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Ranking the Power 5 conferences by blue-chip football recruiting

Welcome to The Crootletter (sign up to get this in your inbox every morning!). I'm Bud Elliott, SB Nation's National Recruiting Analyst, and in this space I'll be sharing news, rumors and musings on the world of college football recruiting.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down National Signing Day results is one of the most fun things about my job. I'm not Bill Connelly, but I like data and presenting it in a way folks who are much less math inclined than myself can understand. Tuesday, I am breaking down the Power 5 recruiting conferences, and the splits within them. It's important to do this on a per-team average basis because some conferences have 10 teams while others have 14.

1. SEC (8.6 blue chips per school): It's the SEC and everyone else. Six teams in the conference signed double-digit four- and five-star players. The split between the West (79) and East (42) is big, but perhaps not as big as I would have expected. The SEC signed more blue chips than any other two conferences combined. And it's not just Alabama; half of the top-14 teams in the 247Sports Composite rankings were from the SEC, including Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

2. Pac-12 (4.9 blue chips per school): The Pac-12 has its elite recruiters (USC, UCLA, Stanford), but it's much less top heavy than the ACC, Big 12 or Big Ten. Every school except Washington State signed at least one blue-chip player. The Pac-12 South has a slight 34-25 advantage over the North.

3. Big Ten (4.4 blue chips per school): The league signed 62 blue-chippers, and the breakdown is extremely top heavy, with Ohio State (18), Michigan (15), Michigan State (9) and Penn State (8) accounting for 81 percent of those. The 52-9 East/West division split is the largest of any conference in college football. Just like the ACC, six teams did not sign a single four- or five-star.

3. Big 12 (4.4 blue chips per school): 38 of the league's 44 blue-chip signees went to Texas (13), Oklahoma (9), Baylor (8) and TCU (8). I'm a bit surprised at Oklahoma State's poor showing (just one blue-chipper), given that the Cowboys made the Sugar Bowl and have been consistently good for the last half-decade or so. That Texas was still the league's best recruiter despite yet again losing seven games shows the power of the brand.

5. ACC (3.6 blue chips per school): Florida State (18), Clemson (13) and Miami (10) combined to sign 41 four- and five-star prospects. The rest of the ACC inked just nine combined. The league received a lot of praise for its hires, and it's important not to judge staffs based on an abbreviated recruiting period of just two months, but those returns are not encouraging. You would think that with just 17 blue-chippers, the ACC Coastal would be the worst division in the Power 5, but it's actually the Big Ten West, which inked just nine! In all, the ACC signed 50 blue-chippers. Also of note: adding Notre Dame in (10 blue chips) would only increase the per-team average to 4.0, still last among the Power 5 conferences.


I am big on the concept of "new coach smell," the period of time in the first full recruiting class or two during which recruits are attracted to the newness of a staff, the playing time it has to sell, and promises that cannot be evaluated for lack of a track record at that school. After that, schools have to sell wins and NFL picks. Jim Harbaugh did great with his first full recruiting class, but what other schools took advantage?

Ian Boyd writes that five-star Georgia QB signee Jacob Eason is perfect for the Dawgs' new offense.