In 2011, 14 teams took 70 percent of the top 120 recruits, according to Rivals' rankings. So unfair! Texas and Stanford hogged all the offensive linemen, Ohio State and Florida State were greedy with defensive linemen, Miami and Texas A&M took more than their share of little fast guys, and so on.
How's New Mexico State football supposed to ever get better when the only thing it gets to market is New Mexico State football? That is certainly unfair. Alabama will always be more talented than UTEP, no matter which Mike Price coaches. The rich will stash four-star linebackers on the bench, while the poor will flail around in the WAC.
But I'd like to take a moment here to tout one thing that's very right about college football. We hear a lot about where the sport's gone completely wrong, even though those in the know realize it's been crooked for a century now. And while most players aren't yet properly compensated for the value they provide their schools, they still get to choose which team is best for them*. And that's excellent.
* Provided, of course, they don't try to transfer out when Randy Edsall or Justin Fuente takes over. I didn't say it's perfect.
While this is a dumb offseason exercise, it still goes to show the agency that the recruiting process gives to athletes, the individuals in the entire sport who are the most vital and who have the most to win and lose. If college football had a draft, Joe Q. Fivestar could wind up against his preferences at a service academy, an engineering school, a NFL Draft factory or a church-run school, not to mention get shipped across the country. As it is, Mr. Fivestar holds the cards.
Recruiting is often dirty and often creepy, but not a whole lot creepier than a professional monopoly condemning its best incoming players to its worst franchises. The Draft is great system for the NFL, of course, but that it would work so inconceivably terribly at the college level helps demonstrate what's right about players making their own choices.
With that takeaway noted, here are seven years worth of college football draft top fives, based on Football Outsiders F/+ rankings and Rivals recruit rankings -- we could extend this back to 1930 and not find a better example than limo-ridin' golden boy Jimmy Clausen to FBS newbie Western Kentucky, even though in his case it might've been worthwhile to step down a peg or 120.
* Expansion draft!
Also, just for fun (SO MUCH FUN), what the entire 2012 first round would've looked like if everyone drafted according to chalk:
While we’re here, let’s watch some college football videos from SB Nation’s new YouTube channel together: