Big 12: Big 12 mailbag

In today's Big 12 mailbag, we discuss coaching hires, QB battles, why I hate everyone and what Big 12 apparel I have in my closet.

On to the 'bag:
Trotter: Never underestimate the power of Bill Snyder's magic wand. That said, I don't see how K-State doesn't take a step back this year without Jake Waters, Tyler Lockett, Curry Sexton, B.J. Finney, Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman.

Trotter: It's funny to me when a particular fan base thinks I only pick on their team. I pick on everyone, when the occasion calls for it. All 10 Big 12 fan bases have gotten mad at me at one time or another. Just check my Twitter mentions sometime.

Trotter: Right now, I have them third in the league behind TCU and Baylor. The Cowboys really don't have any weaknesses on paper, and they boast an up-and-coming quarterback in Mason Rudolph, who was fabulous in three starts last year. The schedule also lines up for the Cowboys, who get TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma in Stillwater.

Trotter: Very solid hire. Adkins has been around the block, with stints coaching offensive line at Tennessee and Georgia. Our SEC guru Chris Low really liked the hire. Doug Marrone obviously thought a lot of Adkins to bring him along from Syracuse to the Bills. Mike Gundy could have done a lot worse.

Trotter: To me, it's a two-man race between William Crest and Skyler Howard. Paul Millard is a nice veteran to have around. David Sills is a solid prospect, and we'll see what Chris Chugunov can do. But Crest's year in the system gives him an edge over the freshmen. And Howard's game experience gives him an edge over everyone.

Trotter: Considering court-storming is probably going to get banned this year, I'd go with the former.

Trotter: For one, what the Lincoln Riley offense will look like. For two, who will emerge in the QB derby. There's plenty of intrigue in Norman this spring.

Trotter: Given that Trevor Knight, Baker Mayfield and Cody Thomas all have a bunch of experience, Hansen is a long shot. Not that those three can't be beaten out. But it's going to be hard for Hansen to shine when he's going to be getting fourth-team reps.

Trotter: Pretty business-as-usual hire. Patterson oversees the defense to a large degree, anyway. By promoting in-house, he keeps that continuity, which is an obvious positive. Patterson might be more involved than when Dick Bumpas was around. But the defense is going to be similar to what we've seen in Fort Worth.

Trotter: I actually have one article of Big 12 apparel in my closet -- a pair of West Virginia sweatpants my wife's family (who are rabid Mountaineers fans) got me at the most recent family reunion (which, by the way, was in West Virginia). They're too comfortable for me to get rid of. So everyone is just going to have to deal with that.
In today's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we discuss the position unit with the most to prove, who holds the edge at quarterback in Manhattan, and whether the the league will finally rid itself of the ridiculous co-champions rule.

On to the 'bag:

@jake_trotter: Taking quarterback out of the equation, I think it might be the Baylor defensive backs. When ranking individual position groups, the Baylor secondary generated the most discussion. Yeah, they have four starters back. But true freshman Patrick Mahomes also lit them up for 600 yards passing. I like Orion Stewart, and you would think cornerbacks Ryan Reid and Xavien Howard would be better in their second seasons as starters. Then again, this was a unit that was really poor at times last season. It collectively has a lot to prove, in my opinion.

Trotter: Great question, and I don't know the answer. The Horned Frogs were completely decimated by graduation, losing All-American Paul Dawson, Marcus Mallet, and key reserve Jonathan Anderson. This is the one glaring issue the Horned Frogs going into 2015. They were actually in this situation two years ago, and Dawson and Mallet stepped up. They will need a couple of guys to emerge again from a pool of inexperienced returners -- Sammy Douglas, Paul Whitmill and Ty Summers -- and incoming freshmen Alec Dunham, Mike Freeze and Semaj Thomas.

Trotter: The edge goes to Joe Hubener. This will be his fourth year on campus. He has a huge advantage when it comes to maturity and knowledge running K-State's offense. Even though he's played sparingly, I've also heard good things about his arm strength and mobility. Then again, Alex Delton is a talented and intriguing prospect. Should Hubener struggle to move the chains (which is a distinct possibility given how many new faces K-State will have to rely on in the passing game), the Wildcats could turn to Delton for a spark.

Trotter: I'm concerned with some of the rhetoric defending the status quo, but ultimately I'm confident the Big 12 will tweak this rule during the spring meetings. The confusion hurt the Big 12 in the playoff rankings this past season. And I think they realize having co-champs will hurt them again unless they change it.

Trotter: This is a common misconception. This is not up to Bob Bowlsby. The schools are the ones that vote on rule changes. The conference just enforces them.

Trotter: I really liked what I saw from defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway last season. He might not be Malcom Brown, but the 300-pound Ridgeway could be one of the best tackles in the league, and the new anchor up front for the Texas defense.

Trotter: If not him, then who? Michael Cummings was effective after taking over for Montell Cozart, leading the Jayhawks to a win against Iowa State and a near upset of TCU. I know the scheme will be more wide open under new coordinator Rob Likens. And yes, the Jayhawks have a couple of intriguing incoming freshmen quarterbacks in Carter Stanley and Ryan Willis. But even if Cummings doesn't have the job locked up yet, he has to be considered the front-runner.

Trotter: That will hinge on how good the Sooners are, and how Samaje Perine is utilized in the Lincoln Riley air raid offense. Perine is not winning the Heisman on another 8-5 team. And he's not going to have the numbers getting less than 20 carries per game. But if Oklahoma emerges as a playoff contender, and Perine remains the focal point of the attack, then he could force himself into the mix. Remember, Perine rushed for more than 1,700 yards as a true freshman despite starting just over half the season.

Trotter: Baylor at TCU on Black Friday tops the list. That game could determine the Big 12 title and a playoff spot. Both teams will have to win at Stillwater in November first. Honorable mention honors go to the Red River Showdown, which, someday, will matter again..

