|Institution:||George Mason University|
|Keywords:||NCAA; Recruiting; Football|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/1920/9224|
Studying the geographic trends and patterns of collegiate football recruiting is crucial to understanding the areas and regions from where coaches seek to attract potential players. A thorough analysis of a school’s recruiting footprint can help determine how effective (or ineffective) its coaches are at recruiting on an annual basis. Mapping the geographic regions that have proven to be successful in the past can help shape a school’s recruiting strategy going forward. The ability to consistently attract athletes from a particular geographic area can help establish relationships, foster allegiance and solidify a strong foothold by promoting a school’s brand and reputation throughout that particular community. These cascading effects can help stabilize a school’s recruiting efforts for years to come. In addition, mapping the geographic footprints that college football programs establish in select regions of the country reveals hotbeds from which top-tier athletes can be targeted. Obviously, the more skilled the athlete, the more he will be targeted by multiple schools and the greater the likelihood for overlapping recruiting footprints from different (and sometimes competing) college football programs. This thesis features a comparative geographic analysis that reviews college football recruiting patterns both prior to and following recent conference realignments by a select set of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools. The analysis first exploits and analyzes the relationship between recruiting and locality, looking specifically at the degrees of allegiance that contribute to the process of attracting recruits to certain college football programs. In addition, the analysis illustrates the collection and visualization of recruiting metrics (i.e. geocoding the high schools and junior colleges of recruits that commit to a school) two years before that school realigns as well as two years after it. This five-year evaluation period allows for a balanced review of any impacts to recruiting that the realignment may have had. Finally, through the application of geospatial analytic techniques such as mean center and standard distance calculations, this thesis correlates geographic shifts in recruiting footprints to specific conference realignment actions. Mapping the spatial footprints of recruiting bases through this approach not only provides insight into where recruits have come from in the past, but it also provides an idea of where they may come from in the future, further demonstrating the bond between recruiting and geography.