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Recruiting for the 2016 College Football Playoff

How did we get here? Many followed a tried and true formula, but there’s one black sheep that walks among them.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Colorado vs Washington Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As any coach (certainly the four participating in the College Football Playoff) will tell you, “Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college football program.”

To maintain a modicum of success in this or any era of college athletics, you must recruit heavily and you must do it with ever-shrinking windows of time to converse with the athletes.

This can be a problem for the more financially-strapped programs in the FBS because they have only so many resources at their disposal to recruit at a high level. There’s a reason the Southern Cals and Texases of the world destroy on the recruiting trail: $$$.

With a defined history of winning on their side, these programs almost have a built-in tool for continued success. Then, it is up to the managers of these programs to utilize the resources properly and, of course, develop them into a cohesive football team.

It’s those last two caveats that tend to create job openings regularly at such esteemed programs. For instance, Brian Kelly is most likely on the 2017 hot seat for a lackluster 2016 season.

Since appearing in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, Kelly’s Notre Dame squads have regressed, going 9-4, 8-5, 10-3 and 4-8. What’s more, the 9-4 2013 season, along with its 12-1 predecessor, have recently been vacated by the NCAA due to academic misconduct.

Even without the vacated victories, 31-20 over four seasons is the type of record that gets you fired at a school like Notre Dame. In four of his five seasons in South Bend, Charlie Weis went 26-24. You see the problem.

Kelly has attained Top 20 classes over this timespan and yet a “lack of institutional control” and a lack of development has led to mediocrity where there should be anything but.

Remember that defined history of winning?

Les Miles had carte blanche on any player he wanted in the state of Louisiana, yet it was the manner in which he utilized these players at LSU, especially on the offensive side of the ball, that cost him his job.

It is only the best coaches who cannot only recruit the best players to fit their system, but develop them into true athletes at the collegiate level.


“The Blue Chip Ratio”

Bud Elliott is the resident college football recruiting expert for SB Nation and he is a proponent of premium talent leading to premium success. It’s not an exact science, of course, but his idea of blue chip recruits leading to big wins for their respective programs holds water considering the last ten national champions.

2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015 belong to Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. Over the last eight recruiting cycles dating back to 2009, his team finished in the Top 5 in recruiting all eight times and has won the recruiting title six years running.

2006, 2008 and 2014 belong to two different Urban Meyer-coached teams, Florida and Ohio State. From 2006-2010 (Florida) and 2012-2016 (Ohio State), each of these recruiting classes finished in the Top 10, two going number one.

His 2017 class has the potential to be his best yet.

LSU (2007), Auburn (2010) and Florida State (2013) round out the other three champions during this time and you will find a distinct reason for each team’s success: recruiting.

Elliott calls it “The Blue Chip Ratio”.

It’s a fairly simple but battle-tested formula measuring a team’s four-and-five-star recruits versus their two-and-three-star ones. Essentially, the aforementioned teams, the ones who find themselves on the positive end of the ratio, tend to have the most sustained success.

This, also, ties in to the “defined history of winning” theory. Look at the number of programs who are recruiting well and winning, currently. They each have varying levels of success that date back at least 30 years.

Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma. With names like Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Bobby Bowden, Bo Schembechler and Barry Switzer to throw around, it’s easy for a recruit to at least consider that program as a viable option for them.

Even USC, who has found itself on the mediocre side of the spectrum the last six years despite strong recruiting, is finding its way back to the pack with an impressive 8 straight wins under Clay Helton in 2016.

The less heralded programs historically, even in the Power 5, tend to be behind the eight ball for top-shelf high school talent. This is why it’s difficult for these teams to share the same type of success. It’s a reason the shine is off the apple for Oregon.

And that’s Elliott’s point. You have to be a pretty special coach to sustain success at a program without Top 10 recruiting classes year in and year out. Which leads us to our current slate of teams in the 2016 College Football Playoffs.


The Final Four

This year’s Top 4 seems to bare out the “The Blue Chip Ratio”. Mostly.

As Elliott writes about here, there seems to be one major outlier not necessarily heeding to his theory. That team is Washington and if you look at the percentage of all four in relation to their recruiting, the Huskies are WAY below the other three.

Here is how the “Blue Chip Ratio” shakes out on each team’s roster. Remember it’s the number of four-and-five-star recruits versus two-and-three-star recruits.

