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Does having one of the best recruiting classes in conference translate to a conference title?

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Good recruiting is certainly beneficial to a team, but is it possible to figure out exactly how much so at the Group of Five level?

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Alabama won their fourth national championship in the Nick Saban era this year as they defeated Clemson 45-40. If you looked at how well Alabama and Clemson have been recruiting over the past five years, their appearance in the title game was a shock to no one. They both have notched at least one top 10 recruiting class over that span; Alabama has finished with the best or second best class every year in that time.

It's no secret: In order to win a national title, you must recruit at an elite level. Since 2006, every national champion has had at least one top 10 recruiting class within five years of winning the national title. For P5 teams recruiting is everything.

But what about teams in the G5? Is recruiting at a great level an indicator of future success, in the same way it appears to be for P5 teams?

To test and see if the trends will be the same I used conference titles as the benchmark of success and listed classes going within five years of the school's conference title.

The current G5 conferences really started to take shape in 2013 so I decided to use that year as the starting point.

Recruiting class rankings for conference champions are based on Rivals.com. The number ranked is their recruiting class compared against others in their conference.

American Athletic Conference

Year Team Five-Year Recruiting Rankings
2013 UCF #5, #2, #1, #11, #6
2014 Memphis #3, #5, #4, #10, #9
2015 Houston #7, #3, #2, #6, #7


Conference USA

Year Team Five-Year Recruiting Rankings
2013 Rice #4, #10, #4, #5, #5
2014 Marshall #2, #1, #1, #1, #1
2015

Western Kentucky

#5, #3, #5, #4, #9


Sun Belt

Year Team Five-Year Recruiting Rankings
2013 Louisiana Lafayette #6, #6, #1, #3, #1
2014 Georgia Southern FCS Y'ALL
2015 Arkansas State #1, #1, #4, #1, #1

Well, the results are in with a few interesting notes:

  • All but one conference champion scored at least one recruiting class that ranked in the conference's top three.The only outlier was Rice in 2013, who never cracked fourth.
  • The year Georgia Southern won the Sun Belt in 2014, Rivals had not been keeping up with their classes since they were just making the transition from FCS to FBS, so their data couldn't be collected.
  • USF had the best class in the AAC for three straight years from 2012-2014, and the second best class in 2015. They are 11-13 in conference play since joining the AAC.
  • Only Marshall and Arkansas State had a five-year average of a number one ranked class in their conference.

With National Signing Day two weeks away pay attention to how your team's class stack up among conference foes. If your class finishes in the top three, chances are you will be celebrating a conference championship within five years.