Miami hopes Mark Richt can turn talent into wins

This year's signing day in the ACC went, more or less, like each of the past few years have gone. Florida State, Clemson and Miami cleaned up, while the rest of the league lagged behind.

It was, of course, a banner year for Duke, which scored four blue-chip recruits (four/five-star players), but that accounted for more than one-third of all the blue-chip recruits inked by ACC teams not named Clemson, Florida State or Miami.

In fact, dig back a bit -- as our pal Andrea Adelson did -- and you'll find that the Seminoles, Tigers and Hurricanes have been the only consistent recruiters of elite prospects in the league. And given that FSU and Clemson have dominated the ACC during that time period, it begs the question: Why hasn't Miami done more with all that talent?

The answer, according to most Miami fans, was Al Golden, and now that Mark Richt has taken over as head coach, the combination of an experienced winner and depth of blue-chip talent should mean big things.

The only problem is, there's not a ton of hard evidence to suggest that's true.

From 2012 through 2014, there were 26 coaching changes at Power 5 schools, and the net change in wins from the old coach's final year to the new coach's first year was ... Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Of those 26 programs, 14 actually saw a decline in total wins, four stayed put and just eight improved by at least one win. In other words, the odds of a new coach having instant success at a Power 5 program aren't great.

There are all kinds of reasons and exceptions, of course. Coaching changes tend to dismantle recruiting classes, even if they're for the best. Attrition on the roster tends to occur quickly (see: Charlie Strong's first year at Texas). New schemes and systems take time to install.

But what about talent? How much does that matter?

If we look at those 26 coaching changes, those teams had signed an average of 20 blue-chip recruits over the previous four cycles. (Note: That's total signed, but does not include attrition due to transfers, ineligibility, etc.) But that average is a bit deceiving.

Eight teams inked at least 30 blue chippers. Eleven teams singed 10 or fewer. Miami, which has signed 43 over the past four cycles, certainly belongs in the former category, and that matters.

Of those teams that had at least 30 blue-chip signees and a new coach, the average change in wins was 1.0. And while that may not seem drastic, it's also worth noting that, on average, they'd won seven games the previous season, so there wasn't a ton of room for improvement. (For example, 2014 USC went from 10 wins to nine, and 2013 Oregon went from 12 wins to 11.)

Only 2013 California (three wins to one) and 2014 Texas (the aforementioned Strong team, which went from eight wins to six) saw a marked decline after a coaching change, among the top recruiters, and there were examples of instant turnarounds, including last year's Florida team, which had 61 blue-chip signees over the previous four cycles and improved from seven to 10 wins. The 2013 Auburn Tigers are another great example. They won just three games in their final year under Gene Chizik, but with 49 blue-chip signees inherited by Gus Malzahn, Auburn was back in the national championship game a year later.

Perhaps the best comparison for Miami, however, is last year's Michigan squad.

Both teams had endured a long run of mediocrity under a string of coaches. Both teams were defined by repeated losses to their closest rival. Both teams had a pedigree of massive success that had all but disappeared. Both teams had signed exactly 43 blue-chip recruits over the previous four cycles. Both teams brought in an established, proven winner as head coach.

For Michigan, it meant a five-win improvement in Year 1 for Jim Harbaugh and a massive rejuvenation of its brand.

For Miami, the answers won't come until we see the product on the field this fall.

But it's a good reason for optimism, particularly given Richt's luxury of already having an established star at quarterback in Brad Kaaya and a handful of playmakers including Joe Yearby and Stacy Coley.

There are no guarantees, of course, and FSU and Clemson are still outpacing the rest of the ACC pack on the recruiting trail. But Miami has a lot of the pieces to make a big leap quickly, and the template is there if Richt can follow a similar path as Harbaugh did at Michigan.