1. Overall, what a disastrous week for Big 12 football. 2-5 in bowl games. While bowl games don’t tell the entire story about conference hierarchy, the reality is the Big 12 doesn’t have a leg to stand on if they pronounce themselves as one of the premier conference in college football. Right now, it’s the Pac 12, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and ACC. I place the Big Ten third because of their impressive New Year’s Day, including wins by Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Also, the addition of Jim Harbaugh to Michigan changes the landscape of the sport, and revives a monster program.
2. With that being said, what I also learned from the bowl season in general: discussing conference hierarchy is a fairly shallow and meaningless debate. I think the Power 5 conferences are closer in competition than the fan bases of each respective conference would like to admit. With nearly every game on television, the ease of transportation in 2015, and the millions of television dollars flowing into each University, the competitive advantage the traditional powers (Texas, OU, USC, Ohio State, Florida) had are dwindling each year. For that reason there is more parity than ever in the sport, and that will continue to grow.
3. Well, Oklahoma fans are finally starting to see some heads roll for an embarrassment of an 8-5 season in Norman. Bob Stoops has fired co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. Next up should be his partner in crime, Josh Heupel. But, here’s why it won’t be: Heupel, of course once led the Sooners to their most recent National Championship as the quarterback in 2000. The other reason: Heupel’s sister is married to former U.S. Representative Dan Boren, who’s father just so happens to be OU President David Boren. You think he’s getting canned? I’d be shocked.
Also, Sooner fans are likely rejoicing with the news that defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is interviewing for the same job with Les Miles at LSU. This would be the smoothest way to get rid of Stoops, who has not turned back the clocks to the early 2000’s, as he insinuated he would upon his return. Ironically, it’s the man Stoops replaced, Clemson DC Brent Venables, who crushed the OU offense, leading the Tigers to the nation’s top defense. This is what happens when you tie yourself to friends and family in business. You rise and fall with their successes, or lack thereof. And when the ship in sinking, as it is in Norman, it’s that much harder to throw them off the boat.
4. It’s impossible to feel bad for Baylor head coach Art Briles, who complained that his team was unjustly hosed by the College Football Playoff selection committee. He blamed a “lack of Southerns”, and “no Archie Manning on the committee” for their inability to get in. No mention of their soft out of conference schedule, or the Big 12’s screwy co-champion system. So, what did Briles’ team do? They ironically blew a 20-point 4th quarter lead and lost the Cotton Bowl to Michigan State. His argument officially rings hollow.
5. After being held to a total of 59 yards in the Texas Bowl, the Longhorns are in for a massive offensive overhaul. Charlie Strong fired tight ends coach Bruce Chambers and wide receivers coach Les Koenning. Outside of the game against Oklahoma State, QB Tyrone Swoopes did not make the needed improvements late in the season the coaching staff wanted to see. That job is wide open heading into next season. Swoopes should compete with true freshman Jerrod Heard. Other options include potential transfer candidates Braxton Miller (Ohio State) or Jeff Driskel (Florida).
6. The good news for the Longhorns: Charlie Strong is killing it on the recruiting trail … in Florida. Strong just went 5 for 5 in getting commitments from top recruits in the Sunshine State (Davante Davis, Cecil Cherry, Tim Irvin, Devonaire Clarington, Gilbert Johnson). Some wonder why Strong is recruiting Florida so heavily when he is “the program” in Texas, the most talent rich state in the country.
Well, Texas is getting harder to recruit. With the improvement of programs like Baylor and TCU, along with the inroads the SEC has made into the state, Strong is being bold and invading SEC territory. Also, he has ties to the state from his previous coaching stops at Louisville and Florida. It is a great move by Strong, and I hope others in the Big 12 have the guts to follow.
7. I wonder how Florida State’s disastrous loss affects the College Football Playoff selection committee’s view of undefeated teams going forward? The Seminoles proved to be “who we thought they were”, as Denny Green once put it. They were a very good team, that was not nearly as great as last year’s national title winner, but slipped by mediocre opponent, after mediocre opponent, in the mediocre ACC.
TCU prove they were one of the best 4 teams in the nation, and should have been in the playoff. Alas, the committee couldn’t get themselves to leave out an undefeated Florida State. Could that change going forward?
8. Kansas State showed us once again that Bill Snyder’s formula is a solid one that can build a consistent winner, but will never be able to beat the upper echelon teams in the country. Snyder’s formula of bringing in JUCO’s and under recruited or undervalued players, coach ‘em up, play mistake free, and penalty free football, works to an extent. You’ll win the games you’re supposed to. But when matched up against the speed and athleticism of a Baylor or UCLA, it won’t work. That proved to be the case again this year with losses to Auburn, TCU, Baylor, and UCLA. Even during their Big 12 championship run in 2012, their losses were to Baylor, and then Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Snyder has reached the ceiling in Manhattan. Granted, it’s not a bad ceiling to hit. But, until he can get top athletes to KSU it will be hard. Maybe the upcoming facilities improvements will help.
9. Is it fair to say that, other than Baylor and TCU, the fan base who should feel the best about their future is Oklahoma State? I think so. Just like with the previously mentioned Texas QB situation, it’s amazing how that position can change the entire outlook of a program. Just weeks ago Oklahoma State was mired in a five-game losing streak under QB Daxx Garman. Enter: freshman Mason Rudolph. His play has seemed to inspire and rejuvenate the entire program, from coach Gundy to the players. They were able to battle through a major youth movement this season, and the future once again is bright in Stillwater.
10. Here is our tweet of the week. Great spot by Nate. Once again to my point that the SEC is really good, but the margin between all Power Five conference has shrunk significantly.
11. Another reason I enjoy the new four team playoff is that the BCS computers would have given us Alabama vs. Florida State in the National Championship game. This would’ve likely meant more Alabama domination, which would’ve meant more “SEC is King” storylines. At the same time, I don’t want to see the playoff expanded to eight. With the playoff as currently set up, the regular season barely lost it’s importance. If we expand to eight, then Alabama likely would not have been forced to win the SEC Championship game. The same might’ve also been true for Oregon in the Pac 12 game. Leave it as is. Someone will likely get hosed each season, but hey, that’s life.
12. The only thing almost as bad as the Big 12’s performance in the bowl games … my bowl picks against the spread! I finished the bowl season 3-4. Not horrible, but I was hoping for better. That ends that season at 37-26-1. I would have definitely have signed up for that record back in August. Now onto the college hoops…!