College football recruiting costs by conference: SEC stands out as Georgia spends big money for success in 2022


How much does it cost to buy the resources needed to win a national championship? If you ask the two-time reigning champion Georgia Bulldogs, the answer is $16,518,859. The Bulldogs spent that much on recruiting costs between 2017-2022, which was more than $5 million more than any other program in the country during the same period, according to analysis of public records obtained by USA Today for Power Five schools. The gap between Georgia and Alabama, number 2, almost matches the difference between Alabama and Nebraska.

Recruiting budgets can cover a wide variety of expenses during the process, including major recruiting departments, transportation, visits, and much more. While spending doesn’t guarantee success, seven of the last eight titles have been won by schools in the top three in recruiting spending: Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson.

It’s worth noting that spending was down in 2021 – for obvious reasons. The pandemic has severely curtailed recruitment costs, but recovered significantly in 2022 with record spending across the board. In addition, schools compile these figures differently, which affects the comparison. Still, the bottom-line number gives us a basic comparison.

Private schools are not included in USA Today’s analysis because they are not subject to file requests. In addition, no data could be found for Pittsburgh, which is not subject to FOIA requests under Pennsylvania law.





North Carolina



Georgia Tech









Florida state



Virginia Tech



NC state



If you want to be the best, you have to spend money like the best. Clemson more than doubles than any other ACC program in recruiting expenses, trailing only Georgia of all programs nationally. That translates to the No. 5 Talent Composite team in the country, the only public ACC team in the top 15. North Carolina’s investment under Mack Brown also deserves serious credit.

On the contrary, Florida’s recruiting spending is embarrassing, ranking in the bottom half of the Power Five and behind schools like Texas Tech, California, and Virginia. FSU has put together strong classes under Mike Norvell, but it’s no wonder staff have doubled on the transfer portal. NC State also shocks by placing the bottom five in the Power Five, despite a 47-28 record in the same period.

Big Ten







Penn state






ohio state












michigan state



Purdue $878,651 $602,360
Wisconsin $857,490 $392,724
Indiana $826,713 $606,147
Iowa $577,589 $459,128

It’s no surprise that Jim Harbaugh puts such an emphasis on recruiting in Michigan, which has contributed to back-to-back Big Ten championships. From a results perspective, Ohio State has arguably the most efficient hiring process in the country. The Buckeyes were 21st in spending in the last five years and have plenty of top-five leagues with recruits from all over the country to show off for.

Elsewhere, it’s easy to understand why Wisconsin felt it needed to take a new direction. The Badgers had the lowest recruiting spend in the nation under Paul Chryst for the past five seasons, making them the only team to average less than $400,000 per season. Expect that number to climb past $1 million as Luke Fickell now brings the program into the 21st century.

Big 12







West Virginia



Texas Tech






the state of Kansas



state of Iowa



Oklahoma state



Unsurprisingly, Texas and Oklahoma overlap the rest of the league in recruiting costs and have the top 10 classes to show. The gap between the rest of the league is huge, though it’s worth noting that TCU and Baylor, usually the next two most successful recruiting programs in the league, have no data available. Texas Tech significantly strengthened its recruiting infrastructure when Joey McGuire took over the program.

The hiring budget perfectly captures why the job in West Virginia is so difficult. The Mountaineers have to spend nearly $1 million just to serve in the Big 12 with some top recruits from Florida and Georgia, a long plane ride from Morgantown. Oklahoma State had the lowest recruiting budget in the Power Five in 2022, but still managed to draw solid lessons. Is it an asset to Mike Gundy’s relationships or a disturbing harbinger of things to come? It is difficult to estimate.

















Oregon state









the state of Washington



Arizona state



Oregon and Washington are, of course, well at the top of the list, but the next level is more interesting. Arizona’s spending exploded under new coach Jedd Fisch as the Wildcats put together one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory. Rather, the Arizona state recruiting budget fell under Herm Edwards as the Sun Devils faced NCAA violations for improper recruiting tactics during the pandemic.

Colorado is near the bottom of the list, but expect that number to rise dramatically as the Buffaloes get rolling under new coach Deion Sanders. The number in California was surprisingly high – more than Nebraska and the state of Florida – despite few results. Utah has built a robust yet cost-effective system to capture the last two Pac-12 championships.





Texas A&M















Ole Miss









south carolina






LSU $742,713 $982,769

Mississippi state



Naturally, SEC recruiting spending is off the charts. Four of the top five national-level lenders in the past five years are in attendance at the conference, with Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee leading the way. Texas A&M entered the conversation by spending nearly $3 million during the 2022 cycle, almost tripling its 2020 figure.

After moderate spending on probation in recent years, Ole Miss exploded under Lane Kiffin. LSU is surprisingly low on the list, but it’s also probably a testament to the level of talent within driving distance of Baton Rouge. Ten of the 15 members of LSU’s 2022 recruiting class were from out of state, while two others were from Texas.

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