When I'm wearing my SB Nation hat, I talk a lot about coaching hires and program building. Coaching as a whole is a rather fascinating process to me since it requires a skill set nobody in the world can completely master.
The coaching profession requires a set of skills so diverse that no human being is capable of being good at everything. You are one part politician, one part tactician, one part car salesman, one part player talent scout, one part coach talent scout, and about three parts chief executive officer. The best coaches are good at a lot, but not even a Nick Saban or Urban Meyer is good at everything.
If you're good in one or two categories, it can look like a sociopathic lack of skill in another category. But you can still succeed despite your weaknesses, because everybody's got weaknesses.
One of the aspects of finding either the right coach or the right system for a given school is to take into account the local base of talent. What does your region produce? What can your school routinely land? Boston College or Rutgers, for instance, seem to be able to land big, punishing front-seven defenders and/or running backs, but if someone tried to implement the Air Raid offense there, he would have to recruit heavily in far-away areas to get the requisite receivers and skill position depth. Meanwhile, it almost doesn't make sense to run anything but the spread in the state of Texas because of the talent base there.
For this reason, I loved David Morrison's recent All-Time, All-Mid Missouri Missouri Team piece. In it, he created a team with the best players from the Trib's coverage area -- Columbia, Jefferson City, Mexico, Moberly, Boonville, etc. Obviously the piece was only intended to pick a starting 22, and not a full two-deep or 85-man roster, but the strengths and weaknesses of the team become immediately evident.
For one thing, Morrison couldn't at first name five offensive linemen who belonged on the team. Granted, if you stretch the "mid-Missouri" definition out a bit to include towns like Longwood (Tim Barnes), Lebanon (Justin Britt) or Braymer (Colin Brown), that wouldn't be much of a problem, but the immediate surrounding area hasn't produced a ton of great OLs.
But holy smokes, has it produced some great defensive linemen. Justin Smith and Steve Martin in the 1990s ... Rocky Wallace and Dan Schuppan in the 1960s, etc. It has also produced sturdy linebackers (Travis McDonald in the 1990s, Dedrick Harrington in the 2000s) and some wonderfully underrated skill position players. You've heard of Justin Gage and Mel West and Devin West, but players like Herbert Johnson and George Shorthose were bright spots in the 1980s as well, not to mention return man extraordinaire Leo Lewis.
You see approximately the same phenomenon when you look at the entire state. Missouri produces receivers and defensive ends above all else, it seems. And that's what Mizzou has become most known for.
PowerMizzou recently ranked the top 15 offensive and defensive players of the Pinkel era. Eight of the 15 offensive players and seven of the 15 defensive players were from the state of Missouri.
The Missouri natives on PowerMizzou's offensive list included four WRs/TEs (Jeremy Maclin, Justin Gage, Chase Coffman, Martin Rucker), two running backs (Derrick Washington, Tony Temple), and only one offensive linemen. Tim Barnes and Justin Britt* also received votes, and obviously Dorial Green-Beckham would have ended up on the list had his Mizzou career not ended the way it did.
* It's impossible for these lists to be completely satisfying, but I would have absolutely ended up with Britt over Spieker. Regardless.
On defense, the Missourians on the list were five linemen (Shane Ray, Sheldon Richardson, Aldon Smith, Markus Golden, Kony Ealy), no linebackers, and two defensive backs (E.J. Gaines, William Moore). Tackle Atiyyah Ellison received votes as well.
This isn't exactly a scientific way of reaching this conclusion, but based on these lists, you could say that if a Mizzou coach is succeeding, that means he's probably recruiting well in-state, and if he's recruiting well in-state, he's landing receivers and pass rushers. Gary Pinkel has done that, to say the least.