Mailbag: WVU, expansion, Austin bowl?

Thanks for all your e-mails this week. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Steve B. in West Virginia wrote: David. First of all, love the blog. Keep up the great work. As a WVU alum, I appreciate your coverage of WVU even in advance of our official "transfer" into the new conference. You may get this from a thousand different Mountaineer fans today, but here is one of the most lasting memories we have of Coach Stewart. After all the dust settled from Stew, this is what we remember most. Leave no doubt! Steve

David Ubben: Thanks for all the touching tributes you sent me this week, WVU fans. I never knew Coach Stew, but after this week, I feel like I do. You all were a big part of that. Not many schools or states are as proud of a guy as the WVU folk seemed to be of him. Just a shame he had to leave this Earth so soon.

FRF in Austin, Texas: Ubbs - Here is some investigative work I think you could find out. Why hasn't UT/Austin ever tried for a Bowl game? 100,000+ capacity, great city, good access, great revenue for the city. Seems like win win to me!

DU: Now this is actually an intriguing idea. Austin really would be a perfect site in theory, but it doesn't quite work. Trying to crash the bowl picture probably means they'd be due for a low-level bowl and have trouble selling out the stadium for one, but historically, it's not too hard to see why it hasn't happened.

No other Big 12 school has a game on its campus, and the league already plays four bowl games in Texas. There's hardly a need for a fifth. Additionally, Austin's a great city, but do you want to count on fans making a second trip there in the same season? It would happen quite a bit, especially in the new configuration of the Big 12.

Maybe there are other reasons, but that makes sense to me. Great idea in theory. Difficult in practice.

Dave in Annapolis, Md., wrote: I was reading your potential OOC upsets and has to respond to your comment on OSU playing the 3-3-5 for the first time. Good point, but you left one thing out; this will be year one for the 3-3-5 in Arizona. If you've ever followed a Casteel defensive installation, you'll find it is like RichRod's offense; meaning it takes 2+ years and the right people to install. When both coach together on the same cycle, watch out; but Year One? Doubt OSU has to worry.

DU: True, Dave. Nice name, by the way. The 3-3-5 won't exactly be clicking in the second weekend of the season, but it's still an odd formation, and I highly doubt true freshman Wes Lunt, the Cowboys' starting quarterback, has seen it before. He certainly hasn't seen it with a defense stocked full of Division I athletes. I mostly think it could be an interesting stop on his growth tour throughout 2012. I'm pretty excited about his career, but it's going to have its rough spots in 2012.

The defense won't be at its best, but like the 3-4 that he'll see, there will be some complex blitzes and coverages that he's not used to seeing. OSU had better get the scout team ready.

Craig in Kansas: your higher on the snydercats than most? that is a load of bs. in almost every article that you have written that involves kstate, you enjoy mentioning how you think last year is a fluke. get over it, no one cares about your opinions anyways. people care about the topic your covering, not your personal opinion of the topic.

DU: Ouch, Craig. First off, I've never called last season a "fluke." But you're kidding yourself if you don't think K-State dodged a whole lot of bullets throughout the season. Even Bill Snyder himself admitted that K-State was fortunate to win 10 games last season.

However, is it not fair to say I'm higher on K-State than most if I have them ranked 10-12? That's where I slotted it. It's disingenuous to me to look back on K-State's 2011 team and not take a big, long look at that 8-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. They needed legitimate late-game heroics to beat Eastern Kentucky, Texas Tech, Miami and definitely Texas A&M, which might have been the most crazy comeback of them all.

I've never called it a fluke, but it's crazy to think K-State was among the best 10-win teams in the country last season. I'd say Oklahoma and Arkansas proved that pretty emphatically, no?

Now, could that change in 2012? Yup.

MJ in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote: DU,Between BU, ISU, KSU, KU, OSU, OU, TCU, TTU, UT, and WVU, only UT is a playable word in Scrabble. Thoughts?

DU: This explains ... everything.

Richard Kennedy in Stillwater, Okla., wrote: The continuing ESPN obsession with making OSU's Defense look worse than it actually was is incredible. Not only did OSU's Defense rank 1st in the Big XII in turnovers, it was 1st in Scoring, Pass Efficiency, and Red Zone Defense in conference play. Yes, ahead of Texas in Scoring Defense. Check out the Conference stats, Dave. The question I have is, do you continue to propagate the myth that OSU's Defense was worse than it actually was and omit Scoring Defense, Pass Efficiency Defense, and Red Zone Defense because you were ordered to forward ESPN's SEC agenda or do you do so because you actually bought into the bilge without ever checking the Conference stats for yourself?

DU: Hey now, I'd say I was among those who certainly sided with the school of thought that OSU's defense was pretty underrated last season. I've seen the stat you cited, and it's true. For all the accolades Texas' defense collected last season, OSU allowed fewer points in conference play. Consider also that the two best performances came against Texas Tech (6 points) and Oklahoma (10 points). The Red Raiders ranked 22nd in scoring last season, and Oklahoma ranked 10th. Both of those teams were really, really banged up when OSU played them, but still.

That's one reason I'm so excited for the defense in 2012. OSU's going to be really, really solid. Two of the best corners in the league and arguably the best set of linebackers in the conference. That's a solid base, even if there are lots of questions along the defensive line.

Josh B. in Roanoke, Va., wrote: Ubbs! WVU fan here. Been reading up on your columns to familiarize myself more with the Big 12 landscape, and while doing this, a question came to mind. It's no secret that the Big 12 has some VERY fertile recruiting grounds, especially in the DFW area, my question is this. Given that Coach [Dana] Holgorsen knows Big 12 recruiting as well as he does, how long do you think it will take for the Mountaineers to start locking some of those higher ranked recruits up?

DU: I really don't think it'll happen at any point, if we're talking about competing consistently with Texas and OU for the top talents in Texas. The Mountaineers might grab one or two, but I don't see how, even if it wins a lot and consistently, the coaching staff can sell elite kids going all the way to West Virginia to play in the Big 12.

What WVU needs to do is position itself as the new Missouri, and lock in on all the best players Texas and Oklahoma say aren't good enough for them. Dig into Texas and learn how to scout and sign those underrated talents. Missouri got so, so good at that over time and it paid off. West Virginia still has to keep recruiting Pennsylvania and Florida, but Texas' depth, especially with offseason talent, will pay off over time. Just ask running back Dustin Garrison, wide receiver Jordan Thompson and quarterback Ford Childress.

There are a lot of players in Texas capable of playing big-time ball. Why would players go to Missouri and almost never play in Texas when they could get on a flight and take a drive -- the same way everyone got to Mizzou -- and play tons of games in Texas? The opportunity is there for WVU to poach a whole lot of players that traditionally would have been swooped up by Mizzou.

Jesse in Palmer, Colo., wrote: Is expansion for the Big 12 inevitable? Will the Big 12 have a better choice of new teams later?

DU: Yes. No.

Just sayin'.