The Gators Measure Up Over Time

I know there was a great deal of gnashing of teeth over the Scout.com ranking system that kept the Gators out of the top ten this year, and that's fine. I agree with the criticism that the system appears to value quantity over quality, but I disagree with those who think Florida was "punished" for not signing a quarterback.

Last year the Gators were "rewarded" for signing two quarterbacks (three if you count Brian Waggener, so you can't have it both ways.

But what is important about this year's class is that Florida has successfully put together consensus top ten classes for the fourth straight year. Granted, the Class of '05 is nowhere near its No. 11 Scout.com ranking or the No. 8 spot in Superprep Magazine, but the rankings are the rankings. But it got me thinking about how Florida compares with other schools over the past four years.

Eight schools have been in the top 20 each of the last four years according to Scout.com. I thought the number would be larger, but it's just eight. Of the eight, only two schools, Southern Cal and Michigan were in the top ten all four years. Here is how the top eight would rank, based on the average ranking over that period.

#1 Southern Cal (4.50)
#2 Florida (6.50)
#3 Michigan (7.25)
t-#3 Georgia (7.25)
#5 Texas (9.00)
#6 LSU (9.25)
#7 Miami (10.50)
#8 Ohio State (10.75)

Five additional schools managed to earn top 20 rankings in three of the last four years. In an effort to keep the numbers somewhat consistent, each will be assigned the number 25 for the year they were not ranked. That would make the next group as follows:

#9 Notre Dame (10.75)
#10 Florida State (11.25)
#11 Oklahoma (12.50)
#12 Auburn (14.75)
#13 Alabama (15.00)

So you have five SEC schools and two other Florida schools among the 13 most successful programs over the past four seasons. It's a pretty clear indication that the dominance of the SEC isn't going anywhere. And it's a pretty good indication that FSU and Miami may be much tougher games next fall than many may currently believe.

Two of the oddest records over the last four years belong to SEC teams. The Vols of coach Phillip Fulmer had the No. 1 class in 2005 and the No. 4 class two years later. However in the other two seasons the Vols were nowhere to be found in the top 20. South Carolina was No. 7 last year, No. 20 in 2005, but unranked in two other campaigns as well. Another oddity has Oregon, Iowa and Nebraska each with one top ten class, but three years outside the top 20.

The Gators have recruited as well as anyone in the country, except perhaps Southern Cal over the past four years. Consistency on the recruiting trail year in and year out is going to keep the Gators an annual contender for the foreseeable future.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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