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Big Ten Recruiting: How Many Darts to Toss?

If you can believe it, the conversation started with an Iowa fan commenting on Nebraska’s program

Nebraska v Maryland
They’re all saying ‘Nebraska who?’, send more mailers
Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

On a Satuesrday morning afternoon daylight time much like the thousands that have come before it here in the Quarantime, the Off Slackle Empire channel rang loud:

Stewmonkey13: @jessecollins some info on the whole scholly offer

[Ed. note: for context, our Iowa and Nebraska contingents have slap-fought in the past about Scott Frost’s tendency to make it rain scholarship offers. Pretend you don’t care if you want but unless you’re burning the midnight oil for Korean baseball this is what we’ve got right now]

Jessecollins: I guess I just see this like recruiting for a company. If someone is amazing, and even if there’s no chance, you at least put out the offer to join and see what they say. Saying “well, I guess we’ll figure out if this is committable based on if you love us” just is weird to me.

Especially in a world where we live now and kids are just in love with the process... I’m not saying that’s particularly good either but it’s definitely a part of how this works


Right, and I’m not sure there’s a right way. But looking at that list, there seems to be a sweet spot in the middle. The extreme lows make sense, between academics and tenure of the coach.

And I guess I’d rather be associated with those than the other end.

bendawson: Iowa should consider getting some academic standards then.

stewmonkey13: But this is also likely a symptom rather than a cause.

jessecollins: Maybe? I think the idea here kind of goes back to what is an offer these days. While Nebraska has been awful on the field, it’s last two classes are some of the highest we’ve had in a while. That is - in no small part - due to putting out the feelers on kids most schools in the B1G West (Minny excluded) don’t even pretend to offer. What’s the harm for schools in the middle of nowhere with no natural recruiting territory in doing so?

bendawson: Something about missing 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Jessecollins: And sure, it’s fun to be ‘associated with’ Cal, but you’re also oregon State?

I’m probably even more sympathetic in that building out recruiting plans sucks

Beez: There is a big difference between 300 offers, most of which will never consider Nebraska, and 300 offers, many of which would go to Bama or elsewhere in a second and many of which will find their offers withdrawn as soon as they want to accept it

sub Michigan or Penn State in for Bama, I guess

stewmonkey13: I’d also worry a bit about attrition rate.

There’s absolutely no way they can properly evaluate and get that many offers.

I mean it’s close to double that of MN.

And maybe it’s a wash. You get some unexpected interest from highly rated guys, but your attrition is a bit higher than average.

It just feels skeevy to have that many offers out there.

I’d look at it like a ratio. 5:1 on offers to signees is probably shooting way too low. 10:1 is probably about right. 20:1 seems desperate.

Andrew K: I’d be curious what Nebraska historically had to do to recruit nationally. Insofar as more of their guys come from farther away, I’d infer they probably do need to throw out more darts just to get enough interest to field the level of team they expect, especially since they’re still a newer staff.

Iowa would also do much the same thing if their staff couldn’t turn any old sufficiently tall, well-framed high schooler into what they need, by the way. Take that for granted if you want but it might not last forever.

More likely than not there will come a time when Iowa also needs to find more talent instead of making it, even if it’s not until Ferentz retires.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Dantonio’s MSU was probably never in the top 50, let alone top 10, of offers, but the thing is, early returns strongly suggest Mel Tucker is going to be a vastly better recruiter. So I don’t give a shit that he’s making tons of offers, because as Beez mentions, the odds are low that MSU actually gets sufficient interest from many of those top 100 types to put them in oversigning/non-commitable offer territory.

At least not yet. And if we get to Bama/Clemson levels of recruiting, clearly y’all are just jealous so keep your eyes in your own lane and never mind how we recruit

Beez: Tucker is basically offering every Wisconsin-based Wisconsin commit/target. It’s easy to see why his numbers of offers are way up there

Andrew K: He’s also thrown out a ton of offers to Georgia, Florida, and Texas doodz, which I am totally fine with - he tried to pry Vince Marrow away from Kentucky but couldn’t, which means our old place grabbing up the not-quite-OSU-good Ohio and Michigan kids is going to be hard to get back to.

Tucker’s also sending out way, way more offers for future classes than Dantonio ever did - no commits beyond ‘21 yet, but he’s at least trying with guys the old staff would have been iced out on when they commit as juniors.

Obviously all this stuff recedes in importance if he and his staff don’t have the goods when the games start, but given this is really all he can do now, I’m well chuffed at the direction MSU is taking.

candystripes: I’ll also throw the Indiana perspective on this, since we’re unfathomably high on that list as well: Of those 277 offers, how many do you think are actually going to put IU in their top ten, final five, or whatever number of schools they narrow down to before they make a final decision? 80? 60? Maybe only 40? Because let’s be honest here, Indiana is definitely building something, but they’re still way off the level of the Ohio States, Michigans, Alabamas and Clemsons of the world. Heck, we couldn’t even beat Tennessee in the bowl game this year, and they’ve offered over 100 more kids than we have. A lot of those offers are going to get rejected, but you still have to fill classes and scholarships with somebody, and if you know you’re going to struggle to be everyone’s top choice, you want to get as many people as possible to think “Well, if I can’t go to [insert top school that oversigned their class and thus pulled your offer], I bet [other school like IU or present-day Nebraska or Tennesee or whoever] will still be happy to take me.”

Andrew K: Apparently Tennessee has parlayed that bowl win over IU into a kickass start to this recruiting class, don’t sell yourself short man

Stewmonkey13: Honestly it’s really just the highest 5ish that I find pretty skeevy. At 270ish that’s probably about a 10-12:1 offer to commit ratio.

And so we ask OTE Nation:


Is your rival offering an appropriate number of prospects?

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Post script: The day after this conversation, Iowa secured a commitment from a Cornhusker legacy recruit.