As college football fans we worry about recruiting every year, coming to a climax during NLI signings around February, only to forget those athletes as we focus on the impact Juniors and Seniors of the coming season. I wanted to analyze the recruiting in the MAC from 2008-2013 based on the performance of the players.
Generally excluding FBS to FBS transfers, I looked at signed players from each year and gave them a number value based on receiving MAC postseason awards, Postseason MAC 1st, 2nd, or 3rd team honors and NFL draft position.
A few notes:
Temple's numbers are possibly skewed, as they were not eligible for MAC awards in 2012. I did not include UMass. 2008 is 5 full seasons of data, most '08 recruits should be out of eligibility, each subsequent year has less and less complete data, 2012 only has 1 season, and few players saw the field let alone made enough impact to be recognized by the conference, so this will be a living and breathing assessment that can be revisited after the season ends.
Finally, MAC Awards are voted on by media, Postseason All-MAC teams are voted on by coaches and NFL draft choices are made by NFL teams, although I used these as the basis for my comparison, there is bias from each group in the process that may skew the numbers.
Most Impact Players - These recruiting classes brought in the highest quantity of high performing MAC Athletes
1) 8 - Temple 2008
2) 7 - NIU 2009
3) 7 - Ohio 2008
4) 7 - WMU 2008
5) 6 - BGSU 2009
UB Best) 3 (Oliver, Mack Neutz) 2009
Best Players - These athletes ruled the MAC
1) Temple 2009 - Pierce 17 points
1) Kent St 2010 - Nix 17 points
3) BGSU 2009 - Jones 14 points
4) Temple 2008 - Robinson 13 points
5) Toledo 2009 - Page 12 points
6) Ohio - 2008 - Weller 11 points
6) NIU - 2009 - Lynch 11 points
6) Temple - 2008 - Wilkerson 11 points
9) Kent St - 2009 - Winters 10 points
UB Best) 2009 - Mack 6 points
2009 was a good year.
Best Recruit Class- These coaches were on fire
1) Temple 2008 - 37 points
2) Ball St 2010 - 29 points
3) NIU 2009 - 25 points
3) BGSU 2009 - 25 points
5) Ohio 2008 - 24 points
6) Toledo 2009 - 23 points
6) Kent St 2009 - 23 points
8) Temple 2009 - 22 points
9) Kent St 2010 - 20 points
10 WMU 2008 - 19 points
UB best) 2009 - 11 points
Temple and Kent State are the only teams to make this list twice and both did so in consecutive years. The Kent State dynasty may not be a one-year wonder. You can see the strength of the MAC here, with NIU, BGSU and Toledo putting up strong years in 2009, are Ball State's and Kent State's 2010 classes ready to face off in Detroit?
Best Recruit Class Adjusted (point per season) - This measure adjusts for newer classes with fewer seasons to accumulate points.
1) Ball St 2010 - 9.6/season
2) Temple 2008 - 7.4/season
3) WMU 2012 - 7/season
4) Kent St 2010 - 6.6/season
5) NIU 2009 - 6.25/season
5) BGSU 2009 - 6.25/season
7) Toledo 2009 - 5.75/season
7) Kent St 2009 - 5.75/season
9) Temple 2009 - 5.5/season
10) Ohio 2008 - 4.8/season
The adjustment lowers expectations for Ohio, but raises for Ball State for the next two years...don't get too excited for WMU, one player (Wilson) scored all 7 points for them in 2012.
Best Overall Recruiting 2008-2012 - This cannot be finalized until after the 2016 season, but for now:
1) Ball State
3) Kent State
4) Northern Illinois
5) Bowling Green
7) Western Michigan
9) Central Michigan
10) Miami Univ
12) Eastern Michigan
When I re-do this after the season, I'll remove Temple, but I wanted to show how much the MAC loved Temple despite their penchant for not beating anyone worth beating and never winning anything of note.
The next media darlings are Ball State, fueled by their undefeated 2008 season and rejuvenated by Lembo, BSU should be the most talented MAC squad. Ohio is a team that will get slighted by our rankings, because they have a great pipeline of transfers from the heartland, of course, you can only do so much with transfers, and Ohio's mediocre recruiting foundation seems to keep Ohio in mediocre footing as the dominant MAC East team.
Finally, Buffalo is a victim of the bias in the MAC I believe, (see Means, Steven) but they have also been unquestionably bad which hurts rankings, awards and recruiting. Buffalo has the talent to put up a lot of points in the 2013 season, and we'll see if they can use that momentum to surge up in the rankings as Ball State has.