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Mailbag: Sherman fallout, SEC, Bama/OSU

Thanks for all the questions this week. A busy one in the Big 12, no doubt. Here's where you can find me if you'd like to drop a note in my Mailbag.

Louis in Houston asked: I do believe that Sherman was a knee-jerk reaction to the Texas loss. If we had won, things would be different; if Cyrus gray had played, things would be different. However, the way in which we lost makes the decision appropriate. If it wasn't for dropped passes and poor play calling, we would be much closer to a MNC game than a .500 record. These mistakes fall on the coaching staff in entirety.Further, giving credit to Sherman's arrival is specious. Considering the way Francionne handled our program and the way we recruit, any decent coach would normalize the program to certain extent.One more thought: If we don't have a coach by now, this may have been a mistake.

David Ubben: You make some interesting points, Louis. To some degree, I think you're right on your final point: Texas A&M has a lot of resources and there probably are a lot of coaches who could build programs using them. Doing so is a tricky process, though, with a lot of variables. To me, that's really what the Sherman Era ultimately will be remembered for. It was so, so close to being so different. Three losses by a combined seven points. Two more in overtimes. The oft-mentioned 11 double-digit leads in 12 games. That's without even factoring in the season-changing loss to Oklahoma State last year. The Aggies led 21-7 at halftime before losing on a last-second field goal after Jerrod Johnson's fifth turnover of the game. If A&M wins that game, it wins the Big 12 South outright and finishes the season 10-2.

There's no doubt in my mind that coaching played a big role in that not happening in both of the past two seasons. Sherman didn't get it done. That said, there's something to be said for putting your players in position to win games. He's not throwing interceptions in crucial spots. Ryan Tannehill, as a senior quarterback, made some odd decisions to throw game-changing interceptions in two of the most painful losses all season: Texas and Oklahoma State.

In the end, is Sherman responsible for that? Yes, he is. No question. But it's dumb to believe he's to blame for all of it.

Morris in Houston, Texas, asked: D.U. I'm not sure I agree 100% with the Ags letting Sherman go but after this seasons epic fallout and Sherman's inability to fix 2nd half issues (much less identify the problem) I can't say I entirely blame them. My question is, do you think Sherman's less than enthusiastic stance on the SEC move had anything to do with this decision? Seems like the administration viewed this as a great time to bring in a coach who may actually be excited about coaching the in SEC.

DU: To your first point, that's the most troubling thing and the biggest justification for firing Sherman. I can't disagree with you there. Sherman never pinpointed or fixed what the problem was. Every single week it was something else. The most common denominator was turnovers, but playcalling factored in as well, and that's on Sherman.

To your second point, I certainly think that factored in. Sherman reportedly was a no-show at the SEC celebration with Mike Slive and Co., and refused to talk about the SEC move for a long time. There's a bit of inference from that, but as a coach, it's pretty understandable that he wouldn't be real fired up about playing one year outside of a division with Oklahoma and Texas and moving into one with Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Auburn.

Whoever the new coach is, I'll guarantee you he's going to be fired up about the SEC from Day 1 as a major talking point.

Matt Austin in Texas asked: Howdy Dubbs. Before the conference championship game last year, Cotton Bowl had already picked its team. I know you think an OSU victory Saturday puts OU in the Cotton Bowl, but any chance a victorious K-State gets an invite before Bedlam even happens?

DU: No, that won't happen. A&M last year was kind of an interesting deal, but to me, the Cotton Bowl has the most interesting decision of all the bowls after Bedlam. If Oklahoma loses, that's legitimately a really difficult decision. Either team is going to be mad if it's left out.

Oklahoma will have three losses, and two of them will come to teams Kansas State beat. The Wildcats will have finished second in the Big 12 to Oklahoma at No. 3. Oklahoma, though, torched K-State in Manhattan and is the bigger brand, flashier team and much more fun to watch.

My guess is, despite losing two of three games to finish the season, the Sooners will get the nod, barring a Bedlam blowout.

