The Big 12 has been one of the nation’s deepest conferences the past few years. What they have not had is a team come forward and really challenge for the national title. Bob Stoops’ team has stumbled over its own feet. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas State have each had no cigar seasons. Texas has been anything but Texas. Success on the national stage is crucial, as it is having a knock-on effect in recruiting.
As a conference, the Big 12 landed just six of Rivals’ Top 100 recruits in 2014 (one has already been suspended indefinitely). For comparison, the SEC West had 28. Texas A&M alone had five. And folks wonder why Bob Stoops has been on the warpath…
Prorated SRS: Again, this is SRS (schedule strength + victory margin) prorated over the past four years. It gives a rough projection of how teams have played the past four years to project from moving forward. The numbers here don’t conflict too much with naked perception. What they may suggest is that Oklahoma State rebounds year to year better than people think. While they have substantial attrition, it’s not clear why they get shoved off the board, while people have Baylor in their top 10s. The teams finished almost dead even in SRS last year. OSU beat the Bears by 32.
Schedules: There’s not much deviation, since the Big 12 plays a true round robin. Texas only travels outside the state for three games. One of those is Kansas. Oklahoma gets Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas State in Norman. If Kliff Kingsbury has things rolling at season’s end, Texas Tech faces Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor in Lubbock. Oklahoma State could have a rough November playing at Kansas State, Texas, at Baylor and at Oklahoma to close the season.
Quarterbacks: Baylor’s Bryce Petty was arguably the best statistical quarterback not named Winston in 2013. Oklahoma will hope Trevor Knight is the player he was against Alabama, over a full 12 game schedule. Kansas State has Jake Waters coming back, following a nice junior season. Davis Webb will be looking to make a leap forward into that top echelon as a sophomore, in a second year under Kingsbury. Beyond that, things look bleak and uncertain. Maybe David Ash at Texas approaches that top group, health permitting.
Returning Starters: Baylor and Oklahoma state are near the bottom nationally, with just nine starters returning. The Bears lose a lot on the offensive line, a strength the past few years, and in the secondary, key to their defensive surge last year. The Cowboys are rebuilding just about everywhere. Losing seven senior starters on defense has most projecting them outside the Top 25 to start the year. Kansas returns a number of starters, who started for Kansas last year.
Hot Seat: Charlie Weis, obviously. He was a questionable hire when Kansas made it. He has taken a bad situation under Turner Gill and made it worse, going 2-20 vs. FBS and 1-17 in the Big 12. The only thing keeping him in place is whether Kansas can/is willing to buy him out. Also keep an eye on Dana Holgorsen. He was brought in because winning nine games was not good enough at West Virginia. Though competitive, his team has gone 5-14 vs. FBS since beating Texas in October 2012.
[USA Today Sports]