Category Archives: Big 12
Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to get some previews on other conferences so I have something to cite in evaluating how wrong I was as the season goes along. First on the docket: the Big XII. Why start with the XII? A few reasons:
– I’m penalizing them for being the lone Power 5 conference for not having a playoff team last year.
– I plan on doing the rest of these division-by-division, and I don’t have the heart to start with the B1G West. That’d be EASILY top 5 in “ways to lose readership”. Since the XII lacks divisions, this should also should ostensibly make this the longest one.
– There’s so much shade within this conference (more on that later).
Let’s do it!
What Happened Last Year?
The Big XII, famously of 10 teams (although that number could be back at 12 by the end of this season) cost itself two potential playoff bids by its stupid “One True Champion” moniker last year. Baylor and TCU tied for the championship, and though Baylor won head-to-head 61-58 at home, the conference refused to name a champion. Oops.
10-8: Teams that won’t win it and thus I refuse to rank: Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech. I know two things about Kansas football: one, Charlie Weis is no longer there. Two, their starting quarterback tore his ACL in the Spring Game in a non-contact jersey. Kansas football, folks! Iowa State? Nothing, except the once-every-few-years random upset (hey, 2011 Oklahoma State!) Texas Tech? Kliff Kingsbury is an objectively attractive male.
7-4: Bowl teams, but not contenders:
7) Oklahoma State: He’s still a man, he’s older than 40, but Mike Gundy may be coaching for his job this year. If they were at home against Texas, I may have them higher. Hell, two of their conference road games are against doormats Texas Tech and Iowa State! But home games against Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma? Ouch. Those would tough to win if T. Boone Pickens controlled gravitational pull in Stillwater.
6) Texas: I can’t shake that shellacking by Arkansas, man. Like, they got bludgeoned. 59 total yards? Visits to Notre Dame, TCU, and Baylor? Still no QB? Maybe a year or two away from being Texas again.
5) West Virginia: I was tempted to put them higher. They played respectably against teams I have some insight on last year (lost by 10 to Bama, 12 to Oklahoma, beat Baylor, and lost by 1 to TCU). Their 3-3-5 defense proved somewhat competent at stopping the league’s spread offenses last year. Holgo may be fighting for his job in his own right. I think I just talked myself into West BY GOD Virginia.
4) Kansas State: No real insight here, I just don’t bet against Zombie Bill Snyder. Do so at your own risk. Their regular season losses (and at-the-time rankings of said opponents) last year: #5 Auburn, #6 TCU, #5 Baylor. They return…well, not much, but at least their whole offensive line.
3-1: OOH LAWDY THE XII IS KINDA FUN
I like all of the teams ranked 4 through 7. Like, if everything bounces right for one of them, they could make things interesting. But they’re a gigantic step below the following:
3) TCU: Yeah, they’ll probably rank at least this high or higher in most national polls, but I have long stubbornly tried to not buy into post-bowl (a 42-3 shellacking of Ole Miss) hysteria, and am sticking to my guns (insert Texas guns joke here). They benefited from some close wins last year, namely by 4 against friggin’ Kansas. I’m calling slight letdown.
2) Oklahoma: One of those squads that exclusively over or underachieves, depending on where the expectations are. They finished 8-5 (5-4) last year, got SMOKED by Clemson in their bowl game…but return a good chunk of their D, brought in Air Raid OC Lincoln Riley from East Carolina, and shouldn’t play a ranked opponent until at least October 17 at Kansas State. If not then, then November 14 at….
1) Baylor: I think the Bears are a cut above. Seth Russell is the ‘system but legit Heisman contender’ new starter at QB, K.D. Cannon went over 1000 yards (18 per catch!) as a freshman, and Phil Steele ranks both lines #1 in the conference. That is a recipe for success. The only downside: they get ALL of their easy conference games out of the way in October and finish at Kansas State, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas. I think they’re up for it.
Top Five Games
Obviously, are going to be related to the picks above.
1) Baylor at TCU, Nov. 27: Fitting that two potential top 5 teams are going to get the national spotlight the day after Thanksgiving. Yes please.
2) TCU at Oklahoma, Nov. 21: More intriguing than #3 because if TCU wins, it sets up for the game above on a short week.
3) Oklahoma at Baylor, Nov. 14: See the pattern yet? The league is definitely trying to maintain its profile in November. Because that never fails.
4) Texas at TCU, Oct. 3: I mentioned shade above. This game is why. TCU scheduled homecoming against Texas! Fan-tastic.
