Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Big 12 moves towards silly season

When the two Oklahoma schools smashed TCU and West Virginia respectively it established Bedlam as the de-facto Big 12 championship game in 2016.

Good thing they scheduled a new championship game starting in 2017, which in 2016 would mean that OU and OSU met on the field in Norman for a meaningless game before replaying the match-up the following Saturday in Dallas for all the marbles. Granted this probably wouldn't be a particularly common occurrence, but it is troubling to say the least.

I wonder what those schools would even do? I think you can assume that they'd rest anyone injured and quite frankly if I'm Oklahoma State I'm probably going to either start the back-up QB or bring him in after a quarter or so spent probing the Oklahoma defense with Mason Rudolph. As I reflect on the possibilities I realize this would actually be pretty interesting from an analyst's perspective but for the common fan it'd be hot garbage and for Oklahoma season ticket holders it'd be downright scandalous.

I'll break down Bedlam either here, SB Nation, or Football Study Hall next week. It should be an interesting game now that the OSU running game is really humming. I think that improving dimension to their offense pulls them pretty close to even with Oklahoma's own offense which when combined with Oklahoma's iffy pass defense make this a pretty competitive looking matchup.

The rest of the conference is now heading either towards silly season or towards recruiting bonanza, as the case may be. I'll be breaking down every class in the league again, although I'm not sure where I'll make that available yet so stay tuned.

I want to talk briefly about a few of the teams that are heading towards silly season right now.

The Texas Longhorns!

The state's flagship program and the biggest (resource-wise) program in the Big 12 seems very likely to make a move in the coming weeks to oust Charlie Strong and then replace him.

Over at Inside Texas Eric Nahlin detailed where things stand right now ($) while I broke down how a certain leading contender for the job might fit withTexas' offensive roster.

For all the drama, largely created by how easy it is to play the Texas media and various factions against each other, I think this will probably play out pretty predictably.

The Kansas State Wildcats

Things are always pretty quiet in Manhattan as Bill Snyder keeps a tight lid on things in that program. I've been suspicious for over a year now about Jerry Kill's hire and very active participation in the football program but whether he's going to be there to hold Sean Snyder's hand upon Bill's retirement or to bring over his man Tracy Claeys is less clear to me.

There's also the question of when Bill Snyder's retirement could come. However, K-State is poised to finish about 4th in the Big 12 this year in a year in which the Big 12 is quite frankly not very good at all.

The Wildcats were done in this year by a need to resort to a youth movement to get an acceptable level of talent on the field. They lacked expertise and developed skill at the QB position, the mainstay of Snyder teams, and they also lacked a defense with enough veterans to hold up their "bend don't break" schemes without regularly breaking due to assignment errors.

The question is now whether Snyder sees the youth on this team as a reason to stick around or whether he sees the slipping quality of the Wildcat football product as a sign that this job is passing him by at long last. I've heard in the past that he might be interested in hanging around to make a final run at a big postseason but there's no chance of this team reaching the playoffs with this roster or any roster they're likely to have over the next several years so at the most he'd be waiting around to potentially have a shot at going out as Big 12 champs.

The 2017 Big 12 season is probably going to feature another front-running OU team (Mayfield is probably back, much of his best supporting cast mates might go pro, D should improve), an improving TCU team, depleted Tech and OSU squads, a potentially improved West Virginia (Will Grier replaces Skyler Howard), and possibly a well-coached Texas team with a ton of talent entering their 2nd or 3rd year in the program.

If Snyder really likes his team and wants to go out on top of the league, he could probably convince himself that he could win this league next season.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders

Since I wrote that "what's next for Kingsbury and Texas Tech" column, the Red Raiders got beat at home by Texas (not especially shameful) but were then lambasted by Iowa State. I think Kingsbury will probably be retained, but before that game I assumed he'd at least have to make some staff changes.

What's next for Tech is going to depend on his ability to convince a good DC to come, to change his own program management to give that DC a chance at success, and then to see major improvements from their returning DL and LBs so that they don't get run over every week in 2017 like they have been for the last several years.

Maybe Phil Bennett will be available.

The Baylor Bears!

Baylor has been in the headlines recently for seeing their associate AD, hired to help improve the image of the program, charged with assaulting a reporter (choking) for trying to interview a student-athlete and for being likely to hire Chad Morris from SMU.

That program continues to be an amazingly awful mess, yet they might be about to hire the best possible man for the job of replacing Art Briles.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...well actually it was a HS in West Texas called Stephenville in the year 2004, Chad Morris set about the task of replacing Art Briles as the head coach. He initially struggled to match Briles' prodigious offensive output until he went to seek the help of a jedi spread master named Yoda Gus Malzahn.

It was there that he learned the ways of the force Wing-T and how to deploy it in a spread offense. From there he went to Lake Travis, which he transformed into a powerhouse that won two state titles under his direction and three more immediately after he left. Then on to Tulsa to be OC, then to Clemson where he built the infrastructure for the Deshaun Watson offense, then to SMU to get back to Texas and be a collegiate head coach.

