While college football recruiting is an inexact science, one thing rings true: signing more four and five-star recruits means you’ll have a better chance to compete for titles. 247Sports‘ Bud Elliott has proven this correct for years.
Every summer, he publishes the “blue-chip ratio,” which has held firm dating back to the start of online college football recruit ranking databases. Very simply: the only teams that have won national titles are those that have more blue-chip scholarship talent on the roster than not.
“Recruiting rankings are not perfect. But they are damn good, especially in the aggregate,” Elliott writes. “Four- and five-star recruits are about 10 times more likely to be drafted in the first round than their two- and three-star counterparts. And five-stars are about 33 times more likely to be All-Americans as two-stars are. For every two-star who becomes a big success, there are multiples who will be going pro in something other than sports. ”
This year, 16 programs reach the 50-percent threshold of blue-chip recruits across four recruiting classes. Alabama, which dominates on Signing Day more often than it does on national championship Monday, is an unsurprising top school at 84-percent. They’re followed by five schools that have made noise in the College Football Playoff: Georgia, Ohio State, Clemson, LSU, and Oklahoma.
Make sure to read @BudElliott3's annual blue-chip ratio piece today. It's one of the best indicators you'll find of which teams can (and can't) win a national title. https://t.co/fxHCN0Kzj1 pic.twitter.com/YehckbTVJ1
— Chris Hummer (@chris_hummer) June 14, 2021
The names involved there are not overly surprising. It wouldn’t be a shock if all four College Football Playoff teams came from this list, and the national champion almost certainly will.
Using ESPN’s post-spring football Top 25, the teams in that top 16 that don’t also hit the 50-percent Blue-Chip Ratio mark: 6 Iowa State, 8 North Carolina, 9 Cincinnati, 11 Indiana, 14 Iowa, 15 Washington, and 16 Louisiana. Those programs may well have very nice 2021 seasons, but per this rule, which has held very firm year-over-year, their national title aspirations are not super legitimate.
We’ll see if the future adoption of a 12-team playoff will change things. Ultimately, talent wins out, so even with more opportunities, I imagine this will hold firm virtually every year.