Texas' close gives the Horns the best roster in the Big 12.
The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.
Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships.
National Signing Day 2016 gave us more than 4,000 new players to root for and track over the next four or five seasons. So which teams are in the best shape for 2016?
College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Big 12 schools over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five 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's Rosters in 2016:
Big 12 Big Picture
Certainly, having four fewer teams than most leagues hurts the Big 12 in a numbers game but the best of the best high school recruits continue to go elsewhere. The Big 12 landed one five-star this cycle and six total top 100 players. Seven different SEC schools signed 14 total five-star recruits and 42 of the top 100 prospects in the nation. Texas’ leads the Big 12 with the ninth-best roster in the nation — good for sixth in the Big 12. The overall talent trend has to be a major concern for the Big 12.
Rise of Baylor, TCU
On the field, Art Briles and Gary Patterson have little left to prove. They’ve elevated what were essentially mid-major programs to national prominence. Now, the recruiting is beginning to follow suit. And it’s something that could help stem the aforementioned Big 12 recruiting trends. Baylor and TCU signed what could be, on paper, considered the best recruiting classes in school history this cycle. It now gives the Bears the third-best roster in the league and TCU the fourth — up from fourth and sixth a year ago. For the Big 12 to continue to improve, Baylor and TCU need to continue their rise up college football’s hierarchy.
What to make of OU?
Oklahoma isn’t going anywhere in the grand scheme of college football. It’s fresh off a College Football Playoff berth and conference title. It’s an elite program. But Bob Stoops hasn’t signed a top-10 class since 2010. Think about that. The Sooners had a small class this year due to a small senior class but not one top-10 class in six cycles seems extremely odd. Stoops enters 2016 with the 16th-best roster in the nation.
Lone Star-Sized Shark Tank
The state of Texas has always been the deep end of the recruiting pool but it’s gotten even wilder lately. With the emergence of TCU and Baylor and Texas A&M’s move to the SEC opening up the borders to the SEC even further, Texas is even more difficult to recruit than ever. Eight different teams landed a top 10 player from the state this fall, including Ole Miss, LSU, Stanford and Florida, and only three went to the Big 12. Texas landed just three of the top 17 and just five of the top 25. Speaking of Texas...
Charlie Strong has totally shifted recruiting strategies in Austin from the previous regime. After Mack Brown landed just one recruit on National Signing Day in 16 years (h/t Wescott Eberts), Strong scored six commitments on the final day of the ’16 cycle. This is great news for Texas fans as the Longhorns once again enter a season with the best roster in the Big 12. Is there a Texas-sized hole at quarterback still? Yes. But with the ninth-best roster in the nation at his disposal, Strong has a chance to begin to turn things around.
West Virginia has landed a recruiting class ranked between 31st and 39th in five consecutive cycles. It gives Dana Holgorsen the sixth-best roster in the league and No. 35 in the nation. Offense will once again reign supreme in Morgantown in 2016 but the question of upside is a fair one. Does recruiting at this level consistently give WVU a shot at bowl games every year in the Big 12? Yes. Does it give it a shot at the Big 12 crown and a Playoff berth? Who knows.
Far Out West
In 2015, Kliff Kingsbury showed he could develop a roster and correct mistakes. However, as TCU and Baylor are getting more and more talented every year, Texas Tech seems to be slipping backwards. This roster has dropped to the seventh-best in the league and the 37th nationally. The Red Raiders are still way ahead of the Big 12 bottom feeders in terms of recruiting but two other in-state schools appear to be distancing themselves from the bottom half of the league — which now includes Tech.
Matt Campbell, David Beaty and Bill Snyder
Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State are three of the least talented Power 5 schools in the nation. But Bill Snyder is a proven depth chart mastermind who doesn’t care about recruiting rankings and Matt Campbell just inked the best class Iowa State has signed in over a decade. And he’s been on the job for only a few months. Beaty and Kansas, however, are different. He was hired at KU to rebuild the roster, but after a winless season, Beaty signed the worst Power 5 recruiting class in the nation by a wide margin. Only Boston College has a lower-rated Power 5 roster entering 2016. Best of luck, Jayhawks.