Cool maps show where all 4 College Football Playoff teams get players from
The Playoff is nothing but top recruiting teams. Here’s how those teams were composed.
These maps by John Nelson, Director of Visualization at IDV Solutions (more cool stuff here) show the recruiting territory each College Football Playoff team used to compose its current roster.
First, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans between No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Ohio State. Many expected Bama and FSU to meet in Louisiana, which would’ve meant a very compressed map. But as it is, it’s a battle between the country’s two best recruiters, separated by the Mason-Dixon:
And the Rose Bowl in Pasadena between No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State, which features the only Playoff team that has to recruit nationally, rather than drawing loads of top talent from right near its campus:
Nelson also gives more detail to each team.
You can see Bama pulls players from all over, but doesn’t have to go very far at all to build its annual top-rated recruiting classes. One of those players from Miami is Heisman finalist wide receiver Amari Cooper.
That Air Mile Index figure rates how far a program had to travel in order to build its roster. Playing against FSU already makes the Ducks America’s Team (since everybody hates the Noles at the moment, you see), but they could already make that claim based on geography. One of those planes flying west on the left is going to get soon-to-be Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota.
FSU’s map shows what an incredible resource the state of Florida is. Win Sunshine State recruiting, pluck a few stars from elsewhere in ACC country, and steal Jameis Winston from the Tide (that’s Winston right in the middle of Alabama), and you’re a title contender.
The most geographically compact roster belongs to the Buckeyes, who also dominate their conference more than any other Playoff team. While FSU has to battle Florida and everyone else for state recruits and Oregon has to go elsewhere to load up, OSU often gets first choice in a large portion of the Midwest, which still produces lots of great high school players.