The Big 12's earned a status as college football's home of great quarterback play, churning out big-time passers like Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Brandon Weeden just in the past few seasons.
Phil Steele released his recent rankings of the nation's top 15 quarterback units, and the Big 12 didn't make a single appearance. (Even the WAC had a team in the rankings, with San Jose State.)
It has to be the first time in a long while the Big 12 hasn't made an appearance on the list, but one, it makes sense from Steele's perspective. The amount of returning talent in the Big 12 is pretty dire. TCU's Casey Pachall missed the last nine games of last season and didn't throw a ball or work out from October to January and Texas' David Ash is an above average passer but not a top 15 guy nationally.
Ultimately, I wouldn't fret too much about the Big 12's absence. It's about returning talent, but this time next year, the Big 12's likely to have plenty of solid, productive passers. We've written about that a lot this offseason, and Baylor's Bryce Petty was Steele's pick for the Big 12's first-team QB. I'd probably agree, but you can't put a guy with 14 career passes on your top 15 national rankings in the preseason.
The lack of experience across the league is the only reason you're seeing names like Petty's and Michael Brewer on Big 12 top five lists.
Steele also released his list of the top 15 defensive line units, where the Big 12 fared much better. With Jackson Jeffcoat and Malcom Brown, as well as the addition of Houston transfer Zeke Riser, it's no surprise to see the Longhorns at No. 5.
TCU is the only other Big 12 team on the list, checking in at No. 10. Devonte Fields is the obvious headliner there, but Steele makes a nice catch in giving a shoutout to two very underrated tackles in Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson. Those two guys will make Fields' job a whole lot easier this season, and helped land TCU on the list, proving the Frogs are more than a one-man show up front on defense.