  1. Alabama-77%
  2. Clemson-52%
  3. Ohio State-70%
  4. Washington-26%

Below, we’re going to take a look at each team’s starting rosters based on the most up-to-date depth charts. This includes the specialists, as well. We will, also, take into account situational players who may not be listed as starters, but contribute to their unit’s success. Nickel and dime DBs, pass rush specialists, second-team running backs will all be included.

We will analyze where each player fell in the 247 Composite and discuss the hows and whys of their contribution to their team’s overall philosophy.

The hope, here, is to better understand the reasons why the “Blue Chip Ratio” continues to be a good measuring stick for winning at a high level and how a team like Washington rises above it.


Alabama

Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide continue to defy what we think is a reasonable amount of time for a college football team to have success.

His teams continue to win. Kirk Herbstreit made mention after Alabama’s victory over Clemson in last season’s National Championship game that the Tide “dynasty” is not necessarily predicated upon winning national championships, but a sustained level of success that keeps them in contention for titles.

As mentioned above, Nick Saban flat out wins on the recruiting trail. Since his first full recruiting class at Alabama in 2008, the Tide have finished in the Top 5 every year and have taken the number one spot six straight times. This is an absurd statistic and if ever there was a poster child for “The Blue Chip Ratio”, it’s Alabama.

Since 2008, the Crimson Tide have been number one in the AP Poll every year at least once. After their win against UT-Chattanooga this year, Nick Saban moved ahead of Woody Hayes and Bobby Bowden as the coach with the most #1 AP Poll appearances at a single school with 41. With wins over Auburn and Florida following, he’s currently at 43.

He’s won 5 SEC Championships and 4 National Titles at Alabama and he’s done it on the back of second-to-none recruiting. This is why they pay him the big bucks.

Here is a breakdown of Alabama’s offensive and defensive rosters and the 247 Composite star-rating of each starter coming out of high school.

Offense

QB-Jalen Hurts, Fr. (4-star)

LT-Cam Robinson, Jr. (5-star)

LG-Ross Pierschbacher, RS So. (4-star)

C-Bradley Bozeman, RS Jr. (3-star)

RG-Korren Kirven, RS Sr. (4-star)

RT-Jonah Williams, Fr. (5-star)

WR-X-Calvin Ridley, So. (5-star)

WR-Y-ArDarius Stewart, RS Jr. (4-star)

WR-Z-Gehrig Dieter (grad transfer/former walk on)

TE-O.J. Howard, Sr. (5-star)

RB-Damien Harris, So. (5-star)

Defense

DE-Jonathan Allen, Sr. (5-star)

DT-Da’Ron Payne, So. (5-star)

DE-Dalvin Tomlinson, RS Sr. (4-star)

“Sam” LB-Ryan Anderson, RS Sr. (4-star)

“Mike” LB-Rashaan Evans, Jr. (5-star)

“Will” LB-Reuben Foster, Sr. (5-star)

“Jack” LB-Tim Williams, Sr. (4-star)

CB-Marlon Humphrey, RS So. (5-star)

CB-Anthony Averett, RS Jr. (4-star)

FS-Minkah Fitzpatrick, So. (5-star)

SS-Ronnie Harrison, So. (4-star)

Specialists

P-JK Scott, Jr. (3-star)

PK-Adam Griffith, RS Sr. (3-star)

PR-Trevon Diggs, Fr. (4-star)

KR-ArDarius Stewart, RS Jr. (4-star)

Additional Contributors

DB-Tony Brown, Jr. (5-star)

DB-Hootie Jones, Jr. (4-star)

DE-Da’Shawn Hand, Jr. (5-star)

RB-Bo Scarbrough, So. (5-star)

RB-Josh Jacobs, Fr. (3-star)

Analysis

As you can see, nary is there a two-to-three recruit on this roster. On the offense you have a 9:2 “Blue Chip Ratio” and on defense, an 11:0, for a total ratio between the two of 20:2.

Even on special teams, JK Scott and Adam Griffith were given the highest star-rating a punter/kicker can get in recruiting.

What’s scary is the depth behind these guys and the players who were heralded just as much if not more than the ones in front of them.

Take Rashaan Evans, for instance. A former 5-star recruit out of Auburn, Alabama, he was a reserve this season at middle linebacker behind a former 4-star in Shaun Dion Hamilton from the same recruiting class. Hamilton’s ACL injury against Florida, though, propelled Evans into the starting lineup.

Now, he’s manning the middle of the ‘Bama defense with fellow Auburn HS alum and former five-star, Reuben Foster.

