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Expansion By The Numbers 5: Fertile Recruiting Ground

When the great expansion race of 2011 is fully run, we expect that many, many factors will have played a role in who went where: television households, population, athletic prowess, academic reputation, politics and interleague grumbling, and many more.  We’re currently zipping through a number of those in this series.

One topic that will likely be discussed on an ancillary basis is fertile recruiting ground.  Will the number of top athletes a state produces be the #1 reason Conference X invites School Y to join?  Absolutely not.  But it’s one factor that might play a small role in pushing one school past another in athletic directors minds… and those ADs might influence their school presidents just a tad.

Therefore in Part 5 of our series on SEC expansion, we look at the football talent — because football is the most important sport when it comes to TV dollars — produced in each of 35 different schools’ home states.

This Category:  Fertile Recruiting Ground

Why:  There’s a reason several SEC coaches — especially those in the SEC West — have spoken positively of the addition of Texas A&M to the SEC… recruiting.  By playing more games in the Lone Star State, more Texas recruits will be exposed to SEC football in person and on television.  And there are a lot of great recruits in Texas.

This past spring, the SEC’s presidents voted to place a soft 25-man cap on their schools’ football signing classes.  That decision went against the wishes of league coaches who argued such a cap would hurt recruiting.  Obviously, recruiting isn’t the biggest concern of the academicians who run the SEC.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t give some amount of weight to the recruiting benefits that opening up a new region can have on overall league success.  And that’s why we’re discussing this topic, while also stating that it won’t be a major, major factor.

In this post we’re again looking at 35 schools.  We know that’s way more than the SEC would ever consider, but we’ve already had some readers suggest we didn’t include as many schools as we should have.  So it’s a no-win scenario for MrSEC.com.  But since this is an exercise done purely for the sake of comparison, we’ve drawn the line at 35 schools.

In an effort to nuke complaints in this specific category — fat chance — we’re once again using one simple number.  There’s no spin, no room for debate.  The numbers are the numbers and you can interpret them any way you like… but the numbers are still the numbers.  In this case, the number used is the total number of NFL draft picks produced by a school’s home state from 2002 through 2011.  It’s impossible to define regions and spheres of influence, so we’re looking at the much more easily defined state borders.

Below is how each of the schools on our list checked out, from highest number of NFL picks to lowest.  Knowing that expansion is about outward growth of the geographic footprint, we’re also not counting any school located in a current SEC state with providing additional exposure to recruits.  A Florida recruit will already be familiar with SEC football thanks to Florida, for example.  Florida State might help some, but since we can’t quantify how much, they’ll not be credited with adding anything new to the SEC in terms of in-state recruiting.

 

Rank School Home State NFL Draft Picks from 2002-2011
1t Baylor Texas 224
1t Texas Texas 224
1t Texas A&M Texas 224
1t Texas Tech Texas 224
1t TCU Texas 224
6 Cincinnati Ohio 100
7t Virginia Virginia 73
7t Virginia Tech Virginia 73
9t Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 59
9t Penn State Pennsylvania 59
11t Duke N. Carolina 56
11t E. Carolina N. Carolina 56
11t N. Carolina N. Carolina 56
11t NC State N. Carolina 56
11t Wake Forest N. Carolina 56
16 Rutgers New Jersey 49
17t Maryland Maryland 37
17t Navy Maryland 37
19 Syracuse New York 35
20t Oklahoma Oklahoma 31
20t Oklahoma State Oklahoma 31
22 Notre Dame Indiana 26
23 Missouri Missouri 25
24 Iowa State Iowa 21
25 Boston College Massachusetts 14
26 Connecticut Connecticut 13
27t Kansas Kansas 9
27t Kansas State Kansas 9
29 W. Virginia W. Virginia 3
30t Clemson S. Carolina 0
30t Florida State Florida 0
30t Georgia Tech Georgia 0
30t Louisville Kentucky 0
30t Miami Florida 0
30t S. Florida Florida 0

 

* Look at the number of top players coming out of Texas over the past decade and it’s easy to see why Bobby Petrino and Les Miles have nary a problem with the SEC adding Texas A&M.

* On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia’s small population plays a clear role in its lack of NFL draftees.  If the SEC looks to expand east — for football purposes only — WVU will lag behind other potential dance partners in bigger, more talent-rich states.  (This shows, however, what a solid job of recruiting outside their state Mountaineer coaches have done over the years.)

* Want a reason to consider Cincinnati for an SEC bid?  Ohio ranks second only to Texas in terms of NFL talent-produced.

* Think Kentucky and Tennessee would like to see the SEC get a foothold in Virginia?  There’s some fertile ground in that commonwealth.

Below is how the SEC stacks up along this same measurement:

 

Rank School Home State NFL Draft Picks from 2002-2011
1 Florida Florida 212
2 Georgia Georgia 101
3 LSU Louisiana 84
4t Alabama Alabama 65
4t Auburn Alabama 65
6 S. Carolina S. Carolina 62
7t Tennessee Tennessee 37
7t Vanderbilt Tennessee 37
9t Miss. State Mississippi 34
9t Ole Miss Mississippi 34
11 Arkansas Arkansas 25
12 Kentucky Kentucky 17

 

* If another league were to raid the SEC for Kentucky or Arkansas it’s coaches wouldn’t do a whole lot of celebrating about added recruiting opportunities.

* Florida, Georgia and LSU?  That would be a different story.

* If you want to compare non-SEC states to the nine states already represented in the league, the average number of draft picks from league states over the last 10 years was 70.7.  The addition of Texas A&M is seriously going to crank that number up in future years.

Up next in Part 6, we’ll eyeball the all important athletic budget.

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