Big 12: Texas Longhorns

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
12:00
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Poor Pauley Pavilion...
  • Witness intimidation charges against West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood have been dropped. Smallwood is expected to be on the field with the Mountaineers when they open fall camp.
  • Thanks to the recent graduation of a player from the 1990s, Oklahoma State's APR penalty has been lifted. The Cowboys will have the full 20 weekly hours of practice time.
  • Oklahoma State added future games with Tulsa, reports the Tulsa World's Bill Haisten.
  • Oklahoma State is experiencing an all-time five-year win total, according to Kyle Porter of pistolsfiringblog.com.
  • The fate of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is in the hands of the district attorney and coach Bob Stoops, writes The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel.
  • Norman police released the 911 call in the Mixon investigation.
  • A court date has been set for two former Longhorns charged with felony sexual assault.
  • Could more Texas players face possible suspension?
  • Jonathan Truman is a tried and true veteran anchoring the Kansas State defense, writes the Topeka Capital-Journal's Ken Corbitt.
  • The Lawrence Journal-World's Tom Keegan lays odds on who will lead the Jayhawks in rushing.
  • Eastern Washington will play at Texas Tech in 2017.

Q&A: Texas CB Quandre Diggs

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
10:30
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DALLAS -- When Quandre Diggs says, "Ya’ll know I’m always going to keep it 100 with you," the Texas senior cornerback is not joking. Not even a little bit.

Diggs has been known to use his Twitter account as a beacon for his hot sports takes, so we spent extra time with him last Tuesday at Big 12 media days and gave him a chance to sound off on whatever he wanted. He was happy to oblige.

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTexas cornerback Quandre Diggs has no problem sharing his opinion on a variety of subjects.
On his summer: "Summer was great. I worked out. Busted my tail. I went to Angleton (Texas) a couple times. Went to San Diego once. My brother (Quentin Jammer) tried to kill me out there working out with him. That was tough. I didn’t know the old man still had it in him like he does."

On LeBron James returning to Cleveland: "Ah, man. See, this is the type of question I like, something off the topic of football. I think it was best for him to leave Miami, you know? If D-Wade was going to get an extension, I’d say if D-Wade is worth $7 million, I’m worth $2.5 (million) in basketball terms. D-Wade, his knees gone. When your knees gone and you’re a basketball player, it’s hard to succeed in that league.

"On the real, no, I think it was a great move for LeBron. He earned a lot of people’s respect by going back to Cleveland. As a man, you can tell what type of man LeBron really is. He loves the city of Cleveland, he loves being back at his home. Much respect to him. I’m glad he went back. He has a great young team down there and if those guys can pull off that Kevin Love trade ..."

On a Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade: "I’d give up Andrew Wiggins. He’d be gone. Kevin Love gets 26 and 12! That’s way better than what Bosh was doing in Miami."

On being a Heat fan or a LeBron fan: "I’m a LeBron guy! I wasn’t really just a Miami guy. LeBron could’ve gone to the Charlotte Bobcats, I’m going to get me some Bobcat hats or something."

On the NFL's best cornerback: "There's been a lot of talk about that. I love Richard Sherman. Best corner in the NFL is Joe Haden. He does it all. He lines up in the slot, lines up outside, plays man, plays zone. He does it all. If it was second, I would have to go Sherman. Just how I feel. I'd say Darrelle Revis is three. Revis is a beast. No matter where he plays, he's a beast."

On the record paydays NFL corners got this offseason: "Ooh, that made my eyes get big. Five more years! Five more years and ching-ching."

On LSU and other schools claiming they’re “DBU”: "Well yeah, you know, you’ve got the fake DBUs. There’s one real DBU and this tradition is going to continue to go on as long as we’re at Texas. We have (schools) that might’ve just started getting first-round draft picks as DBs. But we’ve had that since, what, the 80s? 70s? I go back in that DB room and look at the wall and I’ve got guys from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, they all made money."

On Texas linebacker Steve Edmond dissing Baylor in May: "Hey man, Steve is going to say what he’s going to say. It don’t matter. Coach [Charlie] Strong can tell him not to say something, but Steve is country. That’s just how it is. When you’re raised in the country, you don’t really care. You don’t care about hurting people’s feelings."

