Who has done the most with least over the past decade-plus in the Big Ten? Would you believe it's Ohio State?
That, which admittedly surprised us as well, comes from an analysis of the success rate** of recruits for the schools that have won a Big Ten title or played in a BCS bowl since 2002.
Unlike our earlier study that focused solely on recruits on signing day, this is a look at performance. It also excludes the 2014 classes because those fellas, though they might become excellent players, have not actually played yet and thus haven't even had the chance to earn All-Big Ten.
The teams with the highest percentage of recruits who have earned All-Big Ten have also won the most Big Ten titles during that span, beginning with Ohio State. The Buckeyes won or shared seven titles (counting the 2010 vacated title, as we'll do for Penn State's 2005 and '08 championship squads) and 17 percent of their recruits earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. The only other schools studied in double digits are Penn State (12.9 percent/two championships) and Wisconsin (11.7 percent/three championships).
If we shift the focus to lower-rated recruits, the rates remain similar with Ohio State still leading the way at 16.3 percent of those deemed three-stars or less earning first-team All-Big Ten. Wisconsin was the only other school to reach double figures, and Michigan State and Penn State both checked in in the nine-percent range.
Wisconsin's rate of 11.1 percent is higher than Penn State's 9.0. Michigan State, with an overall rate of 8.1 percent, also has done a better job at turning lower-rated recruits into all-conference players (9.3 percent) than the Nittany Lions.
Also noteworthy: of the three schools that secured more than 10 five-star players, Ohio State's success rate is by far the best. Eleven five-star Buckeyes have earned All-Big Ten first team for a rate of 33.3 while only five of Michigan's 23 (21.7 percent) could make the same claim and Penn State checked in at 3 for 13 (23.1 percent).
Of course, it stands to reason playing with (or competing against on the practice field) more highly rated players helps the three-star and two-star (and unrated) players perform, but we still found this an interesting conclusion, especially when it comes to discussing which programs have best developed players.
And on the flip side there is Michigan, where neither recruits at the top or the bottom of the spectrum have done a whole lot. In fact, the entire state might be one to avoid in college for five-star recruits as none of Michigan State's four five-stars have made the All-Big Ten first team and only 21.7 percent of those who became Wolverines were bestowed that honor.
Michigan's overall rate of 7.5 percent of recruits making All-Big Ten is better only than the 3.9 percent of Illinois, and it is expressed both in terms of success of the top Wolverine recruits and those who might have come in under the radar. This is of course on top of our earlier study that noted despite having the second-highest average national recruiting ranking from 2002-14, the Wolverines' two Big Ten titles trail Wisconsin's three and match the total won at Michigan State, Iowa and Penn State.
Of course, Brady Hoke can't be blamed for much of this because he has only been in Ann Arbor for three years, but it will be interesting to see if he can turn it around. With a large number of highly rated recruits having gained experience over the past couple of years, his best chance would seem to be coming this year.
**How did we judge success? Earning a first-team All-Big Ten nod from conference coaches or media. While this is not a perfect measure because it is still subject to bias and human error, we find it to be a generally uniform measurement.
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