Commentary

The battle for Oklahoma

State bragging rights for the Sooners and Cowboys will be won on the recruiting trail

Updated: January 2, 2012, 12:07 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Mike Gundy, Bob Stoops Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesBob Stoops and Mike Gundy must win recruits before they can win championships.

One of the secrets of Bear Bryant's success is that he recognized the limits of how far his career could progress in a given situation.

He won at each of his first three head-coaching stops (Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M) despite situational difficulties, but Bryant knew that to achieve the type of national championship success he desired would require taking over a program of the caliber of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama gave him the recruiting edge and administrative backing he lacked at those previous schools, and that was a key to his winning six national championships with the Tide.

That same type of limitation recognition could be applied to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and their coach. As great a run as the Cowboys have had under head coach Mike Gundy, the blunt truth is that at first glance they still look to be far behind the Oklahoma Sooners in many areas.

Consider that since 2006, Oklahoma has ranked in the top 11 in the seasonal recruiting class rankings in all but one season, while Oklahoma State has ranked in the top 25 recruiting classes in only one season. In addition, a recent study showed that the Sooners are among the top 10 most valuable collegiate football programs, while the Cowboys did not even rank in the top 20.

That level of disparity is a big part of what caused Jimmy Johnson and Les Miles to leave Stillwater after achieving a certain level of success as Oklahoma State's head coach, but Gundy may have those two trumped in that he seems to have figured out a way around the Cowboys' situational limitations.

It all stems from getting the best bang for the buck out of recruiting.


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