On whether Diggs is OK with that trash talk: "I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t see what’s the problem with it. I’m just going to let that one go. I don’t want to get in trouble. Coach Strong wants us to speak our minds. He speaks his mind. He wants us to be real. I’m not going to elaborate on that situation. ... I’m not bowing down to any man. Any man, any team, I’m not bowing down to anybody. I’m an alpha male and I want to be in charge."

On Texas’ second-best trash talker: "Well, nobody can go blow-for-blow with me, but if I’m going to say one guy that can talk trash: Peter Jinkens. He’s going to say what he wants when he wants. That’s just Pete. He told me to say something stupid for y’all, but I’ll leave that to him when he talks to the media. I hope they don’t let him talk. He hit me up today on Twitter when he saw the pictures and said, ‘Q would be the only one with some Jordans on.’ That’s just me. I’m going to be me. I like to dress up, but I’m not going to dress up in church shoes with pants."

On the cancellation of the “NCAA Football 15” video game: "I was kind of mad. I wanted to see what my rating would be this year. I’d be about 96, something like that. I wish we would’ve had that game. But hey, that’s above my head. I just want to be the best player I can be."
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With the Big 12 football season kicking off in a few weeks, college recruits will be focused on setting up official visits and also narrowing their college lists in preparation for a commitment. As important as this time will be for recruits, it’ll be equally important for schools, as they prepare for a season that, with solid performances in home-game environments, can assist in landing some of the best uncommitted prospects around.

Here are some names that the Big 12 schools will be pursuing throughout the fall.

Top Big 12 players: Nos. 15-11

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
9:00
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With the season just a month away, we're taking this week to rank the Top 25 players in the Big 12.

This is a ranking of who we're projecting the best 25 players will be in 2014.

Today, we continue with Nos. 15-11, which include a pair of budding quarterbacks:

15. Malcom Brown, DT, Texas: The Longhorns' 6-foot-4, 305-pound run-stuffer might have as much NFL upside as any player in the league. The former blue-chip recruit had a breakout season as a sophomore in 2013 with 68 tackles, including 12 for loss. If Brown continues to develop he could become one of the most menacing defensive players in the league.

14. Sam Carter, SS, TCU: Jason Verrett and Devonte Fields have overshadowed Carter the past two years. But with Verrett gone and Fields' TCU future in limbo, Carter will be the cornerstone of one of the best defenses in the conference. Carter has nine interceptions the past two years, the most of any returning Big 12 player.

13. B.J. Finney, C, Kansas State: Nobody in the Big 12 has more offensive line starts than Finney, who has 39 in three years. Not only has Finney been a starter for seemingly forever, he's been a stalwart for Bill Snyder in the trenches. Finney is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection, and was voted on the preseason all-conference squad for 2014. With Finney manning center, the Wildcats have compiled a sparkling three-year record of 29-10.

12. Trevor Knight, QB, Oklahoma: This might be our most controversial selection so far. But we're believers in Knight, who was nothing short of spectacular quarterbacking the Sooners to the 45-31 win over Alabama in January. Knight struggled with his passing accuracy and his health early on as a redshirt freshman. And sure, he's started and finished only three games in his career. But Knight was also terrific in a late-season win at Kansas State. We don't think the Alabama performance was a one-hit wonder. We think it was a sign of more to come.

11. Davis Webb, QB, Texas Tech: Webb gets the slight nod over Knight, due to a more impressive spring. As good as Knight was in the Sugar Bowl, Webb was just as impressive leading Texas Tech to the upset win over Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl. Including that bowl game and Tech's three open spring scrimmages, the rising sophomore tossed 17 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also showed more zip on his throws in the spring after adding 15 pounds of muscle during the offseason. Tech's defense remains a question. But Kliff Kingsbury's passing offense should be prolific thanks to Webb's rapid development.

Coming Thursday: Nos. 10-6 ...
Oklahoma remains the clear favorite to win the Big 12, according to the latest odds posted by Bovada.

The Las Vegas sportsbook released odds on each team's chance to win the conference earlier this summer and recently released an updated set of odds. The Sooners are now 2/3 to win the conference, followed by Baylor at 11/4.

