In Georgia’s 65-7 beatdown of TCU in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, the “stars matter” crowd received a belated Christmas gift.

With the Bulldogs, Kirby Smart built a loaded roster with 68 blue-chip prospects out of the 85 scholarships. Georgia’s 2022 scholarship roster boasts 15 former 5-stars and 53 former 4-stars. According to the 247 Talent Composite, it’s the second-best roster in the country.

TCU ranked 32nd in the same talent ranking. The Horned Frogs’ 2022 squad featured 16 former 4-stars and one 5-star. And the highest-rated recruit didn’t sign with TCU out of high school; he went to LSU and then transferred in.

The Athletic’s Ari Wasserman — a staunch defender of the notion that stars do indeed mater in a sport that has crowned a champion from the SEC in four straight seasons and 13 of the last 17 — shared a pretty important nugget earlier this week.

Only three times in the history of the recruiting rankings era has college football’s national championship gone to a team that didn’t sign a top-five recruiting class in any of the previous four years.

Those three times featured a Cam Newton-led Auburn team, a Deshaun Watson-led Clemson team, and a Trevor Lawrence-led Clemson team. All three quarterbacks were generational talents. Newton and Lawrence were No. 1 overall picks. Watson was the 12th overall pick in his respective draft.

Have a generational talent at quarterback, or have a top-five class.

And even then, as Wasserman pointed out in a follow-up, you still need to have a top-10 recruiting class.

This is the challenge facing the Pac-12’s top teams.

It’s why Lincoln Riley was brought to USC, and why Dan Lanning loaded up his Oregon staff with proven and reliable recruiters. Those two teams have the brands to pull top-10 recruiting classes on a consistent basis with the right staff in place.

USC had the No. 2 class in the 247 Composite in 2015, then the fourth-ranked class in 2017 and 2018.

Oregon had the sixth-ranked class just two cycles ago.

For a team like Utah, though, or a team like Washington which appears to be in a sprint to the top under Kalen DeBoer, things get interesting.

The Pac-12 wants to be involved in the College Football Playoff, which hasn’t happened since 2016. But the league also doesn’t want to be embarrassed once it gets there.

The Utes just signed a historic top-25 class. Utah has taken over the Pac-12, winning back-to-back league titles, with staff continuity, talent evaluation, and development. The cold reality of the Utes’ situation, though, has been laid bare in each of their last two Rose Bowl appearances. Injuries to top-line players cause major problems. Penn State and Ohio State had guys missing in action, too.

Washington has never produced a class ranked higher than 15th.

Would an expanded Playoff that grants more access — and more opportunities for the best to slip up — lead to a better distribution of talent? That’s what conferences outside the SEC are hoping for.