In this week's mailbag we discuss West Virginia’s quarterbacks, Baylor’s scheduling and the campuses of the Big 12 through the eyes of a recruit.
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Now, to the ‘bag:
Grayson Grundhoefer in San Antonio writes: I am really comfortable in saying that I think Baylor has a legit shot to make the playoff this year. They return a top three quarterback in the country to lead an offense that I think is going to be even better this year than last year. Bryce Petty got happy feet last year in big games due to the that he had never played in those kind of games before. He will correct that this year. He has an unreal amount of talent at skill positions along with some stud offensive linemen. I also think defensively this team is going to pass rush well and force turnovers. What are your thoughts?
Trotter: I’m not quite as bullish on the Baylor defense as you are. The D-line is going to be superb, but that secondary is a total question mark. That said, the offense is going to be awesome again. If Petty is even slightly better than last year, he will be a viable Heisman candidate. Even without Tevin Reese and Lache Seastrunk, the skill talent around Petty is in place. And getting left tackle Spencer Drango back from the back injury will be huge (the pass protection went down the tubes after he got hurt last year). If the defensive backfield rounds out, Baylor could indeed be a bona fide playoff contender.
Matthew W. in Tyler, Texas, writes: Hey guys, just a quick comment about Baylor's horrendous non-conference scheduling. With things as they are now, it's horrible that Baylor is playing such pasties. But nonconferencegames are contracted years in advance, and it wasn't that long ago that Baylor was struggling for bowl eligibility. I would expect (and hope) that the teams we've signed contracts within the past three years or so will provide us with fewer and fewer cupcakes as time passes.
Trotter: That explanation would hold more water if the game with budding powerhouse Incarnate Word wasn’t agreed to just this year.
Paul in Waco, Texas, writes: Big 12 teams currently have more than 60 out-of-conference games scheduled against “Power 5” conference teams. Out of those, Baylor has a paltry two (the home-and-home with Duke). If the Big 12 did not fine its members for disparaging other members, how many coaches would speak out against the Bears’ scheduling? As a ticket-buying alum, I am upset and embarrassed with our out-of-conference offerings.
Trotter: Opposing coaches still probably wouldn’t publicly criticize Baylor’s scheduling. But they have definitely taken notice. And if Baylor goes 11-1 and is trying to slide into the playoff, the nonconference slate will get brought up by everybody, including the playoff selection committee behind closed doors.
Chuck Jordan in Fairmont, W. Va., writes: Jake, any chance Dana Holgorsen uses Logan Moore and Skyler Howard to back up Clint Trickett in the fall and redshirts Paul Millard, so he doesn't lose three QBs in one year and has some experience behind Howard and William Crest next year?
Trotter: After two mediocre seasons, Holgorsen doesn’t have the job security to be thinking about 2015. He needs to win now, and that means all hands will be on deck. Trickett has a history of getting dinged up, and Holgorsen will need his top backup ready to go -- if that is in fact Millard.
Jesse in Houston writes: How would you rank the Big 12 college campuses from the point of view of a recruit?
Trotter: This question is going to make pretty much everyone on here mad so ... let’s answer it! Again, this would be through the lens of a football recruit, not necessarily my own personal preference. And we’re talking campuses, not just football facilities. Austin, where I was for a couple days last week, is the clear No. 1. After that: 2. Lawrence, 3. Fort Worth, 4. Stillwater, 5. Norman, 6. Morgantown, 7. Lubbock, 8. Manhattan, 9. Ames, 10. Waco. Let the hate mail flow.
Mark Masa in Garden Grove, Calif., writes: Measuring Colorado’s realignment grade based off their (lack of) recent football achievements shows your fundamental misunderstanding of realignment logic. CU left because there are (supposedly) more CU alums in California than the entire Big 12 footprint. The Buffs have as much money now than if they had stayed put, so their grade should be a "push" at best unless you have inside information regarding contributions, gifts, monetary giving, etc.
Trotter: The grade I referenced was solely based on improved visibility, competitive standing and future outlook for its football program. I get there were other motives behind realignment with the Pac-12 (academic, cultural, etc.). And I’m not saying overall it wasn’t the right move for Colorado. But in four years, Colorado has yet to play a meaningful game in the Pac-12. There’s really no case to be made that Colorado’s football program is better off now in the Pac-12 than it would have been in the Big 12.
Tommy in Virginia Beach, Va., writes: Is it really that hard to believe that a healthy Clint Trickett-led team, that could have easily been 8-4 last year, be as bad as the media is predicting this year? Or does this come down to media hype? Mark it down sir, because I will be back in January to remind you and the rest of the readers. Go Eers!
Trotter: I have it marked down, sir. Good luck.