ESPN The Magazine has recently submitted this question to an all-star panel: Who are the top recruiters in college sports? The got their answers and provided a list. I can't supply you with all that information because it is in the print version only, or online to ESPN Insider subscribers. But I do have a copy of that article and would like to discuss Coach Calipari's place there.
For the sake of both brevity and competence, I won't even mention non-men's basketball recruiters. I'm not knowledgeable enough about NCAA volleyball, women's basketball, football, golf, etc. to comment on the skill of those coaches. I'm just going to accept ESPN's word on that uncritically.
Coach Cal appears in position #12. Only one basketball coach appears ahead of him in the rankings, Mike Kryzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils at #6. Thad Matta of the Ohio St. Buckeyes is the only other men's basketball coach on the list at #15.
I decided to analyze these guys using the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which is a website that combines recruiting rankings to come up with a consensus ranking of recruiting classes 1-10. For this exercise, I simply entered the position for which an RSCI ranking was available (they begin in 1998) and averaged them for each college basketball coach in the ESPN article. If a class was not in the top ten, I simply assigned it a value of 11, which is not a particularly accurate way of doing things, but for the purposes of this article, it should be sufficient.
Take a look at the results after the jump.Here is the table that was produced from my analysis:
A few notes you should be aware of. The averages only include the years for which the coach was a college head coach at some school. Also, this system does not really take into account the quality of any recruiting class outside the top ten. Finally, lower is better on this scale.
As you can see, the ESPN article pretty much got it right, relatively speaking. The coaches, based on 13 years of data, rank with Mike Krzyzewski the highest, Calipari second, and Thad Matt third.
For the sake of interest, though, let's perform the same exercise for the last five years:
This looks a little different. Not only is Calipari now leading the pack, he is leading by a subtantial amount, more than a full position over every other coach in the list. This correlates roughly to the time when Calipari adopted the Dribble Drive Motion offense.
In the final analysis, it's hard to say that the ESPN panel of experts got it anything but right. Krzyzewski has been at Duke a long time, and in that time he has arguably been the best college basketball recruiter in the game.
But the modern trend is not in his favor, and now that John Calipari is at a premiere basketball school, Krzyzewski does not look quite so impressive by comparison. The 2011 RSCI rankings will very likely show that Kentucky under Calipari will get their third straight #1 class, a feat that has not been duplicated very often, if ever, in history. What this tells us is that Calipari's star, as far as recruiting is concerned, is very much on the rise. Krzyzewski and Matta are still competitive, but they are clearly behind Coach Cal in the last five years, particularly since Calipari came to the Bluegrass.