Thanks for all the mail this week. Here's where you can reach me.
On to your mail ...
Aaron in Plain City, Ohio, writes: In my mind I see Oklahoma as the clear favorite for the Big 12. But is there really a clear second place team in the Big 12? For that matter, is there really a favorite? I was just curious about your thoughts for the Big 12 this season. Thanks
David Ubben: I definitely think Oklahoma's the clear favorite, but by "clear" I only mean it's clear Oklahoma's the best team to start the season. Last year, it looked like the gap between the Sooners and A&M/Oklahoma State was pretty wide. Injuries and OSU being better than most everyone thought (and I thought they were a 10-win team) changed that up.
OU's the favorite, but not by much. Nobody in the Big 12 is going undefeated next year, but there's definitely no clear second-place team.
West Virginia is probably the second-best team on paper, but will they handle the transition? There are many variables to the transition with no way to figure out the values until the season starts in the fall. The same is true for the Horned Frogs, who I think will have a tougher time with the transition in the immediate future, and also aren't quite as good as WVU on paper. Those defensive losses, mostly Tanner Brock and Devin Johnson, are huge. You need lots of depth and lots of playmakers on defense to win in the Big 12.
As for Kansas State? You saw it last year. They get it done, but they don't do it in impressive fashion. I've mentioned it a couple times, but will K-State get better and still win games when they're close? Part of me says no.
The other half says this is a Bill Snyder-coached team we're talking about and one that returns just about everybody from last year's 10-win team. Pressure me for a guess? I think K-State could be a better team than last year and still only win nine games in a Big 12 that's absolutely loaded in the top half, with some pretty good teams in the bottom half too, like Baylor, Texas Tech and Iowa State.
So yeah, Oklahoma's the best team in the league. That doesn't mean they'll win it, and the race for No. 2 heading into the season could go one of three ways.
Curtis in Boone, Iowa, writes: I tweeted you, but i figured id take another approach as well. Do you agree with me that Brandon Weeden is the No. 3 QB in the draft, NOT tannehill? and what are the chances that Cleveland takes both Justin Blackmon AND Weeden with the 4th and 22nd picks, respectively. Colt Mccoy isn't the answer in cleveland, and Weeden could step right in and produce, especially with a top talent like Blackmon.
DU: I do, but I also understand why a) Tannehill has surged and b) teams are unwilling to spend first-round money on Weeden.
For the record, I think they're both early second-rounders. Tannehill is a big risk, and you're asking for trouble if you're a struggling team with a top 5-10 pick that needs a lot of other things to be successful. Tannehill could be good in the league, but I don't think I buy him as an immediate franchise guy you can build around.
Weeden will be more successful in the immediate future, but I also understand that he's an 8-10-year guy vs. a 14-16-year guy like most normal rookies. That's a whole lot of games. Putting Blackmon and Weeden on the same team? Oh man, that would be all kinds of fun.
It'd also be pretty humorous to see Oklahoma's best QB ever throwing to Oklahoma State's best receiver ever out in St. Louis.
Cyclones in Ames writes: Hey Ubben, just thought that I would bring it up to your attention but of the 10 coaches next year in the big 12 there will be 4 coaches with connections to the state of Iowa. Mack Brown was an OC at ISU, Dana Holgorsen was born and raised in Iowa along with Paul Rhoads, and Bob Stoops played football at the University of Iowa. A lot of connections to the state of Iowa in the conference.
DU: You're right about that, Mr. Cyclones, but those are far from the only ones. What about the man some consider the greatest coach of them all: Bill Snyder? He spent almost a decade as the offensive coordinator under Hayden Fry at Iowa.
For what it's worth, two different Iowa State coaches served as defensive coordinator under Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. Gene Chizik (sorry for the mention, Iowa State) and Paul Rhoads both got valuable experience under Tuberville at Auburn before moving to Ames.
Iowa doesn't have the greatest reputation when it comes to football culture, but that's a staggering amount of connections for a state with just two major programs within its borders.
Jason in Charleston, W. Va., writes: Dave, I just have to ask... what were your expectations before coming to WV versus what you actually found when you got here?
DU: Honestly, it was pretty much exactly what I expected. The actual stuff in the town was a little more expansive than I thought it would be, in terms of restaurants and nightlife, etc. In terms of having a fun weekend, Morgantown will be right in the middle in the Big 12. Folks will enjoy the trip out, and it'll be a new experience for everyone.
The scenery and rolling hills basically looked the exact same as they do in photos, but it was kind of hard to get around. I like hitting open roads with the windows down, and that's pretty tough to do in West Virginia because of all the hills and winding roads. Alas, you could find a much stiffer criticism of a city.
I like Morgantown a lot.