Too Many Lottery Tickets? Fan-sourcing an Analysis of Recent Recruiting Classes

I was really fascinated by the epic KF media chat that was posted in INP a couple of days ago. In conjunction with the divergent attitudes on this year's recruiting class, it has really made me wonder about KF's approach to recruiting. Is it really different than the way other coaches approach recruiting, or is it all just rationalization for why Iowa doesn't draw elite talent? Is KF better at evaluating high school talent than the recruiting services? Better than his rival coaches? When a 2-star QB with an offer sheet full of MACtion turns into Micah Hyde, is it really like hitting a winning lottery ticket, as Ross suggested, or are Iowa coaches really able to see something that others don't?



On one hand, I'm inclined to say that if KF is really just getting lucky with two-star players then he's a hell of a scratch-off player and that he should be the new spokesperson for the Iowa State Lottery. On the other hand, I look at the 2009 class and shudder. On the other other hand, I wonder what it means if Micah Hyde and Brett Van Sloten, both 2-stars with not a single other BCS offer between them, turn out to be the best two players in that class? On the fourth hand, I want to know who Joshua Brown was, and what it means that this is the first google hit for "Joshua Brown Iowa"? And finally, why four hands?



I don't subscribe to any of the recruiting sites, and I'm firmly in the "caring is creepy" camp. But I don't think it's creepy at all to look back at the guys Iowa has actually signed, record their recruiting data, and evaluate/analyze their performance at Iowa. But even looking at one class is way too much work for me to do, and I think we could pretty easily crowd-source it if folks are interested. Here's how it would work.

1. I put up a fanpost for one recruiting class. (I'm thinking of starting with 2008 and moving forward to 2010 or 2011; then if it goes well we could work backwards too).

2. Immediately after putting up the fanpost, I respond with comments, one for each player in that class.

3. You pick one of those players and do some research about him-- his recruiting rankings, his other offers, his performance at Iowa, etc., etc. Just one or two nuggets of information is fine. Share this information by replying to the comment for that particular player so we don't repeat the same work.

4. At the end of the player comments, I put up a final comment that offers a preliminary ranking of the class, from best to worst. You reply to that comment with tweaks and suggestions until the group comes to a rough consensus.

5. We figure out some sort of tier or rating system that we can use to quantify the performance for each guy so that we can compare players not just to others in their class, but across classes. This could be done in the comments for this post. The specifics would need to be ironed out, but it's the kind of thing where Bryan Bulaga would get, say, 6 stars for being a multi-year starter and a high NFL draft pick and Stephane Ngoumou would get zero stars for never making it to campus. There might even be a negative rating for guys who are here for all four years but never get on the field at all (that seems worse for the program for me, as it takes up more scholarships than they guy who never shows, but we could hash that out).

6. Once we've done a few classes, someone who is good at math, statistics, and analysis (cough, Titohawk, cough) jumps in to try to figure out if there's any secret sauce to Iowa's recruiting. Is an in-state guy with two stars more likely to succeed than a Floridian with the same rating? Are the amount of other offers significant? What's Iowa's hit and miss ratio on 4-star guys? Is one recruiting service better than the others? I'm sure there are a ton of interesting questions to be asked with a decent data set, but that's exactly what we don't have-- an easily accessible set of information about how guys were ranked and how they turned out. There's always the possibility that the whole thing turns out to be kind of a random walk, but that would be good to know too.

So reply to this post if this sounds like something you'd be interested in contributing to as we try to pass the time until the NIU game. I would be happy to take charge of putting together the fanposts for each class and posting initial comments for each player, but that's kind of the limit of my abilities and ambitions.

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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