In the throes of the college football hiring silly season, it's easy to debate what jobs are actually the "best", and which ones are sinkholes of despair and bowl bids to Shreveport. And what's one of the easiest ways to determine how good a job is? Why, figure out how easy (or hard) it is to recruit talent to that place. All of the Xs and Os acumen may not matter very much if you're stuck with a roster of two-stars while everybody else you play has blue chippers.
ESPN took a crack at ranking the difficulty of recruiting at every power conference job (plus Notre Dame), taking into account quality of facilities, recent tradition, proximity to recruits, academics, and more. When you add everything up, where does Ohio State rank? According to ESPN, Ohio State is the second easiest place to recruit talent, only behind Georgia. Here's what they had to say about the Buckeyes:
The Buckeyes have one of the strongest brands in sports (national titles help), lie in a high-quality area for football talent, and can point recruits to the 55 players they've had selected in the NFL draft in the past 10 years. Population trends southward have been noted as a potential issue long term, but for now, that has been a blip on the radar at this football factor
It's hard to disagree with that assessment too much. Ohio State is one of the biggest national brands in all of college football, they're by far the dominant program in an important talent producing state, the athletic department is loaded, and the facilities are strong. Ohio may not quite be as deep a prep talent state as it was 20 years ago thanks to economic and demographic changes, but it's still excellent. No matter who coaches Ohio State, the program probably should be producing top ten classes.
One might argue that Georgia might be a teensy bit overrated, given that other SEC programs (and Clemson) recruit Georgia heavily. To say nothing of places like Ohio State, even though Georgia Tech doesn't go after the same pool as Georgia, and that the Bulldogs don't have the recent tradition of say, an Alabama or an Ohio State. But I wouldn't quibble too much about the Bulldogs getting the top spot. Other top ten jobs included Texas (yes, still), USC, Florida, LSU, Alabama, Florida State and Oklahoma.
Here's how the Big Ten ranked:
2) Ohio State
18) Penn State
23) Michigan State
To me, Maryland seems a little bit too high, and maybe Nebraska a hair too low. Plenty of Big Ten programs clock in near the bottom of all Power Five programs, which might explain why the bottom half of the conference has struggled. Boston College was selected as the toughest program among all of the power conference programs.