Ohio State has been sitting on top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings for a number of years now. According to the team rankings from Rivals, Ohio State has had the top class in the Big Ten each of the past four seasons and all but one year since the Class of 2008. Rivals ranked Penn State’s Class of 2010 ahead of the rest of the Big Ten, with Ohio State coming in third (Michigan was No. 2).The Buckeyes look to be locking up another top class in the Big Ten, which should come as no surprise to those who follow recruiting. Urban Meyer and his staff have been recruiting juggernauts and now they have a push that comes from a national championship.
How much push does a national champion get in recruiting? Since 2003, six national championship teams have seen their team recruiting ranking dip in the ensuing recruiting rankings. Unfortunately, it is unfair to compare one recruiting season to the next as needs change, which leads to a shift in recruiting emphasis on a year-to-year basis. That said, there is no question a team winning a national championship has an extra card to play on the recruiting trail. And, sometimes, teams winning a national title have a recruiting ranking that is so high it is extremely difficult to maintain it or improve upon it the following year.
Unless you are Nick Saban.
Here is a look at the champions of the BCS era and how their recruiting class compared from the recruiting class before winning the championship and immediately after. This list starts with the Class of 2003, the first season we can compare recruiting rankings from the previous season using Rivals.
2003 BCS Champion: LSU Tigers
Rivals Class of 2003 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 2 (-1)
Nick Saban flexed his recruiting muscles at LSU. Equipped with a coaching staff that included offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the Tigers brought in the nation’s top class in 2003. That season LSU went on to win the BCS national championship. The Tigers followed that up with a stellar recruiting class, but one that was beat out by USC, who had been recognized as the Associated Press national championship that same season.
2004 BCS Champion: USC Trojans
Rivals Class of 2004 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 1 (-)
USC has always been a traditional recruiting power, but winning the national title (which would later be vacated of course), helped keep Pete Carroll and his Trojans to the top.
2005 BCS Champion: Texas
Rivals Class of 2005 Rank: 20
Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 5 (+15)
No team saw as big a boost in the recruiting rankings following a championship as Texas did following a BCS Championship Game victory over USC in what many call the best college football game in history, if not just the modern era or BCS era. Mack Brown may have lost steam in recruiting in the years to come, but for one season the Longhorns were ahead of the Sooners.
2006 BCS Champion: Florida
Rivals Class of 2006 Rank: 2
Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 1 (+1)
Urban Meyer‘s arrival in Gainesville had a mighty impact. Meyer reignited the recruiting efforts at Florida, and winning a national title sent Florida to the top of the SEC and, perhaps more importantly, kept the Gators ahead of Florida State. Florida did not have much room to go, but the Gators overtook USC for the top spot in the recruiting rankings after winning the first of the SEC’s seven straight BCS trophies.
2007 BCS Champion: LSU
Rivals Class of 2007 Rank: 4
Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 11 (-7)
What we are about to see is that winning a national championship does not always result in a recruiting boost in terms of team rankings. LSU’s second national championship was followed by a seven spot drop in the recruiting rankings, but Les Miles and his program still signed a quality class.
2008 BCS Champion: Florida
Rivals Class of 2008 Rank: 3
Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 11 (-8)
After winning a second BCS title in three season you might have thought Meyer and Florida would be set up for years of sustained success in recruiting. As we know, the opposite proved to be the case for the Gators and the program continues to try and rebuild to this level. Meyer’s second BCS title was followed up by the biggest drop in the team recruiting rankings. Not only did Florida drop behind SEC foes like Alabama, LSU and Georgia, but Florida State moved back ahead of the Gators as well.
2009 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2009 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 5 (-4)
With Saban back in the recruiting game, the Tide were not likely to stay down for long. Alabama started to rise in the recruiting rankings as soon as Saban took over and actually suffered a drop in the team rankings after winning the national title in the 2009 season. Of course, Alabama had nowhere to go but down after signing the top-ranked class the previous season.
2010 BCS Champion: Auburn
Rivals Class of 2010 Rank: 4
Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 7 (-3)
Auburn actually spiked in the recruiting rankings the previous recruiting cycle. though the Tigers dropped in the recruiting rankings and failed to receive a boost, Auburn was still bringing in a top 10 class.
2011 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2011 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1 (-)
Alabama’s current streak of dominance in the recruiting rankings began with the Class of 2011. After winning a second national championship in three years, Alabama was once again back on top of the recruiting world and Saban’s Tide have yet to be knocked from its perch to this day.
2012 BCS Champion: Alabama
Rivals Class of 2012 Rank: 1
Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 1 (-)
Three titles in four years is hard to beat, and Alabama has become extremely hard to beat in the rankings. For the second time, Alabama repeated atop the recruiting rankings under Saban with a national championship to show off.
2013 BCS Champion: Florida State
Rivals Class of 2013 Rank: 10
Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 4 (+6)
Florida State had never faded too far out of the elite national recruiting spotlight, but winning a national championship (against an SEC program no less) certainly helped boost Florida State back toward the top.
2014 College Football Playoff National Champion: Ohio State
Rivals Class of 2014 Rank: 3
Rivals Class of 2015 Rank: 7 (-4)
Ohio State is on pace to be the third team to not receive a boost in the recruiting rankings following a national title, although it should also be noted that recruiting is different from year to year. For example, Ohio State does not need to go after a star quarterback with the stock available already, and big time skill players tend to influence the rankings as well. Ohio State is still firm atop the Big Ten rankings, so schools like Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State still have some work to do.