Oklahoma State's football success is translating into a brand that has never been bolder.
Mike Gundy experienced firsthand the expanded awareness of his school and program on the recruiting trail.
“The success that we've had and being ranked as high as we were throughout the season and playing on TV as much,” Gundy said, “and then being in the BCS game, where we were kind of the only show on, gave us instant respect in a lot of schools.
“When we were in there recruiting after the bowl game, we walked in and they saw this logo” — Gundy said pointing to his chest — “and they saw Pistol Pete. Maybe 10 years ago, people didn't know who you were. But I noticed this year, people recognized who we were and we had instant respect when we walked in those offices.”
Indeed, OSU's appeal has gone national.
Yet don't expect Gundy's recruiting focus to do the same.
To the contrary, Gundy is quite content right where he is, blanketing Oklahoma and Texas and picking from the other neighboring states… and Georgia. Yes, Georgia, thanks to the knowledge and appeal of Glenn Spencer in his home state.
Beyond that, Gundy isn't so interested, unless there's a natural draw.
“There are certain areas we cover, and there's certain areas where we jump in and jump out,” Gundy said. “We're going to stay pretty confined.”
Why not branch out? Why not tap into a greater talent pool stretching from coast to coast?
The question isn't so much why not, but why?
There are more than enough players in Texas to go around with a few plum prospects here in Oklahoma.
“It's kind of like a fast-food restaurant,” Gundy said. “Somebody starts one and then they have 50 stores, and two years later you're bankrupt. I want to make sure we spend a lot of time and effort into areas where our success has come from, which is Oklahoma and Texas. And then a little time in Atlanta.
“But we're not going to start national recruiting.”
This year, the Cowboys dabbled late in California, even landing four-star linebacker Seth Jacobs. But Gundy noted that this year was different, in the way the majority of the class was locked down early.
“Our class was almost finished, so we were just touching base,” Gundy said. “It was OK to expand our base a little bit. We hadn't really had that luxury in the past, because we were still trying to gather some in.
“So we didn't mind flying to California and hitting some players that we felt could really impact us.”
And Jacobs had something that Gundy considers a requirement in warranting pursuit of a player from far away. His father was raised in Oklahoma and played for a state title team at Tulsa Washington. And Jacobs still has a grandmother living in Tulsa.
“There has to be a tie,” Gundy said. “There's got to be a reason for a player to come from there to here, other than just he's seen us on TV. Otherwise, it's a full business day just to get there, much less get him here.
“We're not big on flying to the coast.”
Jetting coaches to California or New Jersey or Washington or Florida to chase elite talent might sound sexy. But it's time consuming.
And while you're away, the kids closer to home might think you're not paying them enough attention.
“Just to fly out there and drive around and go school to school, it's not worth it in our opinion,” Gundy said. “Not when we can drive around in Texas.”