We all know the Sunshine State is the most fertile recruiting grounds in all the land.
There was once a time where Florida’s “Big 3” were consistently ranked in the top 25 simultaneously, but there has been a cosmic shift. With an arms race of producing elite facilities, pipelines to the NFL, and NIL deals, the entire college football world now has access to the state of Florida.
Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger credited his recruiting success to building “a wall” around the city of Miami in the 1980s. At the time, the majority of the talented instate prospects would stay home to play at Florida, Florida State, or Miami.
But with the college football world opening up, it’s just not the case anymore. When the AP Poll dropped this week, there was only one Florida school ranked; that was Miami at No. 16.
UCF received 27 votes. Florida received 14 votes. Florida State and the others are nowhere to be found.
It’s no perfect metric, but ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) ranks all 131 FBS teams in a comprehensive way. Here are where schools from the Sunshine State rank:
ESPN FPI for Florida Teams
- Miami: No. 9
- Florida: No. 29
- Florida State: No. 33
- UCF: No. 34
- South Florida: No. 86
- Florida Atlantic: No. 87
- Florida International: No. 124
The FPI seems to be very high on Miami’s hiring of Mario Cristobal. The Hurricanes have never won the ACC as a member and haven’t finished in the AP top 10 since 2003 — their last in the Big East.
Florida is entering the season with a brand new staff as well with Billy Napier at the helm. FSU head coach Mike Norvell is entering an all-important third season.
UCF, which had the best season out of any of the Florida schools last year, enters the second season of the Gus Malzahn era. The Knights will have some new faces, including at quarterback as Dillon Gabriel has since transferred to Oklahoma.
South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Florida International round out the bottom for the state. FAU’s Willie Taggart and USF’s Jeff Scott are both entering their third seasons at the helm at their respective schools and need to show progress.
FIU may be the biggest mystery. Known for its dysfunction, the program has tabbed Mike MacIntyre to replace Butch Davis. Just 46-65 as a head coach, MacIntyre did have 10-win seasons at San Jose State and Colorado.
Featured image courtesy of Miami athletics