As it stands, right now, 11 former five-star recruits (the cream of the recruiting crop) are in the starting lineup, with an additional three who have played significant time throughout the 2016 season.

That means there are 14 former five-star recruits on the field at any give time, far exceeding any other team in this year’s College Football Playoff. There is a reason the Crimson Tide are number one right now and are heavy favorites to repeat as national champs.

Overall, the above players yielded an average star rating of 4.2. Giving them the rare blue-chip status across their starting roster.

The fact of the matter is, Nick Saban gets the players he wants to fit his very particular philosophy and scheme, but he develops them into the type of players their star ratings promised.

Interestingly enough, some recruits are evaluated differently by the scouting sites after Saban has taken an interest in them. It’s been referred to as “The Saban Bump,” and several high school players have benefitted from it, Amari Cooper being the most notable.

In the end, this is Alabama’s third straight Playoff appearance and the Playoff has been around for three years. The numbers speak for themselves. We may never see this level of domination in such a short span of time again.

While many lament this era, getting to see history as it happens is what makes any sport enjoyable. Even if the Tide fail to repeat this year, the dynasty continues as long as Nick Saban is present. And just as a point of reference, his team currently sits atop the 2017 recruiting standings, as well.


Clemson

Ivan Maisel wrote a very interesting article about Dabo Swinney being his generation’s version of Bobby Bowden. There’s something to that sentiment, too.

Since taking over the program from Tommy Bowden halfway through the 2008 season, Swinney has slowly but steadily built the Tigers into a perennial contender, one that far exceeds even the Danny Ford era, which was the one and only time Clemson took home the title.

Certainly, history is not as much on the side of the Tigers as it is Alabama (Swinney’s alma mater), but the impressive thing about it all is that Swinney is the one building the history.

He is 87-28 in his eight-and-a-half years as a head coach, with three ACC championships and a national championship game appearance. This is Clemson’s second straight playoff berth under Swinney and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down.

Like Bobby Bowden, he had to make something from virtually nothing and build a base that could provide the foundation for a program with a ton of promise.

Once again, we can attribute this to very strong recruiting, especially over the last five years. Below, are the primary contributors to the current Clemson juggernaut.

Offense

QB-Deshaun Watson, Jr. (4-star)

LT-Mitch Hyatt, So. (5-star)

LG-Taylor Hearn, RS So. (3-star)

C-Jay Guillermo, RS Sr. (3-star)

RG-Tyrone Crowder, RS Jr. (4-star)

RT-Jake Fruhmorgen, So. (4-star)

WR-X-Mike Williams, RS Jr. (4-star)

WR-Y-Hunter Renfrow, RS So. (no star rating)

WR-Z-Artavis Scott, Jr. (4-star)

TE-Jordan Leggett, Sr. (3-star)

RB-Wayne Gallman, RS Jr. (4-star)

Defense

DE-Christian Wilkins, So. (5-star)

DT-Carlos Watkins, RS Sr. (4-star)

DE-Dexter Lawrence, Fr. (5-star)

DT-Clelin Ferrell, RS Fr. (4-star)

“Sam” LB-Dorian O’Daniel, RS Jr. (4-star)

“Mike” LB-Kendall Joseph, RS So. (3-star)

“Will” LB-Ben Boulware, Sr. (4-star)

CB-Ryan Carter, RS Jr. (2-star)

CB-Cordrea Tankersly, Sr. (3-star)

FS-Van Smith, So. (4-star)

SS-Jadar Johnson, Sr. (3-star)

Specialists

P-Andy Teasdall, Grad. (no star rating)

PK-Greg Huegel, RS So. (no star rating)

PR-Ray-Ray McCloud, So. (4-star)

KR-Artavis Scott, Jr. (4-star)

Additional Contributors

DT-Albert Huggins, So. (4-star)

LB-Jalen Williams, So. (3-star)

CB-Mark Fields, So. (4-star)

CB-Marcus Edmond, Jr. (3-star)

WR-Ray-Ray McCloud, So. (4-star)

Analysis

Here, the “Blue Chip Ratio” is pretty solid. It runs 7:4, both offensively and defensively, for a 14:8 overall ratio. Their average star rating is 3.3 across the aforementioned roster, which is quite good considering Clemson is new to the scene of the Recruiting Svengalis.

While it doesn’t look as impressive as Alabama’s, you have to take into account that a guy like Hunter Renfrow, despite walking on in 2014, has been one of the steadiest receivers for Clemson, including two touchdowns in last year’s title game.