In today's Big 12 mailbag, we discuss spring quarterback battles, playoff possibilities, and receivers to watch in 2015.

I hope everyone enjoys their Valentine's Day weekend. Guys, if you're wondering what to do, remember, it's always better to overshoot.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: The job is Seth Russell's to lose, but that doesn't mean he has it locked up. Russell has been solid for the most part backing up Bryce Petty the past two seasons, but he was a little shaky filling in for Petty against Texas Tech late last season. Chris Johnson is obviously in the mix and shouldn't be overlooked, but Jarrett Stidham has an impressive skill set that could allow him to ultimately win this job. It might not happen by the end of the spring. It might not happen at the start of next season. But, eventually, it could happen.

Trotter: I don't know how many of them will actually be decided before the end of the spring, but there will be several other intriguing quarterback battles to follow, including West Virginia (Skyler Howard vs. William Crest), Oklahoma (Trevor Knight vs. Baker Mayfield vs. Cody Thomas), Texas (Tyrone Swoopes vs. Jerrod Heard), K-State (Joe Hubener vs. Alex Delton) and Texas Tech (Pat Mahomes vs. Davis Webb). Who has the best chance to come out of spring as the definitive starter? My money is on Mahomes.

Trotter: I think Paul Millard's time has come and gone. Never say never, I guess, but the West Virginia quarterback battle is going to be about Howard and Crest. Millard is a nice No. 3 to have. But I don't see him winning the job.

Trotter: Tech has quarterback talent, and some receivers that have big-play potential. I also like Tech's offensive line, especially Le'Raven Clark manning left tackle. But that's where the comparisons to TCU stop. The Horned Frogs quietly had another superb defense again last season, with All-Big 12 talents littered across the defensive line (Chucky Hunter), linebacker (Paul Dawson), and the secondary (Chris Hackett, Sam Carter, Kevin White). I don't see the players right now in Lubbock. Sure Pete Robertson is a nice piece, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Breiden Fehoko and Mike Mitchell bring. But to go 11-1, you need a defense that can bring it, too. Tech has a long way to go there.

Trotter: As this season showed, it's very difficult for a conference to get two teams in the playoff. Possible, yes. But very difficult. I think the most likely scenario is that the Big 12 champion gets into the playoff as the league's lone rep. Right now, I'd give the edge to TCU over Baylor, because of the quarterback advantage and because Baylor has to go to Fort Worth this time around. If you're looking for a darkhorse, keep an eye on Oklahoma State, which ESPN Insider Brad Edwards actually has in the playoff in his early projection. The Cowboys get TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all in Stillwater, all in the final month of the season. If they get hot, they could be a factor.

Trotter: Yeah, I actually really liked both. Brick Haley had a proven track record of developing big-time defensive linemen. He's familiar with the recruiting area, too. I also liked the addition of Jeff Traylor as tight ends and special teams coach. My one concern with Charlie Strong's original staff was the lack of previous connection to Texas high school football. Traylor, who won three state championships at Gilmer High, has the relationships around the state to help bridge that gap.

Trotter: Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard returns, and would have been a 1,500-yard receiver had he not suffered a groin injury on Nov. 1 that basically knocked him out for the season. Shepard along with Baylor's Corey Coleman and KD Cannon are the top returning wideouts in the league. But some other guys flying a bit under the radar to watch for include Oklahoma State's Brandon Sheperd, Iowa State's Quenton Bundrage, and Texas Tech's Devin Lauderdale. Sheperd exploded after Mason Rudolph took over at quarterback last November; he torched Oklahoma for 156 receiving yards and two TDs in the Cowboys' upset win in Norman. Bundrage was third in the Big 12 in TD catches in 2013, then missed all of last year with a knee injury; if he's healthy, he could be a force again. Finally, Lauderdale came on really strong late last season after a slow start; he had at least 80 yards receiving in four of Tech's final five games. He, Bundrage and Sheperd could all have big 2015 seasons.

Trotter: I enjoy college baseball -- and baseball overall -- very much. It's even more enjoyable when the Big 12 has so many good teams, like it appears to again this season..

In today's Big 12 mailbag, we recap signing day around the league and preview some of the key storylines heading into spring ball.

On to the bag:

Trotter: Texas and Oklahoma certainly got better with their impressive defensive hauls. But TCU and Baylor remain the overwhelming conference favorites in 2015.

Trotter: When they get a quarterback. The Longhorns arguably had the best defense in the Big 12 last season, and all that got them was a 6-7 record. As I've written many times before on this blog, only elite quarterbacks win Big 12 titles. Think Bryce Petty, Trevone Boykin, Collin Klein, Brandon Weeden, Sam Bradford and, of course, Colt McCoy and Vince Young. The Longhorns can sign all the top-five recruiting classes they want, but until they get a difference-maker at quarterback, they will continue to be mediocre.

Trotter: It's a bit concerning, but I'd be more focused on Tech signing a consensus top 35 class despite coming off a 4-8 season. Defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko and safety Jamile Johnson Jr. are going to be studs. The Red Raiders obviously need to augment their depth, and that will obviously be the focus for the 2016 class, but at least Tech added a pair of potential future All-Big 12 defenders in this class.

Trotter: I'm giving Beaty a total pass in Year 1. The Jayhawks have the fewest returning starters in the Big 12 off a team that won one conference game last season. Ask me this question again next offseason.

Trotter: I wrote earlier today about the chances of Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham and K-State QB Alex Delton possibly starting as true freshmen, which I see as a possibility. Fehoko and Johnson should play immediate roles on Tech's defense. P.J. Mbanasor has an opportunity to start at corner for Oklahoma. Texas outside linebacker Malik Jefferson will be too talented to keep off the field, and West Virginia wideout Jovon Durante will have a chance to fill some of the production vacated by Kevin White and Mario Alford.

