Recruiting rankings matter.
They are not a guarantee of future success but they are the foundation every national championship has been built upon. It takes great coaching, development and luck to win a title, but having better players is the only way to start.
In fact, the data backing up the value of recruiting rankings is impenetrable. For example, look at last year’s rosters. According to the rankings, three of the four best rosters in America belonged to Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State.
These rankings do not take into account attrition but that should be a constant for all teams and conferences equally. So strictly based on recruiting evaluations from 247Sports, here is how the rosters in the ACC rank.
Ranking College Football's Rosters in 2015:
What did we learn?
Noles aren't going anywhere
Florida State is one of only two teams in major college football to have lost four or fewer conference games over the last four seasons. The other is Alabama. Heading into 2015, things don’t appear to be changing much as the Noles enter with far and away the best roster in the ACC and one of the top two units in college football. The 4.4 average rank for FSU is second only to Alabama's 1.0 average.
It's on you, Clemson
Clemson has long been No. 2 in the ACC in terms of talent, outrecruiting everyone in the league not named Florida State. The Tigers have landed two top-10 classes in the last five years, and other than FSU, no other team in the ACC even has one. If someone is going to end the Noles 24-game ACC winning streak, it might have to be Clemson. Only one other team has even averaged a top 25 class over the last five years.
Urgency in South Florida
And that team is Miami. Al Golden could watch as many as six players get drafted in the early rounds of the NFL Draft this spring. It’s no secret this program has underachieved, not all of which is Golden’s fault. But with a top-20 roster nationally — clearly the most gifted in the Coastal Division — Miami needs to start winning more games. A 16-16 record in league play over the last four years isn’t acceptable.
Time to win
Miami isn’t the only team that needs to take strides in 2015. Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia have three of the better rosters in the league and have underachieved significantly over the last few seasons. The Hokies, Tar Heels and Cavaliers are fourth, fifth and sixth in the league in terms of talent and have lost 51 times in ACC play the last four years combined. This is also unacceptable.
More with less
Paul Johnson continues to work minor miracles in Atlanta. He doesn’t have one of the best 50 rosters in the nation but has won more ACC games (21) over the last four years than anyone else in the league expect Florida State (28) and Clemson (26). He enters 2015 trying to defend his Coastal Division crown with the 54th best roster in the nation — which is sixth in the division.
First full cycle
Bobby-P and the Cardinals are in that transitional phase after elevating from the AAC to the ACC. But that one letter is a big one. Ranked as the 39th best roster entering 2015 after landing the No. 32-ranked class, Louisville is smack in the middle of the league in terms of talent (7th) on their own tier. Should they continue to improve recruiting, the Cards should be the next recruiting challenger in the ACC.
Bottom of the barrel
The bottom of the league needs some help on the recruiting trail. The ACC has more teams ranked outside of the top 60 in terms of talent than any other league. In fact, the ACC has as many teams ranked 60th or worse than the Big Ten (1), Big 12 (2) and Pac-12 (1) combined. That said, Duke moved from 13th or 11th in the ACC after two of the better classes in school history.