How Important are Those Recruiting Rankings?

Over the last nine years Clemson has out-recruited the Gamecocks in all but two years. I say out-recruited based on the class rankings that are churned out as the letters of intent come faxing in around the country. Do these rankings really translate to success on the field? Yes and no. The Gamecocks have beaten Clemson six times in the last nine years but as I mentioned have only had a higher ranked recruiting class twice. Is this because the Gamecocks have developed their players better or is this because the evaluators of these high school kids are not always right. I am sure it is a little bit of both. However, Clemson just landed the 4th best recruiting class in the country while the Gamecocks finished at 21. Clemson fans are excited. They should be. Gamecock fans are in panic mode. They shouldn't be. The data above should make that clear.

Clemson's best class was in 2008. However, the highly rated class didn't do it on the field. They compiled a 32-22 record over four year, never finished in the top ten, won just one bowl and beat their in-state rival Gamecocks just one time. Let's take a look back at that 2008 class which was rated the #2 class in the country that year only behind the Miami Hurricanes

Clemson is not alone. A year earlier, the Gamecocks had the 4th highest rated class and over four years that class went 29-23 with only one season in which they finished ranked. 

Clemson's most successful class over this time period has been their 2011 class. That class won 42 out of 53 games with 3 bowl wins, four ranked seasons and one season where they finished in the Top Ten. This class was rated 8th overall in 2011. In this instance, the class rank fit with the success they had on the field.

Carolina's most successful classes were their 2010 and 2011 class. The 2010 class went 41-11 while the 2011 class went 40-12. Thrown in there were three seasons in the top ten for the 2011 class along with four bowl wins. However, the overall recruiting class rankings were only 23 for the 2010 and 15 for 2011. Very similar to the ranking the 2015 class just received at 21.

I think J.J Watt said it best on twitter the other day: