Mailbag: Can MU compete in the SEC?

Thanks for all the questions throughout the week.

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Alex in Lubbock, Texas asked: Do you think the fact that Paul Rhoads was the Defensive Cooridinator for Tuberville when he was at Auburn has any thing to do with Iowa State shutting down Tech's offense and embarressing Texas Tech the last two seasons?

David Ubben: At this point, I think you have to acknowledge the trend. I don't know if I'd make as abstract as "Rhoads is in Tuberville's head," but I think at this point it's clear that Rhoads has a sense for how Tuberville is going to attack his team and prepares accordingly.

Last year, Iowa State didn't have an offense anyone thought capable of hanging big points. The Cyclones scored 30 points once, inexplicably against Nebraska's Blackshirts.

Against Tech, they scored 52 with a late special teams touchdown. Tech's defense was awful last season, in part because of injuries, but Iowa State was at its best in that game last season.

This season? Same story. The dominance was defensive, though. Tech's offense had a bad day, but this team hadn't been held under 34 points yet this season. Against ISU, they scored seven.

Maybe it's still an aberration, but I think not. Rhoads learned a lot from Tuberville. From Tuberville's perspective, maybe too much. Either way, it's impressive.

Andrew in Columbia, Mo. asked: I'm so sick of hearing Mizzou can't compete in the SEC. We'll be fine. Get over it. Why don't people think we can win in the SEC?

DU: I've said it a few times, and I'm not going to harp on it, but for me, it boils down to Missouri's style not working with the speedier, more physical defenses in the SEC, as well as my belief Gary Pinkel's staff will not be able to recruit anywhere near as well in Texas. Missouri's built its entire renewed culture of winning atop those two tent poles. In the SEC, they're going to be gone.

I do believe Missouri will have trouble consistently making bowl games in the SEC. The response to that I hear most often is, "Well, just schedule an easy four-game nonconference schedule, and be better than Vandy, Kentucky and the Mississippi schools!"

One, with the Texas pipeline drained up, I'm not 100 percent sure that's a guarantee every year. Two, wow! Ambitious! College football is about getting your program in the best position to win on as big of a level as possible. (Or, at least, that's what I wish it was about.) The Tigers were 60 minutes from the national title game back in 2007.

Anyone want to take bets on the next time Missouri gets that close to scaling college football's mountain?

Either way, in the current configuration, it would be a whole lot sooner in the Big 12. But, as I've said before, if you want to embrace a misguided machismo and go to the SEC (Like a man! ROARRR!!), go ahead.

College football is about having fun and enjoying winning Saturdays. Losing is less fun.

What's frustrating to me is fans that infer an opinion like that as a complete denigration of the program. It's not like Missouri has a crap program. It's built itself into a great program, but also a program best built for big-time success in the Big 12. I felt similar about Texas A&M. The fact is this: These decisions are intensely debatable. Leaving for the SEC is very risky, and definitely not a home run. In Missouri's case compared to Texas A&M, the risks are exponentially higher, and the reward nowhere near as high.

There are pros and cons to the move (and for staying) for Mizzou. One of the cons will be more losses. What the heck kind of evidence do we have to the contrary? Football isn't magic. You have to have a plan for success. Missouri has one in the Big 12: Texas recruiting and the spread offense. I don't see one to duplicate that kind of success in the SEC.

Meanwhile, if you stay in the Big 12, your future in the league is no guarantee, and you could face some scary times in the future and a league that looks nothing like one you'd want to be in. I also think it's insane to believe any "adults table" of college football wouldn't include a great program like Mizzou.

Trading stability for success is Missouri's choice. I understand it, but my college football priorities clearly do not reflect the order of those at Missouri.

James in Dallas asked: Lets play the "What if" game -- What if... Ok. St. loses? Does the LSU-Alabama loser stay as #2? Or does an undefeated Stanford hop up a few spots? Does Ok. St. stay in the top 5? Does Oklahoma jump them or is their loss against Tech less respectable? PREDICT THE FUTURE!

