Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples validated a theory of his that when recruiting highly prized talent for college football programs "geographic distribution isn't a quirk." So, when he received a spreadsheet of 422 nominees for the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl to be held next January in San Antonio, Staples went about "mapping" the location of each of their hometowns.
Now, the map itself is not that well constructed. The Yahoo Map has the location of each hometown and the nominee's basic bio information such as high school and position. I was hoping to see more information such as proximity to nearest big time football program or schools that actively recruiting them.
More interesting was Staples' assessement of how Pete Carroll of USC could field top talent within 119 miles of the school; or how Randy Shannon of Miami "should never waste a penny recruiting outside South Florida, has 30 nominees within 79 miles of his campus." Now that's good information. I wonder just how many coaches employ a geospatial analysis of the top talent. Oh, perhaps intuitively they understand the proximity of their talent pool. But, I'll play the skeptic...I want to walk into the coach's office so he can "show me the map!"
And what about the recruit? Talented football recruits typically don't look much further than a few hundred miles away from home anyway. Perhaps they like the support network to be close by or have grown up in proximity to the region's favorite big time school.
And we need to talk about weather as well. If you're recruited by Notre Dame and USC do you choose to play in the warm or the cold? There's a theory that many of the big time schools of the east, north and plain states lose out to the south, west coast and southwest and that over time, weather is a major factor in the migration of talent and the success of each program.
In the end, it's all about geography in may cases to both the recruited and the recruiter.