Big 12: Chris Perry
Blake Gore in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: David - TCU Alum here....while I do agree that TCU really doesn't bring anything to the Big 12, the Big 12 doesn't already have (strong DFW market presence and another team to split the pie with).....to say we have no alum base or facilities, completely makes not only the response you gave, but essentially any further reporting you could offer about anything in the future; meritless. TCU's athletic facilities are top 10 in the entire country...on top of which, if we have no alum base...how can we pay $100 million + for a stadium...in cash? You live in Dallas so come over and check them out. SMU, Baylor, Tech..even Oklahoma don't have overall facilities like TCU. You're a young guy and obviously inexperienced in being a journalist....so a little tip...stick with the facts and your arguments will go a lot further.
David Ubben: Facts, you say? Who, dare I ask, would agree that a school with a 44,000-seat football stadium and a 7,100-seat basketball arena is among the top 10 facilities in the nation?
Talk about indoor facilities and weight rooms all you want, but none of that matters when you're talking about dollars. Renovate the football stadium all you want, but I don't see any teams in the Big 12 going undefeated and failing to sell out said 44,000-seat football stadium. The Frogs averaged fewer than 43,000 fans per game this past season.
I've been to TCU's football, basketball and baseball stadiums. Football, obviously, is in the process of getting a nice facelift, but like I said, if a 13-0 team can't sell it out every week, what can?
Baseball is already a gorgeous venue, but the Big 12 isn't handing out invites based on baseball stadiums. Basketball went seven years between sellouts this year, and when it did, the stadium was overrun with BYU fans. That program, with its impending entrance into the Big East, better brace for some rough nights in the coming years.
Hey, I'm as big of a proponent of TCU's football team as the next guy. I had it over Boise State on my top 25 ballot all year, and I'd have loved to see the Frogs get a shot at Auburn. That would have been a toss-up, and the Frogs were as good as anyone when they took the field this year. It's just a shame the fans didn't want to come see it.
Just having a good football team isn't enough to warrant inclusion into the Big 12. More than anything, it boils down to enrollment, which, over time, equals alumni. TCU has fewer than 9,000 students.
Baylor is the smallest school in the Big 12, and it has almost 14,000. The next smallest school in the conference? Oklahoma State, with just over 23,000 students.
So, there's some facts for you. Could, in theory, the Big 12 take a risk and invite TCU, hoping that the school and program rises with the Big 12's tide? Sure. But why take that risk? No one wants more than 10 teams right now, and the league is doing better than ever financially. There's no reason to add another mouth to feed that may not add enough value to the league in the future. Fox seemed to be just fine with the number of attractive matchups in the future.
But just remember, Horned Frogs, I only relay these facts because I hate TCU. No really, I hate it.
Filemon in College Station, Texas, asks: Now that Bevo is a wholly owned subsidiary of ESPN, what is your quota for UT stories?
DU: A minimum of 15 per week, with bonuses for hyperbole and overhyping.
Joe in Houston asks: Hey, Dubs. who you got for most underated player going in to next year?
DU: I may have a post on this in the future. For last year, it was, by far, Rodney Stewart, the running back from Colorado. Going into next season, though? I'll say Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope. Not freakishly athletic, but he's got great hands, doesn't drop the ball, and he's such an important part of that offense. He put up big numbers himself (72 rec., 825 yards, 4 TD, eighth in the Big 12), but because of what he does to defenses, it draws a lot of focus off Jeff Fuller, and was a big reason he had the first 1,000-yard season in school history last year.
Beyond him, people didn't quite appreciate what James Sims did at Kansas last year, either.
Asad in Missouri asks: Will Mizzou's offense look different depending on who is QB? If so what will be different?
DU: No, not really. If Tyler Gabbert wins the job, I think we'll see a good portion of James Franklin as a runner and somewhat of a passer. I think he'll have a bit larger role than he had last year. He's a much, much more powerful runner than Gabbert, who is hardly a statue, but there's not another quarterback on Missouri's roster who can move the pile like Franklin did.
Offensive coordinator David Yost actually compared that ability to that of a young man named Tim Tebow.
If Franklin wins the job, though, I don't think we'll see Gabbert get off the bench much unless Franklin struggles. They're pretty even as passers. It'll be close come fall. But Missouri won't be reverting back to the Brad Smith "snap it and run!" offense with either guy. It'll still be a spread predicated on getting the ball to playmakers like T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew.
Kyle in Norman, Okla., asks: Hey David, tough break DeMarco Murray didn't get on the cover of the new EA Sports NCAA Football 12 game, but this game is something I look forward to every July, will you be picking up a copy this year?
DU: Most definitely. I've bought that game every year since my boy Chris Weinke was on the cover in 2002.
