Is James Franklin the last Tiger impact player from Texas?
In contrast to the Aggies spectacular toe-stubbing departure, the Missouri Tigers have been as hard on the Longhorns in their valedictory tour as Texas is on women and horses. We played (Siegfried &) Roy to the Missouri Tiger in 2011-2012 and it's going to be difficult to get the blood out of our sequins.
- Missouri football beat Texas 17-5 on a shag rug laid over rubble that claimed Fozzy's knee and the remnants of David Ash's confidence. As a general rule, I never like losing games to teams whose public address announcer leads 1st down cheers
- Missouri basketball, led by former Longhorn assistant Frank Haith, blanked Texas 3-0. They went on to lose to a 15 seed in the NCAA tournament, which, though amusing, doesn't make us look any better
- Finally, Missouri baseball beat Texas 2 out of 3 this weekend to seal our ignominy
That's a clean sweep in the two major sports and in a third that some care about. Obviously, we've fared much better against Missouri historically, but it would have been nice to send them out appropriately.
As for Missouri's future in the SEC, it's a Brave New World. Particularly on the recruiting trail.
College basketball is a national recruiting game and Missouri can adopt a broad regional/national approach. Haith will have to prove his mettle on the recruiting trails after being handed a great team full of seniors, but there's no structural reason they can't have success in basketball.
Football is different. Missouri's football success was bulwarked substantially by Texas recruiting and replacing that talent pipeline isn't just going to happen by virtue of participating in the country's best football league. Mizzou showed a knack for wringing production out of Texas 3 stars and built an excellent recruiting presence in DFW and a handful of talent-rich small towns like Gilmer. Though the SEC will guarantee the Tigers a continued Texas television presence through the Aggies, they won't be playing many games in the Lone Star state and their impression level on 16 year old minds will be well south of TCU, much less Oklahoma State. Texas state recruiting won't disappear entirely, but consider these numbers:
2010 9 of 23 signees from Texas
2011 9 of 17 signees from Texas
2012 6 of 19 signees from Texas
2013 1 out of 10 commits from Texas (the other 9 are all from Missouri)
The writing is on the wall. Last year, Missouri had 35 roster players from Texas. They will be at 1/3 of that in three or four years.
More than just volume, the Texas recruiting base provided major impact players like Chase Daniel, Sean Weatherspoon, Ziggy Hood, Danario Alexander, James Franklin. Unlike Nebraska, Missouri consistently got great production out of its Texas signees, not just bodies. They had an established blueprint to show Texas athletes: here were the guys before you, here are the records they set, here's the money they're making now in the NFL. Come on up - this can be done.
Pinkel knows he has to mine alternate talent sources and Missouri is already creating a recruiting presence in Georgia and Florida, but how will the Tigers deal with a SEC recruiting world in which they're the 8th or 9th most appealing school choice on the SEC wish list and outside of the Top 10 regionally? They're not recruiting people who care about good journalism schools or a charming university town with four seasons. They're recruiting parochial ballers raised in the heart of SEC country who values regional identity, rabid fan bases, and being close to mama.
Tick off the better options: Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee. Is Missouri clearly a superior choice measured against South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas A&M, even Ole Miss? You'll have trouble convincing me. Not to mention expected incursions by Ohio State under Urban Meyer and the presence of impact local ACC schools like Clemson, FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech...
It's not just tougher competition - there are more academic hurdles and the South has a disproportionate number of interested family advisors, shadowy uncles, and helpful ministers guiding various recruitments. Trent Richardson and Cam Newton think this is slander, but I may have a point. The recruiting trails in Texas are comparatively clean, well-ordered highways with clear signage and courteous drivers, the bad exits clearly marked and known; SEC country has road blocks every three miles manned by the cast of the Road Warrior and you're never quite sure which militia you're speaking with.
The issue isn't whether Texas or SEC kids are better - the per capita data says SEC country has the nod - it's that Texas kids are hell of a lot easier to get up to Columbia and they have a track record of thriving there. Recruiting competition in Texas is several orders of magnitude weaker than the bloodsport of the SEC - even after Texas or Oklahoma eats their fill. Look at the secondary competition. Missouri is going from taking on Kansas, Baylor, and Texas Tech for that promising 3 star project from Dallas to battling Tennessee, South Carolina, and Auburn for a kid who lives on the Georgia border. That's not just a different ballgame, it's a different sport.
My advice: prioritize locking down the state of Missouri and the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City like they were CDC outbreak facilities, fill in opportunistically wherever you can, and hope that Dorial Green-Beckhams keep sprouting from the soil.