The immediate reaction to Brynden Walker’s decision to flip his commitment from OSU to OU on Sunday was one of surprise.
The surprise was not in that he flipped — the expectation for months, dating back to when OU offered him a full-ride scholarship April was that he would do exactly that. It’s close to home, it’s the superior in-state program, it’s where NFL talent is being churned out like butter.
No, the surprise here is in that it took as long as it did. When OU offered shortly after his OSU pledge, this flip was always inevitable, according to people inside the recruiting industry.
And so on the first day of the NBA’s free agency, it wasn’t KD and Kyrie going to the Nets, or Mika Muscala signing with OKC that made the biggest waves in the state. Instead, it was a star college recruit in the middle of a turf war whose decision drummed up the most interest.
This is how it has always been when it comes to recruiting (except when OSU, mysteriously, manages to hide tape — an impossible chore in this day and age). OU — and programs of OU’s ilk — have more often than not won. That Walker flipped shouldn’t be a surprise, if only because0 players like him have done the same time and again, leaving OSU for bigger programs. Among the many: Levi Draper (OU), Derek Kerstetter (Texas), Ronald Jones (USC). The list is plenty long (and a rabbit hole if you want to get lost.)
While OSU’s lost grip of Walker is a disheartening one for the coaching staff that did everything right, and for fans who have been conditioned to seeing early-identified talents get swept away by bigger programs, Walker bolting should inspire hope.
That OSU was in on Walker at all is no small consolation to begin with. When he originally committed, remember, he chose OSU over Iowa State, Texas Tech, SMU, Texas and K-State. That was no small win. But shortly after the win, Walker got his grandfather offer he decided he couldn’t pass up from OU.
OU is a better program than OSU is in football. That is not a #take. I am not stirring any pots, nor standing too far on a wobbly limb. The record of the two programs (overall and against one another) reflects it, the talent level reflects it, the coaching salaries suggest it, and so too do the resources spent in contrast of the two programs. So let’s face it: OU should be winning these battles!
The win here for OSU is that it was in so early that OU didn’t even have a foot in the door until April. That is OSU’s game. It doesn’t have the same cache as OU, it doesn’t recruit as well. But the Cowboys scout harder — and better — than any program in America, often unearthing hidden gems like Walker and sometimes feeding into major programs who turn from tweeting eye emojis to poachers.
There may never be a sea change moment when this hierarchy ends, but for every Brynden Walker there is a Grayson Boomer, and for every Ronald Jones there is a CJ Moore … or Bryce Bray … or Trace Ford. If it seems OSU is losing these major battles more often than they’re winning them, then your research may only be when OU gets involved. And is that really a fair curve to grade OSU on?