It’s May 14th. Not a whole lot is going on in the world of Sooner Football other than coming up with interesting debates. As I do every morning, I was listening to The Morning Animal’s radio show on WWLS’s Tulsa affiliate. Carey Murdock and Curtis Fitzpatrick were having a mildly intense discussion about the NFL Draft and its effect on recruiting.
Murdock’s premise was that with the lack of Big 12 players in the 1st round of the NFL draft, as well as Oklahoma not getting a player selected until the 4th round, would damage Oklahoma’s and the recruiting of the Big 12 in general over the coming years. Fitzpatrick did not have the same sentiments.
After chewing on their discussion for a few days, I think I can finally answer this question, however, I also came up with a few questions of my own. Enough so that this will be a two part article. Can a prominent college football program be damaged by the lack of first round picks?
As we know right now, the University of Alabama gets all 5 star recruits to play for them. We’ve seen several of these players go in the first round of the NFL draft. As well as one of Alabama’s SEC rivals, LSU, they also get a lot of players in the first round of the draft.
Oklahoma is no stranger to this, Oklahoma had three out of the top four just a few years back. This year, no Sooner went higher than the 4th round. The answer I believe is a yes, in the respect that more and more recruits looks at college football as their ticket to the stardom and fame of the NFL.
With the recent CBA changes in the NFL, being drafted in the first two rounds, are much more lucrative than a third round pick. Yes that is stating the obvious, but draft picks don’t make Sam Bradford $50 million money being a 1st round draft pick anymore. That gives more incentive to be drafted as high as possible.
The other conferences got players into the 1st round. The ACC, Big 10, PAC 12 and SEC all got multiple players compared to the Big 12′s two players. Those other four power conferences, can use that as a recruiting tool. Look we can make you a first round pick. The Big 12 conference can not.
That can hurt, even a school like Oklahoma. It has hurt Texas, though it remains to be seen if Charlie Strong can turn it around in Austin. What their discussion failed to point out however, is the quality of players over the course of NFL careers. For example Alabama has a ton of first round picks, but would you believe me if I told you that their ability to produce all star Pro Bowlers, since 2004 is virtually non existent? Please take your time to shake your head in disbelief…Okay, that’s enough time.
As stated in a report from LostLetterman.com, it states Alabama has a mere two Pro Bowl selections. 14 first round picks, two pro bowl selection. That is just crazy for me to wrap my head around. Fellow SEC schools such as Florida and Tennessee generated six Pro Bowl selections, and LSU has generated nine.
Since 2004, Oklahoma and Miami were tied for the highest, at 19 Pro Bowl selection. So, as I stated, it can hurt, but if you have a history of developing players, that can help weather the storm in the recruiting field. Oklahoma has such a history under Bob Stoops. Miami have had issues with the NCAA, which has hurt them.
The argument over the extent of recruiting being dictated by the NFL Draft will be argued until the end of time, but the answer for me is that Oklahoma can survive the recruiting war. OU has the chance to have multiple first-second round draft picks next season. But they will have to continue to have success in the postseason. The question that needs to be asked is, can they maintain their success as members of the Big 12 over the coming years? Or would Oklahoma be better off for the Big 12 to meet its demise, or to ditch the leage and join one of the other power conferences?
To Be Continued…