The biggest surprise on this list might be Oklahoma State. Even though the Cowboys lost the bulk of their 2013 team, Bovada is still bullish on them at 10-1. But the sportsbook is not buying Texas Tech as a darkhorse conference title contender, pegging the Red Raiders at 28/1.

Here's a look at the full list of odds for the conference crown:

Oklahoma: 2/3
Baylor: 11/4
Texas: 7/1
Kansas State: 10/1
Oklahoma State: 10/1
TCU: 14/1
Texas Tech: 28/1
West Virginia: 66/1
Iowa State: 100/1
Kansas: 100/1
ESPN.com has taken on the monumental task of ranking the top 100 players in college football going into the 2014 season. The rankings were done based on the expected contributions of each player for the 2014 season, regardless of position.

Monday, the first 20 players were released. Today, the unveiling continued with Nos. 80-61.

Here are the Big 12 players who made the second installment:

No. 68: Texas CB Quandre Diggs

No. 72: Texas DE Cedric Reed

I can’t argue with either Longhorn cracking the top 100.

I’m not sure Diggs was more deserving than Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller, who narrowly missed out on the top 100. But Diggs is a three-year, 36-game starter and probably the best returning cornerback in the Big 12.

Reed definitely was deserving. He finished third in the Big 12 last year in sacks and fourth in tackles for loss. Together with defensive tackle Malcom Brown, who also appeared in the top 100 at No. 90, the Longhorns have one of the best one-two defensive line punches in college football.

Remember to keep in mind this national list, which was compiled by the entire ESPN.com college football team, won’t necessarily line up with our top 25 ranking of Big 12 players, which was put together by Brandon Chatmon, Max Olson and myself.

Make sure to track the top 100 rankings all week long, as there will be Big 12 players in all five parts.

Coming Wednesday: Nos. 60-41.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
12:00
PM ET
Big 12 coaches read mean (well, more awkward than mean) tweets.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon met with police investigators on Monday, The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey reports. His attorney claims Mixon did nothing wrong regarding assault allegations of a female student from last week.
  • Texas Tech added a transfer QB from Iowa to shore up its depth.
  • Seafood po’boys, barbecue sandwiches and various deep-fried and bacon-wrapped concoctions are among the concession items that will be available at Baylor's McLane Stadium.
  • Athlon released its Big 12 breakout players for 2014.
  • Defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin, a former Sooners pledge, committed to Texas, which has been picking up its recruiting momentum in July.
  • The Jayhawks are shrugging off negativity, writes KUSports.com's Benton Smith.
  • The little brother of West Virginia running backs coach running backs coach JaJuan Seider will be joining him in Morgantown.
  • Iowa State picked up a commitment from a Kansas linebacker.
  • There are plenty of questions about the Cyclones defensive line, writes the Ames Tribune's Bobby La Gesse.
  • The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson did a Q&A with Oklahoma State receivers coach Jason Ray.

 
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The new ESPN 300 features 22 players currently committed to Big 12 programs. Texas leads the conference race with seven commits, while Oklahoma is next with five. Texas Tech has the conference’s highest-ranked ESPN 300 player in quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is ranked No. 38 and is the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Here are five things to know in the Big 12:


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Top Big 12 players: Nos. 20-16

July, 29, 2014
Jul 29
9:00
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With the season just a month away, we’re taking this week to rank the Top 25 players in the Big 12.

This is a ranking of who we think the best 25 players will be over the course of the 2014 season.

Monday, we kicked this series off with the first five names. Today, we continue with Nos. 20-16.

20. Johnathan Gray, RB, Texas: Health is the only concern with Gray. Because when he’s healthy, Gray is a devastating combination of speed and power. There’s a reason the Longhorns have never lost when Gray has gotten 20 carries, which included victories over Oklahoma and Kansas State last year. A torn Achilles ended his 2013 season prematurely. But Gray has been cleared for fall camp, which is a good sign for the Longhorns and a bad one for the rest of the Big 12.

