One of the most frequent questions that I get revolves around recruiting rankings, and their relevance to a coaching staff like Ohio State's.
First of all, I can assure you that Jim Tressel and his staff don't spend any time scrutinizing any recruiting guru's list for the next hidden gem.
All of their evaluations are done internally -- without the assistance of anyone's "Hot 100" list.
Secondly, no one on the staff is concerned with the difference between a "three star" and a "five star" player. There is only one list at OSU -- those worthy of offers. (There are no Plan B, C or D players -- contrary to popular belief.)
It is important to remember how the recruiting game has grown from a interesting sidelight each February to a year long obsession for many (and big business for some). Years ago, you would never even know the names of signees at Ohio State until fall camp began. Can you imagine that in this day and age?
Someone very close to Ohio State stated to me a couple years ago that Tressel was the best he had ever seen at "coaching player's up."
I wasn't sure what that meant at the time -- and was not sure if it just wasn't a cliché. Upon closer review, that statement has turned out to be prophetic and emblematic of the success that Tressel has enjoyed.
Think about it this way: If we accept the premise that recruiting rankings are not perfect indicators of future success (otherwise all "five stars" would be granted immediate All-American status and the "recruiting champion" would automatically be awarded the BCS championship four years hence) and, secondly, that there is probably not a great deal of difference between a three star player and a five star player, then OSU's recruiting strategy comes into sharp focus.
Their goal is to find the 18-20 best "players" that "fit" into their system -- not the 18-20 best "athletes" or the 18-20 highest "ranked" players.
OSU has a system that takes in young men, indoctrinates them into the "team" and "family" concepts that Tressel holds so near and dear -- and produces winning football teams, and players that are ready to handle the challenges of the NFL.
The proof is in the pudding -- the record of accomplishment on the field as well as in the NFL draft are well documented. But how can this be? We haven't "won" the recruiting championship every season -- how can we hope to compete on the field?
At this point, you have to realize that it is all the other little intangibles that Tressel covets that are paying big dividends. Those are scholastic achievement, competitiveness, mental toughness, team, family, spiritual and physical development.
These are all things that are not measured with a stop watch or on the bench press. But all become huge when selecting the "right" players to fit into your system.
Does this mean that I believe that Tressel could compete with mediocre players?
Absolutely not. I'm just saying that what he is looking for may be a tad different than what others desire.
And that once he gets the young men on campus, you can be assured that he will get the most out of them.
So the next time you find yourself scratching your head about an offer or bemoaning the fact that Ohio State isn't in on more "five star" players from points unknown remember what Old Grannie Nevada used to say: "Build on a firm foundation, or you will find yourself stuck in the mud."
NevadaBuck's next Chat on Bucknuts.com will be at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Mon., Aug. 21. Mark that date now!