Trotter: I had Oklahoma State No. 3 in my too-early power rankings, and the signing of Chris Carson only solidified it going into the spring. Running back was the one question mark I had with the Cowboys going into the offseason, so getting a highly touted junior-college runner who appears ready to shoulder the load from Day 1 was the most critical addition to this class.

Trotter: Because I almost never go to the movies during football season, I still have some catching up to do. But I rented "The Equalizer" the other day and enjoyed it. "American Sniper" was a heck of a film. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" were terrific. I still want to see "The Imitation Game" and "Foxcatcher."

Trotter: I don't know how long Snyder is going to keep coaching. I don't know that Snyder even knows. All we can do is enjoy the ride while it lasts. I thought this was an interesting K-State class. No jucos, which is almost unprecedented. Getting linebacker Elijah Sullivan from Auburn was a coup. DT Bryce English was a key signing, too. And I'm intrigued by the potential of a Delton/Alex Barnes backfield down the road. Overall, a good solid class.

Trotter: I'm on record saying that I believe William Crest Jr. will win the West Virginia quarterback derby. There was a reason why Crest beat out Skyler Howard for the No. 2 job coming out of fall camp. Howard made plays with his wheels after taking over for Clint Trickett, but his accuracy was too inconsistent. Crest, who many compare to Geno Smith, has the potential to be the total package.

Trotter: OK, this one was pretty good.
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss the Oklahoma stadium renovation, the gap between TCU, Baylor and the rest of the conference and what could happen around the league in the days leading up to signing day.

On to the 'bag:
Trotter: James, of course, is referring to the report Wednesday that Oklahoma had delayed its stadium renovation plans, which president David Boren later vehemently denied. I have spoken to a couple of people about this and here's what I can say: The school has in fact endured fundraising issues, due in small part to the mediocre football season and due in large part to falling oil prices. (Oklahoma's economy, and thus donor base, is significantly tied to energy.) I have also heard rumblings that the school might ultimately scale back some of the original proposal, which at $370 million was ambitious to begin with. But as far as I know, the school has no plans to delay construction. In fact, I don't believe Boren has the authority to call off or delay construction without approval of the regents first. The regents did not discuss the stadium proposal in their meeting Wednesday, but you can bet they will be discussing it informally in the coming weeks before formally hashing out the next step at its scheduled March meeting in Tulsa.

Trotter: My money is on William Crest. I know Skylar Howard had some moments filling in for Clint Trickett last season. But there was a reason why Crest as a true freshman beat out Howard as the No. 2 quarterback coming out of August before suffering a shoulder injury. Howard's mobility added another dimension to the West Virginia offense. But he really struggled with his accuracy at times. Based on what I've heard about Crest and his potential, I think he's West Virginia's long-term answer behind center.

Trotter: I think so. Of course, we thought there would be a huge gap between Baylor/Oklahoma and rest of the conference this season. Then the Sooners finished 8-5. A lot can happen. Baylor could encounter issues replacing Bryce Petty at quarterback. TCU could struggle with new faces defensively. There could also be a surprise team come out of nowhere, just like TCU this past season. But with what the two teams have coming back, there's a lot more to like about TCU and Baylor right now than anyone else in the conference.

Trotter: Jordan Stevenson seems most likely, followed by Chris Carson, then Chris Warren III. But my educated guess is that none of three you mentioned will end up in Stillwater. That doesn't mean Oklahoma State won't land a high-profile running back. I just get the sense the Pokes are targeting a late flip from somewhere else, maybe. As for Devin Davis, I don't know that he's ever going to get over that devastating knee injury. That would be too bad, too, because people were talking about him as a potential first-round talent as a left tackle.

Trotter: Texas is putting together the most impressive recruiting class, though the Longhorns are taking quite a gamble. If they don't flip Kyler Murray from Texas A&M, they could whiff on signing a quarterback, which was the probably the biggest need in this class. Just about every class is going to have some impact in 2015, although Texas has some major pieces graduating. Considering the caliber of players the Longhorns are bringing in - and could bring in - the answer could be them also.

Trotter: I have no idea who Mack's front-runner is anymore. He canceled an unofficial visit to TCU this weekend, which isn't a great sign for the Horned Frogs. Of course, it doesn't rule them out, either. But there seems to be some Texas momentum with Mack. Murray, again, is huge for the Longhorns. It's the difference between them possibly having their quarterback of the future and the status quo, which wasn't great for them last year.

Trotter: Tech is hoping to land ESPN 300 defensive tackle Darrion Daniels and/or ESPN 300 RB Chris Warren III. I don't feel great about their chances for either, though we'll see what happens. Daniels is expected to announce between Texas Tech, Iowa, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Friday night. Warren seems like he's leaning toward either Washington or Texas. The Red Raiders are also still in on ESPN 300 defensive tackle Joseph Wicker, who is down to Arizona State, UCLA and Texas Tech, as well as three-star New Orleans linebacker Arthur McGinnis. If they can land one of Daniels, Wicker or McGinnis - and they can prevent any more decommitments - it will be a solid finish to a very solid class.

Trotter: I like K-State running back commit Alex Barnes, who is just a three-star prospect. Bill Snyder doesn't like to play freshmen, either, but Barnes has the size to help a backfield in need of help right away. Another underrated guy I think could be a factor next season is Oklahoma three-star cornerback Antoine Stephens. The Sooners desperately need CB reinforcements. And even though Stephens went under the radar with his recruitment, he has the size and range that Mike Stoops covets in his cornerbacks.

