State Of The Programs: FSU v. Miami

This is the second in the "State Of The Programs" series.  Last week I took at look at Clemson.  

Last week Miami made news by extending Randy Shannon's contract by 4 years.  FSU fans were happy with the move  for a number of reasons which I'll profile today and tomorrow.  Miami hasn't won a conference title since 2003 and won't be favored to win one this season.  The 'Canes haven't even won a bowl game under Shannon.  We'll preview this season's Canes later this summer, but Miami looks like it could have a very good team for the next two seasons.  Unfortunately for 'Canes fans, the program looks to be going in the opposite direction of the team.  I'll explain.

Great football teams need great talent, coaching, and money.  Talent is procured through and best measured by recruiting.  Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program and Miami is in the middle of the most fertile recruiting area in the country.  It follows then that Miami should always have great talent. 

Let's have a look at recruiting over the last 4 years.  The numbers in parenthesis indicate the number of players each school enrolled (except in the case of the 2010 class, as those kids have not yet enrolled).  Please note that I am uninterested (as you should be) in players who signed but could not enroll due to academics, arrests, etc.  Part of recruiting is conducting proper due diligence.  Players cannot help a team unless they are on the field and cannot be on the field if they are not in school.  Keeping players in school is another important aspect to this as well, and I'll delve into that in part 2 (tomorrow).  To the chart!


As you can see, Miami brought in better players than FSU did in the 2007, 2008, and 2009 classes, but not by an enormous margin.  In particular, the Canes had a monster 2008 class that featured many current starters.  The 2008 class was fueled largely by great crops from a few select schools in the Miami area and a lot of hype surrounding Randy Shannon.  The 2009 class was light on numbers but heavy on quality. 

But just look at what happened to Miami in 2010.  Miami got worked by other teams.  Miami's average recruit in 2010 was rated a 3.07.  That's on par with schools like Minnesota, Oregon State, and Baylor.  Florida State's recruits were comparable to those of Oklahoma, Penn State, Auburn, and Georgia. 

So what happened?  I turned to TomahawkNation Recruiting Analyst, SWFLNole:...

Keep reading to see the rest of the breakdown.


Miami has one the most natural recruiting advantages in the country. However, their 2010 recruiting class was a mess. Randy Shannon and crew did a terrible job of evaluating the class, were late offering prospects, and worst of all they took too many players (if you're going to miss, miss small).

Think about the fact that the 'Canes didn't land a single one of the 26 best players in South Florida. Most urban area kids down there grow up UM fans but that didn't matter in 2010. The best player from Dade County (Joyner) signed with Florida State. One of, if not the best player in Florida, Corey Lemonier grew up a huge Cane fan. He will be playing his college ball at Auburn. There are strong rumors that have legs about the downfall in the relationship between perennial power Miami Northwestern HS and Miami.

On top of not being able to "win their base", Miami took 28 players. With an 85 scholarship maximum, Miami just filled more than 1/4 of its roster with a class full of reaches and scrubs. Another class similar to the one it just had could literally stranglehold the program for years.

When Miami is functioning at full throttle it is a good program because it has the most natural recruiting advantage imaginable. The 'Canes are not money or facilities rich, so they have to recruit well, however their 2010 class was terrible as a whole (not that every player is), and it handcuffs a large part of their roster.

I'm probably the staunchest proponent of re-configuring the recruiting rankings by inflating the value of linemen and deflating the value of skill players.  More on that later this Summer, but just realize that it's tough to evaluate linemen.  And most fans don't want to watch tape of or read about linemen.  For those reasons, I don't think the services (Rivals, ESPN, Scout) put much effort into evaluating linemen.  If I ran a recruiting service catered to fans and not coaches, I would do the same thing.  Running backs sell subscriptions.  Awkward 320 lb 17-year olds do not.  So with that said, I do give Miami's 2010 haul more credit than its initial ranking might suggest.

