Big 12: Brady Quinn
Robin in Williams, Ariz., asked: I will join the multitudes & ask what is your opinion of Kansas hiring Charlie Weis? I think it's a poor hire myself. As a Cornhusker fan I was rooting for Turner Gill to get at least 1 more year, but after watching the Weis experiment at Notre Dame ... a school with far more resources ... this will be a very big disaster I think.
David Ubben: Here's what I wrote about the hire Thursday night. That was talking mostly big picture, though. On the field, it certainly looks questionable. Kansas got progressively worse on offense as the season progressed, which is obviously discouraging, but it's pretty clear that the biggest problem for the Jayhawks was on defense. Their defensive rankings were eye-popping in exactly the opposite way that Alabama and LSU make your eyes pop. That's what made this hire such a head-scratcher.
That, and the randomness of it all. If I made a list of 100 coaches I thought Kansas might hire if it fired Gill, Weis wouldn't be on it. I don't think that's good or bad, it's just out of left field. Weis' offenses at Notre Dame were spotty and heavily reliant on Brady Quinn. We'll see if Weis can prove himself in the Big 12.
As I wrote, though, offense sells tickets. Big names sell even more and turn eyes onto the program. Kansas has been entirely irrelevant since 2009, and that stage is over.
When was the last time Kansas led my mailbag? Or was even in my mailbag? I got flooded with questions about Weis last year.
Maybe, in matters that matter, this wasn't the best idea. Weis has had health issues and that raises all kinds of issues about recruiting, which is a young man's game, full of travel these days. When players do come to campus, though, Weis can probably sell them on his ability to get them in the NFL.
In my mind, his staff decisions will ultimately determine how this tenure plays out. Unlike some, I don't see this as a dead-end idea doomed to failure.
Will Klose in Decatur, Texas, asked: Ubbs: Do you think Kansas is having a more difficult time hiring a coach since they've almost been left out of conference realignment twice and that there's no guarantee that they won't be in the coming years? What about A&M? Seems like a death sentence to me for a coach to take the Ags to play in a new conference (particularly the SEC West) while trying to implement a new system. Too much change.
DU: I think that factored in for sure. You never quite know, especially after the Big 12 looked like it stabilized only to lose two more members. Any coach that doesn't at least consider that before taking the job is crazy. It will matter to some. It won't matter to others. Weis isn't exactly on the up-and-up in his coaching career. He's trying to find a spot he can be happy and can succeed.
A&M looks like it's due for a difficult year next year. Alabama and LSU will be loaded. Arkansas will be solid again. Auburn will be improving. Mississippi State will probably be a bit better.
Texas A&M will be relying on a whole lot of youth and a brand-new staff. Maybe the Aggies surprise some folks, but it's going to be hard. I wouldn't agree that it's a "death sentence," but in terms of immediate success, Missouri is in a lot better shape to compete in the lean SEC East with a team that will bring back a lot of upperclassmen and an entrenched system, versus A&M in relative upheaval. Long-term, I think Texas A&M will be more successful, but the administration needs to have a bit more patience with whoever gets the new job. It's going to be difficult.
Alex in Illinois asked: With their defense being as good as it was in the Big 12 this year, can Case McCoy or David Ash lead the Longhorns to a BCS Bowl in the next few years?
DU: I just don't see it. Ash has the better shot, but Texas might need to look elsewhere. McCoy doesn't have the measurables, and as a guy who can't "make all the throws," as they say, that offers a lot of freedom to defenses, who don't have to respect his ability to stretch the field.
Ash and Garrett Gilbert had the measurables, but decision-making is a huge problem for both. Gilbert never fixed it, and now he's at SMU. It's still early for Ash. He might turn the corner. As much as he played this season, at a recruiting powerhouse like Texas, it's easy to forget he was a true freshman. He wasn't exactly swimming in big-time receivers, either.
That said, you didn't see a ton of the flashes of brilliance, however brief, you see with a lot of other freshmen quarterbacks. If Ash going to be the guy of the future for Texas, the biggest thing that has to change is decision-making.
Justin in Stillwater, Okla., asked: What do you think of Saban and others who voted the Cowboys 4th or even 5th? I mean I was proud of Gundy giving Bama respect. Am I asking to much for Saban to do the same? With that being said, I think the best two teams are in the NCG. I like how it fell for OSU, but it is pretty shafty that some of those voters still couldn't respect the POKES!!!
DU: It's terrible. I'm not going to try and peek into their motives, but it's pretty clear that a guy like Nick Saban has clear motivation to put Oklahoma State at No. 4 or even lower if he wanted.
But for others? Come on. Gundy said on a radio interview this week that voters who had Oklahoma State at No. 5 or No. 6 should be eliminated from the process. No arguments here.
One Harris poll voter had OSU No. 6 and Houston (!) No. 5, because the Cougars lost to a better team. (Which, by the way, is debatable: Southern Miss lost to UAB. Iowa State lost to five ranked teams and Missouri.)
That's the only reason you're voting? That's nothing but asinine. These are the people deciding who plays for the national championship. Amazing.
Nick in Dallas asked: What are the odds that 6 out of 10 Big XII teams are in the preseason top 25 next year? 1. OU 2. OSU 3. KSU 4. BU 5. TCU 6. Either WV or UT
DU: Interesting points. Robert Griffin III would have to come back to Baylor for that to happen, and Oklahoma State is probably on the fence, but the Cowboys will probably be around No. 20. TCU and WVU bring back a lot. They'll both probably be in. K-State could be top 10. I think Landry Jones comes back, and Oklahoma will be right there. Texas will be top 25 again. So yep, I think you're onto something, Nick.
James Goss in College Station, Texas, asked: How epic would a Texas-Texas A&M 2013 Cotton Bowl be?
