"I did dream about playing for Texas when I was growing up, and I would probably be playing for the Longhorns if I knew they could be a consistent contender for the national championship every season. But the more that I started to look at things, the more my dream started to change. I started having thoughts about playing at Oklahoma and for coach Stoops."
-- Superstar recruit Adrian Peterson after committing to Oklahoma ($) in early 2004.
In the midst of three straight victories for the Oklahoma Sooners over the Texas Longhorns, as team battled accusations of being soft, the Sooners looked like the clear favorite to win a national championship before the Longhorns, and that perspective carried over to the recruiting trail, as evidenced by the recruitment of Peterson, which, in large part, came down to his belief that he could win in Norman and not in Austin.
Of course, in hindsight Peterson would have been better off hitching his wagon to Vince Young, but in recruiting, perception is reality.
Fast forward eight years, and even though Brown was able to stem the negative recruiting momentum against his program with the 2005 national championship, the Longhorns are once again in the midst of three straight losses to Oklahoma as Brown's own coaching future hangs in the balance.
With the Sooners hosting recruits for the game on Saturday as the home team, the head-to-head impact won't be felt in the current recruiting class, as none of the 2013 attendees are being recruited by both schools. In the 2014 class, though, it's a different story, as many of the elite recruits in the state, many of them with offers from Oklahoma and Texas, were in attendance.
If they watched the game last season, it would mean they've seen two straight blowouts of the Longhorns at the hands of the Sooners. For current juniors, they haven't seen Texas beat Oklahoma since middle school -- that's a long time in the life of a 16-year-old kid.
However, for Lancaster (TX) safety Nick Harvey, one of those top prospects who is considering both schools, the victory didn't significantly change his opinion ($) about the Texas program:
No way. They are still Texas. I believe they can bounce back from that one.
The top wide receiver in the state of Texas, Mount Pleasant's Kd Cannon, echoed Harvey's sentiments ($):
No. Everybody has a bad game sometimes so that doesn't bring Texas down whatsoever.
It appears overall that there wasn't a ground swell of recruits dropping Texas down their list as a result of the game, though several players are hardly a representative sample of a group that includes at least 10 players both schools are pursuing.
As Oklahoma once again targets some of the top recruits in the state of Texas after landing only five players from the state in 2012, including one single signee with an offer from the Longhorns in Port Lavaca Calhoun's Daniel Brooks, it would stand to reason that the Sooner staff will make sure that recruits know just how badly Oklahoma has beaten Texas the last two years and sell the chance to win at Oklahoma.
That's just the game.
For some recruits, like Peterson, the ability to win national championships is of paramount importance. For others, proximity, the chance to play early, or simply the chance to be The Guy that leads a school back to prominence after a long period of stagnation weight most heavily. In other words, it's impossible and misguided to make blanket statements about what matters to recruits as a whole.
One game rarely makes a massive impact, but multiple games that indicate a changing trend, that one school can't compete against the other, well, that can start making a difference, especially when it comes down to head-to-head recruiting battles.
Just ask Adrian Peterson.