More exposure in Texas could help SEC recruiting

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Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino recruits in Texas as much as any coach in the Southeastern Conference.

As the SEC’s westernmost member, the Razorbacks’ roster lists 22 players from the talent-rich, football-obsessed Lone Star state.

Now that Texas A&M is joining the SEC, Petrino said he expects to do even better there.

“We’ll have more exposure, more TV games,” he said Wednesday on the SEC coaches’ teleconference.

“I always felt we lost a couple of kids to Big 12 teams because those kids grew up watching those teams on TV and wanting to play in the Big 12,” he said.

When it comes to recruiting, exposure is a valuable commodity.

The more exposure a school gets through televised games and media coverage, the more it builds name recognition with a wider audience. The SEC has one of the best television deals in college sports, with a nationally televised game on CBS every Saturday afternoon _ and sometimes one at night, too _ and ESPN serving up a steady diet of SEC football.

So it’s not as if kids in Texas can’t watch SEC teams play and, indeed, conference coaches are split on how much of a boost their league will get from adding the Aggies.

LSU coach Les Miles said reaching recruits definitely goes beyond what’s on national television.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for the local media in Texas to see the in-state conference being the SEC,” said Miles, who routinely grabs top-notch recruits from the Houston area. “I think when the media covers a conference game … because there’s now a conference school in that state, that it will give great opportunities for schools in our conference, certainly LSU, to get into Texas.”

Playing in Texas helps, too.

Since 1992, when the SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina, SEC teams have gone on the road for 19 regular-season games in the state of Texas. Arkansas, predictably, has played the most with eight. Mississippi State has played four, LSU three and Mississippi and Vanderbilt have each played two.

The Cotton Bowl has had a deal with the SEC to select one of its teams since 1998.

Teams often schedule games with the idea of showcasing their program to recruits in a particular area, though most SEC schools don’t have to go far to find a wealth of good football players.

“I think there are so many players in the Southeast a lot of schools in our league just didn’t feel that they needed to go there,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who has also been an assistant at Texas and the head coach at Iowa State.

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