The long, grueling offseason is in full swing. I'll do my best to make it go by quicker through the healing power of Q&A. We'll be doing this every Friday, so if you have a question about Big 12 football, tweet me @BenKercheval or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's get to it.
Dean is referring to two situations: the recent comments made by former Texas Tech quarterbacks Michael Brewer and Baker Mayfield, and the transfer of former Houston running back Charles Sims.
It comes down to publicity, more than anything. Sims transferred from the Cougars last year as a grad student but was restricted from signing a grant-in-aid to any school in the American Athletic Conference, any non-conference opponent on the 2013 Houston schedule and any school in the state of Texas.
(That meant Texas Tech, rumored to be his early favorite. Sims transferred to West Virginia.)
That last restriction was excessive, but it probably didn't get more coverage because Sims didn't badmouth anyone publicly.
That's a key difference. Brewer and Mayfield weren't shy about opening up. Neither had flattering things to say about Tech or head coach Kliff Kingsbury on their way out.
The accusations made by Brewer are especially layered. He claims Tech misdiagnosed his back injury and that he was strung along by Kingsbury about playing time. Mayfield had a similar complaint about communication issues with Kingsbury, which leads me to believe they have some merit.
Anytime a player goes unfiltered on a coach or a program, it's going to get attention. Anytime two players have similar stories like this, their words begin to stick a little more. Now, there's a theme growing.
Brewer and Mayfield also filed appeals to transfer to Big 12 programs without restriction. (Mayfield wanted to go to Oklahoma; Brewer eyed TCU and Texas.) Both appeals were denied, and neither player was particularly happy about it.
I'm not a fan of placing grant-in-aid or contact restrictions on any athlete, not when coaches can come and go as they please. But what Tech did isn't out of the norm. Brewer tweeted a photo of a letter from Jan. 21 saying he was not permitted to contact Big 12 programs and select in-state schools. Tech responded by saying those restrictions were lifted.
The NCAA believes transfer restrictions are a school's prerogative to enforce as it sees fit. It's more of a matter of whether you believe that norm should be the norm at all—and there's a growing of number of people who don't.
I picked TCU to win the Big 12 last season, so predictions are clearly my forte. Your faith in me is strong, as it should be.
My early number is eight. The Big 12 had nine teams go bowling in 2012, and six teams made the postseason last year. Barring a major injury or slide, six teams feel like safe bets: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
The other four—Iowa State, Kansas, TCU and West Virginia—are wild cards, though there is bowl eligibility upside for all of them.
If the Horned Frogs' offense can be even a little better under new co-coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, they have a great chance. There are some key losses on defense, namely cornerback Jason Verrett, but a majority of that group is returning. Getting two more wins than last year's 4-8 campaign seems reasonable.
The Cyclones made a splash hire when they brought on Mark Mangino as the offensive coordinator. Iowa State's offense has been a liability recently, but with quarterback Grant Rohach, running back Aaron Wimberly and receiver Quenton Bundrage,Mangino has a good foundation. Don't be surprised if freshman receiver Allen Lazard, the 2014 blue-chip recruit, sees the field as well.
Kansas and West Virginia will be interesting teams to watch. Both defenses were better than the numbers indicated last season, so it's all about improving the offense. That starts at quarterback, and there are several question marks for both teams there.
For the sake of rolling the dice, I'll predict Iowa State and TCU will go back to the postseason.*
(*Subject to change at any time at my discretion.)
#Blocked, the both of you.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football.