Welcome to the HCS Big 12 mailbag. This mailbag is for all you football junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school who not only have questions about your team, but other teams in the conference as well. So, join me, grab a cold brew or your favorite drink and relax as I answer all your Big 12 questions in my mailbag. For those interested, I will send out a tweet (@Derekduke25) every Monday at noon until last call (No, not 2 AM) at 8 PM CT for you to send in your questions to be answered every Tuesday right here at Heartland College Sports.
I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week and for those reading, I am glad you could join me. I am doing this on Monday evening and of course this mailbag wouldn’t be nearly as fun without a cold beverage right next to me. Tonight’s drink of choice? A Dome Faux’m beer from 8th Wonder Brewery out in Houston, Texas. It’s a cream ale that pays tribute to the Astrodome. Before I begin, I just want to thank Cyclone Nation for showing me a great time up in Iowa. I got to check out Exile Brewing, Barn Town Brewing as well as El Bait Shop which was awesome. Nor to mention, a pork tenderloin sandwich from Nick’s. I still am trying to figure out how to get my hands on some of Hannah beer from Exile down here in Texas. Anyways, Cheers!
@BradDickerson66 asks: This season’s rankings and the preference for “brand name” teams have me thinking, who is the third biggest brand in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma and Texas and why?
Duke: This question really had me torn. So, I decided to get the HCS staff involved with this one and the results didn’t help much because three of us (including myself) went with Oklahoma State with one went with West Virginia and the other didn’t give me a definitive answer. So, I went with Oklahoma State. Since 2006, the Cowboys have made a bowl game every year and even won a conference title back in 2011 (A team that should have played for a national title). Not to mention since 2010, OSU is 7-2 in bowl games. Of course, the Cowboys do have a history with players such as Barry Sanders, Dez Bryant, Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden in the last 30 years but what really stands out to me is the coach, Mike Gundy who has been there since 2005 as a head coach. He is the face of that program and he is well known nationally and yes; the famous 2007 rant helps. He by far has been the most consistent program in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma since 2010 when Texas went downhill. Of course, TCU is in the mix but before Gary Patterson, eh. But if this question was asked ten years ago and both TCU and WVU are in the Big 12, I would have easily said West Virginia.
@fauxcaridi asks: How long will it take Neal Brown to play for a Big 12 title?
Duke: This is a hard answer because outside of the 2015 and 2018 season, West Virginia hasn’t been a huge threat to win a conference title. The consistency hasn’t been there every year since joining the Big 12 in 2012. I get it, West Virginia may not be one of those programs who competes year in and year out for a title but every few years could they be one of the top two or three teams in the league? Absolutely. With that said, this year has been a big rebuilding year and the Mountaineers will likely miss out on a bowl game. Next season, most of the defense comes back along with Doege at quarterback. The top two receivers Sam James and TJ Simmons will be back as well, but you know what is the biggest problem right now? The offensive line.
The Mountaineers can not run the football period. In fact, they are dead last in the Big 12 as they average just 76.7 rushing yards per game. Heck Kansas is ninth and even they average 142 rushing yards a game. Until West Virginia can get their offensive line fixed, this offense will struggle. Whether it’s in 2020 or 2021 I have no idea. But what I do know is that I believe in Neal Brown and this staff. 2020 will be much better and hopefully the same can be said for 2021.
@HighMotorPod asks: What’s the next Big 12 coaching vacancy? What program, what year and who fills it?
Duke: I think I may have had a similar question a while back, but it is so hard to tell right now. Of course, there are different situations in the conference. I don’t think anyone will be fired after this season but as far as vacancies go, I will lean Kansas only because of Les Miles’ age. He is 66 years old and I still wonder how much left he has in the tank. I could see Les leave sometime in the next two seasons. As far as who fills it, I don’t think it would be even wise of me to guess that since I have no clue who candidates or the hot commodities will be in 2020 or 2021. Before Matt Rhule’s contract extension at Baylor, I think he would have been my choice because if that extension didn’t get done, I could have seen another NFL team make a serious push for him.
@KBehr68 asks: The Texas defense is bad. Next season they won’t have Duvernay, Johnson, Braun or Shackelford on offense either. When exactly will Texas be back?
Duke: Whoa, I feel some déjà vu here. Why? Because WE HAVE BEEN ASKING THIS QUESTION SINCE 2010 for crying out loud. I am just about sick of it and I could only imagine how Tom Herman feels or Texas fans feel about this question. Sure, Sam Ehlinger said it after the Sugar Bowl win last year against Georgia, but you know what? He lied. While it may not be all his fault, I feel like Texas is still going through growing pains as a program under Tom Herman. I know this is just his third season there, but it feels like he has been there for ten years already. I still feel like there is a culture problem going on in Austin. Maybe the staff needs a shakeup (Cough *A new play caller* cough) but something must change. Sure, the schedule is tough, but you know who doesn’t complain about their schedule? Oklahoma. There is no excuse at Texas not to compete for a Big 12 title year in and year out. It’s inexcusable there. With that said, I think next season will better for Texas (Due to the schedule) but they aren’t back until they are stringing together nine- and ten-win seasons every year. That’s when Texas is back.
@Cyclones_B12C asks: What was the most surprising, or just different than expected thing about visiting Ames for a game?
Duke: From a media standpoint, it was very different setup wise I’ll say that. So, it took a bit to get used to where everything was since it was very spread out and there appeared to be still some thing under construction around the stadium. However, the fans, the tailgates and the environment were awesome. I have been to several Big 12 stadiums including all the ones here in Texas and let me tell you, the tailgate scene in Ames around Jack Trice is above and beyond the places I have been to. What’s even crazier is that when I went this past weekend, the grass lots were closed so I could only imagine what it would have looked like when it was completely full. But man, the friendliness of the people was unreal, and I felt like I could have stopped at any tailgate and they would have welcomed me with a beer and some good food. It truly is a family atmosphere and the passion is insane. I told several people this up there but because of people being so nice, I felt like a long-lost son up there.
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