Big 12: Connor Wood

Wes Lunt's exit from Oklahoma State surprised a lot of people, but what kind of results can he expect over the rest of his career?

Here's an update on the Big 12's recent notable transfers. The results are all over the map.

Garrett Gilbert, transferred from Texas to SMU in 2011: Struggled in 2010 during Texas' 5-7 season, despite a strong showing in relief of Colt McCoy in the 2009 national title game against Alabama. Earned a starting position in June Jones' offense in Dallas and threw for 2,932 yards, 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season. He'll start as a senior in 2013.

Keith Nichol, transferred from Oklahoma to Michigan State in 2008: Nichol was a superstar recruit but lost a quarterback competition to some guy named Sam Bradford. After taking his talents to Lansing, he earned some time at quarterback as a sophomore in 2009, but found a home at receiver. He finished his career with 50 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a game-winning, Hail Mary touchdown to beat Wisconsin in 2011. He also threw for 826 yards and nine touchdowns.

Jevan Snead, transferred from Texas to Ole Miss in 2006: Played some in relief of Colt McCoy, but left for Oxford in search of playing time and found it. Carried the Rebels to a Cotton Bowl win and threw for 2,762 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2008. A year later, he tossed 20 touchdowns and 20 interceptions and racked up 2,632 yards. He left Ole Miss early, but wasn't drafted.

G.J. Kinne, transferred from Texas to Tulsa in 2008: Kinne never cracked the field at Texas, but had a huge career as a Golden Hurricane. He threw for just under 9,500 yards, ran for 1,365 yards and accounted for 96 total touchdowns in three seasons as starter. He went undrafted and hasn't caught on in the NFL, but is under contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Connor Wood, transferred from Texas to Colorado in 2011: Wood couldn't get on the field at Texas, but sought playing time in Boulder, and it looks like he's found it. After Nick Hirschman transferred last week, Wood is Colorado's likely starter in 2013, and has three years of eligibility remaining.

Jacob Karam, transferred from Texas Tech to Memphis in 2012: Was eligible immediately because he had already received his degree. He won the Tigers' starting job and threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He'll be a senior, and the starter again in 2013.

Scotty Young, transferred from Texas Tech to Louisiana Tech in 2012: Never got on the field for the Red Raiders and sat out the 2012 season at Louisiana Tech. He's in good position to be the Bulldogs' starter next season, replacing Colby Cameron.

Drew Allen, transferred from Oklahoma to Syracuse in 2013: Allen served as a backup his entire career, but after receiving his degree, started looking for a place to play out his career. He believes Syracuse is the place to do it, and he'll compete for the starting job in the fall.

Jared Barnett, transferred from Iowa State to Illinois State in 2013: Barnett earned a place in ISU lore when he led the Cyclones to a win against undefeated, BCS No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011, but struggled after that and throughout 2012. He finished the season on the bench behind Sam Richardson and elected to become a Cardinal after the season. He's eligible immediately, because his new team is an FCS school.

Bobby Reid, transferred from Oklahoma State to Texas Southern in 2007: Reid was the subject of Mike Gundy's infamous "I'm a man, I'm 40!" rant, and later said he felt like that rant ended his "life", though Gundy was defending his player. He threw for 1,791 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions at Texas Southern in 2008, but he and Gundy seem close again. He joined Gundy's staff in an administrative role this year.

Rhett Bomar, transferred from Oklahoma to Sam Houston State in 2006: Bomar's transfer wasn't his choice. Bob Stoops famously kicked Bomar off the team in the wake of reports that he had received payment from a local car dealership without doing the work. That was an obvious NCAA violation. He played just 19 games over the next two seasons, but finished as the school's all-time leader in passing yards, with 5,564 yards. He was a finalist for the 2008 Walter Payton Award as the nation's best FCS player. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the New York Giants, but has been out of the NFL since May 2012.

Jordan Webb, transferred from Kansas to Colorado in 2012: Started two seasons for the Jayhawks, but left town when Charlie Weis brought Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps with him to Lawrence. He played 10 games last season, throwing for 1,434 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions. He tore his ACL in spring practice, though, and is questionable to get back on the field this fall. He's not helping his case to regain his starting status by getting arrested on felony assault charges last weekend.

Another Big 12 QB headed to Boulder?

March, 16, 2012
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Texas transfer Connor Wood is fighting to win the starting job at Colorado this spring, but he may soon be joined by another Big 12 quarterback.

Jordan Webb started all 12 games at Kansas last season but left the Jayhawks after Charlie Weis arrived with Dayne Crist (Notre Dame transfer) and Jake Heaps (BYU transfer) in tow.

Webb's opportunity to start looked minimal, and now he tells the Boulder Daily Camera he's looking at Colorado.
Webb told the Camera in an interview today he is interested in the Buffs because he sees opportunity in Boulder. None of the active quarterbacks on the CU roster this spring have ever played in a college game. Sophomore Nick Hirschman is out this spring after undergoing surgery on his broken right foot, but when he returns this summer, he only adds five partial games of experience to the group.

"That's the main reason I'm leaving Kansas because I want playing time or at least an opportunity for it and if I go in and work hard at learning the offense and things like that I could have a good shot," Webb said.

The experience he earned at KU, along with more offensive weapons, could make it a good move for Webb. And what a weird quarterback competition that would be, no?

Two Big 12 transfers vying for a job at an old Big 12 school?

