Sneak peak into the 2021 Big 12 season

Ian Boyd

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Parker Fleming started it up, firing off this tweet:


And Kegan Reneau followed it up with his own take:


Here's my own set of initial takes:

1. Oklahoma
Duh. Space force starters: Anton Harrison, Marvin Mims, next best OU wideout (Trejan Bridges?), Woodi Washington, and Nik Bonitto. They'll also have an older, somewhat wiser Spencer Rattler, UCLA transfer Chris Murray coming in to help the offensive line, etc. They appear to be head and shoulders above everyone else.

2. Iowa State
Caveat applied that I suspect Matt Campbell won't be there next season. If he is, they have their corners back, Will McDonald back, PFPurdy back, Xavier Hutchinson, and while they lose left tackle Sean Foster they'll have both the guys back who played right tackle this last season. Presumably Jake Remsburg slides to the left and the solid Joey Ramos takes over at right tackle. Breece Hall also returns. If Campbell did come back he should have one more good chance at getting a title before leaving for another job or seeing his window of opportunity start to disappear.

3. TCU
T.J. Storment returns (I think) to help them at left tackle after a solid 2020, defensive end returns Khari Coleman and an improving Ochaun Mathis and presumably gets healthier at cornerback. Their issues in settling on an identity at tight end will be settled by default with Pro Wells moving on and they figured out the best way to help Max Duggan is by letting him throw deep to Quentin Johnston. The team's offensive identity is going to be easier to come by and they'll surge as a consequence.

4. Kansas State
Skylar Thompson is back! K-State will return virtually their entire offense next season with all the improvements they've made along the offensive line and at receiver with Malik Knowles. Tight end Briley Moore is the only significant loss, everyone else is back. On defense they lose Wyatt Hubert, maybe defensive tackle Drew Wiley, and probably senior linebackers Elijah Sullivan and Will Hughes and safety Jahron McPherson. They have a lot of young pass-rushers though that can get after the quarterback and return both starting cornerbacks who won jobs this season. Chris Klieman and his staff with a returned Skylar Thompson, rebuilt offensive line, and then Deuce Vaughn and Malik Knowles, that's really something.

5. Texas
Lotta contingencies on this one. Texas more than other teams could see their team change dramatically via the transfer portal because they'll end up firing Tom Herman, hiring a new coach, and then his ability to evaluate his own squad and adjust could be maximized by the "one time transfer" rule relating to COVID. Some knowns for this team are they'll probably lean on Bijan Robinson and the running game and they'll quietly have some really terrific pieces for executing that vision, including at quarterback where Hudson Card probably edges out elder Casey Thompson at some point or another for the starting job.
Space force is undergoing some changes. They return three cornerbacks who played heavily in 2020 and added a grad transfer. Wide receiver might see some shake-ups but there's a lot there and then freshman Troy Omeire who could have changed the team if not for an ACL injury in fall camp returns. Edge-rusher is a big potential problem, as is offensive tackle where they may or may not have Derek Kerstetter.
Texas has as much talent as anyone save for maybe Oklahoma, like always, and, like always, whether they can coach it up into a good team will remain to be seen, as does who even coaches it.

6. West Virginia
Anyone else starting to wonder if Neal Brown will be coaching the team next season? If he does, they return some useful weapons here. Akheem Mesidor should improve as an edge rusher, but they lose probably both Stills brothers which is a serious matter. The rest of the defense will be in good shape but their ability to hold up at the point of attack while playing off in the defensive backfield will hinge on how they replace the Stills bros. Offensive tackle (OL in general) and wide receiver are all getting stronger.

7. Oklahoma State
I don't like how things look for Oklahoma State here. Spencer Sanders should be better if they could set him up in a play-action/zone-option offense which they struggled to do regularly last season because of OL issues. On the other hand, boy does he process poorly as a passer and what happens without Tylan Wallace? The Cowboys have new receiver talents coming up but some of them are the sort you gotta find in a progression, however simple, and not dudes you just throw up to when they don't have a safety like Wallace. Brennan Presley and Braydon Johnson are the next generation and I wonder if Shane Illingworth replaces Sanders because he can execute dig-post better and RPOs.

Trace Ford is back, Ro Williams is gone, Jake Springfield and Josh Sills return at tackle. I think OSU could fit anywhere between 2-6 depending on how things shake out in their offseason and with the portal.

