Are Big 12 Football Programs Struggling to Recruit Top Level Talent?

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterJanuary 21, 2014

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There are still two weeks before national signing day, but the Big 12 is on its way to a disappointing recruiting season if it doesn't pick up the pace. 

Three Big 12 teams—Texas (No. 12), Oklahoma (No. 17) and Baylor (No. 22)—have a top-25 recruiting class, according to 247Sports' Composite Rankings. That's tied for second-lowest with the ACC among power conferences. (The Big Ten has two top-25 classes with Ohio State and Michigan.)

But perhaps even more concerning is the lack of elite recruits signing with Big 12 teams. Though 17 of the top 100 players in the country remain uncommitted, and there's always the possibility of flipping commitments, the Big 12 has reeled in just six players from that list. 

That's a shockingly low number, especially when put side by side with the SEC, which has 39 players on the top-100 list. 

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Offensive linesman Ryan Arnold #58 of the Florida State Seminoles celebrates after the Seminoles 34-31 victory against the Auburn Tigers during the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 i
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tyler Duffy of The Big Lead wrote Tuesday that the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, the two teams competing in this year's Super Bowl, have more 2-star recruits on their respective rosters than 4-star and 5-star recruits. In that respect, great recruiting classes matter little. 

However, they definitely matter at the college level. The SEC has made eight straight appearances in the BCS National Championship, winning seven in a row before Auburn lost to Florida State 34-31 earlier this month. 

Not surprisingly, the four different champions from the SEC in that span—Florida, LSU, Alabama and Auburn—usually had top-10 recruiting classes. 

A quick glance over Florida State's starting lineup heading into this year's BCS National Championship shows a group full of 4- and 5-star players. In the four years leading up to their national title, the Seminoles finished with recruiting classes ranking No. 10, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 9. 

2014 BCS National Championship Starting 22
School5-star players4-star players
Florida State97

Alabama, who won three of the four previous BCS National Championships, had the top recruiting class in the country each of the past three years. The Tide also figure to have the top recruiting class next month. Since 2008, Alabama has never finished lower than fifth in the final recruiting rankings. 

Yeah, recruiting matters. 

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. There are examples of recruiting busts and hidden gems all over the place. Texas head coach Charlie Strong shed some light about recruiting from his time at Louisville in his introductory press conference earlier this month. 

"[Cardinals quarterback] Teddy Bridgewater was a 5-star [recruit] when he committed to Miami. LSU wanted him and he's still a 5-star," Strong explained. "He commits to Louisville, and he drops to a 4-star. Seriously? And look at him now, he's still the best quarterback in the country." 

Strong makes a valid point that recruiting isn't an exact science. Just because a kid commits to, say, Texas over Louisville doesn't suddenly make him a better prospect. 

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Still, there is a strong correlation between recruiting at a high level and winning at a high level. So the question becomes whether Big 12 teams are recruiting to that level. 

The Longhorns are the closest team, finishing with top-five recruiting classes in three of the past four years. The only other Big 12 team to come close to that is Oklahoma, who had the No. 4 recruiting class in 2010. 

Other than that, the Big 12 is noticeably absent from atop the recruiting rankings. 

The rise of Baylor and Oklahoma State, along with the resurrection of Kansas State, has made the Big 12 one of the deepest conferences in the country. That's something Sooners head coach Bob Stoops pointed out last May when referring to "SEC propaganda." 

When it comes to fielding a national championship-caliber team, though, the Big 12 has some work to do on the recruiting trail. 


Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. 



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