If recruiting worked perfectly, the teams that scored the highest in February would also win biggest in the fall.
While the surest way to become a perennial national title contender is to consistently attract the best players - see Trojans, Southern California - some programs appear to be better at courting recruits than turning talent into victories.
Even scouts who put a massive amount of work into evaluating players acknowledge that the best recruiting classes don't always make the best team.
``Recruiting rankings per se on signing day and shortly thereafter really don't mean all that much. It's so difficult to gauge the strength of a recruiting class until they're about two to three years in,'' ESPN's recruiting expert Tom Luginbill said recently.
With that in mind, The Associated Press looked back at the signing day class rankings for each year from 2004-06, as determined by four of the major recruiting experts and services (Rivals.com, Scout.com, Max Emfinger and Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports).
and 1 point for a No. 10, the AP ranked each school's three-year recruiting performance. For example, USC was rated No. 1 by all four services in 2004, so it received 40 points for that season. The Trojans had 35 points (tied for No. 1 with Tennessee) in '05 and 37 (second behind Florida) in '04.
The results:
1. USC - 103 points.
2. Florida State - 66.
3. LSU - 55.
4. Oklahoma - 53
5. Michigan - 52
tie Florida - 52
7. Tennessee - 38.
8. Georgia - 37.
9. Texas - 31.
tie Miami - 31.
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Using the final rankings in the AP poll for each of the last three seasons (2006-08) and a 25-point scale, 25 points for a No. 1 ranking and 1 point for a No. 25 ranking, here are the top teams on the field over the last three seasons - when the recruits of 2004-06 had a major impact.
1. USC - 68
2. Florida - 63
3. Ohio State - 62
4. Oklahoma - 54
5. Texas - 50 1/2
6. LSU - 48.
7. Georgia - 40
8. West Virginia - 39
9. Boise State - 36.
10. Virginia Tech - 35.
---
Notes:
- Michigan was 13th in the AP rankings from 2006-08, finishing eighth in 2006 and 18th in '07 before going unranked last season.
- Ohio State had 19 points in the recruiting rankings, finishing in the cumulative top-10 in 2004 and '06, but out of the top 10 in '05.
- Florida State finished 2006 and '07 unranked in the AP poll and was No. 21, good for five points, in last season's final rankings.
- Miami has not been ranked in the final AP poll since 2005.
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