Nebraska officially left the Big 12 on Friday, but in many ways it may still resemble a Big 12 team. Earlier this year, among the top 75 players in the state of Texas, according to ESPNU, just two signed with schools (Iowa, Michigan) that played the 2010 season in the Big Ten.
But four more -- including three in the top 15 in the state and ESPNU 150 members -- signed with Nebraska. Those three were Nebraska's top three recruits, and five members of the 20-signee class, hailed from Texas.
The Huskers' future recruiting in Texas, where every team in the Big 12 must recruit, as a member of the Big Ten, is a point of debate, but a point with wide-ranging effects for the rest of the Big 12.
I sat down with ESPN's national recruiting director, Tom Luginbill (you can follow him on Twitter at @TomLuginbill), to get his take on the changing landscape of recruiting in the state of Texas.
You look at Nebraska's class last year, they came in and got guys like Aaron Green (the nation's No. 3 running back) and Charles Jackson (the No. 5 cornerback) down in Texas; very elite guys.
And Jamal Turner (the nation's No. 6 athlete). Jamal Turner might be the best one.
True. It looks like he's going to play receiver for them. But you look at this year's class so far, and those kinds of guys aren't there. They've got five commits so far, a small class for now, without any commits from Texas. Do you see this being more of the case moving forward for Nebraska as a member of the Big Ten?
Possibly. And keep this in mind: The fact that they're moving to the Big Ten is more than just the prospect in Texas. So many of those families, they want to be able to see their kids play. And unless there's a home game in Nebraska, they're not going to be able to see many road games. And so the proximity is somewhat similar to TCU moving into the Big East. You're recruiting Texas kids and going to the Big East, but your family's really not going to get to see you play much unless it's at home.
So with Nebraska, obviously it's not in Texas, but it's in close proximity, so I think time will tell. I do believe that there could be some effect there. I don't know how significant. But I don't think it has so much to do with the conference affiliation as much as it does the proximity of games.
Yeah, exactly. And there's been quite a bit of debate on our blog and in other places about what that effect will be. What do you think Nebraska recruiting in Texas will look like in five years?
I still believe they will have a strong contingency in Texas. In my opinion, if you look at the teams who are currently in the Big 12. When it was broken up into the North and South, all of the North teams were always behind the 8-ball, because none of those teams resided in a state with a high population or enrollment of quality prospects. So they all had to go into Texas' backyard and A&M and Texas Tech to get players.
Well, just because Nebraska has moved into the Big Ten, that isn't going to change that. They're still going to have to go into Texas. They're going to have to have strong ties in Texas because they don't have enough athletes within their own states and surrounding states to make up for it. So, I think you'll still see a strong presence from them, but I wouldn't be surprised, too, if you start seeing them popping up in Ohio and Pennsylvania and showing up there more. Because, remember, Bo Pelini is from Ohio. So, I think there will be some ties there where maybe if they're not having as much success in Texas as maybe they've had in the past 25 years, maybe what you'll see is them supplementing that in the Midwest with some kids that already identify within the conference.
Do you feel like there's an opportunity for others in the Big 12, then, to take advantage and get players Nebraska may not be able to get in the future?
Yeah, I think there's an opportunity there. I'd say there's a big opportunity for Missouri, because they're heavily into Texas. I know Kansas gets into Texas significantly. If you look at the states that border Texas, those teams, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, are always going to have a strong contingency there.
So, do I think that maybe it opens up a possible opportunity? Yeah, and I would probably say it's more for Kansas and Missouri than anybody else, because Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are already entrenched there.
What do Kansas and Missouri need to do to take advantage of that opportunity?
They're always going to have challenges, just because they're having to go in and compete with the premier teams in that conference in one singular state. The challenges are always going to be there. Will it free up some guys potentially, if Nebraska isn't looked at the way they were because they're out of conference now? Possibly.
But I do know that in order for Missouri and Kansas to survive in that conference, they have to win in Texas. They have to beat Texas Tech on a guy. They need to beat A&M on a guy. Are they going to beat Oklahoma and Texas on guys on a regular basis? Absolutely not. But are they going to beat Oklahoma State on a guy? Yeah, they could. That's the focus. That's where they've got to contend.
Any other spare thoughts about Nebraska recruiting in Texas?
I think they're really going to have a strong presence there, still. What their challenges will be may change their philosophy and their plan as to how they go about it, but I think they're too entrenched there.
And they know that if they don't get players from there, it's going to deplete their roster. No doubt about it.