The Big 12 Roundtable is back for another week of kicking around three hot topics. Check out what beat writers Sean Cordy, Garrett Kroeger and Wendell Barnhouse have to say this week.
- Will Charlie Strong be Texas’s coach next season, and if the Longhorns make a change do you think they can get Tom Herman?
Garrett: Coming off back-to-back losses doesn’t bode well for Charlie Strong’s job security. It doesn’t look like Texas is going to a major bowl game this year. However, with the way the Big 12 has looked so far, the Longhorns could end up 8-4. Does that mean Strong is safe? Who knows? Regarding the second part of the question, I believe Herman will stay longer in Houston.
Wendell: The scribes who cover college football call it the “Silly Season” – the musical chairs of coaches being fired and hired. Usually the silly season doesn’t crank up until late November but it’s in full swing right now. LSU firing Les Miles two weeks ago was the opening kickoff for Silly Season 2016. The looming presence of Tom Herman has accelerated the silliness. Hiring a coach in his second season at a Group of Five school appears to be the Holy Grail for boosters and administrators at several Power Five schools. They’d better be right about Herman being the next Rockne/Bryant/Saban. Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com reports that if Texas fires Strong, Herman would probably take the UT job. Sorry, LSU fans, but Texas is a better job. I think if Strong’s tenure ends after three seasons – which would be an incredible insult to his principles and the recruits he has signed – Herman will be in Austin in 2017.
Sean: We’ve been plagued by this question since Strong arrived at the 40 Acres. With two losses already, Texas is not getting one of the major bowl games as was hoped by so many pundits. Not even the tag as this year’s most improved team from Phil Steele has been able to save the Longhorns–and Steele’s projection usually holds up well. Simply put, I think this question will go unanswered for another year. I really feel Tom Herman will stick around H-Town.
2. After the victory over Kansas State, how much confidence do you have in West Virginia making a strong bid for the Big 12 title?
Wendell: Finally beating Kansas State – and winning a game that was played in the Wildcats’ style – has to be a big boost for West Virginia. The Mountaineers have this week off to prepare for a trip to Texas Tech on Oct. 15. With the explosive offenses and shaky defenses, games in the Big 12 can flip-flop from series to series and quarter to quarter. The trips to Lubbock, Stillwater and Austin will be challenging, and the Mountaineers will need to win at least two of those three. West Virginia gets TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor in Morgantown; from a schedule perspective/analysis, that’s a huge plus.
Garrett: Entering this year, I was all aboard the West Virginia dark horse Big 12 candidate hype train. So far, the Mountaineers are not letting me down. The offense has looked efficient and the defense has played well enough to become a solid Big 12 unit. That doesn’t mean much nationally, but it means a lot in the league. Oklahoma and TCU — which are typically contenders – appear to be down this year. The Mountaineers are contenders for the Big 12 championship.
Sean: This has more to do with other teams than it does the Mountaineers, but their two straight weeks of close games either shows determination or a team on the verge of one unlucky break that puts them out of contention. Right now, it’s down to Baylor and Oklahoma. Yes, OU has two non-conference losses, but outplaying TCU for the majority of Saturday’s game tells me the Sooners are back. Baylor also had a close game against Iowa State but has historically struggled against ISU. Getting past that hump as the Bears did, showing their signature quick-strike ability both on the ground and through the air, bodes well.
3. Despite its 1-2 start in non-conference play, how do you see Oklahoma’s chances of winning the Big 12 after coming back from 21-7 down to win at TCU?
Sean: Sure, the 21-7 deficit at TCU looked ugly and seemed to confirm OU was bound for a terrible year, but then Baker Mayfield did Baker Mayfield things and Lincoln Riley’s offense worked at full force. The receivers caught a second wind and burned TCU’s strong secondary with ease. More importantly, the defense forced a number of three-and-outs in the second and third quarters. Things started to collapse in the fourth, nearly giving up the game in a manner akin to Baylor-TCU 2014, but a 42-3 run against the Frogs is certainly something to be excited about.
Garrett: Yes, Oklahoma overcame an early 21-7 deficit to TCU last weekend, but it almost allowed the Horned Frogs to come back as well. The Sooners have just been too widely inconsistent for me to say, “Oklahoma – Big 12 champions.” The conference has been known to beat up on itself. With Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas still left on the schedule, I can see Oklahoma slipping up in at least two of those games, so 2016 will not be the Sooners’ year.
Wendell: My colleagues are split on this question and I agree with both of them. TCU coach Gary Patterson said this week that he thinks the Big 12 champion could have two losses. If that’s the case, Oklahoma should have a great chance at winning or sharing the title. We’ll know a lot more after Saturday’s game in the Cotton Bowl. If the wheels fall off the Sooner Schooner and OU is upset – again – by Texas, the last two months of the season will be a free-for-all.