19. Bryce Hager, LB, Baylor: Hager is the Bryce Petty of the Baylor defense, with a pair of second-team All-Big 12 seasons behind him. Hager has recorded 195 tackles over the past two seasons and is one of the most seasoned players in the league. He missed the spring rehabbing from a season-ending groin injury, but should be 100 percent when the Bears begin fall camp. If Baylor avoids a drop off from last year’s breakout defensive campaign, Hager’s steady play will be a major reason why.

18. Quandre Diggs, CB, Texas: Diggs is the most outspoken player in the league, even foreshadowing during Big 12 media days that coach Charlie Strong might have to weed out certain players. Diggs will be a four-year starter and the unequivocal leader of the Texas defense. He should be more comfortable back at cornerback after a stint last season at the nickel. With cornerbacks Jason Verrett, Justin Gilbert and Aaron Colvin all gone, Diggs figures to be the new class of the position in the league.

17. Chucky Hunter, DT, TCU: The Horned Frogs might not have star end Devonte Fields this season. But they should still be stout up front, thanks to the return of Hunter, who is coming off an All-Big 12 season. Fellow tackle Davion Pierson is one of the most underrated players in the league. And the two form arguably the best one-two punch at defensive tackle in the league.

16. Ben Heeney, LB, Kansas: Don’t blame Heeney for the Jayhawks’ 3-9 record last year. The Big 12’s top returning tackler spearheaded a defense that gave opposing offenses fits at times in 2013, despite getting virtually no assistance from the Kansas offense. With nine starters back, the Jayhawks could create even more problems for the offenses of the Big 12. Especially with Heeney manning the middle.

Coming Wednesday: Nos. 15-11 …
ESPN.com has taken on the monumental task of ranking the top 100 players in college football going into the 2014 season. The rankings were done based on the expected contributions of each player for the 2014 season, regardless of position.

The list will be released in 20-player increments, beginning today with the Nos. 100-81.

Make sure to track the rankings all week long, as there will be Big 12 players in all five parts.

Also, keep in mind this national list, which was compiled by the entire ESPN.com college football team, won’t necessarily line up with our Top 25 ranking of Big 12 players, which was compiled exclusively by the Brandon, Max and myself.

Without further ado, here are the Big 12 players that made the first installment:

No. 81: Oklahoma QB Trevor Knight

No. 90: Texas DT Malcom Brown

No. 91: Baylor OT Spencer Drango

No. 96: Texas RB Johnathan Gray

All four players here have the upside to rise up these rankings. But two have consistency questions, and the other two have health questions.

Knight has only started and finished three games in his career, and struggled with his passing accuracy at times early in the season. But he flashed immense potential in the Sugar Bowl, shredding Alabama with 348 passing yards and four touchdowns in the biggest upset of the bowl season. If he plays consistently near that level this season, not only will the Sooners challenge for inclusion the College Football Playoff, but Knight could become a darkhorse Heisman Trophy contender.

Brown also has the ability to dominate. He was rated the second-best defensive tackle coming out of high school, and began realizing his recruiting pedigree last season. If he can produce more big plays, he could be one of the best defensive tackles in the country.

Drango and Gray also have the ability to finish the season higher than they start here. The key is staying healthy.

When 100 percent, Drango is one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in the country. The stats prove it, too. With Drango manning left tackle, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty was sacked just eight times through the Bears’ first nine games. After Drango suffered a season-ending back injury, Petty was sacked nine times in the Bears’ last four games. Two of which they lost. Drango should be ready to go for this season, which is good news for Baylor and for Petty.

Gray was on his way to an All-Big 12 campaign last year when he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in early November. He was recently cleared for preseason camp. When healthy, Gray is one of the best power-speed combination rushers in college football.

The respective ranks could be debated, but I can’t argue against any of the four making the top 100.

A few Big 12 players just missed the cut for the top 100. Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller, Kansas State center B.J. Finney, Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, Texas running back Malcolm Brown, Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander and Baylor running back Shock Linwood.

In my opinion, Mueller, Finney and Tapper have the biggest gripes. Mueller was eighth in the country last year in sacks. Finney is a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. And Tapper was the only defensive underclassman to get named All-Big 12 team in 2013.

