The Effect of Natural Disasters on College Football Recruiting

By Rick Stavig
Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

As everyone knows, the state of Oklahoma has been ravaged recently by massive tornadoes. There have only been eight EF-5 tornadoes in the Sooner State since 1950, and two have come in the last few weeks.

The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State has done wonderful job assisting the Red Cross and other agencies in the clean-up efforts and helping the displaced. OU football coach Bob Stoops and his football team have even been seen chipping and doing their part as well.

Seeing Stoops helping out made me think of the football team and how the tornadoes are affecting the program and its recruiting. Then it brought to light another question: does weather affect recruiting?

Please, before continuing, I don’t want anyone to think football, or recruiting, or even sports in general, are important right now during these times. The most important thing is assisting and helping those that need it, and praying for everyone affected by the devastating storms.

How does the weather affect recruiting? What will be the impact on Oklahoma’s class of 2014? Will parents be less likely to send their kids to Norman, or Stillwater, or any school in ‘Tornado Alley’ after seeing such destruction?

The truth is, there’s not a definitive answer. It all comes down to an individual level. I’m sure there will be prospects that won’t want to risk being in places like that, and I’m sure there will be others that won’t let the storms affect their decision-making process.

Remember, there’s a lot of tornadoes in that part of the country, hence the moniker ‘Tornado Alley’. Yet people still live there. Businesses still survive in the big cities and small towns alike. Academic institutions, like the people living there, stand rugged throughout whatever storm is thrown them. Regarding athletics, the Sooners still draw elite prospects in many sports and continue winning championships.

Plus, it’s not like this is the only part of the country that faces dangerous weather. In the southeastern United States, you have hurricanes. On the west coast you have earthquakes. In the northeast and upper midwest you have arctic winters with seemingly month-long blizzards. Smack dab in the middle of the country, you have tornadoes.

Yet prospects still flock to Miami, LSU, Stanford, Wisconsin, Penn State and Oklahoma.

I think the point is, people know that there are many things you just can’t control, like the weather. I can attest to that. While in college, I lost power for two weeks when Hurricane Katrina hit. Refugees were living in our mall and our dorms. Little things we take for granted like running water and electricity became a distant dream.

Did that make me regret the decision to go to school in that part of the country? Absolutely not. It was something you couldn’t control, and just had to get through.

The state of Oklahoma will get through this. The people of Oklahoma will get through this. The businesses of Oklahoma will get through this. The schools of Oklahoma will get through this.  And yes, however unimportant a football program and its recruiting is compared to the devastation, they too, will get through this. All of this is a reflection of fortitude and resolve of the people of the Sooner State.

All of my prayers and thoughts are with the state of Oklahoma, it’s residents, and those affected. I pray, and know, they will get through this.

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