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How CFB recruiting aids handicapping


(To view the charts with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly)

Championships are often won off the field or court. Recruiting plays such a huge role in college sports, and football is at the top of the list. It is one of the most important factors in building a college football program. However, being versed in the recruiting game shouldn’t be considered essential only for coaches; those betting should have a good handle on it as well. There is naturally a direct relationship between the success a team has on the recruiting trail and what it has on the field.

Fortunately for us bettors, there are now numerous sources that help us to better understand how well a team is faring in the process, not only qualitatively but quantitatively. Perhaps the leader in the arena, and a well-trusted service, 247Sports ( logs all of the recruits for every team each season and generates a numerical grade based on the combined scores of the players a team signs. I started a process last year during the COVID-19 downturn in looking hard at these numerical recruiting rankings of the FBS programs over the last decade and more, and as usual, anything numerically rated can be turned into useful foundational betting analysis.

It’s well known that schools like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Ohio State are wildly successful in the recruiting game, and their consistent on-field success can be attributed accordingly. In fact, Alabama has scored the highest national rating on 247Sports in nine of the last 11 seasons, with Georgia filling in the gaps in the other two years, including 2020. The Tide regained the top spot for 2021. Again, none of this is earth-shattering news, but with all of that said, finding other lower-radar teams that might be ready to surprise because of unusually good or bad recent recruiting classes can be crucial to success in betting on college football. Similarly, knowing which teams are trending in the right or wrong direction in terms of recruiting success can also prove to be beneficial for the handicapper.

Of course, there’s also the matter of taking recruits and making a team out of them, otherwise known as coaching. Knowing which programs make the most or least out of their recruiting classes should be a fundamental part of your college football knowledge base.

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