Coming Tuesday: Nos. 80-61.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
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Summer rages on but recruiting never stops with several Big 12 programs adding to their commitment lists during the past week. Here's the latest around the conference:

BAYLOR
Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 linebacker Malik Jefferson of Mesquite, Texas/Poteet visited Baylor over the weekend. The No. 39 player in the ESPN300 has an offer list that includes the nation’s elite and fellow Big 12 squads Oklahoma and Texas.

IOWA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Cyclones landed arguably the top recruit on their current commit list when Sachse (Texas) running back Devine Ozigbo picked Iowa State. At 5-foot-11, 230 pounds, the three-star prospect is in line to bring a big, physical presence to the Cyclones’ running back corps. His pledge wasn’t the only positive news for Cyclone nation as Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Washington tackle Julian Good-Jones also picked ISU last week. Another three-star prospect, Good-Jones picked ISU over offers from Kansas State and Oregon State.

KANSAS
Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks lost one of their top signees from the Class of 2013 when running back Traevohn Wrench failed to qualify and enrolled in Butler (Kansas) Junior College. Wrench was a four-star signee who had the talent to battle for carries in the race to replace James Sims this fall.

KANSAS STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: K-State held a camp over the weekend with 2016 quarterback Kasey Ford reportedly in attendance. The Bentonville (Arkansas) signal caller is largely considered a strong Arkansas lean but his attendance at Wildcats camp is a sign he’s willing to give Bill Snyder’s program an opportunity to earn his signature.

OKLAHOMA
Total commits: 9
ESPN 300 commits: 5
The latest: Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery is a happy man. The Sooners landed a pair of defensive line commitments last week with Metairie (Louisiana) Archbishop Rummel defensive tackle Tyrell Jacobs and Burleson (Texas) defensive end Kenneth Mann picking OU. Mann picked the Sooners over Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa, California and others. Jacobs selected OU over K-State, Arizona State, Tennessee and others.

OKLAHOMA STATE
Total commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: ESPN300 quarterback John Kolar of Norman (Oklahoma) North, a Cowboys commitment, told The Oklahoman he is taking summer classes and is considering enrolling early at OSU. Kolar is the No. 82 player in the ESPN300. If he chooses to enroll early he would be the third straight scholarship quarterback recruit to do so, following in the footsteps of Wes Lunt and Mason Rudolph.

TCU
Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: TCU’s coaching staff will have to wait a while to see the fruits of its labor but Class of 2016 quarterback Brennen Wooten could prove worth the wait after he decided to be a part of Gary Patterson’s program last week. The Marble Falls (Texas) signal caller is the No. 109 player in the ESPNJR300 and a four-star prospect. It’s pretty clear the Horned Frogs’ new offense is already paying dividends on the recruiting trail.

TEXAS
Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 7
The latest: While Charlie Strong was taking a hacksaw to his current roster, he was adding hope for the future. UT landed a pair of ESPN300 members with the commitments of Burton (Texas) athlete Louis Brown and Tallahassee (Florida) Lincoln receiver John Burt last week. Brown is the No. 251 player in the ESPN300 and Burt is the No. 236 player in the ESPN300.

TEXAS TECH
Total commits: 7
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: Tech commit and Class of 2016 prospect Collin Wilder took an unofficial to Lubbock, Texas, this week. The Katy (Texas) defensive back is the No. 212 player in the ESPNJr300. Although he’s been committed to Kliff Kingsbury’s program since June, Wilder continues to be pursued by several programs so keeping him on Tech’s commit list will be just as important as landing him in the first place.

WEST VIRGINIA
Total commits: 15
ESPN 300 commits: 2
The latest: The Mountaineers added to their commit list with the pledge of Belle Glade (Florida) Glades Central guard Jah'Shaun Seider. The three-star prospect picked WVU over offers from LSU, Ole Miss and others. He is the younger brother of WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider.
Friday, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin fired back at Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who mocked the Aggies’ nonconference schedule while at the ESPN car wash this past week.

"They have Lamar, Rice, SMU and Louisiana-Monroe," Stoops said. "Boy, those are all a bunch of toughies, right?”

