March is here, and as is their wont, the Texas Longhorns have already locked up roughly half of their 2013 recruiting class with verbal commitments from the Lone Star State some 50 weeks or so prior to National Signing Day. This year could be the best start to a recruiting class that Texas has had since Mack Brown started down on the 40 Acres. UT recruiting is so white-hot at the moment that highly coveted prospects are committing to grayshirting for the 'Horns.
Any way you want to slice it, Mack's recruiting juggernaut is humming
Meanwhile, up north of the Red River, all is quiet on the recruiting front with Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners. OU is just drifting along, commitment-less, sparking concern among diehards that OU's recruiting is flailing.
What's more, much like the 2012 class, OU is apparently focusing more outside of its historical breadbasket of Texas, too. What little news has trickled out about scholarship offers has seemingly involved players from every corner of the United States, prompting speculation that the Sooners have more or less waved the white flag down south.
Stoops doesn't usually clue me in on his recruiting strategy, so I have no idea what's being done intentionally and what's mere happenstance. From the outside, it certainly looks as though OU is increasingly looking nationally. For a program that has traditionally relied on Texas recruits to stock its roster, that feels like a huge role of the dice.
Honestly, though, can you really blame the Sooners for shunning the Texas talent pool?
The 'Horns are a game over .500 the last two years. They have lost two straight Red River Shootouts and got broken off to the tune of 55-17 in the Cotton Bowl last October. Yet, Mack's wall around the state's annual crop of top-tier preps remains as well-fortified as ever. Highly regarded recruits are still jumping at early offers to wear the Burnt Orange.
Fact is, Texas has always beaten OU far more often in head-to-head recruiting battles for in-state players than the Longhorns have lost. Mack has cleaned up even more so than his predecessors, but that means tilting the playing field even more in Texas' favor, rather than changing the game.
Ultimately, recruiting championships count are meaningless. For all of Texas' February flexing, it hasn't kept Stoops and the Sooners from owning the 'Horns and the Big 12 for the last 13 years. Somehow, I suspect Stoops and his staff will still manage to find enough players who want an OU scholarship to field a team, even if they have to go to California and Kansas and South Dakota. The Sooner coaches have shaken plenty of trees in their day, and they typically make out alright.
Another victory in October, another conference championship, hell, maybe a national championship this year if the stars somehow align properly – maybe that would start to turn the tide a bit for the Sooners in Texas recruiting. Until then, though, they will have to be content with having won where it counts.