But every year the rankings do get more accurate.  With the advent of the internet, sleepers are becoming scarcer and scarcer.  Miami fans will tell you that Ed Reed was a two-star recruit.  That's correct.  But Alonzo Highsmith was recruited by Notre Dame, Michigan, and every other program in the country.  Kellen Winslow, Antrelle Rolle, Sean Taylor, and Vince Wilfork were all five-star recruits.  This idea that Miami was built on below-average recruits is silly.  The idea that with the advent of the internet, Miami is losing its edge in evaluating SoFla talent is not.  Programs have greater access to SoFla kids and those kids from Miami have greater exposure to other programs.

Miami's recruiting isn't falling off a cliff and the 'Canes will always have good players.  But Miami might not always have great players.  And that's what I don't understand about what Miami did last year.  The Canes took this enormous class of very average players.  Teams do not have unlimited scholarships.  The 'Canes are stuck with these scrubs for the next four years! 

Shannon also failed to close for the second year in a row, aside from poison-pill recruit Latwan Anderson, whom Miami reeled in after many schools pulled offers due to behavioral and academic concerns.  According to Rivals, however, Anderson is not signed (other reports have him running track and then maybe playing football in a later year). Miami signed 6 players after the New Year.  The aforementioned Anderson, and 5 two-star players (one was later given three-star status).  Miami was in scramble mode and took a bunch of scrubs. It's like throwing more money after bad. 

Below is a look at three-year comparisons (07-09 and 08-10).  As we'll discuss tomorrow, Miami has the better 2010 team than the 'Noles based on the work the Canes did in 2007-2009.  But look at how that enormous outlier of a class flips things around.


Not only that, but FSU's '08-'10 haul rates as better than Miami's '07-'09 group.  

Here's a breakdown of the classes from '07-'10 by 2-year pairings.  Again, the difference between FSU and Miami in the '09-'10 time period is more than double the difference Miami had over FSU with the '07-'08 groups or the '08-'09 groups.


Finally, remember how I said Miami out-recruited FSU in '07, '08, and '09?  Let's put those three classes with the '10 class and have a look:


Perhaps better than any other graphic I could have shown, this graph demonstrates that the damage done by the '10 class is greater than the advantages gained by Miami in '07, '08, and '09 classes combined.

Miami has more field-ready talent than Florida State right now.  There's no debating that unless you think freshmen are going to make a big impact (they don't.  See also, history).  But as we'll discuss tomorrow, that advantage could quickly disappear.

What the 'Canes did with the '10 class is even more confounding because Miami will have a better haul this coming year (Shannon's contract guarantees as much).  But because of the size of the 2010 class, this coming class will be very small (think 15-17 kids, according to Shannon).  Of course that number could swell if multiple 2010 kids fail to qualify, but that would fly in the face of the "we need to see your academic progress" excuse that Miami's coaches routinely feed recruits for their failure to offer.  Miami can't offer elite kids because of "academics" but can offer scrubs with questionable academics?  Interesting. 

What if the 'Canes upcoming class is of the same quality as their most recent?  And Florida State's holds constant?  The gap in talent  in terms of average player rating would more than double. 

So assuming FSU stays steady at an average star rating of 3.5 and takes 21 players.  If Miami takes 17 kids, what would those players need to average out to in order to catch the 'Noles in terms of 4-year rating?  Try 3.925!  For reference, that would have placed the 'Canes behind only 2010 USC, 2009 Florida, 2008 Notre Dame, and 2007 USC.  To put it another way, that's not happening. 

So Miami fans are left in the strange position of hoping 'Canes recruits fail to qualify.  Florida State expects all of its recruits to qualify for the first time since this author was in elementary school.

One recruiting class does not sink a program, but as we'll see tomorrow, the 2010 class combined with other problems could spell serious trouble for the 'Canes.

Check back tomorrow to see what the Miami roster will look like compared to FSU in 2011 and 2012, what we can learn from Miami's scheduling practices, and some speculating on the future of the 'Canes program.

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