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Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Top five recruiting jobs: Big 12

By Gerry Hamilton

When looking at the best recruiting jobs in the Big 12, the conference begins with Texas and Oklahoma, as it always has since its inception in 1996. After the Longhorns and Sooners, the conference has a quartet of programs to consider as the next tier of recruiting jobs in Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech.

While Oklahoma State has separated itself from the pack in terms of facility upgrades in recent years, the rise of Baylor has changed the recruiting landscape in the state of Texas for programs such as the Cowboys, Horned Frogs and Red Raiders. When it gets down to TCU and Texas Tech, proximity to in-state and out-of-state talent looms large in the equation when looking at the current landscape.

Here is a look at the top five recruiting jobs in the Big 12.

1. Texas

Oklahoma State – Texas
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium seats 100,119 for Longhorns home games.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Texas has had success recruiting in the Phoenix area, which is 1,000 miles away, and parts of Louisiana are less than 400 miles from Austin. Under Charlie Strong, Texas is now focusing on Florida, with the Tampa area being about 1,100 miles away.

Dollars and cents: In 2011-12, Texas reported total football expenses of $25,896,203 and total revenue of $103,813,684, which was easily the highest revenue in college football. Texas and ESPN are in year three of a 20-year agreement with the Longhorn Network, which is a deal worth $300 million.

National appeal: Texas has a strong national appeal, with the ability to recruit nationally if attempted consistently. The slogan “Hook 'em” is known by college sports fans nationwide. Texas recorded an eighth consecutive year atop Collegiate Licensing Company sales in August 2013.

Facilities and atmosphere: In the late 1990s, Texas arguably had the best facilities in college football. Since that time, others have caught up to and passed the Longhorns in that area. That said, Texas' facilities remain in the upper echelon of college athletics. Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium seats 100,119.

Recent NFL draft success: The last four years have seen a drop-off, but Texas still has managed nine first-round selections and 41 total draft picks in the last decade.

Identifiable players: Vince Young. Nearly a decade later, prospects still talk about Young versus USC (and Reggie Bush) in the Rose Bowl. NBA MVP Kevin Durant is another athlete who is widely talked about as having played basketball at Texas.

Bottom line: Texas is one of the universities that fans and coaches point to as arguably being the top job in college football. With everything needed at one's disposal to create a top college football program, Texas could make a case as the top recruiting program even during the "down years" at the end of the Mack Brown era. Texas has four national titles, 32 conference titles and two Heisman Trophy winners. The state of Texas is one of the top three talent producers in the country as well. There were 186 players from Texas in the NFL at the start of the 2013 season.

2. Oklahoma

Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama has given the Sooners' recruiting a boost in recent months.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Norman is about 190 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, less than 400 miles from Louisiana, 425 miles from Houston, 450 miles from San Antonio, 515 miles from St. Louis, 850 miles from target areas in the panhandle of Florida, 1,330 miles from San Diego and 1,475 miles from Fresno.

Dollars and cents: Oklahoma reported total football expenses of $24,097,643 and total football revenue of $59,630,425 in 2011-12.

National appeal: The Sooners have the ability to walk into high schools anywhere in the country and top prospects know about Oklahoma and “Boomer Sooner.” This year's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama has given the Sooners a boost nationally as well.

Facilities and atmosphere: The Sooners already have what is considered among the top 20 facilities in college football and are set to expand Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium by the start of the 2015 season, adding more than 6,000 seats and upgrading suites. The Switzer Center displays the accomplishments of the program in bright lights.

Recent NFL draft success: Oklahoma has had nine first-round picks and 57 total selections in the last 10 years.

Identifiable player: Adrian Peterson. Peterson’s success at Oklahoma made him known to prospects nationwide, but his success in the NFL has made him a household name to all football fans.

Bottom line: Oklahoma is one of the top programs in the country, both presently and historically. The Sooners have seven national championships, 44 conference titles and five Heisman Trophy winners. The Bob Stoops era alone has produced eight Big 12 titles in 15 years and one national championship, with recent years being fruitful on the recruiting trail in California. The Sooners are one of the few programs that can recruit in California, Texas, Louisiana and Florida with success. If you were ranking the top 20 recruiting jobs in all of college football, the Sooners would certainly be on that list.

3. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State fans
Boone Pickens Stadium gives Oklahoma State an excellent game-day atmosphere for fans, players -- and recruits.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Stillwater is about 270 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, less than 500 miles from St. Louis, 510 miles from Houston, around 500 miles from central Louisiana, 530 miles from San Antonio and 850 miles from Atlanta.