More importantly, every skill position on Clemson’s offense is filled by a blue-chip recruit, including its generational quarterback, who has surpassed Colt McCoy as the greatest two-time Heisman Trophy runner up.

Defensively, Swinney has stockpiled über-large, über-talented linemen who set the tone for the rest of the squad. The back seven carried with them less acclaim coming out of high school, but since Brent Venables has taken over as defensive coordinator, the maximum amount is gotten out of each individual.

Clemson is a very good example of how creating a coalition between your blue chips and your two-and-three-star players can actually work. They’re not the rule, they are the exception and that is only because they continue to win at such a high level.

Most teams don’t have such a motley crew of players across the talent spectrum coming out of high school, but serious kudos must be given to Swinney’s management style that he can make it work as well as he does.

The most impressive aspect of Swinney’s tenure at Clemson is that he’s created a culture where blue-chip acquisition is expected at a place where blue-chip acquisition wasn’t really a thing. Yes, Tommy Bowden did secure and coach some very impressive players while head coach. A lot of those classes, though, were aided by the virtue of Swinney’s position as Recruiting Coordinator during this period.

If you look at the eight classes before Swinney became head coach and the eight classes since his first full cycle in 2009, you can see a major difference. The average ranking from 2001-2008 is 24. The average ranking from 2009-2016 is 17.

No, he’s not pulling in number one classes or even Top Ten classes every year, but if you analyze the number of blue chips in each class, you will notice an improvement each successive class. When he was getting only 3-5 blue chips his first two recruiting classes, he’s now pulling 10-13. At Clemson.

So, you may ask, “Is this a ‘the chicken or the egg’ situation?” Did Swinney’s righting of the ship those first three-and-half seasons set up the recruiting or was it the other way around?

To be honest, it may be a little of both. What cannot be denied is that Swinney’s gift of gab on the recruiting trail has led to some pretty stellar results as the last two seasons have shown. Now, he’s going to be able to walk in to any player’s house and at least make his case for why they should play for him.

With or without a national title, what Swinney has done at Clemson may not be surpassed by his successors. And even if one does, their success will be partially because of what their predecessor did in the years prior.


Ohio State

Like Alabama, Ohio State is aided by history. No matter the coach, they will always be able to say to a recruit and his family, “The Ohio State University” and have it carry the same weight. Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, John Cooper, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer. Each of these guys put major talent on the field and it was at least partially due to the Buckeye brand.

Now, for Urban Meyer to be your university’s ambassador and that university to be The Ohio State? That just seems unfair, doesn’t it?

Yet, here they both are. In concert with one another and damned if it hasn’t produced some serious results. Since taking over for Jim Tressel/Luke Fickell in 2012, Meyer has amassed an astounding 61-5 record to this point, with a Big Ten and National Championship to boot.

And with a game-changing 2017 recruiting class not quite wrapped up, it doesn’t appear this train will be stopping any time soon.

It seems to be the debate in this era of college football: Saban or Meyer, Meyer or Saban? From a year-to-year basis, it changes. After 2014, it was Meyer. After last season, it was Saban. If either one wins it all this year, they’ll be the best coach in college football.

It doesn’t really matter, because both are head and shoulders above the rest, and unlike Saban, Meyer has reached the mountain top at a younger age. At 52, he seems to be hitting his stride when his stride seemed to be hit in his final years at Florida.

As per usual, he has created a championship-caliber team with blue-chip recruits and the scary thing is, the following roster is full of some pretty young ones at that.

Offense

QB-JT Barrett, RS Jr. (4-star)

LT-Jamarco Jones, Jr. (4-star)

LG-Michael Jordan, RS Fr. (4-star)

C-Pat Elflein, RS Sr. (3-star)

RG-Billy Price, RS Jr. (4-star)

RT-Isaiah Prince, So. (4-star)

WR-X-Noah Brown, RS So. (4-star)

WR-Y-KJ Hill, RS Fr. (4-star)

WR-Z/HB-Curtis Samuel, Jr. (4-star)

TE-Marcus Baugh, RS Jr. (4-star)

RB-Mike Weber, RS Fr. (4-star)

Defense

DE-Sam Hubbard, RS So. (4-star)

DT-Dre’Mont Jones, RS Fr. (4-star)

DT-Michael Hill, RS Jr. (4-star)

DE-Tyquan Lewis, RS Jr. (4-star)

“Sam” LB-Jerome Baker, So. (4-star)

