Five Burning Questions in the Big 12


Big 12 Media Day nears, and it looks like Landry Jones, Demontre Hurst, and Ben Habern will be representing Oklahoma in Dallas. These guys will be drilled with question after question, just to give us a little more insight before the season starts. However, I have some questions of my own for the Big 12 Conference.

1. Does Oklahoma State have a legitimate shot at defending their Big 12 title?
Yes and No. Yes, I think they have a shot. But no, not a great one. In this conference, I see a few teams that can absolutely earn an automatic BCS bowl bid. Oklahoma State is not one of them. They have a nice defense, and they have one of the best tailbacks in the country. However, I have never been high on first year quarterbacks. You can talk to me all day about potential and what he did before he got to college, but their will be a drop-off in OSU’s first year without Brandon Weeden. Their schedule is not very tough, but trips to Kansas State and Oklahoma will be hard on the Cowboys. Mike Gundy is a solid coach, and if he stays, I think Oklahoma State can sustain some type of long-term success, but defending their title this will be very difficult considering Oklahoma, West Virginia, and the possible re-emergence of Texas, which I’ll get to later.

2. Will West Virginia and Texas Christian be better than Missouri and Texas A&M?
I think there’s no doubt, the Mountaineers make this a better conference. They fit in well with the rest of the league, but they are located over 800 miles from the closest Big 12 school to it. WVU could make the “Big 12 North” interesting if the league ever gets back to 12 teams. However, TCU has a lot more to prove. They have dominated a weaker conference, but they did win a Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. Texas Christian can be no worse than the Aggies, but once again, the Frogs have to prove it first. Some say both can compete for the Big 12 title this year. I think West Virginia has a better shot, and definitely would take Mizzou and A&M to the woodshed, if they were still both in the conference. However, Fort Worth finally gets a chance to show they weren’t just playing in a mediocre conference, and are legitimately a good football program.

3. Is Baylor back in the cellar, post-RG3?
The Bears are coming off their greatest athletics year in school history. They had a Heisman Trophy Winner in Robert Griffin III. One of the best women’s basketball team we will ever see, because of someone by the name Brittney Griner. And the men’s basketball team made it to the Elite Eight. It was a great year to be a part of Sic ‘Em Nation. However, with Nick Florence stepping in to the spotlight, is Baylor back to being a bottom-dweller or can Baylor sustain success? I’ll say this much, if Baylor was going to win the Big 12, then it would have been last year. This season will be much tougher, but Baylor has some good athletes. I would not write them off just yet, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if Baylor got a case of the 2007 Kansas Jayhawk team.

4. Is Texas all hype, or are the Horns back in the hunt?
This one’s interesting. Texas always gets pre-season love, but they have not been the same Longhorn team since Colt McCoy left Austin. Texas returns some solid athletes, and they’re due for a successful season. But can Mack Brown put the pieces together? I believe that the Longhorns are going to give the Sooners a run for their money in the Cotton Bowl. I think they can re-emerge as one of the conference’s favorites. But the media loves to lead us on the path that Texas is one of the best in the country, and we shouldn’t care what they did a year before. I think they have a good as shot as any, but I’m not sure we will really know until they face Ole Miss on the road, and how they respond to Oklahoma who annihilated Texas last season.

5. Can Landry Jones get the fans off his back?
Oklahoma fans have tormented this man far too long. Landry has been ripped apart, and this is his last year to prove them all wrong. Jones has all the tools to do it, but a tough schedule and wide receiver suspensions could derail the Sooner season quickly. I think fans are happy to have a quarterback who can still put up big numbers, but he had to follow Sam Bradford. And as we all know, Bradford is a guy you just cannot hate. Landry has never lost a bowl game, never lost to Texas as a starter, and won two Big 12 championships. It’s not a bad resume, but Landry has to embrace his inner Jack Mildren, and come up big in his senior year, because no one will remember him for breaking almost every passing record at Oklahoma. No, they’ll remember him for losing to Oklahoma State. Ending the home game win streak. Choking at Texas A&M. And never winning a bowl that really mattered. Landry needs a crystal ball bad.