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Recruiting Rankings: Top 15 Dream?

  • (*Please note that a lot of this is said tongue-in-cheek and is meant to humor you. Feel free to disagree and bring up those points in your comments. This is meant to facilitate discussion about a wide range of topics, and I don’t expect anyone to agree with everything I say here.)

    Let me preface this by saying that I know recruiting rankings don’t win you games. At the end of the day, a team of 3-stars could beat a team of 4 and 5-stars. It happens all the time. However, as cfbmatrix likes to say, “80% of games are over before they start”. There is no greater predictor of future success than recruiting rankings. I should be clear and note that cfbmatrix takes the average rankings from multiple different services (rivals, scout, bspn) and speaks of them in terms of a “4-year average”. Many statistical models available today are adamant about the fact that in order to be an elite team, you need to recruit like an elite team. That’s the foundation of my entire observation, so if you disagree with that, feel free to discontinue reading.

    Let me touch on one more thing before I get started. Fans will often say, “I like that 3-star better than that 5-star anyway. He fits our system perfectly and he’s a high character guy. Stars don’t mean squat”. This is the motto of not only duck fans, but fans around the country who can’t recruit like Texas, Alabama, Florida or USC. Now, we can all prance around in our goggles pretending like stars don’t matter, but the truth is, there aren’t many coaches in the country who would take a 3-star over a 5-star under ANY circumstances. This isn’t to say it never happens, but 5-stars are 5-stars for a reason: they’re insanely talented, and in all likelihood, are near genetic impossibilities. Unless there are some serious character concerns (like they’ve killed somebody), no coach is passing up a 5-star player that wants to come play for him. Do all 5-stars work out? Of course not. In general though, you’d rather see 5-stars next to a guy’s name than 3. Fans will go to their graves disagreeing with me about this (“I’d rather see a team of 3-stars working hard to achieve success than a bunch of overrated 5-stars who’ve always had it easy” blah blah blah stop talking please) but you won’t find a college coach in the country who truly believes that. You don’t think Stoops or Erickson would swap rosters with Alabama? Obviously, they would say, “no way, I love my guys”, but we all know that it wouldn’t even be a decision.

    A lot is made about the guys Chip and Co. go after. We go after a 3-star safety and have people complaining, “hey, look, we didn’t even offer that 5-star safety! Why not”? A common retort to said question is, “well, stars don’t matter. Chip liked that 3-star better because of x, y and z”. As much as the first guy annoys the heck outta me (Chip Kelly knows exactly why he does or doesn’t go after somebody), the second guy annoys me even more. Too much blind bias for me. Do the Ducks and other teams avoid certain players for character issues? Certainly. But I’d say that 95% percent of the time, a 5-star player will go without an offer because the team doesn’t feel like they have a legitimate shot at landing said player and don’t want to waste resources on him. It’s not that they actually think the 3-star they just offered will be a more productive member of the team than the 5-star they didn’t, it’s that they think they can actually land him. Do they like the 3-star? Of course they do! They offered didn’t they? It’s not as if Oregon is picking up the crumbs under the dinner table, they see something special in everyone they offer. All I’m saying is that Oregon coaches would likely welcome any 5-star in the country. People will point to the Treggs situation (amongst many others) and tell me I’m wrong, and I might be. I just don’t see Oregon turning away someone with that kind of talent because they’ve got a loud mouth (legal trouble is a different story).

    *Note that I’ve been using the example of a 3 vs. a 5-star to illustrate a point. When you’re talking about a 3 vs. a 4-star or a 4 vs. a 5-star, some lines get blurred and things are a lot more complicated. It’s entirely possible that a player all the scouting services list as a 4-star is Oregon’s #1 target. It’s not likely a 3-star would fall in the same boat, though. And if a 4-star is #10 in the country at his position, the coaches would probably rather have him than a 3-star who’s #90, especially if they’re recruiting both. (“But what about Patrick Chung!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?” Please sir, I asked you to stop talking. And may I request that you discontinue the use of all those exclamation points?) There’s always diamonds in the rough at every level. Take the percentage of 3-stars who become all-conference vs. 4-stars who do the same and consider re-thinking your position.

    Ok, now that I got that off my chest, let me tell you why I’m writing this. I noticed that cfbmatrix places a big emphasis on being a Top 15 class. Something about being in the Top 15 is significant (see below for an explanation of the matrix). Thus, our last two classes have been great. Now, I’m definitely wondering how valid our Top 15 class was a couple years back considering we’ve lost Seastrunk, Rowland and Williams, but that’s for another day. To sum it up, I’d really like to see that Top 15 streak continue. At the very least, I want to get in the top 25. That got me thinking, “what would it take to land a 3rd straight Top 15 class? Top 25”? The answer was surprising.

