Chat with Jake Trotter
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter stops by to chat about college football.
Trotter joined ESPN.com in 2011 after four years with The Oklahoman covering OU and Big 12 football. Before that, he worked at the Austin American-Statesman and Middletown (Ohio) Journal. Trotter grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Washington & Lee (Va.) University.
Send your questions now and join Trotter Tuesday at noon ET!
Jake Trotter (12:00 PM)
We'll get rolling in a sec... keep sending in comments and questions.
Landon Gailbreath (Lost Nation iowa)
Which conference outside of the SEC was the strongest? and Why?
Jake Trotter (12:03 PM)
I give the Pac-12 a slight edge. Even with Stanford losing in the Rose Bowl and Arizona State getting toppled by Tech, the league still had a very good bowl record. The gap, however, is not as wide as I would have thought before the bowl season.
Matthew James Phil Rogers III (El Paso, TX)
Is the Big 12 ever going to become legitimate again? I've always been a fan, but ever since the decline of Texas, it seems there is only 1 good Big 12 team each year. It's a disappointment, and quite frankly an embarrassment. There is too much talent in this area, and we lose it all to the SEC! It's rediculous! We are becoming a laughing stock every year with the exception of one team, that typically rotates between OU, OSU, and Baylor. What is the B12 doing wrong?!?
Jake Trotter (12:06 PM)
Well, Texas and to a lesser extent Oklahoma being down has really hurt the league the last 4 years. Nobody was talking about the Big 12 being down in '08, when OU, Texas and even Tech were all top five teams. When the flagship programs are struggling, the conference suffers a perception hit as a result. Conference realignment also hurt. That said, I think the Big 12 is on the upswing. OU is loaded for next year. Texas has a new coach, who is putting together a tremendous staff. Oklahoma State has proven it just reloads now. Baylor is better than ever. Bill Synder has K-State rolling again. And Tech is on the upswing. Reasons for optimism in the Big 12.
John (Houston, TX)
How could you not acknowledge the best punter in the Big12 during the BCS era, Daniel Sepulveda? Two time All American, one of only two players to win the Ray Guy Award twice, and youtube sensation for his ability to cover his own kicks. Quinn Sharp never covered a kick like that.
Jake Trotter (12:08 PM)
It was weird. Special teams is where I had the most trouble with the Big 12 BCS era team. I had Sepulveda and Dan Bailey as my punter and kicker originally. But the more I researched Mason Crosby, the more I felt he deserved a nod even without a Groza Award. Then Sharp, I mean, he was an All-American as a kicker AND a punter. That's pretty incredible. But you could make a case for Sepulveda and I wouldn't say you were wrong. This was a very subjective list, and other great players were left off, too.
Cory Gowan (Huntsville Ala)
Do you think Alabama will be the same without AJ
Jake Trotter (12:09 PM)
As long as they have Nick Saban, probably. Alabama may not be the national title favorite next year. But they're not going anywhere either.
Jp Shero (Glen rose Texas )
Can Oklahoma take down FSU next year in the national title? I know they'll be able to romp Texas next year. Boomer Sooner!
Jake Trotter (12:10 PM)
OU has a lot more to prove before we start talking title. But there's no doubt the potential is there. The schedule is very manageable, and several of OU's best players are still getting better.
Any word on DJ ward? speaking with another fan today, and he told me hes heard rumors his career could be over.
Jake Trotter (12:11 PM)
I saw him at the Sugar Bowl, and he seemed fine. But anytime you're dealing with internal injuries, that's always scary. I think we'll know more in spring ball.
Mike B (Beckley, WV)
What are your thoughts on Ford Childress leaving the program and the whole quarterback soap opera that will be unfolding next season at West Virginia? Can Crest come in and make an immediate impact?
Jake Trotter (12:12 PM)
I thought that was very curious, but it sounds like Childress had issues off the field. Holgorsen has other QBs, so I don't think it's a huge loss. I have a feeling one of the two newcomers will ultimately win the starting job, Crest or Howard.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
Now that we are 2 and 3 years removed from Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas A&M leaving the conference and adding West Virginia and TCU, how would you evaluate the conference as a whole in terms of marketing, revenue, and brand recognition. To me it still seems like its OU and Texas at the top and everyone else jockeys for 3rd thru 10th not only in revenue but in brand awareness as well.
Jake Trotter (12:13 PM)
There's no doubt that's the case, but that was the case really before, too. The Big 12 has taken a perception hit, but it's richer than ever, so nobody is complaining.
It seems K-State's success never translates to recruiting. Why do more kids not want to go there, or is it the coaching staff passing on the big ones and going for the diamonds in the rough?
