The years may change, but the story never does when it comes to sizing up the talent on the rosters in the Big 12: There are the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns — and then everybody else.
Once again, a razor-thin margin separates the Red River rivals if you trust recruiting rankings. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, that hasn't amounted to much for Texas when it comes time to sort out hardware. The Sooners are gunning for a sixth straight conference championship in 2020. A tightly bunched group of challengers will join UT in attempting to knock OU from its perch this fall.
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Big 12 schools over the last five (2016-20) classes according to 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings and each team's record over the last five (2015-19) seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.
Ranking the Big 12's College Football Rosters in 2020
From a talent standpoint, Oklahoma and Texas have virtually identical rosters
OU's on-field dominance doesn't make much sense when you compare the quality of personnel on both rosters. The Sooners remain the consensus pick to win the league title this fall, but the possibility for the Horns to break out hasn't changed. Head coach Tom Herman has to hope the shake-up of his staff in recent months can unlock that potential right away.
Oklahoma State: Doing more with less
The Cowboys consistently rank around the middle of the conference in these annual roster audits. Nevertheless, Mike Gundy's team has compiled the second-best record in the league over the last five seasons. Imagine what the Pokes could do with just a little bit of an uptick on the recruiting trail.
Texas Tech and Iowa State flip spots
The only change in the order of the rankings from 2019 to 2020 occurred in the seventh and eighth positions. Iowa State continued its upward ascent under head coach Matt Campbell, which enabled the Cyclones to slip past Texas Tech. The Red Raiders actually inked a solid class in 2020, the first full cycle for head coach Matt Wells and his staff. It just wasn't enough to hold off ISU.
Can Aranda keep it rolling?
Before he made his long-anticipated move to the NFL, Matt Rhule was routinely pulling in recruiting classes at Baylor that ranked in the 30s nationally. That kept the Bears from falling off the map after scandal rocked the program in 2016. New head coach Dave Aranda can't afford to let that momentum slip if he plans on keeping the program relevant going forward.
What's wrong at TCU?
Are the Horned Frogs slipping? TCU reaped significant recruiting benefits by moving to the Big 12 during the period of conference realignment nearly a decade ago. Despite building what stands as the third-best roster in the conference, Gary Patterson's team missed a bowl last season and has a 12-13 overall record in the past two years. If TCU can't get back on track this season, count on hearing justifiable speculation that Patterson has lost his touch.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.