While there may be a low correlation between recruiting rankings and final WL%, as Skylar points out, there is a very obvious relationship in the other direction...teams which finish highly ranked have very high recruiting rankings.
The first chart is built from recruiting ranking data from Scout.com from 2005-2012. It shows the average number of top-100 recruits, 5-stars, 4-stars, 3-stars, the average four-year moving average, and average total stars for each team which finished with an final AP rank of 1-25.
Color coding is (best to worst) dark green to dark red. The bottom line, Top-25 average, is the middle yellow.
It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize that teams which finish very high in the AP, finish year over year, with very high recruiting rankings.
Teams finishing highly in AP rankings have the lion's share of Top-100 recruits, # of 5- and 4-star recruits, and the best 4-year recruiting rank average.
While there is no clear predictive use for recruiting rankings...simply being ranked highly in the Scout.com rankings is not highly correlated to a high AP finish...teams which finish highly ranked in the AP share one commonality: They are loaded to the gills with talent.
The data shows that teams which rely primarily on 3-star athletes as the centerpieces of their recruiting are likely to finish in the middle to bottom of the final AP poll.
If I expand the pool a bit, and look at all teams in the NCAA, the differences are even more starkly defined:
Aggregating teams by final AP ranking demonstrates that teams finishing highly ranked in the AP final poll have a clear advantage in recruiting.
So, what does it all mean? I believe it means what most already know...teams which finish at the top of the polls tend to be loaded with talent...or at least with players that Scout.com considers the most prized recruits each year. While it's important not to say that if a team recruits well it will finish at or near the top of the polls, it's less problematic to say that if a team finishes at or near the top of the polls it has recruited well.
Recruiting does matter. One 5-star player will not make or break a season. However, recruiting two or three 5-star every year, accompanied by six or seven 4-star recruits, is what top-5 teams do. A high rank finish isn't guaranteed, but it's more likely than with a stable of 3-, 2-, and 1-stars and unranked recruits.
If there is any further evidence needed, look at the averages for participants in the BCS National Championship Games for 2005-2012 (with the NCAA Average and AP Top 25 Averages below:
Here's the breakdown by team for all participants in the BCS National Championship Games:
It's almost baseball season, so I'm going to start posting more on Husker Baseball. Stay tuned.
Download the data in this post in Excel format from my public Dropbox.