As I was watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, I was struck by how few starters on both teams came from major college football powerhouses. Tomorrow is college football National Signing Day for senior high school recruits, so by way of illustration, only 13 out 48 starters went to colleges that have top 25 recruiting classes for 2007. It doesn't seem to have been the case in times past. I wonder why this is so.
Let's pretend that the NFL is meritocratic, that the college game and pro game don't differ materially, that good recruits want to play at the highest profile college football programs, that all college football players want to play in the NFL, that the scouting services are reasonably accurate in their assessments of what the college programs believe about the caliber of their recruiting classes, and that the top 25 recruiting classes for 2007 are about the same as each year recently. Using these assumptions, I have two favorite reasons why there are so few Super Bowl-starting players from big-time college football programs.
Hypothesis 1. College football programs are bad at evaluating and attracting talent.
Hypothesis 2. College football programs are bad at developing talent.
Of course, football is a team sport, so there are a host of non-individual aspects that go into a win or loss, such as leadership, team chemistry, and scheme. Also, I'm mindful that the mental aspects of the game dominate at the highest levels of the sport. But all of these factors point to the possibility that a college football program that is good at evaluating, attracting, and developing talent can scale the ranks of college football fairly quickly. Nothing is written in stone.
As a Notre Dame fan, this is both good news and bad news. At times recently, Notre Dame has been particularly poor in evaluating, attracting, and developing talent. If the football program has improved in these areas, then we can expect very good times ahead. On the other hand, the Idahos of the world are beating down the gate, no matter their recruiting ranking. They have no special love or respect for the tradition of Notre Dame.
I will have a good time checking on the events tomorrow, but will take the expert evaluations with a grain of salt.
Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI Starting Lineup
|Reggie Wayne||WR||28||6||Miami (FL)|
|Jeff Saturday||C||31||8||North Carolina|
|Ryan Diem||OT||27||6||Northern Illinois|
|Ryan Lilja||OG||25||3||Kansas State|
|Robert Mathis||DE||25||4||Alabama A&M|
|Rob Morris||LB||32||7||Brigham Young|
|Jason David||CB||24||3||Washington State|
|Nick Harper||CB||32||6||Fort Valley State|
|Adam Vinatieri||K||34||11||South Dakota State|
|Hunter Smith||P||29||8||Notre Dame|
Chicago Bears Super Bowl XLI Starting Lineup
|Bernard Berrian||WR||26||3||Fresno State|
|Muhsin Muhammad||WR||33||11||Michigan State|
|Desmond Clark||TE||29||8||Wake Forest|
|John Tait||OT||32||8||Brigham Young|
|Roberto Garza||OG||27||6||Texas A&M-Kingsville|
|Brian Urlacher||LB||28||7||New Mexico|
|Danieal Manning||S||24||R||Abilene Christian|
|Robbie Gould||K||24||2||Penn State|
|Brad Maynard||P||33||10||Ball State|