8. Baylor
The Bears I don't foresee getting back to the title game next year, whereas right now anyone above could conceivably pull that off. I like how their defense shapes up with Matt Jones stepping into a starting role (potentially) and Raleigh Texada back at cornerback. It takes a long time to max out at a position like cornerback where the ability to study and anticipate receivers can age like a fine wine (see Williams, Ro). Offense is a mess though and I'm less sure that Charlie Brewer just blew open their ceiling by transferring, it seems equally likely he just tore up the floor.

9. Kansas
Were they terrible this season? Yes. Did they start underclassmen across the entire roster? Yes. Will Les Miles be back next season? I'm thinking no. Will he leave the overall roster much closer to a Big 12 program than he inherited by actually recruiting high schoolers and coaching them? Yes.

10. Texas Tech
Errbody is leaving the QB room, including offensive coordinator David Yost. Ian doesn't like that, and before seeing the replacements it makes me think Tech is due for bad times ahead. If they hire Art Briles to be OC I'll recalibrate but I bet he takes that Liberty HC job rumored to be open if/when Tennessee hires Hugh Freeze.
 

travisroeder

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I think it is quite literally impossible that losing Brewer lowers the floor of the Baylor offense. They were one of the worst in all of FBS this year. If you look at the offensive passing scheme, it's quite clear they want to install a Munoz/LSU/Joe Burrow style attack with lots of options on every play that requires mental processing. Brewer couldn't mental process, Aranda said as much in a press conference, and the offense would've been dreadful again if he had returned.
 

system poster

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I don't think anybody is leaving Texas Tech's quarterback room. There were rumors that Bowman was going to enter the portal, but he hasn't yet. And even if he does, Colombi is probably better equipped than Bowman for beating Kansas at least, if not teams with better defenses. Pretty much everybody else is back and there were will be plenty of opportunities for younger guys to develop, potentially improving the left tackle spot. There's no guarantee that Tech will be able to upgrade at OC, but assuming they make the obvious move, hiring a garden variety air raid OC would give us a system that meshes better with our current personnel. I doubt it saves Wells' job, but it should at least be enough to beat Kansas.
 

Ian Boyd

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I think it is quite literally impossible that losing Brewer lowers the floor of the Baylor offense. They were one of the worst in all of FBS this year. If you look at the offensive passing scheme, it's quite clear they want to install a Munoz/LSU/Joe Burrow style attack with lots of options on every play that requires mental processing. Brewer couldn't mental process, Aranda said as much in a press conference, and the offense would've been dreadful again if he had returned.
It can always get worse.
 

travisroeder

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It can always get worse.
Sure, but they were 90th in offensive FEI this year, and had the 5th worst yards per play mark in all of CFB. Aranda legit said in public that Brewer was incapable of executing gameplans. I don't expect them to be an offensive juggernaut this year but I don't think it is very likely they get worse.
 

Ian Boyd

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Sure, but they were 90th in offensive FEI this year, and had the 5th worst yards per play mark in all of CFB. Aranda legit said in public that Brewer was incapable of executing gameplans. I don't expect them to be an offensive juggernaut this year but I don't think it is very likely they get worse.
I once thought as you do, haha.

They will probably get better but they have to figure some stuff out.
 

travisroeder

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I once thought as you do, haha.

They will probably get better but they have to figure some stuff out.
Look I'm with you in that I'll be very skeptical of marked offensive improvement until I see who plays QB and if they can execute the scheme. I'm just saying I don't think the floor has been lowered.
 

stilesbbq

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Dont like it one bit but a lot of ducks aligning for Briles to be Tech Head coach in '22
 
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gizzame

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If Texas finishes 5th in the conference we should start another coaching search.
 

Geoff Eneman

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Texas will be higher when Herman is gone and we bring in someone new. Where would you move Texas just based on these potential coaches?

UM, Mullen, Kelly, Campbell, Kubiak

Cumbie is a hire for Tech like Major was for us. It makes everyone around the program happy because you're bringing back one of their guys, but in reality it's not going to do much because 1) he's not a good OC and 2) they stink.

Interested to see what Aranda does since he got rid of everyone on the offensive side. I figured he would have given Munoz a shot by himself, but he sent him packing with Fedora. I have no idea what he's looking for at this point. That job really needed someone else to replace Rhule. I like Aranda, but I think he's in over his head with what he was left with.
 

Ian Boyd

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Texas will be higher when Herman is gone and we bring in someone new. Where would you move Texas just based on these potential coaches?

