Below is a list of predictions about the workings of the Big 12 conference over the next few years.
My goal is to see how accurate recruit tracking really is. Since it is impossible to gauge the impact of players without considering the coaching those players receive, coaching was considered in these predictions. However, those were the only two factors that were considered. Upcoming schedules, returning starters, depth charts, etc. were not considered when making these predictions.
I write this knowing that I will be wrong on some predictions. I am anxious to see which ones will actually pan out. I will be stepping out on a limb for some predictions...others, not so much.
While I fully expect to be blasted for some of these predictions, I will stand by them. I am sure that there will be plenty of "I told you so" moments for everyone involved. Enjoy.
Without further delay, here goes.
Texas A&M will push Texas and OU for the Big 12 South crown in 2011.
I said that I was going to step out on a limb. What, you didn't believe me? Mike Sherman's first two recruiting classes have been stellar. He has brought talent by the boatload to College Station.
Sherman has been able to recruit well, even though the Aggies have been, well, horrid. There is no reason to believe that he will stop bringing in top-notch talent any time soon. As these recruits develop and gain experience in Sherman's pro-style offense, they will give the Longhorns and Sooners fits.
K-State and Bill Snyder will not see a return to previous form before 2011.
Ron Prince put the Wildcats in a serious hole. Prince's final two recruiting classes were enormous and loaded with JuCo players. Bill Snyder wasn't hired in time to have a major impact on the Class of 2009, because nearly every Snyder-worthy prospect had already committed to another program.
It will take Snyder at last two more years to put the pieces in place. I am not saying that KSU won't win games, or even finish bowl-eligible. I am just saying that they won't have a team that resembles the 1998 or 2003 teams until at least 2011.
KU, Nebraska, and Mizzou will control the Big 12 North for at least four more years.
While each program may take a half-step back following the departure of a strong senior class (Mizzou in 2009, KU in 2010, and Nebraska in 2011), they will combine to control the North for quite a while.
Gary Pinkel has signed Top 30 classes in each of the last two years.
Nebraska was able to sign a lot of talent under Bill Callahan, and Bo Pelini hasn't missed a beat. The difference is that "Bo knows coaching."
Mark Mangino is one of the best in the business at player development. He has signed the two most talented classes of his career in 2008 and 2009.
Dan Hawkins will be replaced as head coach at Colorado by the end of the 2010-2011 season.
Despite signing an abundance of talented recruits, CU will not be a serious contender for the Big 12 North. Hawkins' prediction of a 10-win 2009 will fall two to three wins short and may, in fact, be his downfall. If that isn't his downfall, the flip-flopping of quarterbacks and erroneous play calling will be.
Hawkins' replacement at Colorado will win a lot of games in his first two years.
The talent is there. End of story.
Baylor will get to a bowl game in the next two years.
Art Briles is quietly recruiting Baylor out of the Big 12 South cellar. It will pay off sooner rather than later.
Oklahoma State will take a step back after 2009-2010.
Oklahoma State has had good recruiting classes the last two years. Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas A&M have had better ones. Mike Gundy is going to have a hard time finding immediate replacements for his stable of workhorses who will depart next year.
Oklahoma and Texas will win three of the next four Big 12 championships.
They have owned the Big 12 for the better part of a decade. They continue to out-recruit every other program in the Big 12. Their dominance isn't going to go away any time soon.
The Big 12 North will not be able to seriously contend with the Big 12 South for conference supremacy until at least 2011-2012.
The South division has dominated the North on the field and in the living room for the last 10 years. Until the schools from the North are able to consistently out-recruit the bulk of the South, they will not be able to consistently beat them.