Friday, February 24, 2012
Mailbag: TCU/WVU upgrade, home turf
By David Ubben
Thanks for all the questions this week. We heard from plenty of you. Here's where I can be reached if you have more thoughts, questions or cute witticisms.
Ernie A in Austin, Texas, writes: Ubbexander the Great, I watched a video over on the Pac 12 blog today and saw their blogger refer to the Pacific conference as "The Conference of Quarterbacks." Ridiculous, right? I mean, sure they've got Price and Barkley, but the Big 12 can more than match that in my opinion, especially since every team excluding my horns and the Jayhawks have a real, potential difference maker going into the season. So diving off of this--what is the state of Big 12 QBs with the departure of three of the best from last season, and who do you think (besides Jones and Klein) will step up and keep the Big 12's strong QB reputation known?
David Ubben: First off, what are you doing on the Pac-12 blog? I can only assume it's because the Longhorns are plotting an escape to the Pac-16.
We heard the same thing about the Pac-12 last season with Luck, Barkley, Foles and Co., but I'd say it was still pretty clear by season's end that the Big 12 was superior. It took home the Heisman and was a deeper league at the position. The gap isn't enormous, but the Big 12 was better.
This year? You have to remember how well this league develops new passers. Baylor and Oklahoma State lose two great quarterbacks, but Nick Florence and whoever wins the battle at OSU should be solid. All those guys have potential.
Landry Jones and Seth Doege are back, but they're joined by Geno Smith at WVU and Casey Pachall at TCU, the two new guys. For now, the league's reputation as the best quarterback league is safe, even if Barkley will grab plenty of attention at the top this season, and maybe win the Heisman.
Jason in Evansville, Ind., writes: David, looking forward to getting to know your blog. BB and AA have done a nice job covering our beloved Mounties. As far as some game day traditions to see at Mountaineer Field, get to know the 1st down chant. All schools have their own game day traditions in the crowd that give them an identity. FSU does the chop, some schools like VTech jingle keys for "key plays", Pitt sings Sweet Caroline (never understood why), etc....The first down chant kind of started in the student section during my days as a an undergrad and over the years has become a standard game day tradition across the stadium. Pretty simple, here's how it goes. WVU gets a 1st down on any given play. Fans hold their arms straight out and start vocally with "ohhhhhhh" until the PA announcer says" 1st down West Virginia", and in unison the crowd bounces their arms down 3 times and says "hoo-hoo-hoo.....(clap) first down", and points in the direction of the first down. Pretty simple. When the game is a big one and is close the chant gets louder with the crowd and generally gets everyone fired up as momentum builds moving the ball down the field. Hopefully we will continue many more 1st down chants against our new Big tWelVe conference foes. You should start practicing for your first visit to Morgantown. See you in the Blue Lot!
DU: Thanks for filling us in, Jason. I'm curious about all the gameday traditions. I really can't wait for my first game out there. New experiences are always great. I'll keep an eye out for this. I'm sure the other fans across the Big 12 think the same.
Jayhawk in Maryland in Edgewater, Md., writes: Dave, Love the readers' snippets on what to do in Morgantown and Fort Worth for gamedays. Maybe we/you should introduce them to Lawrence, Stillwater, Manhattan, etc. as well. Always good to plan a tailgate.
Mason in Texas wrote: Ubbs, I like the "Home Turf" series for TCU and WVU. A thought though, expand it to all schools. WVU and TCU folks need to know where to go when they visit all of us. Not just that, but I bet a lot of people haven't traveled every and would like to know what's up in each town. Just a humble suggestion.
DU: I heard from a ton of you this week, expressing a similar sentiment. Which means we'll do this for the rest of the Big 12 because a) there are new members to educate and b) we've never done it before.
I'll send out calls for recommendations for each city in the weeks to come, so don't bother just yet. That said, I'm excited for this series. It should be delicious.
Here's the new ones, if you missed them:
Fred Dodge in Annapolis, Md., writes: David, I was extremely skeptical and ready to dismiss your column on the change in the Big 12 "Rivalries will be missed, not results." [I should note here that I am a Cornhusker]. But you know what, you convinced me. The Big 12 is better off, not only do WVU and TCU bring some recent pedigree, they really want to be in the Big 12. Hopefully that will bring some stability.
DU: I appreciate it, and your second point gets lost a bit, I think. There's no question that both schools are pretty enthusiastic about entering the league. We'll see if that spreads.
The league is losing a ton of tradition in Missouri and Texas A&M, and that's sad. A&M will have that rivalry with LSU, but I doubt it will have any others. Missouri's going to have a tough time finding a rival if it doesn't lock in Arkansas as its cross-divisional rival.
Arkansas' been in the league 20 years and still doesn't have a true rivalry that gets fans fired up year-round.
Kansas and Texas will miss their departed rivals. But like I said, the league's in good shape on the field, to maintain, if not exceed, the success.
Grant in Round Rock, Texas, writes: In response to your blog "New Big 12 will miss rivalries, not results". The bottom line is the SEC upgraded with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri, while the Big 12 downgraded. If the conference really felt they would be better off with TCU and WVU they would have had no problem losing these two schools.
DU: Not true. Like I mentioned before, that tradition can't be replaced, and that's the biggest reason the Big 12 was sad to see them go.
My point in the column wasn't that the Big 12 made some monumental upgrade on the field. The difference is negligible on the field at worst, and a slight upgrade at best. That's about as good as the Big 12 could expect, considering its recent membership issues.
The money issue matters. Texas A&M and Mizzou have bigger fan bases, but if TCU and WVU sustain nationally relevant programs, the difference in the television deal is probably negligible, too. There's not much reason to believe TCU and WVU will see a huge drop-off in the quality of their programs.
The Big 12 would have loved to keep A&M and Mizzou. It didn't. As a response, it made two great additions.
Gabe in Buehler, Texas, writes: Ubbs, what is your thought on K-State special teams next year, namely Tyler Lockett, both as return man and receiver. I wonder if he had been healthy, would the Cotton Bowl have gone a little different? Not necessarily a K-State win, but pretty darn close! Also, what is your thought on Justin Tuggle moving to OLB? MORE speed to that linebacker corps?!
DU: Yeah, K-State wouldn't have won that game with Lockett, but the Wildcats definitely missed their big-play man. Joe Adams changed that game on special teams, and Lockett could have possibly done the same for K-State. The way Kansas State's offense played, it needed that badly. Tuggle seems like a good move. He's a guy that just wanted to get on the field, and with Collin Klein's emergence, it wasn't going to happen at quarterback. In the Big 12, you can never have enough speed at linebacker, and he should bring that. Instincts and toughness seem like it could be tough to develop in one offseason. It'll be fun to watch, though.