Trotter: I've never seen "Friday Night Lights" and I love Baylor fans. I'm just not sure they love me back.
In today's Big 12 mailbag, we discuss the Top 25 player ranking, the looming QB derbies in Waco and Manhattan, the Texas recruiting wars, Oklahoma State running backs and, curiously, Kurt Russell.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: We're big fans of Washington here on the blog. We made him a second-team All-Big 12 selection. But the top 25 player ranking was a tough list to crack. A number of other terrific players like Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard and Baylor's Antwan Goodley didn't make the list, either. Washington has a chance, though, to open next year on the preseason top 25 list as one of the league's top returning running backs.

Trotter: Rennie Childs is the obvious bet at this point, since he's the only healthy scholarship running back currently on campus. But I think the Cowboys land a marquee back before signing day. Oklahoma State has a powerful pitch to make, and that's immediate playing time. Keep an eye on Chris Carson, who is an ESPN Junior College 50 prospect. Carson has been committed to Georgia since August, but he's reportedly taking a visit to Stillwater this weekend. Because they can offer playing time -- and Georgia can't having Nick Chubb -- I think the Cowboys have a decent chance to flip Carson.

Trotter: I believe that Briles believes or was told that. But after Heather Dinich spoke with College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, it doesn't seem very likely that Briles got good info, considering the playoff votes are taken via secret ballot over computer.

Trotter: The Red River Showdown hasn't been the league's most important game in seven years. I don't see why next season would be any different.

Trotter: "Miracle." But "Death Proof," "Escape from L.A.," "Tombstone," "Poseidon" and even "Overboard" have high rewatchability.

Trotter: Yes, but only if he's not the best quarterback. If he is, Baylor should start him. That would give him four seasons.

Trotter: I think so. Incoming freshman Alex Delton is an intriguing prospect, but Bill Snyder isn't prone to playing true freshmen anywhere, much less at quarterback. Joe Hubener has three years in the system, which gives him a huge advantage over the others. He has good size, good speed and a good arm, from what I hear. If he takes care of the ball he will be tough to unseat.

Trotter: No latest. If you read my Q&A with commissioner Bob Bowlsby from earlier this week, you'll know that there are no immediate plans for either. The only change I see the Big 12 making is eliminating the "co-champions" rule. Otherwise, expect status quo.

Trotter: I already did a too-early Big 12 power poll for 2015, and I had Oklahoma State third. The Cowboys clearly have something that OU, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia don't at the moment, and that's a quarterback (Mason Rudolph).

Trotter: Pretty good. Last I checked, Trevone Boykin is still on the roster.

Trotter: He will if he flips the gem of Texas A&M's recruiting class, Kyler Murray who is the nation's No. 13 overall player and top dual-threat quarterback, to Texas. That would send a strong message to College Station.

In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we talk recruiting, instant impact freshmen and whether TCU will be able to handle the offseason hype.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: Considering TCU and Baylor are loaded, and Texas and OU have quarterback problems, it probably won't be next year. But Charlie Strong and his staff have been killing it on the recruiting trail, while OU shook up its offense for the good by bringing in new coordinator Lincoln Riley. Would I be stunned if Texas and OU were the top two teams in the Big 12 again by 2016? No. But they also have plenty of work to do before getting there. Trotter: That's a great question, but I think they will. Gary Patterson does a great job of keeping his team grounded. The fact they came out playing with a chip on their shoulder in the bowl game is a great sign, too. TCU has never really been in this position before. But the leadership on this team starting with Trevone Boykin seems to be something that will help them wearing the target on their chests next year. Trotter: Some non-All Big 12 players this past year who could have big 2015 seasons: TCU DT Davion Pierson, Oklahoma State S Jordan Sterns, Oklahoma DT Charles Walker, Texas Tech CB Nigel Bethel II, West Virginia CB Daryl Worley, Kansas State LB Elijah Lee and Texas S Jason Hall. Trotter: Snyder said just last week that at his age he can only take it one season at a time. All signs point to him coaching again in 2015. Beyond that, it will come down to his health. But even at 75, Snyder seems to still be going strong. Trotter: The easy answer is Kansas State. The Wildcats graduated their QB, their two best receivers, their best offensive lineman, their best defensive lineman and their best linebacker. Because of Snyder, K-State might not take that big of a step back. But it's going to be tough. Trotter: Not bad. The Big 12 definitely needs a new One True Slogan. I've recommended, "We Play Everybody," since that's what the league originally intended to say with "One True Champion." Trotter: I read up on Spangler's high school football career, and apparently he could fling the ball around a bit. At 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, he could run a little "Belldozer" package, right? Trotter: Pancakes. Call me weird, but I especially like pancakes made from cornmeal. Trotter: It's the only hole on the offense going into next year. But it's a massive hole. Rennie Childs is a solid back, but I don't know that he's an every-down starter on a championship-caliber offense. Sione Palelei has major knee injury concerns, so who knows about him. In my opinion, Oklahoma State really needs to land a premier back in this class. They're working on it. ESPN 300 back Chris Warren III is on an official visit to Stillwater this weekend. In addition, the Cowboys are attempting to flip a commitment from the likes of Nick Brossette (LSU), Jordan Stevenson (Wisconsin) and Chris Carson (Georgia). Trotter: Iowa State fans are beginning to forget that Rhoads led the Cyclones to bowl appearances in three of his first four years. That said, the frustration is understandable. The Cyclones have been trending in the wrong direction these last two years, and the recruiting this year has been a reflection of that. 2015 is a big year for Rhoads and Co. He needs to get Iowa State back on track next season. Trotter: Baylor's Jarrett Stidham, Texas' Zach Gentry and Kansas State's Alex Delton will all be walking into quarterback situations lacking defintion. None will be a favorite to win the job going in, but the chance is at least there. ESPN 300 DT Breiden Fehoko has the opportunity to start at Texas Tech Day 1. Malik Jefferson has the talent to immediately work into Texas' rotation at linebacker. West Virginia's Miramar, Florida, haul of WR Jovon Durante, CB Tyrek Cole and S Kendrell McFadden could warrant early playing time, as well.
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss the defensive hires at Texas Tech and West Virginia, who next year's Big 12 darkhorse might be and the latest on the Oklahoma offense coordinator search.

