ESPN.com has run the numbers to find the biggest-spending FBS schools in the country when it comes to recruiting budgets. You can read their full report right here. It’s worth a look.
But for those simply wanting an SEC-only comparison, below are the numbers for fiscal years 2011 and 2010. We’ve ranked the schools based on their combined spending for those two years:
* Vanderbilt — as a private school — did not reveal its records.
* Like all budgetary numbers, schools can cook their books in different ways. What apples at one school might be avocados at another.
* It’s not surprising that the SEC’s traditional “big six” programs all rank in the top eight in terms of recruiting budgets.
* Tennessee has spent an enormous amount on recruiting the past two years, but it’s important to note the amount of roster attrition the school experienced in back-to-back coaching changes from Phillip Fulmer to Lane Kiffin to Derek Dooley. The Volunteers — due to a lack of in-state talent — will always be among the SEC leaders in recruiting budgets, but the last two years have been impacted by a lack of warm bodies as well.
* It’s not surprising that Tennessee and Arkansas — two of the SEC’s least fertile recruiting states — rank in the league’s top four for recruiting budgets. What is surprising is the lack of cash the University of Kentucky has given Joker Phillips to work with. Like the Vols and Hogs, the Cats will need to start spending more cash to get outside their own poor state and draw in players from neighboring areas — like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Until UK does that, Phillips doesn’t stand a chance.
* Missouri has ranked right alongside Kentucky in terms of recruiting spending, but that’s already changing this year with mail-outs and billboards being put up across the South from Texas to Florida.
* Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida are all blessed with good in-state recruiting, especially UGA and UF. But all four schools still throw a ton of cash into the recruiting game, don’t they?
* At LSU, Nick Saban primed the pump. Les Miles has kept the pipeline running free and clear. Why spend to go out of state when you can cherry pick the best in-state players? While Florida must compete with Florida State, Miami, South Florida and others — and even Georgia must battle Georgia Tech and rival SEC schools located near Atlanta — the Tigers’ nearest competition comes from Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.
* While Texas A&M has to go head to head with Texas and other Lone Star State raiders, it’s clear that the Aggies will year-in and year-out do the vast majority of their recruiting right inside their own state’s borders. Still, with SEC television money about to start pouring in, it will be interesting to see if A&M ups its recruiting budget in the years ahead.
* Perhaps most impressive on this list is South Carolina. The Palmetto State produces fine talent. So does North Carolina. And the Gamecocks can steal prospects from neighboring Georgia, too. But in terms of bang for the buck, has any SEC school gotten more out of its recruiting dollar than Steve Spurrier and Carolina? Makes one wonder if USC isn’t one of those schools that gets a little creative when it comes to bookkeeping.
* As for the Mississippi schools, gotta keep finding more money. Gotta keep spending more money. There’s a reason MSU and UM have traditionally chased a number of juco players… and it’s not just because there are about 500 junior colleges in the Magnolia State.