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Top Five Takeaways From the Big 12 Football Preseason Poll

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Kansas

It’s starting to feel like college football season. Summer is in full swing, Media Days is right around the corner and preseason polls are starting to drop. On Tuesday, the Big 12 Football Preseason Poll came out. And as we get set to embark on Las Vegas next week, here are the top five takeaways from the 2024 Big 12 poll, which sees two teams leave, and four new teams enter the league.


Parity, Parity, Parity

If you’re a Big 12 fan, this is not a shocker that five teams received votes to win the conference this season, and then teams seven through eleven are separated by all of a couple hundred overall votes. West Virginia is picked seventh, receiving 581 votes, with Colorado picked eleventh, receiving 400 votes. All in all, this is as an incredibly small separation between five teams in the polls.

And then when you think about how WVU fans feel like they should compete for a Big 12 title after nine wins in 2023, and Colorado has the top-end talent to have hopes of being in a Big 12 Championship Game as well, this league is going to be so fascinating week-to-week, and well over half the conference thinks that if things break just right, why not them?

New vs. Old Big 12

I have to credit user SavageFund on our Heartland College Sports free forum. He calculated these numbers on the forum.

Former Pac-12 teams are picked 1,5,11,16: Average 8.25

Last year’s new teams 8,13,14,15: Average 12.5

The “Hateful 8” 2,3,4,6,7,9,10,12: Average 6.625


How should we read into this?

Well the “Hateful 8”, the eight former Big 12 teams, who were dubbed that back in 2021, clearly have the most depth, from top to bottom. Three of the Top 4, and no team ranked lower than 12.

The former Pac-12 teams have some high-end competition with Utah and Arizona, but the jury is out on Colorado and Arizona State.

Meantime, last year’s teams, which included three from the Group of 5, plus BYU, still have some work to do to prove to the media they’re contenders. They all struggled last year, but there is certainly enormous upside for each of them. UCF has recruited incredibly well. Houston has a new coach and staff in the hottest recruiting area in the country. Cincinnati has proven it can reach the mountaintop by getting to a College Football Playoff, albeit under a different regime, and BYU is a national brand that needs to prove its model works in the new world order of college football.

We Can’t Talk Enough Lance Leipold

Lance Leipold enters his fourth season as Kansas head coach and he is receiving multiple first-place votes to win the Big 12 Conference. We are NOT talking enough about just how insanely impressive this is for Leipold and his staff in Lawrence.


He took over one of the worst college football programs in the history of the sport. By Year 3, he was a nine-game winner and now this team is projected to be in the Big 12 race at the end of the season, and may be in a College Football Playoff in December.

It’s not just the turnaround, but how quickly it’s happening. And while it’s been a storyline in the Big 12 and across college football, it doesn’t feel like it’s been given the respect and attention it deserves based on just how bad this program was when he took over.

Who is This Year’s Middle-of-the-Pack Surprise?

Last year, Oklahoma State was picked to finish 7th in the Big 12 and then reached the Big 12 Championship Game vs. Texas. Two years ago, TCU was picked to finish 7th and reached the National Championship Game. In 2021, Baylor was picked 8th in the Big 12 and went on to win the Big 12 Championship.

So… who will be it this year? Iowa State was picked 6th, West Virginia 7th and UCF 8th, with Texas Tech at 9th.

I’m not suggesting it will be one of them, but history would suggest that someone in this conference is going to surprise and be there at the end competing for a Big 12 Championship. Start placing your bets now.


Hot Seat Watches

There’s only one really hot seat in the Big 12 right now, and that’s Baylor’s Dave Aranda.

However, is another really bad year for Cincinnati problematic for Scott Satterfield? Same for a fellow second-year head coach at Arizona State in Kenny Dillingham? What about BYU as it navigates the Power 4 world, while trying to maintain principles and standards? UCF has enormous talent, but if they don’t compete, is Gus getting some heat? Joey McGuire is poised to pop in Year 3, we think, but if he doesn’t, is there some grumbling in West Texas?

I’m not predicting any of these things, but we know that turnover is high in the coaching rankings, and something tells me that come the end of the season, Dave Aranda won’t be the only hot seat we are discussing. The odds are someone else, at least one, will be joining him in the conversation.

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