12th overall in the SEC standings, a half-game behind eleventh-place Ole Miss which is 0-2 in league play.


Missouri's 2013 recruiting class is currently ranked 37th in the country by Rivals.com. However, that puts the Tigers 12th in the SEC (there are six SEC teams in the top ten, eight in the top 16 and nine in the top 21). The same class would rank seventh in the old Big 12 (when you include Texas A&M and Nebraska) and fifth among current Big 12 teams.

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