Aubserver Mailbag 102: Blue (Chip) Christmas
This week: Blue-Chip Ratio, coordinator questions, transfers, roster management, QB targets, basketball depth, Yohan Traore, grocery stores and zoo animals
(Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
At some point this fall, friend of the newsletter Justin Lee made a great observation during a random conversation in the press box:
“College sports really all comes down to recruiting.”
That works in a literal sense. If you don’t have the talent, you’re not going to have a chance to win championships. Recruiting is a 24/7/365 process in football or men’s basketball, the two sports we cover here at The Observer. And this current winter stretch is important for both programs.
But Lee also pointed out that being successful in college sports comes down to recruiting everyone. You’ve got to recruit fans to give you their support, especially the ones that are donating the money. You’ve got to recruit assistants and other staff members. You’ve got to recruit university leadership to your vision. Recruiting is all about convincing someone else to join up with you, and you’ve got to do that in a lot of areas.
Bruce Pearl understands that, and he’s built a championship-winning program at Auburn with it. I think Hugh Freeze understands that as well, and he’s got a lot of work to do in order to get Auburn football to where it wants to be.
This week’s mailbag talks a lot about recruiting, specifically as it pertains to the transfer portal and the recruiting trail for football. But there’s also talk about recruiting assistants to join your staff and recruiting players to buy into your rotation on a basketball roster.
There are also a lot of questions about grocery stores. I can’t think of a good recruiting parallel there. Sorry. I tried.
Thanks, as always, for supporting The Auburn Observer. We’ll have a new edition of The Stretch 4 out on Saturday morning, getting you geared up for Auburn basketball’s big matchup with Memphis in Atlanta.
1) Pertaining to blue-chip ratio — Does it account for transfer portal additions?
Assuming all Auburn players in the portal leave, what does Auburn need to do to stay in the BCR (how many 4/5* do we need to bring in, how many 3* can we afford to bring in, etc)?
2) I know you're not a scoop guy, but what's taking so long on coordinator hires, and how does this time frame (seems slow to me) compare to other recent SEC hires getting their guys in place?
Since every mailbag is somebody’s first, let’s define the Blue-Chip Ratio here. Created by 247’s Bud Elliott, the BCR is a measurement of what a college football program has to have in recruiting in order to win a national title. In the championship game era, the only teams that have won it all are ones who signed more 5- and 4-star recruits than 3- and 2-star recruits over its last four classes.
During the last edition of the BCR — in which Auburn was 15th out of the 15 schools that made the cut, at 54% — Elliott wrote that he hadn’t found a way to seamlessly put transfers into the equation but that he was working on it. In a preliminary BCR with transfers taken into account, Auburn was down to 50% for the 2022 team.
Auburn’s 2023 BCR will lose the talented 2019 class that landed two 5-stars and a bunch of 4-stars, and it will include the two rougher classes under Bryan Harsin’s watch. Let’s add up the 2020, 2021 and 2022 classes:
2020: 17 blue chips in 27 signees
2021: 7 blue chips in 19 signees
2022: 10 blue chips in 17 signees (Tre Donaldson became basketball-only)
TOTAL: 34 blue chips in 63 signees (53.97%)
Back in the summer, I wrote that Auburn could only sign three more 3-stars than blue-chips in the 2023 class and stay inside the BCR. As it stands right now, seven of Auburn’s 10 commitments for 2023 are 4-stars. If all sign, that would put Auburn at 42 blue chips out of 70 signees, which would obviously be good enough to stay in the strict definition of the BCR.
But let’s take transfers into account. Eleven of the 17 blue chips Auburn signed in 2020 have either already transferred or are currently in the portal. Five of the seven blue chips Auburn signed in 2021 are the same way. So, while Auburn might still be in good spot for the traditional version of the BCR, transfers under Harsin really ravaged this roster. And the vast majority of the transfers they have brought in are not former blue-chips, either.
Hugh Freeze said it himself in his intro press conference: Auburn has its work cut out for itself when it comes to rebuilding this roster.
To answer your second question, we talked about it some on Thursday’s podcast, but I think a big part of the hold-up is that Freeze reached out to a number of potential coordinators who decided to go elsewhere. Phil Longo is headed to Wisconsin. Charles Kelly is set to join Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado.
Both of those moves were reported Wednesday, and Auburn was reportedly in the hunt for both. That shows you the type of timeline Auburn is working with right now.
I don’t think having zero coordinators at the moment has been some sort of massive blow for the staff — you need to make sure you get the right guys instead of just getting whoever. But it would have helped recruiting to have some more people in place this week, for sure. See who Freeze ends up hiring before rushing to full judgment on the process.
What is Coach Freeze looking for in an OC? Is it a similar situation to Gus and his OCs?