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12 Thoughts on This Week in the Big 12: Rick Barnes’ Firing was Just, OU Favorites in 2015-16, + Big 12 Spring QB Battles!

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1. So the Big 12, the so called “best conference in America”, didn’t have a team make the Elite 8. The ACC had three, Big Ten had two. Can we drop that moniker for the time being? Maybe it’s unfair that a four month season gets judged by one month of ‘one-and-done’ games, but that’s the nature of the beast that is college basketball. I mentioned many times that I didn’t believe the Big 12 had a Final 4 team. But, I sure as hell thought they had at least one or two Elite 8 teams. I was wrong. I’m pretty good at that sometimes. Just ask my wife. 😛

2. I feel bad for Rick Barnes. I do not like to see anyone (yes even someone who’s made millions of dollars. Who cares, he’s still a human being) lose their job. It’s ironic because his early success was ultimately what did him in. After reaching five Sweet 16’s, two Elite 8’s, and a Final Four, Barnes had gone ice cold, not reaching the Sweet 16 since 2008. It was a move that, as I mentioned in last week’s column, I completely understand Texas making. Similar to Mack Brown, sometimes a team and program just needs fresh blood. Even though Barnes was still recruiting at a high level, just like Brown was in football, it doesn’t resonate.

Also, with AD Steve Patterson looking to raise big bucks for a new arena, that is much easier to do with the optimism that comes with a fresh face of the program. I hate to believe that was a factor, but let’s all remember, college athletics is big business.

3. So I definitely didn’t think Kentucky – West Virginia would go that poorly for the Mountaineers. You know what that reminded me of? The 2014 Citrus Bowl game between Clemson and Oklahoma (sorry, OU fans). It was just that damn ugly and embarrassing for Bob Huggins.

But, it was most embarrassing when Daxter Miles Jr. Yes, that Daxter Miles Jr., ya know, the freshman that averaged 7 points per game, who guaranteed victory. It reminded me of the TV show Friday Night Lights when Coach Taylor moves to East Dillon, they are preparing to play one of the top teams in the state and are likely get destroyed. Taylor is asked in a TV interview, on the field during practice, if they will win. As he begins responding with his company line, his dopey assistant, Stan, chimes in guaranteeing victory. But, while the East Dillon Tigers lost the game, they kept it a helluva lot closer than the Mountaineers did.

4. If Buddy Hield decides to return to Norman for his senior season, the Sooners should be the favorites to win the Big 12 next year. OU loses just two scholarship players from this season, starting forward TaShawn Thomas and reserve forward D.J. Bennett. But, the Sooners will welcome in a 7-foot junior college transfer in Akolda Manyang, who should be able to provide more-than-solid rim protection. Add in an improved offseason from Jordan Woodard, Isaiah Cousins, and Frank Booker, and the Sooners backcourt (with Hield) will be the deepest, and most experienced in the Conference.

5. Is it weird that was I wasn’t completely shocked to hear that Marcus Foster had been dismissed from Kansas State? The relationship between Foster and head coach Bruce Weber was clearly fragile and had deteriorated as the season progressed. There are several rumors swirling about the specific reason for the dismissal, but let’s just say, of the two, Weber gets the benefit of the doubt here. Not Foster. If Weber felt Foster was becoming too much of a burden for the health of the program, he had to go.

6. Before switching to football… here is our tweet of the week. It goes with the old adage of “if you’re going to dish it, you have to be able to take it.” Fair point, as the Big Ten has two teams in the Final 4.

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7. I know spring practice is similar to spring training baseball. It’s a time for teams to speak optimistically about the future and talk about the progress everyone has made. If spring pratice/spring training always translated to the regular season, no team would ever lose a game!

That being said, I appreciate the optimism coming out of Lawrence, Kansas regarding the Jayhawks. I love the atmosphere and energy that is being projected by new head coach David Beaty, which in fairness, began with interim coach Clint Bowen. Unfortunately, Kansas will open the 2015 will less scholarship players than most Division 1-AA teams have. That’s going to be a problem for KU, especially as the conference schedule wears on. But, with Beaty’s recruiting ties to Texas, I really believe he can make this a .500 program in due time.

8. Staying with the “hope springs eternal” theme… Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said last week he believes senior QB Sam Richardson can be a “top-three Big 12 signal caller”. Yes, I agree. Then Iowa State wins the Big 12, Paul Rhoads leaves for an opening at Ohio State because Urban Meyer took the New York Giants head coaching job, and offensive coordinator Mark Mangino takes over the program, and … OK I’ll stop there. No knock on Richardson, but he just doesn’t have the offensive line, or skill position players, to allow him to be a top-3 QB in the Big 12. Richardson was only the third QB in program history to produce 3,000 yards last season. But, that says a whole lot more about Iowa State’s football history than it does Richardson’s ability.

9. So, the quarterback battle is ongoing in Lubbock between Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes. Why? I’m not sure. Mahomes completed 57% of his passes for 1,547 yards, and 16 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, compared to Webb’s 61% completion percentage, for 2,539 yards, and 24 touchdowns, but to 13 interceptions. Webb was a turnover machine and killed the Red Raiders in key spots. Mahomes was much more under control, and is a better runner than Webb. I believe the coaching staff is still infatuated with Webb’s NFL size (6’5”, 227 lbs), and his freshman season when he threw for over 2,700 yards, 20 TD’s and 9 INT’s, with 63% completition. Webb should have to blow Mahomes away to have a shot to take the job.

10. Another place where the QB battle is buzzing: Austin, TX between Tyrone Swoopes Jerrod Heard, although it appears Swoopes is miles ahead of Heard. If you’re a Longhorns fan, that’s pretty damn scary. “So, you’re telling me, the guy that threw for 57 yards in our bowl game on 25 passing attempts is miles ahead of his main competition?” Yikes. Maybe the September 5th game against Notre Dame can be pushed back to an open date or October or November? Maybe…

11. There is at least one team in the Big 12 that is understanding the value of scheduling Power 5 Conference teams in the non-conference schedule: TCU. The Horned Frogs finalized scheduling home-and-home games with Colorado and Stanford last week. You can laugh at Colorado, and joke that they are barely a step up from a FCS team, but none of these games take place before 2022. Plenty can change by then. Hell, it’s possible Colorado and TCU are in the same “super conference” by 2022! But, the point is, TCU at least respects the system, and the playoff committee enough to go schedule Power 5 teams (ahem, Baylor).

12. So … I never did a write up on the two Sweet 16 games this week, with a pick against the spread. As I tweeted on Thursday night, I was too torn by the WVU-Kentucky game, because my head said UK, but my hearted wanted WVU to give ’em a run. So I just stayed away. In the end, the season finished up 20-12-1 against the spread. I will gladly take that.

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