UM, Mullen, Kelly, Campbell, Kubiak
Not gonna happen, not gonna happen, and we'll see when it comes to it.
Interested to see what Aranda does since he got rid of everyone on the offensive side. I figured he would have given Munoz a shot by himself, but he sent him packing with Fedora. I have no idea what he's looking for at this point. That job really needed someone else to replace Rhule. I like Aranda, but I think he's in over his head with what he was left with.
Aranda is responding like he has to completely re-evaluate how to be a winning head coach. I'd be very concerned as a Baylor fan. Maybe he works it out and is just very responsive but when the initial vision falls that flat (or the HC thinks it does) it's not encouraging.
 

Geoff Eneman

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Not gonna happen, not gonna happen, and we'll see when it comes to it.

Aranda is responding like he has to completely re-evaluate how to be a winning head coach. I'd be very concerned as a Baylor fan. Maybe he works it out and is just very responsive but when the initial vision falls that flat (or the HC thinks it does) it's not encouraging.
Well good to know our options are Kelly, Campbell and Kubiak. I'll be more than happy with one of those 3, my preferences are probably in that order. I personally think Kelly would destroy it at Texas, personality be damned.

I guess it's a good thing that Aranda is realizing right off the bat that he needs to make changes, but we've seen firsthand how it goes when your initial staff hires are wrong and how that generally turns out. Hindsight probably shows that they should have promoted McGuire, but we will see.
 
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system poster

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I was thinking Tech OC when I wrote that, not tech HC, but you could make an argument. Hugh Freeze is about to turn the liberty job into a launching pad for the Tennessee gig.
I don't think even Contrar-Ian can make an argument that a team that no conference will accept is a better job than a power five team. Plus, Kingsbury just used the Tech job as a launching pad into the NFL, and he wasn't even successful.
 

Ian Boyd

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I don't think even Contrar-Ian can make an argument that a team that no conference will accept is a better job than a power five team. Plus, Kingsbury just used the Tech job as a launching pad into the NFL, and he wasn't even successful.
Hugh Freeze makes over $3 million per year at Liberty, wins a lot of games, and used the gig to catapult himself back into the SEC (probably, pending).
That's about how much Matt Wells is getting paid to flounder and get killed in the Big 12.

If Briles' goal is to coach college football in Texas again it'll be hard to beat Tech. If his goal is to get the best possible job he can then Liberty is a better gig than Tech as a stepping stone.

Kingsbury went to the NFL because his X's and O's were wanted there. Briles' stuff wouldn't fly in the NFL and it had nothing to do with Kingsbury being at Tech.
 

system poster

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Hugh Freeze makes over $3 million per year at Liberty, wins a lot of games, and used the gig to catapult himself back into the SEC (probably, pending).
That's about how much Matt Wells is getting paid to flounder and get killed in the Big 12.

If Briles' goal is to coach college football in Texas again it'll be hard to beat Tech. If his goal is to get the best possible job he can then Liberty is a better gig than Tech as a stepping stone.

Kingsbury went to the NFL because his X's and O's were wanted there. Briles' stuff wouldn't fly in the NFL and it had nothing to do with Kingsbury being at Tech.
I'm only responding because I'm bored and like arguing. Freeze got bumped up to 3 million a year after he had success. Briles would start there at Tech. Also, precedent at Tech is that you only need about 7 or 8 wins to get bumped up into the top 25 of coaching salaries, which is where Kingsbury was after he signed his contract extension in 2014. Heck, we had enough money lying around to throw 4.4 million at Chris Beard in a secondary sport.

And Freeze is (maybe) getting another shot in the SEC because they value his bagmen and recruit paying skills. Briles only knows how to cheat with PED use and overlooking crimes.

Also, Briles is 65 and when last photographed, appeared to have one foot in the grave. My guess is he would maximize in the short term rather than try to plan two moves in the future when he'll be pushing 70.
 
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Ian Boyd

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I'm only responding because I'm bored and like arguing. Freeze got bumped up to 3 million a year after he had success. Briles would start there at Tech. Also, precedent at Tech is that you only need about 7 or 8 wins to get bumped up into the top 25 of coaching salaries, which is where Kingsbury was after he signed his contract extension in 2014. Heck, we had enough money lying around to throw 4.4 million at Chris Beard in a secondary sport.

And Freeze is (maybe) getting another shot in the SEC because they value his bagmen and recruit paying skills. Briles only knows how to cheat with PED use and overlooking crimes.

Also, Briles is 65 and when last photographed, appeared to have one foot in the grave. My guess is he would maximize in the short term rather than try to plan two moves in the future when he'll be pushing 70.
That’s a solid counter. Problem is that Briles is looking for a job right now and Tech is apparently closed to him.