August 1, 2013

Fightin' Words: Who belongs at the Big 12 summit?

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Let's be honest: the Big 12 is just weird these days.

Whether it's the run-and-gun offensive style many of its teams have adopted or the fact that Texas Christian and, even weirder, West Virginia have replaced the departing Texas A&M, Missouri and Colorado, the Big 12 just isn't what it used to be. A sign of this is that Oklahoma State are preseason favorites to win it.

Before any Cowboy fans stop reading altogether, I'll preface my argument by saying I'm really not biased either way when it comes to OU and OSU. I was raised in a Texas home, and even then college football has never been my favorite sport. Plus, the Longhorns have been written off based mostly on the fact that their quarterback situation is a gigantic question mark. The same can be said for Oklahoma, whose situation became even more complicated with Kendal Thompson going down in the first practice of the season with a broken foot. This is also where I begin my argument against OSU winning the Big 12.

The Cowboys are in the same boat, no matter which way you look at it. When Wes Lunt went down last year, it opened the door for two of the three OSU starting QB candidates -- J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf -- to show they had a shot at the number one role. The trio became the only different quarterbacks from the same team to throw for 1,000 yards in a single season in Big 12 history. 

But, it makes me wonder: a) If Walsh and Chelf are so good, why weren't they starting in front of Lunt? b) If Lunt's position can be so easily fought for, what does that say about confidence in his talent?

It seems like a problem coach Mike Gundy would love to have. I'm not so convinced. It seems to me these three guys are all the same: enough to, possibly, toss their team's hat in the ring for a title, but not quite enough to solidify OSU's place at the top before a ball is even snapped.

What I think happened was the people that help make up this preseason poll became so confused in the now topsy-turvy world of the Big 12 they went with what seems like a comfortable choice. OSU has three at least adequate quarterbacks and a preseason all-Big 12 wide-receiver in Josh Stewart. The Cowboys can also boast two defensive players on the preseason all-Big 12 team, but so can a lot of other teams. Plus, they're a well established program with more recent success.

I honestly think 2013 will be a toss-up. In fact, my favor just barely leans toward TCU, who I think have the best chance to make history with preseason all-conference quarterback Casey Pachall and preseason Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields. 

But it's so difficult to put them at that height, because TCU is still considered an outsider to the established Big 12 elite. I'm not alone, though; the Horned Frogs received nine first place votes in the preseason poll. That's one more than both Oklahoma and Texas.

In this new Big 12, a good, established quarterback is even more crucial than ever now that offense plays such an important role. Among those teams experts have vying for the title, TCU offers the best option. It'll be tight, and most likely incredibly entertaining; but, I'm not so convinced the Cowboys belong at the summit.