The Big 12 media's preseason rankings spurred some conversation, so some of the SB nation Big 12 bloggers chimed in.
Fellow SB nation brethen from the Big 12 gratiously agreed to respond to a few questions regarding the media's preseason predictions for the league.
We will go by the question, listed below...
- I was not surprised when I saw...?
- I was shocked by...?
- The media prediction most likely to be right is...?
- The one we didn't see coming will be...?
One caveat...we thought about handling Kansas like the "Wheel of Fortune" handles R, N, L, S, & T, just concede that obvious response to #1 & #3. Then we thought better. We like easy answers. Thanks to OU, Tech, West Virginia, and Kansas State bloggers for sharing their thoughts.
So, here we go with #1...
1. I was not surprised when I saw...?
Well, I could take the easy way out and say I wasn't surprised when I saw Kansas picked to finish in the basement but I won't. Instead I'll risk my OU fan card and say I wasn't surprised to see Oklahoma State on top. Granted, they have their issues but the same can be said for pretty much every other Big 12 team.
Casey Pachall as the starting quarterback. The Big 12 has gone from having an abundance of quarterbacks just a few short years ago to having to pick the next best available option. That's not to say that Pachall isn't talented, but it's just not quite like it was. And I don't think that anyone is really enamored with the other options, like Ash, Bell or Chelf who all have things to improve or need some additional success. I think that if I was picking someone other than Pachall, I would have picked Chelf. I think I know what Ash is and his limitations, I think I know Bell, but I'm really not sure. I've seen Chelf enough to think that he's the best of the bunch.
Oklahoma voted second. Depth at most positions, but it'll be interesting to see how Blake Bell handles the full time QB job.
I expected to see Oklahoma State atop the projected standings. The Cowboys have the most favorable schedule and the best quarterback situation. I also figured Oklahoma and TCU would be picked high. Finally, I'm completely unsurprised that once again the media chose to underestimate Bill Snyder, who once amassed six 11-win seasons in seven years. K-State should have been somewhere in the top half.
Ok...not surprised that Kansas was picked last. Now for some red meat...not surprised that Texas was picked 4th. Mack Brown has spent the capital earned with Vince Young and Colt McCoy. He'll need a pretty strong showing, if not an outright conference title, to regain the blind devotion that now seems to be OU's alone.
2. I was shocked by...?
I was totally shocked to see Texas at fourth, even though that's no higher than the Longhorns deserve to be. With all the preseason hype about David Ash (even though he's a marginal QB) and Texas' returning experience (most of which has been disappointing), I figured the media types would be falling over themselves to anoint UT the favorite, so the relative disrespect surprised me.
I was shocked by Texas being picked fourth. Every single year both the Big 12 and national media buy into the Austin generated hype machine, it's always been as reliable as death and taxes. But fourth? My world was turned upside-down.
Maybe shocked is a strong word, but I found it odd or fascinating that Texas is favored in every game, but is picked fourth by the media. I'm not disagreeing with the media on this one and that's not normal. Given the issues that Texas has had in recent years and there being so much pressure, I find it interesting that the media doesn't have a lot of faith in the program to finish higher than fourth. I know that it is easy to scoff at the media for their picks, but they are closer to the programs than any of us, so I think there's something to that. The one thing that I don't understand about Brown, and it is the biggest criticism I had of Tuberville, is that Tuberville stopped taking ownership of one side of the ball. Everything, and I mean everything was passed off to the assistants. It allows a head coach to be more insulated, but I tend to think that coaches became head coaches because they loved to coach, not to be a manager of people. I think when you lose that aspect of coaching, it's never a good thing.
Texas listed at #4. Ash is back with a full year of experience and plenty of weapons at his disposal. Many national media love the Horns, but maybe the Gerg's hiring did little to encourage progress on the Defensive side?
I was surprised Baylor didn't get a little more love from the media. They easily handled KState, OSU, and UCLA to finish out the season, and their defense didn't look so horrible doing it. Briles has shown the ability to replace talent at the QB position, and with the best RB and a very good offensive line, this offense could be the toughest ticket in the league.
3. The media prediction most likely to be right is...?
Kansas at #10. Charlie Weis...I think that's explanation enough.
The prediction most likely to come true is Kansas in 10th place. I mean, come on, this is an easy one. Charlie Weis' JUCO experiment, which already has shed two players, is going to make Ron Prince's look like a stellar success. The Jayhawks have almost no returning offensive linemen and they were terribly coached last year. What makes anyone think they can win more than one conference game?
I'm risking the wrath of the Purple Wizard and people have been underestimating him at their own peril for years, but the Wildcats lost so much from last year's team I think this is the year they don't exceed expectations. Having now said that, I'm 100% sure I will be wrong.
All of those Texas Tech all-conference picks. I kid, but really, I think they are all deserving. The easiest one is that if TE Jace Amaro is healthy and keeps his head on straight for the entire year, there is not a Big 12 tight end that is even close to the level of talent that he has. It's not even close.
Kansas in last, although they could win a game if Heaps proves to be the improvement they are hoping for at QB. This is probably the ONLY thing predictable about the Big 12 this season...
4. The one we didn't see coming will be...?
I think that Baylor is probably a bit over-rated right now. The Baylor defense was terrible last year (and yes, Baylor has whipped Texas Tech for two straight years, no denying that) and they are getting a lot of love nationally, and rightfully so. The success of RGIII and Art Briles has really been fantastic for the program. I commented earlier this summer that Baylor and Texas Tech finished with the exact same conference record. Baylor was able to get to that record with a head coach that is regarded as one of the best, while Texas Tech had Tuberville "leading" the charge. Again, exact same records for the year, but Baylor is looked at as the team on the rise. Baylor got to 8-5 last year because of their head coach, while Texas Tech got to 8-5 despite their head coach. I do think that Baylor is getting better, but I think that getting that defense to improve from being really bad to one that can compete year-in-and-year-out takes more than a couple of years. It's one of the same reasons that I think Texas Tech peaked in 2008, because having some sort of high level of defense is more difficult to sustain than sustaining a high level of offense, like Baylor has been able to do for a handful of years.
Baylor way down at #5. Art Briles finds a way for serious offense and the defense should be better than last year.
The one I didn't see coming is Texas Tech at No. 7. I guess, upon reflecting, it's hard to put the Red Raiders any lower, considering West Virginia should be even worse, Iowa State looks truly lukewarm and KU will be epically awful, but just behind the defending league champ seems a little high for a team with a new head coach who is my age and that pretty much has been Iowa State South for the past three years.
While Baylor is my serious pick here, I've got my eye on Tech. Kingsbury is young and energetic (the exact opposite of Tuberville), and may be able to infect a team that definitely has the talent to push the upper echelon in the league.
That's all folks. Thanks again to our SB Nation Big 12 cohorts for contributing!