Webb, a Union, Mo., native, said he's planning on spending two days in Boulder. He'll graduate from Kansas in May, which allows him to transfer without sitting out an NCAA-mandated season, as long as he enrolls in a graduate program not offered at Kansas. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Webb threw for 1,884 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2011.

Links: Pinkel adamant, KU rivalry lives

March, 8, 2012
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Big 12 Tourney Time. Should be some great games today. Who's watching?

Lunch links: SEC East ready for Mizzou?

January, 17, 2012
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You might be the luckiest man in the world ... and not even know it.

Lunch links: Texas resourceful, or a bully?

November, 3, 2011
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Gabby's mom's a hoarder. That essay practically writes itself.

Lunch links: A BYU/Sundays solution

August, 30, 2011
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Did anybody realize Busta Rhymes is 39? This is oddly jarring.

Fun with puzzles!
Fubaw!
Garrett GilbertAP Photo/Nati HarnikGarret Gilbert's experience may have given him the slight edge among the Texas quarterbacks.
A selection at quarterback often means a selection of style as well.

At Nebraska in 2010, Taylor Martinez's speed chained the more experienced Cody Green and Zac Lee to the Huskers bench. As a result, the Huskers offense looked markedly different, centered around emphasizing Martinez's speed in the zone read game while minimizing his pass attempts as necessary.

Kansas State's Collin Klein didn't win the quarterback job, but coach Bill Snyder gave the sophomore time on the field behind Carson Coffman thanks to his shifty, speedy feet.

Back in 2008, Robert Griffin's athleticism made it near impossible for Art Briles to stick with Miami transfer Kirby Freeman for more than three quarters of the season opener, giving way to a new era built on the legs of the league's best dual-threat quarterback.

At Texas? No such luck.

Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin took ownership on Monday of Garrett Gilbert's selection, but it was not an easy decision in Austin this offseason.

"They’re all similar," coach Mack Brown told reporters on Monday.

Gilbert, Case McCoy, David Ash and Connor Wood are all over 6-foot-2 and only McCoy, at 200 pounds didn't fall between 219 and 222 pounds.

"They’re big, they’re strong, they’re smart. They’re very accurate passers," Brown said, "and that’s been one of the difficulties of separating them."

Gilbert's experience, however harrowing it may have been, is the only way to differentiate the four, save Ash's slight edge in mobility.

"There was a certain equality for them starting over in a new offense that’s very complicated," Brown said.

But it's likely that the complex offense would have looked almost identical regardless of who won the job. Which as Brown reiterated, complicates matters.

"This whole battle at quarterback has been very difficult because everybody has gotten better, and that's really what you want, and that's what we said from this position is we don't want to have a huge separation," Harsin told reporters on Monday. "We want it to be a difficult decision, and it was. And Garrett did a nice job from spring through summer into fall camp, and he's earned it."

A competition taking place between two wildly contrasting quarterbacks might have added to the intrigue, but though it complicated the selection process, it simplified the quarterbacks' criteria.

"Bryan Harsin has done a tremendous job of making sure that each have had their opportunities with the different levels of competition," Brown said. "Every pass that's been thrown in preseason has been charted. Every meeting has been charted about who missed a question and who got them right. Leadership has been a huge part of this. We've had competition in 3rd down and 4th downs on the practice field, and who did the best in those areas is a huge part of this."

There was no need to skew the scale. Identical quarterbacks means identical grading.

"He's just older. He's done it before, and that probably helped him as much as anything," Brown said of Gilbert, who started all 12 games last season, versus his competition, which has thrown a combined one career pass. It was incomplete, by the way. And thrown by McCoy in last season's opener against Rice, well before the season was lost.

The one thing about the quarterbacks that can't be identical? The results from last year, when Gilbert threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns, more picks than all but one quarterback in the nation, Dwight Dasher at Middle Tennessee State. It has to be different if life in Austin is going to get any different this time around with a new coaching staff, a new offense, but the same quarterback.

"We talked very little about last year. It's something that's still in the back of your mind. ... You've got a bad taste in your mouth. I think each one of us do. But for me, I would say I can use it as motivation," Gilbert told reporters on Monday. "We don't talk about it. We don't think about it much. It's a new year. It's a new season, and so we're very excited about the prospect of moving forward."
Today is all about the quarterback at ESPN.com, but it's time to introduce you to each of the Big 12's passers.

Best in class: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State

Weeden is everything you want in a quarterback. He's a good decision-maker with a huge arm that's about as accurate as they come in the college game. He led the Big 12 with 8.4 yards per attempt in 2010, his first year as a starter, and helped Oklahoma State win a school-record 11 games.

Sorest postgame arm: Landry Jones, Oklahoma

Jones is a close, close second in the Big 12 and wouldn't surprise anyone by surpassing Weeden, but Jones threw 617 passes in 2010, more than any quarterback in the nation. Part of that number is the high volume of short passes in Oklahoma's offense that it views as an extension of the running game, but Jones piled up big numbers with those throws, leading the Big 12 with 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. Without workhorse DeMarco Murray in the fold this season, don't look for those pass attempts to dip much, if at all.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireBaylor quarterback Robert Griffin III completed 67 percent of his 454 passes in 2010.
Most misperceived: Robert Griffin III, Baylor

Griffin has a well-deserved rep as a dual-threat quarterback, but he also completed 67 percent of his 454 passes in 2010, good for eighth in the nation and second in the Big 12 behind Taylor Potts by one-tenth of a percentage point. Griffin can still giddy-up after knee surgery in 2009, but he's a much more mature passer than he gets credit for, and he's got one of the league's best receiving corps to help him out.

