Has A&M's move to the SEC helped the conference's recruiting in Texas?
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It was one of the things we heard over and over as Texas A&M was making its entrance into the Southeastern Conference, ever since the Aggies announced that they were heading for the SEC.
Get ready, we would hear. A&M just opened up Texas as an SEC recruiting hotbed.
That was the conventional wisdom, that somehow Texas A&M’s entry into the Southeastern Conference was going to open some sort of floodgates and allow the SEC to start plucking Texas’ rich and plentiful crops of recruits from under the noses of Texas’ own FBS institutions.
Yep, the days of Texas and A&M and Tech and TCU and SMU and all of the other Lone Star State schools getting the lion’s share of the Texas recruits were over. The SEC was coming, and that meant a recruiting reckoning!
Of course, it was baloney. We knew it was baloney when we first heard it, and we continued to know it was baloney in the year that A&M has thrived in the SEC (and, really, the two years that have made up the entirety of the A&M departure from the Big 12).
It’s been two full recruiting cycles since A&M announced that it would be joining the SEC, with both the Class of 2012 and the Class of 2013 signed knowing that Texas A&M would be joining the conference. How have the doom-and-gloom predictions of SEC recruiting dominance in Texas panned out?
I broke down how many Texas prospects have signed with each out-of-state SEC program since 2008. Let’s go to the data.
|2013||2012||2011||2010||2009||2008||6-year total||6-year average|
So, as you probably could’ve sniffed out by the intro: no, the SEC hasn’t overtaken the recruiting scene in the state of Texas. More or less, things have remained about the same.
On average, since 2008, 14.5 Texas prospects have signed with out-of-state SEC programs each year. Since A&M’s move to the SEC became public in August of 2011, the SEC has pulled in an average of 11 Texas recruits per year. Chalk it up to a small sample size, but the conference’s recruiting foothold hasn’t exactly expanded exponentially in Texas.
What’s more: some teams are even recruiting less in Texas. Missouri, for example, has long depended on a pipeline to Texas for some of its best players – like Jasper LB Sean Weatherspoon and Southlake Carroll QB Chase Daniel, to name a few. But since A&M’s move to the SEC (and Missouri’s as well), the Tigers simply haven’t done as much damage in Texas as usual.
The same goes for LSU (just two Texas players in the last two classes, including none in the 2013 class) and Vanderbilt (usually good for a Texas kid or two, but has yet to nab a Texan since A&M has joined the fold).
The two schools who have improved their recruiting in Texas in the last two years? Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Ole Miss has returned to the standard they held in the latter part of last decade, pulling in three Texans in the last class, while Mississippi State pulled in a pair of Texans for the first time since 2010.
It's hard to call A&M's move to the SEC anything but a booming, overwhelming success. The program looks as strong as it has since its days of Southwest Conference glory, and the Aggies have a chance to make serious noise in 2013 again. And winning begets recruits; the Aggies put together a strong 2013 class, and are working on a strong 2014 group. But so far, for out-of-state SEC schools, it’s been pretty much business as usual, recruiting-wise, in Texas.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.