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Which programs, conferences best develop talent?

5/2/2011

Who are the the best (and worst) college programs and conferences at developing recruits into NFL players?

That's an interesting question, and the Iowa football blog "Black Hearts, Gold Pants" decided to try and figure out some answers.

Good recruiting data across college football goes back to 2002. And we have draft information for every year. So, by matching between those two data sets, we can answer the questions above. We can identify the programs that do the best (and worst) job developing their players (at least over the past decade). Better yet, we can use this data to tell a prospective recruit exactly how much their NFL chances are affected by their choice of school. Whether this information is on the top of the recruiting packets or hidden from sight will depend on the school, but these are numbers every recruit should know before signing on that dotted line.

Enter the "Developmental Ratio."

The Development Ratio is a simple way to measure the effect of a program on player development: take the number of recruits a program turned into draft picks and divide that by the number that an average BCS program would have produced from the same recruiting classes.

The results? USC finished No. 1, Ohio State No. 2, Iowa No. 3 and California No. 4.

Ohio State and USC are huge names, attract great recruits, and turn out even better NFL prospects. These statistics come almost entirely from the Pete Carrol and Jim Tressel eras and they show that both coaches deserve the credit they get - they didn't just skate by on the higher talent level those programs attract on name, they got the best out of that talent.

Which conferences best develop talent? It must be the SEC, as that conference produces so many NFL players, right?

Nope. The best two is a Rose Bowl: The Big Ten was No. 1 and the Pac-12 was No. 2. Recruits that go to the Big Ten add 15 percent to their NFL chances, while Pac-12 recruits add 10 percent.

On the low end is the Big 12: "recruits to the Big 12 take almost a 20% hit to their NFL chances when they pick the conference."

So congrats Colorado.

Another surprising finding: The Pac-12 does a better job developing defensive players than offensive players, though it does well at the skill positions. The conference ranks fourth in terms of developing offensive players, second for defensive players and second for skill players.

There's a lot of interesting data in this article, and I'm sure some of you might poke a few holes in its methods. Definitely worth a look, though.