What does it take to have an elite college football program in today's world?
Great assistant coaches, split evenly between coaching and recruiting. You can afford to have great offensive and defensive coordinators who don't like to recruit but you must have seven great recruiters and pay them well.
"To consistently have a winning program, you have to have great facilities, everything you need within walking distance, an indoor practice facility, meeting rooms, tele-media room, weight rooms, conference rooms, players lounge rooms and tutoring rooms," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who for 31 years has observed how colleges engage in the business of recruiting high school prospects.
But there is more to it than that.
Parents want to be sure their sons are tutored. All of them need to get a college education. A lot of them aren't college ready. In fact, at least half of them aren't. They wouldn't be going to college if they weren't football players.
Meanwhile, the kids look for other things. They are most interested in facilities, the quickest way to the NFL and girls. They want a social life. They also want to know how many former players from each college have made it to the pros.
That's why you see so many former USC players on the sideline. Coach Pete Carroll knows the presence of former players draws kids. Almost every big-time school has somebody in the pros.
But which programs are the best?
In a comparison of the Big 10 and the SEC, Ohio State is No. 1. Ohio State is the Disneyland of college football. The only other school that compares to the Buckeyes' overall program is Texas.
In the Big 10/SEC comparison, Ohio State ranks ahead of Alabama, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Michigan and Georgia. In a year or two, Tennessee and Michigan could move to the top of the list. Minnesota is moving up with a new stadium and facilities. Auburn, too.
That seems to be the big selling point among the kids--facilities over NFL success and education and win-loss percentage.