Tom Herman and Texas won the Big 12 recruiting battle this cycle. Will wins on the field follow?
Last year, the Oklahoma Sooners surpassed their rivals from south of the Red River on top of the Big 12 in terms of overall roster talent. Even though OU usually got the better of Texas on the field for the last two decades, the Longhorns maintained a firm grip on the title of the most talented team based on recruiting rankings. That changed in 2017 when the Sooners nudged ahead amid a coaching change in Austin.
OU still has the most talented squad in the conference, but not by much. Texas checked in this year with a class that finished third nationally, according to 247Sports. The Sooners finished ninth, allowing the Longhorns to narrow the gap.
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Big 12 schools over the last five (2014-18) classes according to 247Sports' Composite Team Rankings and each team's record over the last five (2013-17) 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 2018
It's Oklahoma and Texas, then everyone else
The Sooners and Longhorns almost always enjoy a massive recruiting advantage over the rest of the Big 12. It shows in this season's roster rankings. The difference in average class ranking between Texas at No. 2 and Baylor in third place is roughly the same as the gap between Baylor and Texas Tech at No. 7. That means the annual showdown in Dallas between the two should determine first place in the standings at the end of the year.
Tom Herman lived up to billing on the recruiting trail in his first full cycle. The Longhorns' 2018 class was ranked third nationally after coming in 26th a year earlier. Herman and his coaching staff now need to make good on all that promise by fielding a team that can challenge for a conference crown in the fall.
No letdown at Baylor
After coming to Baylor from Temple, Matt Rhule answered plenty of questions in year one about his ability to recruit in the state of Texas. His 2018 signing class kept the Bears' roster near the top of the league. Even after Baylor suffered significant attrition in the wake of the scandal that enveloped the program at the end of Art Briles' tenure, the Bears have hope for the future thanks to the work Rhule and his assistants are doing out on the trail.
TCU ticking up
The Horned Frogs landed the No. 25 recruiting class in the country this year, continuing an upward trend for TCU. Unfortunately, while TCU is clearly benefiting from joining the Big 12 in 2012, the team still has a ways to go to catch OU and UT from a talent perspective. The good news for Gary Patterson is that he's still Gary Patterson.
Uh oh, Kliff Kingsbury
A win over Texas on Thanksgiving weekend assured that Texas Tech's head coach would get another year on the job. The No. 74 overall recruiting class this year won't help Kingsbury's case going forward, though. His shaky status has to be hurting his sales pitch. The best remedy for that is more wins in the upcoming season.
— 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.