Boise tops recruiting overachievers

Which programs win the most with less talent? We rank the top five

Originally Published: January 30, 2013
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
Chris PetersenAP Photo/Matt CilleyNo team has won more games as the less talented team than Chris Petersen's Broncos.

As national signing day (Feb. 6) approaches, a great deal of attention will be paid to team class rankings. But it is even more important to consider those ratings in conjunction with other recent classes signed.

We calculate the combined value of consecutive recruiting classes to measure a team's program recruiting profile. As expected, many of the teams with the best program recruiting profiles in the past three seasons stand out on the field, as well. Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida and Florida State all ranked in the top 10 of the final Associated Press poll last season, and those six teams had a combined record of 72-8 (.900 winning percentage). All of those teams are annual recruiting leaders, and each ranked among the top 10 according to our program recruiting profile heading into the 2012 season.

In fact, in all head-to-head matchups over the past three seasons, the team with the stronger program recruiting profile won 63.9 percent of the time. So it's hard to argue against the fact recruiting matters a great deal when it comes to having on-field success in college football.

But many teams have had success without fielding a roster of dominant recruiting classes. These are the top five teams that have outperformed expectations in the past three years.


1. Boise State Broncos

Average program recruiting rank: 77th
Three-year record as less talented team: 14-2 (.875)

Boise State is the nation's best mid-major program, consistently ranking among the top 20 teams in the country without being able to recruit like a top-20 program. The Broncos don't play the same schedule week in and week out like the major programs, but Boise State still faces opponents each year that have stronger recruiting profiles, and head coach Chris Petersen almost always comes out on top anyway.


To read Brian Fremeau's full ranking of the top five recruiting overachievers, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com