DU: I don't think the LSU-Alabama loser has any chance to stay at No. 2, regardless of how they lose. Could they climb back there by season's end? Definitely.

But if OSU loses, you'll see Stanford and Boise fill in the Nos. 2 and 3 spot. For this purpose, we'll presume OSU lost by 3-7 points.

Oklahoma would probably slide into the No. 4 because pollsters don't make much sense and will forget K-State beat Texas Tech, and the Sooners lost first. The Sooners have history on their side, and fair or not, that's a fact that magically serves as a poll buoy for the Sooners. Having that "Preseason No. 1" tag helps, too.

My guess is Oklahoma State would fall all the way down to No. 9.

OSU would fall behind OU, Arkansas, Oregon and South Carolina, and good grief, I hope voters would put K-State ahead of them, too. I would.

They would likely stay ahead of Clemson, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska.

So, I guess it would look like this:

  • LSU/Bama

  • Stanford

  • Boise

  • LSU/Bama

  • OU

  • Oregon

  • South Carolina

  • K-State

  • Oklahoma State

Jay in Ames, Iowa asked: If the Cyclones have a good showing against KU and win by a good margin, what do you think their odds of winning one more game are?

DU: They won't be favored. I probably won't pick them to do it, but clearly, their best shot is against Kansas State. Iowa State isn't beating Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.

Iowa State and K-State have quietly played a couple fantastic games the past two seasons. K-State is much better this year. Iowa State is not. But don't count Paul Rhoads out. Routing KU would be a good sign, and this is a resilient team. Getting pasted by OU and OSU wouldn't deter them from having an inspired showing against K-State. If the Wildcats get a five-win ISU team in the season finale ... look out.

Kendall Voth in Manhattan, Kansas asked: Hey David, love reading the blog instead of paying attention in class. What's your thought on the possibility of 9 Big 12 teams being bowl eligible this year? With ISU and Mizzou both showing improvements and having near-guaranteed wins from that team in Lawrence, it seems pretty possible. If that happens, do you think all 9 get selected or is someone left hanging?

DU: Thanks for the kind words, Kendall. They're appreciated. I hope I haven't caused your grades to suffer too badly. Ultimately, I think the Big 12 will end up with just eight teams. You're going to have a lot of mediocrity in the league if it hits nine. Iowa State will be close, and most likely on the outside looking in.

Texas, Baylor and Mizzou are no guarantees. Tech, after last week, isn't either. I expect all four to make it, though. If the league did get nine, though, it would have room. The league has a good shot to get two BCS teams, and Navy is eliminated from the bowl race, and the Big 12 could fill the Midshipmen's spot in the Military Bowl.

GT Cat in Tonganoxie, Kansas asked: Illegal Ubbstance, do you find yourself day dreaming about live onsite blogging in 2012? Covering the worlds greatest offensive shootout between former OC and Team OSU in Morgantown? Or perhaps the RG3 farewell tour in DFW at Amon Carter? Or are you so focused on your job like the coaches in this league and just taking it one week at a time for 2011?

DU: Connotations aside, I'm a fan of this new groan-worthy nickname.

Some of that bigger stuff down the line will be fun. Nobody from OSU blamed Dana Holgorsen for leaving. Cowboys fans still love him, so it'll be more of a fun reunion. Should be a great game. So will Bob Huggins' return to the Octagon of Doom, but I'm not sure that reunion will be quite as homey.

The Baylor-TCU rivalry should be fun, and there's no love lost between the Horned Frogs and RG3.

As for inside the season, I know when the biggest games of the year are, ones that will heavily influence the title race, but once we hit conference play, I'm not real in tune to which games are played when. Every Saturday night, I look at the upcoming conference schedule and prepare for the next week, but to some degree, yeah, I really do take it one week at a time.