Rivals.com has a very big problem

The fine folks at Scarlet Nation generally do a bang up job, but the national Rivals.com recruiting service has fallen victim to a weird quirk as of late; one that I noticed a few weeks back when the Rutgers class was ranked shockingly low, despite not looking all that bad. To best illustrate this point, let's use Wisconsin's class as an example. Take a look at who the Badgers signed; it's not USC, but pretty decent group, right? Scout has it ranked at 33rd. Rivals? No lie, it's #86. Now, I'll just use one example here to keep this brief. Ken State is ranked 5 spots higher than Wisconsin on Rivals. They have fewer commits, and a much smaller average star rating. It's incoherent to suggest that most, if not all Kent State commits wouldn't immediately flip to Wisconsin if they received an offer from the Badgers.

And yet Kent State is somehow higher, to cite only one of countless ludicrous examples from this year's rankings. Over the past few days, what purports to to be an explanation of the Rivals team ranking formula has been floating around, and I STILL can't figure out how Kent State is higher than Wisconsin. The latter's class is better in any conceivable way. From what I can tell, it looks like the formula is overwhelmingly skewed towards the high end, and seems to group anyone who's not a top prospect rather close together, even if there may be a fairly big difference between an average major conference prospect, and one who signs with a mid-major.

Point is, something is very, very wrong with the formula when it's producing some rather absurd results, and it's badly hurting the site's credibility. That's an issue that goes beyond any individual criticism of player evaluations. When someone like Mike Farrell said Rutgers was on the verge of signing its worst class in eight years (even with major targets still on the board, like a Coleman who everyone but Farrell expected to land at Rutgers), that's demonstrably insane. On occasion, provocative findings, results, or statements can be useful in furthering discussion or future insights. Or, they're so profoundly bonkers that the very process used in their creation simply must be unsound; the classic reductio ad absurdum argument.

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