College Football Insider

Memo to Sooners' Stoops: 'Propaganda' slices both ways


DALLAS -- Propaganda cuts both ways, Bob Stoops.

If the SEC is top heavy -- which essentially is what the Oklahoma coach dared to say this offseason -- then what is Stoops' Big 12?

Down, for one thing. As down as it has been in recent years. So down that some of its history is overshadowed. Only the SEC has played more frequently in BCS title games. But the Big 12's last shot was four years ago.

Oklahoma hasn't been to a BCS bowl since 2010. Texas has been absent since playing for that national championship against Alabama following the 2009 season.

"Nine's not what we want to win at Texas," Mack Brown said.

That win total has been reached exactly once in the past three seasons in Austin.

TCU is still assimilating. Iowa State is still the plucky underdog. Kansas is awful. The preseason favorite, Oklahoma State, has a quarterback battle going into fall drills. That's a common theme in a quarterback league. Only three Big 12 schools have a quarterback who has started an entire season.

The central argument -- thanks to Stoopsie -- is college football's chicken-or-egg debate. Is it better to have the power concentrated at the top or distributed through the league?

One league -- Big 12 -- sent nine of its 10 teams to bowl games last season. So what, you might say? Bowl eligibility equals 6-6. This season, the Big 12 is not likely to have a top-10 team in any meaningful preseason poll.

The other league ... well, if you have to ask about the SEC lately, then you're intellectually ineligible to read this column.

So when asked about his "propaganda" remark, for Stoops it was like pushing buttons on a rocket launch.

"What did I say that was untrue?" Oklahoma's coach asked. "Everybody has an opinion. Express it."

Here's Stoops from a Sooner Caravan stop in May ...

"So they've [SEC] had the best team in college football. They haven't had the whole conference. Because, again, half of 'em haven't done much at all ...

"So you're listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you. You can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?"

To be exact: The bottom seven in the SEC were 0-30 against the top seven last year. And speaking of propaganda, you probably wouldn't know that in the pro-SEC, either, had Stoops not pointed it out.

"Are there problems in the Big 12? I didn't know," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "I thought we had nine teams in bowl games last year. But when they matched up with SEC, I'm sure there's always doubt. I'm a Big 12 guy. I think it's the best league in America. The facts don't back that up when you look at national championships."

So these being Big 12 media days, the idea was to defend the league's rep. This season, it's hard. Six teams received first-place votes in the preseason poll. Texas has more starters returning than anyone in the country (19) but judgment is being reserved. The Horns were picked both fourth nationally in Phil Steele's magazine and fourth in the conference's preseason poll.

"I do think we have the most balanced league in the country top to bottom," Mack Brown said.

That's one way to look at it. Here's another: The Big 12 is coming out the back end of one of the most turbulent times in its history. One coach told (anonymously) that realignment has hurt the league in recruiting.

"[Conference realignment] kind of left it hanging out there," the coach said. "Now there is a Big 12 and there will be a Big 12 for a long time."

But the league is in the same situation as everyone these days. It is looking up -- way up -- at the SEC. Parity, for now, is a curse. The Big 12 needs an aircraft carrier, a championship contender. Until further notice -- which might be 2014 -- there isn't one.

TCU's Casey Pachall is the all-conference quarterback despite officially not having won the job yet. When Pachall finally takes the field, it will have been 11 months since he played football. The quarterback spent time in substance-abuse rehab after an October drunk-driving arrest. "So I'm letting him do his thing," coach Gary Patterson said explaining why he didn't bring his quarterback to the media days, "keep the pressure off of him."

True, the Big 12 put nine of its 10 teams in bowls last year. (And the SEC landed only 62 percent of teams in the postseason the past two years.)

"I'd be saying the same thing if I was in the Big 12," said Florida's Will Muschamp who, in fact, was in the league with Texas.

But now he's got a better job as a head coach in the SEC, which is winning championships. Meanwhile, the Big 12 is not -- and hasn't since 2005.

The Big 12 is deeper. That certainly doesn't mean it is better. That top- heavy SEC is what the Big 12 should want to be. It's OK to have five teams finish in the top 10 while the bottom seven go 0-30 against the top seven.

The SEC has beaten the Big 12 five consecutive times in the Cotton Bowl and 10 of the past 11. In the BCS era, Big 12 schools are 0-3 against the SEC in BCS title games.

How's that for propaganda?

"Top heavy," one Big 12 coach said, "is where we were when we played for national championships."

And that's where it needs to be.

Other quick-twitch observations from Big 12 media days:

 For the moment, Oklahoma has lost "it." In its last four games last season, the Sooners gave up an average of 563 yards and 39 points. Defensively, something is missing.

 The league's quarterback situation is especially troubling. This is a quarterback league without many proven quarterbacks. Texas' David Ash is the veteran (18 career starts), but there is uncertainty almost everywhere else. Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia all have to replace starters. Those teams finished second, fourth, fifth and 10th last season in passing offense.

 The only way Texas gets its mojo back is to win the league. Now. Brown was right. Nine wins doesn't get it done at UT. While there has been a steady climb back from the 5-7 disaster of two years ago, a new offense (up tempo, hurry-up) is being installed and the defense was epically bad last season.

 Oklahoma's Blake Bell, the "Belldozer," was a heck of a short-yardage specialist at quarterback behind Landry Jones. The job is now his where he'll have to audible, make complicated decisions and ... pass, something he has done 20 times in his 20-game career.

 This is a big year for Dana Holgorsen. No one is saying West Virginia's coach is on the hot seat, but the prospects are not bright for 2013. Five games into 2012, Geno Smith had won the Heisman and the Mountaineers were unbeaten. Smith stumbled, and West Virginia lost six of its last eight.

Holgorsen has to be entertaining this year and the Mountaineers have to win. We'll see.

 Thank goodness Lache Seastrunk bombed out of Oregon. On Tuesday, Baylor's tailback blamed both Oregon and himself for his eventual transfer to Waco.

So which one was it? Once the center of an NCAA investigation that ended with Oregon getting minor penalties, Seastrunk has landed in a good place. The junior ran for 1,000 yards last season and is openly saying he can win the Heisman.

There’s a lot of popping off in the Big 12 lately. Nothing wrong with that. But it won’t mean much until there are championships to back it up.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.

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