If you don't know how critical maps are to modern day living, just ask Miss South Carolina.
Andy Staples of SI.com took on a rather hefty project using Google Maps to break down the recruiting data for Bowl Championship Series teams from 2005-08. Some of the highlights:
- Teams that draw 50% of their recruits from within 200 miles won more. Of the 22 schools that won 40 or more games during that span, 16 attracted more than half their players from within 200 miles or from within their state.
- Florida produced the most BCS recruits (981), followed by Texas (974) and California (826). No other state is close.
- Frost-belt teams are finding it more difficult to compete with teams from the South, where population growth continues to rise.
Last year, the Wiz published a study by Map Game Day of the average distance per recruit by conferences using the 2008 recruiting class. The Southeastern Conference led the way with an average distance of 288 miles per recruit.
SEC teams not only travel the fewest miles per recruit, they also have refused to travel for nonconference games, as detailed by another Map Game Day study published last year. SEC teams also were kings of the cupcake schedules, according to a study by National Championship Issue.
What's the point? We'd like to see SEC teams, with their wealth of talent and top-notch teams, get out and show other parts of the country how great they are at playing football. BCS champion Florida, for example, hasn't played an out-of-state nonconference game since Sept. 21, 1991, when it lost at Syracuse, 38-21.
Another point: Although states in SEC territory generally are producing more players per capita, states in Big Ten country still have a sizable population lead. Florida, with its 18-plus million, being an exception.
So how good is all this talent in the South? A recent study by the Chicago Tribune showed that in the last five drafts, 166 Big Ten players were chosen, third highest among conferences. The SEC led the way with 192 players, followed by the ACC with 176. The Pac-10 had 157 while the Big 12 had 143.