It’s been weeks since the college football recruiting rankings were released and still, there remains a huge discrepancy: The Ohio State Buckeyes have the number one-ranked recruiting class on Scout.com, the number two-ranked recruiting class on CBS, the number three-ranked class from Sports Illustrated and the ninth-ranked pledge class from ESPN. I could see a little fluctuation and would even be willing to drop the Buckeyes to fifth in the ESPN rankings. But ninth place? One spot above Michigan? Really?
I hate to be Jonathan McConspiracyTheory, but I will say that it’s interesting that, on ESPN’s list, four of the top six spots are held by SEC teams; the other three lists only have the SEC with two of those top six slots. I say interesting because, as you know, ESPN is under contract with the SEC, and therefore would have a vested interest in promoting the fact that SEC teams were dominating the recruiting process. I’m not saying that’s what happened—I’m just saying that it’s interesting, that’s all.
It’s a shame that this cannot be more of a collaborative effort, a la March Madness bracketology. Even more upsetting is that no one is talking about it. Recruiting experts (apparently) don’t want to rip on competitors and, apparently, feel that they strengthen their position by ignoring everyone else’s. I’d love to see some kind of debate about how these types of rankings are determined and why they might differ. If nothing else, it would be a chance to showcase which formula works best and give each sportscaster the chance to defend their choice.
The whole thing reminded me of this fascinating piece in the New York Times, which talks about how the different online dating sites (Match.com, Eharmony, etc.) use different formulae to arrive at matches for people. In other words, each has a different equation that is supposed to discover true love, and each is convinced that they are right. These football rankings might not have the same impact as missing out on finding your soulmate (at least, I hope not!), but at the same time it has already affected discussions of pre-season rankings (more on that another time) and the strength of the conferences. And, after the shellacking of the Big Ten in bowl games (and Ohio State dropping another high-profile game, albeit this time a nail-biter), we can use all the help we can get.