Thanks for all the mail this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say. Let's get to your e-mails!
Doc in Green Country, Okla., writes: In your mailbag on Friday 2-8 you were asked again about TCU/WVU recruiting and who's would be better long term. Don't worry I'm not dredging that up again. The discussion about that morphed into a discussion about which teams had the bigger national brand. Obviously (pretty sure everybody agrees) OU and UT are numbers 1 and 2, the order could be argued but that's not really what this is about. Numbers 3-10. We are talking about complete branding (FB, BB, everything). In my opinion KU is number 3 due to it's BB program, do you agree? How would you rank the whole league on who has the biggest national brand name? Since realignment has happened I thought this would be a good time to ask this. Thanks
DU: Really interesting question. The truth, though, is branding is only as valuable as the money it brings in. We saw where basketball sits on the totem pole in the last couple rounds of realignment. The amount of money coming in on the football field simply dwarfs that of basketball, and as such, football (or, perhaps more accurately, the TV money that comes with it) controls the realignment waves, so basketball brands just aren't as valuable as they used to be, even if KU has a top five brand on a national level.
Here's how I'd rank them overall:
Baylor (Heisman winners help out...a lot)
You could make a lot of different arguments in a lot of different directions (really everyone from 3-9 is up for debate), and these rankings will certainly fluctuate from year to year, but that's how I'd slot the Big 12 for now in terms of overall brand strength.
Jeff in Austin writes: David, It seems that the Big 12 took a much weaker recruiting class this year as a whole then in years past. The guys at the top (Oklahoma and Texas) didn't see as many stars yet still rank in the top third of the Big XII, and a lot of talk is how these two programs recruiting classes are falling off. With your recent poll of how we felt about expansion, do you think there is any correlation between expansion and recruiting?
DU: Most definitely, but not so much in who came as in who left. TCU and West Virginia didn't get their hands on a lot of the high-profile guys that would have enhanced Oklahoma or Texas' class. Who did? I'll give you a hint: They rhyme with Rexus Hay and Them.
The maroon guys are on a recruiting tear, and Oklahoma and Texas bore the brunt of those blows on the recruiting trail. How much A&M's SEC membership played into things like A'Shawn Robinson decommitting and going to Alabama is up for debate, but what's not up for debate is how much butt A&M kicked on the recruiting trail this past year, especially as it relates to Texas and Oklahoma.
Mulley in Cleveland, Ohio, writes: I am trying to wrap my head around the new targeting/head first rule that could go into effect next season. I just read Maisel's 3-point stance and see where he and the schools are coming from. We are finding out more and more each day just how dangerous concussions are. Now, we all know that a lot of people will be up in arms and coaches will throw fits when the first star player gets ejected from a game and consequently changes the game. Giving the power to the refs is a huge burden for these guys. They have enough on their plates as it is. Now you want them to play an even bigger role in the out come of a game, possibly? Maybe someone can offer this piece of advice and see if it works. Don't eject the player during the game that the infraction happens. We are bound to see a game in which one guy gets ejected on the visiting team for a hit and a guy for the home team doesn't get ejected for a similar hit. My point being, have the conference forward all flagged or even questionable hits to a rules committee that can this pass judgement upon said player and suspend him for the next game. At least it's out of the hands of refs that are making heat of the moment decisions that aren't always the best. Make any sense to you?
DU: I agree with you, Mulley, in that it's an unnecessary step that may produce more problems than it solves. Your solution, though, is sort of already in place. The Big 12 can suspend guys after games for illegal hits, but to my knowledge, has done so only once, on a hit from Nebraska's Eric Martin that gave an Oklahoma State player a terrible concussion back in 2010.
If they're going to give officials this kind of power, two things need to happen: One, I think the whole "targeting" penalty needs to be more clearly defined and taught to players. There seems to be a lot of confusion among players and fans on what exactly is legal and what is not. Part of that is the inconsistency in which officials at the college and NFL level flag the play. If guys are going to have the power to kick guys out of the game, these plays need to be reviewable. Go look at it on tape, see where a defender hit a receiver or ball carrier and what he hit him with. Apply it to the rulebook and then assess a penalty or ejection. Leaving ejections up to judgment calls is a disaster waiting to happen.
William Jackson in Cherryvale, Kan., writes: I follow your blogs and after many words you have written I finally came to the conclusion that you dislike either Kansas state or their coaches maybe both. William, a Kansas State and Big 12 fan
DU: Can't believe I've managed to fool you for three years on the blog. Caught red-handed.
Colby in Tuttle, Okla. Writes: Hey David love the blog, I looked at Schlabach's new top 25 and I am an Ostate fan so there is for sure some bias but it seems crazy to have Texas and OU at 14 and 15. While I think OSU is close to the right position at 20 ( I may have put them in the 15-18 range) because they do have several things to prove especially on the defensive side of the ball. That being said Texas and OU (especially) have a lot more holes to fill, more questions to answer, and return less talent in my opinion on the offensive side of the ball, which in the big 12 is essential. Am I crazy for thinking Schlabach missed it on his ranking of big 12 teams for next year?
DU: I don't know how you could be that encouraged by Oklahoma at all. The defense very well may be in big trouble next year, and there's going to be a natural learning curve for the offense, which may be in for some rough times early next season. I don't really buy anybody in the Big 12 as a bona fide top 15 team to start the year, but it'll have one or two and I think somebody will emerge in the middle of the year as a pretty good top 10 team. If you've read the blog long, you know I'm high on TCU and Oklahoma State, and think both of them are better than Texas and Oklahoma coming into 2013.