Thanks for all your e-mails this week. Here's where you can reach me. Let's get to it.
Dan in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Hey David, I know losing Ed Wesley and Deryck Gildon were big for the Frogs, but I think Tucker and James and our various players at LB can pick up the slack there. My biggest concern is the losses on the O-line. By my count we've lost three this offseason for various, non-graduation-related reasons. We could be fairly shallow at that position. I know Casey will have a good season but how limited will he be by an inexperienced offensive line? And if you had to take the over or under on 9 wins for the Frogs now, which way would you go?
David Ubben: Yeah, depth will be an issue on the offensive line, but I like TCU's chances to have a really solid starting five alongside James Fry and Blaine Foltz, the two returning starters. It's definitely a question mark, but I tend to lean toward the positive side of things when that question comes up. Running back will be fine, and even without Ed Wesley, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker will be capable of producing even if the line isn't great.
I totally disagree with you on the linebackers, though. That's huge. I've really got no faith now in TCU at that position. Tanner Brock was a stud. Deryck Gildon could have become one. That's plenty to build around. Now?
The Big 12 is known as a passing league, but teams are more than willing to take advantage of defenses that can't stop the run. Just ask Texas Tech from last season. Its linebackers were awful, and the Red Raiders finished dead last in rush defense. If TCU doesn't have it shored up, it can't count on having a great secondary to get by. Texas Tech's safeties were pretty good, and the defense was still awful.
I've got no real questions about TCU's offense, even without Wesley. However, if the Horned Frogs are indeed falling away from title-contender status, it's because of all the offseason attrition on defense for various reasons. Very troublesome.
Jon in Davis, Calif., writes: Really, the drug scandals are what mars the season? What about Penn State?
DU: Clearly, Penn State was the most tragic incident of the past year, but it's been a rough year everywhere for college football. I was just focusing on the drug issues. The coaching scandals (Tressel, Petrino), a stinker of a national title game and the Penn State issues all marred the season, but our series in the past week tried to look at a different facet on each day.
Luke in Oskaloosa, Kansas, writes: I can somewhat understand why you put Bradford ahead of Freeman (although I think most would disagree) on the All-Big 12 Offensive Team. But in no way can you convince me, or anybody else for that matter, that Jordy Nelson does not beat out Dez Bryant. Are you serious? Honestly, what has Dez done that is in any way impressive? What has he accomplished that make you go, "Wow"? Jordy was one amazing, diving touchdown catch away from becoming a Super Bowl MVP two years ago (which would have totaled 3 for the game). He also has to compete with a way more talented receiving core than Bryant. 1,263 receiving yards and was the second in touchdowns for recievers in 2011 with 15 (only behind "Megatron"). Poor Jordy gets nowhere near the credit he deserves! Please, do your worst, and convince me.
DU: Numbers-wise, I'd probably agree with you. Nelson has been more productive. But really, if you're picking between those two receivers, you're taking Nelson. ... Really? No way. He's a great receiver, but consider who's throwing him the ball. Aaron Rodgers is the game's best quarterback. Also, consider that Nelson is probably his team's second or possibly third-best receiver. The Super Bowl MVP doesn't really mean anything. It's one game.
Bryant was his team's best receiver, and had to play without Miles Austin for much of the year. How often is Nelson seeing double coverage? That's Greg Jennings' job. Meanwhile, Bryant's got to fight for everything he gets, and has a less-talented quarterback throwing him the ball. The numbers aren't the only factor.
If you went around and asked NFL coaches who they'd rather have, you're crazy if you think they'd say Nelson. Productive, yes. Talented, yes. Better than Dez Bryant?
Kevin Nowicki in Columbus, Ohio, writes: Don't mean to be disrespectful, but your article was useless. No one cares about marijuana use in NCAA football. Clearly you can smoke weed and still be good at your respective sport. You can even be pretty well conditioned and smoke weed. I know plenty of players have come through Ohio State and are able to have success on and off the field and be a marijuana smoker. Marijuana being a "bad" drug is a joke. All the negatives that can be said come from short term effects. This is sports. No more no less. This isn't the professional world where you have to manage way more things and don't have time to smoke. They make mad money. They are mad talented and can get away with it. Santonio Holmes was high while he caught the game winning Super Bowl catch. I guess lady mary jane really affected his motor skills on that play... not. Marijuana is harmless. Removing all the local bars around campuses would have more of a positive effect on the universities rather than cutting down on the most harmless drug of all time.
DU: On this issue, I don't think anyone's making the argument that marijuana affects your talent level to a noticeable degree. The NBA has been proving that for awhile.
But that's not the issue here. Above all else, it's illegal. You can't have players in your program using (or in TCU's case, selling) illegal substances. Have a problem with marijuana being illegal? This isn't the place to debate that. It's illegal. Players are getting caught using and dealing. A lot of people don't have a huge problem with kids drinking before they're 21. That doesn't make it legal.
That's breaking laws, and in the case of TCU, enough to bring about felony charges. And that's not an issue worth writing about?
Shawn in Claremore, Okla., writes: Hey Mr. Ubben I'm not sure if anyone has asked these questions but with the recent suspensions of the three Oklahoma Sooners wide receivers how do you think Landry Jones is gonna perform during this next season considering one of them was one of his top returning targets in Jaz Reynolds? Do you think it will hurt the offense enough to keep them away from a conference or national title?
DU: For OU, it's pretty simple. How ready are all these young receivers? I'm completely sold on Trey Metoyer. He's going to be a factor, and more likely a stud. But what about Sterling Shepard? Durron Neal? Juco transfer Courtney Gardner? What can those guys bring? How long will these guys be suspended? That's still not official.
The offense is going to take a hit early, but those freshmen receivers have a lot of potential. They're also needed immediately. It's going to be difficult. It's possible, but I'm not really buying OU as a national title contender. Big 12 title contender? It'll be a fistfight at the top (look for the Big 12 champ to have two losses), but OU's definitely the favorite in my book, even with the losses at receiver.
Josh in Manhattan, Kansas, writes: Would it ever be worth the time for the B12 to invite Arkansas? I know they have old ties with Texas schools and such and money wouldn't be much different. What are your thoughts?
DU: I've always thought Arkansas was a better fit in the Big 12, but it's never going to happen. As someone who grew up in Northwest Arkansas, the fans love the SEC and would revolt if the administration ever considered leaving. The Hogs would have a lot more geographic rivals (well, one less now that Mizzou is in the SEC), but it's hardly worth even thinking about. Arkansas fans still hate Texas more than any other program, but the school has moved on. It's hardly even worth discussing.