Pre-Season · Recruiting

Who Will Win The SEC In 2016 Based on Blue Chip Recruits?

Stars win trophies. The data shows, over and over, that bringing in elite talent is the most reliable indicator of future success.  So who is going to win the SEC based solely on the number of 4 and 5 star recruits SEC teams brought in? I tried to figure it out.

So here’s what I did: I went to the 247 Composite Rankings, and I counted the number of 4 and 5 star recruits the eight major programs in the SEC brought in every year from 2007-2016 (TAMU and Mizz not included). Then I calculated the 4 year averages for those teams every year, starting with 2010.*

What’d I find?


In the West, the results were unsurprising and have held up pretty well against predictions.


sec west blue chip avg.png
4 and 5 star recruit four-year average from 2010-2016.

Alabama should have won the SEC every year from 2010 through 2015. Obviously, it didn’t win em all. But undoubtedly, Bama won its share. The outliers can be explained pretty easily too.

  • In 2010, Cam ran a new offense on an otherwise underwhelming Auburn team and took Auburn to a National Championship.
  • In 2013, Auburn won multiple miracle games, including beating Bama by returning a field goal, to win the SEC West. Aka statistical noise.
  • In 2011, LSU eeked out Bama to win the SEC, but lost to them in the BCS championship game rematch.

In 2016, Bama should again take it home though LSU is as close as its been in a while in terms of talent.


So how about the East? These results are rather shocking – not a single SEC East winner has been predicted by blue chip talent (Missouri is not included, but they had one top-25 class during this time frame and undoubtedly would be below South Carolina every year… that they won two is truly staggering).

sec east blue chip avg.png
4 and 5 star recruit four-year average from 2010-2016

The 2010 Florida team had more talent than Alabama. What a dumpster fire that year was for Corch.  In fact, Florida had more talent than the East for almost the entirety of this time frame. If you’re a Gator, you should hate Will Muschamp. And maybe Corch too. UGA enters its second year with a talent advantage in the East.

If this data is predictive, it suggests a couple of conclusions:

  • Talent wins, generally. But not always.
  • Coaching matters:
    • Muschamp was a terrible coach who wasted indescribable amounts of talent. I CANNOT OVERSTATE THIS. Maybe someone can tell me the data is skewed because a very disproportionate number of blue chip players killed someone and went to prison left the Gator program after 2010. Still…
    • Gus Malzhan’s offense was innovative enough  to win championships when he had a very good to incredible qb, and with some luck thrown Auburn’s way.
  • Quarterbacks matter:
    • There’s no denying Cam Newton was a generational player, and Malzhan used him incredibly.
    • Likewise, the 2015 UGA team result suggests that despite a significant talent advantage, without a good quarterback you’re not going to win a championship. Florida pulled off its lone SEC East championship in this time frame in the only year it did not have a talent edge based at least somewhat on solid qb play, or at least a lack of Jeff Driskel.

Georgia fans marveled that UGA won 10 games in 2015 with the talent we had; I think it’s unreal we didn’t win more last year. How we wound up with Lambert throwing passes is still beyond me, and reassures me that Richt needed to go.

For 2016, as a Georgia fan, I’m heartened that UGA has the most talent in the SEC East. By talent alone, it’s ours to lose. But we don’t really know what we have in this coaching staff. Kirby has never been a head coach, Tucker has never been a DC in college (he was a bad one in the NFL), and Cheney hasn’t won anything of note since he was Drew Brees’s quarterback coach. We also have a freshman quarterback.

Tennessee at least has a good to very good quarterback returning in Dobbs, and has closed the talent gap substantially. It’s hard not to pick them to win, unless you think Butch Jones is really over rated and the schedules don’t line up. Given their victory over us last year, I have to give them the nod this year.

As for Florida, unless Felipe Franks is the next ascendant qb, I don’t like their odds in 2016, and have them coming in third.

SEC Champ Game Picks: Bama vs. Tennessee, Bama wins. God I hope I’m wrong.

*If there’s a flaw in this analysis, it’s that these numbers don’t account for attrition (see, 2013 UGA class). You can bring in 35 5 star recruits, but if they’re gone in a year it doesn’t do you much good.

Sorry about the crappy y-axis data label!





3 thoughts on “Who Will Win The SEC In 2016 Based on Blue Chip Recruits?

  1. That is a very good label. Very easy to see the talent that we have and have had – the best in The SEC East. Greyson Lambert has to go too – loved your analysis there. I presume you made the chart in Word then e-mailed it to yourself. That’s what I have to do on my blog to do these charts. Our average recruit 2016 is highest average recruit in the nation. Getting down to 67 scholarship recruits to play the Belk Bowl the year before this is an incredible number, as you point out as well.

    This is good.

    Everything you said is good.

    Every word and the chart is as well.

    Call it like it is.

    Keep up the good work.

    I need to make sure I have you in my READER.

    There are a lot of us who feel as you.

    I make no predictions about the vols. I do not follow them and hate them.

    12-2 is my prediction or 11-3, which is a LOT better than the 9-4 we have averaged with all this talent his last entire 8 years. But, it was not just his average 4-loss season his entire last 8 years here, it was even more dramatic playing the top 15 teams.

    We’re # 11 All-Time in Wins.

    Yet his last entire 8 years here, he was only # 41 vs Top 15 at 18 losses of 24 games.

    Incredible given all this talent.

    7 times his last 8 years, he lost by more than 3 TD. He never did until his last 8 years.

    37-1 vs non-bowl teams his last 8 years and barely above water vs bowl teams 36-31 for 73-32, average 4 loss per year.

    There were in fact 29 teams who had 10-win seasons Division 1-A FBS teams in the season just ended and we did not make the AP Poll Top 25 half his last 8 years – this one included.

    It wasn’t just that they were not here. He did not play them. Criminal that Jay Rome had so few passes thrown to him in Mike Bobo’s # 98 Passing Offense 2015 and in Kirby’s predecessor’s # 108 Passing Offense 2016 without Mike Bobo.

    With all this talent.


    Top Elite Talent likes to win.

    There indeed is not something besides winning that’s important here as Kirby’s predecessor found out – and, his diehard minions.

  2. REALLY good stuff Spence. I hope you’re wrong about that SEC Championship game too but I’ve learned to never bet against Saban unfortunately…

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