Dollars and cents: Oklahoma State had total football expenses of $15,479,410 and total football revenue of $32,787,498 in 2011-12.

National appeal: Oklahoma State is not one of the programs with a strong brand nationally, but the regional appeal is very strong with its recent run of success in the Big 12 and with standout players going high in the NFL draft.

Facilities and atmosphere: Oklahoma State has been upgrading facilities in recent years and now has one of the top 10 to 12 overall facilities in the country, with one of the very best indoor facilities. The game-day atmosphere at Boone Pickens Stadium is also competitive within the conference, and is a positive environment to bring recruits into.

Recent NFL draft success: Oklahoma State has produced six first-round picks and 17 total selections in the last decade.

Identifiable player: Barry Sanders. While young prospects might not know much about Sanders, many recruits' fathers can tell their sons about Sanders' incredible record-breaking Heisman Trophy season in Stillwater.

Bottom line: Oklahoma State has to recruit Texas well, and the Cowboys have done so under Mike Gundy. The Cowboys attract talented Texas prospects from Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas and Houston, as well as pulling in second-tier prospects out of Louisiana. Along with battling rival Oklahoma in the home state, Missouri and Kansas are two Midwest states Oklahoma State has the ability to pluck prospects from, with Georgia being a new state in the Southeast that has been targeted with success. The Cowboys also do a good job working the junior colleges in Mississippi and Arizona.

4. Baylor

Art Briles and Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III helped bring Baylor national attention, and coach Art Briles has capitalized on that with recruiting success.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Waco is about 230 miles from Shreveport, 415 miles from Little Rock, 500 miles from New Orleans and 1,800 miles from Northern California junior colleges.

Dollars and cents: Baylor had total football expenses of $12,462,241 and total football revenue of $14,355,322 in 2011-12.

National appeal: The Bears aren’t a national brand that can walk into high schools from coast to coast and have the chance to get top prospects on campus. What Baylor has done, however, is become relevant again with the recent success in Waco and Robert Griffin III winning the Heisman Trophy. That has given Baylor the ability to have more success recruiting certain areas nationally.

Facilities and atmosphere: This is an area Baylor has been lacking in when trying to move up the ladder and compete with the best in the Big 12 and outside the region. The Allison Indoor Practice Facility was a boost for Baylor in 2009, and McLane Stadium will be another much-needed upgrade as Baylor continues its ascent within the conference and region.

Recent NFL draft success: Baylor has produced five first-round selections and 22 total picks in the last 10 years.

Identifiable player: Robert Griffin III. Griffin’s Heisman season and subsequent No. 2 selection in the 2012 NFL draft have made him a household name nationally and given Baylor a huge recruiting shot in the arm.

Bottom line: Baylor is a rising recruiting job in the Big 12. The proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth and East Texas always makes Baylor a threat when the Bears are winning. With the success under Art Briles combined with the new stadium and facility upgrades in recent years, the Bears are poised to continue to build on the momentum created in the last three seasons. Baylor’s rise under Briles has also made recruiting life tougher on TCU and Texas Tech within the state lines.

5. TCU

Jason Verrett
TCU defensive back Jason Verrett was a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Proximity to out-of-state talent: Fort Worth is 200 miles from Oklahoma City, less than 225 miles from Shreveport, 550 miles from Kansas City and New Orleans, 685 miles from Pensacola and less than 700 miles from St. Louis.

Dollars and cents: TCU reported total football expenses of $25,984,011 and total football revenue of around $26,000,000 in 2011-12.

National appeal: TCU doesn’t have national appeal in the recruiting world but is talked about outside Texas in the states of Louisiana, Oklahoma and other recruiting pockets of the country.

Facilities and atmosphere: While game-day atmosphere and stadium size are areas in which TCU has a tough time competing with top 25-level programs, the football facilities as a whole are considered among the top 25 in the country and aid in the recruiting process. The campus atmosphere on a day-to-day basis at TCU is undervalued.

Recent NFL draft success: TCU has had two first-round picks and 24 total selections in the last decade.

Identifiable player: LaDainian Tomlinson. While Tomlinson is far removed from his days at TCU and now retired from the NFL, he is a player prospects still know and talk about from time to time.

Bottom line: TCU gets the nod here over Texas Tech due in large part to proximity to talent in Dallas and East Texas, as well as Louisiana. Now that they are in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs need only to have consistent success on the field in the coming years to take advantage of the move to a Power Five conference. The ability to recruit in Texas and Louisiana provides the Horned Frogs a chance to ascend in the Big 12 over time.