DU: Uh, I'd say epic to ... quite epic?
Dayl Spagnolo in Eugene, Ore., asked: Who votes for the Home Depot College Football Awards? Coaches? Sportscasters?
DU: Every award has a committee that puts together a voting panel of various people. It kind of depends. I'm a voter for the Davey O'Brien Award, Rimington Award and the Lott Trophy, among a couple others. It sort of just depends on each individual award's decision.
Optimus Klein in Catertron asked: [Initiate Question Asking Sequence] Mr. Ubben, Is our matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks one of the best matchups of the bowl season? If my rotator flanges and transmission hydroponic capacitors can hold up, who do you think will win? Optimus (Collin) Klein [Model 2007.84.21.4][Terminating Question Asking Sequence] Catobots, Mobilize!
DU: ... Wow. E-mail of the week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's fitting and somewhat understandable that the NFL draft will have a distinctly Big 12 tinge Saturday as the early part of the first round plays out.
Keep an eye for Big 12 players to be very conspicuous in ESPN's broadcast of the draft. Four Big 12 players have been invited to watch the proceedings from the "Green Room" for Saturday's first day of the draft.
Baylor tackle Jason Smith, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo all will be at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the draft.
Smith, Crabtree and Orakpo all could be taken among the draft's 10 or 15 picks. But Freeman, who could go as high as the middle of the first round or drop to the second round, could provide the most compelling drama of the draft's broadcast. Does anybody remember Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers in recent years?
The draft undoubtedly will showcase the Big 12's collection of talent that was continually highlighted last season.
Most mock drafts expect the Big 12 will have five or six first-round draft picks. Likely players to be selected include Orakpo, Smith, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Freeman and Crabtree.
Look for the Big 12's burgeoning reputation as being on the cutting edge in terms of passing to be showcased this weekend. Most mock drafts have Crabtree and Maclin ranked as the top two receivers available. And Pettigrew is the top tight end on most draft boards.
If six Big 12 players are selected in the first round, it would match the league's previous high of six first-round selections set in 2003.
The most interesting potential selection will be Smith, a lightly-regarded recruit after a high-school career as a tight end. He blossomed after adding nearly 80 pounds of muscle over his college career.
Smith will become the Bears' first first-round draft selection since defensive tackle Daryl Gardener was picked by the Miami Dolphins in 1996.
Most prognosticators expect Smith will be picked among the first three picks in the draft. That would be the earliest a Baylor player has been chosen since quarterback Adrian Burk was the second pick in the draft by Baltimore in 1950.
The exposure for the Baylor program will be immense, according to Baylor coach Art Briles.
"We could get the smartest marketers in Texas and ask them how we could best market Baylor University, and they couldn't come up with a better scenario than what's going to happen Saturday in New York," Briles said. "Jason is a great person, and it's been nothing but positive for Baylor. We just have to take that and continue to climb as a football program."
Freeman is poised to become only the second quarterback in Big 12 history to be selected in the first round. He would join Vince Young, who was picked third by Tennessee in the 2006 draft.
Freeman also would be Kansas State's first first-round pick since Terence Newman was picked fifth in the first round by Dallas in 2003. He will also become the Wildcats' highest-selected quarterback, bettering the previous selection of Lynn Dickey, who was picked with the fourth pick in the third round by Green Bay in 1971.
Freeman's size (6-6, 250 pounds) and his rocket arm are his two biggest attributes, despite his lack of extended success in college. His abilities were clear to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and OSU coaches.
"The first time we saw Josh, because of his size, stature, the way he carried himself, and then his arm strength, we knew he had a chance to play," Gundy said. "He's just kind of arrived nationally -- people are just now starting to find out about him -- but we knew in our staff room that we was going to be first-round pick.
"You just don't find guys that are 6-6, 250, that can throw it and are as accurate as he is, and he's seemed to be very durable. We were impressed with him from day one."
Crabtree will become Tech's first first-round draft selection of the Big 12 era and the Red Raiders' first first-round pick since Gabe Rivera was picked with the 21st pick by Pittsburgh in 1983.
He will become the highest-selected Texas Tech wide receiver since Dave Parks was the first pick of the 1964 draft by San Francisco and the first one of Mike Leach's players to be picked on the first day of the draft.
Orakpo is poised to continue Texas' recent development as a factory for first-round selections.
Despite missing out last season, the Longhorns produced eight first-round picks in the previous four seasons and 13 over Mack Brown's coaching tenure.
In the process, Orakpo is hoping to counter-balance the so-called "Texas factor" that several analysts have mentioned this week to explain why some Longhorns have been disappointments once they started their NFL careers.
Brown angrily refuted those charges earlier this week.
"People can be more critical of us because we've had as many, or more, than anybody else in the draft," Brown told the Austin American-Statesman. "I don't really pay attention to (that), and I talk to enough general managers, coaches and scouts to know they don't either."
Maclin will become the first Missouri player selected in the first round since Justin Smith was picked by Cincinnati with the fourth pick of the draft in 2001. And Maclin also is poised to become the first Missouri wide receiver ever taken in the first round.
Here's my unofficial pegging of Big 12 draft status during the weekend draft.
Sure first-round picks: Baylor OT Jason Smith, Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, Texas DE Brian Orakpo, Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin,
Likely first-round picks: Kansas State QB Josh Freeman
Maybe first-round picks: Missouri DT Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew
Likely picks inside the first five rounds: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas Tech S Darcel McBath, Texas Tech DE Brandon Williams, Texas DT Roy Miller, Texas A&M RB Michael Goodson, Texas A&M DE Mi
chael Bennett, Oklahoma S-LB Nic Harris, Texas Tech G Louis Vasquez, Nebraska DE Zach Potter, Nebraska T Lydon Murtha.