“Mike” LB-Raekwon McMillan, Jr. (5-star)

“Will” LB-Chris Worley, RS Jr. (3-star)

CB-Gareon Conley, Jr. (4-star)

CB-Marshon Lattimore, RS So. (4-star)

FS-Malik Hooker, RS So. (3-star)

SS-Damon Webb, Jr. (4-star)

Specialists

P-Cameron Johnston, Grad. (no star rating)

K-Tyler Durbin, Sr. (no star rating)

PR-Curtis Samuel, Jr. (4-star)

KR-Parris Campbell, RS So. (4-star)

Additional Contributors

DE-Nick Bosa, Fr. (5-star)

DE-Jalyn Holmes, Jr. (4-star)

DT-Robert Landers, RS Fr. (3-star)

CB-Denzel Ward, So. (4-star)

WR-Dontre Wilson, Sr. (4-star)

Analysis

Just shy of Alabama’s 20:2 across the offense and defense, Meyer’s squad holds a 19:3 “Blue Chip Ratio,” 10:1 on the offense and 9:2 on the defense. Their average star rating is 3.6.

If any team from a pure talent standpoint stands up to the Crimson Tide, it’s the Buckeyes. If you remember, Alabama’s entire roster holds a 77% “Blue Chip Ratio”. Ohio State’s is not far behind with 70%. These two are pretty much the same in the way of talent. And this is why they were able to beat the Tide just two years ago. And if you remember, that team was pretty young, too.

What is most impressive about this starting roster is how evenly distributed the talent is across the board. Offensively, you have 10 former four-star recruits and one three-star. Oh, and by the way, that one three-star just happens to be the Rimington Award winner as the best center in college football.

No, the Buckeyes don’t have nearly as many former five-star recruits on their team as Alabama does, but just look at the dispersion of four-stars. It’s almost robotic in the way Meyer has laid out the roster.

Meyer isn’t getting the five-stars he got at Florida. While Ohio is a talent-rich state, it doesn’t have the volume of athletes Florida, California and Texas have. Still, Meyer has plucked every major player from the state of Ohio and he’s still able to use his skills to go back into Florida and get guys like Joey and Nick Bosa.

It’s also a testament to Meyer’s reputation as a developer of talent that he can come back from his self-imposed hiatus and still successfully recruit blue chips.

Meyer is not a definitive “Xs and Os” head coach. He’s certainly helped shift the offensive philosophy in college football at least twice with the help of really good offensive minds. But like every good CEO, he manages every aspect of his team with pinpoint precision.

And what he is arguably done better than Nick Saban is getting the two-and-three-star players to reach their max potential. Malik Hooker and Pat Elflein are perfect examples of that this year. Darron Lee, too, was a three-star recruit, yet managed to be one of the Buckeyes’ biggest playmakers in 2014 and 2015. He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Still, Meyer’s M.O. is to stock his shelves with as much talent as he possibly can and then allow his youthful coaching staff to hammer his singular philosophy of “9 Strong” into them. Do not be fooled, though. These guys have a talent advantage over almost every team in the country.


Washington

Ah, yes. The outlier. The black sheep. The fly in the ointment of the “Blue Chip Ratio” and its success rate.

If there was any one coach to prove any theory wrong about how college football should go, it’s Huskies’ coach Chris Petersen.

For years, he has flown in the face of convention and managed to pull off some pretty major upsets in the process. In still one of the greatest bowl games, if not the greatest finish to ANY game, his Little Engine That Could Boise State Broncos defeated Oklahoma in overtime of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

The final seconds/overtime alone yielded a hook and ladder, halfback pass and a Statue of Liberty to seal the victory and officially put Boise State on the map. Nick Saban has said that he’s watched those plays over and over again. As if he could 100% stop them if Petersen decided to run them.

Petersen has proven, possibly more than any other coach save for Bill Snyder, that he can do more with less. His program philosophy seems to deal with the execution of fundamentals more than a complex scheme. He wants his players to perform soundly and the rest will take care of itself.

As a recruiter at Washington he cannot fairly be judged as he’s only finishing up his third full recruiting class. Former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was able to turn around a pretty dark period in the school’s history, but Petersen is the one who’s making it pop.

