Gary Andersen shocked the college football world in December 2014 when he left Wisconsin, an established program with nine 10-win seasons since 1993, for Oregon State, a middling program with two 10-win seasons since 1916.
Andersen won 19 games in two seasons with the Badgers — he left prior to their 2015 Outback Bowl win — and had a deep roster headlined by returnees Corey Clement, Michael Caputo, Vince Biegel and Joe Schobert. It wasn't enough for the second-year head coach — or at least it wasn't enough to convince him the ongoing battle with admissions would yield better, more consistent results for his recruiting targets.
"It's been well [documented] there were some kids I couldn't get in school," Andersen told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports in January 2015. "That was highly frustrating to me. I lost some guys, and I told them I wasn't going to lose them."
But Andersen didn't blame Wisconsin, saying, "That's not Wisconsin's fault. That's Wisconsin's deal . . . I want to surround myself with those kids I can get in school."
His comments were more sobering than shocking, especially for those who forget college sports are played by college students. But it's nothing new; head coaches in every sport face academic challenges in the recruiting and retention of players.
For what it's worth, Wisconsin is the 44th-ranked school in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's 2017 Best Colleges Rankings, 17th among 64 Power Five schools and Notre Dame. Oregon State is 143rd nationally, which ranks 60th of the 65 schools. (To be clear, the rankings are simply used as a point of reference and in no way represent a comprehensive or accurate ranking of all universities.)
Are "better" schools being selective with the admission of 2018 football recruits? Though it's impossible to know because admissions offices would not release data, metrics and other information for every student — which would be hundreds of thousands of applicants (UCLA had 92,728 applicants in the fall of 2015 alone) — there is a weak correlation between university rankings and number of football scholarship offers for Power Five programs.
Of the 10 schools who've made the fewest offers as of May 11, only one ranks outside the top 100 universities (Kansas State, No. 135). However, of the 10 schools with the most offers, five rank inside the top 100 universities, including No. 60 Syracuse with 297 offers, the fourth-highest total. And Andersen's new program has made fewer offers (157) than Wisconsin (180) despite being a "worse" school.
The correlation coefficient between university ranking and total offers is 0.03, which represents a very weak uphill linear relationship:
Stanford has both the highest university ranking (No. 5) and the fewest number of offers (32). Duke is the only other top-10 institution (No. 8) but the Blue Devils rank 38th with 188 offers, far more than lower-rated schools with more selective staffs such as Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Also of note, the ACC has the lowest average university ranking of Power Five conference but rank third in average number of offers:
|Conference||Average University Ranking||Average Offers|
Here's a breakdown of the 66 teams with their university ranking and total offers to 2018 recruits as of May 11:
|Rank||Team||University Ranking||Total Offers|