Big 12 mailbag

In today’s mailbag, some awful nicknames for Texas’ receivers, a Big 12 fight to the death and West Virginia apparently not getting the respect it deserves.

To the 'bag:

Tim in Pasadena, Calif., writes: Some recent chatter around the blogs, along with a front-page poll, has been about the best rivalries in each conference, and in all of college football. Makes me sick to see a poll like that without Nebraska-Oklahoma.

Jake Trotter: Yeah, it’s really too bad. Of course, Oklahoma deserves much of the blame for the demise of that rivalry. When the Big 12 was being put together in the mid-1990s, the Sooners did not want to continue playing Nebraska annually if they were going be placed in separate divisions. At the time, remember, the Huskers were at their height, while OU was mired in the Gibbs-Schnellenberger-Blake eras. That move effectively sent the rivalry on the decline, with the teams playing only twice every four years. By the time Nebraska split for the Big Ten, the rivalry was a shell of its former self.

Andy in Austin, Texas, writes: What are the chances that Magic Mike, CrackerJax and the rest of UT's receiving corps make it to the top of the Big 12 this year and out perform OSU’s and Tech’s? Does this all depend on the output by David Ash's arm?

Jake Trotter: I only posted this so people could see how bad these nicknames were. You’re on a two-week mailbag ban. Come back stronger next time.

Dan in Iowa writes: Your pick for the toughest Big 12 player in the octagon. Who wins?

Jake Trotter: Calvin Barnett is a contender because he’s fierce and unafraid of committing a personal foul penalty or three. Cyril Richardson is a 6-foot-5, 335-pound house, so he’s in the mix. Last year, I would have picked Iowa State's Jake Knott. The year before that, Ronnell Lewis, who already has a great MMA nickname (“The Hammer”).

Stephen in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: I've been hearing a lot of talk up in Lubbock about a potential QB battle between Michael Brewer and Davis Webb. Which one do you think has the most potential upside in a Kingsbury system?

Jake Trotter: I think they’ve wanted Brewer to be the guy, but this back injury report is alarming. On paper, he has the slightly higher upside. Either guy, though, could be successful playing under Kliff Kingsbury. Ultimately I think Brewer wins the job if he’s healthy. But this is a QB competition worth watching, maybe more so than we originally thought.

Howard in Houston writes: Do you think a Baylor can get in the national championship conversation with a weak Oklahoma and Texas? I know we are trendy, but pre-conference schedule does matter. Thanks, SMU.

Jake Trotter: I’m as bullish on Baylor as anyone. Right now, I put them in the same tier with Oklahoma State, OU, TCU and Texas. But in its history, Baylor has reached double-digit wins during the regular season just once (1980). Now all of a sudden they’re going to go 12-0? I would be worrying less about the nonconference schedule strength, and more about surviving that strong November conference schedule.

Zion in Chester, Va., writes: Do you think that West Virginia is not getting the respect they deserve? Clint Trickett will be the starter. He's a very solid player. We also have elite backs in Charles Sims and Dreamius Smith. Our defense will not be as bad as last year. I just think eighth in the conference is disrespectful.

Jake Trotter: Despite losing Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, I actually think West Virginia could be a better team. I really do. There are pieces there to like, a couple of which you mentioned. But the Mountaineers are in fact getting the respect they deserve. This team completely cratered in 2012, and now they’re without three of the best players in program history. The Mountaineers may surprise. But they have no serious justification for being picked any higher than they are.