Thanks for all the mail this week, everybody. Plenty of intrigue. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.
Dave in Dallas writes: How do you think the Big 12 will do against SEC this year. TCU/LSU, OSU/Miss St, Texas/Ole Miss.Everyone is high on Ole Miss this season, what do you think? Which is going to be the best game?
David Ubben: First off, great name and location, sir. Seems like we've got a lot in common. To your question, the Big 12 should do well, but this could quickly turn nightmarish for the Big 12. TCU is a touchdown underdog, but Oklahoma State and Texas should be solid favorites. The problem: Both of those teams are definitely good enough to beat the Pokes and Horns.
On paper, the Big 12 should go 2-1, but both leagues could definitely go 3-0. No doubt about it, conference bragging rights will be on the line. Ole Miss is still a year or two away from being a real force, but they'll be solid this year.
For me, the best game should definitely be TCU and LSU. It'll be physical, low-scoring and really intriguing in terms of storylines in what should be Casey Pachall's return to the field. It's also the Big 12's chance to go up against a solid SEC defense. The league's been clamoring for more matchups against the SEC after playing just two games last year, and just one in the regular season. It's happening now. The Big 12's been doing a whole lot of talking this offseason. We'll see if the league can back it up with some good games that it has opportunities to win.
Josh in Wichita, Kan., writes: I think that K-State (and Texas for that matter) both have proven numerous times that games are not won/lost on paper.
DU: Obviously, but those are two extreme cases. More often than not, you put a team of top-tier recruits on the field against a bunch of overlooked guys and juco transfers, I can tell you who'll win. Not everybody has the volume of recruiting misses Texas has and not everybody has the kind of development and coaching in Bill Snyder that Kansas State has.
Paper's still relevant. There's a reason Oklahoma and Iowa State are almost never close to one another in the Big 12 standings.
Paul Rhoads in Ames, Iowa, writes: Hey Ubbs. So I'm over here looking at the kickoff times for my first 4 games and I think I've got the best schedule in the Big 12! A home opener against an in-state FCS school at night will get the fans excited, an evening game for the Cy-Hawk trophy at home (it's been a LONG time since we've had a late-day Cy-Hawk battle), a Thursday night game at our newest bitter rival Tulsa, and then a Thursday night game for our Big 12 opener against Texas at home! It may be a little weak, but do you think the national attention would be greater because of the schedule set-up if my team was 3-0 going into the Texas game?
DU: It's a solid lineup. There's no reason Iowa State can't be 3-0. I'll probably pick that to be the case, and the environment for that night Cy-Hawk game should be so, so much fun. They've played some classic games the past couple years. It's a shame they've been stuck at 11 a.m. kicks. It's within reason that Iowa State could be 1-2 heading into that game, but if they're 3-0 against an undefeated Texas game for the Thursday nighter at home, it'll be a really intriguing game with two teams who have a lot to prove. Texas wouldn't necessarily prove their worth as a Big 12 title contender with a win in Ames, but that'll be a tough win, no doubt. A win for Iowa State, though? Huge. Very easy to believe ISU has taken that famed "next step" if they knock off the Horns on a big national stage.
Scott in Stillwater, Okla., writes: So, I kind of thought Gundy was being kind giving Lunt the option to transfer somewhere without sitting out a year. The precedent seemed to be that if you transfer in most instances, then you have to sit a year. Is that not the case?
DU: I've seen a lot of confusion about this lately, so let's clear this up: The only scenario in which players can transfer and not sit out a year (barring extenuating circumstances like the Penn State/Sandusky sanctions):
If they've completed their undergraduate degree and enroll in a graduate program not offered at their new school
If they sign a letter of intent but don't play for the school yet and are released from the NLI by their current coach.
Sitting out one year is an NCAA rule, not a punishment levied by coaches. Generally, I believe it's a suitable policy to prevent players from transferring excessively, the scenario Bob Stoops laid out in his comments about the issue on Wednesday night.
Dylan in Jacksonville, Fla., writes: Ubbs, I've noticed a lot lately that you have been leaving out WVU players from your polls. After the bad debut last year, I guess that is warranted. I do disagree though when you left Joseph out of your defensive player of the year poll. My question is are you leaving them out because we just don't have talent, or because WVU fans usually ruin every poll and always vote for our guy? Keep up the good work.
DU: It's a combination of a couple things, and none have anything to do with the latter scenario you brought up. One, the offense is so inexperienced and lacks any elite returning talent. Karl Joseph is a good player, but there were just five better players on defense and it's tough to really campaign for a guy as the best player on a defense as bad as West Virginia's was last year. It's the same deal as James Sims at Kansas on a very bad offense. The awards just aren't going to come his way until KU starts winning.