As I've said previously, I am skeptical of the ability of independent recruiting scouts and websites. If they were that good at determining the athletic capacity of a 17-year old, some coaching staff or another would have hired them long ago. Therefore, I have a different way of evaluating classes. Instead of trying to evaluate the recruits themselves, I go by the opinion of those who do that for a living: college coaches. By looking at who gave an offer to a recruit, I get a better idea of their quality than any star rankings.
In this system, if Northwestern gets a recruit with an MSU offer, Northwestern gets a win over MSU (and MSU gets a loss to Northwestern). Repeat this over every recruit to sign with a Big Ten school, and out comes the head-to-head "records" of the Big Ten teams for 2013:
|Teams||Illinois||Indiana||Iowa||Maryland||Michigan||Michigan State||Minnesota||Nebraska||Northwestern||Notre Dame||Ohio State||Penn State||Purdue||Rutgers||Wisconsin|
A few observations:
Michigan beat Ohio State. That's a remarkable change from the last few years.
Purdue got beat up pretty good.
Indiana did much better than last year. They're still losing more than they win, but they went 7-2 against Purdue (compared to 3-4 last year) and got a number of recruits with other B1G offers.
The new guys (Rutgers and Maryland) don't go up against current Big Ten teams very often. It'll be interesting if that changes.
From those records (and each school's record against the rest of the FBS), I can apply a computer ranking system (Elo) to determine each school's relative desirability on a "generic" recruit. Elo is the system most often chosen for games such as chess and go. It also forms the basis for the Sagarin rankings.
I also ran the stuff for the 2009-2013 classes combined (i.e. all recruits who might be on the field this fall).
|5 Year Rank||Team||Rating||Record|
Talent-wise, Iowa shouldn't be at a deficit to the middle-of-the-pack. Of course, the same thing could have been said last year.
Indiana's ranking last year is almost 20 places higher than their 5 year.
Michigan and Maryland are also trending up.
Purdue, Penn State, and Michigan State are all trending down.
Caveats: This system is class size neutral, so while a larger class plays a major role in other rankings (and on the field), it has no effect here. Also, it is possible to game this system by only giving offers to athletes guaranteed to accept, but I've found no evidence of that happening, with the possible exception of Texas.