College Football Fall Practice: Big 12's Top Storylines
As the college football season nears and the annual arguments about the current BCS system rev up, students and players alike arrive to their respective campuses to usher in another college football season.
The Big 12 had the most highly-publicized offseason in College Football with the conference being an inch—an inch meaning a University of Texas move—from the entire conference collapsing.
Now that the Big 12 is still intact and ready to start the final season before the drop to 10 members, the conference is set for an exciting football season that will hopefully live up to the hype created by a zany offseason.
This slideshow will analyze the top five storylines for the upcoming Big 12 football season:
The Possibility of No Big 12 Title Game
With the looming transformation from a 12- to a 10-team conference comes a major change in the setup of Big-12 postseason play.
Beyond 2010, there may very well no longer be a Big 12 title game.
NCAA rules dictate that a conference must have 12 teams in order for there to be a championship game.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe stated that the lack of a conference title game will allow the conference to explore scheduling high-profile matchups the first week of December when the title game would typically be played.
The decision on whether the game will be played is not final, but according to Beebe "the predominant feeling is it probably will not be that we have a championship game."
The University of Texas Longhorns are attempting to follow up on a season that saw them lose in the 2009 National Championship game to Alabama.
They enter this season with a No. 4 ranking in the preseason polls.
However, many skeptics question UT's ranking in the initial polls due to the massive changes in this year's roster.
With Colt McCoy's move to the NFL, Garrett Gilbert will try to live up to the lofty standards set by predecessors McCoy and Vince Young.
Gilbert comes in to the upcoming football season with only 66 career passes. The majority of those passes (40) came in the '09 title game that saw him turn a horrendous first-half performance around in the second half of the game and almost lead the Longhorns to a miraculous comeback against Alabama.
University of Texas' Coach Mack Brown said in a chat with fans on ESPN's SportsNation:
"I was concerned leaving the national championship game that he (Garret Gilbert) might take a step back. But in retrospect, I feel like it was a positive. He's stepped up and it sounds like he's done the same over the summer. I expect him to continue a great line of QBs at Texas."
The Longhorns also have a lot of inexperience in the defense line and have question marks at the running back position—a sentiment that has been echoed by Mack Brown.
UT is going to have trouble living up to its No. 4 ranking.
Oklahoma is coming off a disappointing 8-5 season that saw two players, who were eventually drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, play one half of football in 2009.
The injuries that marred last year might aid tremendously in the upcoming season with players that weren't supposed to play gaining valuable experience.
Sophomore Landry Jones will take over at quarterback for Sam Bradford.
The Big 12 media has projected the Sooners to win the Big 12 South and Sooner faithful are hopeful that their team will have a bounce-back season.
Bob Stoops has quite a challenge ahead of him.
Before its move to the Big Ten in 2011, Nebraska has high expectations to live up to for the 2010 Big 12 season.
With camp opening Saturday and the Cornhuskers ranked ninth in the nation in the pre-season polls, Nebraska is coming into their last season in the Big 12 looking for a revival to the lore of its storied college football program.
There are still questions at the quarterback position with Zac Lee, Cody Green, and Taylor Martinez all competing for the gig. Lee started the majority of last season for the Cornhuskers, but there is no security that the position will be his.
Defensive tackle Jared Crick was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and should be the anchor of a vaunted defense looking to make up for the departure of Ndamukong Suh.
Running back Roy Helu Jr. is coming off a 1,000+ yard campaign and is hoping to continue his streak of three-straight seasons improving his productivity at the running back position.
Although there was a lot of talk in the offseason about the Big 12 ceasing to exist, for the upcoming season at least, it's business as usual in the conference.
All 12 teams will still be competing this upcoming season in the Big 12 and the typical rivalries fans have come to expect will still be intact.
For all the fans of the Red River rivalry, there is no need to fret.
The Big 12 will be the same conference we've all grown to love. For one more year.
Before Big 12 faithful begin gripes about the lack of a conference gam, or start slinging mud at Colorado and Nebraska for abandoning the conference, there is an entire season of football to be played.
Even though Colorado seems a little too smug about its Pac-10 move for this fan.