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

Friday, April 19, 2013
Mailbag: Buyer's remorse, WVU, Stoops

By David Ubben

Thanks for all the emails, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

On to your emails!

Jeff in York, Pa., writes: Hey David, love the blog. Do you think that the Big 12 might be suffering from a slight case of buyer's remorse (or not-buyer's remorse)? Last year they passed on Louisville for West Virginia. Now, I'm not saying that West Virginia was a bad choice, but at the time Louisville was perfectly willing and wanting to be the Big 12's 11th member. They were denied. Fast-forward a little over half an athletic year and Louisville is experiencing a magnificent level of success while West Virginia seems to be struggling. Now, I understand that there is disparity in competition, but it's hard to argue with a Sugar Bowl drubbing of Florida, both basketball teams in the championship game (and a men's title), and a baseball team that's ranked in the top 15. Just wondering what your thoughts might be on this. Thanks.

DU: Yeah, it's an interesting point. As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20, and football is the big moneymaker. There's no doubt West Virginia was a bigger and better football brand than Louisville was/is, and had a team that got folks everywhere excited for Year 1 in the league. The latter doesn't matter all that much, but when people talk Louisville, they always talk about them instead of West Virginia. Talking about them in addition to West Virginia is a much more interesting conversation. There was a case to be made for Louisville last year, but I agreed with the Big 12's move to go with WVU instead.

A year and a half after that decision was made, it's easy to say, "Well, come on, Big 12?! Why didn't you let 'em in? Now they're headed to the ACC!"

For one, I do think the prospect of Louisville being big enough to add $26 million in value to the Big 12 is doubtful now and was doubtful then. It's not crazy, but I don't think it's worth the risk for a Big 12 that's experiencing some serious unity lately and a major lack of drama off the field.

Does Louisville still even play its way into a BCS game if it's in the Big 12? I would definitely argue no on that front. The BCS team that whooped up on Florida is the same team that went to the wire with Southern Miss, (who was 0-12 last season) South Florida, North Carolina and Rutgers. It went 10-2 with losses to Syracuse and UConn, and I'm betting they would have lost at least a couple more in a super-deep Big 12. That means no BCS.

So, I really don't think Louisville's recent year of success is enough reason to rethink the Big 12's position. Basketball is mostly irrelevant, and WVU's success on the field put it in a much more advantageous position to grab a ticket to a much better conference. It's hard for any program in an AQ conference to match WVU's six conference titles since 2003.

The Big 12 wouldn't necessarily have made a huge mistake with bringing Louisville in the league, but 11 teams posed some logistical issues that the Big Ten dealt with that the Big 12 didn't necessarily want. West Virginia was pretty close to a home run when you consider the caliber of the program that came into the league, not considering its failures in 2012. WVU went 7-5. I'm betting Louisville goes 8-4 in the Big 12 last season and doesn't sniff a BCS game. That's not a huge difference.




Coop in Seaside, Calif., writes: Ubbs - ever consider that Bob Stoops comments about athletes getting paid were on purpose? As a native Oklahoman, both the fans and the coach want the toughest players around who play for an opportunity to go pro, who cherish their scholarship, and who play for pride - knowing that so few get the opportunity. I'm betting that the type of kid and parents who care about a stipend are the type that OU doesn't want anyway (and this fan has the same sentiment). My suspicions are that these are the kinds of kids that Bob has had to send packing the last few years - they really don't understand committment and feel entitled so they don't put in the work. Bob is pretty savvy - I think his comments were purposeful - any kids and parents that stick with OU despite his feelings about players getting paid must want it pretty bad - that is the kid that he (and many fans) want playing on Saturdays.

DU: I don't think I buy that. I think Stoops answered honestly about his feelings surrounding the subject -- he's more of a "Next question" kind of guy before a sugarcoating kind of guy -- and didn't think about the recruiting aspect of things.

I don't think it's a huge deal, but for Oklahoma, who's obviously seen its recruiting take a bit of a hit lately, I don't think it was a wise move. I don't buy that it was calculated. Your point is an interesting one, and might have that effect with some guys, but how many parents are there really who wouldn't want their kids to get paid to play football? I'm sure that number is much, much higher than the number of parents who wouldn't be huge fans of their kid playing for a coach who didn't want their kids to be paid. But for me, it boils down to this: What, exactly, does Stoops gain by speaking out against players being paid to play? I just don't see a positive.




Dan in Beckley, W.Va., writes: What are your thoughts on the possible transfer of Clint Trickett from FSU to WVU?

DU: You'll have to excuse my ignorance because I haven't seen a ton of him outside of his spot duty in games behind E.J. Manuel -- especially that game against Oklahoma back in 2011. He didn't have a lot of experience, so his decision-making left something to be desired. I don't see enough arm strength to be a major playmaker, and for WVU, who has two guys I think are better options at quarterback, I just don't really see the point. Especially with a guy like Chavas Rawlins fighting behind Paul Millard and Ford Childress, too.

If Trickett is intent on coming to WVU, I'm sure they won't stop him, but if he wants to earn major playing time, WVU's not the place he's going to find it.




Ryan Moreland in Colorado Springs, Colo. writes: Heading in to West Virginia's sophomore season in the Big 12, where do you see them finishing in the conference this year?

DU: I see a tough, tough year ahead for WVU. For me, anything that ends with the Mountaineers in a bowl game is a success and a good move toward a better 2014 season. The defense should make some decent strides forward, but the offense kept them in games early last year (hello, Baylor and Texas) and I expect it to take a marked step back. The playmakers just aren't there to help a young quarterback light up the scoreboard for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns, which is about what it would take for WVU to get to nine wins or more. I expect the running game to be pretty average, too, which doesn't help.

WVU won't be an easy win for anybody, but racking up wins in a deep Big 12 is going to be tough.