Welcome to the HCS Big 12 mailbag! This mailbag is for all you football junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school that not only have questions about your team, but other teams in the conference as well. So, join me, grab your favorite drink, and relax as I answer all your Big 12 questions. For those interested, I will send out a tweet (@Derekduke25) every Monday until 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 a Monday night and of course, it would not be a proper mailbag without a drink next to me. Tonight’s drink is coffee. It’s going to be a long night between all the news and packing for my trip this week. Cheers!
@cfowlerwvu asks: Was it LSU all along or USC for Lincoln Riley?
Duke: Lincoln Riley heard from LSU plenty, but they never had his attention like USC did. While LSU just backed up the Brinks truck for Brian Kelly, USC was still the more appealing job for Lincoln. Think about it. He gets to coach a blue blood program, got a big raise, and has a much easier path to the playoff than he would when Oklahoma moves to the SEC. It was a smart move by Lincoln Riley. Now was it a coward move? I would definitely say so. Something has been off about Lincoln the last few weeks and he already had one foot out the door weeks ago. He didn’t just make up his mind in a matter of hours. Lincoln knew what he was doing, and it was USC all along.
@fraseriii asks: With Lincoln Riley leaving and Texas a hot pile of garbage, do you think Oklahoma and Texas recruiting classes will tank during the early signing period? If so what Big 12 schools might benefit?
Duke: If I have learned one thing over the years about Texas it is that no matter what their record is they will get top ten classes. If Charlie Strong could do that then so could Steve Sarkisian. The issue with Texas hasn’t been signing talented kids coming out of high school, the problem is that they haven’t been getting better when they get to Austin. As for Oklahoma, they have lost a few commits from the 2022 class and from their monster 2023 class that was loaded with talent. I don’t think any Big 12 school will benefit greatly because no other school in the conference recruits at the same level as Oklahoma or Texas. The Texas class should be fine, but Oklahoma may see a drop this season and in 2023 depending on the new coach.
@CornToCoast asks: What makes the most sense for new Big 12 football divisions? And will the conference have set cross-division rivalries? If so, who plays who?
Duke: It’s either going to be a north/south or east/west division split. I would lean more toward a north/south split because it would even up the teams a little more than doing east/west. All the Texas schools (Houston, Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech) would join up with Oklahoma State and UCF for the south division while BYU, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Cincinnati, and West Virginia make up the north. That makes the most sense to me but then again, I don’t have a lot of sense according to some people. As far a cross division rivalries go that would be tough to answer right now. If they do the north/south divisions then the Texas schools stick together with OSU. But if there was one I would want to see played every year it would be either Baylor/BYU or Iowa State/Oklahoma State.
@brand_gloeck asks: Does Brian Kelley leaving Notre Dame seriously affect the future Big 12’s prestige? Is it possible either Cincinnati or Iowa State lose their head coach to Notre Dame?
Duke: Without a doubt it’s possible. I was shocked to see Brian Kelly bolt for Baton Rouge especially when Notre Dame is fighting for a playoff spot, but I understand why. LSU gave him an absurd contract and if someone gave me a lengthy contract with 100 million dollars then I would sign that contract immediately.
As for Notre Dame’s next head coach, Matt Campbell and Luke Fickell are probably the top two candidates for that job. It sucks for Iowa State and Cincinnati fans, but Notre Dame is one of the premier jobs not only in college football but sports in general. It would be hard to turn down a job like that but keep in mind that both of these coaches would leave their programs in much better shape compared to when they got there. Will it hurt the future of the Big 12 if one of these two takes the job? Sure, but the good thing is that either one of these programs should be able to hire a good replacement if needed.
@Shroudedllama asks: I know Oklahoma and Texas are huge brands but with both programs struggling at the moment with neither one making the Big 12 title game, are the leftover Big 12 teams winning the break-up right now?
Duke: For now? Yes. Right now, the other eight Big 12 teams are reaching for some popcorn and watching and enjoying every moment of the Texas meltdown as well as Oklahoma’s with Lincoln Riley leaving. It’s not often you see Oklahoma in such a weak spot but here we are. As for Texas, they haven’t done anything over the last ten years on the field to be jealous of. However, when that SEC money finds Texas and Oklahoma, I would be willing to bet that these other schools would love a slice of pie that big but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen. The interesting part is that this story needs to be played out over time. Texas doesn’t look like a competitive program at the moment and if Oklahoma gets this next coaching hire wrong, the next few years could be bad for both of the schools who are on their way out.