Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Offseason Twitter-bag

Alright twitter-bags! Let's do some offseason Q&A,
There's simply not much sense in the Big 12 expanding. They'd have to add teams that can improve the TV market share of the league (of which there are no great, established options) and who can do so well enough to justify sharing the revenue 12-ways rather than 10.

For that reason, any additions would have to be schools that have the potential to really add something and grow into legit programs. They'd also have to be schools that can do it reasonably soon because the Big 12 doesn't have forever.

It also makes sense to go eastern time zone since that's where WV is, which points to how short-sighted and erroneous it was to replace the Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M exodus with just TCU and West Virginia. That was a play for keeping the Big 12 exciting without really adding major TV markets save for through a good product. While the excitement came, the markets have not. College football isn't just a generic product you can sell anywhere, regional interests are real.

There's also recruiting to consider, ideally they'd add teams that bring good recruiting turf rather than additional programs to leech off the state of Texas. So with all that in mind I suggest:

Cincinnati and the University of Central Florida.

I'm not sure that UCF is much better an option than USF but they currently have Oregon's Scott Frost as HC and a nice stadium. Tulane would be another option, located in talent-rich Louisiana which much of the Big 12 is already trying to mine.

Cincinnati is a clear choice because the state of Ohio is loaded with good football players and people that really care about football. Including boosters, which is key. The whole strategy at Iowa State right now is to recruit Ohio and unleash it on the more finesse-oriented teams in the league.

I need someone to explain to me why the Big 12 would benefit from adding UCONN.
This is sadly at least as likely as the Big 12 doing some investment in the cities of Cincinnati and Orlando. The two most likely scenarios would seem to be Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and maybe OSU going to the ACC OR Texas, OU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and maybe some of the other southern schools ending up in the Pac-12.

The rest would largely be pillaged by the AAC. Just my guess.
Definitely Iowa State's offense, which will now be guided by a clear identity and atypical (for them) competence. Granted Mark Mangino had them playing at a pretty solid level before he left in a huff but things are really going to be different now.

Their D will look like it did in the better Paul Rhoads days, or better.
I think they'll be surprisingly good to most of the people covering the league. They know exactly what they're doing on offense with Warren, Lanning, and Lazard and they'll be doing some stuff that's a bit new for the rest of the league. Campbell is quietly inheriting a better collection of players than many might realize and they get a lot of teams at home next year.
Dana Holgorsen and Charlie Strong. Neither would survive that kind of season. I suppose Gundy or Stoops could be in some trouble if that happened. Art Briles is probably in trouble regardless.
Oklahoma State, Texas, and Kansas State in that order. Oklahoma State has one of the leagues' more elite attributes in their passing game with Mason Rudolph and James Washington. They're also returning some good DTs and a very veteran interior five in the defensive backfield.

Texas is probably the most talented team in the conference by a safe margin, the only problem is that most of that talent is concentrated in Strong's freshman and sophomore classes. High beta with this team.

Kansas State is going to be considerably better this year assuming they don't lose their QB and their QB on defense (Dante Barnett) in the first game of the year again. I'm not sure if they have the overall depth and quality on D or not nor how the O will come together or who will even be the QB.

However, they have a lot of good players and a chance to put it all together and shock people again. Maybe Texas Tech can make some noise if they make a dramatic leap on defense...possible but I'd bet on those other three teams first.
What a delightful question!

I think a few different factors have gone into why Texas now enters this game like OU used to (spitting fire) and Oklahoma now enters the game like a 00's Mack Brown Texas team.

In 2013 Mack had REALLY drilled into his players' heads the importance of that game and guys like Steve Edmond, Adrian Phillips, the OL, and Case McCoy went into it with a "return with your shield or on it!" kind of mindset. OU had also already played tough games against Notre Dame and TCU and were surely beat up and easily forgiven for overlooking Texas.

Charlie Strong knows how rivalry games work and he's always going to have Texas up for this one. I think year one Strong-Texas shocked OU with their physicality and competence.

I recently re-watched last year's game, where you would have thunk that with guys like Dede Westbrook and Baker Mayfield on the field that OU would have been ready to match the intensity. Guess what? Those guys did.

Go watch that game and you'll see Mayfield execute tons of really tough runs while Westbrook is delivering savage blocks all over the field on every snap. Quite surprising for such small dudes, those guys have IT.

What seems to have happened is that the Oklahoma defense wasn't prepared for the competence and confidence of the Texas run game. Perhaps they thought that after the whipping TCU had administered that the Longhorns would come into the game without much fight. I had thought that Stoops just didn't have the juice any longer to get his team up for big games but that seems a little bit harder to accept in the wake of Oklahoma's nice run at the end of the year (injury luck notwithstanding).

If I'm right, Oklahoma should come into this game with a more focused team and a sharp game plan and match the intensity that you can be sure Strong's bunch will bring. Even if that happens though I'd still expect a tough, hard-fought battle.

That's all for this week!

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