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Mailbag: Recruiting Feedback and GIA’s Noise Level

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It’s been too long since we’ve done a mailbag. This one is a little longer than usual, but the comments, emails and tweets have been better and more bountiful than in recent memory (especially after my pieces on recruiting post-National Signing Day). Let’s get right to work.


I had this thought about OSU and OU for next year and what a mess the Big 12 has made of things. Let’s say that both teams have great years. OSU holds home court and wins the first meeting, but then loses to OU in Dallas in the Big 12 championship game. Both teams finish 12-1, with only losses to each other. Would both get in to the CFP for a possible Round 3? If so the state of Oklahoma might explode especially if that third game was for the title. -Sean F.

Kyle Porter: I thought about this shortly after the Big 12 title game was announced. It’s impossible to look at this game in a vacuum because if there are, say, four undefeated SEC teams then the NCAA will just cancel the Big 12 title game obviously neither would get in.

If OU lost the first and won the second, it would get in. Absolutely. It gets weird if OU wins the first and loses the second. It would have beaten Ohio State and run the regular season table in the Big 12. Then just lost to a one-loss OSU. Can you include OU in that scenario but not OSU? It would be a spectacular failure by the committee (although very financially-profitable for me) to include a one-loss OU but not a one-loss OSU coming off a Big 12 title. Whoo boy, I’m already rooting for it.

I’m not sure I can see OSU losing the last game of the year and getting in a playoff. Maybe if it lost in September (maybe not). But not in December, depending on what other teams do. Also, how amazing would it be if the first year of the Big 12 title game (designed to give Big 12 teams a better chance at getting in the CFB Playoff) is the very thing that kept a Big 12 team from getting in the playoff.


I’ve really enjoyed your pieces on the recruiting aspect at OSU.  With that said, I think you’ve made some presumptions which you have yet to verify or explain as to why they would not matter.

The biggest of which is “have recruits/star rankings remained the same over the past decade?”  Meaning, would a 3-star recruit today be a 3-star recruit a decade ago. I would venture a guess of no. As technology has shifted over the past decade, we have more information on recruits than ever before; or more particularly, more information on how many similar types of recruits are out there in which we didn’t know existed a decade ago.

I would say a very small portion of today’s 3-star recruits would have been 4-stars a decade ago. It would be interesting to see if this were truly the case, and then give a weighted average of today’s recruits as to what they would have been (or vice versa, whichever fists your narrative needs).

I think another aspect as to why OSU isn’t getting the 4 or 5-star recruits is culture. Various people with say the 4 and 5-star recruits are mostly prima donnas. You have to have a very particular type of culture instilled to handle those type of personalities, and then hope it doesn’t implode around you (or you’re a genetic clone of Nick Saban).

Look at Bobby Reid and Herschel Sims. One player can cause a lot of heartburn when you’re at OSU.  And deep down, I think most OSU fans fear the NCAA would come knocking if OSU started signing better classes and burn The House that Boone Built down; a simple yellow journalism by Thayer Evans brought them knocking (so it adds a fuel to their fears).

With all that being said, I do think OSU needs to improve in their recruiting but not as much as most people would think.  I personally see a program which is finally constantly rolling out solid contributors in which they have built up-they don’t rebuild (except for the offensive line), they reload key guys that can go win some games.

What they need to improve on is getting three to five 4- or 5-star key recruits that can help get them over the edge. OSU has a culture now in which I believe they could overcome some of the personality issues which come with these types of players. Too many players are invested in the program to let a handful bring them down. OSU is winning with what they’re doing, now it’s time to continue what you’re doing and try to grow at the same time (a difficult task for person, let alone an entire program with years/decades of losing history). -Frank M

Porter: On the three-star players thing. This wouldn’t necessarily matter because we have been comparing programs and not OSU recruits to OSU recruits. Rivals and 247 could invent a 7-star ranking this year, and it wouldn’t matter because OSU would still finish 33rd. This is what I’ve been looking at.

As for the culture thing. I think it matters. I think Gundy sometimes uses it as a shield for why OSU doesn’t recruit bigger and better, but I think it matters more than most people believe it does. You can’t just recruit stars and roll them out there (IF TRAVIS FORD TAUGHT US ANYTHING IT IS THIS). Gundy said this recently in a conference he spoke at.

“If you have 100 players in your team, there’s probably only 20 that really, really love to play and would do it for free out there in 10 degree weather,” Gundy said. “Then you have about 50 that like it, but partly because their school is getting paid for, and then you have about 20 out there just because someone says you have to do it to get their education, and they really don’t want to be out there.

“Whether we like to believe that or not, I’m pretty certain that’s a fact. So how do you get them all excited about practice over a 5-month period? … People ask, ‘How can you beat this team and then two weeks later you can’t score?’ It happens because of the mental approach of players, and if they’re fatigued.”

It also happens when your culture is bad, and OSU’s is certainly not.


Love your series on recruiting and agree with your opinions. I would love one more segment on “where are the failures and why.” We don’t seem to have a problem getting 4-star (or high 3-star) WR, RB, QBs. Why? Because we run a system that high school players love to be in, it is fun and we are good at it. I would think we compare favorably with the top twenty classes at these positions.

The problems are in the OL and defense. OL line is simple Wick didn’t like to recruit and there has been too much turnover since. Henson should correct that problem.

Defense is where we are having significant issues and in my opinion it is because of our overall defensive philosophy of bend but don’t break. What high school 4-star CB or LB wants to play for a school that won’t let you play aggressively. Turn and run the opposite direction at the snap is not attractive.