Most pressure: Garrett Gilbert, Texas

I'm going all-in with Gilbert as the Longhorns' opening-day starter against Rice, but Gilbert better perform and do it early, because if not, the hook that never arrived in 2010 will do exactly that, giving Case McCoy, Connor Wood or David Ash a chance. Gilbert's 10 touchdowns to 17 interceptions in 2010 were eye-popping, but he'll try to improve on that in a new offense under Bryan Harsin from Boise State.

Most indecision: Iowa State

The Cyclones have an open gig after three-year starter Austen Arnaud left, but the job sounds like it's still wide open between junior Jerome Tiller, who played some during a few of Arnaud's injuries the past two seasons, and juco transfer Steele Jantz. Coach Paul Rhoads says Jared Barnett is still a factor in the race, but Iowa State plans to officially name its starter on Aug. 20, exactly two weeks before its season opener.

Best story: Seth Doege, Texas Tech

Doege grew up in West Texas and dreamed of becoming the next great passer in red and black. As soon as Texas Tech began recruiting him, he committed, but missed his final two seasons of high school football with knee injuries. The Red Raiders stuck with him during two frustrating runs of rehab while others took a pass, and five years after his last season as full-time starter, the junior is finally getting his shot to do what he wanted to do since well before high school.

Smartest quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M

Tannehill has just six starts under his belt, but they were memorable last season, helping rescue the Aggies from a 3-3 start, including an 0-2 start in conference play. The Aggies ended up co-Big 12 South champions, earning a berth in the Cotton Bowl. But Tannehill did it all despite missing parts of spring practice for labs for his biology major, which he hopes to use to eventually attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon. Tannehill graduated in May with a 3.59 GPA, and ask any of his teammates who the smartest guy on the team is. There's no contest.

Best supporting cast: James Franklin, Missouri

Franklin will fill the void left behind by Blaine Gabbert, but he'll do it with the most help of any first-year starter in the league, and any first-year starter Gary Pinkel has ever prepared. The Tigers return one of the league's best defenses, four offensive linemen, and every single receiver from last season's team. He also returned four running backs, but one of the reserves, Marcus Murphy, will likely redshirt after needing shoulder surgery. Still, the Tigers are ready-made contenders if Franklin can get the job done.

Biggest passer: Collin Klein, Kansas State

Klein used his legs to earn a solid chunk of playing time in 2010, but the 6-foot-5, 233-pounder (see him in real life here) will have to be more than just hard to tackle for the Wildcats to get back to the postseason in 2011 after reaching the Pinstripe Bowl in 2010. That was their first bowl appearance since 2006, but Klein has a lot to prove after throwing just 18 passes last season, compared to his 76 carries for 432 yards and six scores. Making matters more difficult: Workhorse back Daniel Thomas, who had a Big 12-high 595 carries over the past two seasons and led the league in rushing both years, is in the NFL now.

Most work to do: Jordan Webb, Kansas

The Jayhawks were the Big 12's worst passing team in 2010, failing to reach 2,000 yards, and Texas was the league's only other team to throw more interceptions than touchdowns. Webb earned the most time, and seized control of the starting job ahead of Quinn Mecham over the summer, but he completed just 56 percent of his passes last season, better than only Colorado's Cody Hawkins.
Today is all about the QBs here at ESPN.com, and here's a look at each of the quarterback races in the Big 12.

IOWA STATE

[+] EnlargeJerome Tiller
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireJerome Tiller is expected to open as Iowa State's starting QB.
The safe bet: Jerome Tiller. Tiller, a junior, has filled in for Austen Arnaud much of the past two seasons, but struggled late last season after Arnaud suffered a season-ending knee injury. Tiller quarterbacked a win at Nebraska in 2009, but didn't look much improved in the game time he earned in 2010.

The wild card: Steele Jantz. Jantz is a speedy transfer from junior college in California who also arrived at Iowa State with his top receiver from the City College of San Francisco, Aaron Horne. Jantz will have to keep learning the offense, but can he inject life into the offense with his legs like Taylor Martinez did for Nebraska? Iowa State's version of The Decision is set for Aug. 20. Who will be taking their talents under center at Jack Trice Stadium? Give me the underdog in this race.

The dark horse: Jared Barnett. James Capello, a fourth contender, transferred, but Paul Rhoads says Barnett still has a chance. Can he make enough noise in fall camp to make that a reality?

KANSAS

The heavy favorite: Jordan Webb. Webb started seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2010, and appeared to take control during the summer, but he struggled last season. He should learn from experience, too. Last year's opening-day starter, Kale Pick, is now a receiver. Webb will almost certainly get the call for the season opener, but if he doesn't improve, that could change fast.

The underdog: Quinn Mecham. Mecham started four of the final five games for the Jayhawks, but the senior and junior college transfer might not be the best long-term option for Kansas. Webb learning on the go could pay off in the future, while any lessons Mecham learns will be out the door after the season. Mecham as the backup might be a better role for the team's greater good.

The wild cards: Brock Berglund and Michael Cummings, a pair of true freshmen. Cummings enters with a bit less talent but much less baggage. Berglund was a blue-chip recruit from Colorado, but legal issues stemming from an April assault charge have him spending much more time back home than anticipated. Berglund also missed summer voluntary workouts because of the charge and went back to Colorado before spring practice began, despite enrolling at Kansas in January, a semester earlier than the rest of the freshman class. Expect a redshirt for one of the two, but the two quarterbacks in front of them haven't exactly set the bar high. If the favorites struggle, don't be surprised to see Cummings or Berglund get a chance.

