Thanks for all the emails today. I'll be back tonight with some thoughts on Baylor's game vs. Louisiana-Monroe. You can follow along with me on Twitter here and check the blog after the game for coverage.
Here's where you can reach my Mailbag if you've got more to say.
Keith Hurlbut in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Your article Challenged at Home talks of Oklahoma's at home stance against RANKED Teams. Lets not ignore TCU's 2005 victory in Norman, even though TCU was unranked at the time.
David Ubben: Ha, I'm not ignoring it, but my point with all that coverage today is pretty simple. When Oklahoma loses it home, it seems to do so against teams that sort of sneak up on it. The Sooners are 77-3 under Bob Stoops at home (Yes, I know they don't play Texas there. Anyone who knows anything about OU understands this and sees Stoops' home record through that prism), and all three losses have come to teams that Oklahoma understandably wouldn't be up to play. The Sooners have to care about TCU now, but back in 2005? That's not exactly going to be an opponent that gets the Sooners fired up.
It would have been easy to overlook a pretty mediocre Oklahoma State team back in 2001. That in-state rivalry was hardly a rivalry back then. Texas Tech last year? Oklahoma had completely stomped the Red Raiders in Norman for nearly a decade and Tech was coming off two losses heading into Norman. Not exactly a game the Sooners will be easily motivated for.
Coaches say they'd love for their players to look at every opponent equally. A realist says it's obvious that games like Florida State in 2010 and Texas every year mean more to teams like Oklahoma. That's natural. The point? When Oklahoma gets challenged at home, it answers the bell quite loudly every single time under Stoops.
John Lockett in Wichita, Kan., writes: Hi David:I was just curious about your comment about K-State can gain respect by playing Oklahoma. I think most of that respect storm has passed over the years. Oklahoma no doubt is an excellent ball club, but in my mind no different than playing OSU, WVU, TCU, Baylor, or Texas. Win or lose Saturday, K-State is undefeated and ranked 13th nationally in one poll, and came within one play in 2011 at OSU from being the Big 12 champs. From 1993 to 2000 K-State was one of the top schools in the nation, winning more than 9 victories almost every year. So to my point, playing Oklahoma is not about gaining respect, but competing and winning a game against a very good and respected ball club. Knowing the Stoop brothers as I do, I suspect they feel the same way about K-State and the respect is mutual.
DU: I'm not talking about respect as in recognition, I'm talking about people taking this team seriously as a Big 12 title contender. If you didn't hear the K-State skepticism this preseason, you weren't listening. People talked endlessly about the close losses last year.
"It'll catch up to them. Expect K-State to come back to earth this year," was the most common complaint. That's not to say the criticism was unfair, but I don't necessarily buy it. I'm not taking the Cats to win the Big 12, but not one of the top 20 teams in the nation? The sixth-best team in the Big 12?
If Kansas State goes into Norman and gets a win, they'll shut pretty much everybody up in just one game. That's the kind of respect I'm talking about.
Chad in Des Moines, Iowa, writes: Hey Ubbs, few questions or thoughts on Iowa State. If Coach Rhoads can get this team to 8-4 or 9-3 this year would you hand him Big 12 Coach of the Year Trophy? Also programs are always trying to improve the program to attract better recruits, examples for Iowa State, new video board to enhance game day experience, add-on to indoor practice facility... what do you think needs to be done next for Iowa State to take the next big step forward? Always talk about bowling in south end of the stadium... heard it would add 5-8,000 more seats. Thanks ISU #1 Fan.
DU: We'll see. He'd definitely be on the short list. It'll depend on what everybody else does. If K-State wins the league or if any coach can get through this season without a loss, I'm probably giving it to them. That said, Rhoads will get a huge chunk of votes if that happens.
I've talked a little about this in the past, but for Iowa State, getting better is pretty simple in theory and more difficult in practice. Growing a program isn't so much about seats, it's about winning.
How do you do it? I always use Oklahoma State and Missouri as examples.
They did it slowly, and by replacing a players at (almost) every position who were better than the guys before them. They did it in a lot of places, but for our purposes, we can talk quarterbacks. You saw the biggest jumps when those programs replaced "franchise" quarterbacks with guys who ended up playing at the next level.
Zac Robinson's gone? Hello, Brandon Weeden and a Big 12 title. Brad Smith gone? Hello, Chase Daniel and a No. 1 ranking and two Big 12 North titles.
It's more complicated than that, but getting a coach in place who's there for the long haul and gets his expectations in place is the first step. Iowa State has that in Paul Rhoads.
Kyle in Kansas City writes: Since there is no Cyclone game to discuss this week, I figured I'd drop off a little bit of awesome for you. Did you know Steele Janz's father is named Foxx? He also has an uncle named Wolf, another uncle named Stig, and a brother named Truk. And, boom goes the dynamite...
DU: I did know that, but I suspect plenty of our readers didn't. Thanks for reminding us. I'd like to be an honorary member of that family, if only so I could be gifted a sweet name. David's OK, but what can you folks come up with?
Robert in Phoenix writes: Ubbs,Is the Baylor-ULM game on Friday the most important non-conference game for the Big 12 this season (save for OU-ND)? If BU goes into Monroe and beats ULM handily, shouldn't that be the proof that the Big 12 needs to show it really is the strongest conference top-to-bottom? I mean, a double digit win over a team that beat Arkansas in Little Rock and nearly beat Auburn in Jordan-Hare, would say a lot, wouldn't it? Sic 'em!
DU: I'm with you on this one, Robert. Baylor's spot on the Big 12 totem pole is pretty similar to where Arkansas and Auburn sit in the SEC, or at least close enough. When it comes to the Big 12 proving itself vs. the SEC, this is definitely a big one for the league. I expect Baylor to win convincingly, but it may not be easy. You don't win in Little Rock and come close at Auburn without a pretty good squad.
Still, if Baylor just rolls into Monroe and opens up a can on the Warhawks, how do you not take notice of that if you're comparing the Big 12 and the SEC? It's such an odd thing when you look back at the beginning of the season, but this game could be a good gauge for the two leagues.
Johnny in Oklahoma writes: Ubb,You keep bagging on the Sooners, dropping them when they didnt even play and you had no reason too. You will regret it, they will win the Big 12 over your beloved West Virginia...i hate the fact you are the Big 12 blog writer....No Brains what so ever.
Derek in Austin writes: So Texas destroys an SEC team and Oklahoma can barely beat a Conference USA team and you STILL have the Sooners ahead of Oklahoma? Do you pay attention at all? It's clear that you don't even watch the games. You just can't get enough of Booby Stoops and in your eyes, Oklahoma can do no wrong. Can we get a new Big 12 Blogger please? Maybe someone not so bias???
DU: Well said, guys. Consistently my favorite types of emails right there. I'd argue there's nothing funnier about my job than twin conflicting hate mail. It's a rarity, but when I see it I can't help but pass it along.
Farva in Iowa writes: Why do you favor other teams so much more than ISU? We went on the road and sloppily beat Iowa but yet you still don't give us credit. But when Texas Tech beats Texas State you think they are absolutely dominant?
DU: I get it, I get it. A win is a win. Yes, Iowa is better than Texas State. Still, Iowa is not that good. And there's something to be said for style points. You're being ridiculous if you completely rule them out. It's not like it's a walk-off for either team, but in my book, Texas Tech has been more impressive to this point. Iowa State's got great wins, but they've gotten two of them ugly.
Ultimately, it won't even matter. Next week, we'll find out who's better in Ames.