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Conference Call: Road to the Playoff Long for the Big 12



Let’s take a look at some news from around the league over the last week or two.

Playoff-Sized Problem

So what does it take to make sure the Big 12 is viable in the playoff-age?

In order to improve its chances at being selected for the CFP, though, the Big 12 must also improve upon its 5-8 record against nonconference Power 5 opponents. Oklahoma has to beat Ohio State. West Virginia has to beat Virginia Tech. Texas has to win at USC.

“If the Big 12 wants to kind of up their image,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said, “those types of games need to be won.”

There are no guarantees with the selection committee, however. The Big 12’s new championship game has to feature more than its two best teams. At least one of them has to be one of the nation’s top four teams. Only then does any conference championship game matter. Just ask Penn State. [ESPN]

And that’s what’s a challenge in setting up the league’s structure (scheduling requirements, champ game, how many league games, etc.) It just comes down to 13 guys in a room saying what they think and not an objective criterion to lean on.

But here’s a pretty solid breakdown on the chances of the top teams for the playoff.

TCU has finished with a losing record three times under Gary Patterson, most recently last season. What happened the past two times? A year later TCU won its conference. That’s in play for the Horned Frogs in 2017. Quarterback play and the performance of the defensive line are my two biggest concerns.

Kansas State resembles a vintage Bill Snyder-coached team, especially if the secondary bounces back from a miserable season to finish in the top third of the Big 12 in the key categories – yards per attempt, opposing completion percentage and turnover margin, most notably. No one will enjoy playing the Wildcats in 2017.

Oklahoma State is locked and loaded … but what about this offensive line? And the secondary? A wonderful quarterback, an explosive offense and a just-good-enough defense will put the Cowboys on a course for a New Year’s Six bowl, but the potential sticking points are numerous enough to have me questioning this team’s ability to lose just once during the regular season.

That leaves Oklahoma. This isn’t a perfect team, either. There’s a hole at running back. No clear go-to receiver. The Sooners are more experienced on defense, but much does depend on the health of the defensive line. Still, this is the strongest, most cohesive roster in the Big 12; it doesn’t hurt to have the league’s best player in Baker Mayfield. [USA Today]

Texas-Sized Expectations

Finally, someone has a really reasonable perspective on Texas.

I will not buy Texas as a top 25 team until I see it. The quarterback play has to get better. The ranking is based on the reputation of new head coach Tom Herman.

If we are being honest, last year’s Houston squad underachieved because they didn’t win their conference. Houston didn’t win the division or a bowl game. The September game at USC could be a time where Texas can show us they are different. [SportsDay]

Herman managed some blue-chip QB’s masterfully at Ohio State and groomed a blossoming QB at Houston in Greg Ward. If he can do something with Buchele at Texas, they could be poised to be a Top 25 team in 2018. But not today.

Sounds like a dude who’s all in on his QB.

But somehow onlookers make these kinds of conclusions.

The Saga Continues

Baylor’s legal issues continue to unfold.

The ruling came in a Title IX gender equity lawsuit filed against the school on behalf of 10 women who attended Baylor and claimed that school officials failed to properly respond to and investigate their reports of assault.

“This is another very positive step in getting all the truth and information out there,” attorney Jim Dunnam said. He said the judge’s ruling compels Baylor to turn over the “information and the data” that the school gave Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, which was hired in 2015 to examine the school’s response to sexual violence. “Now we can hopefully determine specifics about who did what and the specific failures.” [ESPN]

So Pepper Hamilton’s carefully chosen footnotes aren’t enough.

Quick Hitters

The Big 12 is basically a NFL-farm system for undersized skill players.

TCU is on the doorstep of the rankings

Briles has surfaced, informally.

And now more formally.

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