Chat with David Ubben
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger David Ubben will stop by to chat some college football.
Ubben joined ESPN.com in March 2010 after covering Big 12 football for two seasons at the Columbia Missourian and The Oklahoman. Ubben, a native of Springdale, Ark., lives in Dallas.
Send your questions now and join Ubben Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
David Ubben (3:00 PM)
Welcome back, everybody. Let's get this week's chat rolling.
Ben (Leadville, Colorado)
David: As recruiting season winds down, is there a team that will land many top quality athletes and/or a team that will lose major ground? Are there major surprises, good or bad, in store?
David Ubben (3:02 PM)
Not really. You'll probably see a few guys make switches on signing day, but that stuff is impossible to predict. Texas will probably hang on to its spot as the nation's top class. Oklahoma is right there in the top 5ish. Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska all have great classes, too.
Dillon (Afton, OK)
What do you think about OSU's defense next year? What will it take to make it respectable?
David Ubben (3:04 PM)
Well, I'd say it was pretty respectable this year, mostly late in the year. They shut down Arizona pretty well, didn't let Texas do anything, did what you'd expect against Kansas, led Baylor 34-0 at one point and held K-State to 14 points. That's enough to get you plenty of wins.
L. Edgar (Las Vegas)
Kudoes to ESPN for the excellent 30for30 documentary on Marcus Dupree. I saw it last night and was very impressed. It was a great story on many levels.
David Ubben (3:04 PM)
Agreed. Loved that one, and all the ones on college football, too. I'm a huge NBA guy, though, so I really liked the Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan ones, too.
Nebraska's recruiting class has been pretty much stagnant since they lost the NC kicker. So far there are only 16 verbal commits which is well below the number for almost everyone else. Is Pelini trying to make a signing day sweep such as he nearly pulled off last year? Will he do it?
David Ubben (3:05 PM)
When it comes to recruiting, I can't stress it enough: Quality over quantity.
Tyler (St. Louis)
I agree with the article that claimed Blaine Gabbert is the most under-rated player in the draft. I saw most of the bowl games and thought that his performance was the best of any I saw. Yes, he threw the late interception, but he was spot on for 99% of the game. Really looked good.
David Ubben (3:06 PM)
Yeah, he played really well. The Texas Tech game was really weird for him this year, but when his accuracy is on, he's extremely dangerous. Iowa's secondary didn't look prepared to stop him.
Do you know much about AP Texas high school POY Johnny Manziel? What do you see him bringing to Texas A&M?
David Ubben (3:07 PM)
I don't know a ton about him, but he's on campus early, which will definitely help his development. I'll be taking a look at all the early enrolling freshmen later this afternoon.
harold (raytown, Missouri)
David-I assume Franklin will be MU's QB of the future, no? PS How good can he be in Missouri's offensive system?
David Ubben (3:09 PM)
A lot of people assume that, and I think that's what will end up being the case, but it has to be all about accuracy in Missouri's system. We saw where the Tigers ceiling was with Brad Smith: Not very high, and it came with a floor below .500. Under Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, two really accurate passers, Missouri never won fewer than eight games and had three 10-win seasons in four years. It should come down to the most accurate passer wins the job. Maybe that's James Franklin, but I'd expect Tyler Gabbert and Ashton Glaser to get very serious looks this spring. The job is open for the taking.
David, love the blog, great stuff. In your opinion, what is the biggest perceived need for the Baylor Bears to take the next step, from a bowl team to a 9-10 win team?
David Ubben (3:11 PM)
It's all about recruiting. Baylor has done a nice job. Clearly, the skill position talent on offense is there. They're getting more athletes in the secondary like an Ahmad Dixon and they've had guys up front like Jason Smith and Phil Taylor who should go on to careers in the NFL. But you have to a) get those guys consistently and b) get those guys the first time around, not after they transfer like Taylor did from Penn State. Do that, and get the program rolling, similar to the way Mike Gundy and Gary Pinkel have done, and anything could happen.
Are you going to continue your Best/Worst case rewind or just leave it at Colorado and Baylor? I'd like to see your analysis on each team please and thanks.
David Ubben (3:12 PM)
Definitely. We'll keep it going. Iowa State is slated for tomorrow.
Obligatory Texas question: What do you think of the Jerry Gray hire?
David Ubben (3:13 PM)
Love it. The quick hire says Mack Brown wasn't quite as blindsided by Duane Akina's departure as the rest of us, but it's a huge pickup for the Horns and like I wrote this morning, eliminates some of the conjecture and speculation that would have arisen with Akina's departure. Gray has instant credibility. He's overqualified, but in a place he loves. That's a good combination.
James (Blacksburg VA)
Does Gabbert start next season?