KANSAS STATE

The heavy favorite: Collin Klein. Coach Bill Snyder has already given Klein the status as Day 1 starter, but the Wildcats have played two quarterbacks before under Snyder, and Klein's backups could benefit from a similar strategy this season. The only rumors surrounding Klein are those of vast development during the summer, but he'll have to prove it during fall camp and early in the season to get a stranglehold on the job.

The hype man: Justin Tuggle. Tuggle replaced Cam Newton at Blinn Junior College and transferred to Kansas State before spring practice after originally playing for Boston College out of high school. Tuggle sounded like a strong contender entering spring practice, but didn't make it happen. We'll see if his status changes during fall camp.

The backup plan: Sammuel Lamur. Lamur was the No. 3 quarterback last season, and took over the No. 2 spot on the depth chart ahead of Tuggle during the spring. We haven't seen much of Lamur during his career, but this might be the year.

TEXAS

The favorite: Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert, despite his struggles in 2010, never got pulled and started all 12 games for the Longhorns. He looked unimpressive in the spring game, but indications from his teammates are that he's embodied the leadership aspect of the job, something coach Mack Brown covets. That might earn Gilbert the job, but if he doesn't look like a vastly different player this season, he'll lose it.

The wild card: Case McCoy. McCoy, the younger brother of that other McCoy kid you might have heard of, has taken on a bit of a fan-favorite role after his performance in the spring game, when he outplayed Gilbert. Despite his good numbers in the spring game, however, he looked uncomfortable and must make up for his lack of experience to oust Gilbert for the reins of the offense.

The mystery man: Connor Wood. Wood is a former high school All-American, but redshirted in 2010 and played sparingly in the spring game. Outside of a few snaps in spring, no one outside the locker room has had much of a chance to see Wood play, but if he starts making noise during fall camp, you'll hear it.

The young gun: David Ash. Coaches lauding true freshman quarterbacks in the spring is rare, but Ash arrived in Austin early and got a lot of compliments from the new Longhorns coaches. He's the long shot in this race, and Brown apologized to him for not getting him enough snaps in the spring game, but the coaches indicate he's still alive in the race.
On Tuesday, the Big East wrapped up the last set of media days in college football, so it's time to take a look back at what we learned from the Big 12's annual event, as well as what we still have to learn.

What we learned from Big 12 Media Days

The Big 12's coaches weren't excited to see high school games on the Longhorn Network. Almost a week before media days, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put a hold on the Longhorn Network's plans to broadcast high school games, but the league's coaches voiced their displeasure at the possibility in various ways, none stronger than Missouri's Gary Pinkel. "It's a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games," he said. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy said his "antenna went up when I started to hear that information." Baylor's Art Briles was the only coach who said it didn't bother him, but on Monday, the league announced it would declare a one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games, allowing the issue to be further examined by the NCAA.

Mack Brown knows what he wants from his quarterbacks. Brown said summer workouts helped Colt McCoy separate himself from Jevan Snead the last time Texas had a quarterback battle, and he's hoping the same thing happened this summer. Brown wants leadership from his quarterbacks above all, but he wants them to take care of the ball second for a team that ranked 116th in turnover ratio in 2010. Garrett Gilbert has the experience and is the most vocal of the group, but he threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns last season. Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash were supposed to spend their spring and summer mostly learning Bryan Harsin's new, complex offense. Now, it's time to focus on competing. The separation could happen fast, and Texas opens fall camp on Friday.

Art Briles narrowly edges out Tommy Tuberville for the league's most entertaining coach. Tuberville poked at the Big 12 on his way off the stage, but Briles earned a few more fans with a solid collection of one-liners, including one about Ahmad Dixon that somehow got overlooked. "I take a lot of pride in being able to guess how much a male weighs," Briles said of the 206-pounder. "If you looked at him, you'd say that guy looks like he weighs about 183. He's put together pretty good." Briles also argued that talking trash was "in the ear of the beholder" and compared his quarterback to famed hurdler Edwin Moses.

Oklahoma will be fascinating to watch. The Sooners got by far the most attention on Day 2, sharing the second half of media days with the four teams picked to finish at the bottom of the Big 12. Oklahoma, though, isn't shying away from the hefty preseason expectations and players also spoke openly about the death of their teammate, Austin Box, this summer. The Sooners have a few subtle tributes planned, and won't have Box far from their minds throughout the season.

Kansas State's quarterback race is over. Bill Snyder brought Collin Klein to Big 12 Media Days, which seemed conspicuous enough, but he confirmed the obvious once he made it to Dallas. "He’ll take the first snap when we start in the fall," Snyder said. Klein was the most impressive during the spring, ahead of Boston College and Blinn College transfers Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur, but Snyder maintained there wasn't a lot of separation between the three following the spring game. After the summer, it looks like that's changed.

What we have yet to learn after Big 12 Media Days

How will Texas rebound? We won't know this until the Longhorns suit up against Rice and BYU to open the season, but Texas is the Big 12's biggest wild card after a 5-7 season precipitated wholesale changes on the coaching staff. The depth chart is wide open for new coordinators Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin, and fall camp should be one of the most competitive ever for the Longhorns.

Are Big 12 realignment rumors over for now? Texas A&M said the Longhorn Network produced uncertainty about the Aggies' future in the Big 12, but the one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games may only delay conversations about the future of the Big 12, especially if the NCAA rules in favor of the practice.

