USA Today High School Sports

635585794410873411-USP-NCAA-Football-Tennessee-at-Vanderbilt-001 Tennessee has spent the most on recruiting among public schools in recent years, with an average of nearly $1.3 million annually. (Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports)

Recruiting is the lifeblood of big-time college football and the Southeastern Conference’s current run of success may relate to this: During a recent five-year span, SEC public schools spent, on average, roughly $150,000 more per year recruiting football players than did public schools in the other four power conferences.

As a new class of recruits begins formalizing school choices on Wednesday’s national signing day, a USA TODAY Sports analysis also finds that in football recruiting budgets, as in many other ways, the gulf between the Football Bowl Subdivision’s haves and have-nots is growing substantially. Power conference schools went from spending an average of $247,000 more than non-power conference schools in 2008-09 to spending $360,000 more in 2012-13, the most recent school year for…

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