(Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a three part series examining the current level of football talent in the Big 12 Conference. Part I of the series can be found here.)
The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books, and for the Big 12, the news is not good. With a total of 17 players selected (an average of 1.7 per school), this year marks the league’s worst performance ever in the annual event. The Big 12 finished last among the five power conferences both in terms of the total number of players taken (SEC – 49, ACC – 42, Pac 12 – 34, Big 10 – 30) and the average number of players taken per school (SEC – 3.5, ACC – 3.5, Pac-12 -2.8, Big 10 – 2.5).
There are several factors contributing to these poor numbers, one of which is the defection of several schools to other conferences. Former members Texas A&M and Nebraska each had three players selected in this draft, and Missouri had four. Conversely, new additions TCU and West Virginia combined for three selections.
But the blame can’t be solely placed on which schools left and which ones replaced them. It was, after all, to be expected that both TCU and WVU would need some time to adjust to life in a tougher league. The downward trend in Big 12 talent can also be attributed to the underperformance of some schools that have been in the conference since Day One.
Consider this breakdown of how many selections each Big 12 school had in the 2014 NFL Draft:
Texas Tech: 2
West Virginia: 2
Oklahoma State: 1
Kansas State: 1
Iowa State: 1
The first thing that jumps out from this list is the last name on it and the number beside it. For the first time since 1937, the University of Texas did not have a player drafted by the NFL. For a program with the size and stature of the Longhorns, this is both mind boggling and unacceptable. Granted, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU all had down years in the draft. But for Texas to get completely shut out is disturbing. This is a program that had 58 players selected in the ten previous drafts. That it couldn’t even place a single one in this most recent draft speaks volumes about the state of the current talent level in the Big 12.
Of course, Texas has been in a slump since appearing in the 2009 BCS title game. While its 30-21 record over the last four seasons might merit a raise at some schools, it is grounds for dismissal in Austin. And while some members of the Longhorn Nation were sad to see the legendary Mack Brown forced to step down this past December, the results of today’s draft show that it was the correct decision, not only for Texas, but for the Big 12 conference as a whole. Because as we will discover next week in the third and final installment of this series a healthy Big 12 depends upon a healthy Texas and a healthy Oklahoma. The Sooners have upheld their end of the bargain as of late.
Texas, however, has not. Fortunately, that could all be about to change.