Texas Tech lost to Texas before the game started by a score of 58-10. The average national ranking of Texas Tech recruiting classes of the last four years is 58th in the country. Texas has averaged the 10th ranked class. Surrendering 70 is never acceptable. Period. But the Red Raider’s ugly loss to their in-state rival blew up all the goodwill built up by a 3-0 start. This was a painful slap of a talent reality gap that needs to be examined.
Big 12 Standings Based On Four Year Average Recruiting Class Rankings
All of the rankings are based on the 247 class rankings from 2017-2020. Before looking at the exact teams, let us just see what the average national ranking is for the Big 12 rank teams:
The two programs that have averaged a top ten recruiting class these last four years will not shock anyone who follows the Big 12. But where exactly has the Texas Tech recruiting classes landed the Red Raiders in these standings?
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Iowa State
- Texas Tech
- Kansas State
Transfer Portal Not Included
Some of the programs here, especially in the last four years with changes to the transfer rule, have tried to shore up gaps in their roster with experienced players and less with high school recruits (which these rankings do not account for or adjust for). Texas Tech is a prime example of this. In the last two seasons alone, Texas Tech has brought in 18 transfers. The landscape of how college football teams build their roster is going to look similar to how NFL scouting departments are divided up. There is one side of the house that does nothing but evaluate college prospects and another that evaluates current NFL players that they could add to their roster. College football teams are going to be splitting their resources to do the same between high school players and current players in college. So what Texas Tech recruiting has done in only three years since head coach Matt Wells replaced Kliff Kingsbury is a pretty standard approach.
What Should Texas Tech Recruiting Expectations Be?
Texas Tech is never going to pull top-ten nationally ranked classes. Even when Texas Tech was at the pinnacle of the Mike Leach era, recruiting classes from 2006-2009 finished with an average ranking of 46th in the nation. The best-ranked class Leach ever signed was the 2006 class that ranked 28th nationally, which included such prominent players from the 2008 season as Michael Crabtree and Baron Batch (Crabtree was the only 4-star ranked recruit in the class). Where Texas Tech recruiting will make its money is finding the 3-star ranked players, especially in the state of Texas, that are hidden gems that will play like a 4/5-star recruit on Saturdays with the right development. While the transfer portal will still be a key component of roster building, the way to sustain long-term success is to build the team with high school recruits. Texas Tech recruiting should consistently finish in the mid-30s nationally in order for this program to get out of the basement of the Big 12.
What Should On-The Field Expectations Be?
In college football, 90% of the time it’s more about the Jerry’s and Joe’s more than the X’s and O’s. Any college football team looking for sustainable high-level success needs to improve its talent. So there are two ways to look at the recruiting numbers and how it relates to Texas Tech.
Get Better Players
It’s simple. With seven teams in front of Texas Tech, they are (in theory) always having to punch above their weight class week-in and week-out for victories in the Big 12. The last four recruiting classes ranked 49, 72, 62, and 48th nationally. Wells has the recruiting number trending upward, in addition to bringing in high-performing transfers. Texas Tech is not a program to make monumental leaps in recruiting, so this is great progress. The class rankings need at a minimal hold steady/continue to improve.
Better Development And Better Coaching
It shouldn’t be a shock that Texas Tech has missed out on the bowl season for three straight years now looking strictly at their recruiting classes. But there are teams that are outperforming their rankings, with the gold standard currently being Iowa State. Assuming Texas Tech doesn’t have a revolution on the recruiting trail, the margin for error from a development and coaching standpoint is much smaller. Why has Kansas State beat Texas Tech for five consecutive seasons? It certainly isn’t because they are out-recruiting the Red Raiders. This is an example of why the cries from the fan base are getting louder and less patient with the current coaching staff.
A 7-5 Record This Season Is Tremendous Victory
It sucks to lose to a rival by 35 points. It sucks, even more, to have 70 stamped on the defense. But one game does not have to define a season. Texas Tech recruiting is trending up. There are still plenty of winnable games on the schedule, so there isn’t a need to panic right now. There is very tangible evidence this team is playing hard for this coaching staff (see slow starts turned into three victories). But if Texas Tech continues to make mistakes that cost them games against teams that have similar talent levels as them, the patience from the athletic department and boosters may run out as well.