Jake Trotter (12:15 PM)
That's an interesting question. Manhattan is not an easy place to recruit to, especially for kids who come from bigger cities. K-State is not flashy, from the uniforms to the head coach. Plus, Snyder has a blueprint for success at K-State, and that includes dominating the junior-college ranks in recruiting. Snyder is too old to change his approach, and too successful to consider it.
Zach (Dallas, Tx)
If the Big 12 is ever going to get back to 12 teams as it should, who would you like to see join? It's impossible to know exactly, do you think any school has a good chance at joining?
Jake Trotter (12:16 PM)
I may eventually, but based on what the Big 12 is looking for, there are really no good options out there. Who out there is available and going to bring more money to the pie than they will take out? The Big 12 won't consider expanding until it finds that school or schools.
rtXC1 (Denison, TX)
Hey Jake! Do you think we could get a list of early enrollees for each school? They've been pretty difficult to find. Thanks.
Jake Trotter (12:17 PM)
Yeah, maybe that's something I will compile at some point. Would you guys find that useful?
rtXC1 (Denison, TX)
I'm just not buying that there wasn't room to guarantee Mayfield a scholarship for next fall. Solution: recruit 1 less guy in 2014. Also hard to believe that there wasn't room in the spring. Sounds like KK just didn't want him. Thoughts?
Jake Trotter (12:18 PM)
I think a lot of people at Texas Tech would contest the premise that Mayfield wasn't going to get a scholarship for the spring. But Mayfield was adamant to me that someone told him that. So who knows? One of the strangest stories I've ever covered in college football.
What weaknesses do the Cyclones have to overcome to take the next step. And with recent hires, incoming recruits, will they have the tools in place to do that?
Jake Trotter (12:19 PM)
I think they've addressed one major one in hiring Mark Mangino. I like the offensive talent Iowa State has coming back with Rohach, Wimberly, Bundrage, Bibbs, Farniok -- I think Mangino will be able to mold those guys into a dangerous offense. Iowa State always plays good D. If the offense comes around, you could be looking at a 7-win team.
Franco (Port Charles)
With most dynasties, you can point to the loss that started their slide...USC(Texas), Miami (Ohio State), etc. Could the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma be the impetus for their downward curve?
Jake Trotter (12:20 PM)
Yeah, but in both cases there was either coaching instability and/or NCAA sanctions... Neither, at least at the moment, is a factor with Alabama. Had Saban left, I think you're case would be a lot stronger.
Ok, I asked this last time, but I think it could be answered again with more taken into consideration. Ohio St. in the BCS era vs. Oklahoma. Not just BCS games, but which team has had the better overall performance over those years. Both teams with very impressive resumes.
Jake Trotter (12:22 PM)
I would give Ohio State the slight edge. Buckeyes are 6-4 in BCS bowl games. Sooners are 4-5 -- however, OU finished as the only program to hit for the cycle, winning at all four BCS bowl sites. Ohio State had a chance to do the same, but fell short in the Orange to Clemson this year.
How much of a boost does the bowl upset of Arizona State give Texas Tech going into this upcoming season, especially with the more favorable schedule?
Jake Trotter (12:23 PM)
It was huge. Usually bowl game wins are overblown in terms of momentum for the next season. But with Tech, it was significant. The Red Raiders would have had a ton of negative energy taking a six-game losing streak into the offseason. Now, nobody will be talking about the five losses. They'll be focused on the Arizona State win, and they should be... That was a convincing performance.
Bil (Kansas City, MO)
I've been surprised at WVU's lack of success in its first couple seasons. Do you think it's just bad timing for the 'Neers or the gap between the Big 12 and the Big East was just that huge?
Jake Trotter (12:25 PM)
This year, I just don't think West Virginia was very talented. Last year, I don't think West Virginia was prepared to bring it week in, week out, which you have to do in the Big 12. In the Big East, you just had to bring it a couple times. The rest of the season, you could coast. And once things started going bad, WV couldn't flip the switch back on.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
Have you seen the outlook/future of a program change as quickly as the Sooner program has the past weeks? You were among the skeptics Jake, remember?
Jake Trotter (12:26 PM)
Amazing what stellar freshman QB play can do for a program. Just ask Texas A&M.
Id love to see that (early enrollee list) jake, let me know who to look for in the spring games.
Jake Trotter (12:27 PM)
OK, I will put it on my to-do list.
Chris Berman (Bristol, CT)
What a difference a few weeks makes, huh Jake? As we entered the new year, the OU's future looked, well at least uncertain. Now it appears to be on the rise, and couldn't be brighter. THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES?
Jake Trotter (12:27 PM)
And nobody circles the wagons, like the Oklahoma Sooners (Wait, I think it's Buffalo Bills).
