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Where are the four stars? A look at football recruiting for Syracuse, BC and Pittsburgh

We look at the numbers of these Northeast peers since 2000

Syracuse v Maryland football Mark Gail/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Recruiting is a topic that we discuss frequently. Syracuse Orange fans feel as though Dino Babers’ recruiting does not measure up to where it needs to be and while that certainly is correct in some ways, there’s also history and other factors working against Syracuse. With a recent story on college football in the Northeast and a prompt from commenters it does make sense to compare Syracuse with ACC peers Boston College and Pittsburgh.

We decided to go back to recruits signed since 2000 using 247 composite ratings and here’s the totals of four-and five-stars for the three schools. To try and give a current snapshot we broke down how many of those four-stars and higher were signed after Syracuse and Pitt joined the ACC.

4-star recruiting

School 5-stars 4-stars In-State Since 2013
School 5-stars 4-stars In-State Since 2013
Syracuse 2 13 6 3
Boston College 1 31 7 8
Pitt 2 54 34 22

Not only is Pitt far ahead of the other two in numbers and recent highly-rated recruits, they also enjoy a distinct home-state advantage. In addition to the number of Pennsylvania recruits the Panthers have signed seven four-stars from Ohio in this time period. I didn’t break out the google maps to determine distance from campus but this is a big factor when you consider this tidbit from the ESPN piece linked above:

“The numbers illustrate the problem. The Northeast, which is home to more than 65 million people, has produced 171 four- and five-star recruits since 2014, with the vast majority coming from Maryland and Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Florida (with a population of about 23 million) produced 464 blue-chip recruits.”

(For context, the three Big 10 schools from the Northeast have done this since 2000:Penn State has 201 four-star or higher, Rutgers has 41, and Maryland has 76)

Boston College v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

These numbers do reinforce the idea we’ve discussed here that you can’t build a top 25 football program by just recruiting in the Northeast. Boston College doesn’t have an in-state recruiting advantage, but under Jeff Hafley BC continues to tap into a different sort of recruiting pipeline. Eight of BC’s 32 four-star recruits (and four of their eight since 2013) came from Catholic high schools. The Eagles seem to recognize what appeals to recruits and focuses their attention on those highly-rated recruits who might be more interested in the program.

So why does Syracuse trail behind Pitt and BC since 2013? Is it the coaching staff(s)? The team success? The facilities? It’s likely a combination of a number of things to be honese and while we plan to really dig into where Syracuse stands in terms of facilities overall during the fall, it’s interesting to note what football is facing compared to the other two Northeast ACC schools.

Pitt shares facilities with the Steelers and look at what their players have at their disposal. In addition to practice facilities the complex is connected to a sports medicine clinic meaning that Pitt has access to state of the art doctors and rehab facilities right at the football facility.

Boston College opened Fish Field House in 2018. The 127,000 square foot center is not only an indoor practice field but contains the strength and conditioning areas for football. By comparison the Ensley Center is 87,000 square feet and does not provide a home for strength and conditioning or sports medicine.

Syracuse seems to recognize the facilities gap and has begun work on the Lally Complex but for some reason the first phase is not dedicated to any athletic-related space (including nutrition) but will instead provide new academic support areas. I know how needed those areas are, but will that move the recruiting needle for football (or any other sport) like new facilities dedicated to sport performance would?

That’s the question John Wildhack has to answer, but just like the Melo Center helped jump-start you have to wonder if Syracuse Football could be helped if Syracuse Athletics gave them an updated center first and then focused on other areas of the Lally Complex next? To be fair, Syracuse’s upgrades to the Dome have demonstrated a level of commitment to football especially so I don’t mean to diminish those efforts, but rather look at the overall plan to ask if it’s the most-effective approach.

This doesn’t give Dino Babers a pass for his overall Syracuse tenure, but hopefully the context will allow us to dig deeper into systemic issues instead of simply saying “Syracuse isn’t recruiting like it used to”. What would you look to implement to change the Orange’s recruiting momentum?