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Friday, January 13, 2012
Mailbag: BU's rise, OSU-Bama, K-State

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Once again, thanks for all the questions this week. Here's where you can send yours.

Marty in Dallas asks: Ubbs, are we in the Golden Age of Baylor athletics or what. If I had told you at the start of the football season that Baylor would defeat BOTH Texas and OU, have a player win the Heisman and that, as of the first part of January, the Bears would finish ranked HIGHER than A&M, Texas, Missouri, and OU in football, would be a unanimous choice as the top ranked women's basketball team and have an undefeated Men's basketball team that was higher ranked than Duke, Louisville, UConn, Kansas, or Michigan State, you would have asked what I was smoking. To put it in perspective, since losing to Ok State in October, Baylor's football, men's basketball, and women's basketball is 38-0. Do you think the the Baptists have made a deal with the devil?

David Ubben: Ha, I don't think the devil's involved here, but it really is an amazing time at Baylor. Ultimately, it boils down to great recruiting in all three sports. Every sport has a player that can change a team. You know about RG3, but the women's team has Brittney Griner and the men's team has Perry Jones III, who'll probably be something close to a top-10 pick if he comes out and enters the draft next year.

That's the root of all this. Art Briles, Kim Mulkey and Scott Drew have brought some amazing talent to Waco. The result has been this crazy run.

Griffin cracked a joke about it at his goodbye press conference this week, too.

"Maybe we can create a new record on ESPN of miscellaneous facts," he said. Maybe so. But that 38-0 record since Nov. 1 has to be something close to unprecedented.


Ramiro Hernandez in Waco, Texas, asked: Do you think Baylor will collapse without RG3,Terrence Ganaway,and Kendall Wright.Sic'Em BEARS!!!!!

DU: No, I don't. Griffin was so good this year, it maybe too often overshadowed how much talent was around him. Baylor's receivers were as good as any group in the country this year. Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese will make the transition much easier for the new quarterback, who'll almost certainly be Nick Florence. All this despite losing Josh Gordon, and NFL-caliber receiver, before the season. He transferred to Utah after being suspended.

Baylor also has one of the nation's top running backs, Lache Seastrunk, waiting to get his shot next year. It didn't work out for him at Oregon, but he's a nice fit in Baylor's offense, and he should get some touches alongside Jarred Salubi and Glasco Martin.

The Bears still have a lot of talent, and you've got to think the defense will only get better. Baylor looks like probably a 6-7 win team next year with some upside. Briles has built a really good program. Griffin just took it to heights few others could.


David in Austin, Texas, asked: With the Texas' hiring of Manny Diaz, entry of TCU, resurgence of Kansas State, and the return of Mike Stoops is it possible the Big 12 might be on the first (of many) steps to being a defensive or at least balanced conference?

DU: No, I don't think so. One, with the amount of plays these hurry-up offenses run, I think there's a pretty low ceiling at just how much "defense" can be happening in this league. Teams are going to get their yardage.

Diaz had a great first year, and he may only grow. Everybody knows Texas won't be lacking for talent on the defensive side of the ball. They're loaded. Diaz's defensive schemes won't be faced by any physical limitations.

As for Stoops, we'll see. He's a great coach, but it's been a long time since he was at Oklahoma. There's no guarantee he steps in and is amazing. He may be. I think OU will at least see some improvement, but on a conference scale, that's still just two guys. I don't see much of a trend.


Joshua Papp in Cape Coral, Fla., asked: So in one of your recent articles you said Okie State should of had a shot at LSU. Then you started naming the qualitites that were "overlooked". You and I can agree that the BCS Championship is for the two BEST teams. Well, after going on about how Okie State deserved a shot you went and said that Alabama IS a better team than Okie State. So therefore, your saying they belonged in the championship. So, the rest of the article was pointless..or am I wrong?

DU: I don't know why this is so hard to understand. I've gotten e-mails about this for the past month since I've made the argument. I'll explain one more time.

If Alabama and Oklahoma State played, I think the Crimson Tide would win. If they played 10 times, I think the Tide would probably win 6-7 times.

But before the championship game, Oklahoma State's BCS resume was better and it wasn't really all that close. Alabama got in on the strength of the SEC (a conference whose depth is deceptively shallow) and its program tradition.

It just depends on what you value, which is why I don't think we saw a grand injustice this year. The only thing that frustrated me was having to watch that awful, awful game on Monday. Both of those teams deserved a shot, but I think a) Alabama already had their shot (and at home!) and didn't take advantage and b) it was unfair to make LSU play them again.

Alabama got in, so we're having this conversation. OSU deserved to get in based on what it did over the 13-game season. They're right.

If OSU had gotten in, Alabama would be sitting here complaining about how they'd beat OSU. They'd be right. I don't know why it's so hard to understand that both of those teams deserved to play LSU.

I mostly wanted to see OSU because I was fundamentally opposed to a rematch both philosophically (bowls are meant to match up opposing conferences) and as a college football admirer, I wanted to see contrasting styles go head to head, not two essentially identical teams slam into each other for three hours.


Josh in Salina, Kan., asked: You said in a post that K-State can't duplicate their success they had in close games... You need to search for some crow recipes online. So you can have tasty crow when you eat it. Don't tell a Snyder coached team it can't do something.

DU: Easy there, John Locke. Do what you must, Josh, but I subscribe to the law of averages. And it says, definitively, that K-State's not going to win eight of nine close games in 2012.

I do think K-State will be a be a better team that doesn't have to be in close games against bad to mediocre teams (hey there, Eastern Kentucky and Miami), so I like the Wildcats chances to do big things next year. They'll do well in close games armed with the confidence and knowledge they can win games in tight spots, but next year, we won't see them win eight of nine games in that scenario. I promise you that.


Reggie C. in Austin, Texas, asked: No way you replace a star receiver like Dez. J Blackmon says hello! No way you replace Blackmon. Michael Harrison says hello! I"m definitely concerned about the QB spot although I fully expect competent numbers, leadership takes time. Be very careful writing off the Cowboys as a middle of the pack Big 12 team next fall. Keep up the good work!

DU: You bring up valid points, Reggie. At OSU, I think it's pretty simple. The pieces are there at running back and receiver. This team's only going to be as good as its quarterback. That's how the offense is designed, even though they'll have two fantastic running backs returning in Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith.

Zac Robinson left, but he was replaced with a mature, NFL-bound quarterback who happened to walk-on. The QB spot is the right place to place your concern. Watch very closely as Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt go head to head.