Mailbag: Big 12 vs. SEC, expansion, TCU

Thanks for all the emails this week. It was an active few days in my Mailbag. Got more to say? Send it to me.

Here's the best of the bunch from the past week:

Chris in Sioux Center, Iowa, writes: I love the blog Ubbs, but I noticed though you said the SEC won the past six national championships, but then like most SEC-hating people you said the one or two teams comment. C'mon Ubbs, Auburn, Florida, LSU, and Alabama have all accounted for those National Championships. It annoys me when people make that comment, and you cant even apply the two teams comment this year as it has 4 in the top ten currently.

David Ubben: Hey, I hear you on this one Chris. The fact that four teams have won those six titles is impressive. I don't necessarily argue that the SEC's not the best league. My biggest argument is that the difference between the SEC and the Big 12 isn't as vast as some would have you believe.

The Big 12 didn't have two title contenders last year, but it had one really good candidate, and Oklahoma State didn't get their shot to measure up the Big 12's best offense against one of the SEC's best defenses. My guess is LSU wins that game, but I still believe Alabama had an inferior résumé to Oklahoma State. As for the league comparison, my argument's been the same for the past year or so: The Big 12's depth rivals any league in the country, even the SEC. We'll see how West Virginia and TCU measure up over time to Missouri and Texas A&M, but I'm betting it levels out in the Big 12's favor.

This year and last year, the Big 12 had nine teams playing really, really good football. Arkansas, the supposed third-best team in the SEC, needed a late rally to sneak by six-win Texas A&M in the final minutes. This year, that same Arkansas team lost to ... Louisiana-Monroe? Doesn't bode well for the SEC's depth. More like S-B-C! S-B-C!

This year and last year, I don't think the Big 12 has a team that would have beaten LSU or Alabama. But it's so silly to measure a league by its best teams. That's how it always ends up, and it really doesn't make sense. If you want to compare the Big 12 to the SEC side by side, top to bottom, it's much closer than some would have you believe (minus that whole, having four more teams thing).

Dan in Fort Worth, Texas, wrote: Hey David. Got a question about the TCU receiver corps. It's arguably the Horned Frogs' deepest position, but I'm not sure that's an excuse for not getting Lardarius Brown involved in the game. I was at the game I didn't count a single target for Brown, but every report out of camp is that he's been a force in practice. My conspiracy-theory question: could Coach Gary Patterson (CGP) be keeping Brown under wraps so that Big 12 coaches don't have any tape on him? He's the only one of our top few receivers that hasn't appeared on game tape. Is CGP crazy like a fox?

DU: That was definitely the weirdest thing about that rout for TCU in the opener, and something that didn't get as much attention as I thought it would. Considering TCU was playing without suspended receiver Skye Dawson, it was even more surprising. I'm not sure I buy your conspiracy theory, but I don't think the Brown hype this offseason was misguided. He'll get in the mix eventually. The only thing that hangs that up is TCU doesn't really need him to be effective through the air. I think he can add another weapon in the red zone if he and Pachall develop a little chemistry on the fade route, but Josh Boyce is already pretty good at going and getting jump balls. Brandon Carter and Boyce are plenty of firepower for Pachall to be very, very productive, but be patient with Brown. He'll catch on eventually, and even if he has a disappointing 2012 season, the Horned Frogs offense will still be fine.

Zach in Tampa, Fla., wrote: What are the chances of BYU, and Louisville going to the big 12 in 2014

DU: Not very good, especially that soon. For your first suggestion, BYU presents more problems than it solves. The Cougars like to get their way, and the Big 12 already has one alpha dog in the league's meeting room: Texas. A second is a recipe for disaster. Nobody in the Big 12 is clamoring for more cash these days after the most recent TV deal was officially inked, so that sort of negates the biggest positive for BYU. For your second suggestion, the need for a geographic partner to help West Virginia assimilate is nice in theory, but nobody in the league's going to sacrifice money to make an expansion move that doesn't need to happen. Louisville is no slam dunk, and the general consensus is that the Cardinals wouldn't add enough value to the league to make sure that everybody's pie piece in league revenue got bigger, not smaller.

Additionally, with 2014, that's a little too soon. The Big 12 will sit pat for now, and see how this new playoff plays out. I don't think the league seriously considers expansion before then.

Curtis in Iowa writes: Do you think with how often bubble screens are used we shouldn't view all completion percentages the same? I'm an ISU fan and they throw a lot. Watching OK state and WVU they throw most passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. I saw your note on Ash's improvement and it is something to look at for his development, but think we should concentrate more on turnovers and more stats down the field. That would show more of an ability to read coverage than catch and throw to the wide receiver right away. any thoughts?

DU: Yeah, I'd agree, but it's hard to keep track of who is throwing screens how often. You have to take into account those screens when you look at everything, though. That includes yards, touchdowns and interception/attempt ratios. Thing is, by now, just about everybody in the league is throwing a pretty high percentage of screens. A lot of offenses in this league see them as extensions of the running game, but they go under passing stats.

Dana Holgorsen brought the "Colorado School of Mines" play to the Big 12, where the QB flips the ball to a receiver running full speed laterally as soon as he touches it. Oklahoma State loves it. WVU uses it with Tavon Austin and other guys. Texas' Daje Johnson scored on a variation of the play last week, too.

In this league, you have to keep that in mind, but ultimately, it evens out. Oklahoma doesn't throw as many bubbles as it used to with Ryan Broyles, but plenty of quarterbacks in this league throw passes around or behind the line of scrimmage. The best ones are the guys who stretch the field, and they make themselves known.

Matt in Waukee, Iowa, writes: How is pounding an bad FCS team more impressive than going on the road and beating a Big 10 team? Are you saying that points is more important in your rankings than defense and strength of opponent?

DU: I don't care how many points a team scores necessarily, but you have to factor in how a team looks while beating a team. Iowa's not that good. Tulsa's probably better, but not by much. Beating Iowa means a lot to ISU, but the truth is that team's not very good. Iowa's worse this year than last year, and a beat-up Oklahoma team beat the tar out of Iowa in the Insight Bowl, shutting them out in the opening three quarters before a 31-14 final score.

Iowa State had some awful stretches in that game, and against Tulsa, too. The defensive numbers look good, but Iowa's offense is nothing like what ISU will find in the Big 12. That offense might not even be better than KU's. A win is a win, yes. Iowa State's beaten better teams than Texas Tech. Tech, though, has looked more impressive, even though they've played against inferior competition. It's close, but I'm going with Tech for now. Iowa State will get their chance eventually. That's what you've got to love about the new Big 12: Everybody plays everybody.