With recruiting just about wrapped up for the 2016 class, Alabama is the top dog once again. And as usual, the rankings were dominated by the blue bloods. Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and Michigan followed the Tide in the Composite. But how did talent spread out throughout the country?
I created all-star recruiting classes for the top teams in each Power 5 division and for each Power 5 division as a whole, taking the average 247Sports Composite rating for the 25 best players in each group. I ranked teams by average star rating, so teams with fewer than 25 recruits were not punished for having smaller classes. I then estimated the average star rating for each composite rating.
We're also treating the Big 12 as a division; at 10 teams, it's not that much bigger than most of these divisions.
|Rank||Average player rating|
|1||SEC West||0.9800 - 4.9 stars|
|2||Big Ten East||0.9622 - 4.7 stars|
|3||SEC East||0.9530 - 4.65 stars|
|4||ACC Atlantic||0.9516 - 4.6 stars|
|5||Big 12||0.9516 - 4.6 stars|
|6||Pac-12 South||0.9405 - 4.5 stars|
|7||Alabama||0.9285 - 4.45 stars|
|8||Pac-12 North||0.9248 - 4.35 stars|
|9||Florida State||0.9171 - 4.25 stars|
|10||LSU||0.9160 - 4.25 stars|
|11||Ohio State||0.9157 - 4.2 stars|
|12||Georgia||0.9148 - 4.2 stars|
|13||USC||0.9111 - 4.2 stars|
|14||Auburn||0.9106 - 4.2 stars|
|15||Ole Miss||0.9092 - 4.2 stars|
|16||Clemson||0.9085 - 4.2 stars|
|17||ACC Coastal||0.9070 - 4.15 stars|
|18||Michigan||0.8996 - 4.1 stars|
|19||Texas||0.8984 - 4.1 stars|
|20||Tennessee||0.8960 - 4.05 stars|
|21||Big Ten West||0.8918 - 4 stars|
Ohio State and Michigan dominate the Big Ten West
The Big Ten West was the worst recruiting division by a longshot, and it was a group effort, as no team stepped up and had an elite class. Only Nebraska cracked the top 30. No Big Ten West team signed a five-star, and last year's division champion, Iowa, didn't even sign a four-star.
Both East powers had better average star ratings than an all-star team made up of the 25 best recruits in the entire Big Ten West.
|Ohio State||0.9157 - 4.2 stars|
|Michigan||0.8996 - 4.1 stars|
|Big Ten West||0.8918 - 4 stars|
The talent disparity at the very top is even worse. The Big Ten West only signed two top-100 players in the Composite, compared to seven for Ohio State and six for Michigan.
The Big Ten East has 12 2016 signees who are ranked higher than any West signee. The SEC West has 26 who are ranked higher than the best Big Ten West freshmen.
The Big Ten West is at a major talent disadvantage, and with its Big Ten East rivals recruiting so well under Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh (and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and Penn State's James Franklin, who each also topped all of the West), the gap is likely to widen.
Alabama is dominating entire divisions (and conferences)
It's not just the West that's fallen behind entire teams in recruiting. Alabama is better than three entire divisions. The Crimson Tide's class would rank just ahead of the Pac-12 North's all-star class and far ahead of the all-star classes for the ACC Coastal and the Big Ten West.
However, Alabama is even better than those numbers express at getting top-quality recruits. The Crimson Tide have more top-100 recruits than any of four divisions and the entire Big 12.
The ACC is Florida State, Clemson and everyone else
The Big Ten has the widest divisional gap, but the ACC is the most top-heavy. Florida State and Clemson absolutely dominated everyone else, including in terms of top-100 recruits.
The entire classes for Florida State and Clemson are deep. Florida State's class ranks higher than an all-star team of all other 12 ACC teams combined, while Clemson's class is nearly as good.
|Florida State/Clemson All-Recruits Team||0.9516 - 4.6 stars|
|Florida State||0.9171 - 4.25 stars|
|Rest of ACC||0.9094 - 4.2 stars|
|Clemson||0.9085 - 4.2 stars|
Unsurprisingly, the Seminoles and Tigers have combined to win the past five ACC Championship Games. The last time neither won the ACC Atlantic was 2008.
Next year could be better for the field. Miami is off to a hot start under Mark Richt, with a No. 3 ranking in the 2017 Composite, while North Carolina is ninth.
The Pac-12 is the most balanced conference
The SEC is a bit more balanced than the ACC or Big Ten, but the SEC West runs away from everyone, including the solid SEC East.
However, the Pac-12 is very even.
|Pac-12||0.0157 - 0.15 stars|
|SEC||0.027 - 0.25 stars|
|ACC||0.0446 - 0.45 stars|
|Big Ten||0.0704 - 0.7 stars|
The Pac-12 South has more top-quality recruits than the Pac-12 North, thanks to USC and UCLA, but the North more than holds its own, thanks largely to Stanford, Washington and Oregon, and that's with a five-star still highly interested in the Cardinal.
Parity kept the Pac-12 out of the College Football Playoff last season, and while that won't always be the case, it's clear the talent will continue to spread throughout the conference.
The Big 12 is in trouble
The Big 12 has one appearance and no wins in the College Football Playoff era, the worst record among the Power 5 conferences. And this class isn't inciting much optimism for the future. The Big 12 ranks behind four divisions and six single teams in top-100 recruits.
The Big 12 only gets one top-100 recruit for every two teams, and all of those went to Texas, Oklahoma or Baylor.
The Big 12 has two major problems. The first is that the SEC has broken into Texas since Texas A&M left the Big 12, and Texas is the Big 12's most fertile recruiting ground. The other issue is that there's a giant talent void that's centered in the rest of Big 12 country.