Mailbag: Realignment, Malcolm Brown, UT

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
4:45
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions. Didn't get your question answered? Try another one.

Marilyn in San Antonio, Texas, asked: Hi Ubbs! I'm beginning to see this entire soap opera that is the Big 12 as a comparison to everybody's favorite musical: Grease. Texas is Sandy: she wants everybody's love (especially Danny's) but will not compromise her ideals or beliefs to gain that love. Oklahoma is Danny: he also has his own beliefs but at least tries to earn Sandy's trust by compromise. Everyone else is the Pink Ladies and T-Birds simply hoping the two can work it out and things will go back to normal.Will the Big 12 saga end with Texas compromising and everyone singing "We Go Together", or will there be a college break-up?

David Ubben: I ... I don't even know what to say to this, except that it's pretty much perfect, and reduces this whole saga to the absurd episode it's become. I sense Texas A&M will soon become Beauty School Dropouts. I think the academic requirements for both are similar...

At some point I assume you'll tell me more, Marilyn. I think last night was supposed to be the Big 12's "We Go Together" dance medley, but Missouri sounded pretty far from being hopelessly devoted to the Big 12.


Brian in Amsterdam, Netherlands, writes: David, How can anyone believe that Oklahoma is serious about not wanting to drive this bus? The OU president held a press conference at the same time as the official Big 12-3 guy from Missouri to make conflicting claims about certain agreements. By the way, I care about this because I am a fan of the Mizzou Tigers. Personally, I hope they jump ship and fast.

DU: All good points, Brian, and last night left plenty of cause for concern. Why did Oklahoma need to have its own news conference? I have no idea. On my end, it was a judgment call, and I decided to listen to OU's online stream instead of dialing up the Missouri call-in. From the sounds of it, both were highly, highly entertaining. OU was quite a bit more informative, but I still can't believe someone from the Big 12 office didn't make sure both sides were on the same page if they were going to have dueling news conferences.

I have my guesses, but they're just that. We'll see if an explanation surfaces in the near future.

It was easily one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen while covering college sports. The conference call between the presidents began at 5 p.m. and the news conferences were scheduled long before they began. It's not like these things couldn't have been discussed beforehand. The call was strapped for time, but something like that seems, you know, kind of important for a league needing to prove it's united.

As for Missouri to the SEC? Terrible idea, but we'll get to that later.


Kevin L. in Dallas, Texas asked: David, As you know, Texas A&M fans posted a billboard criticizing Baylor for coveting its conference deal. Does no one realize that this actually lends some credence to Baylor's message - that local, Texas rivalries are great?!?? I'm not saying that ATM/BU is a rivalry on the level of UT/ATM, but there's obviously enough dislike between the schools to cause fans to react this way.It'd be great for you to expound on this issue in an upcoming post. It's at least thought-provoking. Keep up the good work!

DU: Some good points here, Kevin. The fans were filling up my inbox with insight this week.

You see this with every rivalry that's not quite equal. Oklahoma fans like to act like they don't care about OSU, and that Texas is their real rival, but you see the rivalry come out quite a bit.

Texas fans like to act the same way about the A&M rivalry, but we all know how heated that's gotten in recent weeks.

The same is true of A&M, which acts like Texas is its big rival, but has a nice spot of hate reserved for Baylor, too. Sometimes it's hard to see concrete manifestations of stuff like that, but A&M fans were nice enough to tack theirs up on a billboard (which, I should remind, was hilarious).

Congrats.


Ryan in Geneva, Ohio, asked: Two questions Ubben. If the Big 12 loses Missouri to the SEC do we end up rehashing this whole soap opera over again? Also, once all the dust settles, in addition to a new commissioner would the Big 12 benefit from a name change to separate it from the expansion drama and the loss of CU, NU, and TAMU and reflect the new direction and identity of the league? Perhaps the Central Conference or Central 10?