What would be interesting to look at are teams that are peers to OSU but play an aggressive attacking style defense, do they recruit better on that side of the ball? See TCU, Baylor, Miss State, KSU, WVU, VT etc.

If we average the 35th class — are we top twenty in offensive recruiting and 5oth in defensive recruiting? This would make sense when you break down our annual offensive and defensive rankings and would lead you to believe the coaches are not over achieving (damn good coaches or damn good evaluators) but that our recruiting mirrors our performance.

I have long held the theory that OSU is a proven, top 20 defensive coordinator away from being a true playoff contender and consistent B12 champion. I have a good friend that went to Clemson and he thinks we are where they were before Venables. Jay B.

Porter: OSU is Clemson before it had an elite defense? I’m buying all of that. I get giddy just thinking about that idea.

We don’t have to go very far to find the answer to your question, either. OSU recruited as many top 300 offensive players in 2017 (Tylan Wallace and Shamond Greenwood) as it has on defense since 2014 (Darrion Daniels and Gyasi Akem).

The point about the Big 12 not being a desirable place for defensive players is a real thing. As college football fans, we forget this, but the goal of most high school layers is simply to make it to the NFL.

Who holds up the stats about getting non-QBs there most often? The SEC. The Big 10. Not the Big 12. This is compounded when elite QBs are dicing up defenses for 3,944 yards a game and the circle of death continues. It’s hard to play defense in the Big 12 which means it’s hard to recruit good defensive players in the Big 12.


Just some observations/analysis I hope gives you some insight, as well as lets me vent off some steam.

Jeffery Carroll is on the Markel Brown development plan isn’t he.

Jawun+Underwood = confidence to win every game.  Seriously is there any game this year that you went into thinking that we were going to lose? My only one was UNC, but other than that I have always believed we were going to win.

King Solomon and Lazarus Dillard have been the driving force behind this turnaround. Mitch isn’t a good player necessarily, but he isn’t bad, like he was at the beginning of the year. His 10 straight points at KU was a better memory for me than both of Dillard’s dunks. I also think that Dillard should be allowed to have more of a green light on the 3 ball

Does Ford just pound six packs of Budweiser watching Dillard play nowadays?

Better handles: Anthony Hickey or Jawun Evans?  I would take Hickey.

Another aging thought. I’m graduating from college this May, and the last time I saw OSU win a tournament game I was in 8th grade. I also was home schooled, and remember watching the ending to that game. Glory days man.

Next year does Dziagwa see more than 15 minutes?  I really don’t think that Underwood wants someone out there who is strictly a shooter.  While I do enjoy “Dizzy” I don’t see him playing as much as Forte once he leaves*

If Arkansas does make the tournament, we deserve to be six seeds above them

What would Underwood have done with the 2013-2014 team…. (Saddest thought of all)

I would also like to say I appreciate the shout out on the last mailbag.  I really enjoy reading your stuff, and I also fully support the funding that PFB will be instituting. -Grant M.*By leaving I mean joining Keiton Page as the other assistant to player development

Porter: This is a great email. I’m not sure I have much to add. I just wanted to share it with everyone. Underwood would have gotten to the Final Four with that 2013-14 team. Also, Hickey had better half-court handles (up there with Cheyne Gadsen), but Jawun is far better in the open court.


The recent recruiting articles caught my attention. While I agree to an extent and would love to see us bring in more talent, I think the comparisons are unfair. Let’s first establish that OSU’s classes are not as bad as ranked. Gundy is better at evaluating then possibly any in the big 12.

Additionally, comparing what Gundy does at OSU to what Saben or Urban do at their schools is crazy. Urben didn’t bring in top 10 classes at Utah nor did Saben at Michigan State.
Did Jimmy Johnson wake up over night and become a better coach when he left OSU for Miami. No. He had a Switzer problem in Stillwater that disappeared when he got to Miami. Why?? Miami (not Johnson) could recruit better players there.

Let’s say Gundy and Stoops swap jobs tomorrow. Does Stoops start recruiting top 10 classes at OSU? Nope. Does Stoops beat OU 11 out of 13 times? Ha, Nope. The best measure of a coach is are they maximizing the ability of that program. Gundy does that as well as anyone. It takes time to take a program to a Tier 1 level blue blood.

We need 20+ more years of winning at a high clip to get there I think. I don’t believe there is a coach in the country that could CONSISTENTLY, WITHOUT CHEATING bring in 5-star top 10 talent to OSU now. They need for winning tradition and name recognition first. -Gabe G.

Porter: This is where we’re all at right now with recruiting, right? OSU is a terrific program — one of the best in the country over the last decade — but how does it improve incrementally? How does it get two four-star guys next year and a five-star the year after that on defense to go from “competes for Big 12 titles” to “is the Big 12 favorite.”

Texas being bad for five years has left the door wide open for another Big 12 team to establish itself and set itself up for 20 years of success. I’m not totally sure Gundy and Co. have done that.


I don’t typically post things but after reading several comments about the noise level in GIA I thought I should make an exception.

As the architect for GIA I can provide the following info.  Prior to starting construction we had our acoustical consultant take readings to determine the decibel rating of the original arena.

When the renovation/expansion was completed we had them take readings again to see if the decibel ratings were different.

The renovated/expanded area readings were slightly higher than the original building readings.  Therefore we knew we had met (actually exceeded) the requirement to make sure we did not loose the loud arena built in 1938. -Gary S.

Porter: “As the architect for GIA” is a hell of a way to start an email. Also really cool to hear from the man who re-built the palace Brad Underwood calls his office. Oh, and Kansas? We’re coming for you.

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