Is this Oklahoma's year? Or the SEC's decade? Bob Stoops told a crowd at an recent caravan that it was "about time" for Oklahoma to win a national title, 11 years after its seventh national championship in 2000. The Sooners have enough talent to do it, but can they play consistently and catch the right breaks to rip off the 13 wins it will take to bring a national title back to the Big 12? Texas' championship with Vince Young in 2006 was the last time any non-SEC team won a national championship.

Who will start at Texas and Iowa State? The Big 12 has just two true quarterback battles left. The Longhorns have to pick between four, but the race in Ames is likely boiled down to Jerome Tiller, who has played in spot duty behind Austen Arnaud, and juco transfer Steele Jantz.
Mack Brown hasn't allowed one of his quarterbacks to answer a question from the media since a Thanksgiving night loss to Texas A&M.

Since then, 248 days have passed without any of the four being forced to face any waiting microphones.

The policy has frustrated fans and media alike, but at Big 12 Media Days last week, I asked Brown about the decision for the first time.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherCoach Mack Brown has sheltered his quarterbacks from the media since last Thanksgiving.
"What I thought we needed was to get back to work," Brown said. "We needed to make sure that our quarterbacks were focused on one thing, and on one thing only. And that was learning the new offense. Which was going to be complicated. And I didn't need them to have distractions."

I posed the question to you, the readers, about Brown's approach.

Sixty-five percent of you said he made the right decision. Not everyone agrees, and I think the point is certainly debatable, but from my perspective, it's the right decision.

As a member of the media who would have liked some insight, I hate it. But as someone who also realizes that Mack Brown's primary objective is to win games, I understand the decision.

In the meantime, he's weathered a very, very minor public relations problem to help his quarterbacks, who didn't exactly prove their emotional or mental fortitude in 2010. The payoff: We'll see this fall, but it's hard to see it being negative.

"I didn't need [offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin] to have to answer every day about who he thought looked better when he didn't even know their names," Brown said. "He didn't know anything about them. And I did not want the quarterbacks competing for a job until they learned the offense, because I was worried they'd worry more about starting than learning."

There's certainly a school of thought that believes that might backfire in the middle of the season, that the search for a quarterback who can handle tough questions and tougher secondaries will probably lead to the same result.

"I felt like last year was so negative, that I didn't want them to have to sit around and talk about it all day," Brown said. "And they would have. And that's your job, and that's fair. But it's my job that we do what's best for our players."

Texas isn't in a position for any kind of a title run in 2011. Maybe later, but for now, the focus is getting back to winning ways at Texas and re-establishing the "swagger" (Brown's words, not mine). That swagger was decidedly absent during 2010's 5-7 season. Maybe to get back to a title game, you'll need a quarterback who won't be fazed by questions, but right now, Texas needs to make sure it's safely back in the postseason and at least flirting with a 10-win season. One could argue that focusing on winning big rather than winning now is exactly how Texas ended up trying to rebound from a seven-loss season in the first place.

Maybe protecting the quarterbacks won't do a lot to rid them of 2010's buzz word in Austin: "entitlement." But if sitting and watching a championship program become a laughing stock all the way down to a last-place finish in the Big 12 South didn't shake off that entitlement, answering questions about it won't do it, either.

If spring wasn't about competition, and I don't believe it was primarily, then Brown took the right approach. Facing the same questions over and over and dealing with more than what was already on the quarterbacks' full plate wouldn't have paid off much in the long run, and for now, dit idn't cost Texas much, either.

We'll see the results in the fall, but for now, there's still competition to be had. Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood, Case McCoy and David Ash will begin fall camp vying for the most prominent position battle in the Big 12, and perhaps in all of college football. And the winner? Well, he'll get plenty of chances to answer questions once the job is won.
None of Texas' quarterbacks have spoken to the media since a Thanksgiving Night loss to Texas A&M, a group that includes 12-game starter Garrett Gilbert and his competition, Case McCoy, Connor Wood and true freshman David Ash.

It's gone somewhat unnoticed outside of Austin, but I asked Texas coach Mack Brown why he made the choice, and here's his full, unedited response, followed by your chance to weigh in:

"I thought that all of the questions would be what you all know they would be. After doing this a long time. Who's going to start? How many reps are you getting? Why should you be starting? Why do you have a right from last year? What happened to you, Garrett? Why did you mess up? Why did you have so many turnovers? What about the coach? What about coach Davis? Compare him to coach Harsin. And I didn't think any of that was helpful at all, very honestly.

"So, what I thought we needed was to get back to work. We needed to make sure that our quarterbacks were focused on one thing, and on one thing only. And that was learning the new offense. Which was going to be complicated. And I didn't need them to have distractions. I didn't need Bryan to have to answer every day about who he thought looked better when he didn't even know their names. He didn't know anything about them. And I did not want the quarterbacks competing for a job until they learned the offense, because I was worried they'd worry more about starting than learning.

"So, we feel like now all four of them have learned the offense, they all have their reps. Bryan knows all four of them. The players have seen all four of them work with this system in the summer for 7-on-7, and now, what we'll do is start truly evaluating those guys daily and trying to separate them.

"And then, after we do, you'll get to talk to them all you want. But I felt like last year was so negative, that I didn't want them to have to sit around and talk about it all day. And they would have. And that's your job, and that's fair. But it's my job that we do what's best for our players."

I have my own opinions about Brown's response, but for now, I'll leave it up to you.

