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Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Mailbag: RB ranking, Beebe take, Huskers

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for all the questions, everybody. Here's the link if yours didn't make it and you've got more to say/ask.

Barry in Victoria, Texas, asked: Come-on dude. Is this running back rating an inside joke or what. You put Ok at second with not one proven back? And then Texas has the #1 back recruited in Malcolm Brown and you rate them next to last? What the %$#@ did you use for rating?, your dart board? I am NOT saying Brown will nail everyone, but if anyone has a chance out-of-the-blocks its Brown. Now, if you were trying to say Ok's overall strength at offense, especially with its passing game, could open up the running plays, well thats something to think about. But, to rate the unproven backs against another unproven back, but an incoming man among boys, is just so much crap.

David Ubben: Unproven is in the eye of the beholder. Roy Finch looked pretty fantastic when he was healthy last year. Go back and watch some highlights of his runs against Missouri or Texas Tech or Iowa State and tell me that doesn't scream future star.

Brennan Clay is somewhat of a wild card, considering his injury and time away last year, but everything we heard about Brandon Williams was that he walked right in and looked like he belonged. That's extremely hard to do, especially at a program like Oklahoma. It also bodes well for his future. he's going to get a lot better as the season goes on next year.

Offensive line has a little bit to do with it, but Malcolm Brown hasn't taken part in a single practice yet. Maybe he's good, but Texas' top two backs going in have proven for three years that they're not guys anyone in the Big 12 is really scared of. If Brown is truly great, (and maybe he is, but we'll see), Texas will probably move up those rankings, but as it stands right now, I feel comfortable saying I'd take Williams and Finch over every running back on Texas' roster.

Kyle in Saginaw, Texas, asked: David, hey loved reading your blog since you took over the Big 12. Unfortunately our time together was cut short due to Nebraska and the Big 12's divorce. Just wondering, when do you think Nebraska will meet up with a Big 12 opponent again? Will it be in a bowl game this season? Perhaps a National Title Game against Oklahoma? Or would a National Title game against UT be even better? Once again it was nice knowing you, and good luck to the Big 12 in the future!

DU: I don't see it happening in the regular season for quite awhile. But the Big 12 has tie-ins with the Big Ten in bowl games, so they're bound to cross paths at some point.

Heads up for the Insight Bowl.

Willie in Poplar Bluff, Mo., asked: Do you see Missouri running the same style of offense they have the past few years with Franklin handling the snaps? Or do you see them level out the play calling a little bit with a few more run calls?! Maybe even a little option here and there with Franklin and the MU running back committee...Also what are your expectations of Franklin coming in with very little experience yet with an offense that has plenty of experience? Thanks DU, read the blog every day at work.

DU: It will change to some degree, but Missouri's offense is still going to be based around getting the ball to playmakers. I'd expect them to use the backs a little more this year because Franklin won't be as gifted a thrower or as advanced and cerebral of a quarterback as Gabbert was. You'll see Franklin run next year more than Gabbert did, I'm sure, but this isn't going to devolve back into Missouri's offense with Brad Smith at the helm.

As for my expectations, I think he'll be fine. He'll have a couple nightmare games, I'm sure, because that's what first-year starters do, but he'll be OK. He's not going to take down any of Chase Daniel's records, but over the course of his career, Missouri is going to have better teams than Daniel had (mostly on defense), so don't be surprised if Missouri wins a little more at the back end of his career.

Jared in Ames, Iowa, asked: You had a lot of stuff with Dan Beebe last week, but you never really said much about it. What did you think about his comments?

DU: I thought he mostly made a lot of sense.

The biggest plus we're going to see in the new Big 12 is the new rivalries and a league with fans that care more about more teams. He, and others who have mentioned it, are absolutely right to say the Big 12 had become a very segmented conference. No one in Iowa or Kansas or Missouri cared about Texas-Texas Tech or even Texas-Texas A&M.

And nobody in Texas or Oklahoma cared about Missouri-Kansas.

Now, in the new league, that team might be ahead or behind you in the standings, or it could much more easily impact you. Nobody's blowing smoke on that stuff. That's absolutely right.

As for the league branding itself as "different?" I'm not so sure about that. I don't quite see the point. Beebe argued that the true point of a conference was that everyone played everyone and the best team standing is the champion, i.e., a "true champion." I'd agree that's true, but branding your conference based around that?

It's not right or wrong, necessarily. It just seems like kind of a waste of time.

Expanding that branding to market the league as the only one that lets schools keep their media rights won't make sense if the league goes that route, either. That doesn't mean much to anyone outside of people who really like non-revenue sports.

But I absolutely buy all this talk that the league is more solid than ever. I doubted it last summer, but now I really think every program really looked around and weighed their options for the next 25 years, not the next three years, and picked to be in the spots they're in.

I still believe that if the Big Ten every became seriously interested in Missouri, it would leave, but I don't have any reason to believe that's going to happen any time soon.