The great college football migration

Updated: January 14, 2013, 10:53 PM ET
By RecruitingNation | ESPN.com

California, Texas and Florida are generally regarded as the top destination points for college coaches around the country. Elite programs, rebuilding programs, even non-BCS programs often turn to those three states with the hopes of landing impact players. That wasn't always the case.

An in-depth look at the rosters from the top 20 teams in 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 shows the real impact of the nationalization of the game.

Editor's note: Some roster information was unavailable for teams in 1940 and 1950. Where applicable, information on the team's letter winners was used in lieu of a complete roster.

Glimpse into the seasons:

1940: It should not be surprising how recruiting was in 1940, when football was still growing as a sport, air travel was not a common mode of transportation as it would be even two decades later, and this country had not even entered World War II. The great suburban migration had not happened yet, and segregation, particularly in the South, still existed. Some schools had yet to fully integrate their football teams, which meant cutting off a large segment of potential players from certain areas of the country.

Plus, most schools stayed close to home with their recruiting, including all 40 of Nebraska's players on its 1940 roster being from Nebraska. The Northeast, which at that point had five schools in the 1940 top 20, was a recruiting hotbed, as players chose to stay close to home in almost every instance. There was some branching out across regions -- for instance, nine players from Illinois ended up at Washington -- but if your program's state and the ones surrounding it had high-level talent, you had a good chance of being good. -- Michael Rothstein


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