Monday's announcements might resuscitate Big 12 defenses

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Big 12 defenses needed to strike back.

And after Monday's announcements, it appears that a little of the balance is returning to the conference in terms of personnel.

The return of key defensive players like Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston and linebackers Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy will mean several potential All-Big 12 players are returning for another season.

Their announced returns are coming on the heels of the already announced departures of Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and Missouri wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin to the NFL draft, the expected Tuesday announcement of Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree's departure for the NFL draft and the potential declaration of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Not too long ago, the Big 12 was known for its defensive prowess where players like Roy Williams, Rocky Calmus, Derrick Johnson and Terrence Newman made teams think of defense first and everything else later.

But that all changed over the last several years -- particularly this season when the conference became known for its pinball-like scoring numbers as record totals for points and total offense have been produced across the conference.

It will take time for that perception to change. But maybe some of Monday's personnel decisions will help the pendulum swing back and Big 12 defenses won't be an afterthought in the future.