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Friday, May 6, 2011
What we learned this spring

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Major revelations around the league are usually reserved for the fall, but we learned plenty during an eventful spring across the slimmed-down Big 12.

Here are five takeaways from the spring:

Stoops
Bob Stoops and the Sooners might be the nation's best team.
1. Texas has a lot of work to do. There's definitely a renewed sense of purpose in Austin, but rebuilding after a 5-7 season in 2010 won't happen overnight. The Longhorns brought in a handful of new coaches, but the offensive personnel is still mostly the same, and that could mean another year without a Big 12 title contender. Mack Brown knows the truth about the Big 12 as much as anyone: A team can't win it without putting up a ton of points.

2. One quarterback competition settled. Most remain. Seth Doege all but locked down the starting spot at Texas Tech, but other than him, it's a lot of guessing elsewhere. Missouri's James Franklin and Kansas State's Collin Klein left their springs atop the depth chart after strong spring games, but they're far from locks to start the season. Meanwhile, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas each have multiple players vying for the starting job.

3. Yes, the Big 12 has a national title contender. Oklahoma had some distractions entering the spring, but it did a nice job of eliminating question marks and discovering young talent. Gabe Lynn assumed Jamell Fleming's spot at cornerback, and Aaron Colvin drew rave reviews as a safety. The Sooners converted tight end Lane Johnson to help replace injured right tackle Jarvis Jones and add some depth. Running back Brandon Williams and linebacker Corey Nelson could be big names very soon, too.

4. They're doing things differently in Stillwater. Dana Holgorsen is gone, and the Cowboys brought in Todd Monken, most recently the receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. But they didn't bring him in to install his system. He's learning Holgorsen's offense from coach Mike Gundy and his quarterback, Brandon Weeden. It's a unique approach; we'll see whether it pays off in the fall.

5. Long road ahead for the former Big 12 North. Things have gotten tougher for teams from the Big 12 North with the league's new scheduling format. Rarely did teams see Texas and Oklahoma every season, and sometimes they dodged both. No longer. Everyone from the North will see the South's traditional powers every year. The power is clearly leaning toward the South. The bottom three teams in the Big 12 entering next season are all from the former Big 12 North. It could be tough for them to climb with an even tougher schedule.