In Friday’s mailbag, Texas fans wonder if they can win the Big 12 without a standout QB, Oklahoma State fans wonder if their school is a steppingstone job for coaches and, finally, my BCS era Big 12 team is probed from all directions.
To the ’bag:
Trudi in West Virginia writes: Red Raider alum living in exile in West Virginia. What's going on with all our quarterbacks wanting to transfer, and who will be our second string in the event Davis Webb goes down?
Jake Trotter: Keeping three quarterbacks so close in age is always difficult for any coach. I can’t really explain Baker Mayfield's decision. But the writing was on the wall for Michael Brewer, who was never going to beat out Webb, especially after Webb’s bowl game performance. Barring something unforeseen, it looks like the Red Raiders will be relying on incoming freshman Patrick Mahomes as their backup QB next season. They need to bundle Webb in bubble wrap until August.
Nicholas in Houston writes: Jake, Joe Wickline to UT is just the latest in a significant series of coaches building a resume at Oklahoma State and then using it as a ticket to greener pastures. What should OSU do to fight its status as a steppingstone?
Trotter: I understand your consternation, but disagree with your premise. Virtually everyone who has bolted OSU has gone on to better positions. Tim Beckman, Larry Fedora, Dana Holgorsen, Todd Monken all became head coaches elsewhere. And Wickline will be the primary play-caller for Texas. None of these was a lateral move. If anything, all this should make OSU an attractive destination for up-and-coming assistant coaches. In other words, go to OSU and improve your career trajectory.
Hunter in San Antonio writes: Does Texas really need standout QB play this year to compete for a Big 12 championship? Or will a game manager be enough?
Trotter: Who was the last team to win the Big 12 title without standout QB play? Maybe 2006 Oklahoma, which won the league with Paul Thompson? The past suggests Texas will need standout QB play to win the Big 12. Having a game manager usually doesn’t cut it in the traditionally QB heavy Big 12.
Jim B. in St. Louis writes: I really think the Big 12 blew it when they didn't invite Louisville to join the conference. Going forward, I think the conference has to expand by two teams. I'm thinking Cincinnati then Tulane, Colorado State, BYU, or Memphis.
Trotter: A question along these lines comes up every week. I agree the Big 12 ultimately needs to expand. But the league is not going to bring anyone in that doesn’t bring more to pie in potential TV revenue than it takes out. Tulane, Colorado State and Memphis don’t move the needle, and for whatever reason, the Big 12 soured on BYU as a potential member a few years ago. Cincinnati is interesting, and probably the best free agent available, but it doesn’t seem like the Big 12 is all that enamored.
Leo in Houston writes: Jake, I don't agree with Ryan Broyles as your BCS era all-Big 12 punt returner. Maybe you were just trying to put the best players on the list and if so, then I can see Broyles getting a spot. But the best Big 12 punt returner in the BCS era was either Antonio Perkins or Wes Welker.
Trotter: In the end, it was about getting the best players on the team. I couldn’t conceive omitting Broyles from the team. However, in hindsight what I should have done was created a third WR spot. That would have given Broyles a place at WR, and allowed me to slot Perkins or Welker at punt returner. No doubt, Perkins and Welker were the two best punt returners in Big 12 history, by a mile.
Dale Pahmiyer in Waco, Texas, writes: Sorry, Jake, you muffed the punt. No one got close to Daniel Sepulveda and his two Ray Guy Awards. Quinn Sharp was very good, but using a punter's field goal numbers to validate his selection as a punter is a little distortive. Otherwise, your team was pretty legit.
Trotter: It was weird, I felt pretty good about my team everywhere else, but had the most difficult time with the special teams. Originally, I had Sepulveda and Dan Bailey as my punter and kicker. But the more I studied Sharp, the more I felt like he was most deserving. Earning first-team All-American honors as a punter and a kicker is just unheard of. Again, I evaluated the specialists as overall players, as opposed to viewing them through the prism of just one position. This gave Sharp the slightest of edges over a very excellent punter in Sepulveda, who too was worthy of inclusion.
Josh in Hastings, Neb., writes: Hi Jake, please give the reason why Martin "Automatica" Gramatica was not the kicker for the BCS team.
Trotter: Gramatica had only one year in the BCS. Others were hurt by this, too, including Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen, who otherwise was very deserving.
Josh in Wichita, Kan., writes: Loved your Big 12 BCS era team. Just one question, when are you going to release your North Division roster?
Trotter: The South teams dominated the Big 12 during the BCS era. The team was a reflection of that.