- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Thanks for all the questions in today's chat. You can read the full transcript here. Below is a sampling:
Matthew James Phil Rogers III (El Paso, TX): Is the Big 12 ever going to become legitimate again? I've always been a fan, but ever since the decline of Texas, it seems there is only 1 good Big 12 team each year. It's a disappointment, and quite frankly an embarrassment. There is too much talent in this area, and we lose it all to the SEC! It's ridiculous! We are becoming a laughing stock every year with the exception of one team, that typically rotates between OU, OSU, and Baylor. What is the B12 doing wrong?!?
Jake Trotter: Well, Texas and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma being down has really hurt the league the last 4 years. Nobody was talking about the Big 12 being down in '08, when OU, Texas and even Texas Tech were all top-five teams. When the flagship programs are struggling, the conference suffers a perception hit as a result. Conference realignment also hurt. That said, I think the Big 12 is on the upswing. OU is loaded for next year. Texas has a new coach, who is putting together a tremendous staff. Oklahoma State has proven it just reloads now. Baylor is better than ever. Bill Synder has K-State rolling again. And Tech is on the upswing. Those are reasons for optimism in the Big 12.
John (Houston, TX): How could you not acknowledge the best punter in the Big 12 during the BCS era, Daniel Sepulveda? Two-time All-American, one of only two players to win the Ray Guy Award twice, and YouTube sensation for his ability to cover his own kicks. Quinn Sharp never covered a kick like that.
Jake Trotter: It was weird. Special teams is where I had the most trouble with the Big 12 BCS era team. I had Sepulveda and Dan Bailey as my punter and kicker originally. But the more I researched Mason Crosby, the more I felt he deserved a nod even without a Groza Award. Then Sharp, I mean, he was an All-American as a kicker AND a punter. That's pretty incredible, too. But you could make a case for Sepulveda and I wouldn't say you were wrong. This was a very subjective list, and other great players were left off, too.
Mike B (Beckley, WV): What are your thoughts on Ford Childress leaving the program and the whole quarterback soap opera that will be unfolding next season at West Virginia? Can William Crest come in and make an immediate impact?
Jake Trotter: I thought that was very curious, but it sounds like Childress had issues off the field. Dana Holgorsen has other QBs, so I don't think it's a huge loss. I have a feeling one of the two newcomers will ultimately win the starting job, Crest or Skyler Howard.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro): Now that we are years removed from Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas A&M leaving the conference and adding West Virginia and TCU, how would you evaluate the conference as a whole in terms of marketing, revenue, and brand recognition. To me it still seems like its OU and Texas at the top and everyone else jockeys for third.
Jake Trotter: There's no doubt that's the case, but that was the case really before, too. The Big 12 has taken a perception hit, but it's richer than ever, so nobody is complaining.
Matt (Iowa): What weaknesses do the Cyclones have to overcome to take the next step. And with recent hires, incoming recruits, will they have the tools in place to do that?
Jake Trotter: I think they've addressed one major one in hiring Mark Mangino. I like the offensive talent Iowa State has coming back. I think Mangino will be able to mold those guys into a dangerous offense. Iowa State always plays good D. If the offense comes around, you could be looking at a seven-win team.
Todd (Ohio): Ok, I asked this last time, but I think it could be answered again with more taken into consideration. Ohio St. in the BCS era vs. Oklahoma. Not just BCS games, but which team has had the better overall performance over those years. Both teams with very impressive resumes.
Jake Trotter: I would give Ohio State the slight edge. Buckeyes are 6-4 in BCS bowl games. Sooners are 4-5 -- however, OU finished as the only program to hit for the cycle, winning at all four BCS bowl sites. Ohio State had a chance to do the same, but fell short in the Orange to Clemson this year.
Stuart (Houston): How much of a boost does the bowl upset of Arizona State give Texas Tech going into this upcoming season, especially with the more favorable schedule?
Jake Trotter: It was huge. Usually bowl game wins are overblown in terms of momentum for the next season. But with Tech, it was significant. The Red Raiders would have had a ton of negative energy taking a six-game losing streak into the offseason. Now, nobody will be talking about the five losses. They'll be focused on the Arizona State win, and they should be... That was a convincing performance.
William (Des Moines): Do you think there's any way Kansas has enough success this season to warrant keeping Charlie Weis? And, related question, is his buy-out as punitive to the university as Turner Gill's was?
Jake Trotter: If they fired Weis, KU would still have to pay out the remaining dollar figure of his contract. The deal is basically the same as Gill's. So KU really isn't in a position to fire Weis, unless the Jayhawks take a step back next year (which would be hard to do). If KU showed moderate improvement, I think that would be enough for Weis to stay in Lawrence. Otherwise, KU would be paying its former coaches more than it would be paying its current coach -- which is always bad business.