On to the 'bag.

Trotter: I think we'll know a lot more within a week. TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie has interviewed for the job, but Bob Stoops is also looking at several other candidates, including East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley and Texas A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. Trotter: It would be if he became the primary play-caller, which he currently is not at TCU. But I'm told that OU is only looking at Cumbie for the quarterbacks coach/primary play-calling job. And I've also been told that Cumbie wouldn't leave TCU for anything less. Trotter: Maybe a pie-in-the-sky chance. Logically, if you were Frost, why would you leave Oregon for Oklahoma? Feels lateral at best. Plus, Frost wouldn't have the political capital at OU that he's built up at Oregon. The next step for Frost should be a head job. So if the money is even close to being equal, I don't see him bolting Oregon for OU. Trotter: Yes. That doesn't mean Tech will be a juggernaut defensively right away. But I think they'll be more sound, more confident and definitely more opportunistic, which has been Gibbs' calling card as a coordinator. Under Gibbs, Houston forced 73 turnovers during the last two seasons. Tech forced only 34 over the same span. Playing more opportunistic alone will immediately make Tech a better defense. Trotter: TCU definitely is a contender. Baylor, as well, assuming the Bears can find a QB replacement for Bryce Petty. And if you're looking for a darkhorse, Oklahoma State, which has a budding QB in Mason Rudolph and a favorable schedule. Trotter: There is a way. I don't know there's a will. Trotter: If we're putting Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech in the bottom tier, the answer then obviously is Tech. The Red Raiders are a year removed from a 7-0 start and a top 10 ranking in the polls. Tech also has the requisite firepower offensively. That said, the Red Raiders would have to pass a bunch of teams to get to sniff top of the Big 12. A bowl game next year is doable. Challenging for a Big 12 title is a pipe dream. Trotter: 10-3 seems too high for a team that will be replacing Kevin White and Mario Alford and also has quarterback questions. But with eight returning starters, the Mountaineers have a chance to be pretty good defensively. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl showed they still have a ways to go before becoming better than pretty good. But I love the potential of a Karl Joseph/Dravon Henry/Daryl Worley secondary. If the D-line improves, West Virginia could boast its best defense in quite a while. Trotter: Catalon is a good player, but it's impossible to pencil him into the lineup until he recovers from the concussion issues. Green is a good player, too, and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors from us. I think Green starts regardless, but Catalon's all-around versatility in the return game and catching passes out of the backfield obviously makes TCU even more lethal. Trotter: Welp, it's definitely the offseason again.
In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss the two Big 12 bowl games tonight, TCU's formidable bowl showing earlier in the week, Baylor's epic bowl collapse Thursday, and possible coaching changes at Oklahoma.

One more night to go in the 2014-15 Big 12 football season. Everyone enjoy it.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: Outside TCU, the Big 12 is 0-4 in bowl games, so I don't know what point the rest of the league is proving. But with their 42-3 dismantling of Ole Miss, they Horned Frogs certainly showed they are one of the four best teams in the country.

Trotter: Given what they'll have coming back, my guess is that Ohio State will be the preseason No. 1 next season, but TCU could be right behind them at No. 2. The Horned Frogs have as much coming back as anyone else in the country, and the bowl performance against Ole Miss will be fresh in the minds of voters when they cast their ballots. At the very least, the Horned Frogs are a lock to be in everyone's top five.

Trotter: A five. This is a total toss-up game to me. K-State should be motivated to get that 10th win and to send its strong collection of seniors out with a victory. But UCLA is a quality team with a quality QB in Brett Hundley. I picked K-State to win, but I could see this game going down to the wire.

Trotter: This is a great question, and I'm not sure I'm ready yet to give you an answer. A bunch can happen between now and August, but the team to keep an eye on is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have something that Oklahoma and Texas don't, and that's a clear and promising QB of the future in Mason Rudolph. And while K-State and West Virginia graduate a bunch of firepower, the Cowboys basically return their entire receiving corps as well as eight starters defensively. The schedule also lines up for Oklahoma State next season, with TCU, Baylor, OU and K-State all having to go to Stillwater. Tonight's bowl game against Washington should give us more of an idea of how good the Cowboys could be in 2015. But the potential is there.

Trotter: I've been told my multiple insiders that Oklahoma is in the process of making coaching changes. Who and when is still being hashed out but at this point, I would be stunned if there weren't at least of couple of new coaches on Bob Stoops' staff next year.

Trotter: My money is on William Crest. Skyler Howard had some good moments filling in for Clint Trickett, but he really struggled with his accuracy in the bowl game. Though Howard can make things happen with his feet, passing accuracy is paramount in a Dana Holgorsen offense. Before the shoulder injury forced him to redshirt, Crest emerged out of preseason drills as the No. 2 QB ahead of Howard for a reason. From what I've been told, Crest has all the tools to be the next big-time QB at West Virginia.

Trotter: Brisket, but chopped, not sliced. Unless of course I'm in the Carolinas, in which case the correct answer changes to pulled pork.

Trotter: I like his speed. Not sure yet about his hands.

Trotter: I would still peg Seth Russell as the favorite, but I don't think it's a lock he wins the job, either. Russell was a little shaky replacing Bryce Petty in that Texas Tech game, which is one reason why the Red Raiders almost came back and won. Russell will still have the edge because of his experience in the system but watch out for incoming freshman Jarrett Stidham, who will be joining the Bears at mid-semester. Stidham is one of the most talented QB prospects in the country.

Trotter: Watching Gray, he wasn't the same running back he was last year before the Achilles injury. He wasn't a bad player this year. But he wasn't the overpowering, explosive force he was in 2013. With Malcolm Brown graduating, Gray could get more work next season. But at this point I would be surprised if he ever got all the way back to the level he was at before the injury.

