Image via Sooner Sports
A lot of OU fans are worried about the current state of Oklahoma recruiting. The recent decommitments of Du’Vonta Lampkin and Josh Wariboko, of course, only added to that concern. I think a lot of Oklahoma fans assumed that the big win over Alabama would cause a flood of commitments…but it didn’t. Now before we talk about this, I just want to say that I’m not particularly worried about where we stand right now. However, I do believe there are issues. With the obvious question being what exactly are the specific issues?
I know everyone wants to know why recruiting is slow and to be honest, I don’t think there is any one reason. I think the answer has multiple parts. I’ve thought of a number of reasons as to the ‘why’, and I’m still working through my own thoughts on it. But I’ve tried to write down various factors that I think matter, and I’ll offer up a few thoughts on some of the traditional reasons that are typically cited. Then open it up for discussion and input from y’all in the comments section below.
Some say the reason we aren’t getting early commits is because our facilities aren’t up to snuff. With the recent discussion of the facilities upgrades it would seem Oklahoma believes that facilities matter. And I don’t disagree. I’m just not sure I believe they matter as much as other folks do…at least as a stand alone element.
Two of the programs that are always used as a standard for programs with great facilities are Oregon and Oklahoma State. I checked their commit lists and Oregon currently has four commits (same as OU) and Oklahoma State currently has five (one more than OU). I’m sure people will be quick to say that Oregon doesn’t have a fertile recruiting center like Dallas only 2.5 hours away, and OSU doesn’t have the tradition that OU has…but again, my point isn’t to discount the benefit of facilities – it’s to say that their centrality may be overrated.
At the same time, I can tell you that one of our signees from the 2014 class literally crossed a school off because the dormitory’s weren’t a place he wanted to live. Also, a current Oklahoma target told me about a conversation he had with another player the Sooners are recruiting about Headington Hall, and how much they both loved it. But in talking to recruits, I’ve never got the impression that facilities were a huge deal, unless they were below the standard. In fact I asked a recruit to compare Oklahoma and Oklahoma State’s facilities, and he really didn’t seem to feel they were particularly differentiable. Some things he felt were better at OU, some things he felt were better at OSU. He said, essentially, the same thing about OU vs. Texas facilities.
Again, I think facilities can help. And I think you certainly don’t want to fall behind. But I don’t think Oklahoma’s facilities are the primary reason OU isn’t winning early commits.
In forthcoming posts I’ll offer some commentary on other reasons (other program’s boosters paying players, recruiting territory, etc.) that may be factors in why Oklahoma seems to be having some recruiting struggles.