Mailbag: Dark horse, best seasons, Klein

I'll be out the rest of this week, so let's get our Mailbag going right now.

You can still share your favorite moments from the greatest seasons in Big 12 history here, though. I'll run those later this week.

On to your mail!

Zack O. in Bryan, Texas, wrote: Ubbs, I'm not ready to leave you yet so I continue to read the Big 12 blog while also staying up to date in the SEC. I liked your top individual seasons and you most definitely had some tough decisions. I noticed my Aggies didn't make the cut. After a quick moment of pouting I realized that they haven't been that outstanding individually; however, I would put Von Miller in 2010 right up there with anyone.

David Ubben: Thanks for the kind words, Zack. I'd disagree with you on Von Miller. For one, 2010 wasn't even his best season. I'd lean toward 2009. Even though A&M's defense was awful that year, Miller was a terror, and led the nation in sacks. Miller was a terror down the stretch in 2010, but he was much more productive in 2009 and he was slowed by an injury early in 2010. Could you really put a pass-rushing specialist who ranked 11th nationally in sacks in a pass-happy league among the best seasons in league history?

I was pretty surprised that the Aggies didn't have a player on my just missed list, but Dat Nguyen was probably the closest to making it.

Lee Barden in Katy, Texas, wrote: What are the milestone dates to watch for this summer (in the coming months)? e.g. BCS discussions of playoffs, ACC drop-dead date for notice (before buy-out price tag increases to 25mm)? I'm figuring any movement will happen after playoffs are determined and before the price increase...

DU: First off, there's no ACC drop-dead date to my knowledge. The Big 12 waited to bring in West Virginia and TCU until the fall, and they're joining the following summer. Also, the ACC voted unanimously to up its buyout to $20 million last year, but I haven't heard anything about it getting hiked to $25 million.

You're right about the second part, though. I highly, highly doubt any movement will happen until after this playoff stuff is settled, and the format can be pitched to TV networks. There's a lot of hope that the BCS meetings around June 20 will produce some very serious results. I'd keep an eye on the month or so that follows if you're watching for Big 12 expansion.

Brett in Kansas City wrote: Ubbs, what are you thinking, I can see why Collin Klein got left off the list of top 5 individule preformances but how did he miss out on the just missed out list?

DU: Here's my thing about Collin Klein's 2011 season (Hang on while I put on a helmet and get a running head start from the torch-bearing purple hordes): It's a little silly to just look at his 27 touchdowns and say, "WOW! One of the best seasons ever!" He put up similar numbers to Eric Crouch during Crouch's Heisman season in 2001, but Crouch ran for 26 fewer yards on 114 fewer carries. Klein's touchdown numbers were eye-popping, but anyone who watched K-State saw that any time the Wildcats were close to sniffing the end zone, it was all Klein all the time. That's not a bad thing. It paid off. These weren't long, game-breaking runs though. Most often, they were sneaks and short runs that most players could make.

Klein had a great year and K-State played a great schedule. His durability was amazing, but I'd probably put his season just outside the "just missed list." After all, I had Klein at No. 7 in the Big 12 this year, and didn't hear all that many complaints.

Derek in Phoenix wrote: Not even a mention for Dominique Whaley to go plus 1k in 2012? You're gonna be wrong on that call, Ubben.

DU: That's probably my mistake, at least for not putting him on the "just missed" list. Whaley should be productive, but I see OU's backfield being too crowded and the offense again relying on Landry Jones for most of its production. Roy Finch was really good down the stretch and Brennan Clay could catch on. It seems like more of a committee approach, and coming off a serious injury, will Whaley quickly reclaim his spot in fall camp?

There's definitely reason to doubt it. I'd be surprised if he hit 1,000 yards this year, but he may get close and top around 800 yards.

Marcel in Austin, Texas, wrote: We all know that in 2012 there's about a good 4 teams that could win the Big 12. But who do you think, that not a lot of people are looking at right now has the best chance of being the dark horse and could possibly be in the title race. I'm thinking Baylor or Tech, thoughts?

DU: I'd say it's four, teetering on five. TCU is lending a whole lot of credence to folks who doubt it and its depth lately. That said, Oklahoma and Kansas State are absolutely contenders. Texas and Oklahoma State are knocking on the door behind them, too.

As a true dark horse, I like Baylor. They've got lots of unheard of guys, but guys who quietly have a lot of experience and won't be wowed by anything they see this year. Tech isn't a bad pick, and Baylor's defense is slightly less of a disaster entering this season. At least Baylor isn't learning a new system.

Beyond the true dark horses (OSU, Texas), I like Baylor's chances. The Bears learned how to win last year. We'll see if they keep it going this year.