Mailbag: Big 12 vs. SEC, Stanford band

Thanks for all the questions this week. We'll have plenty of coverage from Cowboys Stadium tonight for the Cotton Bowl. Until then, here's our weekly mailbag.

Here is where to go to make next week's.

Jeff in Ames, Iowa asked: What are your thoughts on the conferences 33-4 non-conference record with only one game left to play? Keep in mind this is the best non-conference record by any conference within the BCS era. Also the Big XII had the second highest average number of BCS opponents, at 10.7 per school. Only the PAC 12 had a higher average at 11 per school. Finally the Big XII had eight of the nation's top toughest schedules per the NCAA. Would you rate the Big XII as the strongest conference?

David Ubben: I've said it all year, but the Big 12 is deeper than the SEC. At the top, yeah, nobody in this league is as good as LSU or Alabama. Ultimately, that's how leagues are judged. We've never seen anything like this from any league at the top. And obviously, that attracts lots of attention.

Beyond that, though? The Big 12 is a stronger league. It's proven it this year outside of the league. What else do you have to do to decide? I'd love for the two leagues to play a lot more often than two or three times a year, but this is what we're left with to see between these two leagues.

Oklahoma was a national title contender until it lost a game and suffered a ton of huge injuries. Oklahoma State had one hiccup. This year could have looked very different, but the Big 12 failed to make the national championship game. In the world we live in, more than anything, that hurts the league's perception. But look a little deeper, as you did, Jeff, and it's easy to see why people who are paying attention see the gap between these two leagues this year isn't very wide.

It's easy to look at LSU and Alabama and say, oh yeah, definitely, the SEC is the best league. This year, though, that hasn't been the case. Believe it or not, conferences are not made up of one or two teams. Even though the Big Ten and Big 12 have made it confusing for some to know for sure how many teams those conferences are made of, I assure you, it is a number larger than two.

SoonerSonics in Seattle asked: Hey David, With Landry Jones coming back we are probably gonna hear a collective groan form the OU faithful. However, I am curious. Is it all or even mostly Landry's fault? Is he getting a fair shake. I saw A LOT of dropped passes in the games since Broyles left. Stills REALLY dropped off and no one else stepped up at all. I know he can get better but is it fair of us to hang him out to dry? I want to see BB too but won't we be better with LJ rather than w/out him next year? On another note, I think maybe his biggest deficiency is in his leadership skills due to his laid back personality. Can he lead this team? Agree or disagree? Oh, and by the way, what is wrong with Stills anyway? Why did he fall apart?

David Ubben: Yeah, I've never understood Oklahoma fans' frustration with Landry Jones. He was arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12 last season, and the third-best this season. In a league like the Big 12, that's not bad. I get that he's made some high-profile mistakes in big spots for the Sooners, but that shouldn't dimish the other 12,000-something yards he's thrown for.

He had the disadvantage of trying to follow Sam Bradford, who set an impossible standard. Jones is better than all but a handful of quarterbacks in all of college football, though. Sometimes it's too easy for fans to want to compare him to Sam and only Sam. That's insanity.

And you're definitely onto something with the receivers. Guys weren't running free as often as Broyles would have liked, and it was obvious they came down with a nasty case of the dropsies after Broyles went out. That was kind of inexplicable. So was Stills' production drop-off when Broyles got hurt. Oklahoma needed him to be better.

As for Landry's leadership skills, it's hard to say definitively. Teammates aren't going to hang him out to dry, and I'm not in the locker room or fully integrated into the dynamics of that team. He's a guy that his teammates respect and listen to, but I could see a scenario that, when problems arise, his voice perhaps gets drowned out by some of the other guys on the team. Maybe that's the case. Maybe not. But Oklahoma wasn't exactly the most functional place in the world at the end of the season.

Adam in Topeka, Kan. asked: Where is the love for KSU? Cotton Bowl is this weekend and yet your blogging about who's coming back for 2012. Come on man.

DU: We've had plenty of coverage, I assure you. Here's the link to all our Cotton Bowl posts to prep for tonight's game.

Anthony Johnson in Oklahoma asked: I have no clue why you say the Stanford band was entertaining. The disrespect it showed towards Oklahoma was uncalled for and anyone that felt that was funny should be ashamed. I also know that some Stanford fans had some OSU fans removed from the lower bowl because the OSU fans were standing and security escorted about 5 OSU fans out of the section. I have no idea what happened to those fans but it was a downer for me. I felt if I stood up I would be escorted out since I had on the wrong color yet I was right next to the OSU tunnel. I am an NFL fan and support OU and OSU but not a huge fan of college and this event left a bad taste in my mouth for the disregard of the fans that came from Oklahoma. You in the media are supporting this bad behavior and seem to want more of it. It was a great game but spoiled by actions of spoiled Stanford students and alums yet nobody wants to make anyone from Stanford mad by telling them they did wrong.

DU: Well, I'm not going to address the fan issue. I don't know anything about that.

But the folks who are bent out of shape about the Stanford band need to lighten up. I was amazed at how personal OSU fans took it. At the airport coming back home on Tuesday, I had 4-5 Oklahoma State fans come up to me to complain about it. I was amazed.

The band is awesome. Probably my favorite thing about Stanford, except for perhaps the tree. OSU fans, as I understand it, were most angry about them playing during the alma mater and the trophy presentation after the game. I get that. But folks, Stanford's band's whole schtick is irreverence. That, in itself, is a tradition. They'll rub some people the wrong way, but I can't stay mad at a band whose drum major dresses as Hello Kitty. I just can't.

And that was before they started playing frisbee on the field with an actual frisbee and their hats before playing their traditional scatter halftime show. So, I get the "Disrespect!" card and the anger (which is legitimate) over not being able to hear the trophy presentation, but that's no reason to hate these guys forever.

If that's the worst thing they've done to you, I suggest a refresher course in their most classic antics. It could be worse.

And get angry if you must, but at the end of the day, we're talking about college students blowing air into pieces of molded metal and banging drums. Lighten up.

Mark in Bainbridge Island, Wash. asked: What? Maybe the KSU-OSU game *should* have had a different ending. You didn't like the results of that game? Why? You have something against Oklahoma State? That was a really stupid thing to write. Why does it sometimes seem you feel like you are covering an inferior conference? Think you are better than this? Not yet young man. Grow up. Watch the game for 50 years like I have and then maybe I would give you more respect.

DU: OK, OK. Give me a second while I climb up on my ladder to reach your level. I promise I'll leave in a second and not waste your time with too many of my banal thoughts.

Anybody who watched that game knows there was now way Oklahoma State was getting a defensive stop on the final drive. Kansas State ran out of time and timeouts, and had to settle for two Collin Klein throws in the final seconds. If they had either a timeout or 15-20 more seconds, the Wildcats would have scored, and would have gone for two, which their offense is built to convert. Oklahoma State won that game, but it was very, very close to losing it.

Anyway, allow me to apologize for the existence of this blog. I promise we'll shut it down soon.

You know what they say: Condescension is a virtue!

Travis in Austin, Texas asked: Ubbs, could K-State have beaten Michigan?

DU: Yeah, I'm not a believer in Michigan at all. They were a pretty good team who got lucky in a few games and ended up in the BCS because they're Michigan. I thought Virginia Tech was a top 10 fraud all season with no real good wins, and Clemson exposed them twice. Badly. And we saw what happened in the Orange Bowl.

Then Michigan needs a couple mini miracles to win that game?

Give me Kansas State by double digits in that one. I'm not buying the idea that Denard Robinson would complete some of those insane floaty passes on David Garrett and Nigel Malone.