Florida and Miami have better chances of winning the national championship than Florida State does — according to one important number, at least.
It’s the Blue-Chip Ratio from 247Sports’ Bud Elliott, who’s one of the sharpest guys in the college football/recruiting space. The Blue-Chip Ratio is, as the name suggests, the ratio of blue-chip recruits (four- or five-star prospects) on a roster. Having a lot of big-time prospects doesn’t guarantee success. But no team with a Blue-Chip Ratio under 50% has won a national title in the modern recruiting era.
Florida meets that threshold. About 64% of the Gators’ players are blue-chip recruits, Elliott writes. Miami (61%) meets it, too. FSU does not; 38% of the Seminoles are former blue-chip prospects, though the number rises to 41% if you include transfers. Either way, it’s not high enough.
So how do we square those numbers with early betting lines, where the over-under win total for FSU (9½) is higher than Miami (7½) and UF (5½), according to BetMGM? I have a few thoughts.
First, recruiting rankings are pretty darn good — and have improved over the years — but they remain an inexact science. FSU quarterback Jordan Travis was a three-star prospect, while the Gators’ Graham Mertz was a four-star recruit and top-200 talent. Which one would you rather have leading your team this fall?
Transfers are a confounding factor in this, too, because the portal era is relatively new. I don’t think we have an established hit rate for Group of Five players moving up to the Power Five, or players swapping Power Five programs because things didn’t work out at the last stop. The intangibles are tricky. Was this player available because his old school wanted him gone? Because he wasn’t the right fit for his last coach? Because he was, ahem, incentivized to pursue other, bigger options? Transfers are at the heart of the Seminoles’ CFP buzz, so the general portal unknowns loom larger around them, too.
The general scope of the Blue-Chip Ratio also undervalues the specific makeup of this FSU roster. A standout quarterback like Travis is worth more to a team than a random four-star freshman linebacker, especially with how Travis has outplayed his recruiting ranking. The fact that FSU is one of the nation’s leaders in returning production provides another boost; I’d expect Johnny Wilson (a three-star transfer who was No. 5 nationally in yards per catch last season) to play better than almost every blue-chip underclassman.
My final thought is that the Blue-Chip Ratio is probably right, and we should calibrate our expectations accordingly. I’ve been high on the ‘Noles since they beat Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl and stars like Travis and Jared Verse decided to stay for another season. I stand by my predictions that FSU will win the ACC and enter the final weekend of the season as a legitimate playoff contender.
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But there’s a difference between being contending for a playoff spot and contending for a national championship. Ask TCU. Behind a successful crop of transfers and a great, veteran quarterback (sound familiar?), the Horned Frogs earned their way to the title game last season … where they were overwhelmed by a Georgia team that had a Blue-Chip Ratio of 77%. The Bulldogs had enough elite talent to win a title. TCU did not. It’s that simple.
Could FSU prove the numbers wrong and win it all? Sure. I once saw a team lose a big game after a guy threw a shoe. Anything is possible in this crazy sport. Maybe some combination of great development, excellent evaluations, adroit coaching, good injury luck and a fortuitous bounce here or there lets the ‘Noles outplay their recruiting rankings and win their first title in a decade.
But as we sit here in June with 2½ long months before Week 0, the more likely scenario is that the Blue-Chip Ratio proves correct. FSU will field a team that’s good enough to make the playoff but not great enough to win two games once it gets there.
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