- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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In Tuesday's mailbag, we discuss Big 12 expansion, if OU bolts and Texas' trip to South Bend. As always, thanks for your questions. Feel free to submit questions for next week's mailbag.
David Elswick in Richmond, Virginia, writes: Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney said Rutgers & Maryland were added due to their future potential. Later he said there were as many 5-star athletes in their region as there are in the rest of the Big 10. So they expanded for viewers and athletes. Which would be best for the Big 12 - going for viewers or athletes or (greedy) both?
Brandon Chatmon: Ideally viewers is the answer but a dream scenario is both. The recruiting aspect is a tad overblown however. Nowadays, with nearly every game on TV, it’s allowed programs to dip into other regions much easier because family and friends can see recruits play regardless. There are plenty of examples of this -- say California and Oregon recruiting Texas, or Kansas State and Oklahoma State recruiting Georgia, or West Virginia recruiting Florida and Ohio -- which means I wouldn’t add a school solely for the potential recruiting payoff. No need to do that.
Connor in Austin, Texas, writes: If Tyrone Swoopes becomes the starter - why is this good and why could it be bad?
BC: It could be good because Swoopes has talent and has flashed that talent at times. His game at Oklahoma State (24-of-33 for 305 yards and two touchdowns) is an example of his potential. The bad is his inconsistent nature. After that stellar performance against OSU, he threw one touchdown and five interceptions in UT’s final two games combined. To be a quarterback who can lead Texas to a championship level, he has to be more consistent. Otherwise, his future as a starting quarterback is definitely in doubt.
Scott in Austin, Texas writes: Doomsday scenario: the Big 12 blows up in 5 years and everyone is needing a new home. Last time the realignment conversation was being had, Baylor was being left out of the Power 5 conversation. Now, with two Big 12 titles (any perhaps more in the next 5 years) under their belt in football, a consistent winner in mens and women’s basketball, and athletic facilities arguably tops in the nation, do you see Baylor being the pretty girl at the dance that all the Power 5 conferences would love to have? With my green and gold tinted sunglasses on, I would put Baylor behind only Texas and OU as most attractive teams in the Big12 for other conferences to gobble up. Related question - what are the main qualifications that conferences look at when considering adding a team?
BC: I don’t know that it has become the pretty girl everyone would like to have but Baylor is in a better position than they were a few years ago. There are so many other things that come into play when conference realignment begins. For example, would Oklahoma go somewhere without Oklahoma State? Unlikely. Things like that are the overlooked aspect when realignment begins. Baylor definitely could land in a major conference but I wouldn’t say that’s a guarantee. As far as attributes, potential long-term growth and expanding its market into new areas are key priorities when a conference is looking for schools to add via expansion.
Terence Declan in Dallas writes: Does this young bunch of Longhorns have a chance to beat the Fighting Irish in the opener? What is it going take for them to pull out a W in South Bend?
BC: If the Longhorns get quality quarterback play, anything can happen. The defense will have to play well, obviously, but that wouldn’t matter if the offense can’t score points. Charlie Strong’s roster is so young and inexperienced, they face a tough test to go into South Bend and win. I don’t consider it a guaranteed loss but I don’t like UT’s chances.
Jeremy in Norman, Oklahoma, writes: Jake Trotter responded to a question that OU leaving the Big 12 would be the "nuclear option" that could cause the Big 12 to fold. Do you agree? Also, where do you see the rest of the Big 12 schools landing if this were to happen? Would another conference step up to be in the "Power 5", if so which conference, or would it change to "Power 4" and the playoff would just be the champions of the new Power 4?
BC: Yes. I have a hard time seeing the Big 12 surviving as a power conference if OU bolted. The Sooners are one of the flagship programs in the conference and in the region making them irreplaceable in a lot of ways. And, as I stated earlier, that probably means OSU is gone too. Hard to see the Big 12 overcoming that. Also, I don’t think another conference rises to Power 5 status, I think a Power 4 becomes a real legit option at that point. I must say, I think OU should think twice before bolting. I don’t know that the other side is as rosy as some think it may be.
2hBrandon Chatmon and Max Olson