The Unraveling of the Big 12

Looking around the Big 12 it's hard to find much good news lately unless your team hails from Austin.

Texas' program is obviously humming on all cylinders and Pelini has awoken the Blackshirts in Lincoln while maintaining a principled disregard for offense. But other than A&M's near miss on an anniversarial moral victory, things are headed in the wrong direction for almost every team in the conference. Take out Texas and it becomes Sun Belt bad -- the 2009 combined record of the other 11 teams is 71-61. Apparently when two shitty teams play each other somebody still has to win.

So what better time to rekindle the movement to form a super conference with the Pac 10? I realize it's a wish unlikely to be granted given the joint realities of Deloss Dodds winding down his career as AD and the fact that his successor, Mack Brown, is a college football traditionalist. But if you think NBC or Fox wouldn't be interested in signing a mega TV deal for The BigPac 16 that would drag millions of ABC/CBS/ESPN eyeballs West, srr50 would like to have a chat with you in private. And those never go well.

Abandoning the Big 12 would be a messy divorce but the wealthier party that strikes first always wins. (Sorry Dad.) You can't be shortsighted here -- there is huge long-term potential both in terms of dollars and fan interest by joining up the strength of the Big 12 with the Pac 10's heavyweights while each conference sheds some dead weight. That bunch could collectively form their version of a Conference USA. Tough shit, as they say. And spare me the time zone and travel distance argument between Texas and the West coast. Boston College and Miami are in the same conference.

That's not to say we won't relish winning another Big 12 title on Saturday. They've certainly been hard for us to win despite our 5-0 record in BCS games. But this was a gaping wound of a year for the Big 12 as a whole, even if Texas goes on to win it all.

With these thoughts in mind, lets take a look at each team's mental health (or in K. State's case, Bill Snyder's lack thereof) heading into the bowl season and 2010.

Kansas

2007: 12-1
2008: 8-5
2009: 5-7

I like Mark Mangino. He created a football program at a hoops-crazy school with selective recruiting, aggressive fundraising and by simply eating his way through the hard times. The results have been … enormous. The ingredients: 1) Pluck hidden gems from Texas like Todd Reesing and Dez Briscoe. 2) Convert average QB into an all Big 12 receiver (Kerry Meier) while locking down in-state studs (Darrell Stuckey) with brute force. 3) Increase buffet offerings at training table. 4) Install a spread package to feature said talent and scheme around deficiencies. 5) Hope basketball fans show up.

It all worked out pretty damn well in 2007 and 2008 before the wheels fell off halfway through this season. After a 5-0 start, seven straight losses have Jayhawk fans wondering how they ever fell in love with Todd Reesing, whose popularity is now on par with KU’s 3rd string point guard.

Just as the bad PR from Mangino-Gate was dying down, new allegations surfaced today that Mangino punished a former player for missing WEIGH-IN by making him crab crawl across searing hot fieldturf, causing 2nd degree burns on his hands. Then Mangino threatened to burn his other hand if he didn't play better. Nice work, Mark. It's safe to say that Lew Perkins can't fire Mangino fast enough and the boosters are probably ready to roll the fat man into a brick oven on a bed of basketballs. Hoops-first schools like KU don’t like false expectations about other sports. As the attention shifts toward the top-ranked Jayhawks on the hardcourt, KU’s football program could circle the drain unless Perkins can pull off a quick, big-name hire. The odds are he can't and that brief run at competence by the football program just becomes an inside joke.

Boosters threw a ton of cash into the program last year knowing a Big 12 North Championship was a real possibility this season given the paucity of legitimate contenders. With a last place finish in the dismal Big 12 North and the imminent departure of Briscoe and Reesing, a Phog has permanently descended over the football program and it won’t soon be lifted. Sherron Collins? Rock Chalk Nation turns it’s beady eyes to you. Don’t fuck it up.

Oklahoma

2007: 11-3
2008: 12-2
2009: 7-5

Ahhh … the myriad ways to relish the cesspool of shit the Sooners have swam in all season. Stoops lost all his 1st 2nd round draft picks to injury after promising them higher draft grades and national championships if they returned. He’s about 0-4 on that count. A few got hurt and others like Trent Williams just happen to suck this year. Wait, now he’s hurt too. Do the Sooners even have five healthy linemen left?

