Big 12 mailbag: West Virginia's rise, the conference's future

Big 12 sticking to 10 teams leaves a negative impact (2:21)

Desmond Howard and Paul Finebaum discuss the Big 12's decision not to expand the conference and question why commissioner Bob Bowlsby wasted time on behalf of schools preparing to present themselves as viable candidates. (2:21)

In this week's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we discuss the Big 12's non-expansion decision earlier in the week, the state of the league moving forward and West Virginia's rise to prominence after a 5-0 start.

On to the 'bag:

Trotter: Actually, the most damaging comments toward the Big 12 haven't come from the media; they've come from the league's own board chair. I haven't seen anything stick to the Big 12 the way "psychologically disadvantaged" has. That's basically become the Big 12's new motto.

Trotter: It's going to require a Herculean effort from Patrick Mahomes. Healthy, he would be capable of that, which is why I originally had this being a potential landmine game for the Sooners. With the shoulder issue, I'm not so sure. The Red Raiders are also going to have to figure out a way to force turnovers, because they're probably not going to stop Oklahoma. Tech might have to score 50 just to have a chance in this one.

Trotter: The bottom five is easier to sort out than the top five in 10. Kansas, 9. Iowa State, 8. Tech, 7. K-State, 6. Texas. Above that, it's fairly wide-open. Right now, Oklahoma is still my pick to win the league. The Sooners, quietly, have been pretty good in conference play. But remember, West Virginia has the schedule advantage, with Oklahoma and Baylor both having to travel to Morgantown. If the Mountaineers win these next two games against TCU and at Oklahoma State, they might very well replace the Sooners as my new conference favorite.

Trotter: Nov. 19 when Oklahoma visits Morgantown would be a possibility. The biggest competition for that weekend might be LSU-Florida. There will be plenty of intrigue for that one given the controversy that ensued while the SEC rescheduled that game. Beyond that, there isn't a lot else that Saturday (Louisville-Houston is on a Thursday). So if West Virginia and Oklahoma keep winning, a Big 12 campus might get a College GameDay visit after all.

Trotter: There's no doubt that Texas being Vince Young/Colt McCoy Texas again, and Oklahoma channeling early 2000s Oklahoma again would do wonders for the league. The perception of the Big Ten and ACC changed when Ohio State and Florida State won those titles. Nobody would be calling the Big 12 psychologically disadvantaged if Oklahoma-Texas went, say, back-to-back. This gets lost in all the state-of-the-conference angst. The Big 12 desperately needs its flagships to start playing for titles again.

Trotter: West Virginia is trending upward, Tech is trending downward. Beyond that, it feels fairly status quo. TCU has taken a step back, but that was probably to be expected after losing Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson; I wouldn't call it a trend. On the other hand, given what Baylor lost from this year's recruiting class and the fact the Bears have done little recruiting for 2017 (just two commitments so far), their three-year trajectory is not promising.

Trotter: In one week, West Virginia fans have gone from being angry about me not giving the Mountaineers enough respect to mad about me giving them too much of it.

Trotter: No, that was too much hyperbole from Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard. TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Baylor and K-State is a far better cast than Boise State, Air Force, Colorado State, San Diego State and Wyoming. I even think a Red River Rival-less Big 12 would be more attractive than the old Big East. That said, if Oklahoma and Texas ever left, the Big 12 would no longer be a Power 5 conference, at least not in the current sense. That's why the other eight schools have plenty of incentive to make this Big 12 work, dysfunctional as it might be.

Trotter: Yeah, touché. Never say never when it comes to the Big 12.

Trotter: I once thought that I could. But apparently not.