Oklahoma Sooners

Texas Football Recruiting vs. Oklahoma | Perception vs. Reality

M. Hofeld

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There’s been a lot made over the final rankings for the 2020 recruiting cycle. According to 247Sports the Sooners finished 11th nationally with the 2020 class however, they were #2 in the Big 12, behind Texas, and therein lies the rub.

Its almost as if there’s a small sense of panic among some Oklahoma fans that the Sooners finished behind the Longhorns in recruiting for the third consecutive year. However, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t that big of a deal.

It certainly isn’t as big of a deal as Texas would have you believe and it isn’t as big of a deal as those Oklahoma fans pushing the panic button think it is either. Here’s why. When it comes to recruiting, Texas is selling a perception and not a reality. That’s why they had to borrow trophies from other sports programs to do their National Signing Day video.

The last I checked, the Longhorns don’t have that many trophies in their trophy case. This is all about perception. That’s why you’re hearing from those clad in Burnt Orange that winning the Alamo Bowl equivalent to or greater than playing in the College Football Playoff.

You’re going to hear coaches and fans trying to sell the fact that Texas is a program on the rise. How many years in a row have we heard this though?

I’d offer genuine congratulations to Texas for being the only Big 12 school to win a bowl game. However, I’m not going to pretend that it was anything greater than just the Alamo Bowl. Outside of Austin, Texas there isn’t a plane that exists where winning the Alamo Bowl and losing in the College Football Playoff carry equal weight.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that other bowl games aren’t important. Every bow game carries weight and you’d much rather be playing in the Biose Idaho Potato Bowl or the Alamo Bowl as to not going bowling at all. What I am saying though is that only four teams get to play in a bowl that provides a pathway to a championship and, to this point, Texas has not been one of those four teams.

The Longhorns are selling perception but the Sooners are selling a championship reality when it comes to recruiting. Oklahoma actually has the ability to line recruits up in front of a trophy case that is actually filled with football trophies. OU can sell the reality of five consecutive Big 12 championships (thirteen overall) and three consecutive playoff appearances. Yet Texas would still rather try and sell you on the idea that winning the Alamo Bowl is just as good, if not better, than going to the College Football Playoff and losing to the eventual national champion. That’s the perception that Texas is selling.

I’m a firm believer that when it comes to recruiting athletes look at two things.

  1. How big of a fan is the recruit of the program?
  2. Opportunity

How you ever thought about how Oklahoma State landed a guy like Chuba Hubbard? It’s pretty simple. He grew up a fan of the program. Why did Baker Mayfield eventually come to Oklahoma? He was a fan of the program.

A recruit being a fan of the program absolutely plays in to where they ultimately decided to go.

The opportunity for an athlete to come in and be an immediate contributor, or at least be on the shortlist to complete the next season, is a pretty big factor as well.

That’s the reason Brock Vandagriff is a Georgia commitment now. The line to the field was a lot shorter in Athens than it was in Norman.

That’s why RJ Proctor and Jalen Hurts ended up at Oklahoma as graduate transfers. There was an immediate opportunity for them.

When you break all this down and consider Oklahoma and Texas recruiting one thing you’ll find is that there is more immediate opportunity with the Longhorns.

Here’s what I’m talking about. Texas signed the Big 12’s only 5-star recruit. You want to guess what position he plays? That would be the running back position.

When is the last time Texas had a running back that struck fear into the hearts of opposing defenses? Serious question. When is the last time they had a Doak Walker Award caliber player taking hand-offs from the quarterback? When is the last time that guy was in Austin, Texas?

We’ve seen those guys in Norman for quite some time now. We’ve seen them in Stillwater. We haven’t seen one in Austin for a long time. The Longhorns used a third-string quarterback as their running back last season.

The depth-chart at Texas had a lot to do with them landing Bijan Robinson and that was the primary difference between the two recruiting classes. There was an open door at the University of Texas for running backs and Robinson walked right through.

Texas signed 19 players in 2020 and Oklahoma signed 23. The Longhorns have fourteen 4-star commitments (247Sports) and the Sooners have 14. Texas took four 3-star commitments and Oklahoma took 9.

You tell me what the difference was between the two classes. It is all about the opportunity and kudos to Texas for taking advantage of it.

Turning that into an advantage on the field is the next step and we’ve been waiting around for more than a decade to see that happen. That’s not the story the Longhorns recruiting coordinators will tell you though. They’ll tell you that winning the Alamo Bowl is the best thing that happened in the Big 12 last season.

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