Mailbag: 12 vs. Ten, OSU woes, and UT offense

David in Austin, Texas, writes: Given the "regime change" down in Austin this offseason (GG for Colt) and Mack Brown's professed desire to bring GG help in the form of a tried and true running game, how long would you give it until they revert back into the "forget strategy, let's just give it to our best player"-strategy?

David Ubben: Technically, that's what they're doing now. For all the talk about Garrett Gilbert, they've got two experienced running backs in Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whittaker, so even though they've got to find three new offensive linemen, Brown's giving those guys a chance to carry the team. But you've got a point. If Gilbert's completion percentage starts floating toward 70 percent and he's taking care of the ball, you might see the Longhorns start to spread it out a little more.

Ben in Atlanta asks: David, last week I asked if the Big 10's public jockeying for expansion was nothing but circus publicity and you didn't agree, then curiously every one of your fellow ESPN bloggers inexplicably voted the Big 10 the second best conference behind the SEC. Coincidence? I think not, pure expansion hype has been good for business for the Big 10... agree?

DU: Sorry, Ben. Still not biting. And, for the record, my boy Ted Miller out West put the Big 12 as his second-best conference. I think the perception of the conference comes down to the amount of talent that left. While having nine first-round draft picks looks good in April, it doesn't bode well for the preseason prognostication in the following months. It doesn't help that the Big 12 doesn't have a player you could even come close to arguing as the best in the country, a major departure from last season. Texas and Oklahoma in apparent "down" years (i.e. 10 wins, rather than 11+) has more to do with people putting the Big Ten ahead of the Big 12 than any of the expansion talk.

Luke Hood asks: Whats up?

DU: Not much, man. Just bloggin'.

John in Denver asks: Do you think Dan Beebe will give a deadline next week during the Big 12 conference meetings for members to commit to the conference? If so, when do you think that deadline will be established and can he provide a solution to encourage Nebraska to stay?

DU: I'd be surprised if we hear a firm deadline to make a commitment, but the conference definitely wants to move in that direction. Beebe clarified his comments last week, so don't expect to hear an ultimatum to Nebraska, Missouri or Colorado. He says he has some ideas to rectify the instability -- perceived or real -- within the conference, and we might hear some of those in Kansas City next week. But my guess is we're more likely to see them enforce some sort of negative consequence for leaving, rather than a positive consequence for staying. I could be wrong, though. Either way, I'll be there next week and let you guys know what's up when we know.

Scott in Lubbock, Texas, asks: Here's a hypothetical. Its the Big 12 coaches meeting, and the coaches are kind of bored. The Big 12 South coaches challenge the Big 12 North coaches to a game of pick up basketball. How do you see this game play out?

DU: Lots of plays being called. Few being executed. Gary Pinkel and Mike Gundy keep trying to spread everyone out and go play hoops on the grass outside. Bo Pelini keeps packing everyone inside the paint and ordering them not to shoot. In short, it would be a mess. In the end, they all decide to stick to football.

Dan in Hanover, N.H., writes: Just a heads up on your college HoF article. Barry Alvarez, while he'll go for what he's done at Wisconsin was, in fact, a linebacker at Nebraska in the 1960s under the late Bob Devaney.

David Ubben: Ten or so folks wrote in about this. I'm aware, but Alvarez was inducted as a coach, and though Gene Stallings was better known at Alabama, his induction explicitly mentions his work at Texas A&M. So, sorry Nebraska fans, Alvarez doesn't count as another in the Hall of Fame. And here's a little more on Tommie Frazier, whose exclusion prompted a few e-mails as well.

Jeff in Shakopee, Minn., asks: Every five years a Big 12 team wins a National Title. 2005- Texas 2000 Oklahoma 1995- Nebraska 1990- Colorado 1985- Oklahoma. Who from the Big 12 is going to win it this year?

DU: Interesting observation, but last year would have been the next in the five-year cycle. Might as well not even bother to play this season. But those mid-90s Nebraska teams prove it's possible for a Big 12 team to win the title in other years, so I guess we'll hold off on canceling the next three seasons. As for this year, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma wouldn't completely shock anyone by winning the title.

(3:26 p.m.) EDIT: Whoops. The January crossover keeps the confusion coming. I'm an idiot. Jeff's right.

Randy in McKinney, Texas, asks: I'm curious as to why so many people think OSU will take such a huge nosedive next year. 64th in one poll, seriously? Ranked behind Kansas and Tech, both of which had a complete coaching overhaul? I know that preseason polls aren't reliable, but still. What gives?

Chance Cole in Charleston, S.C., asks: With Dez Bryant suspended, Zac Robinson playing injured the last few games (and throwing inconsistently when healthy), and Toston bearing the load for an injured Hunter, the Ok. State Cowboys still put together a decent season. So with a mature gunslinger like Weeden, a healthy Kendall Hunter, a blossoming Hubert Anyiam, and a new O-coordinator, why so sour on the Cowboys for 2010? Can the defense be that bad?

DU: I was really surprised to see them that low in that ranking. I'm not sour at all on the Cowboys, I think they'll be solid. But the South is still going to be tough, and Texas and Oklahoma will be much better; Texas A&M will be slightly better. Oklahoma State and Tech are kind of on a similar rung, and Baylor is drawing some hope from their potential, which is very real. Replacing four linemen, including Russell Okung, doesn't help the Cowboys' case, and they have to figure out who they can count on at the skill positions. With Dana Holgorsen's quick-release scheme, they could probably manage if the offensive line plays poorly, but those guys playing well is obviously going to make it a lot simpler.