In today's mailbag, we discuss Daniel Sams, West Virginia's 2014 prospects and whether the Big 12 is "back."
To the 'bag:
GoWVU in Los Angeles writes: I have no hope for 2014. We open with Alabama, play this year's FCS runner-up in Towson, then follow that with 10 teams who have all beaten us in the last two years. Recruiting isn't substantially better than before we joined the Big 12. Nobody in their right mind regrets switching conferences, but it's a terrible coincidence that the Dana Holgorsen hire has gone wrong at the same time. Can we fast forward to 2015, so I can at least find out who the next Mountaineer coach will be? It would be nice to have some hope again.
Jake Trotter: I wish I had some encouraging words for you. But it could be a very tough season for West Virginia next year. As you mentioned, the schedule is brutal. Dreamius Smith and Mario Alford are skilled, but the offense doesn’t have anyone that scares a defense anymore with Charles Sims gone. The West Virginia defense was better, but what is that really saying? It’s possible somebody like Skyler Howard becomes a revelation at quarterback, which changes the equation. But anything short of that, and it’s going to be an uphill climb in Morgantown.
David Francis in Fort Drum, N.Y., writes: Will Bill Snyder keep the two-quarterback system next year? If not, who's starting and will Sams move to a different position? Thanks.
Trotter: Jake Waters is going to be the one and only quarterback next year. The question is, what happens with Sams? He’s too talented to keep on the sidelines. I would like to see K-State use Sams the way TCU used Trevone Boykin late this season, as a receiver and a situational quarterback. I think he could be a very effective weapon if used that way.
Zach in Norman, Okla., writes: Have you heard any new news on conference expansion? I still want the Big 12 to have 12 teams.
Trotter: I haven’t even heard a whisper. All is quiet on the conference realignment front.
Andy in Austin, Texas, writes: How crazy is Red McCombs? I like the move that Steve Patterson made as it seems he is following through with changing things for the better and not for the boosters. Please let Coach Strong know that those who really matter -- players and fans -- have his back.
Trotter: Strong passed his first test in Austin with flying colors with how he handled the McCombs saga. By taking the high road, Strong not only showed his character, but he brought McCombs back under the tent. The Longhorns need someone who can unite the boosters and the fans, and Strong has proven so far he’s the man for the job.
Trey Willis in Krum, Texas, writes: When does Baylor get over its funk in the state of Oklahoma? I've been to the last three games Baylor has played in Oklahoma and none of them have gone well. Whether it's Norman or Stillwater, it's like we're cursed when we cross the Red River. Is this the year we get over the funk?
Trotter: This has been more of an Oklahoma State issue than anything. The Bears have gotten clocked every time they’ve gone to Stillwater since winning there in 1939. Baylor has lost the last 11 trips there, including all by double digits. The good news is they get Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The bad news is they go to Oklahoma, which could be a top-five team next season looking for a revenge win.
James in El Paso, Texas, writes: Jake, now that there is a new athletic director and a new coach at Texas, do you think new uniforms are possible in a few years?
Trotter: There’s a better chance of Austin freezing over in July.
Kevin in Cincinnati writes: Jake, I'm curious why you think Josh Stewart's departure to the NFL means OSU will now be rebuilding? No doubt he was an impact player, but his stats were down this year and didn't really seem like he carried the team at all. OSU has a lot of really talented young receivers, so as long as a strong QB emerges, it seems like they would just reload. Wishful thinking?
Trotter: Regardless of Stewart’s decision, 2014 was going to be a rebuilding season for Oklahoma State. I think it will be an exciting team. The receiving corps is young and talented and the Cowboys have recruited well defensively the last couple of years. I’m also intrigued by incoming QB Mason Rudolph and whether he can win the job as a true freshman. But the schedule is unforgiving, and with so much inexperience, I have a hard time seeing Oklahoma State contending next year. That said, 2015 could be a really special year for the Cowboys. The schedule will be more manageable, and there should be a boatload of returning starters coming back then.
Kelly in Bend, Ore., writes: Is the Big 12 back?
Trotter: Back? No. On the way? Maybe. Oklahoma’s win over Alabama certainly helped. The next step will be putting a team in the College Football Playoff in 2014.