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The Real Game: Recruiting

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Tonight's Texas Tech at Oklahoma game may have epochal ramifications if Tech should win - and no place more resounding than in recruiting in Texas.

OU, Texas and Texas A&M have all had their heydays with Texas recruits. When one or two of the three were down, the others would shoulder the way through the out-of-state schools always nibbling at the fringes of the Texas crop, always deeper and more talented than any other state. This core not only fed the Texas colleges, but surrounding states and any other program who could target and create a presence in the state. And the smaller schools down the line still found plenty of talent.

So, why is tonight so important? Currently Texas under Mack Brown and OU under Bob Stoops have the capability and the big time presence to lure not only the best in Texas, but also pick up stray 5-stars across the football universe. Texas Tech has always been on the downside of the current, picking off enough to be successful but never breaking through the MNC ceiling. Hell, they've never been able to get the key wins when Mt. Olympus beckoned. Was it lack of talent? Lack of coaching? Self-destructive tendencies? Maybe that and more.

Tonight that could all change. Big Game Bob has been losing his touch and while no one denies he's a great coach, the murmurs of discontent echo in the back alleys of Norman. OU has the weight of history and expectation and a not to be discounted home crowd of red clad fanatics. Many don't think there is a way in hell they lose this game. No way.

Tech has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Blasting through a consecutive games that have been the most important and grandiose in their history, making good on their pre-season hype, they have the attention of the nation - and you can betcha your dust visor, the hearts of a few recruits. But the real slice of history is the opportunity to make a grand entry into the recruiting wars. Regardless of your historical period in the last 50 years, only two schools have dominated the process at a time. That has varied, there might have been years when three or four sustained some success, but basically the balance has been between two parties.

Tech can change that balance tonight. Even if Tech should lose, they will have made inroads, they will make some gains, but they will still be just the lead of the pack. But tonight they can shove down OU's throat tonight, for OU and Stoops stand to be the real losers in this equation.

If Tech should win - and especially if they make it to the BCS title game - suddenly they will gain access they have never had on a national and state-wide scale. Texas, in securing Muschamp, can definitely set their case before recruits: Muschamp will be here, Major will be here (albeit for a more questionable period), Mack will be here and you can, too. Tech can't dent this. But Stoops has no such insurance.

Ironically, Texas showed how to play both Tech and OU, both in the second halves of their games. Tech will have to endure a rabid first half crowd, will have to continue to subsume their own self-destructive mistakes, will have to be the best their have been (as in the first half vs. Texas, the game vs. OSU). Their defense will have to prove it is the entity they have ballyhooed all season. This will be a horserace, with OU capable of taking the early lead and staying even on the backstretch. Tech will have to take control on the final turn and be pulling away on the backstretch.

If Tech loses, things return to the "normal" balance. They won't make back-to-back claims; there's no next year. Maybe two or three years, possibly. But this year is what Leach has sought, what he has built in the dusty sands of West Texas and he has overcome everything to get to this point. He has built a monster, one the media really does not fully comprehend. The Big XII has been a great cauldron this season and it is Tech which will rise from the primordial soup.