This week begins the first installment of the 2009 edition of the SB Nation Big 12 Roundtable. We here at Rock M Nation are hosting Week 1, and as such, we will have a recap post of the different responses around SBN later in the week.
On to the questions!
1. Everyone knows the national talking points for each Big 12 team by now (Oklahoma has new linemen! Bill Snyder's back at Kansas State! Baylor might upset somebody!). Give us a storyline for your team that isn't quite getting the attention it should.
I'll offer a few storylines that have been overplayed:
1 - The ceremonial beating of the dead horse carcass of the 2008 Missouri pass defense. Bill has made numerous pleas for reevaluation of the secondary, citing garbage time points, stout opponents, and fair number of high profile breakdowns as reasons people continue to bury the unit.
2 - Missouri's losses are somehow more significant than those of other division rivals. Two teams lose their quarterback and top receivers but return very solid tailbacks. One team has history on its side; the other doesn't. Only one team gets benefit of the doubt.
By no means should the storyline be that Missouri is a guaranteed North contender, but the relative ease with which people seem to be writing off the Tigers is amusing, nonetheless.
2. The Big 12 continues to be derided by other conferences as a pass-happy, no defense, made-for-TV free-for-all. The question must be asked, how accurate is this description, and is the perception something of which the conference should be ashamed?
I hear all the complaints, and to their credit, they have very valid points. But here's the kicker:
I don't really care.
Does the Big 12 need to apologize for adapting itself to the current landscape? Does the conference take blame for taking advantage of the proliferation of offensive talent and the prevalence of certain systems in its geographical recruiting area? Are the 12 programs to be faulted for putting out a product that, at the very least, can be incredibly entertaining?
All in all, the arguments really don't bother me much at all. But the one argument that does bother me is one that centers around the idea that the quality of certain players/positions in a conference is dictated by how those players are perceived by the NFL. Consider me a college football snob, but I could care less about how players from a conference perform at the next level. Danny Wuerffel was a spare in the NFL, but that didn't matter much in the Sugar Bowl against Florida State. Graham Harrell may only be good enough to start in Saskatchewan, but he was good enough to propel his team to the best season in his program's history. The task that matters is the task at hand.
3. Over the summer, ESPN's Tim Griffin compiled a list of the Top 25 moments of the Big 12 era that stirred up a bit of internal debate. Which moments for your program were either overrated or underrated?
I'm sorry, how is the 2008 Border War a better moment for the Big 12 than the 2007 game?
Don't get me wrong, the 2008 Border War was an incredible football game. But pardon me if I don't understand exactly how a nationally televised game (the most watched college football game in history at that time, if I recall) which features two perennially downtrodden programs (with hatred for each other that once fueled an actual war) with the chance to ascend to No. 1 in the country isn't a better moment.
Not to mention, at the macro level for the Big 12, it was (at the time) supposedly going to be a statement that the North was on the rise. Granted, 2008 was a regression from that line of thinking, but there were conference-wide implications in the 2007 game that did not exist in 2008.
4. We've seen no less than 30-40 "Best Big 12 Coaches" power rankings in the offseason, but rarely is there the same press for the coordinators. If you had to replace your offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator with coordinators from within the conference, who are you poaching and why?
Offensively, Kevin Wilson would be the easy pick, but for the sake of novelty and for the sake of finding an offense that could translate to success for Missouri, I'll go with Oklahoma State's Gunter Brewer, who holds co-offensive coordinator duties with Mike Gundy. After watching Missouri abandon the run in tough spots in 2008, the Pokes almost eery amount of balance became appealing. Brewer's time at OSU, as well as his work at Marshall, make him a little bit of an under-the-radar pick.
Defensively, it's a three-way discussion. Oklahoma's Brett Venables is attractive to any program given his ability to create pressure on the quarterback, an absolute necessity in the Big 12. I'd call Will Muschamp the next big thing, but considering he's already been anointed, I'll just call him a hell of a coach and a hell of a motivator. The third option -- Texas A&M's Joe Kines -- has yet to really prove anything in the Big 12, but his track record at Alabama makes him worthy of consideration. If you could create some kind of hybrid with the acumen of Venables and Kines mixed with the fire of Muschamp, that's an easy winner. But given the three, give me Venables with Muschamp a close second.
5. Time to start our weekly Big 12 Power Poll. Rank the Big 12 teams from 1 to 12. (Note: This IS a power poll and isn't intended to account for schedule)
3. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
9. Kansas State
11. Texas A&M
12. Iowa State