Last season wasn’t a banner one for FBS programs in the state of Texas. Exactly none of the 11 finished ranked in the season’s final AP Top 25, and the most Texan power conference, the Big 12, lagged well behind its peers. The state’s flagship program, Texas, fired its head coach and signed its worst recruiting class in the modern era.
TCU coach Gary Patterson spoke at Big 12 Media Days on Monday. He fielded a question about the Lone Star State’s absence from the top 25:
“Number one, we’ve got to keep players here. I think the Internet and everything else has led to that because kids go anywhere now to look at a school. It’s not regional. And we’ve got to do a better job of keeping them in the state. If you want to have great teams, you have to have great players. No doubt about it, that’s what we have to be able to do.
“I think A&M going to the SEC hurt us a little bit because you have that common factor. But to be honest with you, it’s also now — I think the Big 12’s learning it’s helping us because we’re now leaving the state to be able to get kids to come into the state. But we should be embarrassed we don’t have a team in the top 25. There’s a lot of good football players, even that come to our schools, that can play and play at a high level, and we need to play better. It’s simple as that.”
To Patterson’s first point, the Big 12 as a whole has struggled on the recruiting trail. Its average class ranking in 2017 was well off the figures in the four other power leagues.
The Texas schools were a big part of that shortcoming. The only Texan school that recruited at an elite level last year was Texas A&M in the SEC, finishing 12th nationally. Texas was 26th, TCU 28th, Baylor 40th, and Texas Tech 49th. The Texan Big 12 teams recruited better than their out-of-state counterparts, but not by quite enough.
Texan college football isn’t a collective, so it’s hard to pin the blame in any particular place for the state having a lot of mediocre teams last year.
It’s easy to see things getting better from here, though. The Longhorns are recruiting well under new coach Tom Herman, and teams like Texas Tech and a post-scandal Baylor aren’t likely to stay as bad as they were last year. Patterson’s TCU may not get back to its heights of 2008-11 and 2014-15, but the Frogs could improve on 2016, too.