    [cfbmatrix was designed to see what Oregon would have to do recruiting-wise to contend for a national championship. The ranking used to determine that is a 4-year average of a team’s recruiting rank across the three major recruiting services. Last year, Oregon came in at #16. In the last 10 some-odd years, no team that’s played in a BCS National Championship Game has had a lower rank. 16th. Also, Oregon became the only team in 10 years to play in the title game that didn’t finish in the Top-25 each of the 4 previous years. If nothing else, this model shows that to play with the best, you have to recruit with the best. Last year, Oregon was the exception, and #16 is still pretty dang impressive.]

    For the sake of time and simplicity, I’m going to use Scout’s team rankings. Rivals is always pretty generous to us and BSPN always screws us over, so I’ll use Scout who seems to keep us right in between the two. Let me note that I don’t completely understand Scout’s ranking system. They attempt to explain it with a link that supposedly breaks it down, but when I calculate team recruiting “points” based on this explanation, I arrive at a very different number than the one they have posted. For example, Scout has our 2011 recruiting class ranked 14th with 4370 points. When I calculated our point total (based on their explanation) I came up with 3209. Where that 1161 point gap comes from, I don’t know. What I do know is that after calculating team points using the described system (3-star: 40 points, 4-star: 120 points, 5-star: 200 points, count down from 100 to 1 based on position ranking), the Ducks 2011 class came to a total of 3209 points. I’m going to assume that we’re going to need to approach this total once again to have a Top-15 class. Obviously, there’s going to be some variance here for a number of different reasons, but I think this is a relevant exercise that will give us a general idea of what needs to happen to finish Top-15. Also note that Florida, who finished 25th in 2011, had about 2550 points. So to finish between 15th and 25th, Oregon needs between 2550 and 3200 points (approximately).

    So what’s it going to take to reach that number? The first step is to calculate the point total of our current commits (remember, I’m not using the point total that Scout posts on the team rankings page assuming that the unexplainable point gap ends up evening out and not making a difference in the actual ranking). That number comes out to 903 for 8 commits. Next, I started with this board’s collective dream recruiting class, but I used players I thought were realistic. Obviously I don’t think it’s realistic to land all of these guys, but that wasn’t the point. I assumed the rest of our class looked as follows:

    Kyle Murphy OT (5-star #6)
    Jordan Simmons OG (4-star #3)
    Byron Marshall RB (4-star #20)
    DJ Foster WR (4-star #18)
    Gehrig Dieter WR (3-star #99)
    Ishmael Adams CB (4-star #11)
    Jared Afalava LB (3-star #36)
    Bryce Cottrell LB (3-star #60)
    Brett Bafaro LB (3-star #63)
    DeForest Buckner DE (4-star #29)
    Faith Ekakitie DT (4-star #20)
    DL (3-star #50)
    OL (3-star #50)

    Even if this isn’t your exact dream class, I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Oregon fan who wouldn’t love to close our year out with these additions. This would put us at a total of 21 commits. Now, I think we’ll actually sign 22 or 23, but for the sake of comparison, I wanted to use the same number as last year.

    The next step was finding the point total of all our new additions. What I discovered really surprised me. The total came out to about 2000. When added to our current class point total (903), our total points for 21 commits came to 2900. This is still 300 short of last year’s total. I couldn’t believe it. I put together a great class, one that probably isn’t all that realistic, and it still fell short of last year. That said, it is firmly inside the Top 25.

    I draw a few observations from this little experiment:

    1) Last year’s class was unbelievable. For us to pull in all of those studs was great to be a part of. I can’t wait to see them all on the field in a couple years.

    2) It’s going to take a great run to close out this recruiting year if we’re going to finish in the Top 25. It’ll have to be historic if we want to get inside the Top 15 (unless my numbers are completely off and Scout uses some adjustments that are hidden from the public.)

    3) Some of us, including myself, need to temper our expectations a little bit. 3 Top 15 classes in a row sounds nice, but it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. It could, but I’m a realist, and I don’t see it. That’s fine though! We’re going to have another solid class of kids who will likely thrive under coach Kelly.

    4) A few people have mentioned it around here lately. Last season was really, really special. We all got spoiled with the taste of greatness. We’re not likely to consistently be in the NCG. Who is though? As long as we can stay in the race, I’ll be happy. Whether we can be an elite team year in and year out yet, I don’t know. It’s tough to compete with Alabama, LSU, Florida and Auburn when they’re bringing in Top 10 classes year after year. The fact that we haven’t been far off is a testament to our coaching. Obviously, anything can happen in any given year, but I’m talking about being a consistently elite team. That’s what I want. It’s going to take Top 25 classes on a yearly basis with some Top 15 classes sprinkled in.

