The NFL doesn’t suffer from the same talent gap as college football. The Chiefs and 49ers don’t get the first two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s not a comparison that fits, because college football relies on recruiting more than anything else.Five schools have mastered that in the CFP era. They continue to stockpile the nation’s best players at programs that are ready-made for national title runs. College football is cyclical, sure, but look how long Saban has kept the wheels spinning in Tuscaloosa. Swinney, Day, Smart and Orgeron are rolling, too.If you want to break the wheel, then you have to find a way to consistently break up those teams in recruiting. Until that happens, expect more of the same in January. National Signing Day affirmed what continues to be the overwhelming theme of the College Football Playoff era. Only a select few schools can truly say they can win a national championship.Those schools — there are five — are, unsurprisingly, at the top of 247Sports’ Composite team rankings for the 2020 recruiting class. And they are going to dominate the sport again in 2020 and beyond. You don’t have to wait until next January to complain about it. Just look at what Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, LSU and Ohio State are doing on the recruiting trail: Those five schools combined to reel in 19 five-star recruits and 72 four-star recruits (14.4 per school) in this year’s class.MORE: Georgia, Alabama once again lead top-10 recruiting classesThe schools comprising the rest of the top 25 totaled 10 five-star recruits (Oregon landed three) and 206 four-star recruits, an average of 10.3 per school.Those five powerhouses have the most difference-makers, and that accumulation of talent — even if it’s one five-star recruit and three four-star recruits per cycle — continues to create a gap in the competition that shows on fall Saturdays. Yes, the rankings matter. Until there’s a sizable shift in recruiting between the haves and have-nots, don’t expect anything to change in the CFP era, even if it expands to eight teams. Consider the following trends:— Alabama has eight No. 1 classes since 2011, and the classes continue to remain strong under Nick Saban. Even if the Tide didn’t finish with the top class in 2020, they’re continuing the greatest continuous recruiting run of all time. Five-star quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2020, should keep that going.— Georgia has put together four straight top-five recruiting classes under Kirby Smart, including the No. 1 class in 2018 and, now, 2020. Florida finished No. 8 this year — its highest mark in that four-year stretch.— LSU is back in the top five for the first time since 2017 after winning the CFP championship under Ed Orgeron. The Tigers have put together back-to-back top-five classes, which was the standard under Les Miles and Saban before that.— Clemson brought in the most five-star recruits (five) this cycle, including quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. Dabo Swinney is recruiting at the highest level, and nobody else in the ACC has a top-10 class.— Ohio State didn’t drop off from the Urban Meyer recruiting level with Ryan Day. The Buckeyes landed three five-star recruits, while Penn State and Michigan failed to land a single five-star player in this cycle.The rich got richer, and it’s easy to see why. Those five schools can offer the best chance at a national championship, complemented with the best three-year developmental plan to the NFL. All five were among the top 10 highest-producing schools when it came to NFL Draft picks in the 2010s. It’s a safe bet they’ll start this decade with the top five spots.MORE: Updated top-100 recruit rankings for 2020They do it better than everybody else, and are pulling away from everyone else trying to break through. Is anybody close even close?— Oregon might be the best longterm bet, considering how well Mario Cristobal has done in the Pac-12 (and how well he has recruited California).— Oklahoma and Texas have each put together three straight top-10 classes in the Big 12, but they must be in the top five more often. The Big 12 remains the only Power 5 conference that has not won a Playoff game.— Notre Dame has not had a top-five class since 2013.— Penn State and Michigan are the next-best bets in the Big Ten, but both slipped out of the top 10 this year.— Texas A&M, Auburn and Florida have the sixth-, seventh-and eighth-ranked 2020 recruiting classes, and are still trying to catch up in the SEC. Those are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth in the SEC, respectively.Those nine schools have combined for one Playoff victory since 2014. Not a national championship — a single Playoff victory, which came when Oregon beat Florida 59-20 in the first-ever Playoff game. The Ducks were then routed by Ohio State 42-20 in the first Playoff championship game. The Buckeyes had better players and better recruiting classes.Those five schools have accounted for 11 of the 12 Playoff championships appearances, too.MORE: Updated recruiting class rankingsIs that bad for college football? That depends on whom you ask. The championship games are heavyweight fights, flush with NFL talent. But they have also become regionalized and repetitive over the last five years. An eight-team Playoff field would help freshen up the field, but it wouldn’t eliminate the lack of parity. You still have to beat those five schools.Fans expecting something in the realm of the NFL playoffs would be sorely disappointed. Upsets such as Tennessee-Baltimore in the AFC divisional playoffs happen at the NFL level. At the college level, Tennessee hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2006.
People in Ohio, Michigan and 15 other states found themselves unable to use their food stamp debit-style cards on Saturday, after a routine test of backup systems by vendor Xerox Corp. resulted in a system failure.“While the electronic benefits system is now up and running, beneficiaries in the 17 affected states continue to experience connectivity issues to access their benefits. Technical staff is addressing the issue and expect the system to be restored soon,” Xerox spokeswoman Jennifer Wasmer said in an emailed statement. “Beneficiaries requiring access to their benefits can work with their local retailers who can activate an emergency voucher system where available. We appreciate our clients’ patience while we work through this outage as quickly as possible.”U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Courtney Rowe underscored that the outage is not related to the government shutdown.Shoppers left carts of groceries behind at a packed Market Basket grocery store in Biddeford, Maine, because they couldn’t get their benefits, said fellow shopper Barbara Colman, of Saco, Maine. The manager put up a sign saying the EBT system was not in use. Colman, who receives the benefits, called an 800 telephone line for the program and it said the system was down due to maintenance, she said.“That’s a problem. There are a lot of families who are not going to be able to feed children because the system is being maintenanced,” Colman said. She planned to reach out to local officials. “You don’t want children going hungry tonight because of stupidity,” she said.Colman said the store manager promised her that he would honor the day’s store flyer discounts next week.Ohio’s cash and food assistance card payment systems went down at 11 a.m., said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Ohio’s cash system has been fixed, but he said that its electronic benefits transfer card system is still down. Johnson said Xerox is notifying retailers to revert to the manual system, meaning customers can spend up to $50 until the system is back online. Recipients of the state’s supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, should call the 800 number on the back of their card, and Xerox will guide them through the purchase process.