Got Talent?

The following was posted by Revue Party yesterday on Rock’s House. Here are the highlights.

  • Of note, Irish 5th year and senior classes are only stronger than Syracuse, Washington and Navy on next year’s schedule. The Irish give up significant “seniority” to Boston College, North Carolina, Michigan, USC, North Carolina and even Stanford.
  • When including the Junior class, Notre Dame jumps on par with Michigan and over Pittsburgh, but still below that of USC and North Carolina.
  • When including the Sophomore classes, only North Carolina and USC are significantly higher than Notre Dame.

Here’s Revue Party’s full post (I wanted to do this, but was too lazy.)

After all of the excitement from yesterday’s Blue & Gold game, I figured I’d go back and compare the relative talent we have versus the teams on our 2008 schedule. I simply took each team’s roster and added up the Rivals’ star ratings by class. Obviously, this isn’t the best way to evaluate talent but on a quiet Sunday afternoon, it was the best I could do. That’s why I refer to it as “raw talent” – meaning raw numbers.

One of the concerns I have from yesterday is that the sophomore class is expected to carry a heavy load this year at key positions (Clausen, Allen, Hughes, Ragone, Kamara, Tate, Neal, B. Smith, H. Smith, I. Williams, G. Gray (maybe), B. Walker). This is still a fairly young team.

Observations from the numbers:

1. The gift of Ty Willingham’s recruiting efforts keeps giving. This year, however, it’s primarily in terms of numbers among the 5th years. Three 5th year seniors is the smallest number by far against our competition. We are one of only a few teams that have no 5th years along the offensive line.

2. Remarkably, the lack of much turnover among our senior class, allows us to stack up fairly well against the competition. Considering that nearly every senior this year plays a key role, that’s a good sign. Unfortunately, when you combine our 5th years with our seniors, only Washington and Navy has less raw talent.

3. We’ve narrowed the talent gap with Michigan. The combination of Weis’ recruiting and high-level defections have helped this occur. Given the level of uncertainty with a new coach, a new offense and a new quarterback, we just might have a shot to beat Michigan this year.

4. The team that should keep us up at night is North Carolina. Here’s a team that has more raw talent than us though the sophomore class – adding up the 5th, Sr., Jr. and So. numbers (largely because of their large 5th year class), returns 19 starters and has a proven college head football coach on the sidelines – and the game is in Chapel Hill.

5. Pittsburgh’s got some talent. While every Dolphins and Bears fan can discuss Wannstedt’s head coaching prowess, he did knock off #2 WVU at the end of last year. This is a game about which to be concerned.

6. There is absolutely no reason to lose to Purdue this year.

On paper, this is a team that could go 9-3. But with a team still dominated by youth, games like Michigan State, Boston College and even Stanford could be in doubt.

Last year taught us that nothing can be taken for granted. While I believe that youth and inexperience (especially along the OL, at QB and WR – the whole offense) played a big role in last year’s disaster, it doesn’t explain losses to Air Force, Navy and, in hindsight, Georgia Tech.

I think most of us are going to be a lot more cautious with our predictions and expectations in 2008.

Below is the summary table, showing the incremental raw talent by class.


5th & 5th & 5th, Sr. All

Seniors Sr. & Jr. Jr., So. Classes
Southern Cal 77 153 229 303
Michigan 71 126 189 276
Notre Dame 48 123 190 281
Pittsburgh 55 117 184 244
North Carolina 67 141 210 267
Michigan State 64 111 168 225
Washington 39 77 137 213
Purdue 58 92 139 201
Boston College 67 107 154 236
San Diego St. 57 77 121 173
Syracuse 41 83 129 195
Stanford 62 103 153 199
Navy 12 16 18 46

And here’s the raw data by class, as well as returning starters.


Actual Actual Actual Actual Actual Actual Returning

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Raw Total Starters
Southern Cal 17 60 76 76 74 303 12
Michigan 26 45 55 63 87 276 11
Notre Dame 8 40 75 67 91 281 17
Pittsburgh 15 40 62 67 60 244 15
North Carolina 30 37 74 69 57 267 19
Michigan State 25 39 47 57 57 225 12
Washington 24 15 38 60 76 213 15
Purdue 27 31 34 47 62 201 13
Boston College 28 39 40 47 82 236 11
San Diego St. 19 38 20 44 52 173 13
Syracuse 20 21 42 46 66 195 14
Stanford 21 41 41 50 46 199 13
Navy 0 12 4 2 28 46 12

* returning starters lifted from a Mike Frank analysis. Mike, if I need to remove this, let me know.

** I didn’t pick up any transfers “in” which will affect some schools, such as USC (Mitch Mustain).

*** Since this was done manually, there’s ample opportunity for error.

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3 Responses to “Got Talent?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Excellent post, however, a “comma” might work nicely after an adverb from the third bullet point in the first paragraph, as the comma will change the whole sentence meaning. Where do you think?

    “When including the Sophomore classes only North Carolina and USC are significantly higher than Notre Dame.”

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Aren’t ND fifth year players graduate school students not seniors? I think until ND changes their red shirt policy they will not be able to compete for the BCS. Don’t the graduate students need to carry a full load unlike Matt Lienert taking dance as his only class as a fifth year senior.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    How about doing the exact same type of analysis comparing the talent from last year’s team versus last year’s schedule?

    Now that would be an interesting analysis – it would especially help us determine whether this type of analysis has any sort of predictive reliability.

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