David Ubben (3:15 PM)
It's all about the situation. A guy like Aaron Rodgers goes late in the first round and has to sit for fourish years if my memory serves me correctly. Turns out great. A guy like Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford gets shoved into that starting role immediately. It's up to the player's development and the franchise's current need. Impossible to tell how that fits Gabbert this early. Any quarterback though, I think, would benefit from a year or two of sitting and watching.
Which contender next year do you think benefits the most from the new round-robin conference schedule?
David Ubben (3:16 PM)
I don't think it benefits any of the contenders, but teams like Texas Tech, Texas A&M Oklahoma State I'm sure are glad to see everyone else have to deal with OU and Texas every year moving forward instead of just one or neither.
DU, When will we see the end of the SEC's run. I hate those guys.
David Ubben (3:16 PM)
Ha. Put on your Oklahoma hat if you want to see it. Sooners will have the best shot next year.
Dubbs, what about the Mizzou-Oklahoma game in your top 5 games of the season? I figured the largest gameday would at least make honorable mention.
David Ubben (3:17 PM)
Drop me a line in the mailbag for why it should be on there. I'll open a call for it later today on all games/moments. I'll give you my reasons why it didn't make the list tomorrow.
Is A&M's Tannehill that good, or was his late-season success a by-product of teams not having as much film to study on him, or a mixture of both?
David Ubben (3:19 PM)
Nah, he's solid. He'd played a ton, and worked primarily at quarterback through the season of practice and took all the first-team live reps in the spring. He was ready to take over. He may get some different looks and struggle next year, but he's probably the smartest guy on A&M's team and I'd expect him to adjust. He's due for a big year next year, even more so with Jeff Fuller back.
W (Little Apple)
Do you believe the Brown brothers will be able to back up the hype next season?
David Ubben (3:20 PM)
Uh, we'll see. If I had to bet, I'd say no. There's a reason it didn't happen at Miami and Tennessee. Maybe being back home changes that. Like I said, we'll see. They certainly will get an opportunity.
Who ya got to win this weekend? Pack or Bears? Jets or Pittsburgh?
David Ubben (3:21 PM)
Ha, I gotta go with the pick I made on the blog back in May for Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Jets-Packers in the Big Bowl.
Does Texas bounce back in 2011?
David Ubben (3:22 PM)
To a degree. It's capable of winning the Big 12. I don't believe they will, but with the amount of talent on defense and perhaps a renewed offense, it's possible. My guess for them is 8-9 wins.
Keith (Dallas, TX)
Considering the assistant stampede, how impressive is it that UT hasn't lost a single recruit? Westerman may be wavering but everyone else has been solid.
David Ubben (3:23 PM)
It speaks to the program certainly. Recruits are signing up to go to Texas and win, not necessarily to play for certain coaches. Austin will always be there, but the wins need to come back or recruiting won't always be quite this easy for the Horns.
Dylan (College station, tx)
Odds that in Norman next year the big 12 is decided when the aggies some up to play?
David Ubben (3:24 PM)
It's possible. Good luck with that. The Sooners have only lost one Big 12 game in Norman under Bob Stoops. Better go hire Les Miles. He's the only guy to do it.
who do you think will be texas QB next year?
David Ubben (3:25 PM)
Not buying Connor Wood or Case McCoy as a necessary change. The Longhorns will ride it out with Garrett Gilbert. I think he comes back with a much better year as a junior.
To counter Jack's question, which team do you think is hurt most by the round-robin scheduling?
David Ubben (3:26 PM)
Definitely the teams--specifically from the North--that are bowl teams but not locked in as bowl teams. It's going to be a little bit harder for teams like K-State and Iowa State to consistently make bowl games with nine conference games and Texas and OU on the schedule every year.
What are the chances that Bedlam next year is between two undefeated teams?
David Ubben (3:27 PM)
Not great. Oklahoma could pull it off. OSU maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Will there still be a Big 12 when it comes time to renegotiate TV contracts in 2014?
David Ubben (3:27 PM)
Texas Tech looks to be trying to implement a massive philosophy shift from Air Raid to a more traditional run-pass mix. Can they recruit the caliber of athlete needed to be successful in that?
David Ubben (3:28 PM)
That's not necessarily true. I talked to Tommy Tuberville about that last week for a little bit at the AFCA Convention. They want to be able to run the ball, maybe a little more but mostly more effectively, but they definitely plan on still slinging it pretty often. Don't look for a change to a traditional offense any time soon. There's a reason he went with spread specialist Neal Brown, and he's sticking with him.
Keith (Dallas, TX)
When will the announcement be made as to which opponents are being dropped from Big XII schedules next season now that they have the extra conference game?