Since Big Game Bob isn’t physically capable of taking one on the chin, he briskly deflected all criticism towards his players’ lack of execution or ability to stay healthy. Rather than face the kind of embarrassment that comes with, uh, performance issues, he hit speed dial and told his agent to start working the phones. There’s more smoke coming out of South Bend about the imminent hiring of Stoops than the billowing plume that erupted from Merrill Hoge’s ass after VY’s game-winning TD. At the very worst, Stoops’ sniffing around always parlays more money out of his already inflated contract. But I’m not sure how much more Boren is willing to pony up after a 7-5 season and repeated BCS bed-shitings. Bob strikes me as a guy who has always been ready to leave Norman (what partially sane person wouldn't?) given the right opportunity, but OU kept throwing more money at him and the right opportunity never came up. Well now it has and OU is done paying. Having lost four of five to Texas, Stoops has seen the writing on the wall and it’s in blood, san serif, signed Will Muschamp. Bob may be an asshole but he's no idiot. Somebody tell Touchdown Jesus that you're trying to make a deal with the devil.

So if Bob bolts from the Sooner Schooner, where does that leave OU? Despite the squalor detailed above, OU remains our closest competition in the Big 12 and things are never as bad as them seem when discussing our fetid rival. A smart hire could kick-start recruiting and potentially steal away a few guys Texas covets, not necessarily this year but for 2011 which looks to be another loaded class. They’ll certainly have plenty of spots on the two-deep available as OU loses a ton of guys to the draft and graduation this year. The good news is that the next cadre of Sooner 3-star ATH’s are just one summer spent with Jerry Schmidt away from pre-season All-Big 12 honors, assuming they can digest their own puke and become stronger from it. HenryJames still drinks his own urine (because it's 20% undigested beer) and he’s doing fine so you never know.

A&M

2007: 7-6
2008: 4-8
2009: 6-6

It’s early November and just when things were looking up for the Aggies after stomping Tech in Lubbock, they reverts to the mean and lose to woeful Colorado. You don't want to be one of the three schools Dan Hawkins beat this year, or any year. As the Ags showed in their annual play-out-of-our-minds Jihad game against Texas, they have some good young talent on offense. But everyone on the defense not named Von Miller needs to go, and unfortunately he’s the only one going. Sherman’s job remains secure only because the Aggies can’t afford to buy him out (four million thanks to Dennis Franchione) and the success of their Archery and Bass Fishing teams just hasn't brought in the revenue that Bill Byrne predicted. That, and whoever balances the budgets over in the A.D.’s office has been sniffing bat guano. Can Huckleberry help you with this?

A 6-6 season bought Sherman another year and a winning season is not unimaginable for the farmers next year. This is one of the few programs in the conference with even a mildly upward trajectory. Whoop?

Texas Tech

2007: 9-4
2008: 11-2
2009: 8-4

Mike Leach is working on a book with ESPN’s Bruce Feldman and one has to believe it will be a tell-all after last year’s tête à tête between the pirate and his outlaw A.D. Like Trips Right stumbling out of the Across the Street Bar with a half-conscious bar-maid on the Friday before Texas/OU, Leach and Myers quickly realized they couldn't do any better than eachother.

All was going well for Tech this season until QB injuries took their toll. The difference between a functioning QB in the Tech offense versus starting a sloth like Seth Doege or Kindled Taylor Potts is about a 50 point swing. Thus the loss to Houston, who promptly loses to UTEP, which inspired Trips to throw a Quinceanera for all the latin girls in his neighborhood who never had one.

Then A&M rolls in and downright Shermanates the Red Raiders. That’s when your bad play calling, poor tackling, and Six Sigma motivation tactics rub off on the other team during the coin flip. It’s the football equivalent of Freaky Friday but Sherman can’t always remember what he did to invoke the spell. What’s the code word?! Metamucil! uh…Paxil? … no … VON MILLER'S THIRD LEG! Bingo. Ags win every time.

Now you’re hearing rumors from the western slope (not to be confused with Scipio's live-in boy servant) about Leach going to Louisville/Pac 10/pirate Grad School and dedfischer suddenly starts selling call options on his Tortilla Retort pre-IPO shares. Or is he buying puts? You never fucking know with that guy. But this crossroads is where Tech decides whether it wants to be a perennial 8-4 team, where you need a come back win to beat Baylor, or aspire towards something greater. Like 9-3. The floor and ceiling aren’t far apart in Lubbock, but guys like Will Ford and Baron Batch (6.7 ypc wtf1?) give guys like dedfischer hope. And that's good enough for me. So much so that I've invited him along to be our tour guide inside the DeathStar on Saturday.