He's a practitioner of the smashmouth spread and, like Briles, he tends to emphasize passing QBs that can deal death on RPOs rather than running QBs like Malzahn has tended to find more success with. At SMU he hired Van Malone as his DC, a guy who was responsible for coaching up some very good Oklahoma State secondaries, and they've had some solid success there rebuilding that unit. Presumably he would bring him with to Baylor.

Morris is very well respected across the state as a good, friendly guy in addition to being a favorite son of the Texas HS coaching ranks. He was a huge part of the spread revolution that took the state by storm and can probably be counted on to recruit pretty well at Baylor.

Quite frankly, the program doesn't deserve someone of this caliber given all the crap they've pulled over the years. Baylor fans, you'd better treat this guy well when he inevitably struggles to get things back on track with the mess of a roster he's going to inherit from the wake of the Briles scandals.

I'd say there's a good chance that Baylor can avoid going back to the gutter for more than a short visit with Morris in charge. I suppose that's ultimately for the good for the conference and it should make for some fun football in future seasons.

Any thoughts or questions?


  1. RE: Texas

    For the Horn's sake, I hope the obvious coach you're referring to is Mike Gundy. This dude is only 49 years old and has presided over the best SUSTAINED run of success at a second tier school in recent memory outside of Chip Kelly at Oregon.

    Since 2005:
    104 - 48 (ave. 8.67-4, including a Year Zero of 4-7)
    Take Year Zero away, and he's 9.1-3.7.
    FPI rankings from 2005: 80, 34, 25, 15, 28, 12, 3, 8, 6, 48, 24, 16. That is an mean of 20.

    Here's a list of P5 schools that have won more games than Ok St over Gundy's tenure:

    Ohio State, Bama, Oregon*, Oklahoma, LSU, TCU**, Wisconsin***, FSU, Clemson, USC, Florida, Georgia, Virginia Tech ^, Michigan State#

    * Cheated, caught
    ** Only Big12 for the last 5 yrs. Mean FPI over the last 5 yrs: 25. Best coach in program history.
    *** WTF, Mean FPI over the last 12 years: 21.5
    ^ Best coach in program history
    ^^ Probably best coach in program history

    In comparison, another coach went 13-1 and now 9-2 (so far) in his first two years with FPI 34 and 29 (so far). This comparitor coach's expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, and he's got a top flight QB that has been key to his success on that side for his short tenure at this school. The defense at this school was as good as the offense during his first year and is BETTER than the offense this year (by the numbers). The narrative for this other coach is built on his team winning games as an underdog, which reasonable observers know is subject to severe regression to the mean.

    Gundy can recruit, manage a program, and teach. He knows how to manage a big booster. Since his first year, he's missed bowl games exactly 0 times.

    He's played in NY6-equivalent bowl games 4 of the last 7 years, at OK ST!

    His knocks are the 40-year-old rant and that he's at a school in the conference, and he's only beaten OU twice. However, in the last six games with the Sooners, the mean point differential is 3 with each team winning a blowout and overtime game and OU winning two one-possession games.

    His benefits are obvious. Will UT make the obvious choice or will they go for the bling?

    1. They'll probably go for the bling, haha.

      I totally agree on Gundy, his program management is top shelf and he regularly makes smart moves and good hires that result in OSU milking every drop of value they can out of their resources.

      I do think the offensive coach that you're dismissing has shown some impressive chops as well and would also be a great candidate so I'm not too worried that Texas is going to blow it.

      The QB concern is one we argued over at Inside Texas. I think Ward Jr is a fine player but not the kind of player that is hard to come by at Texas and Herman has had success with a few different types of QBs over his tenure as a coach.

  2. For us over at Texas Tech, we're looking ahead to the 2017 offseason, when we'll hopefully be able to find some boosters willing to pony up 6 million to move on from Kliff.

    I've had the opportunity to watch UTSA play a couple of times and Frank Wilson is someone who could be available next year and who I would be very interested in looking at. His team looks well-coached and fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball. His improvements so far over Larry Coker's tenure are only marginal, so it will be interesting to see how he does in year two. But his team looked a lot better against ASU than Tech did with vastly inferior athletes.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Ian, your blog has been a great read all year.

    Questions! I have questions.

    So is the veer and shoot going to disappear from the Big 12? Neither Morris nor Herman seems like to employ it. Weird that it will be at Syracuse but possibly at zero Big 12 schools.

    What are your thoughts on Rasul Douglas as the Big 12 DPOY? Justin Crawford as newcomer of the year? Doesn't have to be WVU focused, just curious as to who you see as candidates for the conference awards.

    Is Iowa State better or did Tech just collapse? Early predictions for year 2 under Campbell?

    1. The Veer and Shoot has left a mark even if it disappears from the league for a few years. I bet someone gets a job somewhere in the league though before long.

      I didn't watch Iowa State vs Tech so I can't speak much to that...but collapse seems likely given the margin. Rasul Douglas will be one of the guys I consider for B12 DPOY, for sure.

      I need to see where Iowa St is at QB and what their incoming JUCO DL look like.