Barry Odom and staff have quite a large recruiting milestone coming up for the Class of 2017 on Saturday, when they'll host their inaugural "Night at the 'Zou."
What we don't know is how much of a boon this event will end up being for next year's class, how it will translate to high-level prospect interest, commitments, getting commitments from their high-level prospect friends, etc., etc., etc.
What we really don't know is how the Class of 2017 -- currently five commits strong and ranked No. 72 nationally, according to Rivals.com -- will come together in the nearly six months until signing day, how it will mesh with the rest of the Missouri roster and whoever the Tigers add in the years to come and how, yes, these very much will shape THE FUTURE COURSE OF MISSOURI FOOTBALL AS WE KNOW IT!!!!
But let's all calm down for a second. And dig on some spreadsheets.
What can the past decade of Power-5 coaching hires teach us about what sort of recruiting bump a new coach can expect when he takes a Power-5 job?
Here's how we went about trying to study this.
We took every coaching hire made at a Power-5 school (and Notre Dame and BYU) from the 2005 postseason through the 2015 postseason. We did not include guys who never rose above the level of interim. Sorry, Luke Fickell.
That's 112 hires to study. [Editor's note: Sorry David!]
We looked at the team's Rivals.com national recruiting ranking and average stars -- we figured that'd be a good way to judge quantity and quality. If you can only sign 13 players, your rank will be pretty low. But if they're 13 quality players, your average stars will be pretty high -- for the last recruiting cycle before the coach was hired (Yr. Before), the recruiting cycle he plopped down in the middle of (Yr. During) and the first full recruiting cycle that he and his staff completed (Yr. After).
Coaches who were just hired in Postseason 2015 don't yet have a "Yr. After." Neither do permanent coaches who did not last a full year past the point at which they were permanently hired. Sorry, Bill Cubit.
And we saw how the quantity and quality change from the year before to the year during to the year after.
(Another little note: Rivals, for some reason, did not assign team rankings to 2007 Indiana, 2009 Kansas State, Syracuse and Washington State and 2010 Indiana. Must be something they ate. Anyway, in those cases, we looked at those teams' recruiting profiles for the year and placed them among the rest of the national picture based on what their neighbors did. Not entirely scientific, but what are you gonna do? I run this.)
And, because we like to make your life extra-complicated, we sliced and diced everyone into a whole bunch of categories: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Coaches with no prior college head coaching experience, Coaches with prior college head coaching experience in lower conferences, Coaches with prior Power-5 conference head coaching experience, Coaches who were promoted from within the staff.
(And, like, a couple of the "no experience" guys like Jim Mora, Rocky Top Lane Kiffin and Mike Sherman are a bit problematic because they coached in the NATIONAL FREAKIN' FOOTBALL LEAGUE, but this is as tidy as we could make the categories. And, again, if you got issues with that, then see here.)
Alright, let's get on with the spreadsheets. We'll convene afterwards for some discussion and light refreshments:
OK, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news first: There are no refreshments. I lied.
Now the good news: There will be discussion. Probably more of it than you wanted. So I guess this is also bad news.
You can scroll all around that there spreadsheet to your heart's desire, if you wish, but we'd also like to synthesize some findings for you here if you're not the scrolling type.
1. The mid-stream year usually means a dip in recruiting
The average coach in this study saw a 12-percent drop in his team's national Rivals ranking from the year before and a 2-percent drop in the average stars of his signees, from an average ranking of 39th and 2.96 stars to an average rank of 43rd and 2.89 stars.
This makes sense, as the mid-stream year also usually involves turnover and turmoil that tends to damage a recruiting class.
The Big 12's mid-stream rankings drop (31.7 percent) was most pronounced, while the SEC's was negligible (0.84), probably because FUHBAW!!!
The Big 12's average stars dropped the most as well (7.27 percent), while the Big Ten (0.63) and SEC (0.92) barely budged.
Among previous coaching levels, guys with prior, non-Power 5 head coaching experience dropped the most (25 percent rankings, 5 percent stars), while prior Power-5 head coaches stayed put, pretty much (plus-1 percent rankings, minus-1.8 percent stars).
2. Things get better in the first full cycle
On average, rankings got better by 22 percent and stars by almost 5 percent from the mid-stream year to the first full recruiting year, lowering almost 10 spots in rankings (43.47 to 33.98) and rising .14 of an average star (2.89 to 3.03).
The "Yr. After" averages also improve on the "Yr. Before" averages (38.81 to 33.98 in ranking, 2.96 to 3.03 in average stars).
So, even if a coach weathers a recruiting hit during his first year on the job, he usually does a good job bouncing back from it.
That's especially true in the ACC (28.31 percent up in rankings) and SEC (27.85), as well as for coaches with previous Power-5 experience (30.32 percent up in rankings).
So how do Barry Odom and Missouri fit into all this?
For the 2015 recruiting class (the last full one for Gary Pinkel and Co.), Rivals rated Missouri 27th nationally with an average star rating of 3.20 for its signees. For the 2016 class (Odom and Co.'s midstream year), Rivals rated the Tigers 46th nationally, with an average star rating of 2.91.
Those are drops of 70.4 and 9.06 percent, respectively. Those are notably more dramatic than the average for the categories into which Odom fits: SEC (-0.84, -0.92); no prior collegiate head coaching experience (-9.39, 0.21); and promoted from within (-16.9, -2.70).
The good news is, if the study is any indication, Missouri's recruiting fortunes should rebound for 2017.
How much? Well, it depends on which group you'd rather lump Odom into.
If you think he's more like the sea of 112 hires since 2005, Missouri would see a bump of 21.84 percent in Rivals rank and 4.69 percent in stars. That translates to a ranking of 36th nationally and an average star rating of about 3.05.
If you think he's more like the 22 SEC hires, that's a bump of 27.85 percent in rankings and 5.18 in stars. Or about 33rd nationally and 3.06 average stars.
If you think he's more like the 45 no previous college head coach experience hires, it's a bump of 17.45 percent in ranking and 3.51 in stars. Or about 38th nationally and 3.01 average stars.
And, if you think he's more like the 20 promoted from staff hires, it's a bump of 11.13 percent in ranking and 4.19 in stars. Or about 41st nationally and 3.03 average stars.
Back in February, Barry Odom said he'd like to be "on the winning side" of recruiting rankings.
So, let's reconvene in February and see if Rivals ranks Missouri's class somewhere between 33rd and 41st nationally and rates its signees at between 3.01 and 3.06 average stars.
But, if you'll allow me to originate a phrase that I can't recall ever hearing anywhere before, we don't really look at stars around here.
Author: Follow @DavidCMorrison