Big 12: Mailbag 090712

Thanks for all the e-mails this week, everybody. Didn't get to hear back from me? Send your thoughts, questions and quips to my Mailbag and try again next week.

On to your letters ...

Mike J. in Jacksonville, Fla., wrote: Wouldn't it be nice if West Virginia was playing F.S.U. this week??

David Ubben: Yes, yes it would, Mike, and "College GameDay" might be coming to their city (aka Tallahassee) as we speak. Hey, I get why WVU dropped the game. The first year in the Big 12 is going to be hard enough. No reason to overdo it with a top 10 game out of conference, especially with one that's on the road. That said, the game itself is better off when matchups like that happen.

I don't necessarily blame WVU for dropping the two-year home-and-home instead of another matchup, but that doesn't change the fact that it makes this weekend's set of games (and the Big 12's nonconference schedule as a whole) very lackluster.




Shaun in Old Bridge, N. J., wrote: Hey Ubben, Thought this week's mailbag would be a good opportunity for you to explain to the people why the WVU faithful will be rooting for OSU to blowout Arizona this week. Just a hint for those that don't know, it has nothing to do with conference affiliation.

DU: Ha, I can do my part. Oklahoma State, West Virginia would really like it if you went down to Tucson and put a whooping into Arizona. Why? Let's go with a quick history lesson:

Rodriguez, a West Virginia native and alumni, followed the legendary Don Nehlen in 2001 and won four Big East titles in his seven seasons in Morgantown. In 2006, Alabama came calling, but Rodriguez said no, indicating he'd be in Morgantown for quite awhile.

He wasn't. The next season, Rodriguez carried the preseason top five Mountaineers to a 10-1 record entering the Backyard Brawl against rival Pittsburgh, who was just 3-7 entering the game. A win would easily put the Mountaineers into the BCS title game. West Virginia's high-powered offense looked awful and (with the help of Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads at defensive coordinator), Pitt pulled the 13-9 upset in the season finale and knocked the Mountaineers out of the BCS title game.

If the sting from that game wasn't enough, Rodriguez left two weeks later for Michigan. This was only a few months after Rodriguez had renegotiated his contract that included a $4 million buyout.

His struggles over three seasons at Michigan (15-22 overall record) are well-chronicled, but Rodriguez left a chance to become the next legend at his alma mater and home state to chase the big job. Once he got that big job, he didn't succeed, and West Virginians are still a little bitter over the way he left and that 2007 loss. So, West Virginians will be quite happy if a Big 12 team hands Rodriguez a big loss in his first major test in Tucson.

So, Big 12 fans: If you don't know, now you know.




J.R. in Waco, Texas, wrote: Ubbs! I love you man but ranking us seventh in the conference really?! Baylor, as a team, is basically as good as last year and can very well have close to the same record. We are returning 16 starters. Our defense only can get better. Losing RG3, Wright and Ganaway hurts no doubt. But Florence is a pretty darn good QB! Salubi and Seastrunk are ready to take the mantle at running back; and Sampson and Williams are both phenomenal receivers. My prediction would be about third or fourth in the conference with victories over TCU, Texas and Texas Tech. Keep in mind that we just crushed an SMU team that beat TCU in Fort Worth last year.

DU: Hey, I feel you on this. It was hard for me at times to believe on Sunday night I was watching the Big 12's seventh-best team, but when you look around at the rest of the league, it's just a jumbled mess in the top seven. I'm not sure if I really believe Baylor can contend for a league title over the course of a 12-game season, but the Bears looked the part on Sunday night.

The top seven teams in the league all legitimately have the talent to contend. You could make an legitimate argument for any order of the top seven teams in the league, minus having West Virginia and Oklahoma finishing outside the top half. I don't see that happening. Whoever can be the most consistent is the team that's going to win this league. Can Baylor beat any team in the league? Abso-freakin'-lutely. Can they do it every week? I'm skeptical.

That's why we play the games.




Luke in Cyclone Country wrote: Hey Ubben, did you see any indication from the ISU/Tulsa game that Steele Jantz will be benched for Barnett any time this season? I also noticed you haven't been to Ames for a game since the 2008 Missouri game. I think ISU is due for a win over Oklahoma and KSU. Do you realize how hungry the fans are to see both play in Ames. Its been years since either visited. Any chance you are going to be on hand for either of those, or do they have to win both for you to be in Ames for the WVU game?

DU: I didn't, but that could change if he goes back to his old ways of turning the ball over. Jared Barnett will be ready, and he could quarterback this team well, too. That said, I was impressed with what I saw from Jantz last week. As for me coming to Ames, I hear you Cyclones. I've been inundated with e-mails from you folks all season. Ultimately, we still cover the most nationally relevant games in the Big 12 each week. Iowa State likes to pull upsets, but we don't usually cover games with spreads of 20 points or more.

If Iowa State's winning ways grow and they become more relevant in the league title race, you'll see me in Ames. So far, that hasn't happened, but I'll be more than happy to make my way over when it does.




Justin in Iowa wrote: The apocalypse is coming. Beware the 'clones!

DU: That's one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen. Sheesh. Nightmare fuel of the highest order.




Gabe in Bryan, Texas wrote: Last time you failed to mention anything about OK State- Boone Pickens Stadium when asked about the best venue. You mentioned that Texas and Oklahoma had the most impressive stadiums. Having been to the home of the longhorns and sooners, I seriously think OSU does have the best stadiums in terms of infrastructure as well as atmosphere. Just curious on where (overall rank amongst big 12 schools) would you place Boone Pickens Stadium??

DU: There's no doubt Boone Pickens is one of the nicest -- if not the nicest stadium in the league. TCU's new digs will give it a run for its money in that category, though. In terms of volume, I've never really been wowed by Boone Pickens Stadium. It can get pretty loud -- the past two years of Bedlam are as loud as I've ever heard it -- but you heard significantly louder crowds at times at Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. Just not in the same category as those places. It's a great atmosphere, and definitely in the top half of the Big 12 when it comes to volume, but it's not one of the loudest.

Always a fun place to see a great game and a good atmosphere around the stadium, though.




Matt in Austin, Texas wrote: Ubbs, is this the third year in a row that Baylor has a better QB than UT?

DU: Yes. And no, I don't know how that's possible, either.

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