David Ubben (3:29 PM)
That's an issue for each school to deal with. There won't be one uniform announcement. Most of them have already made the necessary adjustments.
David, how come the fact that Michigan wanted to talk to Gary Pinkel didn't make national headlines like the Les Miles situation did?
David Ubben (3:31 PM)
Well for one, because Miles did have a conversation, and he has a much higher profile than Pinkel, who didn't actually talk with Michigan, he declined to. And there's a big difference between declining to talk to someone and declining an offer. We don't know much about where Pinkel ranked on Michigan's list or how serious they were about him. It's certainly encouraging for Missouri's program and Pinkel's commitment to said program that he expressed by turning down that conversation, but Miles was much closer to actually becoming the new coach. Also, it didn't help the story's national play that the two publications with the most information about it were locked behind a pay wall. Oh, 21st century journalism!
HuskerFan (Lincoln, NE)
Is Bubba Starling playing football or is he signing up in the MLB before we get a chance to see what he can do?
David Ubben (3:32 PM)
We don't know yet. He'll have to decide by mid-August. He'll probably show up to fall camp, see how that is and decide from there.
Keith (Dallas, TX)
If there is an NFL lockout, how much does college football stand to gain?
David Ubben (3:33 PM)
Certainly a little bit in the ratings department from football-starved fans, and maybe it could pick up a few that felt spurned by the league, but the NFL won't lose its spot as king because of one lockout.
I will go out on a limb and say the new coaching staff at Texas is superb and will get the best out of the team next season, however, last season RB WRs OL and even the QB were pitiful. Do they have the talent on the field to build a 10-11-12 win season? Was it poor coaching or poor talent?
David Ubben (3:35 PM)
Well, poor coaching and poor production from said talent. The talent is there, but the coaches have to get it out of them. The talent to win 10-12 games is there, but it might be hard to do it while trying to fit into the first year of a new offense and a new defense.
Do you expect the Big 12 to change its name/logo/brand soon?
David Ubben (3:37 PM)
The league has a marketing company researching that right now, but I think they'll stick with the same name and brand, which is what it should do. The league could use a logo change. It looks like the current logo was designed in 1996...which makes sense. But a new one is in order to give it a new look for a new era.
Don (Little Rock)
When will expansion happen? Who are the candidates?
David Ubben (3:38 PM)
It might not ever happen. If it does, it'll be around 2014 or later. Some candidates that make sense: BYU, Louisville, Arizona and Arizona State, maybe Memphis. Some that make sense to some but probably won't ever happen: TCU, Houston, Boise State.
Zach (Broken Arrow)
Are the Missouri fans going to taket he place of the Nebraska fans?
David Ubben (3:39 PM)
Ha, in what way? Nebraska fans held the title of the best fans in the Big 12. Now that they're gone, that title goes to Texas A&M, and it's not really close.
That makes me happy to hear that. The reports I have read of the coaching situation last season are shocking. If we have the talent, we'll be back.
David Ubben (3:40 PM)
True, but you have to keep winning to keep that talent. Texas badly needs Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin to succeed. If they don't we could be looking at a very different Texas program 5-10 years from now.
Before the season, Jerrod Johnson was expected to be one of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft. Does an NFL team even take a chance and draft him now?
David Ubben (3:41 PM)
Not entirely true there, Shannon. Jerrod was a late-round prospect. His mechanics were still raw and he wasn't as accurate as he'd need to be in the NFL. He'll get a chance in the NFL with someone, but he won't get drafted. He needs to get the strength back in his arm, but he's a smart, coachable guy and a great teammate who has huge size and huge arm strength when he's healthy. There's no way somebody won't give him a chance.
There's a lot of talk about dumping Cosh. Have you heard anything?
David Ubben (3:43 PM)
Nothing explicit, but certainly a lot of talk circulating. Having the worst defense in the Big 12 and not being able to do anything particularly well defensively is not good for job security. Granted, K-State didn't have a ton of high-level athletes on defense this year, so he didn't have as much talent to work with as others did.
David Ubben (3:43 PM)
Tysyn Hartman, David Garrett and Brandon Harold are solid, but beyond them, it got a little sketchy.
Do you foresee any high impact transfers into the Big 12 next season? Not "Cam-Newtonesque" or anything like that, but a guy like LaVonte David who makes a big impact for his team?
David Ubben (3:44 PM)
Gosh, that stuff is so hard to predict. Nobody thought he'd be as good as he would be even a few games into the season. The same is true for Nick Fairley. I suppose you could say the Brown brothers at K-State?
Robert (Dallas, TX)
Bigger key to OU winninng the championship, finding a solid replacement for Murray, or Landy Jones eliminating costly interceptions(pick sixes) in big games.