Colton in West Des Moines, Iowa, asked: Thanks for the love Ubbs, and nothing bad intended, but out curiosity only, why did you post the article about the Clones game not being a fluke when you did? Did you feel this way right after the game or did the Oklahoma game do the trick?

DU: I definitely didn't feel that way after the game. The Oklahoma game had some effect, but mostly, I was looking at defensive numbers over the past couple games and that popped out at me. Iowa State's defense has no ... we'll call it street cred, and that's a bit unfair, based on what's happened on the field.

What they did to Oklahoma (aided by the wind and drops, admittedly) and Oklahoma State (aided by, uh, 11 guys playing in position with a ton of passion) didn't get enough respect.

Casey in Chesterfield, Mo., asked: Hey Ubbs, one of these days you will respond to one of my questions. I know you have a lot of questions but maybe. I just got done listening to the podcast with you and the SEC blogger and I have a question: This is all coming from an OSU alumni that has watched many many OSU heartbreakers. 1. If OSU beats ou on saturday and thats a big if, can you really tell me that alabama is a better one loss team than OSU? Alabama has quality wins over Auburn and Arkansas and OSU would have wins over ou, kansas state, texas, baylor and a&m.

DU: People talk about "the eye test," and that's part of it, but when we say that, we mean this also: Where are all the close calls for Alabama? Oklahoma State got physically manhandled by a Texas A&M team that finished 6-6, trailing 20-3 at halftime and needed some second-half heroics to get the win. Nobody cares about that when you go undefeated, but when you're comparing to other one-loss teams? That matters. Kansas State led by double digits early and if they had probably 10-15 more seconds, would have beaten OSU with a touchdown and two-point conversion.

OSU won all the rest of its games by at least 12 points, but, look at Alabama's schedule: Why should the Tide not get credit for beating the everloving stuffing out of every other team they've played? Where are the Tide's close calls? Combine that with the quality of each team's loss, and you're getting a sense of why I, and most others, think Alabama's a lot better than Oklahoma State.

Bottom line: OSU had its chance to make this entire conversation moot. It lost to Iowa State.

Travis in Austin, Texas, asked: Dubbs, how many Longhorn and Aggie fans do you think will discover http://www.119thgame.com after you post this question on your blog?

DU: Hopefully a lot. I want that game back, and I'm sure just about everybody who cares about college football in Texas does, too.

Randy in Reston, Va., asked: Any word on if Baylor is removing the tarp for the game?

DU: Nope, the tarp, all too often an object of ridicule, will be in place on Saturday against Texas. Sorry, folks.

Pat Danley in Polson, Mont., asked: I realize that this question transcends the Big 12, but I'm just curious which head coach you would have rather been on the night of Saturday Sept. 10, 2011? Paul Wulff (2-0); Ron Zook (2-0); Dennis Erickson (2-0); Turner Gill (2-0); Luke Fickle (2-0); Mike Sherman (2-0); Tommy Tuberville (2-0); or Mark Richt (0-2)?

DU: Wow, that's kind of amazing. Readers coming strong with the fun facts this week.

Devane Plan in Piedmont, Okla., asked: This season Big 12 brand equity hit a bargain basement low for reasons that had nothing to do with on field play (27-3 Non Conference record overall). Voters on both coasts are dragging down BCS rankings across the board in many cases because of the negative publicity off the field. A small, and simple step back to the respect garnered in 2008 in my humble opinion would be for every Big 12 school to chant "Big 12" at the end of their bowl game victory.

DU: Interesting point here, Devane. To some degree, I think it might be true, but I don't know if that influences voters. Ultimately, leagues are judged by what's happening on the field, and the Big 12's been as good as anyone on the field this year. The top of the SEC is far superior to the Big 12, but the middle of the SEC is way, way overrated. The Big 12 is better than the SEC from top to bottom. The Big 12 has two elite teams, one really good team, three good teams, two OK teams, one just less than OK team and one bad team.

I'll leave it to you to draw the lines on that one.