Trotter: It would have been four years ago. But the Big 12 sat on its hands, and Pittsburgh wound up in the ACC. That ship sailed a long time ago.
In today's holiday edition of the Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we talk recruiting, potential expansion (again), who could be 2015's version of TCU, and the end of a Twitter era, as @FauxHolgorsen.

Here's to everyone having a Merry Christmas.

Now, on to the 'bag;

@Jake_Trotter: It's probably a wash. Considering the Bears still have coach Art Briles and a veteran quarterback in Bryce Petty, I don't think not having Phillip Montgomery will have a major effect on the offense. Briles has established a culture of scoring that goes beyond any one assistant or player. Likewise, Michigan State has implemented a culture of defense under Mark Dantonio. Pat Narduzzi has been a fabulous coordinator. But just because he won't be in Arlington doesn't mean the Spartans will forget how to play defense. I still expect this to be an epic clash of irresistible offense vs. immovable defense.

Trotter: From a list of West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas and Iowa State, I would have to go with the Cowboys. Oklahoma State appears to have uncovered its long-term answer at quarterback in Mason Rudolph, who was terrific in his two starts to cap the regular season. Oklahoma State will also return its entire receiving corps, as well as eight starters defensively. With TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State all headed to Stillwater next season, the schedule lines up for the Cowboys to make a bounce-back run at the conference crown.

Trotter: Clever.

Trotter: For the first time this football season, I went to the movies over the weekend and saw "Interstellar." So if by "horizon" you mean the wormhole next to the rings of Saturn, then yes, expansion is on the horizon.

Trotter: Highly unlikely, considering any expansion is highly unlikely. That said, commissioner Bob Bowlsby has indicated in recent days that if the Big 12 ever expanded, it would look east instead of west. That would seemingly put UCF in play, as one of the top available schools to the east. I'm not sure how a Big 12 school in Florida would work. Then again, the Big 12 really has no convenient options left when it comes to expansion.

Trotter: It's possible Chad President ends up in Lubbock. After losing Jarrett Stidham to Baylor, Texas Tech needs a quarterback for this class, and President needs a new team after de-committing from Baylor. But Tech won't be the only Big 12 school that goes after him. Highly ranked quarterbacks (even quarterbacks that could end up as college receivers) usually aren't available this late in the recruiting game. So President will be in demand. As for the Tech defensive coordinator search, Houston's David Gibbs is at the top of the list. Even though Houston finished just fifth in the American, the Cougars have improved defensively under Gibbs, ranking 11th in scoring defense this season. A former defensive coordinator at Minnesota and Auburn, Gibbs is the kind of veteran coordinator Kliff Kingsbury needs to add to his staff.

Trotter: After de-committing from Texas A&M, Daylon Mack tweeted that TCU and LSU were his top two schools. He is apparently scheduled to take an official visit Texas on Jan. 23, which could change things. But I would think TCU's odds of landing Mack at this point are at least 33 percent.

Trotter: Huge bummer. This, by the way, was his farewell letter. In memoriam, below was a great moment in @FauxHolgorsen history...

Trotter: This one is easy ...

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My apologies for being disconnected this week. I've been dealing with an illness. But I'm finally feeling better, and ready for the bowl season.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: TCU should be the easy favorite. The Horned Frogs will bring back Trevone Boykin at QB. Almost the entire skill corps and offensive line returns, too. The Frogs will have to replace some key players defensively. But they'll be able to retool around All-Big 12 safety Chris Hackett.

Trotter: It looks pretty good to me. The line will need to be shored up. But the offense will still have Shock Linwood, Corey Coleman, K.D. Cannon and Johnny Jefferson -- that's some major firepower. Seth Russell, obviously, is the key. But he will have the weapons around him to thrive.

Trotter: I don't think it's very likely. There's no Group of Five program out there that entices the Big 12 leadership at the moment. But before considering expansion, the Big 12 first needs to get rid of its idiotic co-champion rule. That would allow the league to advocate one champion to the playoff committee instead of co-champs, which clearly hurt the Big 12 in the final rankings.

Trotter: Adding a conference championship game through an exemption seems more likely than expansion. The odds seem to be against it happening, at least for 2015. But there's some merit to the Big 12 considering it. A 13th game for the Big 12 champ could make a difference. It certainly did for Ohio State out of the Big Ten this year.

Trotter: One thing people need to keep in mind: Yes, Bob Bowlsby misspoke in the summer when he suggested the tiebreaker would be used for the playoff. But remember, Bowlsby is just the messenger. The league's coaches and athletic directors make the rules. And they were the ones who voted to recognize "co-champions."

Trotter: SMU would be pretty far down the pecking order. The Mustangs wouldn't expand the Big 12 footprint, and they wouldn't bring any new TV eyeballs. Plus, they're not a very good program right now, though Chad Morris could change that.

Trotter: I suspect Tech will go out and hire a veteran defensive coordinator. Kliff Kingsbury really needs to add some experience to his staff. Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom is a name that makes sense, especially after the Tigers fielded the No. 5 scoring defense in the country this year. But Odom reportedly has generated a lot of interest from other programs, too.

Trotter: We had Malcom Brown as our Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also on the ESPN.com All-American team. I can't speak to what others were thinking. But he was the most dominant defensive player I saw in the league this year.

Today's mailbag is a playoff bonanza. We also discuss One True Champion, Texas Tech quarterbacks and the Kansas coaching search.

This final weekend of the regular season, I'll be in Fort Worth with the playoff-hopeful Horned Frogs through Sunday. Max will be in Waco for the ESPN "College GameDay" showdown between K-State and Baylor. Brandon will be in Norman for the 109th edition of Bedlam.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: Leave Arizona out of it. If just Florida State and Ohio State lose, I'd feel pretty confident about the Big 12 getting in two teams. The playoff field would then be Alabama, Oregon, TCU and Baylor. In fact, if only Florida State lost, I think the Big 12 would have a good chance to get in two. TCU and Baylor fans don't seem to agree on much of anything lately. But they should agree to both pull for the Yellow Jackets.

