Do blue chip recruits really matter?

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Cougar fans often tout the coaching staff's ability to find "diamonds in the rough" but is that really what wins championships in today's college football?

In recent years, Cougar fans have been told that they don't need to recruit four and five-star athletes because they specialize in finding recruits that fly under the radar.

Bud Elliot of SBNation says that the most important thing in winning championships is getting those four and five-star athletes to sign.

Every BCS champion since recruiting rankings could be accurately tracked (2005, or four classes after Scout joined Rivals in rating players) has met a benchmark: it's recruited more blue-chips (four- and five-star players) than lesser-rated players over its four previous signing classes.

And since those blue-chips are rare -- roughly 300 of them per year, with more than 10,000 scholarships to fill nationwide at the FBS level -- the teams that get blue-chips crush those who sign a lower-rated level of recruits.

There are 11 schools who have signed more blue chip athletes over the past four classes than three-star and below athletes and every champion since 2002 is in that group.

The article also breaks down the blue chip ratio by conference. The Pac-12 comes in second, behind the SEC, with a 20.4% blue chip ratio. Washington State is tied for 11th in the conference only with only a 2% ratio.

This brings up an interesting topic. Are blue chip athletes all that matter in college football now? Looking up and down the lists of every team the ones with the higher percentage seem to be more successful and appear to be primed for a big season, with a few exceptions. Do the Cougs need to sign these big names in order to compete or can they get back to the prime time maintaining their current 2%?

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