Thanks for all the emails this week. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.
RTXC1 in Denison, Texas, wrote: So OU is the "best and deepest" team in the league, despite the WRs, DBs, and DL all having holes. However Texas isn't in consideration, while there is only 1 position in question (minus K & P), being the QB? Although this is an offensive league, Texas is the deepest team on paper and semi-decent play by [David] Ash or [Case] McCoy puts Texas right ahead of everyone else. 11-1, Big 12 Champs, with OU as the only slip up. Book it!
David Ubben: Texas is deep defensively, but you might be giving a little too much credit to the receivers.
That said, the concerns for the Sooners have a lot more potential than that of the Longhorns, and the problem much less glaring. We don't know for sure what Trey Metoyer offers the Sooners, but I don't have much doubt that he'll at least be an impact player. Kenny Stills should be OK with some time to prepare for life without Ryan Broyles.
The defensive line has question marks, but not quite holes. R.J. Washington and David King should be good, just not outstanding. Either way, Oklahoma is good enough everywhere else to outweigh all those other issues and stake a claim as the Big 12's best team.
Texas? If it had a quarterback in the top four or five of the Big 12, the Longhorns would be terrifying. Alas, they don't. They're really good elsewhere, but time and time again, we've seen teams with great quarterbacks win this league. Then, you look at a team like Nebraska in 2009 and 2010 fall short without a consistent passer. My guess is Texas befalls the same fate. Great season. Probably nine or 10 wins, but not enough offense to take home the big trophy.
John in Woodbridge, N.J., wrote: Hello David, I figure I take a look at the Big 12 conference and see what was said about West Virginia and TCU. I am laughing here and this is why. Two of your top four is West Virginia (from BE) and TCU (almost BE this year). This doesn't say much about this conference and why you guys get any special treatment. WV is going to steamroll this sorry conference and Rutgers has beaten up your conference in two bowl games (Kansas State and Iowa St). Looking forward to beating you in another bowl or two.
DU: Ouch. Well, for one, West Virginia and TCU are two good teams from a year ago that return the core of their respective squads. The Mountaineers are also a reigning conference champion, yet neither is picked to win the Big 12. That says a little something, no?
The Big East has Pinstripe Bowl bragging rights, sure, but it's worth noting that Syracuse and Rutgers both finished fourth in the Big East in their respective seasons.
Kansas State finished in a tie for seventh in 2010, and Iowa State in eighth place in the first year of a 10-team Big 12. That means a little something, no?
West Virginia might win the league, and the conversation about what that means in regards to the Big 12 strength is an interesting one. The ultimate truth reached by the end of that conversation, though? It won't be anything remotely close to "The Big East is better than the Big 12."
Top to bottom, these two leagues aren't even close.
I'm also curious as to what "special treatment" the Big 12 has received of late.
Jack McFadden in Hope Mills, N.C., wrote: Mr. Ubben, I thought you were at least a professional, in training. Well you may be -- but a gentleman you are not! ERINN wrote you on the 27th trying to explain to you the true colors of WVU. Your retort was -- " that this was the sillest email you ever had" and I paraphrase your comment. How dare you pretend to be a professional and your intellect demonstrates your ignorance. For your information, WVU Colors " Old Gold and Blue" pre-date you, ERINN, ESPN and the Internet. So put that in your Funk and Wagnall, you probably never heard of that either, and stuff a sock in your opinonated clap trap! Otherwise You have a Nice Day! Sincerely, JDM
Ralph Daughtery in Jacksonville, Fla., wrote: Hi Ubbs, WVU fan here. Your answer to the blue and gold email was funny but oh so true. I didn't know about Pitt having the same colors as the reason anyone ever says blue and gold someone will very seriously post, no, it is Old Gold and Blue, and it is sacred. Bill Stewart used to say Old Gold and Blue all the time, hopefully Holgs thinks the same way you do. He just ordered a new all-gray uniform. Will that be gray and gray or Old Gray and Gray? Btw, we need to schedule Pitt instead of a cupcake as far as Pitt goes.
DU: Can't please everybody, I guess. I actually got more emails this week about that email from Erinn than about anything else I wrote over the past week. Plenty of people on both sides of the debate inside and outside West Virginia. Fascinating stuff.
Bottom line: Colors are colors. The order of listing them (and adding an inconsequential "Old" before them) is pretty irrelevant. Call it tradition if you want. That's all fine.
The insistence is still a little silly, and won't endear you to your new conference mates, who somehow, some way, won't all be enlightened to the nuances of West Virginia's school color listing.
Matthew Braunschweig in Denver wrote: Can't ya just give the Cyclones a little love?
DU: Hey, I try. I think ISU's going to be a solid team. The sad truth for the Cyclones, though? The Big 12 is just scary, scary deep this season. I like Iowa State's chances to reach up and nab somebody, I just don't really have a feel for who that's going to be. I don't see anyone too susceptible, and I'd be pretty surprised to see the Cyclones qualify for another bowl in a deeper, better conference than they played in last season.
The biggest problem for Iowa State is its offense, which enters the season without knowledge of who its quarterback will be. Even after that's settled, it might not stay that way through the season, and it's telling about the gap between the play at Iowa State's QB spot and the Big 12 teams in the upper half of the league in that category.
Zach in Tulsa, Okla., wrote: I was very surprised to see Shaun Lewis (hope I spelled his name right) and Alex Elkins of Oklahoma State left out of even being mentioned for pre-season All-Big 12. Are they even on your radar?
DU: They're on my "radar," per se, but I just think there's an pretty clear, large gap between the Big 12's top three linebackers and the rest of the league. I voted K-State's Arthur Brown as my preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and you could make a case for Iowa State's Jake Knott and A.J. Klein for the award, too.