Big 12 mailbag: League’s best coaches, evaluating 2012 realignment

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Welcome to our Week 6 edition of the Big 12 mailbag, where we take your questions involving everything Big 12, or otherwise. Email your questions to shehan.jeyarajah@coxinc.com or Tweet @ShehanJeyarajah to see your question featured next week. 

Anonymous via email: Who is the best coach in the Big 12? 

That’s an interesting question at this point in time. Last year, the answer would have been Bob Stoops. With his retirement, it comes down to three coaches: TCU’s Gary Patterson, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.

Snyder deserves credit as one of the most influential coaches of all time. He turned Kansas State from nothing into a nationally relevant program. His coaching tree includes Stoops, Rex Ryan and Bret Bielema. The Wildcats have made 20 bowls in program history. Eighteen are with Snyder.

Gundy is one of the most underrated coaches in the nation.

Patterson is probably the correct answer. TCU struggled after joining the Big 12, winning a combined 11 games in its first two years in the league. Patterson revamped the program, and the Horned Frogs then won a combined 23 games over the next two years. While at TCU, Patterson has 10 double-digit win seasons since 2001. If not for Patterson, TCU isn’t in the Big 12.

Overall, the league has good coaching. In fact, the Big 12 pound-for-pound might have the best group of coaches of any conference.

The bye is about two things: getting healthy and getting in rhythm. Baylor has been without several key players for much of the season, including running back JaMycal Hasty and defensive end K.J. Smith. Bringing both of those players back after the bye will be key.

Additionally, getting a couple other players practice time will help. Coach Matt Rhule said early in the year that missing practice often shows in missed tackles. No one has been more guilty of that than the safeties. Davion Hall, Henry Black, Chris Miller and Rajah Preciado all missed significant time with injuries, and Taion Sells was suspended.

If those players tackle more consistently, this team has a couple wins on its schedule. Against Duke, all 3 offensive touchdowns were 34 or more yards caused by missed safety tackles. This team needs to get back to fundamentals.

Brandon Wheeland via Twitter: How is the Big 12 looking five years after realignment? 

There were always going to be pains after losing four programs – Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M – all who had been nationally relevant at points during their time in the Big 12. All things considered, though, the league has rebounded well.

The league’s two additions – TCU and West Virginia – play this weekend in an AP Top 25 matchup. It will be the site of ESPN’s College GameDay, if that’s any level of perspective. The Horned Frogs have consistently been a national power since revamping their offense in 2014. West Virginia took a while to get rolling, but now looks like a consistent power.

On the other hand, the programs that left aren’t doing so well. Nebraska fans are ready to jump ship after a series of disappointing seasons. Colorado was a nice story last season, but won 14 games in its first five years combined. Texas A&M and Missouri flew out of the gates between 2012 and 2014, but both programs have disappointed in their own ways since.

The biggest issue in the Big 12 is depth. When Texas struggles, there isn’t a Nebraska to step up. Oklahoma State and TCU have performed admirably, but losing the “blue blood” credibility has affected perception.

But overall, the Big 12 is rolling and looks to be on the upswing. Forty percent of the league is ranked, more than any other conference. Iowa State has showed life, as well. Kansas can’t be bad forever. There’s reason for optimism at Baylor. The Big 12 is healthy.

Andrew Miner via email: Why burn Charlie Brewer’s redshirt? What’s the return of not playing him for a series? By Rhule giving No. 8 to Zach Smith, does that symbolize him turning the team over to Smith as the main QB? 

From what Rhule has told us the past few weeks, Baylor never planned to redshirt Charlie Brewer. After suffering another concussion, it seems no one really expects Anu Solomon to be back. Rhule said he does not feel comfortable being in a situation where he only has one scholarship quarterback who has played a game.

How he was used is a different story. Bringing him into the game is reasonable at some point, but running him two plays and then pulling him is nonsensical. It doesn’t give him a chance to have success. If Brewer is to be a starting quarterback at Baylor, Rhule needs to trust him to lead a drive, not just be a Wildcat option.

As for Smith, I wouldn’t read into it much further than this season. He has shown toughness and deserves to be the starting quarterback for the rest of the year, even if Solomon comes back healthy. However, Rhule seems willing to reevaluate his quarterback situation every offseason.

Have questions for next week’s edition? Email us: shehan.jeyarajah@coxinc.com or tweet your questions to @ShehanJeyarajah on Twitter. 

The post Big 12 mailbag: League’s best coaches, evaluating 2012 realignment appeared first on Diehards.

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