According to AggieSports.com, Sumlin was asked about Stoops’ comments at a fan event in Houston:

Behind Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, the Aggies hammered the Sooners in the 2012 Cotton Bowl 41-13. Sumlin actually coached under Stoops at Oklahoma until 2008.

During his Houston appearance, Sumlin also had this to say:

It’s unclear if that was a veiled jab at the Longhorns. But this week, Texas coach Charlie Strong did dismiss six players from his team. Of course, Sumlin could have been exclusively referencing his own program. Seven Aggies players have been arrested since December.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 concludes today with Week 15. The past two Big 12 champions face off, and Bedlam is always fun.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.

at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.

at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
12:00
PM ET
It's been a busy week at ESPN but Big 12 coaches aren't the only ones who made a visit to Bristol.
In today's Big 12 blog, we discuss Trevor Knight, Devonte Fields and Iowa State Cyclones scheduling.

Click here to submit an entry for a future mailbag.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Will in Houston: Do ya'll think defensive coaches can succeed in the Big 12? Gary Patterson so far has not, which makes me a little nervous about Charlie Strong.

Trotter: Bob Stoops is a defensive coach, and he's done just fine in the Big 12.

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Alex in Searcy, Arkansas writes: How well do you think Oklahoma would do if Trevor Knight went down with an injury for any length of time? Who do you think could step up and replace him in a leadership role if this were to happen?

Trotter: With Blake Bell having moved to tight end full time, this scenario would present a huge dilemma for the Oklahoma Sooners. That is, assuming Baker Mayfield's petition for eligibility with the NCAA falls through. Mayfield, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, would be an excellent backup option for the Sooners. But if he's out until 2015, Oklahoma would have to roll the dice with either Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen, neither one of which looked ready yet for the big time during the spring. That's why Stoops said this week Knight had better be sliding a bunch this season. Right now, they can't afford to lose him.

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Ryan in Crystal Lake, Illinois writes: I realize every year they play Iowa. But I was wondering why Iowa State does not also schedule non-conference opponents from the SEC or Pac-12.

Trotter: The baseline goal for Iowa State every year is to get bowl eligible. That goal would be that much more difficult with an SEC or Pac-12 team on the schedule. The Cyclones already play the Iowa Hawkeyes, which went 8-5 last year. That's plenty. Nobody in the Big 12 has more than one Power Five conference opponent on its non-conference slate, except for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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Christopher Edwards in North Carolina writes: What are the chances that Joe Mixon jumps Alex Ross for the No. 2 spot on Oklahoma's running back depth chart?

Trotter: Based on what I've heard, I don't think it's unthinkable that Mixon eventually jumps everyone into the starting lineup.

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Harry in Austin, Texas, writes: Is TCU on a string of bad setbacks or does Gary Patterson have a discipline problem? First the drug busts, then Casey Pachall, now Devonte Fields. These offseasons have not been good to the Frogs.

Trotter: The TCU Horned Frogs certainly have had some discipline issues since joining the Big 12. But the Horned Frogs are hardly alone. Several other schools in the Big 12 have been in the news for ugly off-the-field incidents. Too many to even list here. It really hasn't been a great offseason overall for the league. And, it's been another bad one for TCU.

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Bob Budiselic in Carlsbad, California writes: I was really hoping that Texas and Oklahoma were going to move to the Pac-12. Do you think that this might happen in the future, and bring Tech and OSU?

Trotter: When it comes to conference realignment, never say never. But that ship has sailed for the foreseeable future.

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Nicholas in Houston writes: Say Tech or TCU wins the conference this season. That would be four straight championships by teams not considered traditional powerhouses. What would that mean for the Big 12's national perception? Would it be a positive because it would show the league is deep? Or, would it be a negative because it would appear that the major powers are on the decline?

Trotter: Tech or TCU winning the Big 12 in a vacuum wouldn't be a negative for the league. But the Big 12 is always going to be perceived as being stronger when Texas and Oklahoma are strong, too. The same goes for Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, USC and Oregon in the Pac-12, Florida State, Miami and Clemson in the ACC and Alabama, Florida and LSU in the SEC. Right or wrong, perception is reality in college football, and conferences are perceived to be better when their traditional powers are winning.

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