The future of the Big 12 is shifting in a big way with the upcoming departures of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC and the additions of Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, and UCF on the horizon. But we still have at least one more season of this 10-team Big 12 to go, and the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners still appear to be the most talented teams in the conference. But as last year demonstrated, it takes more than talent to win the Big 12 crown.
After all, it is one thing to be able to recruit talent to come to your program, and an entirely different game when it comes to putting that roster in the best position to win. But talent certainly does matter in college football, and Steve Sarkisian may have Texas trending in the right position entering the 2022 season.
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Big 12 schools over the last five (2018-22) classes, according to 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings, and each team's record over the last five (2017-21) seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account roster attrition, but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.
Ranking the Big 12's College Football's Rosters in 2022
Texas preparing for SEC?
Whether it happens sooner or later, we know that Texas and Oklahoma are each about to head to the SEC, and amassing as much talent as possible now will supposedly lead to a better chance to compete in their new conference surroundings when that time does come. And it sure looks as though Texas has the kind of roster the Longhorns can be proud of when they make the conference switch, especially after landing a top-five class under Steve Sarkisian this most recent recruiting cycle (please pay no attention to Texas A&M's ranking, Texas fans ask of you). The biggest hurdle for Texas has been rising to the occasion in the biggest spots. Texas has talent, but it still has to find a recipe that nets more wins.
Oklahoma in transition
The Sooners are about to undergo its biggest transition in quite some time. With Lincoln Riley leaving for USC and the transfer portal leading quarterback Caleb Williams to the Trojans with him, new head coach Brent Venables is in a tough spot in year one. Of course, he still has a solid roster, all things considered, against his new Big 12 peers, but there will be a bunch of work to do right away in 2022 and moving forward into the SEC.
Matt Campbell continues to work some magic
Iowa State may not have quite lived up to some of the preseason buzz it received going into the 2021 season, but there is no disputing how good a head coach Matt Campbell continues to be for the Cyclones. With the Big 12's seventh-best overall roster according to these rankings, Iowa State is 14 games over .500 overall and 13 games over .500 in Big 12 play, with an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game two years ago. Iowa State may be in a good spot once the conference realignment changes take place.
How much better should TCU be?
TCU had a nice start to their time as a Big 12 member but the Horned Frogs feel like a program that could use a little bit of a jump start. TCU is one game under .500 in Big 12 play since 2018, and new head coach Sonny Dykes figures to provide that for the offense.
It may not be a coincidence that Oklahoma State and Baylor just played for the Big 12 championship in 2021. Other than the Sooners, no other teams in the Big 12 improved their roster ranking over the past three seasons on an annual basis. Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State and Dave Aranda of Baylor have put together some solid game plans for running their respective programs and the results are showing on the field and in the win column.
Times have been tough in the state of Kansas. Kansas State and Kansas have each seen their roster ranking decline in successive seasons over the past three cycles, leaving plenty of work to be done to turn things around for each. Kansas State has more or less stayed in the same area of the national roster rankings they are accustomed to, but Kansas has gotten worse, which is saying something for the Jayhawks.
Podcast: Roster Rankings, Recapping NSD, Overachievers/Underachievers in Recruiting and Jim Harbaugh's Return to Michigan