    5) Setting the stats and model aside for a moment, I’m not so sure our ranking is that important this year (though I only say this because it’s highly unlikely we finish outside the Top 35). All I really care about is the O-Linemen. Our defense will be solid. We don’t need it to be more if we have an offense that not even SEC defenses can stop. To make that happen, we need a dominant OLine. Last year was a good start. I want that to continue this year and bring in Murphy + Simmons or another stud. It would set us up to have a front that dominates like Eugene has never seen. Throw all our skill position players and Kelly’s offense behind an elite OLine? Goodnight, drive home safely.

    6) It’d still be nice to land everyone I listed above and approach a Top 15 class.

    In conclusion, I’m really interested to see how this recruiting year closes out. I’m not sure whether to assume we’ll close like Mariano or the Red Sox. Either way, we’ll continue to support this team. If we want to be in the TOP 15 again, however, we’re gonna have to start making some big moves. I really hope we do. Part of my urgency comes from looking at our roster and my own expectations. We’re not many pieces away from putting together an unstoppable offense. Another great recruiting year would go a long ways towards keeping us at the top. It would give us enough talent on both sides of the ball to fill almost every position with absolute studs. Talented and deep, it’s an exciting thought. What’s already looking like a potentially monster 2013 class would just be icing on the cake. We’d be able to go into the year without any pressing needs. Every commit would be gravy, simply adding to the feast of blue-chip talent on the roster. That dream is definitely within reach.

    I think it’s fair to say that to compete with the elite, you need to recruit with the elite. It’d be nice to do that every single year. It might not be possible, but hey, I’m a dreamer. Here’s to another Top 15 class filled with names like Ekakitie, Foster, Murphy and Marshall. Cheers.

    *I’m thinking about making a thread entitled “Top 15 Class” which keeps everyone up to date on our progress towards that lofty goal. I could include the players listed above along with comparable players at each position who would be equally valuable towards helping this class reach that target. That way, everyone would be able to see the names we’d have to snag to make it happen. At the very least, it would give people the opportunity to rather easily predict where we’ll end up when it’s all said and done. I know some people don’t care about the rankings, but I know many find them entertaining. Let me know what you think about this or if it would be stepping on any 247 toes.

    **If you have some information regarding Scout’s ranking system that I’ve missed, don’t be afraid to share it. Not all the numbers add up, and while I still feel this is a valuable look into what lies ahead, it’d be nice to be as accurate as possible.

  • ::starts slow clap::

    Good work, great iniciative. I see you're a big believer in CFBMatrix's work, me too.

    I know he's got a lot on his plate, but maybe every now and then he could help you with a matrix update.

  • cfbmatrix

    (posted this on another thread but it has been buried)

    Since UO is not on the 247 current top 25 list, I am posting my usual stuff from my free site. I just got done with the national top 50 composite team ranks. As a Duck, I am trying to withhold emotion and concern. Yeah the Ducks start slow but went from #44 to #50 in the past month is just not much fun. UofO is in on a lot of guys, big talent guys, but a concern nonetheless.

    The PAC12 as a whole is stinking up too. USC #19 up 1, ASU #23 up 1, Stanford #25 up 3, UW #34 down 4, UCLA #42 up 1, Cal #45 up 5 and Colorado #48 (new to the top 50).

    The middle of February is a long ways away but so is the top 25 in the Matrix national RR. Link:

    UO '94
    UO '94

    tweet:!/cfbmatrix email: wensite:

  • Last year's haul was unbelievable, over 50% of the class were 4* or above. It landed so much higher than previous years even without DaT switching late (icing on the cake!).

    That being said I've noticed that when Scouts or other services do their final evaluations before signing day they usually revise the Duck recruits upwards. Which is a big kudos to the Ducks staff who know what they are doing. Take Rodrigues for instance who Oregon zeroed in on, not many had heard about him, then at the Stanford 7 on 7 he's rated highly, and bam! He's a Duck. Lyerla was a 4* and got 5* late on etc. Some of the 3* talent listed above might gain 4* later on etc.

    I don't think this is the whole story:
    “80% of games are over before they start”. There is no greater predictor of future success than recruiting rankings." There is the element of coaching involved in there that's not accounted for. Great coaches win games, bad coaches don't. I see the difference every Saturday, I wonder if there are metrics out there that can measure this.

