In this week's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we discuss whether recruiting stars matter, Oklahoma State's receiving corps, Texas' ceiling and floor and who has had the best year in football/basketball combined.
On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter anyone have a chance to beat Oklahoma and win the Big 12 next year?
— Nathan Chapman (@nchaps1) January 19, 2017
Trotter: Sure. Oklahoma's defense should be better. The offensive line should be great. And Baker Mayfield might be the top returning quarterback in the country. But the Sooners are vulnerable after losing Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook offensively. They're still my pick to three-peat. But I wouldn't characterize them as the overwhelming favorite.
@Jake_Trotter How much stock do you put in the "star" ratings for recruits?
— Kevin Peters (@KDPeters99) January 19, 2017
Trotter: The data suggests that stars matter. A four-star player is more likely to become an NFL draft pick than a two-star player. Now, that doesn't mean a two-star player can't become a star. Heck, in our top 25 Big 12 player projection for 2017, the top players are a former walk-on quarterback and a wideout whose only other offer was from Texas State. But there's a reason why Alabama makes the playoff every year. Just look at the Tide's last few recruiting classes.
@Jake_Trotter other than Lincoln Riley, which Big 12 assistant coach has the best chance at eventually becoming a head coach?
— Aaron McBride (@Atmcbride) January 19, 2017
Trotter: Defensively, I'll go with West Virginia's Tony Gibson, and offensively, TCU's Sonny Cumbie. There's a reason why Charlie Strong tried to make Cumbie his offensive coordinator before last season. And Gibson's success transforming West Virginia into a defensive force these last couple of years has definitely turned heads. Together with Riley, they are two of the up-and-coming coaches in the league.
@Jake_Trotter Baylor recruiting went from #163 to #56 in a few weeks and climbing. Surprised at this?
— Don Kersting (@LearnTechMan) January 19, 2017
Trotter: That's what happens when you go from one to 14 commitments, headlined by a trio of ESPN 300 verbals. I thought Matt Rhule had a chance to hit the ground running on the trail. And bringing in several former Texas high school coaches to help has definitely boosted that endeavor.
@Jake_Trotter hard to replace Broyles, Stills, Saunders, Shepherd, Westbrook.... see where I'm going here?
— Laughing (@Apachee89) January 19, 2017
Trotter: Definitely a fair point. On the other hand, Westbrook was already a solid starter when it came time for him to take over as the go-to guy. The same for Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders, Kenny Stills and Ryan Broyles. This time around, I'm not sure I see that receiver waiting in the wings. Not saying OU won't be fine at receiver or won't be able to find another go-to guy for Mayfield. But of the receivers coming back from last season, tell me who that guy is.
@Jake_Trotter what is the floor for Texas football next year after looking at their schedule? What is their ceiling?
— UTfan (@utsportscb) January 19, 2017
Trotter: I don't think the ceiling is Big 12 title yet, but I could see a scenario in which Texas finishes, say, 10-3, despite having such a brutal schedule. Worst case? USC, K-State, OU, Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia could all easily be losses, which would put the Longhorns in neighborhood of .500. The talent, combined with the past erraticism, is why Texas will probably once again have the widest variance of floor/ceiling.
@Jake_Trotter rank the big 12 sports programs combining football and basketball. Go!
— Chris McLain (@chrismclain10) January 19, 2017
Trotter: For the 2016-17 season only: 1. West Virginia, 2. OU, 3. Baylor, 4. Kansas, 5. K-State, 6. Oklahoma State, 7. TCU, 8. Iowa State, 9. Texas Tech 10. Texas (yikes).
@Jake_Trotter Which OSU WR who didn't catch a pass in 16 will have the biggest impact in 17? How good could OSU's O really be next year?
— christian (@cbake44) January 19, 2017
Trotter: This is an interesting question, because Marcell Ateman and Tyron Johnson could be monsters alongside James Washington next year. I'll go with Ateman here as the proven commodity. But I've heard raving reviews on Johnson, too. With Jalen McCleskey (who had more receptions last season than any other returning player in the Big 12) and Chris Lacy back as well, Oklahoma State's receiving corps could be the best in the country in 2017.
@Jake_Trotter which fan base do you feel the most sympathy for?
— Doc (@Cleek_21) January 19, 2017
Trotter: Iowa State fans. Even when their team is struggling, they'll pack Jack Trice Stadium, subconsciously knowing their hearts are probably about to be ripped out again. No fan base has had to endure more "questionable" calls over the last decade, either. We should all empathize with the Iowa State fan. And that's why they're the only fan base allowed to complain about officiating on this site.