Good find by Scott Tappa over at Badgercentric on recruiting. It shouldn't come as a big surprise, but the Badgers are among the best at turning average recruits into winning football teams. We have the biggest positive spread in the Big Ten between win rankings and recruit rankings over the last four years. That's the good news (here's a link to the article he's discussing). Also worth pointing out, the three teams ahead of Wisconsin in these rankings all play in the Big East. I have a hard time viewing the Big East on the same level as any of the other BCS conferences. Maybe that's unfair, but it's how I see it.
The bad news is that "elite" teams recruit better than we do, and win more often. Here is Scout's take on recruit rankings vs. winning % and AP ranking (which I would argue is the more relevant number because it weights strength of schedule) for 2004 to 2008. Of course, I think one should really stagger the years considered for recruiting vs. ranking. How about take the AP rankings for 4 years after the recruit rankings. That way you capture the team in the recruits' 4th and 5th years. The San Diego Union Tribune did one of the better pieces on this, here. The AP's entry staggers a little, as reported on doublextrapoint (a Nebraska blog; the AP has taken the story down).This is a pretty good article from North Carolina.
Bottom line? You don't need to be a top recruiting school to have a very good program, but you probably do need to be a top recruiting school to join the college football elite.
I had the great fortune to be on campus when Barry made us matter to the football world, but I'm not one of those fans who won't be happy until we're winning national titles. I think a good bowl game with the occasional Rose Bowl is enough (don't get me wrong, I'd love a national title). Heck, that would basically put us on par with Michigan (and we tend to win those Rose Bowls!). And that's how I will rate Bielema: can he keep winning the way Barry did? So far? The jury is out. Year 1 was great, year 2 was ok, year 3 was disappointing (to say the least), but Barry had those years (and runs), too.
Again, I may be the Pollyanna in the crowd, but I'm seeing a solid season for the Cardinal and White come this fall. Our recruiting is good enough, and I haven't yet jumped the Bielema ship.