Commentary

Value in recruiting

Texas is 10th nationally in recruiting expenses and first in the Big 12

Updated: June 12, 2012, 9:39 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

[+] EnlargeScott Pagano
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comDespite travel costs, numerous mainland teams will travel to Hawaii to scout Scott Pagano this fall.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Scott Pagano is said to have an ocean of talent.

The thing is, there is an ocean between the defensive tackle and where he can apply it.

"It's tough," the Honolulu Moanalua High senior said. "Because being in Hawaii it is pretty hard to get anywhere in the Mainland."

Yeah, and vice versa.

Even still, there will be visitors to Hawaii this fall. Texas is expected to be among them.

"I talked to [defensive ends coach Oscar Giles] and he said they were coming to see me a couple of times," Pagano said.

Round-trip airline tickets to Hawaii are running $986 at the moment.

Good thing Texas athletics' overall annual recruiting budget is running around $1.47 million. (Men's sports make up the lion's share of that at $989,000 and football takes up the majority of that total.) It's not the largest in the country.

Tennessee, Auburn and Notre Dame, in that order, have those honors. Texas has the 10th-largest recruiting budget and the largest in the Big 12.

So for once, maybe everything is not bigger in Texas. Still the Longhorns' recruiting budget is more than enough to do just what Texas needs to do.

Texas, by virtue of the size of the state and the bevy of recruits therein, recruits Texas. It is not burdened with restrictive travel costs such as jet fuel for a private plane every weekend. For example, the 2012 team has eight out-of-state players on it. That means slightly more than 90 percent of the players on the roster did not require the coaches to leave the state's borders. Now one is from El Paso -- M.J. McFarland -- but the rest are within a reasonable drive from Austin.

On top of that, Mack Brown, during his tenure at Texas, has signed more recruits out of Brenham, the Killeen/Temple area and Galena Park in Houston than any other spot. All are within a three-hour drive of his office.

That's not to say all the coaches have not piled on a private plane for flight when needed. They have, traveling the roughly 90 miles to Brenham to woo Malcom Brown.

[+] EnlargeJordan Hicks
Jody Gomez/US PresswireJordan Hicks will be one of only nine non-Texans on the Longhorns' roster in 2012.
But, for the most post, attacking a Friday night of evaluation can easily be done in a car. Contrast that with a school in the SEC, where the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is awash in coaches flying their colors on polo shirts every Friday night during the football season.

Tennessee, with its $2 million-plus recruiting budget and flamboyant former coach Lane Kiffin, got a leg up a few years ago by hopping from game to game in highly recruited metro Atlanta via helicopter. The trick has become so cliche now that even Vanderbilt -- yes, Vanderbilt -- used a helicopter in recruiting in 2011. Missouri, UCLA and a handful of others have used helicopters as well.

But Texas, in a move that might be construed as at odds with its over-the-top reputation, is rather subdued when it comes to throwing money around in recruiting costs. That's not to say the Longhorns can't or won't. After all, they have the largest athletic budget in the country at $150 million. In addition, no other school produces as much combined revenue as Texas' football and basketball programs: $112 million. So the funds are there.

Texas also has a president, William Powers, who knows how valuable a marketing tool the football team has been and can be. So as long as the athletic department is fiscally solvent, he is not going to put the kibosh on any costs.

That much has been evident in the past several years as the Texas recruiting budget has started to rise. From 2010 to 2011 the recruiting budget jumped $220,000 from $1.25 million to 1.47 million. In the two previous years it fluctuated from $1.29 million in 2008 to $1.32 million in 2009.

With Texas reaching out to more and more out-of-state players in every sport, it soon could jump again. But considering Texas spends an average of $42,000 per player per year in football, making the investment on the front end in recruiting seems not just logical but critical when it comes to financial stability and sustaining success in the future.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation