The All-Big 12 team was revealed earlier this month, but it's time to unveil what was on the ballot I turned into the league office. I had a few big disagreements, but largely agreed with most of the selections. Here goes:
More how I voted:
QB: Geno Smith, WVU
Voted Geno as my preseason player of the year, too. It's close between Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Smith, but I didn't debate this pick for too long.
RB: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
RB: Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State
Hold your angry e-mails, K-State fans, and hear me out. Klein's a great player, but he doesn't deserve the QB spot ahead of Jones or Smith. That said, he deserves a spot. The Big 12 doesn't have an "all-purpose" spot, the same way it doesn't have a nickel back spot, a decision that cost Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson All-Big 12 honors the last couple seasons, too. But among returning players, Klein and Randle are far out in front of every other player in the league in rushing yards. Klein's teammate, Hubert, had 970 yards, but no other player had more than 743. Does a player with 400 fewer rushing yards really deserve a spot ahead of Klein? Imagine Klein was not allowed to throw the football. Discount his passing stats completely. He'd still deserve a spot, and that's why I made room for him in the only spot I could. From my perspective (and intentions), it's a compliment.
WR: Tavon Austin, WVU
WR: Stedman Bailey, WVU
Nobody else in the Big 12 returns with 1,000 receiving yards. Austin and Bailey combined for better than 2,400 yards. The league's media putting OU's Kenny Stills on the list ahead of Bailey makes no sense. Austin wasn't even his team's leading receiver last season. Bailey was. For the league's voters, familiarity with Stills earned him a spot ahead of Bailey's superior skills and production.
C: Ben Habern, OU
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL: Gabe Ikard, OU
OL: Mason Walters, Texas
Good group here. LaAdrian Waddle of Texas Tech deserves a spot, too, but I put Walters on the team ahead of him. It's close. No big deal.
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Meshak Williams, Kansas State
I don't like going so defensive end-heavy, but ultimately, I almost always end up doing it. For one, pass rushers are more important in the Big 12. For two, the defensive tackles in this league heading into 2012 are awful. Nobody deserved it. All four of these guys deserved their spots. The league asks for "defensive linemen" not ends and tackles. I prefer to select two ends and two tackles, but if four ends deserve it, I'm going to put them on my ballot. That's what happened here. Williams deserved a spot over Oklahoma's Jamarkus McFarland, who landed on the team.
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
Really good set of linebackers here. Gotta love the Cyclones' duo, and Brown made my awards ballot as Defensive Player of the Year. Oklahoma's Tom Wort probably deserved a nod on this team, and K-State's Tre Walker wasn't far off, either. Should be interesting to see if Texas' Jordan Hicks can break out and make the postseason team. Competition will be really, really tough.
DB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
DB: Brodrick Brown, Oklahoma State
DB: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
DB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
Vaccaro and Jefferson are slam dunks. There can't be any debate there. Cornerbacks, though? I hated making these selections. Looking across the league, cornerback might be the best overall position. Byndom and Brown deserved a nod, but Byndom is the only must-have on the team. K-State's Nigel Malone, Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert and Texas' Quandre Diggs all deserved a spot on the team but there are only two spots for corners. Just a really, really difficult decision.
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PK: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
No debate here. Silly how dominant Sharp is at both spots. Don't expect that to change this year.
PR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
The Big 12 has a real lack of great punt returners, but I love Austin's explosiveness and threat in the open field. At kick returner, this is ultimately a two-man race between Gilbert and K-State's Tyler Lockett. Both are deserving. Gilbert's got him beat in straight-line speed, but both are fun to watch.
Who's on your teams?