5) Texas vs. Oklahoma, Oct. 10: If Mack Brown’s departure from Texas means no more ridiculous Oklahoma blowouts in the Red River Shootout (yeah we’re not taking your PC ‘Rivalry’ crap on this site. See also: World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party), then that’s kinda sad. Except competitive noon games in classic rivalries are something everybody should be happy to embrace.
Ten Players to Watch:
See, this is where it starts to get tiresome with the longer preview. Oh well, here goes.
– Trevone Boykin, TCU: If I’m wrong about their finish, perhaps a Heisman frontrunner.
– Samaje Perine and Eric Striker, Oklahoma: Perine broke poor Melvin Gordon’s single game rushing record like, two weeks after it was set. As a true freshman. I’m interested to see if he can remain productive in the Air Raid. Striker has a perfect name for a linebacker, first of all. 9 sacks and 5 quarterback hurries last year make him an intriguing NFL 3-4 linebacker prospect.
– Seth Russell, K.D. Cannon, Corey Coleman, Baylor: All of the passing stats. Over/under on 70+ yard touchdowns for these three is set, conservatively, at 12.5.
– Malik Jefferson and Tyrone Swoopes, Texas: Jefferson was the nation’s top defensive recruit, has been called unblockable, and should start either at weakside end or Will LB for the Horns from day 1. Swoopes has been an abject disappointment to Longhorns fans, and is probably the most subject-to-scrutiny player in the league.
– Skyler Howard, West Virginia: Only played in the last four games last year, but had a nice 8/0 TD/Int ratio, and…remember this: THIS IS THE OFFENSE THAT MADE GENO SMITH A VIABLE QB TO THE NFL (or the Jets).
– Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State: Big ole (6-5, 270) junior defensive end. 11 sacks last year. And, again, great name.
So, that’s what I’ve got for the XII. Feel free to suggest other things (from numbers, to absurdities, to whatever else) you want to see in future previews. I’m going to try to get through the B1G next before moving on to the Pac-12 (fun) and the ACC (localish).
It’s been a slow couple of weeks for news by SEC standards since we last spoke. I mean hell, I
wrote paraphrased a whole article about imaginary rivalries in the AAC this week. We have some honest-to-goodness news finally, and I’m going to take a hot-takey stance on at least a couple of them.
The big one came from our Georgia Bulldogs, as redshirt freshman QB Jacob Park is leaving for Greyson Lambert-less pastures.
Florida bolstered its STELLAR offense by adding a grad transfer from Fordham. At 6’8 I’m sure he’s very nimble on his feet. He was previously committed to Old Dominion, so either way he was finishing his career playing D-1 ball!
Baseball? Sure, Let’s Get It Out of the Way
The SEC definitely proved its might in baseball in last week’s Super Regionals and this week’s MLB Draft. (Remember, we still have the defending champs in at least one sport!)
LSU, Florida, Arkansas, and aforementioned-defending-champ Vanderbilt will be heading to Omaha for the College World Series, and seven SEC players were drafted in the first round. This includes each of the top two, and four of the top eight. Making that number even MORE impressive is the fact that high school players are eligible for the draft and made up half the picks.
And Now, the Heavier Stuff- the Good
Mississippi State is doing something that every high school in America should do– required financial literacy for its athletes. The classes are being developed by financial superman Dave Ramsey, and this is just awesome.
On the other hand, our students are EXTRAORDINARILY prepared for the real world by our schools…
The Heavier Stuff- the Bad
Nick Saban is on his annual siege for bending the rules in his favor, and today we get to point and laugh at the Pandora’s Box little Nicky opened.
Saban’s argument can be summed up in the following way: he wants to see uniform rules amongst the Power Five conferences, following the NFL model.
So if those players were not allowed to play in the SEC they’d be playing someplace else. What I’m most concerned about, I just think that we should have the same rules in the SEC as all the other Big 5 schools have because now we’re not just talking about the SEC. We’re talking about having a playoff — no different than the NFL. One division in the NFL doesn’t have different rules, different salary caps, different anything because the league knows that parity is the best competitive balance that you can create.
So when we pass rules that other people that we have to compete against — and if that is really what’s best for the young people that we’re dealing with here, the student-athletes that we’re dealing with – then it should be best for everyone, or otherwise we shouldn’t do it. So I’m hopeful that some kind of way we’ll be able to get the Big 5 together — under the NCAA’s supervision — to try to create rules that we all see in the best interest of student-athletes, which I think we need to be thinking about here: Why do we do this? It is to benefit the student-athletes, to promote opportunities for the student-athletes.