Offense

QB-Jake Browning, RS So. (4-star)

LT-Trey Adams, So. (4-star)

LG-Jake Eldrenkamp, RS Sr. (3-star)

C-Coleman Shelton, Sr. (2-star)

RG-Shane Brostek, Sr. (no star rating)

RT-Kaleb McGary, Jr. (4-star)

WR-X-John Ross, Jr. (3-star)

WR-Y-Chico McClatcher, So. (3-star)

WR-Z-Dante Pettis, Jr. (3-star)

TE-Darrell Daniels, Sr. (4-star)

RB-Myles Gaskin, RS So. (3-star)

Defense

DE-Vita Vea, RS So. (3-star)

DT-Greg Gaines, Jr. (3-star)

DT-Elijah Qualls, Sr. (4-star)

DE-Connor O’Brien, Sr. (3-star)

“Sam” LB-DJ Beavers, So. (3-star)

“Mike” LB-Keishawn Bierria, Sr. (3-star)

“Will” LB-Psalm Wooching, RS Sr. (3-star)

CB-Sidney Jones, Jr. (3-star)

CB-Kevin King, Sr. (3-star)

FS-Budda Baker, Jr. (4-star)

SS-JoJo McIntosh, Jr. (3-star)

Specialists

P-Tristan Vizcaino, Jr. (3-star)

PK-Cameron Van Winkle, Sr. (3-star)

PR-Dante Pettis, Jr. (3-star)

KR-John Ross, Jr. (3-star)

Additional Contributors

DB-Taylor Rapp, Fr. (3-star)

DB-Ezekiel Turner, Jr. (3-star)

LB-Ben Burr-Kirven, So. (3-star)

LB-Tevis Bartlett, So. (3-star)

RB-Lavon Coleman, Jr. (3-star)

Analysis

As you can see, this team has a negative “Blue Chip Ratio” top to bottom. Their offense has a reasonable 5:6, while their defense has a 2:9, making a grand total of 7:15. Their average star rating, though, is not far off from Clemson’s at 3.1.

So, why does Washington rank in the Top 25 in nearly every major statistical category, both on offense and defense?

The Huskies have appeared to take the best of the “leftovers,” for lack of a better word, and turn them into a high-performing team. Washington is truly a fundamentally-sound football squad. They seldom make mistakes and are able to cause and capitalize upon their opponents’.

A guy like Taylor Rapp, who is a true freshman, can crack the two-deep of an experienced defensive back unit that contains Budda Baker, and make an immediate impact. In fact, Rapp leads the defense with four interceptions. This is a culture that Petersen is creating.

Whatever formula he’s using, it is not easily imitated or duplicated. Most coaches in Petersen’s position have one or two great seasons, surrounded by mediocrity, but Petersen continues to churn out really good teams.

Some will say that this is his only good season at Washington, but the addendum of that sentiment is “so far.” Based on history and what his teams have done, especially when they have ample time to prepare, Washington will continue to challenge for Pac-12 championships at the very least.

So, if “The Blue Chip Ratio” doesn’t seem to fit with Washington’s success this season (Elliott does point out that their only loss is to much more talented team), what makes them a national title contender?

Something I’d like to call the “Seniority Ratio,” which measures the amount of upper classmen-to-lower classmen in a team’s starting lineup. What the Huskies have over every other team in the Playoff is the “Seniority Ratio.”

If we just analyzed the offensive and defensive lineups and looked at the guys who have been in their programs for at least three years (yes, I’m counting redshirt sophomores in this), then Washington leads the way with a 19:3 ratio.

Ohio State and Clemson have a 16:6 ratio, while Alabama has a 15:7. Be on the lookout for this down the stretch. If there’s one thing Washington has going for it in its match up against the Tide is its team’s overall in-game experience. And when fundamentally-sound teams like Washington, also, have an edge in maturity, that’s when upsets occur.

Recruiting is huge and maybe Petersen’s team takes a step back next year with the loss of some of its leaders, but all he’s going to do is load back up on guys who can play the game he wants them to play and be back in this same position in another two years.


We’ve Come to the End...Finally

The Playoff is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. We may not have any more answers than we did coming in to this.

What we do know, however, is that so far there have been 12 total spots filled for the College Football Playoff and 9 of them have been filled by Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Florida State and Oklahoma. Three have been filled by Oregon (at the very tail end of its reign), Michigan State and Washington.

Out of the eight teams who have played in the CFP, five continue to win because they continue to recruit well. Three made it because they had very good seasons. But Oregon went 9-4 the year after and went 4-8 this year. Michigan State went 3-9. Time will soon tell what becomes of Washington.

My guess is, though, you’ll begin to see USC and Texas creep into the Playoff discussion soon enough.

And we all know how teams of their ilk recruit.