Thursday, October 15, 2009
Texas-OU game a recruiting draw for players more than coaches Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The stately Cotton Bowl, neatly split in half for Texas and Oklahoma, would appear be an ideal lure for recruiting the top players in the country to play for both national powers.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The Cotton Bowl sets a special atmosphere for the annual Red River Rivalry game.
But both Bob Stoops and Mack Brown say that the unique factors of playing the game at Fair Park in Dallas cause some logistical problems for recruiting.
Because the game isn't considered to be on a school campus, one of the biggest recruiting enticements is taken away from Saturday's game.
Texas is the home team. They will be able to give out tickets to recruits, but can have no contact with them. And recruits' high school coaches can't be provided tickets, either.
"We can give kids the allotted amount of tickets from the NCAA, but we can't see them," Brown said. "So it's not as big a positive in recruiting as it would be if it was at home.
"The kids go to the will-call, go to the window, sit in the stands and leave. But you can't speak to them before the game or after the game. You can't speak to them in Dallas -- only on your campus. The only difference is when you are the home team or OU is the home team is who gives out the tickets."
Stoops agrees that it's a special atmosphere, but probably overrated as a recruiting enticement.
"It's an exciting selling point for both of us having it there in Dallas," Stoops said. "But in the end, will it really change a guy's mind? I doubt it."
But players who have attended those games often come away impressed with the excitement found on both sides of the stadium.
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford started attending the game when he was a boy, attending with his father, Kent, a former Oklahoma offensive lineman.
To this day, Bradford can rattle off his favorite moments in the rivalry, topped by the biggest recent defensive play in the modern history of the game.
"I still remember watching [Oklahoma safety] Roy Williams' leap at the end of the game that won that game," Bradford said. "I remember everybody going absolutely nuts and to see that and then to get to play in it absolutely exciting. You really can't explain the feeling."
Sergio Kindle never attended the game when he was a recruit. But he grew up not far away.
"I remember hearing the bands, the sounds of the stadium and the traffic," Kindle said. "After that, I always wanted to just get inside the stadium and see what was happening."
Jordan Shipley attended the game when he was a high school recruit for the Longhorns. The big crowd and the excitement level of the game still stick with him among the most memorable parts of his recruiting process.
"It's definitely a fun game to be at," Shipley said. "There's no other atmosphere that I've seen that's like it with the State Fair going on and it being on a neutral site, half burnt orange and half crimson. It's really a special atmosphere."
After attending the game, the Red River Rivalry was among the reasons why Shipley decided to attend Texas.
"When you come to Texas, you want to be a part of really big games and be on good teams," Shipley said. "It's definitely the reason you come here is to be in games like this one."