Big 12: Andrew Johnson

Mailbag: A&M to the SEC and OU's title shot

January, 21, 2011
1/21/11
4:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions this week, everybody. Lots of good ones.

David in Tulsa, Okla., asks: I realize that Mike Gundy is pretty guarded about his relationship with the media, but is there no news at all coming out about the OC position at Oklahoma State? It seems a possible top ten preseason team next year would have more attention focused around replacing their savant play-caller and offensive genius. Is this just a result of Gundy being a "keep your cards face down" kind of coach or is there something else to it?

David Ubben: There's been a few things, but he's clearly taking his time, and he previously said he hadn't really done much on the search until after Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden had committed to come back for the 2011 season. We likely won't know everyone Gundy has talked to since, but certainly promoting receivers coach Doug Meacham from within is an attractive option in hopes of keeping Dana Holgorsen's exact system around. But if Gundy wants to be bold, bringing in a hungry Mike Leach would put Oklahoma State on the front of a whole lot of newspapers and put a whole lot of eyes on the Cowboys for 2011. It might pose a few problems, and it would likely be a one-year fix that would force him to find another coordinator without Weeden and likely Blackmon for 2012, but goodness, that would be fun to watch.

Outside of those two candidates, the Cowboys would otherwise hire a guy most people wouldn't recognize.


John in Columbia, Mo., asks: I've been watching my Tigers get close to being great for years now. Even waking up at 4am in Iraq before work to watch them lose twice to OU. What chance do you give them next season of finally looking like a great team and winning the Big 12? Or given an OU title run, going to the Fiesta Bowl?

DU: You sound pretty committed, John. And of course, thanks for your efforts overseas. As for the Tigers, the second scenario seems a lot more likely. Winning the Big 12 for a North team is now a season-long enterprise, rather than battling one good team or no good teams and then trying to win a game against Texas or OU on a neutral site. Assuming Oklahoma wins the Big 12 in 2011, it's definitely not out of the question for Missouri to beat Texas A&M or Oklahoma State for the Big 12's No. 2 spot and slide into the BCS. They'd need 10-11 wins to do it, and like we've said since Blaine Gabbert left, it's all going to come down to quarterback for Missouri.


Stephen in San Antonio, Texas asks: Can you call Bill Byrne and ask him to send us to the SEC? Maybe he will listen to an outsider, because he for sure doesn't listen to A&M Alums.

DU: Sure thing. I'll get to it right after I convince him to let loose a pack of wolves in his living room and build a fire pit underneath his bed. Nebraska to the Big Ten? Great move for the program. Colorado to the Pac-12? Another really good move. Texas A&M to the SEC? Program-killing move.

And for the record, overambitious Aggies fans, now that realignment has died down a bit, the SEC is pretty happy standing pat with 12 teams. That offer likely isn't still standing.

After all, SECeding worked so well for the South back in the mid-19th century. Dumb. Better hope Dan Beebe is as generous as Abe Lincoln, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, right? Nobody wants to see Reconstruction 2.0.


Adam in Raleigh, N.C. asks: With the Big 12 downsizing this fall, what can the league do to spice things up and keep the conference interesting to a national audience?

DU: It's pretty simple. Just win. There's no trick to showing up on Sportscenter or hosting GameDay. Usually, that stuff goes to teams in the national title hunt. Want to be in it? Don't lose.


Kyle in Ames, IA asks: David,What makes you so sure that Jerome Tiller will be the starting QB for Iowa State next year? Beyond not turning the ball over and having one good pass against Nebraska in a 9-7 shootout (granted, in a tough environment), the only thing he's proven is that he can consistently score 14 points or less. Beyond that, his throwing numbers are atrocious. Would Paul Rhoads and staff bring in a JUCO QB for spring training with the intent of him being a backup?I personally think it's completely up in the air with four guys getting a chance to start, and maybe more depending on how the recruiting class rounds out, but I just wanted to get your thoughts.

DU: Oh, I agree. It's definitely not a given, and the same is true at Kansas State with Collin Klein and Justin Tuggle, who committed to the Wildcats from the same junior college as Cam Newton.

As for the Cyclones, it's hard to completely discount the experience Tiller has gotten the last couple years, and throwing issues aside, he's shown he can make plays in tight spots. Paul Rhoads says the quarterback competition is open this spring, and that's definitely the case. Especially more so than, say, Texas.

Steele Jantz already comes to Ames with a permanent spot on my All-Name team, and if he's the guy who can step in and be composed, accurate and run Iowa State's offense in the spring better than anyone else, he'll start. It's definitely a possibility. But Iowa State also has a pretty underwhelming receiving corps, so a quarterback that can make plays with his feet would definitely be welcomed. Tiller has an edge there over Jantz, considering he's already proven he can do it within the speed of the FBS game, which Jantz can't say.

It should be an exciting spring in Ames for sure, though.


Don Bowers in Oklahoma City, Okla., asks: David, great work with the blog. I'm counting on you to make this off season bearable. And I know this is very early to be talking about this, but with all the talk of OU potentially being pre-season #1, I was curious how many teams have ever run the table from pre-season #1 to a national championship? And assuming your answer is "very few," do you think this 2011 OU team is special enough to do it? Thanks.

DU: Yeah, it's definitely rare, and there's a whole new set of challenges that arrive with that preseason bull's-eye. But there's an additional bonus to being preseason No. 1 that too often gets overlooked.

If you lose, which most teams do, the preseason No. 1 is usually first in line in the national championship race when there are no undefeated teams left. Only six times since the game was instituted in 1998 have two undefeated teams played for the title, and two of those occasions have been the past two years.

You've got to like those odds, no? They're made even better considering Boise State and TCU have to play each other this year during the regular season.

Was Alabama the best team with a loss in the middle of this season? Well, their three-loss finish tells me they weren't. But most everybody thought they were, thanks to that preseason No. 1 ranking, and perception is a very powerful tool in the polls.

Perhaps Oklahoma can take advantage next year, even if it doesn't go undefeated.

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