Josh Kendall

What does it take to recruit like a CFP team, and can South Carolina do it?

Asked about the importance of winning his team’s bowl game, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp replied, “I would start with recruiting.”

Muschamp always starts with recruiting. And college football always ends with recruiting.

The fifth College Football Playoff final four was set on Sunday and will include Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. The Irish are a first-time participant in the sport’s newest system for determining its national champion. In the playoff’s history, 10 schools have filled its 20 available positions.

Muschamp was hired to eventually make South Carolina one of those teams, and that, as he said, starts with recruiting.

So, what exactly does it take to recruit like a CFP participant? As a general rule, it takes more than the Gamecocks have been doing. An analysis of the recruiting rankings of the 10 CFP participants in the years since 2010 established a clear link between highly regarded signees and success. (The 247Sports Composite rankings, which factor in all networks, were used, and 2010 was the cutoff date because that’s four years prior to the first CFP final four.)

Eight of the 10 teams who have participated have an average recruiting rankings of 17 or higher during that period. Washington (24) and Michigan State (28.7) are the only outliers.

How do the Gamecocks fit into this picture? South Carolina’s average recruiting ranking since 2010 is 21. The Gamecocks’ current recruiting class, which can sign beginning on Dec. 19, is ranked 20th.

Average Recruiting Rankings During CFP Period

Alabama (five appearances) 1.8

Ohio State (two appearances) 5.4

Florida State (one appearance) 5.7

Georgia (one appearance) 7

Notre Dame (one appearance) 11.7

Oklahoma (three appearances) 12.3

Clemson (four appearances) 14.5

Oregon (one appearance) 17

Washington (one appearance) 24

Michigan State (one appearance) 28.7