The Recruiting Profile Of All Pelini-Coached Teams (2008-2013)

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Over the last week or so, there have been plenty of friendly conversations regarding whether or not “stars” really matter. You know, those pesky ratings right next to player recruiting bios that either make fans think they are winning the national championship the very next season or that cause mass hysteria within fan bases across the country.

Based on research I’ve done and various articles I’ve read regarding the matter (see here and here), I’m convinced that these recruiting rankings, albeit heavily subjective, actually do matter in the grand scheme of things. Yes, I know you’ll be quick to point out that one two-star that bucked the system, but guess what…there are a billion more two-stars and unranked players out there so eventually one of these guys becoming a star on the collegiate or professional level is bound to happen. Now analyzing the likelihood of 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-star players becoming all-conference and above players for you based on percentages seems the better route to go on this, but that’s neither here nor there.

I want to focus on Bo vs…himself.

Dirk Chatelain conducted a Twitter poll a few months back regarding which teams we thought were Bo’s best. For the life of me I am unable to locate that article or tweet, but if my memory serves me correct, I believe the 2010 and 2009 teams were considered to be Bo’s best. Personally, I would take that 2010 edition pre-Martinez injury over any of Bo’s squads.

That got me thinking. Why were those teams better than the other editions of Bo & Co.? Yes, Bo didn’t recruit a majority of those players on the 2009 and 2010 squads, but the common assumption is that those squads were full of “elite” talent Pelini inherited from the Callahan regime. Another assumption is that once those players left, our talent pool dwindled.

Let’s take a look at some of these assumptions by breaking down the recruiting profile of all Bo Pelini-coached teams since his debut in 2008.

I do want to note that the information presented below does not take into account transfers, dismissals, flame-outs and etc. For example, the 2011 class had 11 four-star recruits, but only three of those recruits ever started a game at Nebraska.

I also included five recruiting classes to come up with the median recruiting class averages to account for redshirt seniors.

2008 9-4 (AP: NR/Coaches: NR)

Median Recruiting Class Average* (2004-2008):  23.6

Highest Ranked Class: 2005 – 7.33

Total Number of 4+ Stars**: 34

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2004 – 26 (2)
  • 2005 – 7.33 (13)
  • 2006 – 23.6 (6)
  • 2007 – 16.29 (10)
  • 2008 – 24.33 (3)
*Used Hail Varsity’s class averages for all proceeding findings unless otherwise specified.
**Used Rival.com’s star rankings due to 24/7 Sports’ composite rankings being incomplete for the time period being reviewed in this article.

2009 10-4 (AP: #14/Coaches #14)

Median Recruiting Class (2005-2009):  23.6

Highest Ranked Class : 2005 – 7.33

Total Number of 4+ Stars: 37

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2005 – 7.33 (13)
  • 2006 – 23.6 (6)
  • 2007 – 16.29 (10)
  • 2008 – 24.33 (3)
  • 2009 – 27.00 (5)

2010 10-4 (AP: #20 /Coaches: #19)

Median Recruiting Class (2006-2010):  24.33

Highest Ranked Class : 2007 – 16.29

Total Number of 4+ Stars: 32

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2006 – 23.6 (6)
  • 2007 – 16.29 (10)
  • 2008 – 24.33 (3)
  • 2009 – 27.00 (5)
  • 2010 – 24.33 (8) 

2011 9-4 (AP: #24/Coaches #24)

Median Recruiting Class (2008-2011):  24.33

Highest Ranked Class: 2011 – 15.83

Total Number of 4+ Stars: 37

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2007 – 16.29 (10)
  • 2008 – 24.33 (3)
  • 2009 – 27.00 (5)
  • 2010 – 24.33 (8)
  • 2011 – 15.83 (11) 

2012 10-4 (AP: #25/Coaches: #23)

Median Recruiting Class (2008-2012):  24.33

Highest Ranked Class: 2011 – 15.83

Total Number of 4+ Stars: 33

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2008 – 24.33 (3)
  • 2009 – 27.00 (5)
  • 2010 – 24.33 (8)
  • 2011 – 15.83 (11)
  • 2012 –  35.00 (6) 

2013 9-4 (AP: NR/Coaches: #25)

Median Recruiting Class (2010-2013):  24.33

Highest Ranked Class: 2011 – 15.83

Total Number of 4+ Stars: 35

Class ranking breakdown (# of 4+ stars):

  • 2009 –  27.00 (5)
  • 2010 – 24.33 (8)
  • 2011 – 15.83 (11)
  • 2012 – 35.00 (6)
  • 2013  – 22.00* (5)

*Used 24/7 Sports composite score

To me, this information shows that our consistency in the type of classes we’re pulling in is netting the nearly on the field same results every year. It is interesting to note that even though the median recruiting class averages each season has gone down ever so slightly, the final poll rankings trend reflects this slight downtrend in talent as well.

So what type of recommendations or solutions can we come up with this information?

Do we simply dismiss this data since Bo is simply “recruiting to his system”?

What if Bo himself doesn’t even know what his system and/or approach is?

If we started recruiting classes with more potential talent to begin with, would that lead to breaking the 4-loss a season streak?

Does that definition of insanity saying hold true here?

Are these type of classes the rule when it comes to recruiting at Nebraska? If so, should we bringing in coaches that can develop this type of talent into a top 5 or top 10 team?

What are your thoughts on the information presented? Let us know in the comments section.

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I'm the founder of NoCoastBias.com and when I'm not too busy "founding" things I follow College Football and the NBA religiously. I'll also chime in about the NFL, College Basketball, the WWE and pop culture from time to time.Feel free to shoot me a line at Derek (at) NoCoastBias (dot) com if these 58 words don't suffice.

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