Trotter: The chance is slim, but also not impossible. The scenario that could put K-State in the playoff would include Georgia Tech beating Florida State, Wisconsin beating Ohio State and K-State obviously beating Baylor. There's a chance that the Yellow Jackets or Badgers could jump K-State in that scenario. But I think it would be more likely that the Wildcats would land at the fourth spot. Add one more Big 12 fan base that should be rooting for Georgia Tech this weekend.

Trotter: You guys ask great questions, and I don't really understand it, either. Baylor has the better wins (TCU and Oklahoma vs. Michigan State and Minnesota), the better loss (West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech) and plays in the tougher conference. Oh, and by the way, the committee has been charged with selecting the four "best" teams. How is Ohio State with a third-string quarterback better than Baylor with Bryce Petty? To me, Baylor over Ohio State is a no-brainer.

Trotter: Florida State is the team I'd want to play. The Seminoles have been surviving against mediocre competition. On a neutral site, TCU or Baylor would give Florida State all kinds of problems. If I had to choose between Alabama and Oregon for the Big 12 duo, I would go with Alabama. The Crimson Tide aren't great defensively, and I'm not sure Alabama would want to lock horns in an up-and-down shootout with the Bears or Horned Frogs.

Trotter: I doubt it. The nonconference slate is really what is weighing Baylor down with the committee, and distinguishing TCU from the Bears. I wrote during the summer I felt Baylor scheduling cupcakes only out of conference was a mistake. It could wind up costing them a spot in the playoff.

Trotter: Trevone Boykin and Samaje Perine would be the Big 12's top candidates going into next year. Seth Russell, Shock Linwood, Rushel Shell and Johnathan Gray would be my conference dark horses.

Trotter: It wouldn't be the end of the world for Jarrett Stidham. He could redshirt next year, then take over for Patrick Mahomes as a junior and have two years to play. And that would be a worst-case scenario for Stidham. Remember, Tech used to make hay on developing quarterbacks, then unleashing them as upperclassmen. B.J. Symons, Sonny Cumbie and Cody Hodges all thrived by waiting for their turn. That's way better than the tactic Tech has been forced to use the last two seasons, playing four different true freshman quarterbacks in meaningful moments. Either way, this will resolve itself. If Stidham is the best, he'll play. If not, he'll have to wait.

Trotter: With the round-robin format, I like, "We Play Everybody." That's what they originally were trying to convey with One True Champion. "We Play Everybody" gets the actual point across.

Trotter: Well, in the 24 hours since you asked this, Texas A&M receivers coach David Beaty was named head coach. Beaty was a former Mark Mangino assistant. Kansas clearly wanted to get someone who was around during the Mangino glory days, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Plus, Beaty has a strong reputation for recruiting the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Jayhawks have to get players from somewhere. Beaty should help them become a factor again in one of the hotbed recruiting areas in the country.

Trotter: I think this is a great to end this mailbag. Big 12 unity! 
In today's Black Friday edition of the Twitter mailbag, we discuss Texas talent, the Big 12's playoff hopes and the best way to cook a turkey.

I will be in Arlington, Texas, this weekend to check out Baylor vs. Texas Tech, which is always entertaining.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

Now, on to the 'bag:
Trotter: That was a poor performance last night. But Tyrone Swoopes is still the odds-on favorite. He's had a bunch of good moments this year, even if none of them came against TCU.

Trotter: Malcom Brown could start for anyone in the country. Jordan Hicks, Cedric Reed and John Harris could start for anyone in the league. Maybe Quandre Diggs, though last night wasn't pretty. After that...

Trotter: I'm not going to answer this. You all know who you are.

Trotter: It's possible. Ross has a role as a returner, and fits as a nice change-of-pace back to Perine. We don't know what Mixon can do yet. Ford would seem like the most likely to fall out of the rotation, especially with his past fumbling issues. Whatever happens, Perine is going to be the primary running back in that backfield for the foreseeable future. At least, he should be.

Trotter: Sure, there's a real chance. If the season ended today, that's exactly what would happen. But if I'm a fan of either TCU or Baylor, I'm more worried about No. 6 Ohio State than No. 4 Mississippi State. The committee seems to be overlooking Ohio State's early loss to Virginia Tech for whatever reason, and the Buckeyes have a chance for a marquee win at the end in the Big Ten championship game. It feels to me like the Big 12 is one more upset away from getting a team in the playoff.

Trotter: It would take us a step in that direction. A Big 12 official told me over the summer that it would take getting left out three years in a row for the league to rethink expansion. But it's going to really sting if two 11-1 teams are left out. I would think that would at least force the league to have a discussion about whether its current format is really the best path to the playoff.

Trotter: Bill Snyder is arguably the greatest coach in college football history. He certainly should be in that conversation. But Gary Patterson should be this season's Big 12 coach of the year for what he's accomplished in Fort Worth.

Trotter: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys should be pretty salty defensively next year. And the emergence of true freshman QB Mason Rudolph offers hope that the offense could get back to business in 2015.

Trotter: Smoked turkey in a landslide. I wish you all could have tried the 13-pounder my pops smoked yesterday. Off the charts.

Trotter: I thought I blocked this guy already. 
In today's Twitter mailbag, we examine TCU and Baylor's playoff possibilities, the future of Texas and the chances of Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy going to Florida.

Max will be in Waco this weekend covering Oklahoma State-Baylor. I will be in Norman to see if Kansas can give another ranked team a scare.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Trotter: I don't think so. Nobody in the top eight plays a noteworthy opponent.

