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Mailbag: Coordinator exits, bowl picks

Matt W. in Bancroft, NE asks: Nebraska's almost out the door towards the Big Ten. What are your thoughts on the Leaders and Legends names for the divisions and what about the new logo?

David Ubben: The logo's not exactly lighting it up like the Pac-12's, which might be the best logo in sports outside of the Jumpman, but I don't have a huge problem with the Big Ten's. As for the division names, I feel about like most do. A little lofty, no? Not exactly the people's choice.

If it makes a move to change the names, which sounds possible after Delany's comments this week, it'd be a nice chance for the league to endear itself and shed some of the elitist perception that emerged during the expansion brouhaha over the summer.


Jay in Austin, TX asks: Why is Will Muschamp such a hot commodity? His defense gave up 30 or more points in 4 games this year. They also gave up 20 or more points 7 times. They lost 7 games and really only had 1 impressive win (over Nebraska on the road) and no bowl game. He had some great talent around him too. I know the offense is a problem but sometimes that defense just looked pathetic Should Florida fans be concerned?

DU: Well, first off, since when did giving up 20 points or more become an indictment of a defense? And when your quarterback is throwing 17 picks and 10 touchdowns, you're out on the field plenty more than you'd like to be. That said, you're a little too wrapped up in 2010. This was a historically bad year for Texas, but the defense was pretty good most of the time. They had some poor stretches, but I'd hardly call them pathetic. And in the past, he's had some just amazing defenses. Like, you know, last year, when they got to the national championship (the second trip of Muschamp's career) and ranked third in total defense. Everyone around the SEC knows how good his defenses were at LSU and Auburn, too.

His pick for an offense coordinator will be a big, big decision, but I wouldn't be too concerned about his coaching future. As with any first-time head coach, there's always some slight reservation, but like I wrote when he was hired, there might not be another coordinator in the country more ready to be a head coach.


Brett in Kansas City asks: Hey David, correct me if I'm wrong but did West Virgina hire Dana Holgorsen as a coach in waiting. Did they learn anything from what happened at Texas less than a week earlier?

DU: Well, this is a very different situation. The kicker at Texas was Muschamp never knew when he'd be able to take over, and outside of a few anonymous reports during the year, there was never any indication that Mack Brown was being pressured to offer any kind of definitive timing.

Holgorsen knows he'll take over in 2012. That presents a whole other set of awkward problems and odd team dynamics for 2011, but when it's all over, Holgorsen should be in a good spot. It didn't sound like Muschamp was looking to go anywhere, but if Florida calls you, most guys are going to pick up the phone and give the Gators a good, long listen.

And then leave.

So yeah, they learned plenty. If Holgorsen hadn't been given a definite timeline, I don't know if he would have taken the job. Everyone involved would probably be better off if West Virginia just moved Bill Stewart into an administrative role after this season, but if the Mountaineers have a disappointing 2011 season, it's up to the next similar situation to learn from this one.

And on a side note, there's some major drain on great coordinators in the Big 12 this year. We'll see what that means next year. Barring their replacements, it could mean worse football. But it seems like everybody's leaving and nobody's coming.


Ben in CoMo asks: With the addition of Sheldon Richardson and the likely return of both Jaquis and Alden Smith, along with our D'line backup's (who led in sacks btw), won't most opposing offenses be scared senseless, and if they aren't shouldn't they be? MU is poised to have the best D in the Big 12 if they can replace their DB's with comperable or better players in 2011. Also, will 2011 bring a 10-2, 11-1, 12-0 or worse record for my Tigers during regular season play?

DU: We'll see about the best defense in the Big 12, because replacing those corners is easy to do in theory, difficult in practice. That's been a big problem for Missouri under Gary Pinkel. The two senior corners this year, Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland, really struggled before having fantastic seasons in 2010. Is that just simple player development, better coaching from coordinator Dave Steckel, or a little of both?

Next year, with guys like E.J. Gaines, Kip Edwards and Trey Hobson, we'll get a better idea of what to expect from Missouri's secondary in the years to come.

That said, you're right about the front four. That rotation with Jacquies and Aldon Smith (assuming they both return), Sheldon Richardson, Terrell Resonno, Michael Sam, Brad Madison and Jimmy Burge could be pretty scary.


Wally Washington in Dallas, Texas asks: My Brother,Can you explain why the loser of the Big 12 Championship doesn't play in the 2nd best bowl tie in? You would think a division winner should be automatic to either the BCS game or fall to the next level Bowl. For example, Nebraska should be playing in the Cotton Bowl this year. Or in a better year be the next choice for an at-large bid for a BCS game. Enlighten me.

DU: I actually get this question a lot. It seems like a lot of fans don't quite understand. The bowl system is not a meritocracy, and they don't have to pick teams via standings. It's about making money. Fans more excited about their team and more likely to go watch their teams are going to make more money. Period. Outside of Oklahoma, I don't think any fan base in the Big 12 is more excited about their team than Texas A&M. Six consecutive wins, with two over top 10 teams will do that. And they're three hours away from the Cotton Bowl with a huge alumni base in Dallas. That's a big deal, and a big factor, fair or otherwise.

And if you're running the Cotton Bowl, you think fans of Oklahoma or Nebraska are going to be willing to travel back to the same stadium and the same city a month later after losing the Big 12 Championship? Not happening.

The Cotton Bowl sold out its ticket allotment for both schools really, really quickly. It didn't want an Arkansas-Texas A&M rematch back in Cowboys Stadium (the same game would have taken place three times in the same stadium within a year) but they got LSU when Arkansas got into the BCS. It's a great matchup with two great fan bases and the best Big 12 bowl matchup. I'd say the Cotton Bowl did pretty well.


KCC in Missouri asks: Dubbs, Absolutely love the blog, and as a huge husker fan I'm definitely gonna miss it. My question is when do I have to stop reading you and go to Ritt's big 10 blog, and how do we say good bye? A "thanks for everything", fist bump, awkward hug or what?

DU: Hey man, just do what feels right. Shoulder pat, awkward side hug, crushing bear hug, whatever strikes you. Maybe shed a few tears. I won't tell anyone.