Even sagacious saurians need a break now and again, as the time between this post and the last indicates. So, what shall we address in this time of sport's doldrums between the end of the football season and the beginning of March Madness?
Well, let’s statistically dissect those recruiting classes.
Conventional wisdom among college football observers holds that certain states are “rich” in football talent, and thus fertile recruiting grounds. Commonly California, Texas and Florida are cited among those states with plentiful football talent. However, how much of this is merely a function of the large population of those states, and how much reflects the true depth of football talent in any individual state?
To determine which states are really founts of college football talent (at least in 2007), we first consulted the Scout.com “Scout 300”, or the 300 top college football prospects in 2007 per Scout.
Statistically 300 provides a pretty good sample size for our analysis. What we are tying to determine is which states have an outsized number of participants in the Scout 300 in relation to the overall population of the states, and well as which states are weakly represented in the overall football talent pool.
For example California has a total share of the US population of 11.95%. Thus in a sample of 300 players, one would expect California to have 35.85 (11.95% of 300) representative players.
And California does have almost exactly that in the Scout 300, with 36 of the 300 players coming from the Golden State. Thus, California is evenly represented when it comes to football talent, being neither over represented in high school talent, nor under represented.
The following shows the states that are over represented by football talent to state population, with percentage of US population, expected number of top 300 recruits, actual number of top 300 recruits, and percentage of over representation –
To determine the percentage of over representation, we took the expected number of top 300 recruits compared to the actual number of top 300 recruits. In the example of Alabama, one would expect a state representing 1.51% of the US population to have 4.53 players in the top 300. Alabama actually had 11 in 2007, or 142.8% more than expected.
Some of the states on this list could be merely a function of sample size, such as Nebraska having 2 recruits over an expected 1.74. However the numbers for states like Georgia, Florida, and Texas are very impressive. Texas, the 2nd most populous state with 44 of the top 300 players, had more total recruits than the bottom 31 states combined.
Several states and/or provinces had no top 300 recruits, and for the most part they had populations so low that this was not outside the realm of normal probability (ranked by expected recruits).
The only state that really stands out here is Massachusetts, who would be expected per population to have about 6 recruits. Compare Washington with a nearly identical population to Massachusetts, yet 8 recruits, or even Georgia with a slightly larger population and 21 recruits.
This perhaps explains the empty seats at Boston College games.
Finally we have the underachievers.
The top 7 teams on this list are mostly a function of having less than one less recruit than expected, and not a accurate indication of lack of talent.
New York is the most startling aberration, a state that is 3rd in US population with only 2 of an expected 19 total recruits.
This perhaps explains Syracuse.
Finally, look again at the list of names that have more than their share of expected recruits, those that have about their share, and those that have none or far fewer than expected. In this political year, what “color” states do, for the most part, those look like?
Next: How the schools did in their own back yards