This is in response to another great measure taken by the SEC: not allowing domestic abusers to transfer to its schools. Obviously, Saban was burned by former Georgia DT Jonathan Taylor on this rule. And he mad.
But let’s dig into what I put in bold face in that quote: Nick, do you REALLY want equality among the Power Five? Do you want…
– Revenue Sharing: that $31 million per school sure would be a nice coup for the ACC, Big XII, and Pac-12, who are lagging behind the SEC and Big 10 Networks.
– Uniform Academic Standards: This is more school-by-school than a conference matter, but does Alabama want to be on a level academic playing field with the likes of Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, and Cal? Methinks not. I’m sure his JuCo transfers would love that.
– (This one is admittedly a stretch, one posited by Buck Sanders on Inside Carolina)- Spending Caps: Last I checked, the NFL operates under a salary cap. Seven of the top 20 and nine of the top 30 spenders in college football last year were SEC schools– should we make that uniform as well?
My biggest beef here is Saban’s continued insistence that he’s doing what’s right for the game. And he’s using the SEC’s rules to not allow graduate transfers with academic issues (see: Everett Golson) and now domestic abusers to do so. Last year, it was an attempt to eliminate the no-huddle that his defenses have struggled, at times, to defend.
Your self-serving isn’t fooling anyone, Nick.
Satellite Camps Be Damned: SEC Still ‘Crootin Strong
It’s like when they used to play those Florida v. USA high school all star games. Pure, unadulterated, SEC dominance (or as the cynic suggests, pandering to the most invested fanbases).
So maybe Jim Harbaugh invading SEC country with his ghastly whiteness isn’t such a big deal.*
*’jim harbaugh shirtless’ is now a thing that is on my Google search history.
Finally, Au Revoir, Mike Slive
Mike Slive’s retirement became official on June 1, and let’s take a second to appreciate the best conference commissioner of all time. Greg Sankey is in position to do great things with the league going forward, but Slive made the SEC the envy of all other conferences, made shrewd additions to the league, and of course secured its financial future with the SEC Network.
Enjoy that retirement, Mike.
As it always does, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament gave us some great moments. Great moments, such as R.J. Hunter’s buzzer-beater (and his torn-Achilles’d dad/coach falling out of his stool) will echo in eternity, as the NCAA’s corporate partners use buzzer beaters and catatonic losing players to somehow convince you that Pontiac still exists as a producer of automobiles. These moments also overshadow what can be some pretty shoddy basketball.
N.C. State/Villanova, won in the waning seconds on a tip-in? Preceded by seven minutes of atrocious basketball, with both teams apparently trying to throw the game South Park style. Georgia/Michigan St.? Teased us for a few minutes because Michigan State fouled on multiple layups, missed some key free throws, and won on the strength of Georgia choking just a little worse.
The Sweet 16, at the very least, is where the cream starts to rise to the top. Your top NBA prospects (referenced in last week’s tourney primer) are almost all still in play. Kentucky is still undefeated, Duke is still alive with its 3 lottery picks, and that big white dude from Wisconsin is still set to have that awkward Naismith Award interview during halftime of one of the Final Four games.
Midwest: #1 Kentucky vs. #5 West Virginia, #3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Wichita State
By FAR the most intriguing bracket, because 1) Kentucky, duh; 2) their opponents/potential opponents. Bob Huggins’ 2010 West Virginia squad stopped the John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins Wildcats cold with a ruthless, attacking 1-3-1 defense back then, and history has a way of repeati….HAHAHA JK. But, go Mountaineers anyway.
Last year, an eighth-seeded Kentucky squad knocked…guess who?…Wichita State from the ranks of the unbeaten on the way to the finals. STORYLINES! And Notre Dame is the hottest team in the country. Undersized, yes, but their four-out-one-in offense is probably the best recipe to crack Kentucky’s ridiculous defense.
The pick: Calling Kentucky over Notre Dame here.
West: #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 North Carolina, #6 Xavier vs. #2 Arizona
Until today, I didn’t know there was a (decidedly one-sided and petty) beef between Wisconsin and UNC, but hey. My favorite excerpt:
Williams told a throng of national reporters: “Are you going to tell me you don’t like this more than 19-17 at halftime? I’m not a nuclear physicist, but you make the choice. We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest.”
