STILLWATER — The Cowboys have 47 players on their 137-man 2021 roster from the Lone Star state.
The football-crazed state also provides a lot of student-athletes for Oklahoma State’s other sports, so it makes sense that the University and its football coach would want to keep that connection. OSU has shared a conference with Texas schools since the Big 12’s formation 1996.
The latest round of conference realignment momentarily put that in jeopardy with theories of OSU joining the Big Ten or Pac-12, but it seems evermore likely that the Big 12 will try to fortify, keeping its remaining eight teams and potentially adding Central Florida, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston, further imprinting the league’s Texas footprint.
“I don’t mind telling you that we recruited a lot down there, and I think that if we have schools in that state that are tied in with us in whatever we do, I think it’s beneficial for this school,” OSU football coach Mike Gundy said Monday. “… I don’t want to lose that. To people that asked if I had an opinion what I want, I want the Texas people with us because I think it ties us into that television market, and I think that ties us into that recruiting base, which anybody that’s in here knows that’s pretty important. There’s a lot of people that play football down there, and it gives us numbers to recruit to.”
Gundy pointed to Nebraska as a reason why getting away from the Lone Star state and its seemingly endless supply of talent might not be the smartest ideal. Nebraska was a dominant team in the Big 12, finishing with a 0.716 winning percentage in 15 seasons in the conference. The Cornhuskers then moved to the Big Ten and have had a .552 winning percentage two games into their 11th season.
In 2010, Nebraska’s final year in the Big 12, the Cornhuskers had 23 Texans on their roster. In 2021, 10 Texans are on Nebraska’s roster.
A lot of kids like playing in front of their families, the more times to do that, the better.
It’s not even that an average Texas prospect is better than an average prospect from any other state. It’s a matter of quantity.
There are 215 Texas high school football players with 247Sports composite rankings in the 2022 class. For reference, there are 25 from Oklahoma. There are 12 from Kansas, 15 from Iowa and two from West Virginia. There are 120 from California. Florida is the only state with more, having 234.
So, there is benefit for OSU to stick with Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU and some benefit for the Big 12 to add Houston.
“If there’s ever Texas teams in our conference, I don’t see how that would hurt Oklahoma State,” Gundy said. “Somebody might be able to tell me how, but I don’t see how it would hurt Oklahoma State.”
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