Blog Entry

Friday Mailbag: WVU's transition to Big 12

Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:12 pm
Here is this week's mailbag. As always, you can send me questions via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS.

From @JoeStier How well does WVU do in the Big12, when they're 4 Freshmen R/B's are going to be Juniors / Seniors?

The school announced it is joining the Big 12 in 2012, which means they should have a good transition since Geno Smith, unless he opts to bolt for the NFL, will be a four-year starter and have great grasp of this system. That'd be huge for them. This will be a dangerous team right away because of the firepower. Smith is one of the better QBs in the country and he'll have great skill guys around him. Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey and Ivan McCarthy will all be back along with freshman RB Dustin Garrison. Most of the O-line returns as well, and keep in mind Josh Jenkins, a three-year starter on the line who has had to redshirt this season because of injury, also will return. With Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden moving on, WVU may come into the Big 12 with the best offense in the league.

The big concerns will be on D, where they'll have to replace CB Keith Tandy, LB Najee Goode and DE Bruce Irvin. The other challenge will be ramping up their depth. In terms of front-line talent, WVU will be more than adequate, but it's the depth where they'll need help. They've been able to get away with it in the Big East because it's not a strong conference, but upping the competition on a weekly basis, especially when facing more physically talented teams such as OU, Texas and Oklahoma State will take a toll.

Going forward, WVU is set up well to take advantage of the Big 12 connection since this staff has a lot of guys with Southwest roots. Not only did Dana Holgorsen spend a lot of time in Texas, but so did O-line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and WR coach Shannon Dawson. WR/ST coach Daron Roberts is a Texas native. RB coach Robert Gillespie coached at Oklahoma State and QB coach Jake Spavital is the son of a prominent Oklahoma high school coach. The school, though, must upgrade its commitment to football when it comes to its indoor practice facility, practice field and getting private planes for recruiting as well as the signage stuff of making the place look more like a big-time program. What they had was fine for the Big East, but it'll fall short by Big 12 standards.

WVU won't beat OU or UT for prime Texas kids, but they'll have a better shot against the Baylors, Kansas schools and teams from the Big Ten that go in there. This news also should help in the Eastern Seaboard against Va. Tech, Maryland and other locals schools since they're no longer in an inferior league to the ACC. They're in a better one. And getting off to a good start in 2012 will help preceptions that they can hang in that bigger league.

Beyond the 2012 season, much of this is going to depend on the development freshman QB Paul Millard and commit Ford Childress. Even more than most teams, Holgorsen's system is so dependent on the quarterback's play. I know the staff is really high on Millard and Childress, who'll arrive at mid-year, has a big rep in recruiting circles. McCartney and Bailey are just sophomores. They are redshirting three O-linemen and their best young CB Terrell Chestnut, a former four-star recruit. The biggest priority for WVU in recruiting is on both lines. Now it's only that much more crucial.

  From @mutigerfan5   How will MIZZOU do in recruiting in the SEC?

At first glance, the Tigers figure to only do better now that they're attached to the best conference in college football. They've always recruited well in Texas (Chase Daniel, James Franklin among other) and should continue to do so, especially since there's a Texas connection with the SEC via Texas A&M. The one thing where it could negatively affect the program is they're also stepping up in competition. They join a league where there's twice as many strong teams that have football factory sensibilities. If Gary Pinkel's staff can't ramp up, this long run of eight-to-10 win seasons (he's had three double-digit win seasons in the past four years) will end fast. And it's a lot easier to recruit when your team is a Top 20 team than a 6-6, just scrambling to get bowl eligible team.

It's a little different dynamic than what WVU faces even though both are going into tougher leagues, the Mountaineers are set up better to make a faster start. From @flickster  What do you think are the chances Urban Meyer is coaching at Ohio State next year?

I'd put the percentage at 75 percent. I expect Meyer to come back to coaching. I'm sure it's been great for him to recharge his batteries and spend more time with his family, but for many guys who are wired the way he is, the temptation to coach and be competitive on the highest level is too great. Ohio State is one of the few elite jobs out there that figure to come open in the next 18 months, and I think he realizes that.

Penn State may be an option, but why be the guy replacing a legend there, especially if JoePa himself, much less the aura of him, still is around State College? Texas, potentially, could come open in a year or so if Mack Brown's team doesn't make bigger strides, but that's no sure thing.

At OSU, a school he once coached at, there is the change to be a savior and lead the Buckeyes back to the top and end the SEC's dominance. That last part figures to be intriguing for a guy as competitive and driven as the Ohio native after just having won two BCS titles in the SEC.

From @MikePesesky  Despite the easiest imaginable schedule, and potential 10-2 record, is Mark Richt off the hot seat at Georgia?

Not yet he's not. This weekend against UF is a Must-Win game as my colleague Tony Barnhart wrote earlier this week. Georgia fans will look at this Gator team that has been blown out by LSU and Bama and lost by double-digits to Auburn and say 'if not now, when?' Richt's record against UF is terrible: He is  0-1 against Steve Spurrier; 1-2 against Ron Zook and was 1-5 against Meyer. If he goes 0-1 against Will Muschamp he probably won't get a chance to even his record.

From @abellwillring 
Obvious one but do you think Keenum enters Heisman race with his huge night? Or is he still seen as too much of a system QB?

As I pointed out on Twitter earlier today, Keenum's nine TD passes in about three quarters in the rain and slop against Rice is actually more than 31 teams have throw all of this season. It doesn't hurt than he's leading a team that has a good shot of being undefeated and he's breaking all kinds of national records.

The downside for him is people will dismiss his exploits to a large extent because of the competition he faces more than him being a "system" guy. I don't see that holding Brandon Weeden back in people's eyes. When UCLA, 88th in pass defense, is one of the better defenses you face, it's going to drum up some skeptics.

The other big factor working against him is that Andrew Luck is seen by most as the best QB out there and his team is in the top 10 and that is taking away a lot of the thunder from Keenum and Kellen Moore especially.

From @Philly_Sak I know Wis, MSU, NEB, and OSU are mentioned a lot but what are PSUs chances of making the B1G title game in your opinion?

I give the Nittany Lions an outside shot. They have a terrific defense and Silas Redd has really come on to spark the offense. The QB play is holding them back and will have to get much better as the schedule heats up over the final month with Illinois, Nebraska and then at both OSU and Wisconsin. Expecting anything better than 2-2 seems too optimistic given what we've seen so far from both QBs.

Obviously it would also help PSU a lot of Ohio State can beat Wisconsin this weekend. I don't like the Nittany Lions shot of winning in Madison in the final week of the regular season.

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