Scott in Lubbock, Texas, asks: We all know that the biggest thing that separates the SEC from the rest of College Football is the talent and depth on the defensive line.With guys like Delvon Simmons, Leon Mackey, Scott Smith, Pearlie Graves, Chris Perry, and Jackson Richards, is Tommy Tuberville quitely putting together the best defensive line in the Big 12?
DU: Not right away, but the potential is there. Guys like Simmons are especially rare in this league, versus the SEC, where there's usually a few greats, like Marcel Dareus, Nick Fairley and Drake Nevis. Smith still has to get back on the field. Tuberville told me he's still in his doghouse.
If one or two of those guys become real game-changers, though? Whoa, look out.
Brett in Kansas City ask: David, how many wins do you think Texas needs to ensure that Mack Brown is back in 2012?
DU: Four. For those keeping score, that's the same number of BCS bowls he's been to since 2004, and one more win than he has in those BCS games. How quickly we forget. The idea of Mack Brown being on a real hot seat in the eyes of people with real decision-making power is comical. After said four-win season, though? Giving him nine wins in two seasons? The heat would definitely be on then.
Hunter in Aggieland, Texas, writes: "Softly call the Muster, let comrade answer 'Here'..." Especially proud to call myself an Aggie today. Support our troops and God bless.
DU: I'm not an Aggie, but Aggie Muster seems like one of the most special traditions of any university anywhere. A good friend of mine was at the big one in College Station last night and made the family trip over from Dallas, proud to honor their grandfather, among other fallen Aggies, the same way their previous generations did. I don't think there are many other traditions like it anywhere.
Big Bear in San Antonio, Texas, writes: Baylor, though almost as deep as anyone in the country at WR, looks to be fairly thin at RB. You have to have a good running game to offset/open up your passing game & of course that starts upfront, but you have to have decent backs to. Who do you see worthy of a starting RB position in the Big 12 out of our backfield? Should we be hoping the Allen, and Selders come right on in as freshman to help out?
DU: I don't agree with that at all. I really think Baylor should be pretty deep at running back next season. I like the complementary duo of Terrance Ganaway and Jarred Salubi a whole lot, and Glasco Martin looked pretty good this spring when I was in Waco. They're definitely good enough to be effective. I don't see either guy topping 1,000 yards this year, but together, they should do it easily.
You also have to remember, with Robert Griffin III attracting so much attention in the zone read and Baylor's high-powered passing game, it's not like these guys are running against nine guys in the box. They don't need to be Adrian Peterson. There will be plenty of room for them to run, and Salubi and Ganaway should take advantage.
Ben in Atlanta asks: Ubben, I'm totally on board with your idea of getting Arizona and Arizona State in the Big 12, but don't you think they'd be just as attached to the California schools as OU and Okie State are to the Texas schools? The money should be pretty close to even when the new TV deals are signed, so what could we offer them besides shedding the "west coast bias" label?
DU: Well, my biggest theory behind why both schools would leave is pretty simple: They've only been in the Pac-12 since 1978. That's not a ton of history. For fans of both teams, I don't see a lot of rivalries besides the one that with each other, that fans would be furious about ending.
To your other question, you're right: The money should be pretty similar in per school revenue (remember, even if the Pac-12 deal is worth more money than the Big 12's, which it likely will be, they're splitting it 12 ways). But the thing that now separates the Big 12 is those third-tier rights. If schools start making a lot of money off those (and this early, it's too difficult to tell how much they will), that's definitely something to offer both schools. At the core, these decisions are about money, and that's the only thing the Big 12 can do to convince them to leave: Convince them that there's a lot more money to be had in the Big 12. That may not be the case right now. In the future, it might be.
Again, the Big 12 isn't looking for membership, but if a situation in the future necessitates it, I don't see anyone other realistic option that would qualify as a huge get. Now, there's that little problem we call New Mexico that would make adding both schools a bit of a geographic stretch, but if there are suddenly superconferences sprouting up, that wouldn't be a huge issue.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Earlier this week, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach commented that the "rebuilding question" is vastly overrated for his team.
"Sure, we're going to lose [Michael] Crabtree and [Graham] Harrell, but the fact is we've done it about seven times before," Leach said.
Which is true. But the transformation will become a lot harder if Leach carries through with his plans to suspend pass-rushing threat McKinner Dixon for failing to keep up with his academic demands.
Leach is adamant about education and particularly for Dixon, who was given a second chance after flunking out of school after a sterling freshman season in 2005.
Dixon got his grades back up at Cisco Junior College and returned to Tech last season to become the same kind of transcendent defensive threat he had been before he left the first time. In the process, he notched nine sacks and 11 tackles for losses -- both leading totals for Tech returnees this season.
I've got to believe that Leach will try everything he can to get Dixon back into class and his grades up. He's that good of a defensive player and his return would keep the Red Raiders at a level that could enable them to challenge the likes of Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12 South Division.
