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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

February 8, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Scout vs. Rivals — what gives?

As the dust finally settled on one of the wilder letter-of-intent days in recent Washington history, many Husky recruitniks were left with one lingering question — why the rather wide discrepancy between the rankings of Scout.com and Rivals.com?
For some, this might be a “who cares?” issue — recruiting rankings are obviously no guarantee of anything (though I would argue that it’s pretty obvious that a higher ranking increases the odds of success down the road. It’s not a coincidence USC has often had the highest-ranked class in the conference over the past decade).
But for others, it was a definite conundrum, wondering how the two leading recruiting sites seemed to differ so markedly on UW — Scout.com had Washington’s class No. 11 nationally and third in the Pac-10 while Rivals.com had it at No. 28 nationally and sxith in the Pac-10.
(An even more jaw-dropping difference came in the rankings of Washington State — Scout.com had WSU’s class 39th in the country, Rivals.com 89th.)


The team rankings are the result of two factors — individual ratings of the players involved, and the formula each service uses to rate the teams.
Each site has scouts it employs to give star ratings to the players, each using a 1-5 system. Those scouts rate the players based on personal obversations at camps or games. film evaluation, and interviews of coaches and other observers.
Some have cited the headquarters for each site and wondered if that leads to any “bias” in terms of favoring players regionally — Scout.com is based in Seattle, Rivals.com in Tennessee.
But in Washington’s specific case, that’s not much of a factor this year — the star rating per recruit by Scout.com was 3.13, Rivals.com 3.10.
Apparently making more of a difference in UW’s situation are the formulas of the two sites. Scout.com’s (detailed here) is pretty basic — essentially, just take the point ratings of all the signed recruits and add it up. (Though note that only the top 25 players are included in the rankings, so simply signing more players pays off in the Scout.com only to 25).
Rivals.com also has a public statement of how it arrives at its team rankings. But Rivals’ actual formula is apparently more complicated, with a few aspects of it not mentioned in what you see on its site (and something it doesn’t want to make public for whatever reason).
Like Scout, Rivals does adds up the star ratings of all the players. But unlike Scout, Rivals also throws in some other variables, making allowances for the positions of recruits in its formula (higher for tackles on each side of the ball, lower for fullbacks, kickers, etc.) as well as for players ranked among the top five in the nation. In essence, Rivals tries to reward schools for getting commits from the most highly-rated players and for getting highly-rated recruits at the most valuable positions. (Theoretically, I guess, you could sign 25 5-star kickers and have the No. 1 class in the country in the Scout.com rankings).
The idea that there is a big regional difference among the two sites, however, isn’t necessarily proven comparing the final final Pac-10 ratings for each this year — USC, for instance, is No. 1 in Rivals, No. 5 in Scout; Cal is No. 11 in Rivals, No., 28 in Scout.
And for the most part, Scout and Rivals haven’t varied all that much on UW’s recruiting classes of late.
Here are the final UW recruiting ratings for the two services since 2002:
2010 — Scout 11, Rivals 28
2009 — Scout 66, Rivals 68
2008 — Scout 14, Rivals 24
2007 — Scout 29, Rivals 36
2006 — Scout 35, Rivals 35
2005 — Scout 55, Rivals 66
2004 — Scout 22, Rivals 19
2003 — Scout 18, Rivals 23
2002 — Scout 23, Rivals 19
The ’05 and ’09 classes were obviously the result of coaching changes and small numbers of scholarships availables. Otherwise, UW has pretty consistently been in or knocking on the door of the top 25 with its recruiting classes almost every year, making maybe the better question why that hasn’t translated to similar success on the field — were the classes overrated to start with, or mishanlded on arrival? That. though, is a question for another day.

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