Sports Illustrated has an article on a paper by Mike Dumond, Allen Lynch, and Jennifer Platania on the college decision of high school athletes.
In addition to predicting the future, the model provided empirical evidence that BCS schools enjoy a prohibitive advantage over their non-BCS brethren in recruiting top talent. It also disproved several long-held beliefs about recruiting. For example, recruits don't seem to care how many players a school puts in the NFL, they aren't as interested in early playing time as they claim and scholarship reductions actually increase the likelihood that a top recruit will pick a particular school.
Here's the abstract of their paper that is in the current Journal of Sports Economics:
College football programs devote an enormous amount of resources in efforts to persuade high school football players to attend their schools. In this study, we develop an empirical model of the factors that recruits consider when selecting a school, using a database that combines school-specific attributes with recruit-specific information. The authors' estimates imply that recruits' decisions are governed by a handful of primary factors such as the geographic distance between the recruit and the college, the school's recent football rankings, and whether the school is a member of one of the six Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conferences.
Here is a non-gated version.
The finding that BCS schools enjoy an advantage might be partially explained by peer effects: being surrounded by better players makes you a better player. But since own-team peer effects might be controlled by previous seasons' performance (which is included in their model), the BCS may be capturing opposing-team peer effects (playing against superior competition makes you a better player). But if their results are capturing effects of the BCS per-se, then "the BCS designations perpetuate a permanent, caste-like structure within college football."
HT to Craig Newmark