The Red Raiders' defensive front with Dixon involved is one of their biggest defensive strengths. And that position is of paramount importance considering players like Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Todd Reesing and Robert Griffin on the Red Raiders' upcoming schedule.
Even after Brandon Williams declared early for the NFL draft, the return of projected starters Rajon Henley and Brandon Sharpe for Tech led to Dixon and Brandon Sesay cross-training at defensive end and defensive tackle this spring. Dixon likely would have been even more valuable for the Red Raiders by his ability to play two positions than merely one.
The Red Raiders already are solid inside with Colby Whitlock, Chris Perry and Victor Hunter at nose tackle and Richard Jones, Myles Wade and Britton Barbee at defensive tackle.
But Dixon was clearly the best pass-rushing threat they had and along with Whitlock, one of the Red Raiders' top two defenders in the trenches.
Leach told reporters Monday that he didn't see much hope in Dixon being able to come back.
That might have been his spin to try to get him back into class. But something tells me that a clearer indication of the Red Raiders' needs will be seen over their next few practices by Leach.
Even with the needs of doing everything possible to keep a standout pass-rushing threat, I'm guessing that Leach might not be willing to give Dixon much rope considering his earlier educational transgressions. And that might be a tough doghouse for Dixon to extricate himself from, after the allowances that Leach has already made for him earlier in his career.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a collection of letters I received over the last week.
Ross Struss of Lincoln, Neb., writes: Hey Tim, I just wanted to know how you would rate spring games across the Big 12? In my opinion Nebraska should be No. 1 not only in the Big 12 but maybe even in the nation.
We had to buy our tickets for the Cornhuskers' spring game on Wednesday and it took us three hours to get through. Any other place like this?
Tim Griffin: I don't know of many schools that emphasize a spring game as a promotional tool for the school quite like Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers. There is more pent-up demand to watch that game than any place across the Big 12 and likely anywhere in the country.
I think the excitement that Pelini has helped foster there in less than a year has made this the toughest ticket in all of spring football. It will be interesting to watch the spectacle this season, particularly as Shawn Watson sorts through his quarterback options. I'm kind of curious to see how Cody Green looks, too.
Darrell from Orlando, Fla., writes: Any news on Miami quarterback Robert Marve's proposed move to a Big 12 school? Does Oklahoma or Oklahoma State even need Marve. Your thoughts?
Tim Griffin: I know that both Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are on Marve's list of "finalists" along with Purdue and South Florida. All of the Big 12 schools would appear to have more national appeal for the former Miami quarterback than his other finalists. I think he will face some acclamation "issues" wherever he ends up.
Marve would be a natural addition if he chose Oklahoma State, considering that Zac Robinson is leaving school after next year. Most presume that Sam Bradford likely will remain at Oklahoma for only one more year, providing a natural entry at Oklahoma in much the same manner. And Taylor Potts will have two remaining years at Texas Tech.
Strong sources around the Oklahoma program told well-connected Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler the Sooners have no interest in Marve. So I think it's more likely he would end up at Oklahoma State or Texas Tech, if he ends up in the Big 12.
But I'm guessing that the most likely place for Marve to land will be somewhere a little closer to home like South Florida. He grew up in Tampa and staying at home might make sense for him in the end. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.
Matt from Dallas writes: I know in the course of monitoring Texas and Oklahoma recruiting as well as fawning over the talent the Aggies are about to spend four years wasting, you may not have noticed that Texas Tech pulled in a very solid class on the defensive side of the ball. Pearlie Graves and Myles Wade will be added to Colby Whitlock and Chris Perry. Suddenly Texas Tech may not be so soft up the middle anymore.
Tim Griffin: I agree with you. I think this might be the most solid defensive recruiting class that Mike Leach has ever attracted. And I know that Graves and Wade, along with Whitlock, should really anchor the Red Raiders' interior for the next couple of seasons.
I thought the Red Raiders showed a lot of improvement defensively until their late slide against Oklahoma and Mississippi. It will be interesting to see how they will rebound from those struggling performances next season.
Austin R. from Austin writes: Hey Tim, it really didn't surprise me that my Longhorns lost out on Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama or Devon Kennard from Arizona. The moment I hear that these guys are going to announce their school sitting at a table with hats, I knew the Horns are out of the running. Is it that Texas gets the guys that are not into the dramatics? Or is Texas not cool enough for some recruits?
Tim Griffin: I saw Kirkpatrick's announcement on television as well. Longhorn fans might not have liked his sense of dramatics, but I bet they would have warmed to him if they had seen him play cornerback in the burnt orange.
It was interesting to me that Texas wasn't as successful out of state as in previous seasons when they missed out on recruits like Kirkpatrick and Kennard. I'm thinking that the Longhorns are good enough to be at the top of the Big 12 recruiting lists almost every season by dominating Texas talent as they did this season.