Trotter: The one thing to keep in mind is the playoff committee has said that it's viewing teams individually and not through the prism of what conference they play in. In other words, the committee is examining Ohio State when it does these rankings. Not the Big Ten. So in the eyes of the committee this is about TCU and Baylor vs. Ohio State. Not the Big 12 vs. the Big Ten. What can TCU and Baylor do? Annihilate their upcoming opponents and hope for the best.

Trotter: Russell Athletic Bowl against Notre Dame?

Trotter: I put it at less than 10 percent. But the only place Stoops would ever leave for would be Florida. And if he was ever going to do it, it would be now. He loves the weather there, he always talks fondly of his time as a defensive coordinator at Florida and he has a great relationship with Florida AD Jeremy Foley. That said, my money is on him staying at Oklahoma. He has the full support of the president and athletic director. He has 100 percent job security. He has his brother Mike coaching with him. He just built a multimillion dollar home. His kids are coming up on high school age. And I'm not sure he wants to coach all that much longer. Going to Florida would prolong that. I'm not sure that's something he wants at this point.

Trotter: Without a doubt. Texas has played excellent football the last three weeks. The defense has been dominant. The offensive line continues to get better. This will be a very tough test for TCU, whether the playoff selection committee realizes it or not.

Trotter: This is an interesting thought. It won't be next year. TCU, with QB Trevone Boykin back, will probably be next year's preseason favorite. But by 2016? Yeah, Texas would have a chance to be the preseason favorite, if it continues on the current trajectory we've seen from Charlie Strong's bunch this season.

Trotter: I've been told that the only way the league would look at expansion is if it got left out of the playoff year after year. That could happen this year. If it happened a couple more times, the league would be forced to rethink its current format.

Trotter: I sense you're being sarcastic. But if Mike Gundy did bolt after this season, Oklahoma State would be in a position to court several viable candidates. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris would make a bunch of sense. Memphis coach Justin Fuente is an up-and-comer with ties to the state. Gundy's coaching tree includes Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken (who is very popular in Stillwater), North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora and TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham. The Cowboys would also have an in-house candidate in Glenn Spencer, who has flourished as Oklahoma State's defensive coordinator. The Cowboys would have intriguing options.

In today's Twitter mailbag, we discuss all the TCU-Baylor scenarios, the bowl possibilities for Kansas State and Oklahoma, and @FauxHolgorsen.

This weekend, I'll be in Lawrence to check out the Jayhawks, who are riding a one-game winning streak. Some other team is supposed to be there, too, I hear. Brandon will be in Stillwater as Texas and Oklahoma State gun for that coveted sixth win. And Max will be home trying to perfect his homemade chili, which sources tell me may or may not include kidney beans.

Now, on with the 'bag:

Trotter: I think this is very possible. The committee said this week that head-to-head is a tiebreaker that only comes into play when all else is equal. The committee doesn't see TCU and Baylor as equal at the moment. Nor should they. TCU's overall body of work is more impressive at the moment. But if Minnesota tumbles down the stretch and Baylor waxes a top-15 Kansas State in the regular-season finale, would the committee see TCU and Baylor as equal? I think they very well could. And that's when Baylor's head-to-head advantage could catapult the Bears past TCU in the playoff rankings.

Trotter: Pretty important. The win over a 7-2 Minnesota is a major part of what is distinguishing the Horned Frogs from Baylor right now. That win is either going to even better at the end of the season. Or a lot worse. The Gophers face No. 8 Ohio State, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 20 Wisconsin to close out the year. If the Gophers can just win one of those three games, it will go a long way in boosting TCU's resume. But if the Gophers get destroyed in all three, the committee is liable to view TCU's Minnesota victory much differently than it does now.

Trotter: TCU and Baylor both getting into the playoff is not an unthinkable scenario. Let's say Mississippi State and Miami won this weekend. That would probably leave next week's top five as Mississippi State, Oregon, TCU, Arizona State and Baylor. The Ducks and Sun Devils would have to face each other, opening up the fourth spot for Baylor. Unless Ohio State or a two-loss SEC West team somehow jumped Baylor, the Bears and Horned Frogs would both be in. Sign me up for that. And for the rematch.

Trotter: I tweeted about this earlier in the week. It's an absurdity committee chairman Jeff Long kept stating Tuesday night this week that Baylor owns only one top 2Top 255 win, when if the Bears had taken it easy on OU, they would have two. The Sooners fell from No. 15 out of the Top 25 because they got steamrolled. The Bears should not be penalized for how dominant they were. They should be rewarded for it.

Trotter: From what I've been told, he's in a lot of pain. He can't even brush his teeth without hurting. But there's nothing structurally wrong. When the swelling goes down, he should be fine. That could happen before next weekend.

Trotter: If the Wildcats won out, they could snag a spot in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl over Baylor. If K-State won in Morgantown but lost in Waco, it most likely would end up in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Trotter: Cale Gundy has been the running backs coach at Oklahoma since 1999. That's what he is. He's done a good job bringing quality runners to Norman. But if he had coordinator aspirations, he would have pursued them a long time ago. And if Bob Stoops wanted to promote Gundy to coordinator, he could have all the times he's had a vacancy there.

Trotter: Oklahoma is probably looking at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The Sooners could face someone like Duke or Notre Dame there.

Trotter: It doesn't have to be. Oklahoma is banged up, both physically and mentally. Cody Thomas will be making his first career start at quarterback. And who knows what mental state the Sooners will be in with all their preseason goals already dashed? If the Red Raiders can avoid turnovers -- I know, a big if -- they'll have a chance to hang around.

Trotter: They're both great. I have laughed out loud many times at both of them. Especially at this tweet from @FauxHolgorsen. But @FauxPelini gets the edge because he got the real Bo to bring his cat out of the tunnel before Nebraska's spring game. Ball's in your court, @FauxHolgorsen... 

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