Mailbag: Bowl mixups, ISU, APR, Belldozer

Thanks for all the emails this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

Doug in Philadelphia writes: Now the Alamo Bowl get the first pick of Big 12 teams not going to the playoffs to play a Pac-12 team? What happened to the champions bowl or whatever it was going to be called? I thought it was supposed to take the champion (or the first team that didn't make the BCS/playoffs) of the Big 12 and SEC. I've talked to some other people about this and we're all pretty confused, can you please help clear this up for us?

David Ubben: I'm getting a lot of questions about this, and the Alamo Bowl talking about getting the Big 12's "No. 1 team" inspired much of that. First off, the Champions Bowl is no longer a thing. That was a placeholder name for the bowl game between the SEC and Big 12 "champions" that is now the Sugar Bowl. The Big 12 won't be officially associated with the Fiesta or Cotton Bowls once the playoff kicks in in 2014. Both of those will be access games and either feature at-large CFP bids similar to BCS bowl games, or they'll be the playoff semifinal games.

If the Big 12 champion misses out on the four-team playoff, it'll face an SEC team in the Sugar Bowl. If the Big 12 champion or two Big 12 teams get into the playoff, the No. 3 Big 12 team will go to the Sugar Bowl and the No. 4 team will head to the Alamo. The most frequent scenario I'd say fans can expect is the Big 12 champion getting into the four-team playoff, the No. 2 team heading to the Sugar Bowl and the league's No. 3 overall team heading to the Alamo.

The reason you're hearing talk about the Big 12's "No. 1" team heading to the Alamo Bowl is because the bowl gets first dibs on teams after all the CFP teams and access games are filled.

Hope that clears things up.

Aryton in El Paso, Texas, writes: "How heartbreaking would it be, though, for a solid Oklahoma State team in 2014 to be banned from the postseason?" Mr. Ubben, isn't it more heartbreaking that OSU is ranked dead last in APR in the Big 12? At the least, it should be pretty embarrassing that a university has a booster drop a cool $150 mil in their laps and they end up dead last in the primary mission of the school. Just an observation ...

DU: I mean, I hear you on that, Aryton. A decent point. The issue is, the Academic Progress Rate doesn't have anything to do with academic excellence, which is actually the chief mission of universities (or so we're told). The APR is basically a penalty system for programs who don't graduate players or have players leave the program. A 4.0 student and a student barely eligible are equal in the eyes of the APR.

A coach has a responsibility to bring up the bottom of the team academically and keep players in the program and on track to graduate, but it's a shame to me that the APR doesn't reward teams for having high-achieving students, too.

Andrew in Phoenix writes: I keep hearing about the preseason predictions, and as an ISU faithful, I always think "this will be the year." I'm going out on a limb here, but I don't think Iowa State is going to be a 6-6 team. Either everything is going to fall apart due to the lack of talent, or this team is going to be the best example of Coach [Bill] Snyder's greater-than-the-sum. My guess? 9-3 or 3-9, but no repeat of the last four seasons. Either way though, Coach [Paul] Rhoads is always welcome in Jack Trice. Go Clones!

DU: I don't buy that. I just can't see Iowa State reaching 9-3, even if it's theoretically possible. The defense is replacing its most integral pieces and the offense is reloading a bit, too, from a unit that hasn't been explosive or capable of scoring anywhere near enough points to be a major threat in the Big 12 title race. I see Iowa State basically in the same place it has been for awhile: Fringe bowl team. The Cyclones are much, much better than 3-9, but far from 9-3. I'd say somewhere between 5-7 and 7-5 is the most likely range.

Justin Keller from Amberg, Germany, writes: Guten Tag David from Germany. Do you think the conference has given any serious thought to changing the name from the Big 12 to something else? Something involving the number 10 perhaps? It seems weird to me that we're still calling ourselves the Big 12 yet [commissioner Bob] Bowlsby has expressed again and again that we are comfortable with where we are at school-wise with 10. I understand there's a marketing factor here and maybe that's it. It's probably easier to stay with the same conference name than to spend money changing the conference name and your brand. I'm curious to find out your thoughts on this matter.

DU: Guten tag, Justin. Love Germany. My sister lived there for a few years and I spent a spring break in high school once exploring around Stuttgart, the Alps in Switzerland and a few other surrounding areas, so I've got a soft spot for the country.

To your question: I get it a lot. The league explored a name change most explicitly entering the 2011 season when Texas A&M and Missouri were members. It's like you said: A marketing decision. Look at what the American Athletic Conference is going through right now. The college football diehards won't be all that confused, but for the casual fan, it's going to take a lot of getting used to. The league decision-makers basically decided the name recognition outweighed its mathematical inaccuracy. Good decision, if you ask me ... which you did.

Shawn in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, writes: Alright I have two questions for you Dave. For starters, I'm going to assume its safe to say that after Kendal Thompson's arrest he is out of the race for starting quarterback [at Oklahoma], so what do you think the chance is for Trevor Knight to beat out Blake Bell? My second question is do you see any resemblance of Blake Bell to former Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow?

DU: Thompson's not explicitly out of the race, but I'd say his spot has a lot more to do with the way Blake Bell performed during the spring than anything he did off the field. Bell looked the part of a solid Big 12 quarterback, and Knight's wheels aren't going to unseat him.

As for the Tebow comparisons, sure, Bell's got a similar build, but how about we hold off on that kind of talk until he's made his first official start? Or hey, maybe even two?