DU: No, the reported SEC informal "offer" was most likely contingent upon the Big 12 breaking up, which it hasn't done. Missouri brass understands that if it wants to see the success of the program continue, the Big 12 is the place to be. If the Big Ten becomes an option in the near future, it would be wise to snap it up as quickly as possible. But the SEC?

First off, with Texas A&M as the only team from Texas in the league, Missouri's recruiting in Texas, which Gary Pinkel has built his program around, would be decimated. Missouri is not Nebraska, a pristine college football brand that can recruit nearly anywhere. It is not Texas A&M -- which I hear is in Texas.

The Tigers would have to find a new way to recruit and would be a huge geographical outlier, even more so than Arkansas already is and Texas A&M will be. Maybe it would find a way to compete eventually, but good luck getting any of the same players SEC schools go after or convincing Texas players to come up north.

Finding conference stability is not worth sacrificing a million other things that would go out the door with a move to the SEC. A move to the SEC is very risky for Texas A&M, but the upside for it is clearly there. For Missouri, the risks are exponentially higher and the possible payoffs nowhere near as high.

And that's without even mentioning Missouri's style of football, which is about as far from SEC football as one can get. The Big 12 is where the Tigers need to be, unless the Big Ten becomes a realistic option.

And a new name? Maybe, but we've been over this before. There are no good replacements, and the Big 12 may be back to 12 members soon. A big rebranding (again) will be necessary, but a new name won't be.


Mike in Colorado Springs, Colo., asked: Will Texas really refuse to play A&M or is DeLoss Dodds just making empty threats to try and get the Aggies to change their minds?

DU: Can't it be both? The Longhorns' relationships with everybody -- A&M, Oklahoma and the rest of the Big 12 -- have been strained through this ordeal, but the real team with something to lose here is Texas A&M. They're going to be playing a killer schedule in the SEC. Texas' schedule, meanwhile, would stay pretty much the same regardless of who joins the Big 12. If anything, it'll be easier.

I just don't see how you can classify Texas canceling a series with Texas A&M as anything other than petty and feeding an ego at the cost of tradition. Both fan bases should want that game.

What other nonconference game would get fans on both sides more excited? There isn't one.


KC in Lubbock, Texas, asked: I bet you'd find this as humorous and ironic as those of us in my office.

DU: Why yes, yes I do. And just in time, KC.


Wade in Austin, Texas, asked: In the preseason, you repeatedly opined that Malcolm Brown was not going to be very good this year....ready to eat a little crow yet?

DU: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's back it up. Never said this. Let's go back to what I've said. Here's one example. And another. How about one more. This poll makes me look smart. Here's everything I've ever written about him.

If you're unwilling to click those links, my stance has been this: Brown is probably a good back, but he might be put at a disadvantage by all the expectations and talk from the outside of him needing to be the Longhorns' savior and "The Next Adrian Peterson." If he only managed like 500-600 yards his freshman year, he might be labeled a disappointment, but Texas' offensive line wasn't looking very good last year (much better this year) and people forget: That's one heck of a year for a true freshman back, especially at Texas, which hadn't had a 100-yard freshman rusher since Jamaal Charles in 2005.

Clearly, he has potential. I've doubted his straight-line speed, and for good reason. He doesn't have it. But he's shown that he has about everything else to become an elite back in this league. Texas can lean on him, and he runs like a back built to handle a huge load. The Longhorns may need it this year. If I had to guess, I think we'll see him top 1,000 yards this year.


Adam in Dallas asked: It's funny how you call yourself a Big 12 blogger, when you proactively look forward to the break-up of the Big 12, did you even graduate from a school in the Big 12 to care enough about the conference?

DU: I thought I was a Big 12 shill only arguing that Texas A&M should stay in the league so I could save my job? I'm ... I'm so confused. Help me Adam in Dallas, you're my only hope.

But seriously, I don't see how anyone could argue that the Big 12 breaking up would be good for college football on the whole. Competitive issues aside, I don't think I can blame Texas A&M for wanting out of this mess by now. I still think staying is the right decision for the Aggies, but the Big 12's last little dust-up isn't doing much to convince A&M that's the case.

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