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What Bud Elliott’s 2020 Blue-Chip Ratio tells us about what Michigan is missing

Michigan is still among the elite-recruiting programs in the country.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to every college football season, Bud Elliott of 247Sports (formerly of SB Nation) puts out a piece on the “Blue-Chip Ratio,” which lists the teams who have signed more four and five-star recruits over the last four classes than the lower-rated prospects. This year, the Michigan Wolverines come in at 59 percent, which is more or less about where they have been since Jim Harbaugh arrived in December 2014.

The Wolverines rank ninth in this regard. Leading the way is Alabama (83 percent), Georgia (82 percent) and Ohio State (80 percent). The next highest team is Texas at 64 percent.

So, yeah. That talent gap that we often talk about between the juggernaut teams and Michigan is quantifiable in a number of ways.

“In 2014, no team was above 75 percent. In 2015, only Alabama was. In 2016 and 2017, it was still just Alabama. 2018 saw Ohio State get into that super elite class. But 2019 saw three of the top four highest ratios ever. And 2020 has the first, second, and fourth (tie) highest rates of blue chips ever with Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State,” Elliott writes.

After Texas comes LSU Oklahoma, Clemson and Florida, all at 63 percent. Behind Michigan is Auburn (59 percent), Penn State (59 percent), Notre Dame (56 percent), Washington (54 percent), USC (50 percent and Texas A&M (50 percent).

As we stated before, Michigan has held pretty steady around or just under 60 percent for the last few seasons. As Elliott has stated, this is not a stat that is to be used to pick wins and losses, but simply to point out who has recruited well enough to be considered a potential national title contender. The rest is up to the coaching staffs at each school.

So what have the national championship-winning teams looked like since keeping track of this statistic?

  • 2011 and 2012 Alabama: 71 percent
  • 2013 Florida State: 53 percent
  • 2014 Ohio State: 68 percent
  • 2015 Alabama: 77 percent
  • 2016 Clemson: 52 percent
  • 2017 Alabama: 80 percent
  • 2018 Clemson: 61 percent
  • 2019 LSU: 64 percent

Does Michigan need to recruit a little better at a few positions to bump that number up slightly for them? Sure, they absolutely can afford to do that. But they do not necessarily need to be Alabama or Ohio State. When you look at FSU, Clemson and LSU here (and other playoff contender in Oklahoma), the difference in each of those seasons is transcendental quarterback play. This is something the Wolverines are still searching for and might be the missing ingredient.

Winning bigger games will producer stronger results on the recruiting trail, though this staff has put together top ten classes more than a few times since arriving. In order to win the bigger games that Michigan has lost, it needs more from a few key spots, namely at the quarterback position. And then maybe at least get off the field a few times on defense here and there against elite offenses.

Is Michigan taking the next step as simple as elite quarterback play? Is it better results on the trail? Sound off in the comments below.