​College football has transformed into a billion-dollar industry and everything now is about the "brand." 


While winning on the field will always be important to the success of programs, that's not all that goes into attracting recruits.


As part of a recent study, 224 incoming college recruits were asked to rank their top Power 5 teams based on their interest to attend the university if they were hypothetically considered the No. 1 recruit in the nation.


What the research revealed was very telling-- and unexpected.

Clemson, surprisingly enough, was ranked No. 1, while Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia, and Oregon rounded out the top five. 


In other words, Alabama is on the outside of the top tier looking in. 


It's all testament to the program Dabo Swinney has put together, as Clemson has certainly become one of college football's top teams in recent years. Perception is reality, and they're living the dream.


Looking at the list in its entirety, what does it tell us? The winningest programs aren't always the most powerful brands. While it does hold true in some cases like Clemson, just take a look at Tide. They're ranked No. 19 on the list. They've won five national championships since 2009, and Nick Saban has put together one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, yet they're behind the likes of Miami, Stanford, Michigan State, and Wisconsin on this list.


Alabama's brand isn't flashy. They're a team that goes out and wins. That's enticing to more than enough talented prospects, but we have to remember that these kids are 17 and 18 years old. There's more that goes into it.


Oregon's brand will always be top-notch because of their relationship with Nike. They haven't had much success on the national stage in the last couple years, but their uniforms are iconic and facilities are top-notch.


It just goes to show all that really goes into the recruiting process. As the years go on, programs will continue to get more and more creative with every aspect of the game. They'll have to. Otherwise, you never know-- maybe Central Florida is a sleeping giant ready to take over the landscape? Stay tuned.

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