William (Des Moines)
Do you think there's any way Kansas has enough success this season to warrant keeping Charlie Weis? And, related question, is his buy-out as punitive to the university as Turner Gill's was?
Jake Trotter (12:31 PM)
If they fired Weis, KU would still have to pay out the remaining dollar figure of his contract. The deal is basically the same as Gill's. So KU really isn't in a position to fire Weis, unless the Jayhawks take a step back next year (which would be hard to do). If KU showed moderate improvement, I think that would be enough for Weis to stay in Lawrence. Otherwise, KU would be paying its former coaches more than it would be paying its current coach -- which is always bad business.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Do you think Geneo Grissom will build on the momentum of the Sugar Bowl and become an All Big XII performer? Or does the senior return to the inconsistent ways that have plagued him throughout his career in Norman?
Jake Trotter (12:31 PM)
I guess we'll see, but now we know what a motivated Grissom looks like. It will be on Jerry Montgomery to keep that motor running.
Trojan Horse (SoCal)
Things are not always as they seem. As much as we have seen Lame Kitten lay waste to USC, Tennessee, and the Raiders, I question the people who continue to hire him. Add Alabama to the list because they will rue the day they ever hooked up with the likes of him.
Do you thing OU beats Texas and maybe Baylor if Trevor Knight had played more in those games. I know it's hard to say because Trevor at the end of the season was much different than during those times.
Jake Trotter (12:33 PM)
OU got beaten so thoroughly in those games, it's a stretch to say OU would have won those games with Knight in the lineup. Plus, the Knight in October was not the same Knight in January.
Jake, what's your over/under for how many games Texas wins this year with Strong?
Jake Trotter (12:35 PM)
The variable is wide because of the unknown at QB. If Texas has mediocre QB yet again, the Horns could go 7-5. If they get strong QB play, they could go 11-1. The talent is there at other positions. But it's just hard to win when the QB struggles. To answer your question, I'll put the over/under at 9.
Any predictions on who the OC will be at Texas?
Jake Trotter (12:37 PM)
Great question. I thought it would have been Shawn Watson, but it looks like he's going to just be QB coach. Strong has made some phenomenal hires so far, notably getting Joe Wickline from Oklahoma State to coach OL. But this OC hire is critical.
kansas basketball fan (everywhere)
why do we have a football team? does Charlie weis care if the program improves or is he chasing a paycheck?
It was mentioned earlier, K-States success translating to recruiting. On that note, how is Snyder's class shaping up? What potential diamonds in the rough do you hear of?
Jake Trotter (12:39 PM)
I'm assuming that previous question from kansas basketball fan was a rhetorical one. I like the Dalvin Warmack RB from Blue Springs, Mo. With Hubert gone, Warmack has real chance to make an immediate impact.
What is the chance that Texas Tech makes a good run next year
Jake Trotter (12:40 PM)
The key game for Tech next year is at Oklahoma State. If the Red Raiders win that Thursday night game in September, the rest of the schedule sets up pretty nicely. Baylor is at a neutral site. OU comes to Lubbock, where the Sooners seemingly always struggle. Texas comes to Lubbock. The only difficult road game would be at Kansas State. But win in Stillwater, and 9 wins is very reachable.
Who do you see being Tech's biggest upset being next year? There's always 1 key upset every season (OU 2011, WVU 2012)
Jake Trotter (12:42 PM)
OU would be my pick, if I had to pick one. Sooners have lost in Lubbock three of their last four trips there, and also fell to Tech at home in '11, which snapped the nation's longest home winning streak.
What if any changes does a 4 team BCS (It is not a true playoff) have on non conference scheduling ?
Jake Trotter (12:42 PM)
Well, you've seen teams schedule more aggressively in the non-conference. It's going to be hard to get in that playoff without a marquee non-conf win.
Do you envision an uptick in big 12 passing offenses for 2014? Everyone returns their QB except OSU(maybe UT if ash retires), and the best secondary players(verrett, colvin, gilbert, zimmerman, dixon) are all gone.
Jake Trotter (12:44 PM)
Possibly, but you're leaving out the No. 1 reason... the WRs. The league is loaded at WR next year. Lockett, Shepard, Goodley, Norwood, J. Grant, Shipley, Marquez, OSU's young guys... it's going to be a very good year in the league for WR.
Trey Willis (Krum, TX)
When do coaches and their staff's usually take vacation? After bowl season? After Spring Ball? When?
Jake Trotter (12:45 PM)
After spring ball is usually when coaches have some down time.
Jake Trotter (12:45 PM)
Guys, gotta end the chat a little early today. Appreciate all the questions. Chat will be back next Tuesday, same time, same place. Until then, everyone have a great week.