Thanks for the questions this week. To ask more and maybe get a spot in next week's mailbag, go here.
Michael in Houston writes: David, I'm glad to see that the Big 12 now has a permanent blogger again! I wish you luck! My question is, who do you anticipate to have a better year: Jerrod Johnson or Robert Griffin?
David Ubben: Griffin is probably more fun to watch, just because he’s such an incredible runner. But Johnson is a much better passer, and has a lot more talent around him. And Johnson isn’t exactly a pocket dweller. He rushed for 506 yards and eight touchdowns last season. It could be close, but I’d have to go with Johnson, who also comes into this season somewhat question-free, unlike Griffin.
Josh in Lincoln, Neb. has a gripe with my selections as the best backs in the Big 12: Since you ignored Roy Helu as one of the best backs in the Big XII, some food for thought. Yards per carry: Helu 5.2, Daniel Thomas, 5.1, DeMarco Murray 4.1, Christine Michael, 5.1. And Helu had more yards than everyone than Thomas. Just sayin'.
DU: Valid criticism. Helu Jr. deserves to be mentioned among the Big 12’s best, but I did make the comment in a chat, so I just overlooked him in my quick answer. I also got some mail from a few Oklahoma State fans who weren’t pleased that Kendall Hunter wasn’t mentioned. I probably misspoke when I said his status as one of the best running backs in the conference was gone.
Sitting out so long with the ankle injury and looking sluggish most of the time when he returned hurt his reputation. Keith Toston stepping in and looking every bit as good as Hunter had the past season suggested Hunter wasn't exactly irreplaceable.
He deserves to be mentioned among the best, but I don’t think he has a case to be THE best in the conference. Missing two of the best offensive players in the Big 12, Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant, will keep him from leading the Big 12 in rushing like he did in 2008, with 1,555 yards. Switching to a more spread-oriented offense in Stillwater won’t help, either.
Bear in Denton, Tex. asks: Do you believe Nebraska is overrated? There last two games were both good performances but this is a team that had four losses. I will not be surprised next year when Nebraska loses 3, 4 possibly 5 games next year. Your thoughts?
DU: It’s possible. Four losses is a lot, but it won the North last year and could very well do it again. Nebraska has the potential to be a top 10 team, but if the offense struggles yet again and the defense isn’t what Bo Pelini is touting it to be, the Huskers won’t be making another December trip to Arlington for the Big 12 Championship game.
Taylor in Dallas asks:What is your take on the expansion hubbub? Do you think the BIG 12 will be picked apart due to league apathy on the part of Missou and Colorado? Or how about this novel concept. Would the BIG 12 ever go on the offense and go after a couple of teams to evolve into the BIG 14? Arkansas? Tennessee?
DU: Picked apart? I don't think so. But the Big 12 going on the offensive is an interesting idea. That said, they won't get Arkansas or Tennessee to leave the SEC. The list of good candidates to join the Big 12 from thin air is pretty short, but I think it starts with TCU. We could talk about hypothetical situations all day, but when this all blows over, I think the biggest realistic shake up is the Big 10 just adding Rutgers or Pitt, and the Big 12 stays out of it. My most likely scenario? Nothing happens at all. But anything is possible.
Except Texas to the Big 10.
Thanks for the questions, and stay tuned for my pre-spring Big 12 Power Rankings to close out the week.