Thanks for the emails, which kept flowing in even while I was away. Glad you missed me, I suppose. Switching it up Friday with a morning mailbag.
James in Atlanta, Ga., asked: Here's an interesting water-cooler-conversation I came across - if Nebraska (or in a long shot, Colorado) do REALLY well in their new conferences... will that still reflect back on the strength of the Big XII? I think the media won't spin it that way because the head-to-head games are a more direct comparison, but I don't think its that far out of the question for people to re-evaluate the day in and day out toughness the Big XII demands compared to the Big 10 and Pac 12. What do you think?
David Ubben: True or not, it's absolutely going to happen. Nebraska proved the last couple years it had emerged to be a very good team in the Big 12. But it was not a great team, and not a team that could win the Big 12, all possibilities aside.
If they walk into the Big Ten, which is wiiiiiide open this fall, and win it, how does that not reflect on the Big 12? The same is true if they walk in and win 6-7 games. Nebraska will be good, but I highly doubt it's significantly better or worse than it was last season. Top 15, etc.
So, in that sense, you're definitely right. Nebraska will be fun to watch, but make no mistake: both conferences' reputations are at stake if Nebraska strays very far from what's expected.
For Colorado, the same is true. I'd expect the Buffs to be a little bit better than last season's team, but if it scraps and wins eight games in a somewhat top-heavy Pac-12, that says a whole lot about the Pac-12's depth.
The same is true of Colorado wins a game in conference and gets embarrassed by any teams other than Stanford and Oregon.
For Big 12 fans, it should be fun to watch, even if they're doing it from afar. I know I'll be watching.
GTCat in Tonganoxie, Kan., asked: I know we're done with this whole trying to rename the conference thing, but can we at least coin a new nickname? If a Baker's Dozen is 13, can the Big 12 become a Beebe's Dozen? Man I want some doughnuts now, chocolate with chocolate frosting and powercat sprinkles please.
DU: It's official: We have found my favorite moniker for the new Big 12. Prepare for plenty of Beebe's Dozen references on the blog from here on out.
Collin in Irvine, Calif., asked: David, I just finished the second season of Friday Night Lights yesterday. Tell me it gets better... Please....
DU: Oh, it does. Season Two? Well, it's not very good. The makers of the show readily admit this (spoiler alert), and it's a product of pressure from the TV studios.
But no worries. It gets much better. Seasons 1, 3, and 5 are the best, and Season 4 breathes a fantastic new life into the show that was very, very risky on the part of the writers. Plus, the series finale is one of the best ever. Have no fear, Collin. You won't be disappointed by the next three seasons.
Chef in Austin, Texas, asked: I've noticed that the big 12 seems to be the only big 6 conference without an institution under NCAA scrutiny this offseason. If the big 12 stays clean, what implications do you think that will have on the overall perception and quality of the schools?
DU: This hasn't been lost on me, but I wouldn't keep saying that out loud too often. You never quite know when something will leak. There's no one under serious investigation currently (despite A&M fans' best efforts re: Rachel McCoy/Longhorn Network) for now.
If this continues for, oh, a decade or so, then you'll definitely see the Big 12 cement a reputation as college football's cleanest league, especially one that produces success. I wouldn't be surprised to see it written about if it continues for another couple years and more scandals like the one at Georgia Tech continue, but don't look for the Big 12 to advertise it much. If that status changes, things like that look pretty embarrassing in retrospect. Regardless of when you get caught, if things are going on behind closed doors and you say one thing, and it's clearly not the case, you look very, very out of touch.
Sarah Smith in Austin, Texas, asked: In regards to whether or not Marquis will get scholarship or not, at least for this year while he is redshirting they are honoring his scholarship. Texas does not in general revoke scholarships. The general consensus around here is that we wish him the very best and hopes that he can represent us and the US in the olympics. If he were to gain success and go to the olympics, I doubt that he would return here.Just thought you would like to know! Oh, and thank you for not bashing Garrett. He is good friend of mine and it urks me beyond no belief when people want to put all of the blame of last season on his shoulders. I think fans and analysts will be surprised at what our team brings to the table this year. No one is expecting much, and we will use that to our advantage.I enjoy your blog very much! Hook 'Em!
DU: Interesting info. Thanks for the heads up. Take note, UT fans.
As for Gilbert, I'd agree completely. Obviously, he wasn't anything close to what people thought he'd be last year, and he deserves a good portion of the blame for that, but he got no help at all. Just go look at where Texas ranked at the skill position rankings. Spoiler alert for the offensive line rankings on the way: Texas will not be high.
Dave in Temple, Texas, asked: How can you keep abandoning us in the middle of the most critical time in the year??? Your blog is what keeps us football fans sane in July. What are we going to do - watch baseball???
DU: My bad. I'll take that into consideration. My next vacation time is scheduled for the first week of September, the first week of December, and the first two weeks of January.
Mr. Oblivious in Hollywood, Calif., asked: Mr. Ubben: Do you think that with the pressure of quarterbacking the Mizzou Tigers, AND simultaneously coaching a young Vanderbilt team, James Franklin can hold onto his starting position this fall? Or will the stress be too much and allow Costello, Glaser, or even Berkstresser to challenge him in August? (There's no way T.Gabbert is returning, right? right?!) thank you,Mr.O
DU: It'll be tough, no doubt. Especially the travel. But I think he can manage. As for Gabbert, no. I've heard the rumors he asked to return after leaving Louisville suddenly, but every indication I've heard is that the door closed behind him at Missouri. He'll find a good fit somewhere else, I'm sure.
(Email of the week there.)
Nuria in Tulsa, Okla., asked: Dear Dave, I know you've compared and contrasted Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones enough times to give you a headache, but each time you do so it seems that you draw a different conclusion. First you rate Weeden as the better Big 12 player, but Jones as the better quarterback. I know that Weeden works well in a group that clicks, and Jones is a great athlete on a dominant team. If you could clear the fog as to who you think is better, it would be much appreciated.
DU: Yeah, I've talked about this at length several times, but let me be clear about this: I think Jones has more upside, and it sounds like he's really taking control of this team. That'll be good for him. His head was kind of spinning in 2009. Last season was kind of the process of him taking control of the team, and now, he has it. I really think that confidence will pay off for him.
Their numbers were very, very close last season, especially when you look at the short passing numbers Jones put up.
Last season, I thought Weeden was ever so slightly better because when he made mistakes, they were much less costly, and he played well in both of OSU's losses. The Cowboys scored 41 points in both of their losses, versus Jones, who really struggled early against Texas A&M and late against Missouri and really hurt his team.
I think Jones will be the better quarterback and put up better numbers in 2011, but heading into the season, I give Weeden a very, very slight edge in a race that's unbelievably close.
PB in Houston asked: rapid fire minute for ubben; go! 1) best game of the first weekend? 2) what fall camp are you most excited to go to before the season starts? 3) of other CFB pundits, who's stock do you put most in of someone else's opinion? 4) will the willie lyles story have a big effect on any of the conference members? 5) nachos or waffles? thanks and gig 'em!
DU: Ha, alright, let's close this in style.
1) Baylor versus TCU, closely followed by Texas A&M versus SMU.
3) I always love reading Pat Forde's stuff. The Forde-Yard Dash is a weekly must-read during the season.
4) My guess is no, barring new information. As for what we don't know, I'm not betting one way or the other.
5) I'm a breakfast man. Waffles, clearly. Which reminds me of an age-old debate we had during high school. It was always 50/50. Which do you prefer: jalapeños or gravy?