MSU recruiting excelling under Mark Dantonio

[BH - Bumped. It's still Spartans Week, and this does have a lot to do with their resurgence]

Yesterday on the Michigan-State-Potluck thread there was some discussion about recruiting stars vs looking at whom the recruits passed up offers on.

I've taken a rather half-hearted stab at it... gathering the source data has been a time consuming process and I thought I'd share the little data I have compiled with you as well as some of my thoughts on this matter, before deciding on how or whether to delve further into deeper analysis.

Also, this being the end of Sparty week... I wanted to post this now due to it's mostly Sparty-centric content.


Naturally, I started by looking myopically at my beloved Spartans.  I was curious to see if there was any data showing how Mark Dantonio compares to his predecessor John L. Smith (henceforth Slappy).

I went to and looked up MSU commits.  I used rivals mostly because it looked like it might be easier to parse than  Using both was too time prohibitive so I settled on just the one source (using to fill in any missing data I could not find on rivals e.g. if a link did not work I checked the other site),

Basically I made a google spreadsheet with:

year - 2011,10, 09... three years from the Dantonio era, as well as 06, 05, and 04 for Slappy's recruits 
school - MSU (eventually I did add 2011 data for Wisconsin, Northwestern, & Illinois for a random sampling of other B1G schools)
Five alternative offers (other schools that offered the recruit)*

*I chose the five most relevant alternative offers subjectively in the following manner ( five was completely arbitrary but I wanted a manageable sampling to work with):

  • Listed offers from other Big Ten schools first
    • These tended to represent the best schools offered anyway
      • Exceptions being consensus 4 and 5 star recruits, but really 4 and 5 star recruits get offers from everyone and their brother anyway… so in that case, see 2 bullet b below.
      • For 2 and 3 star recruits… it seems from a casual overview of the albeit scant data that first there are B1G offers, comparable BCS schools (not the elite programs generally mind you), Then the Big East (purposefully not grouped with comparable BCS schools – we’re all better than they are ;)), followed by Mac schools and their ilk.
    • It seems rational to theorize that an offer from a conference foe is more relevant than an out of conference one… if the other school nabs a recruit, you’ll be seeing him on the opposing sideline soon and he’ll have the opportunity to inflict pain on your preferred institution.
  • Secondarily listed non-Big East BCS schools
  • Then Big East
  • Then Mac and the rest
  • Added two more columns for overflow for cases of up to 7 B1G alternatives in the sample data… no reason to sacrifice quality conference data for the sake of sticking to my original parameter of 5.

That is how the raw data was hacked together.  I’d appreciate any feedback as to if you think this approach is sensible/insane… if there is a more efficient way to collect source data than copying/pasting/parsing/clicking each players individual link to get a list of offers… well I’d sure be appreciative if you’d comment on that or any of the following rough shod analysis:

  • Not all 3 star recruits are created equal (nor 4s or 2s for that matter, but the 3's are probably the most interesting) .  A player that was recruited by MSU, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern, and Illinois (Denicos Allen) was distinctly more coveted than another who’s only other confirmed offer was Tulane (Andre Sims Jr. – both Spartans).  There is a full range of course… gauging it is an interesting dilemma I haven’t managed to get a good grasp of.  Any ideas? 

  • By aggregating B1G alternative offers, it seems it could be possible to get a better assessment of comparative recruiting success rankings as opposed to the star system.
    • Illinois beat Northwestern head to head once, Wisconsin thrice, and MSU zero times in the sparse 2011 only recruiting battles.
    • Northwestern beat Illinois 4 times head to head for recruits, and beats the tar out of  Harvard.
    • Wisconsin won 3 recruits from Northwestern, and 6 each from Illinois and MSU
    • MSU bested Wisconsin 4 times, Northwestern once, and the Illini 5 times in recruiting battles.
    • Bipity Bopity Boo (put it together and what have you got?  Well not much...but it seems it might be a worthwhile metric provided more data (like the aggregate data for the entire conference over say at least three years).

What say you?  Is this worth pursuing further in your opinion?  Total waste of time?

  • Mark Dantonio is twice the recruiter Slappy ever was.  (MSU vs MSU tab of the google spreadsheet linked near the start of this overlong post).
    • Over the sample years, Dantonio garnered recruits with 114 alternative B1G offers, Slappy just 57.  One might just conclude that recruiting does make a difference.
    • A comparison of average stars for the two coaches favors Dantonio 3.14 (rounded) to 2.83.  Not really different, just a bit more obtuse.
    • Over the Rich Rod era Dantonio snagged 13 recruits from Michigan as compared to 3 over a similar interval for Slappy.  Saddly (from the MSU perspective) a certain guy named Hoke has reversed this trend for a year at least.  Here’s hoping the tide turns back again.

I’ll cut it off here before I get permanently banned for being way too verbose about a lot of nothing. [BH Note: You don't get banned for that here. Otherwise, this would be a very empty corner of the internet.]

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