Was Mack Brown justified in protecting his quarterbacks from facing the media for what has now been eight months since the end of last season for Texas? Did he make the right decision?

Vote in our poll.
We wrapped up our position rankings by team on Thursday, but today, we'll start ranking the 10 best players at each position. Obviously, the quarterback rankings won't look vastly different, but we'll get plenty of variance in the other positions.

This is a good group this year. There's a big dropoff after the first four, but plenty of others could join that group by season's end.

Also, I picked each team's representative according to who I picked to win the job in fall camp.

So, without further ado, let's get it on.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Chuck Cook/US PresswireOklahoma State's Brandon Weeden seems destined to deliver dominant statistics again this season.
1. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State -- We've been over this several times, but Weeden and Jones' numbers are extremely similar when you factor in Oklahoma's deep love for the bubble screen, and heading into this season, I lean toward Weeden because he's less likely to make a back-breaking mistake. Jones threw for almost 500 more yards, but Weeden had 106 fewer attempts, and averaged nearly a full yard more (8.4 vs. 7.6) per attempt than Jones.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma -- That said, my bet is on Jones taking the No. 1 spot from Weeden by season's end. We'll see a much more confident Jones this season, further development in his naturally quiet personality. I expect that to manifest on the field and Jones has enough talent around him to mount a serious Heisman campaign, as well as come close to or exceed his 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns last season. It won't be for a lack of confidence. Jones threw the ball more than any quarterback in the nation last season.

3. Robert Griffin III, Baylor -- Griffin made big strides as a passer in 2010, and I'd expect that to continue this season, especially with the likely emergence of Josh Gordon as a big target with more experience. People peg Griffin, a junior, as a dual-threat quarterback, and there's no denying his speed, but if you took that away from him, he'd still be No. 3 on this list after throwing for 3,501 yards and completing 67 percent of his passes, the highest percentage of any returning quarterback in the Big 12.

4. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M -- Tannehill will try to avoid the Texas A&M senior quarterback curse this season, but you have to love his chances with the way he played in the Aggies' final seven games of 2010, including a 5-1 record in his six starts. Tannehill, like Griffin, has the luxury of returning almost his entire receiving corps. Just nine receptions from last season's team won't return in 2011.

5. Seth Doege, Texas Tech -- The risk with Doege is significantly less than the risk that comes with James Franklin at Missouri. To me, it boils down to experience. Doege has been in the program for three seasons already, and he'll finally get his chance to start in his fourth fall on campus vs. Franklin in his second. He might not have the support at the skill positions that Franklin has, but he'll have five returning starters on the offensive line and an offense that's provided success for a lot of quarterbacks before him, even more than Missouri's.

6. James Franklin, Missouri -- Franklin, a sophomore, has a bit more upside than Doege, but I'd expect Franklin to learn a lot more during 2011 than Doege will. Franklin's thrown 14 passes at Missouri, but he might surpass that in the first half against Miami (OH) in the opener. Tyler Gabbert's departure after spring didn't help the Tigers' depth, but here's guessing it did wonders for Franklin's suspect self-confidence.

7. Collin Klein, Kansas State -- Klein was a big, versatile piece of Kansas State's offense last season, integral in a satisfying 39-14 stomping of Texas in Manhattan. He'll need to develop more as a passer to be the complete quarterback Kansas State needs, but for now, it looks like he'll hold off Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur to win the job officially.

8. Garrett Gilbert, Texas -- Gilbert's potential is clear, but it feels like time and quality receivers are necessary for him to start making good on that potential. He might not have either this season. I expect him to be better, but his leash will be much, much shorter if he beats out Case McCoy and Connor Wood in fall camp. He made it through 2010 without being benched, but if he shows any of the same struggles in 2011, he won't get far before McCoy or Wood get a chance, or even freshman David Ash.

9. Steele Jantz, Iowa State -- Jantz's speed is something Iowa State hasn't had from a quarterback since Seneca Wallace, and that playmaking ability can put pressure on defenses and allow Iowa State's backs to make plays and receivers see less blanketing coverage. I'll pick him over the more experienced Jerome Tiller up in Ames, and he'll love playing with former juco teammate Aaron Horne at receiver.

10. Jordan Webb, Kansas -- Webb sounds like he's distancing himself from Quinn Mecham this summer, but he still has a long way to go before he proves he's a quarterback that can get Kansas into the postseason. The position is more important in the Big 12 than in perhaps any other league in college football, and until Kansas improves there, losing seasons will continue.

Mailbag: UT QBs, clubhouses, player quirks

July, 1, 2011
7/01/11
3:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions. Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend.

Cary in Japan asked: Can you see a scenario where Gilbert doesn't start again for Texas this year at quarterback? And have any of the other QBs made enough noise thus far to give Gilbert a short leash?

David Ubben: Yeah, it could happen. I don't think it will happen, but it might. I think he'll end up the starter on opening day, but he'll have a way, way shorter leash. He has to. None of the other guys got a real shot last year, and if he struggles early this season, you absolutely have to put Connor Wood or Case McCoy out there before conference play. You can't just leave him out there making mistakes and hope it clicks at some point. We've seen enough of him, and he didn't have a ton of plays last year that really showed flashes of him turning it around in games.


DeMarshawn in Southlake, Texas, asked: Ubbenator - Have you been inside all of the Big 12 locker rooms? If so, which teams have the nicest/fanciest set-ups? If you were a prospective player and were deciding which school to play for based solely on the locker rooms, which team would you choose?

