Now comes the hard part.
The so-called Dream Team has now been signed, sealed and delivered and now coach Mark Richt is already talking about assembling another one in 2012. But that may seem like the easy part compared to the challenge that is ahead.
By consensus, the Bulldogs’ 2011 class is ranked among the top seven classes in America. They ended up ranked No. 5 by Rivals.com, No. 6 by ESPN.com and No. 7 by Scout.com. So while it was a Dream Team by virtue of labeling and certainly by landing the majority of in-state recruits it had targeted, recruiting experts determined several other programs had better years on the recruiting trail.
Opinions differ on which team had the best year. Florida State, in its second season under coach Jimbo Fisher, had its class tabbed No. 1 by ESPN and Scout. Rivals thinks Alabama had the top class. Auburn was at one time ranked No. 1 before five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio reversed field and signed with the Crimson Tide. So who knows?
But here are two important things to note about high recruiting rankings: They come with high expectations and rarely translate into immediate on-field success.
Just ask Florida. The Gators’ 2010 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year by two of the three national recruiting and 15 members of that class ended up playing as true freshmen. And what did that get them? A five-loss record (8-5, 4-4 SEC). Southern Cal’s 2010 class was considered No. 1 by Rivals and the Trojans also went 8-5 in the season that followed.
In fact, mediocrity is more often the scenario that follows a great recruiting class rather than immediate excellence. LSU had the top class according to ESPN in 2009 and proceeded to go 9-4 that season. Rivals and Scout tabbed the Gators in 2007 and they responded with a 9-4 season. Miami was labeled No. 1 by ESPN in 2008 and ended up 7-6.
If any team has responded positively to being ranked No. 1 in recruiting it’s Bama. The Crimson Tide followed its No. 1 distinction by Rivals in 2010 by going 14-0 and winning the national championship. Of course, that followed 2008 when they were also tabbed No. 1 by Rivals and Scout and went 12-2 and won the West.
Also, Florida wasn’t perfect but it went 13-1 and won the national championship in 2006 after ESPN identified its recruiting class tops in the nation.
As for Georgia, with all the Dream Team talk it’s easy to forget that it has actually had many recruiting classes that were just as highly regarded this one under Richt. The Bulldogs’ 2006 class was a consensus No. 4 pick by all three services. That team went 9-4 the next season. Georgia’s 2008 class was fifth, according to ESPN and Scout, and team went 10-3 during the season. Scout tabbed them No. 4 in 2009 (ESPN and Rivals 6th) and they limped home with an 8-5 mark.
So what’s it all mean? Not that much, really.
There are so many integers that go into a football season — schedule, injuries, lucky bounces — that the infusion of new talent is just one of them. And the true measure of that talent tends to come two to three years later.
Here’s the data so you can form your own conclusions:
NO. 1-RANKED RECRUITING CLASSES (last 5 years)
Year—–ESPN (record)——Rivals (record)——Scout (record)
2010——-Florida (8-5)———–USC (8-5)————Florida (8-5)
2009——-LSU (9-4)————Alabama(14-0)——–Ohio St. (11-2)
2008——-Miami (7-6)———-Alabama (12-2)——–Alabama (12-2)
2007——-USC (11-2)———–Florida (9-4)———–Florida (9-4)
2006——-USC (11-2)———–Florida (13-1)———-USC (11-2)
UGA RECRUITING CLASSES (last 5 years)
2010 (6-7) ————12th——15th——-21st
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog