The Stars are Not Aligning in Tally

This isn't about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. We're not talking about the stars in the sky, although you could say that this simple comparison of stars versus stars may make a few of those friendly folks at the School Out West think that these recruiting rankings they've bought into all these years were just snatched straight out of the sky.

Gator fans have long suspected that the SOW recruiting rankings receive a bit of undue influence from a later to be named source. There is a good chance that a large portion the non-Kool Aid drinking Noles will be wondering the same thing come January 1 especially if they're among the fortunate ones hoping to avoid frostbite in Boise when their heroes take to the Smurf Turf to play in something called the Micron PC Bowl.

With all those "blue-chippers" on the roster, you wouldn't think it's possible to nearly lose to Troy at home of all places and get whacked on the road by a team that lost earlier in the season to Akron. When you've got all those five-star guys, you should be winning big, right?

What Nole fans that follow recruiting don't know is that the numbers were most likely being manipulated all this time. The horses were actually going to other pastures. In other words, those aren't exactly thoroughbreds you're trying to run the race with Noles. There are a few Shetland Ponies in there.

For a lot of years, folks at the School Out West (SOW) thought their coaching staff was almost Bear Bryant-ish and able to walk on water. If you read the message boards these days, there are more than a few folks that think that alien invaders have snatched the real coaches and these replacements can't coach a lick. Otherwise, how is it that all these blue-chip, five-star, all-intergalactic types are losing? It's gotta be the coaches, right?

Or, could it be that this little website out west (WOW for short) has been cooking the books? They wouldn't do that would they?

But check the numbers and look at the results and you, too, might just conclude that the MOW (Manipulator Out West) at the WOW has been making the SOW look a whole lot better on paper than the football team looks on the field. Holy Cow (big cud-chewing animal that gives us milk)!

What does this do? Well, folks, it's kind of using some of that dandy makeup Heather Locklear uses. You may hide all those wrinkles well enough that you look really spiffy when the lights are down low but once you sweat a little and the makeup rubs off, everybody sees you're nothing more than a Granny Clampett look-alike. That's kind of like SOW recruiting the last few years. It looks real good when the lights are down low. On the field and under the lights, it's wrinkle city baby!

To be fair, we can't exactly blame the WOW for the problems of the SOW when it comes to recruiting lately. The MOW and the WOW (at least to the best of my knowledge) don't actually recruit for the SOW --- although there has been cause to wonder on more than one occasion. The actual recruiting is done by coaches. Just let a potential recruit even think about choosing the SOW and the MOW and the WOW suddenly has that kid looking better to recruitniks than Pamela Anderson fresh from a visit to her friendly surgeon for a brand new set of store boughts. So instead of saying their class is "real and they are spectacular" five years later, SOW fans should begin to realize they've been duped.

It also isn't WOW's fault when players don't get into school. Check the record and you'll see The SOW has had several players from each class over the last five years fail to get into school because of grades. By the time some of these guys get into school, they've been around long enough for Burt Reynolds to get at least one new face.

You got all that? Well maybe I can help clear it up some.

This is a subject I have seen coming for quite some time and I've been doing my homework. I feel a tad vindicated now that the MOW has posted articles of surrender on the WOW, basically throwing the coaches under the bus for the recent nosedive in fortunes. The coaches certainly have done their part in this charade but the pig they're putting on the field wears a necktie, and for that you can thank the MOW. Maybe expectations wouldn't be quite so high if the recruiting rankings had been fair and impartial to begin with.

In my days on the Florida staff, I was allowed to and given the opportunity to witness recruiting as close as anyone can get to it. I know who the Gator coaches were looking at, why they were looking at them and which players the coaches didn't think were all that good. I know how many the SOW took that the Florida staff didn't want because they didn't think they're good enough to play at this level. Then I saw for myself that the WOW manipulated the star ratings of those same players Florida staffs didn't want.

There is a reason for the deceit. The SOW probably lands a few really good recruits every year because some of these really outstanding kids believe they're joining a class top to bottom that's filled up with really good players. And it's good publicity, too. From a business perspective the WOW goes ka-ching ka-ching at the cash register because recruitniks will pay early and often to read about great recruiting classes. It makes a ton of money, but is it ethical? Ethics and the MOW? You really don't want me to laugh so hard my Diet Coke sprays out my nose, do you?

Another interesting trend is how often a player that is interested in or signs with Florida sees his ranking drop.

Enough of the speculation. You want proof? Here it is. I've been doing my homework for sometime now, comparing the relative staffs of each player signed by Florida and the SOW for the past five years. What I did was take the star value of each player from the two competing networks. In this case it was Scout/the insiders and The Other Network (TON). I used the rankings from both networks on each player signed and found out some very interesting trends which in my opinion totally back my contention that no matter how hard the MOW denies, the books are indeed cooked when it comes to rankings.

First, I found each player and the star value assigned on each network. If both networks gave the same star value, I considered that a push and eliminated the player from the equation. Therefore my list consists of just those players with differences in star value. In parentheses you will see the TON ranking first, the ranking second. Here is what I came up with:

Gator Signees Favored by TON:

2002: Steven Harris (3 stars, 1 star), Jermaine McCollum (3, 2), Tremaine McCollum (2, 1), McKenzie Pierre (2, 1)

2003: Joe Cohen (5, 4), Michael Hill (3, 2), Clint McMillan (3, 2), Jarvis Moss (5, 4), Steve Rissler (3, 2), Dee Webb (5, 4)

2004: Mike Brown (4, 3), Brandon Daniel (3, 2), Javier Estopinan (4, 3), Dawayne Grace (4, 3), Jeremy Mincey (4, 3), McIntosh Nicolas (4, 3)

2005: Nyan Boateng (4, 3)

2006: Jim Barrie (4, 3), Brandon James (3, 2), Trent Pupello (4, 3), Terron Sanders (4, 3)

TON had 21 Gators ranked higher than Scout did over the five-year period.

Gator Signees Favored by

2002: Gavin Dickey (4, 5), Reggie Lewis (3, 4)

2003: Johnny Dingle ((2, 3), Earl Everett (4, 5), Billy Griffin (2, 4), Eric Wilbur (3, 4), Tavares Washington (3, 4), Eric Holcombe (4, 5), David Kenner (3, 4), Chris Leak (4, 5), Tranell Morant (3, 4)

2004: Tony Joiner (3, 4), Mike Mangold (3, 4), Derrick McPhearson (3, 4)

2005: Avery Atkins (4, 5), Kalvin Baker (3, 4), Eddie Haupt (3, 4), Kestahn Moore (3, 4), Jonathan Phillips (2, 4), Ronnie Wilson (3, 4), Reggie Nelson (4, 5)

2006: Jarred Fayson (4, 5), Jamar Hornsby (4, 5), Wondy Pierre-Louis (2, 3)

Scout had 24 Gator prospects ranked higher than TON did over a five year period.

One network with 21 and the other with 24, the number of different star rankings seems to be fairly even so that neither network is really favoring one school over the other. The one anomaly I noticed was that the Scout rankings tended to be higher for the JuCo signees than the TON rankings. Maybe they should have been eliminated from the numbers, but I left them in.

With all of that information, I was really riveted to get the numbers for the SOW. I can tell you I was not disappointed with the outcome, but more shocked at how pronounced the numbers were. Here is what I found.

Seminole Signees Favored by TON:

2002: Broderick Bunkley (4, 1), Cory Niblock (2, 1), Lorne Sam (4, 3), Leon Washington (5, 4), John Harris (4, 3)

2003: Chris Anderson (4, 3), Alex Boston (4, 3), Anthony Kelly (3, 2), Audrey McFadden (4, 3), Joslin Shaw (3, 2), Andraus Grace (3, 2)

2004: Dumaka Atkins (4, 2), Greg Carr (4, 3), Tony Carter (4, 3), Jacky Claude(4, 3), Emanuel Dunbar (4, 3), Trevor Ford (4, 3), Rodney gallon (4, 3), Cornelius Lewis (3, 2), Darius McClure (3, 2), Jae Thaxton (4, 3) Barry Wright (4, 3)

2005: Russell Ball (3, 4)

2006: Brandon Davis(3, 2), Tyler Graves (3, 2), Sedric Holloway (3, 2), Ochuko Jenije (4, 2), Kevin McNeil (4, 3), Preston Parker (4, 3), Bud Thacker (4, 2), Toddrick Verdell (4, 3), Brandon Warren (5, 4), Ricardo Wright (4, 2)

TON had 32 SOW prospects ranked higher than Scout did over the five year period.

Seminole Signees Favored by

2002: Lonnie Davis (4, 5), A.J Nicholson (4, 5)

2003: Chauncey Davis (4, 5), Chase Goggans (3, 4)

2004: Gary Cismesia (2, 3) Kenny Ingram (3, 4)

2005: Anthony Kelly (3, 4)

2006: none

Scout had seven SOW prospects ranked higher than TON did over a five year period.

That is right folks, of 40 players that had differing star rankings between the two networks for SOW commitments, 33 had higher rankings on TON. Almost a 5:1 ratio of TON favoring the SOW recruits.. On the other hand the Gators had close to a 1:1 ratio between the networks and were very even. Can anyone actually believe that there is no manipulation?

I even did a control group. I chose the University of Miami, which seemed somewhat appropriate. Without going through the entire list of players for Miami I came up with Scout favoring 20 prospects that had a different star value and TON favored 15 or a 4:3 ratio in favor of the Scout rankings. In my opinion, that is still insignificant over a five-year period.

So what's the point of this exercise? It's pretty simple. The recruiting rankings do get manipulated by TON when it comes to SOW prospects.

The only thing that is dropping like a rock these days are the football fortunes of the Noles. That tends to happen when you get hosed by a school that lost to Akron on national TV when you (a) had to rent a band and (b) the victorious coach basically cried and asked everyone in the nation for a group hug.

If the rankings are not manipulated by TON, then their coaches are stinking up the joint. If the rankings are being manipulated and those alleged greyhounds really are dachshunds, then we are witnessing first hand that age-old attempt to make silk purses out of sow's ears. You can conclude one other thing from this exercise: The SOW was once a Ferarri. Nowadays, it's a '75 Pinto whose primary color is Bondo.

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