DU: I've been in a pretty big percentage of them on various campus visits, but on game weekends, they're usually closed. I haven't been to all of them, but the two that stick out are Oklahoma State and Texas. Crazy, crazy nice. I'm sure that's no surprise with the recent renovations at the OSU facilities and Texas' general aura of cash.

The thing that puts Texas' over the top, though? All the players' towels are crafted from actual $100 bills.


Baylorfan in San Antonio asked: david, in your opinion, is baylor closer to a 10 win breakout season or an 8 loss letdown season?

DU: Interesting question. It's very, very close, I'd say. The tougher schedule and additional conference game make me lean toward eight losses, though.

If the defense steps up, I could see the Bears winning 10 games, but they still have to play TCU and now get Missouri on the schedule, which they didn't have last year. Baylor hasn't proven it can consistently beat the South teams enough, and if you look back at the games it did win last year, the Colorado, K-State and Texas games all could have gone the other way. Meanwhile, the only loss it didn't get outright outplayed in, and could have gone the other way was Texas Tech. I definitely think the Bears fall somewhere in the middle, but the chances of an eight-loss season are a bit better than a 10-win season.


Larry in Columbia, Mo., asked: David,It's official: Former Mizzou QB Tyler Gabbert is transferring to Louisville. I wish him well, but I have to think he's making a mistake. At Mizzou, he was within a hair of winning the starting job and could have easily ended up playing a lot this season. At Louisville, he will need to sit out a year and then compete with star recruit Teddy Bridgewater who maybe have already established himself as the starter by then. Seems like he loses a year of eligibility to go to a worse situation. Your take? Love the blog! Larry

DU: That might be true, but it fits his personality. On some level, I agree with you, and though I don't know Tyler well, I've talked to his coaches about him a bit, and everything I've heard about him is he's by far the most competitive quarterback Missouri had.

That obviously carried over to his decision to transfer. It won't be easy there, but Gabbert believes he can win the job, or else he wouldn't have gone. I definitely think he's capable of starting at the BCS level. Is that at Louisville?

We'll see.


Blaine in Fort Worth, Texas, asked: Ubbs,I saw the great comment about "Tank Carder and his gratuitous arm bands", and I'll admit that I did laugh out loud. It makes me think about players over the last few years that overindulged on equipment/eyeblack/get ups. One that comes to mind is Tech's Brandon Carter. Can you give us a list of your favorites?

DU: Glad you enjoyed it. Carder is a heck of a player, but those things crack me up every time I see them. There aren't a ton of equipment quirks in the Big 12 that jump out, but Markelle Martin's tights always make him stick out on the field.

Obviously it has a pretty clear purpose, but Robert Griffin III's knee brace when he came back last year gives him a bit of a robotic look. You don't see QBs with that much protection too often.


Evan in Missouri asked: You posted a poll today who the readers thought was the 2nd best team. While I don't disagree that those 2 teams have the potential to be very good. But what about Mizzou? Yes, I'm a homer, but I honestly believe the Tigers have the potential as well. You know, as long as James Franklin is at least decent.

DU: At the end of the season, sure. No question that could happen. But the poll is asking about the beginning of the season. And there's no way Missouri is ranked higher than either OSU or Texas A&M. I'm higher on Mizzou heading into this year than most (I had them 16th on my post-spring poll, but I'll probably bump them down a few spots in the preseason poll), but they're going to have a lot to prove during the season before people take them seriously as a Big 12 contender.


Scott in Lilbourn, Mo., asked: Hello Mr. Ubben. I have been a regular visitor to your blog ever since Mizzou beat OU last season. I have a question for you. Lets say that James Franklin has a breakout first season and plays great from start to finish, where will Missouri end up if this were to happen? Thanks.

DU: I'd say 11-1 and in a BCS bowl. Franklin's a first-year starter. No matter how good he is, he's going to have some games that drive fans crazy. Look out for a 12-of-30, 175-yard, TD, two-INT night at some point. Maybe a couple of those. The good news is, Missouri is good enough everywhere else to pick him up when he does inevitably struggle at some point and it might not lose those games. It can lean on the running game and the defensive improvements will help make sure the Tigers don't need to hang 40 every time out to win a game.

Franklin's got the capability to have plenty of big nights, too, a 26-34, 310-yard, 3 TD kind of outing, and he'll have the capability to carry the team on some nights, but like any first-year guy, it won't be every night.


Jon in Davis, Calif., asked: Ubben,I am surprised this TCU v. Baylor game isn't picked as an upset special of the week. All of the markers are there for it: Home game for the Bears. Lots of offensive talent returning for the Bears. TCU loses most of its offensive team from last year, including its senior, experience rich QB.I mean really, do we all underestimate the value of Dalton that much? We saw what happened to UT once Colt left..that vaunted UT defense played admirably, but was crippled by that offense. I could see the same thing playing out here, with the obvious exception that BU doesn't have the talent on defense that UT does. But I digress...

DU: I'd say it's pretty close to being an upset, but you basically pegged all the reasons it should be a great game. TCU's got to feel good about Casey Pachall, but you'd have been hard-pressed to find a Texas fan not feeling even better about Garrett Gilbert a year ago. Look back at Oklahoma in 2009, too. They were replacing offensive line starters just like TCU, too. The thing has upset written all over it, but Baylor has to make it happen. TCU is still probably a better team, but it might take it awhile to get its sea legs underneath it with so many new faces.

