- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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In Tuesday's mailbag, we chat about the importance of a playmaking quarterback in the Big 12, head-to-head results and Texas' chances to follow in TCU's footsteps. Feel free to submit questions for next week's mailbag.
Mike in Goldsby writes: There's been a lot said about the importance of quarterback play in the coming Big 12 season, which makes me wonder if a Big 12 team could win with a "game manager"? Is it enough to make the easy throws and not turn the ball over given good running from the backs and receivers, or would being a running threat as well do the job, or is a serious passing threat required at the position?
Brandon Chatmon: It’s a good question, Mike. More and more, I think Big 12 teams need a playmaking quarterback to win games. It doesn’t matter how good their defense is, they’re going to give up points in the Big 12. That means a quarterback who can make plays is needed. Even if a team has excellent running backs and receivers, they still need that guy who can come through and make a play when it matters yet value the ball and possessions as well. The quarterback position is critical.
GoWVU in Los Angeles, California, writes: Last week the comment by A.J. in Columbus asked if the "eye test", style points, and perception had begun to trump "settling it on the field" in regards to a majority of Big 12 players selecting TCU over Baylor as last year's true champ. None of those things necessarily need to be considered. The unquestioning acceptance of head-to-head results is a bigger problem to me whenever any type of subjective judgment must be made as in this poll. Why hasn't anyone bothered to examine the fact that relying solely on a head-to-head tiebreaker rewards the flakier team?
BC: I get where you’re coming from -- in some ways -- but calling a team with the same record a "flakier team" seems odd. For me the distinction is pretty simple. West Virginia beat Baylor last year. Did the Mountaineers deserve to be in the conversation? No. If two teams have the same record, and one beats the other, I don’t see how head-to-head doesn’t win out. Otherwise, why play the game?
Jake in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Looking at the upcoming 2015 football season, which upset or upsets do you think will be most likely to occur?
BC: I expect a bunch of “upsets” but since the middle of the conference after TCU and Baylor is wide open, I don’t think of those as upsets. But as far as rankings go, TCU’s trip to Oklahoma State will be tough, Baylor’s Thursday night visit to Kansas State will be a difficult task and Oklahoma’s home game against West Virginia come to mind immediately. I could easily see upsets in each of those matchups.
Brad in West Palm Beach, Florida, writes: I've heard a few commentators on radio predict that the Big 12 will not be around in 5 years. Citing David Boren's statements about Oklahoma potentially moving along with some other indicators. How likely do you think that is? Personally, I would love to see expansion. If not for anything more than to have UCF join the conference so I could see the Sooners play near me in Florida. Selfishly, I think UCF would make a good fit for the Big 12.
BC: I think five years might be a little quick but I do think the Big 12 could be in trouble, long-term, if it does not get more proactive before the next round of realignment. However, I do not think the conference should add teams just to expand. There must be real, tangible value in each addition. And UCF is one of the programs I think the Big 12 should consider if it must expand to survive. But we aren't at that point ... yet.
Kris Roach in Lubbock, Texas, writes: Why is there so much hype on Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph & not Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes? Did you not watch him against OU, Iowa State?
BC: Because Patrick Mahomes has not been named the starter yet. That’s the simple reason for me. I loved what I saw from Mahomes but he didn’t match the impact, wins-wise, of Rudolph. That said, there’s not a major difference between the two for me. I think both can be stars of the Big 12 in the near future. Both seem to have an "it" factor.
Sam in Dallas, Texas, writes: Considering TCU went 4-8 just a year ago, do you see any way Texas can make a similar turnaround this year? They seem to be similar situations. TCU had a solid defense but a poor offense with a poor and inexperienced quarterback. The next year they had many starters from the year before including Trevone Boykin, but simply changed their offense and went on to go 12-1. Texas seems to have the same situation with Tyrone Swoopes, a good portion of their starters coming back (granted more than half gone on defense), and they are also going to a high-tempo spread offense.
BC: It will come down to the quarterback position for UT, Sam. A special, game-changing quarterback changes everything and Boykin's growth as a quarterback was the defining force for the Horned Frogs. Also, TCU’s defense was full of veterans and leaders and the same cannot be said for the Longhorns in 2015. Thus, I don’t like the Longhorns' chances of having a TCU-like turnaround. But I really like the overall talent that Charlie Strong is amassing so I think any Longhorns fan who is willing to be a little patient will be rewarded.