Big 12 Mailbag: Expansion, Stidham, will title game return?

Big 12 Mailbag: Expansion, Stidham, will title game return?

Published Dec. 18, 2014 12:26 a.m. ET

Thanks for all your e-mails and tweets this week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook to make the next Mailbag. Without further ado, let's get to your questions.

Matthew in Tyler, Texas asks: When will the Big 12 expansion rumors finally stop? They're getting old.

David Ubben: Sometime short of never. Unless the Big 12 can convince a current Power 5 member to jump into the the league, it won't be expanding. That doesn't change the fact that people love to talk expansion and envision a future with new members (or without current members).

A Cliffsnotes version of why all the usual suspects don't fit:


BYU would be the closest candidate who would warrant expansion on a financial level, but poses too many logistical hurdles that could upset the league-wide harmony the Big 12 has worked so hard to achieve. You only make those kinds of concessions for a giant like Texas. BYU also has its own network and its own TV deal with ESPN that could greatly complicate expansion.

There's less than zero chance any of the current members in Texas would support a fifth member from the state, so you can rule out Houston or SMU, pushing aside all the other factors that make them poor candidates.

What you call "investing in the future" of programs like UCF or USF, I call unnecessary risk.

Cincinnati makes some sense, but it's just too underwhelming of an athletic program to warrant television networks paying an additional $25 million a year, which is basically the price tag for Big 12 inclusion. The same goes for Pitt, which makes less sense and is also underwhelming.

The rumors aren't going to die down any time soon, but that doesn't mean they'll lead to anything.

Jason in Dallas asks: Who starts at QB for OU in the Cotton Bowl against Texas in October?

David Ubben: Baker Mayfield. I'm a believer in all the buzz he's created on the scout team this year. Yes, the fumbles were an issue at Texas Tech, but he's got undeniable playmaking ability and Oklahoma needs his accuracy.

Trevor Knight didn't show much improvement this year. That has to give Oklahoma's coaches some pause in fully buying into him heading into 2015 after doing exactly that in 2014 (remember when Blake Bell switched positions?). Cody Thomas didn't show many flashes in his brief time stepping in for Knight after his neck injury.

I might just bet Mayfield starts for the Sooners in the season opener against Akron next year.

Madden Thomas asks: Where does Jarrett Stidham end up?

David Ubben: It's hard for me to see him going anywhere but Baylor. A lot has been made this week of Stidham's ties to the school, and I do wonder what it's like being a five-star quarterback in a town like Stephenville, where Briles is a legend for his high school coaching exploits. I'd have to think plenty of people are in his ear about Baylor.

Tech hasn't dealt with enough negatives to spawn Stidham bailing on his commitment a month before he's supposed to be on campus. I get a sense this is more about positives somewhere else than anything specifically wrong with Texas Tech. Granted, I don't imagine Patrick Mahomes' emergence in the final month of the season helped keep Stidham in the fold.

I'd bet on Baylor.

C. Lansing in Iowa asks: Will the Big 12 enjoy watching the Big10 (especially Ohio State) be the Washington Generals of the College Football Bowl Season?

David Ubben: Ha, I really don't understand how year after year, the Big Ten can have the odds so stacked against it in bowl games. This year, every Big Ten team is an underdog in its bowl game. That's incredible. The league probably grabs a couple wins and Ohio State has a better chance of knocking off Alabama than a lot of people realize, but I wonder how much of that could be fixed by tweaking bowl affiliations to get some more favorable matchups. Stop playing the SEC in Florida, guys.

But to answer your question, yes. Every Big Ten loss (and especially one from Ohio State) is a gigantic "I told you so" from the Big 12 to the CFP committee.

Melissa Triebwasser in Fort Worth asks: What are the chances the Big 12 is granted a championship game with 10 teams? If so, will that solve the "issue"?

David Ubben: Everything I've ever heard from people in the Big 12 when I've asked about the waiver is it's mostly a formality. No league with ten teams has ever had a lot of interest in a championship game, and Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples did a nice job last May digging into the history books and unearthing that the rule's arbitrary origins are pretty spectacular. There's very little reason the NCAA would not grant the waiver, and the Big 12 doesn't seem worried that it will be denied.

A reminder: Being granted a waiver doesn't mean you'll use one. The Big 12 would simply like to have the option if it chose to re-institute the title game.

The ACC has interest in eliminating its divisions, and joined with the Big 12 in the waiver request. I expect the Big 12 to be given the liberty to hold a championship game, but don't look for the game to be played anytime soon.

The Big 12 seems to have a good grasp on an idea I've espoused since the playoff disaster: You don't overreact after one year. The Big 12 had five teams in 15 years lose when they were in position to be in the mix for a BCS title spot. It never had a team win its way in. Simply put: 59-0 wins just don't happen often in conference title games. You can fix the lack of a 13th game by scheduling a big nonconference game in September, and the possibility of losing in Week 2 hurts you a lot less than a loss in December. Just ask Ohio State.

Also, the Big 12 nearly put two teams in the playoff. Florida State and Ohio State could have lost those games. Alabama, Oregon and Florida State had absolutely nothing to gain by playing their championship games.

If the Big 12 plays a title game in the last weekend and doesn't have divisions, it basically guarantees it will never get two teams in the playoff.

This year was a statistical anomaly. You can't overreact based on one year.

Mulloy K in Dallas asks: How many pancakes required to make a stack? I have a bet with the wifey on this so don't disappoint.

David Ubben: Having spent many a late night at IHOP, I've had this exact conversation several times, actually. I've always held that three is the minimum to qualify as a stack.

I understand, in the strictest terms, that two pancakes is a stack. I consider it more of a pile. It's also important to note that pancake circumference is irrelevant in this discussion. It's all about the height. If you put one thing on top of another, you did not "stack" anything. You need three.

Three pancakes qualifies as a short stack, and anything after that is subject to any fancy name the pancake house desires.

(Side note: I will be digging into some pancakes at The Pancake Pantry in Nashville this weekend. I could not be more excited. They're the best pancakes I've ever had.)

Colin Burns in Arlington, Texas asks: Will Kingsbury have a job this time next year?

David Ubben: Yes. His seat isn't nearly as hot as the angriest folks in Lubbock would like to think. There's frustration, and he's got support from the administration and enough from the fan base. The offense is good enough to win 8-9 games but the defense is a disaster. He'll get at least two more years before any real conversations about him losing this job.

Tyler Kirk in Dallas asks: Should TCU really expect to be better/as good next season? Lot of starters on defense gone.

David Ubben: You need to catch a lot of breaks to win 11 games, but don't overlook that TCU lost a first-round pick at corner in Jason Verrett from last year's team and had another first-round type of talent in Devonte Fields dismissed from the team in July. TCU still managed to rank second in the league in defensive yards per play, behind only Texas.

Have a little faith in Gary Patterson, who truly is a defensive genius. It's also safe to assume the offense will improve if Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie remain with the team. Trevone Boykin is coming back. It's asking a lot to win 11 games, but I don't anticipate TCU will take a big step back next year.