A Demographic Disadvantage In The Midwest?

While I touched on the topic in today’s minute over at CSM, I thought that this would be a better forum to discuss the possible demographic disadvantage of schools in the Midwest – specifically the Big Ten.

Terry Pluto’s Sunday talking points were very intriguing, as he discussed a theory that he has had for years. It is the same notion that has plagued businesses all across the Midwest, with a lot of families – and thus, students – moving out of the Midwest due to lack of opportunity. Families leave, businesses suffer due to lack of revenue generation, and then said businesses relocate to a more lucrative area; typically the South or even the West Coast (if not overseas).

Well, it appears that the same level of demographic shift is going on in college football, with a lot of talent relocating at the high school level, making it that much more difficult to recruit players to come back North. Terry’s research has definitely backed up his notion, especially this season:

“I went through the list of the top 50 high school senior football prospects on ESPN.com, supplied by Scouts Inc. Not a single Ohio kid was on the list. Nor was anyone from Michigan or Indiana. There were three from Pennsylvania. The highest rated Ohio kid on a longer list of 100 was DeVoe Torrence, the Massillon running back at No. 64. He is committed to the Buckeyes.”

In fact, 32 of the top 50 recruits in the country are from Florida, Georgia, Texas or Alabama – smack dab in the middle of SEC country.

Perhaps the Big Ten’s bowl record against the SEC is telling us a lot more than how much more talented one team (or in this case, Conference) is than another. As families continue to flock south, the collegiate athletic programs will also continue to evolve in those areas. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the number of recruits in the aforementioned areas increase over the next few years, as there may even be a lagging effect given the seasoning that future high schoolers will receive in the coming years.

There’s a reason that shows like Friday Night Lights are not set in areas like Detroit or Pittsburgh. And as long as current trends continue, the talent gap could widen a lot more before it even begins to narrow.

Terry’s Talkin’ [Cleveland Plain Dealer]