David Ubben (3:45 PM)
Definitely Landry Jones not making big mistakes. Oklahoma will run the ball with a bit less power this year, considering their top runner, Roy Finch, is more of a scatback. But look out for fullback Trey Millard to get a few more carries. He got a ton this year for the Sooners, more than about any other fullback under Bob Stoops, and he's just a freshman.
Gabe (College Station)
Why would Arizona and Arizona St leave the Pac 12 for the Big 10? Money, I assume.
David Ubben (3:46 PM)
The Big 12, you mean. Exactly. To convince them to leave, you'd have to convince Arizona and Arizona State that they'd be more profitable in the Big 12. That's not easy, but it's not impossible either. The league convinced Texas.
What are the chances Stoops hires or names someone to focus on special teams in 2011?
David Ubben (3:47 PM)
Well, he filled out his staff with Bruce Kittle over the weekend, so it looks like zero unless someone defects.
Hunter (College Station, TX)
Does Tannehill fall victim to the Senior Quarterback Curse?
David Ubben (3:47 PM)
I can't help but have that in the back of my mind as the season starts. I thought Jerrod would be immune to it, but he definitely fell under its spell, along with Reggie McNeal and a handful of others. It'll be interesting to watch.
David, how much do you buy into the rating of high school recruits? Obviously colleges need to bring in talent, but I have a major problem with making 18 year old kids into super stars and having televised announcements. Look at the college and NFL stars out there that were never considered "Big Name" recruits.
David Ubben (3:49 PM)
It's not everything, but it's something. For as many busts and as many guys who come out of nowhere and have big success, there's just as many four and five-star guys who fulfill the hype. Or, as Tim Tebow's latest commercial would have you believe, no one ever believed he could be a D-1 quarterback, or win the Heisman. Sheesh.
Is there any possibility of a Big 12 Heisman winner and if so, who?
David Ubben (3:50 PM)
It's possible this year. Landry Jones will have a shot. Brandon Weeden, too. Justin Blackmon and Ryan Broyles will have a hard time winning as receivers. Texas A&M has a dark horse with Tannehill, who would pick up some steam with a win. Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray will split carries, so it'd be hard for either of them to win it.
David Ubben (3:51 PM)
A couple more questions before I've got to split. Let's get after it.
Ryan (College Station, TX)
Say that Tannehill does in fact fall under the effects of the senior quarterback curse like Jerrod and others before him did. Would Texas A&M have a backup ready to take over like Tannehill did for Jerrod and like Jerrod did for MeGee?
David Ubben (3:53 PM)
Not particularly. The guys behind Tannehill don't have anywhere near the experience. My guess is Jameill (sp? Sorry.) Showers gets the first crack. He throws a pretty ball, but he's got no experience. I saw him a bit last fall when I was in College Station before the season, and he looked good, but you don't get points for throwing perfect spirals. Matt Joeckel, the brother of starting LT Luke Joeckel, is in the mix, too.
Kris (Des Moines)
Is it your feeling that Bob Stoops has somewhat resigned himself to retiring as a Sooner?
David Ubben (3:55 PM)
In some ways, I suppose it's the case. You can never say never, and maybe one day he gets the inkling to leave for Iowa or Florida. But he has a great relationships with his bosses, AD Joe Castiglione and President David Boren, which means a lot more than people realize. He'd rather not disturb that, I think. Plus, his kids are all entering the formative teenage years, and uprooting a family isn't a great idea for awhile now. All things that get overlooked often with Stoops, in my opinion.
Texas and Oklahoma don't seem to be the juggernaughts they were 3 or 4 years ago, has there been a better time for the north teams to have to play them every year?
David Ubben (3:56 PM)
For Texas, yes. But probably just last year and this year. I don't know what Oklahoma you've been watching the last four years or so.
Keith (Dallas, TX)
Looking at the young, racially and culturally diverse staff Mack Brown has put together, any chance that helps at all with the perception (possibly reality) that the program has gotten a bit stale?
David Ubben (3:57 PM)
Honestly, I do. I don't think people should focus on that, but I do think it could matter to recruits who would rather play for a younger coach, or a coach that can relate more to them in a lot of ways that guys like Greg Davis and Will Muschamp couldn't.
The one that lost 4 BCS games
David Ubben (3:57 PM)
Ha. And how many schools have gotten to four BCS games? Or eight? And it was five BCS games, for accuracy's sake.
Napoleon (Preston, ID)
How is Louisville and Memphis more worthy than Boise State? You have a better chance of hooking up with Halle Berry than the Big 12 getting the AZ schools.
David Ubben (3:58 PM)
David Ubben (3:58 PM)
Thanks for the questions everybody. See you again next week. Good chat today.