- David Ubben, College Football
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Thanks for all the emails this week, folks. Time for a special Thursday mailbag. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.
Let's get to your mail.
Jay writes: Dude! You left out Lane Johnson?!
Stephen in Yorba Linda, Calif., writes: No Lane Johnson? Were you aware that he is going to be the first Big XII player taken in the NFL Draft?
DU: I probably got fewer complaints about this top 25 list than any before, but my favorite was a Tech fan this week who believed me not including any Texas Tech players was faulty because Michael Brewer beat Johnny Manziel in high school ... or something. It was confusing. Anyway, I appreciate the feedback, but it seems like we reached a bit of a consensus, short of angry WVU folk who didn't agree with Collin Klein at No. 1 over Tavon Austin.
As for the Lane Johnson complaints, I hear you on this. But like I said in my criteria, NFL potential is not a factor. Johnson was good this year, but he wasn't even on the All-Big 12 first team, and I only placed a few linemen on this team. It was a weak year for the position overall in the league, and the top 25 list reflected that. The reason you're seeing him on NFL lists is he's added impressive size while still keeping his otherworldly athleticism as a former quarterback and tight end. That makes him extremely attractive to NFL teams after a solid season on the offensive line and with oodles of upside, but it doesn't make him one of the top 25 players in the Big 12 this season.
Casey in Morgantown writes: Ubbs what was your favorite game trip from this past season?
DU: I'd have to go with the early season matchup between West Virginia and Texas in Austin. You've got to love trips to Austin, but it was a great crowd with two undefeated teams and (at the time, anyway) some Big 12 title relevance. Weather was absolutely perfect, too. There were some other strong contenders (WVU and K-State in Morgantown, Texas vs. Oklahoma State in Stillwater), but for the best trip, I definitely say Austin for that West Virginia showdown.
Bob Thomason in Kellyville, Okla., writes: Tavon Austin #1? Remind me, which team won that game?
DU: Oh, Bob, Bob, Bob. Come on, now. It's not Tavon's fault that his defense gave up two go-ahead scores in the final minutes and 49 points overall. That's asking a lot of anyone. Who won that game is irrelevant. Austin did absolutely everything he could, and nothing to lose it. Nobody even came close to topping 344 rushing yards or 572 all-purpose yards. If you can't appreciate the quality of Austin's performance on that night just by watching, I can't help you. I don't care who your team is. Amazing stuff.
Douglas Feaver in Washington, D.C., writes: I'm an Oklahoma grad who worked as an intern in the OU sports publicity office when I was a freshman (1957) and covered some OU games for the Norman Transcript . In those days, the standard Big Eight weekend basketball trip was exactly what WVU is seeking now. A typical Oklahoma sked was Saturday in Boulder, Monday in Lincoln. WVU is asking for what has been done before. It seemed geographically illogical for WVU to join the Big 12, frankly, for anything but football.
Pat in Novato, Calif. writes: The Pac 12 does all their travel that way. The Washington teams will travel to Arizona and play the 2 AZ team on Thursday, switch and play the other on Sat. Or Sat and Monday. All of the teams do it and stay over
DU: Interesting notes from both Douglas and Pat here. I didn't realize it was that common in the Pac-12, but of course, basketball is the main issue for WVU here. One thing you do have to wonder about in the future is how much more conversation about these issues you'll see from prospective new Big 12 members. Florida State isn't used to any of these problems in the ACC, but they would face the same type of stuff if they eventually landed in the Big 12.
I definitely think all of WVU's requests are reasonable and not extremely difficult to accommodate. It'll take some effort from the rest of the league, I'm sure, but it's something that should be done and whatever rules need to be changed to make it happen ought to be changed.
1dJake Trotter, Brandon Chatmon and Max Olson