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Mailbag: Baylor's rise, UT=Yankees, odd rules

11/4/2010

Thanks for all the questions once again this week, everybody. All good stuff.

Jack in Artesia, N.M., asks: David, what's your nominee for the "What Were You Thinking?!" moment of the year in the Big 12?

David Ubben: First things first, I know exactly one thing about Artesia, and that's that Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones hails from the town of just over 10,000. I sense a new Big 12 fan in our midst.

But to your question: How about my pick of Texas to win the Big 12 South this spring? You get used to the Longhorns' new talent a seizing the spotlight every time it's needed, but it seems like the valuable time in the spring that could have been spent developing Garrett Gilbert and his receivers in a replica of the spread attack under Colt McCoy was wasted on an attempt to develop the downhill running game that's been nothing short of a failure this year, a failure that's defined Texas' season.

What was I thinking when I picked Texas to finish five spots higher in the division than the Baylor Bears?


Mike in Wichita, Kan., asks: David could you explain to me why Missouri got the ball at the beginning of the Nebraska game and at half time? Being a Nebraska fan I dont get why they didnt get the ball.

DU: Interesting story here. I don't believe I'd ever seen that happen in a game, but it was an accident, and Bo Pelini was not happy. He explained after the game. Rather than say "defer" for the second half, one of his captains said "kick."

"For me, the day started pretty bad,” Pelini said after the win over Missouri. "Fortunately, the 24-point first quarter kind of offset my pain. That was what I was greeted with when I walked onto the sideline today was that we were going to kick off to start both halves.

"I take responsibility for that because, obviously, I didn’t give good instructions."

This game never ceases to surprise. That could have been a huge, huge mistake if the game had been tighter.


Joe in Omaha asks: Is it wrong for me to find so much joy in Texas still fighting for bowl eligibility?

DU: No, and I don't think you're alone. Texas is in a lot of ways analogous to the Yankees, especially these days. Recruiting rankings tell us they have more talent than anyone else in the country, but people in general like seeing the plucky underdog roll over the dark overlord (Baylor vs. Texas anyone?), and you're seeing a little bit of that this year. Any fan base would obviously love to have the kind of talent that Texas gets almost every year, but when fans of other teams see themselves above Texas in the rankings and standings, it feeds the self-satisfied perception that maybe they're doing things the right way, versus Texas, who isn't. This year, there's probably some truth to that.

There's no doubt that with the recruiting inertia in Austin under Mack Brown, signing a boatload of top recruits is pretty easy these days for Texas, the flagship program of one of the country's deepest recruiting bases. Getting the right kind of players, players who don't feel entitled and know they still have a lot to prove is more difficult. For all the scrapping some programs have to do, Texas can basically pick who they want. Sometimes you pick wrong, and that talent doesn't develop like you think it might. Why can't the biggest and best offensive linemen in Texas be dominant run blockers? I'm sure Mack Brown would like the the answer to that question, too. I can't speak for every lineman's high school program, but my guess is the rise of 7-on-7 (i.e., spread offenses in general across the state) in Texas has definitely had some effect on the Longhorns' run blocking struggles.

Colt McCoy was a three-star recruit. Jordan Shipley was the 18th best receiver in his class. Everyone should know it well by now: Recruiting stars don't tell the whole story.

There's no doubt this year has been humbling for everyone inside the program, but I think you'll see them rebound next year, and maybe take another look at the way they recruit -- or at least treat recruits and young players -- to avoid this from happening again.


Kyle in Columbia, Mo., asks: Is both Mizzou and Tech wearing the camo jerseys this weekend sponsoring the Wounded Warrior Project? If not, Mizzou should come out in the Beast Mode jerseys...those were sick

DU: My understanding is that only Tech will be wearing the camo jerseys. Here's a look at what they'll be playing in.

Not a terrible look, in my opinion. And yeah, Missouri's Nike Pro Combat jerseys last year were fantastic, particularly the helmets. The sheen-less domes on them and the ones Virginia Tech wore in its game against Boise State looked pretty sharp.


Joseph in Waco, Texas, asks: Is there a better basketball/football combo than Baylor in the Big 12 right now? Oh and just for fun. Art Briles or Scott Drew. Whose task was more difficult? And, whose rebuilding job is more impressive?

DU: Wow, you're absolutely right. The Bears have to be No. 1 right now if you combine the sports. Atop the Big 12 South in football, ranked No. 21. Ranked 14th and 16th in the hoops preseason polls. Nobody else is even in both polls.

As for your second question, I'll go with Briles by a landslide. One transcendent player can transform a basketball program (see: Beasley, Michael). Baylor did it with three or four really good ones. They had the offense with LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, but when they plugged Ekpe Udoh in the paint, the Bears elevated to an elite team without a real weakness.

Football takes a whole lot more. Robert Griffin III gets the headlines, but there are plenty of great quarterbacks on bad teams (see: Locker, Jake). There's a lot more moving parts, a lot more development involved.

As for the rebuilding effort, I'd go with Drew. For all of Baylor's football failures, it never had a murder investigation on its hands, in addition to self-imposed sanctions that, if you remember, prevented Baylor from playing nonconference games in the 2005-06 season.