i hadn't read the last few pages when i made that post.
kmason, i think the heart of the matter is that you don't see recruit generation as flawed. the simple reality is, most people do. is there really a significant difference between "recruit generation is not broken but everybody thinks it is" and "recruit generation is broken"? i would argue if most people think its broken, it is, and there is no more to it. so i really don't think it matters much if you think recruiting generation is flawed or not - in the argument of why d1 population got crushed.
there is a different argument of, is recruit generation broken or not? i think there clearly is a problem. i believe you can see the issue by comparing real life recruits to d1 recruits. in real life, you could plot a talent curve, where you have # of people at a talent level against talent level. you would essentially have a sharp curve at the very high end of recruits - a small handful of recruits are truly much more talented than the rest. but after that, you have a nice smooth curve. like in any sport, there are a handful of standouts, but the limits of the human physique and the simple reality of how hard so many people are willing to work to be the best guarantees the status quo - a handful of standouts, with a gradually flattening curve the rest of the way.
the real life curve naturally limits the kind of problems we have in HD today. if a few schools ate up all the top recruits, they would dominate, but it would only be a few - maybe 2 or 3 schools - and then it would be a veritable free for all. the smallness of that set of players makes it difficult though, and usually, its going to be a smooth curve of teams by talent as well. of course, there would still be "tiers" of teams to some extent, NT quality teams, post season quality teams, etc, but as they are all recruiting in part of the recruit curve where it is smooth, gaps are smaller, build in advantages have smaller impact, and people are able to coach their way to success - not just those with dramatic advantage on the coaching side of things (i.e. it is totally irrelevant if the current big east of tark or cusa of rupp succeeds). in short, a smooth recruit talent curve results in a smooth team talent curve.
in HD, you have a glut of talent at the top, then you have a sharper curve down, followed by the gradual flattening. the problem it creates is simple. like in real life model, if people are able to recruit only at the top, they will dominate. the problem in HD is, 15ish schools are able to do that. then, you have a sharp curve, followed by the smooth part. this is like the real life part. except you have added an echelon above with which roughly nobody can compete. in short, a far from smooth recruit talent curve results in a far from smooth team talent curve. theres a giant leap.
and if you take out those top 15 or 20 teams, what you are left with really does mimic the original real life curve. so you essentially may have a few teams who rise to the crop of those, who are able to pull in talent in the high echelons. but whether you have 40 other teams or 140 other teams, you still can only ever have a few who truly excel. i believe this is precisely the point emy is making. and i agree with it. of course, its not all or nothing, some "non big 15" teams do get "big 15 recruits" if you will, and there is some overlap. but not enough. by and large the effects described above hold true. lower divisions are a much better approximation of real life. and sure, you get dominant dynasties. but not 15 of them in 1 world (making none of them dynasties). you get a few who separate from the pack and then there is a lot to be had for "everyone else". so if "everyone else" is 50 schools or 150 schools there is still something to go around. obviously less - more competition always means less to go around. but enough :)