Another week and another Big 12 roundtable for your reading enjoyment. Our beat writers Sean Cordy, Garrett Kroeger and Wendell Barnhouse spout off on three topics.
- Headed into the second half of the season, who are your choices for coach of the year, offensive and defensive players of the year?
Sean: For coach, it has to be Jim Grobe, right? Dana Holgorsen should also be discussed considering West Virginia lost a lot of talent and remains undefeated, but so did Baylor. The Bears also carried the added weight of terrible institutional choices. Seth Russell is also making a case for player of the year for similar reasons, but Pat Mahomes’ output with Texas Tech is unheard of even in the Big 12. Also unheard of? Good defense, and that’s how Baylor is thriving right now. Top honors go to Travon Blanchard, who is revolutionizing the nickel back position.
Garrett: Coming into this year, Dana Holgorsen’s seat was getting very, very toasty, but his team is undefeated despite major losses due to injuries and graduations. Considering all factors, I would go with Holgorsen as the COY. For the offensive and defensive players of the year, give me Oklahoma State receiver James Washington – who has made several big plays for the Cowboys – and Kansas State defensive lineman Jordan Willis, who leads the league in sacks with six.
Wendell: Seems like we have a tie between Baylor’s Jim Grobe and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen. I’ll break it and go with Holgorsen, though I would feel much better with this choice if I knew the result of Saturday’s West Virginia-Texas Tech game. For offensive player, I have to go with Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes on production, entertainment value and toughness. No way did I think he’d be able to start last week at Kansas State. For defensive player, I’ll go with Kansas State’s Elijah Lee, the top tackler on the Big 12’s top defense.
2. What game in the second half of the season will decide the Big 12 championship?
Wendell: I’ll go with a game on the final Saturday of the season when Baylor plays at West Virginia. Two years ago, the Bears suffered their only loss in Morgantown in a penalty-filled game. That defeat cost Baylor a spot in the College Football Playoff. I doubt that both teams will be undefeated in league play when they meet, but this game could well determine who finishes on top of the standings.
Garrett: The Oklahoma Sooners versus the Baylor Bears on Nov. 12 in Norman. This game will determine the winner of the conference because these are still the most talented teams. Even though Oklahoma has two non-conference losses, it is still in the top tier of the conference.
Sean: Right now it looks like Oklahoma and Baylor are the two true teams to beat this year. West Virginia should be included, too, and both the Sooners and Bears have to travel through Morgantown in the final weeks of the season. Baylor lost there in 2014, missing out on a CFP appearance, so I’d be more inclined to say the conference season finale in West Virginia could be the de facto championship game.
3. The Big 12 presidents will meet in Dallas next Monday to make a decision on expansion. What do you think they’ll do?
Garrett: I think they won’t expand. The presidents have been flip-floppy throughout this process. One moment the presidents at Oklahoma and Texas – who are basically the controllers of this entire decision – have at one point stated, “YES EXPANSION!” and then the next moment they are, “NO EXPANSION!” Big 12 expansion is a no-go, which — in my opinion — is a bad decision.
Wendell: It will be a Shakespeare play – Much Ado About Nothing. I’ve written before that I don’t think there are the necessary eight votes for any of the expansion candidates. I think commissioner Bob Bowlsby – who wants to add schools – will see the writing on the wall going into the meeting on Monday. In my opinion, the “news” coming out of the meeting will be that the expansion issue has been tabled. There will be high entertainment value involved with the reasons for that decision.
Sean: Honestly, do we think anything will happen? It’s a strong possibility that all we will hear is a bunch of waffling, leaving the door wide open for a thousand more think pieces on conference expansion. Ideally, something about expanding just football instead of all athletics will be confirmed or denied.