This was in reference to a 2000 Final Four game in which Wisconsin played, where the halftime score above was correct. The Badgers are still that hateable, playing at the nation’s 346th quickest tempo. They are, as you might expect, a bunch of white guys with bad haircuts, so join me in cheering for UNC. There’s my pitch.
Arizona is still the most dangerous yet unpredictable team in the tourney. All three of their losses came to teams who failed to make it to the final
64 68, and their offense occasionally disappears. If they’re on, though, they’re a match for Kentucky.
The pick: Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling about Xavier (whom I haven’t seen play in YEARS) knocking off ‘Zona. Wisconsin tempos North Carolina to death by not allowing them to get into transition. Wisconsin is the beneficiary and advances, at which point I may actually lean towards supporting Kentucky in the Final Four*.
*- There is a very real, very horrifying chance that both Duke and N.C. State make the Final Four. This is my hell. Go Big Blue, assuming Carolina has been shown the door.
East Bracket: #8 N.C. State vs. #4 Louisville, #3 Oklahoma vs. #7 Michigan State
The Wolfpack and Spartans, respectively, knocked off #1 Villanova and #2 Virginia in the opening weekend, throwing the East into wide-open chaos. State actually won AT Louisville earlier in the season, but Rick Pitino is the March Mobster (has anyone taken this joke before? Not in those exact words. Fun links anyway. ‘No cuddling on the bathroom floor’ is my new rally cry for UL games).
I know little about Oklahoma, but their Big XII brethren took the GAS in week 1. #3’s Iowa State and Baylor didn’t survive the first four hours of play, #2 Kansas lost to little brother Wichita State, and #5 West Virginia draws Kentucky. Counter that with what I said about Pitino above, take out the mobster part, and demonstrate more success and overachieving in the tourney, and you get Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. Don’t bet against Tom Izzo.
The pick: I choose to believe N.C. State has had its moment and Louisville wins by 8-10 points. And DON’T BET AGAINST TOM IZZO! Sparty beats Louisville, although I honestly didn’t know they were going to qualify for the tournament until I saw them paired with Georgia.
South Bracket: #1 Duke vs. #5 Utah, #2 Gonzaga vs. #11 UCLA
Utah is big, physical, and has athletes at the guard position. Which could beat Duke. Self-delusion over.
Gonzaga/UCLA is a fun matchup, because it means we get to see Adam Morrison crying about 12 times in the minutes leading up to, during, and after the game. The Bobcats drafted him third overall over about 40 guys who had better NBA careers, and I’m still bitter about it.
“Let me taste your tears, Scott!”
The pick: Step 5: acceptance. Duke rolls over Utah, rolls over a Gonzaga team that actually reaches the regional final for the first time since 1999, although they’ve been to every tournament since.
Kentucky/Wisco, Michigan State/Duke. And I’m free to do something else next weekend.
In case you had forgotten, John Oliver helpfully reminded the audience of Last Week Tonight that indeed, the NCAA is still the worst.
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Apparently Mike Slive is out as the SEC Commissioner, as he will be replaced by Greg Sankey. Here at DudeYouCrazy, we have in the past counted down to the start of football season with ‘100 days of SEC dominance’.
Slive was the driving force behind that well-earned arrogance.
Since taking the post as Commish in 2002, Slive has overseen the signing of the most lucrative TV deal in college athletics history– twice. He got the SEC on ESPN for $2.25 billion over 15 years in 2008, and with the launch of the SEC Network each team stands to make more than Notre Dame on Texas on their INDIVIDUAL TV deals.
Meanwhile, Jim Delany’s B1G network, six years the SECN’s senior, just broke $19 million per school last year. (Late add: speaking of Delany, this is hilarious.) ACC Commish John Swofford is still ‘monitoring’ the progress of conference networks. And the Big XII has the Longhorn Network, which…well, serves one team.
While he was on post, S-E-C-! chants became prevalent at bowl games. We all know that the league just finished an unprecedented seven year run of national championships. The league won more national titles than the rest of the
country world UNIVERSE (!) in that time.
And finally, on expansion: the only league that was NEVER rumored to be losing a team in all of this realignment mess was the SEC. Its solidarity and revenue make it untouchable. Swofford went all ninja to incorporate the whole Big East into the new, messy ACC. Slive moved even MORE quietly and poached the Big XII to get into two new markets with Texas A&M and Missouri, and the league is still poised to pick apart the ACC in the future.
Let’s sum this up: Mike Slive, you’re a G.