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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Mailbag: Realignment review, A&M vs. OSU

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for the questions, all. Didn't get yours answered? Drop it in my mailbag.

Greg in Omaha, NE asked: Hey David,I read the article you posted about a week ago about Colorado commenting on how the comments coming out of Missouri got their attention about conference realignment. It's been reported up here that it had the same effect on Nebraska. I know Texas has been painted by some as the bad guy, but I think the Missouri officials that campaigned for Big 10 membership had a big role as well. Your thoughts? Love the blog. We have a lot of history with the Big 8/12, and I will miss a lot of it. Will still read your blog and follow our former conference mates closely. I'm very optimistic about the future of the Big 12.

DU: Well, before we start this, let's clear one thing up: Jay Nixon doesn't work for the University of Missouri. That said, he does represent the state and his comments didn't help Missouri at all.

It's definitely up for debate on just how influential those comments were in the grander scheme of realignment. But if Missouri had any choice, I'm sure they'd prefer he didn't say anything if they had last summer to do over again.

And the whole idea of painting someone as a "bad guy" in last summer's realignment is a little ridiculous. Everyone acted in self-interest. Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma ... everybody. Some were more adept at getting what they wanted, but it's off-base to cast anybody a "bad guy."

Missouri was the most overtly flirtatious (i.e. Brady Deaton and Mike Alden refusing to say anything but they're a "proud member of the Big 12" when asked about any desires toward the Big Ten) school, but Missouri clearly felt like the Big Ten would be a good move. Since when is wanting to make things better for your school a bad thing?


Terry Nixon in Marietta, Georgia writes: David,I just feel you are geting pretty tiresome in putting TAMU above OSU. Everything you write seems to downplay OSU's accomplishments and praise TAMU's.

For example:.Which team will disappoint this year--OSU not TAMU. This column--OU will hinder and TAMU will definitely get to BCS bowl (TAMU plays OU every year also).

Record Last 5 yrs OSU 43-22: TAMU 35-29

I would say Gundy has proven he is a better coach than Sherman and Boon's Billions give us just as much of a financial edge. Opinions are fine but don't pretend to analyze numbers because TAMU loses. TLN--OSU 69'

DU: Easy there, big guy. I can show you plenty of e-mails from Aggies fans who feel the exact opposite way you do. Classic case of fan paranoia.

One, I'm not sure what the second thing you said I wrote was. Two, five-year records aren't very relevant to how either team will do in 2011. (How long has Mike Sherman been at Texas A&M again? Oh, right.)

Most (read: all) of the time, when people say I do nothing but criticize a team, they haven't read everything I wrote about said team, or really even more than a few things. Never mind that I voted Oklahoma State higher on my post-spring poll than Texas A&M.

I believe the Aggies defense will be better than Oklahoma State's, and it'll be close between the offenses. Texas A&M has the ability to run with power better than any team in the Big 12, but I'd take Brandon Weeden over Ryan Tannehill.

That said, when I say Oklahoma State has the biggest ability to be a disappointment in 2011, it's because of the lack of Dana Holgorsen. Being concerned about a team trying to replace one of college football's best offensive minds is hardly off base, and if Oklahoma State can't do it and if Todd Monken doesn't work out, the Cowboys are probably looking at an 8-9 win season, far short of expectations for a team that should begin the season near or inside the top 10.


Chris in Kansas City, Kansas asked: If Tate Forcier were to transfer to Kansas State, what are the chances of the wildcats to contend for a big 12 title and possibly, a BCS Bowl?

DU: He'd help, but probably not to that level. Kansas State still needs a lot of help in other places before it's on the level of a team that can certainly compete for conference titles. Forcier could grow into a playmaker, but he still has a lot of developing to do.


Jon in Davis, Calif. writes: "As the league's strength fluctuates, somebody is going to get completely hammered on a road schedule one of these years, too. Could see some really good teams lose 2-4 games as a result."Welcome to the P10 format of yesteryear. It was this format that prohibited USC from making an additional 2 BCS, arguably title game appearances in the 2000's.

DU: I don't know about that. It didn't help USC, but during the Trojans' peak years in the mid-'00s, the Pac-10 was never as good as the Big 12 was last year or should be this year.

We'll see if the Big 12 keeps this up, but this whole nine-game schedule thing might become a bigger issue for the Big 12 soon.


Mark in Stillwater, Okla. asked: Do you think Oklahoma State would have had a 13-1 record in 2010 if they had won Bedlam? That team seemed to improve throughout the season...

DU: I do. Oklahoma State matched up well with Nebraska, and proved it could put up points in the 51-41 loss in Stillwater earlier that year. But clearly, Nebraska was a different team late in the season. So was Oklahoma State. But Oklahoma State's defense had improved while its offense remained constant.

There was no way Nebraska was hanging 41 against anybody late in the season, and Taylor Martinez wasn't throwing for another 300 yards against a maturing Cowboys secondary.

I don't think I need to detail much more about Connecticut. That team was pretty unqualified to play in a BCS bowl. The result would have been similar to what Oklahoma did to the Huskies.