Mailbag: Lone Star recruiting, stadium beer

In this week's mailbag, we discuss the contested recruiting in Texas, the starting experience of Baylor and Oklahoma State, and whether Big 12 schools should be selling beer inside their stadiums.

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To the ‘bag:

David Elswick in Richmond, Va., writes: I'm a little nervous about the future of the Big 12. Part of that is due to watching the Big East stand still until it was too late. Other conferences are talking about seeking more games against the power conferences. Is the Big 12 falling behind?

Jake Trotter: David, you know I’ll give it to you straight when it comes to the Big 12 and any potential flailing status, but I see no correlation between the power conference scheduling of the SEC and ACC, and the welfare of the Big 12. It’s a death knell to those outside the Power 5 conferences (was it a bad week for BYU or what?). But it has no bearing on the Big 12, other than it could supply the league with more marquee nonconference opportunities. The reason the Big 12 hasn’t introduced a similar clause is because the league already plays nine conference games. The SEC and ACC play eight.

Marty in Dallas writes: Jake, I noticed in the latest recruiting update, that Baylor has six guys committed who are in the ESPN 300. I understand that Art Briles has had some success at Baylor, but I have to admit I am still a little surprised that he has been able to get so much quality talent to Waco. I think many assumed that Baylor's success would impact UT's recruiting, but this number suggests that it may be having a greater impact on the conference schools outside Texas. Thoughts?

Trotter: Recruiting in Texas has never been more competitive. Texas A&M is a different animal in the SEC. Alabama and LSU are recruiting Texas like never before. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor are doing major damage. Texas’ top in-state commitment (safety DeShon Elliott) is ranked No. 13 in the state. Oklahoma’s top Texas recruit (OT Bobby Evans) is No. 21. The Longhorns and Sooners are still going to get Texas players. But it’s not like it was a decade ago when they were getting all the players in Texas.

Mulley in Cleveland writes: I had my 11-year-old son and two of his buddies with me at Five Guys, where we were in line with Justin Gilbert. The boys got his autograph, talked to him about Johnny Football. Gilbert now has three fans for life. I didn’t even have the heart to tell him I was a WVU grad. It was cool to see that Justin is handling his newfound stardom in the NFL exceptionally well.

Trotter: Gilbert was one of the feel-good Big 12 stories of this draft. After a bad junior season, he came back to school for his senior year, worked his tail off and turned himself into a first-round pick. Good to see he has hit the ground running with the fans in Cleveland.

Philip in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Hey Jake -- I'm loving all of the preseason attention that my Sooners are getting, but I'm worried. What if Trevor Knight goes down? What if Sterling Shepard goes down? Lord knows we're not stacked up in the running game. Are these preseason accolades taking potential injuries into account? I'm scared OU doesn't have enough depth at skill positions to meet the expectations. Thoughts?

Trotter: If Jameis Winston goes down, Florida State isn’t winning any titles. Same goes for Oregon and Marcus Mariota. Injuries are part of the game -- and impossible to predict. Lucky breaks are part of the national championship equation. Just ask the 2000 Sooners.

Mike T. in Dallas writes: Looks like there will be a lot of preseason hype for Baylor. Art Briles is a good coach and has some good players, but you will not convince me Baylor has reached the plug-and-play status of OU, Texas and, to a degree, OSU. Baylor had a great season, but let's not forget its embarrassment in the Fiesta Bowl. I believe the media needs to tap the brake pedal just a bit on Baylor and focus more on the traditional powers. That's still where the talent lies.

Trotter: I don’t agree with your premise, but you bring up a really interesting point that I was thinking about on Thursday after reading Max Olson’s well-done post on returning experience in the Big 12. Baylor and Oklahoma State both have, by far, the least collective returning experience in the Big 12. Yet, we in the media (me included) are pinning Baylor near the top of the Big 12 and national preseason rankings. Meanwhile, we’re burying Oklahoma State, which has a sparkling track record of exceeding expectations under Mike Gundy. Are we giving Baylor too much credit? Are we not giving the Cowboys enough?

JR in Houston writes: Do y'all think the Big 12 should start selling beer at games?

Trotter: As long as it’s done in a responsible manner, I don’t have a problem with it. West Virginia claims it curbed binge drinking by serving beer while disallowing spectators from leaving and coming back into the stadium to go “tailgate” at halftime. That makes sense to me. People are going to drink at football games. At least inside the stadium, it can be managed. Selling beer might not work for everyone in the Big 12. But for some, it could be a moneymaker -- and a way to eliminate problems that are occurring outside the stadium.