    This post was edited by AvroDuck 3 years ago

    USC is like a german car, every piece that breaks is of the highest quality.

  • Great read. What did I learn from this read.... Chip, Frost, Pellum and cambell all better pull a couple rabbits out of their hats come signing day this year.

    Kind of funny while reading this analysis I felt like I was reading a financial performance versus annual budget. And then what are our marketing and sales strategies to achieve budget.

  • Great post!
    Also there has to be a way to quantify coaching effect. Belloti and now Chip have been able to coach up kids that were not as highly rated while other coaches have not. Not to mention what harbaugh was able to do at Stanford.

  • Avro and benias,

    This is taken into account on cfb's site. Coaching makes up part of that 80% I believe. It's one of the only ways a team like USC loses. Because Kiffin is terrible. He told me he's actually working on a piece that explains much of the success of teams like UO, VT and Ok St. is because the power recruiting teams in their respective conferences have bad head coaches. Interesting stuff.

  • Good write up ill. Let's keep the good times rolling and get a great haul

    "Release Me Cuhhhhhhhh"

  • illmatic I just want to say great stuff, thanks for taking the time. It would be great if you have the time regarding a pinned piece like LPs so we could track the progress.

    I would like to bring to attention their are a few PSAs I feel were over looked. All have us in thier top group. Rushel Shell (top three), Ken Ekanem (Top four) and D. Hamilton (top five). Throw in Alexander and Agholor which we do not have a chance at but Alexander does have us in his top five and will visit, and we have his major, and this group just might give us some surprises come the first of February.

    This post was edited by dkfnintn 3 years ago

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  • dkfnintn said... (original post)

    illmatic I just want to say great stuff, thanks for taking the time. It would be great if you have the time regarding a pinned piece like LPs so we could track the progress.

    I would like to bring to attention their are a few PSAs I feel were over looked. All have us in thier top group. Rushel Shell (top three), Ken Ekanem (Top four) and D. Hamilton (top five). Throw in Alexander and Agholor which we do not have a chance at but Alexander does have us in his top five and will visit, and we have his major, and this group just might give us some surprises come the first of February.

    Yah, Shell and/or Ekanem would be great. It's impossible to predict, but I am expecting at least one big surprise commit like that.

  • cfbmatrix

    AvroDuck said... (original post)

    I don't think this is the whole story: “80% of games are over before they start”. There is no greater predictor of future success than recruiting rankings." There is the element of coaching involved in there that's not accounted for. Great coaches win games, bad coaches don't. I see the difference every Saturday, I wonder if there are metrics out there that can measure this.

    GOOGLE: Net Coaching Game Effect Football or just click here to go to the PAC12 NGE page I can answer any questions after you read it.

    And when I say 80% of the games are over before they are played it is based only on recruiting and schedule. So far in 2011 it is 80.64%. PAC12 games are 31-5 and top 25 games are 79-9. I will post a full Ducks profile of what I have compiled on them that you will never see on the free site (too much info). I warn you though, it is the ultimate anti-homer and you may never look at games the same again. peace

    tweet:!/cfbmatrix email: wensite:

  • Seems to me Neuweasel will not be coaching after this year. Fortunately for us Kiffin will have another 3 years, before he loses his job. Also if the Beavs get rid of Riley, we should hire him as a consultantbiggrin

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  • Illmatic,

    A great post. Thank you for all the effort that went into that.
    (I only blacked out for a moment when you mentioned the Red Sox)

    Defintiely go with your "Top 15 Class" thread. That will be very interesting to watch.

    Here is a question regarding what makes certain coaches great (or not) at recruiting.
    It would appear that coaches Campbell, Neal, Pellum and Frost (expect him to leave soon) are maybe consensus picks as top recruiters for us. Others?
    So how much are they a factor personally and what works for or against them besides that?Certainly a kid is looking at what kind of exposure and coaching he will get that gives him a shot at playing on Sundays. And the scheme for his position plays a part.. For instance do some DL and OL prospects take a pass becasue they don't want to practice and play that fast (= "hard")?
    The Cal coach (memory fade) who had the players faking injuries agianst us is acknoweledged as a great recruiter-may have beat us on several lineman types. So as a recruited of lineman how does coach Azz fit into this?
    Last week he was quoted as saying something to the effect 'I don't care what the player wants, I want what is best for the University of Oregon".
    OK, but is that kind of excessive candor going to get used out contecxt against him/us?
    Anyway, I welcome your anyone's thoughts.

  • Nice job illmatic! Definately something to keep our eyes on.

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