Jason in Ames writes: With Danny Wuerffel being in the top 20 on the Simply Saturday list and having beaten Troy Davis by less the 200 points in the 1996 Heisman voting and having finished 5th the previous year on top of being the first guy to rush for 2,000 yards in consecutive years do you feel he should have represented the cyclones on the list? I logged on every day almost expecting him to be on it, haha. He was a great college player on a terrible team and put up so many yards even though every person in the stadium knew he was getting the ball. He is an Iowa State legend, not that it means much in the landscape of college football, but it would have been nice as a cyclone faithful to see him recognized.

DU: Yeah, he probably deserved a spot, but it was a tough, tough group. Look at the Big 12 player lowest on the list, Jason White. He threw for over 8,000 yards, won a Heisman and carried his team to the national championship twice. And he barely made it. Davis' yardage is impressive, and I'm sure you wouldn't have heard many complaints if he'd made it, but in any exercise like this, guys have to get left out.
We'll kick off our look today at the position rankings for each team in the Big 12 before looping back around to rank the top 10 at every position in the Big 12.

We'll start at the most obvious position: Quarterback, a position that I'd argue is more important in the Big 12 than in any other conference.

Depth will be a huge factor in these rankings, though at quarterback, it's the toughest to gauge, considering how little we see of backup quarterbacks.

Here's how each Big 12 team ranks at the quarterback position:

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireLandry Jones leads the Big 12's deepest and best group of quarterbacks.
1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma learned the hard way in 2009 about the importance of the backup quarterback, but even in his limited experience, Drew Allen has impressed Bob Stoops after narrowly losing out on the backup job behind Sam Bradford in 2009. Landry Jones is a great one, and with his opportunities, has become a Heisman Trophy favorite. Could Allen have done the same if he had beaten out Jones in 2009? Blake Bell, the nation's No. 3 quarterback in the 2010 class, will likely be Oklahoma's No. 3 in 2011.

2. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden's profile spiked when he led the Cowboys to a comeback win over Colorado on a Thursday night game in 2009. He took over as the starter shortly after, but going into that game Weeden was a third-stringer. Alex Cate transferred after it became evident that Weeden would be the starter in 2010, and behind Weeden is Clint Chelf and two solid recruits: Johnny Deaton and J.W. Walsh, who was the nation's No. 10 QB (just outside the ESPNU 150) in 2011 and enrolled early.

3. Texas A&M

Ryan Tannehill is entrenched at the starting spot, with a lot of youth behind him. Matt Joeckel and Jameill Showers will try to hold off incoming freshman Johnny Manziel for the No. 2 spot this fall. Manziel was impressive during the spring, and will contend for the starting job in 2012, but he'll likely redshirt unless he wins the backup job.

4. Texas Tech

Seth Doege looks ready to grab the reins for two seasons, barring injury. Jacob Karam is probably ready to start in the Big 12 right now, he's just not as good as Doege. Behind them are two promising prospects with upside and development to do: Scotty Young and Michael Brewer. The Red Raiders are the last of the Big 12 teams who have truly solid depth at quarterback.

5. Baylor

Robert Griffin III will probably hold every school record for quarterbacks by the time he leaves Waco, but the Bears need to find a true replacement behind him. Nick Florence filled in well in 2009 when Griffin missed the final nine games with a knee injury, but he's a junior like Griffin and their eligibility will expire simultaneously. Redshirt freshman Bryce Petty and 2012 commit Jared Johnson could battle for the spot in 2013.

6. Missouri

The Tigers depth took a hit after Tyler Gabbert's transfer following spring practice, but expectations are high for sophomore James Franklin, who got a bit of experience in 2010 behind Blaine Gabbert. Senior Jimmy Costello quit the team after last season to focus on an impending fall enlistment in the Army, but rejoined after the Gabbert brothers' departures from Columbia. He's likely to be the backup, with Ashton Glaser and walk-on Ryan Howerton filling out the rest of the quarterback spots. Corbin Berkstresser, a 6-foot-3, 218-pound quarterback from Kansas City that ESPN ranked No. 43 at his position, will arrive in the fall, too.

7. Texas

How long until we see a quarterback make the kind of plays Garrett Gilbert made against Alabama in the national championship? Those kinds of long scores were rare last year, but the Longhorns will have a competition this fall that sounds like it's pretty open heading into camp. If Gilbert wins, he'll likely have a much shorter leash in 2011 than he did in 2010, before Case McCoy or Connor Wood gets a crack, and dark horse true freshman David Ash could make things interesting, too.

8. Kansas State

Collin Klein made a nice move toward winning the job with a strong spring game performance. But coach Bill Snyder says he still didn't see a ton of separation between Klein and his backups, Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle, who spent last year replacing Cam Newton at Blinn College in Texas.

9. Iowa State

James Capello transferred after the spring, but Iowa State's race has likely boiled down to two men: Jerome Tiller and Steele Jantz. Jantz, a juco transfer, is the wild card and Tiller will need to show that his struggles in spot duty last season were temporary. He didn't show the progress you'd expect from a maturing player when he played for an injured Austen Arnaud in a few games early and late in 2010. Jared Barnett is still battling in Ames, but him winning the job would be a huge upset.

10. Kansas

The Jayhawks could use a couple more years of Todd Reesing. The Jayhawks saw a huge drop off at the quarterback position in 2010, as Jordan Webb, Quinn Mecham and Kale Pick all got time under center. Kansas will likely run its offense through a strong group of running backs, but unless newcomer Brock Berglund shows potential and proves he's the best of the group, expect Kansas to remain near the bottom of the Big 12 by the end of 2011.

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