Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Big 12 [Print without images]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Mailbag: Building a program, preseason polls

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for all the emails. Feel free to drop a few more in my box if you've got something to say.

Alex in Waterloo, Iowa, asked: I am a believer that Shontrelle Johnson will be a quality running back in the big 12. you ranked Knott tenth in the top 25. those are just a couple examples of the athletes Rhoads has brought in. Tech, A&M, OSU, MIZZOU and Kansas have all seen success in recent years. Do you see ISU reaching that level soon?

David Ubben: Maybe, but it's going to be awhile. Let's compare them with Missouri.

Missouri's program's rise began with excellence at one position: Quarterback. Obviously, that's the most important position on the field. Brad Smith got it going, Chase Daniel continued it and we saw even more with Blaine Gabbert last year. Missouri hasn't had a dropoff at that spot. If anything, it's gotten better, at least physically.

The Tigers stocked their team with big-time skill position talent around Daniel and saw huge heights for the program. Gabbert had similar talent around him, but he finally had a defense behind him last year. Missouri's built the program over the last 6-7 years piece by piece.

Iowa State? The only place their team stands out is at linebacker, which isn't hugely important in Big 12 play. If one of the new quarterbacks, Jerome Tiller or Steele Jantz, can emerge as a big time playmaker, then maybe, but until Iowa State can see improvement at more of the key positions, I don't see the program building to the point where others like Missouri, Oklahoma State or Texas A&M have gotten.

Tanner Singleton in Baton Rouge, La., asked: I hope you show some A&M love in what's left of the top 25 players count down!

DU: Ha, a warning: I've gotten a lot of emails about this. There won't be as much A&M love in the top 10 as some of the Aggies fans think.

Sorry.

Matt in Anchorage, Alaska, asked: How do you grade yourself on your rankings? Is today's "Top 25 Poll" your belief of how these teams will do this year, or just how good you believe they are right now? In other words, if your preseason picks were perfect, would these 25 teams be ranked in this same position at the end of the year in the "Final 25 Poll"? And if that's true, do you believe that Texas will finish the year outside of the Top 25?

DU: As with my top 25 every week, it's simply a reflection of how good I believe the teams are right now. It's not a prediction for the postseason. If I'm guessing right now, I think Texas finishes just outside the top 25 at the end of the year. I expect them to make it in the preseason poll, though.