But for them to make to challenge for the mythical national championship in recruiting, they need to generate a national splash by attracting a couple of quality out of state recruits. They did it recently with recruits like Blaine Irby and Lamarr Houston and previously were successful recruiting top out-of-state recruits like like Chris Simms, Bo Scaife, and Ricky Williams. They probably need to do it again to reclaim the top spot in national recruiting in future years.
And here's an intriguing nugget I came up with when looking at their recent recruiting lists. Texas has earned only three commitments from out-of-state players in the last three recruiting lists. Compare that with the 49 out-of-state players who have committed to Oklahoma during that time, or the 29 who have committed to defending national champion Florida.
Brent from Overland Park, Kan., writes: Tim, you haven't mentioned Kansas very much since the bowls ended. They are quietly putting together one of the best classes in the nation, but have had little coverage on ESPN, from what I've seen. Mangino is known for getting the 'diamonds in the rough' (Reesing, Briscoe, et al.). Do you see any more in this 09 class?
Tim Griffin: No coach has done a better job in developing underrated talent after their arrival at college than Mark Mangino. The story about how they got hooked up with Dezmon Briscoe ranks as one of the most notable recruiting stories in Big 12 history. But this class for the Jayhawks appears to have more talent than any since his arrival. I think recruits are starting to notice the Jayhawks after their back-to-back bowl appearances and particularly their trip to the 2008 Orange Bowl. And I think the fact they attracted top recruits Prinz Kande and Bradley McDougald is a testament to that.
Bruce from Columbus, Ga., writes: This is a long-term recuiting question I asked during your recruiting-day chat and you didn't answer it. Anyway, I had thought that Bo Pelini's tenure at LSU would provide the Cornhuskers with access to top players to recruit, yet he has none. Will it be a source in the future and why hasn't it helped in the short-term? Thanks.
Tim Griffin: Bruce, thanks for the question and I apologize to not getting to it during my chat. I might not have even seen it. I would answer one question and 15-20 more would materialize in the time I had been away from the board. I wasn't able to answer or even read many of them.
You do raise an interesting question. But I don't see the South ever really being a critical recruiting area for Nebraska. Pelini only had three years of exposure in that area when he was coaching at LSU.
Because of that, I think the Cornhuskers will always look first to areas like California and especially Texas. I think they have contacts in place in both states. It was critical for them this year with eight recruits from Texas and six from California.
The South is
really a closed shop where the Southeastern Conference teams really dominate. Look at how both Texas and Oklahoma both were stoned in their bids for top talent when Texas unsuccessfully tried for Dre Kirkpatrick and Oklahoma went for Rueben Randle. So I think most Big 12 teams will look elsewhere for their major areas of recruiting.
J. Aston of Lubbock, Texas writes: Who in your opinion does the most in the Big 12 with the least as far as recruiting goes? I have my personal opinion, but it might be a little biased. And do you think that if those teams got more highly recruited players, would they be able to do better in the big 12?
Tim Griffin: I think in recent years the coaches that have done the most with underrated talent have been Mark Mangino of Kansas, Gary Pinkel of Missouri and Mike Leach of Texas Tech. All have turned their programs into consistent bowl teams while not normally having access to the upper talent base.
It's been interesting to me that those teams all have had trouble with winning consistently against Oklahoma and Texas - the two teams that typically recruit the most top athletes in the conference.
It would be interesting to see what all programs like the Jayhawks, Red Raiders and Tigers would be able to do with the access to five-star talent. Managing those players - and egos - is a little different than working with some of the other recruits. But I'm thinking all of those schools could develop into national powers if they were able to get more top-ranked talent like the Sooners and Longhorns traditionally feast on.
Clint Seaton from Tecumseh, Okla., writes: With Bill Young becoming the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, what would be a realistic timeline for improving their defense? And maybe even having their defense ranked in the top 30?
Tim Griffin: It's not like Oklahoma State fans aren't putting any pressure on Young, is there?
That being said, Young's work will likely determine if the Cowboys can live up to all of the early hype about their team during the upcoming season. The Cowboys appear to have an offense that can keep up with anybody nationally. But in order to contend for their first Big 12 South title, the defense will have to play markedly better than it did in late losses to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oregon.
Young is known as one of the most wily coordinators in college football. And I expect him to improve the Cowboys. But moving them into the top 30 might be a little bit much - particularly with all of the prolific offenses that the Cowboys will be facing next season.
Maybe they might be able to talk about a top 30 defense in a couple of years. The Big 12's offenses should be just as potent in 2009 as they were last year. And Texas, at No. 51, ranked as the Big 12's best defense in 2008.
That's all for this week. Please keep the e-mails coming and I'll try to answer as many as I can. Thanks again for all of the good correspondence.