The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.
Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships.
National Signing Day 2016 gave us more than 4,000 new players to root for and track over the next four or five seasons. So which teams are in the best shape for 2016?
College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Pac-12 schools over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.
Ranking the Pac-12's College Football's Rosters in 2016:
What did we learn?
Fight On, Clay
Clay Helton was an unusual hire. He appears to be a quality offensive mind and he proved on National Signing Day that he knows how to close an elite class. USC once again landed the best class in the Pac-12 and once again will enter a season with the league's most talented roster. Which is why Helton, who will also have a new boss soon, has precious little time to win. His roster is back over 80 scholarships and is the sixth-best collection of talent in the nation — well ahead of anyone else in the conference.
The Next Step
Jim Mora has won a bunch of games in Westwood but fans are beginning to wonder about the next step (or if their coach wants to be there). But UCLA moved past Oregon as the second-most talented roster in the league for 2016. After three top-12 classes in four cycles and five straight top-20 hauls, Mora now boasts the No. 13-rated roster in the nation, including the nation’s best pure passer in Josh Rosen. The time is now for the Bruins.
The Battle for the North
The Ducks and Cardinals have dominated the Pac-12 Championship Game since its inception and have won an absurd 111 combined games in the last five years. But as far as talent goes, Washington and Chris Petersen are nipping at their heels. Oregon (19th), Stanford (21st) and Washington (25th) all boast top 25 rosters nationally and are well ahead of the rest of the North Division in terms of talent. Catching up will be no easy task, however, as David Shaw just landed his third top-20 class in five cycles. This is a fun division to track for a reason.
What is a Ute?
With all due respect to Judge Haller, it’s a helluva football team. Few coaches have gotten more out of less than Kyle Whittingham. But, much like other recently elevated programs like TCU and Louisville, that “less” is getting better and better. This cycle Utah landed its second-best class (36th) of the last decade (32nd in 2010) and its best since entering the Pac-12. With his ability to develop talent, it won’t be long before Whittingham’s talent begins to match his win total.
Sonny Side Up
Cal has gotten dramatically better under Sonny Dykes and it’s shown on the recruiting trail. Dykes has landed back-to-back top-40 classes after winning eight games for the first time since 2009. This roster needs to continue to take dramatic steps before it can consistently compete in the North, but things are looking up in Berkeley. That is, as long as Dykes still resides there (looking at you, Michael Williams).
The South’s Top Challenger
Todd Graham’s Sun Devils slipped a bit in 2015 but with three consecutive top-30 classes in a row, Arizona State is well within reach of UCLA and USC in the South. The 28.8 average class ranking for this ASU roster is the line of demarcation in the conference between the top half and the bottom. The Sun Devils are one of six Pac-12 schools whose roster lands among the top 30 in the nation while the rest of the league falls outside of the top 40. Graham should have his squad back in contention quickly.