Utah has a significant
Recruiting is a complex landscape, and each recruit is different. Reasons for picking one school over another can range from practical concerns like education, family, and professional prospects all the way to cultural priorities like attractive co-eds, active night life, and killer uniforms. Nonetheless, the intense scrutiny of the recruiting process generates a tremendous amount of data, and that data can be analyzed.
There are a lot of places in the college football landscape like Utah; states with power conference schools that don’t have ‘blue-chip’ recruiting
Evaluating The Recruiting Landscape
Rivals issues a point score
Another useful application of this stat is as a way to look at over time recruiting trends. Since there's such a huge variance in recruiting scores and available prospects from year to year, and rankings are highly volatile, RTR+ allows a more reflective look at how the school has done. Utah has had a definite upward trend in recent years, although the biggest uptick came after the Sugar Bowl, not after joining the PAC 12.
Defining 'Blue-Chip' Schools
I’m defining ‘blue-chip’ as any school whose average RTR+ since 2002 is more than one standard deviation above the mean. The upshot of that analysis is that the school’s average RTR+ has to be 141 or higher to get on to the list of ‘blue-chip’ schools. The membership in this list passes the eyeball test quite well.
Taking out recruits from states where these 14 schools are located, there are 29 states which produce Rivals100 talent, a total of 455 recruits since 2002. 41.8% of them have gone to blue-chip schools, 38.46% have stayed in
There is a relationship between the "wander rate" (percentage of prospects going to out of state schools that are not elite) and the "retention rate" (percentage of prospects going to an
Utah has struggled to keep top recruits from wandering off, with 44.44% heading to schools like Colorado, Oregon, and UCLA. These are legitimate power schools, but they do not have such a good reputation that they are impossible to compete against. If the Utes want to improve
2017 provides a good example. The three top
High school recruits are very young men, and it’s easy for a young man to get caught up in the glamour of accumulating prestige offers, Twitter followers, and the intense partying that is a major part of many elite program’s recruiting pitch. If a recruit has the makeup to value those considerations over more practical ones like playing time, pro prospects, or family support, it’s more or less an impossible task to bring the player to a school like Utah. The coaching staff should extend an offer and make their pitch, but they should use their time on players with a different makeup, whose concerns are more practical.
The schools at the top of the retention rate statistics (and the bottom of the wander rate statistics) have traits in common that make them appealing to top end recruits. In most respects, these schools are a lot like Utah. They’ve been around for a long time and are well-respected academic institutions with close ties to their state and a passionate, committed fan base. Unlike Utah, they’ve either been major players in college football for decades, or have recently turned into frequent national championship contenders
Two Things the Utes Must Do
There are two kinds of elite recruits: the prestige-driven recruit who is looking to gather as many high-end offers as he can and pick between elite recruiting schools, and the development-driven recruit who doesn’t care as much about branding and recognition but instead focuses on issues like community ties, playing time, and NFL training. Utah would be wise to differentiate these two types early in their assessment process and focus on development-driven recruits, who will be more receptive to Utah’s arguments about what’s
The other thing Utah needs to do to improve elite
It doesn’t take much. UCLA, Oregon, and Stanford have dramatically improved recruiting in the last few years. Over the next ten, they will be seeking big seasons to solidify spots in the elite echelon and become destination schools for prestige-driven recruits. To achieve high
*I used a Kendall Tau-B Correlation Coefficient, which measures the relationship between different rankings. In this case, there was a modest inverse relationship between the ranks in retention rate and wander rate, but no relationship between the ranks in retention rate and elite rate. It's a smallish sample, but I'm confident that this was a good tool to measure correlation.