Big 12 review, week 1: Realignment rearing its ugly head again
This is starting to feel like that course in advanced statistics that everyone tells you is impossible to understand.
Head spinning. Mind exploding. No end in sight.
When thinking about college realignment, v. 2.0, I have no idea what to think anymore.
For the second consecutive year, realignment dealing primarily with the Big 12 has dominated college football. The only difference this year is that the rampant speculation is taking place during the season, stealing the focus away from the field and putting it somewhere in outer space. Seriously.
Oklahoma might join the Pac-12 and take Oklahoma State with it.
Reports have tied Kansas with potential landing spots in the Pac-12 or Big East. Ditto for Missouri and the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 or Big East.
Who knows what Texas will do. But the Longhorns, like last summer, are the heavy hitters who likely hold the key to either saving the league again or dissolving it into oblivion.
Texas A&M still has to accept an invitation from the SEC.
Can anyone make any sense of these developments?
Then, there's the financial side of this mess. Texas signed a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN for the Longhorn Network in January. Could UT keep the LHN in the Pac-12, which has equal revenue sharing? Last summer, the answer was no. That's essentially why UT is still a member of the Big 12. For now.
Furthermore, there's the 13-year, $1.17 billion deal commissioner Dan Beebe and the Big 12 landed with Fox in April. What happens to this deal if there are no teams left in the Big 12 to play any games next year?
Our Matt Tait mentioned this on Monday, but there's simply too much financial uncertainty for this thing to be completely resolved in a week.
There is no fixed penalty for a member institution leaving the Big 12. The conference bylaws are complicated and vague. For reference, Nebraska (Big Ten) settled for $9.25 million, while Colorado (Pac-12) settled for $6.86 million in exit fees last year.
I have no idea what will happen, but I do hope Kansas stays in a BCS Conference, as Tom Keegan pointed out today.
Now, for the put-on-the-back-shelf, on-the-field analysis from the first week of action in the Big 12:
After week 1 ...
Straight up: 9-1
Vs. spread: 4-2.
Not a bad showing for the first week. My one straight-up loss was Baylor pulling off a 50-48 thriller over TCU on Friday. If quarterback Robert Griffin (21-of-27, 359 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT) keeps putting those numbers up, he could find himself in the Heisman conversation.
Some bullet-point observations from the first week:
• After one week, the top two teams in the country in total offense? 1. Oklahoma State (666 yards); 2. Oklahoma (663 yards).
• Every Big 12 team won its week 1 games, netting the conference a 10-0 record to begin the season, the best mark in the country. The Big East also went undefeated in week 1 at 8-0.
• Big 12 team that looked the best: Oklahoma (47-14 rout of Tulsa). How the Sooners play on the road (at No. 6 Florida State on Sept. 17) will define their season.
• Big 12 team that looked the worst: Tie between Kansas State (10-7 escape over Eastern Kentucky) and Iowa State (20-19 scare of a victory over Northern Iowa). Iowa State needed a game-winning touchdown with 40 seconds left, while Kansas State trailed Eastern Kentucky for three quarters. Kansas fans have to feel a little better about potentially beating these two teams this season (Oct. 22 at home vs. K-State; Nov. 5 at Iowa State).
• Player of the week: Baylor's Robert Griffin. As mentioned above, he was sensational on Friday against TCU in Baylor's 50-48 victory. He was also more accurate with the ball than in the earlier stages of his college career. People will compare him to Vince Young, but Griffin throws a much better deep ball, and is also more accurate. Could that translate into NFL success for Griffin?
• Keep in mind two Big 12 games before Saturday this week: Arizona at No. 9 Oklahoma State, 7 p.m. Thursday; and No. 21 Missouri at Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. Friday.
Here's the first edition this season of the Sorrentino Scale, which ranks each Big 12 football team every week:
- Oklahoma (1-0): Offense could be most electric in country.
- Texas A&M (1-0): Aggies can beat teams in variety of ways; A&M dismantled SMU, 46-14, behind two touchdowns apiece on the ground from Cyrus Gray (132 yards) and Christine Michael (85 yards).
- Oklahoma State (1-0): Big 12 should have three of top scoring offenses in country, with Cowboys (61-34 winners over Louisiana-Lafayette) potentially leading the way.
- Missouri (1-0): Once James Franklin and Missouri's offense come around, Tigers will be dangerous.
- Baylor (1-0): If defense steps up, Bears could threaten with seven or eight wins. Don't forget about receiver Kendall Wright (12-189-2).
- Texas (1-0): Interesting Saturday matchup at home vs. BYU.
- Texas Tech (1-0): Red Raiders' pass defense (sore spot last year) off to great start (held Texas State to 75 net passing yards in 50-10 victory).
- Kansas State (1-0): Have a week off to try to figure out just what the heck that was against Eastern Kentucky.
- Kansas (1-0): Beautiful formula for offensive success in week 1: Jordan Webb plays the caretaker (7-10, 146 passing yards, 3 TDs), lets talented ground game go wild (301 rushing yards, 3 TDs).
- Iowa State (1-0): If Cyclones play like they did in week 1 for rest of season, they may not win another game.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.