Colorado

2007: 6-7
2008: 5-7
2009: 3-9

Voice of Tex: "This program did not clear the relevance hurdle."

The good news for Buff fans is that nothing makes you forget about Dan Hawkins’ ridiculous contract extension after a 3-9 season like sinking into a few feet of pow after some dank nugs on the lift at Breck. Whoa. It's like already March, dude.

Congrats to CU for at least competitively losing over the second half of the season. You had Okie State, Iowa State, and Nebraska on the ropes and couldn't close the deal. But the way you moved the ball on the Huskers should make Texas fans smile. Nebraska's secondary can be exploited.

We’ll check in with Buff nation again after ski season. In the meantime, watch the Best. Gary. Busey. Interview. Ever.

Kansas State

2007: 5-7
2008: 5-7
2009: 6-6

Rather than recap the Wildcats up and down season, a better barometer for assessing the overall health of the program is to spend a day with Bill Snyder.

7:30 a.m.

Bill gets lost on way to stadium.

7:40 a.m.

Is that a Walgreens? Uhh … yes. But is it MY Walgreens? Sharon would know. Oh heck, what’s her number gosh dernit!

7:45 a.m.

Sits in purple Crown Vic for 20 minutes trying to remember how he got here. Abandon mission.

8:05 a.m.

The GPS! Best player’s gift I ever got.

"Uh yes hello, thanks for your support. Can you tell me how to get to Bill Snyder Stadium"

"Thank you for calling OnStar. I would be most happy to help you. Can I get your name, Sir?"

"Yes. Bill Snyder."

"The SAME Bill Snyder?

"There’s only ONE Bill Snyder in Manhattan, Kansas mister!

"Oh hello Mr. Bill! We talked last week. I’m Raj, remember? Sorry about the ga-"

Bill hangs up, fuming at technology. Vows to never travel to India. Or anywhere outside Kansas.

8:30 a.m.

Calls assistant coach for directions to stadium. Big bonus coming for the coach that can keep this all quiet. A sum is agreed upon, directions are given. Slowly.

9:00 a.m.

Bill Snyder parks in Bill Snyder’s designated parking spot. Wait, is there another Bill Snyder? Darnit! Calls University Registrar and waits on hold for 20 minutes before dozing off.

9:30 a.m.

Drool dripping down neck wakes him up. Where am I? Looks like a parking lot … It must be gameday! Wait. There are usually at least 30 cars in the lot on Saturday and I see only six. No, that’s a tractor. Five. Hmmm … must be a weekday. Time to go to work!

9:40 a.m.

Gets distracted by the goalpost peaking out of the stadium. Wanders in to give it a long embrace, addressing each post as Sir Bishop and Lord Sproles. We couldn’t have done it without you all these years! Did he just lick the goalpost? Wow.

10:00 a.m.

Gets lost on way to office, takes a nap in the player’s lounge.

10:30 a.m.

Gets carried to office by reliable 2nd string OL. Scribbles reminder to start him on Senior Day. Wait, what year is it?

11:10 a.m.

Reviews fax of updated JUCO depth charts. Solid crop this year! The future is looking bright in Manhattan. Four days of recruiting max = more time for Matlock re-runs and Thursday Bingo. Changes dentures while laughing at that supreme time-mismanager, Mack Brown.

12:00 p.m.

High noon! The day is almost over. Checks date on last will & testament, makes sure it’s current. Last stamp: yesterday.

12:15 p.m.

Checks genealogy database for any new Snyder’s to join the extended family. Hit! William Snyder, Sarasota, FL. Adds him to living will and sends recruiting letter with purple wildcat stuffed animal.

1:00 p.m.

Dominates a few games of online Euchre. Mocks his defeated opponents: Bitter Aggies!

1:45 p.m.

Changes diaper. Without help!

2:00 p.m.

PowerCat nap.

3:00 p.m.

Watches video of A&M game on a loop until …

3:30 p.m.

Aaand it’s nap time again.

4:00 p.m.

Writes weekly letter to Warren Buffett.

4:30 p.m.

Alarm sounds as reminder to head home for dinner.

5:00 p.m.

Gets lost on way home. Calls assistant coach back for directions after ripping OnStar out of the dashboard and tossing it out the window onto Bill Snyder Blvd.

5:30 p.m.

Dinner of turnips, collard greens, Brussells sprouts, beets, and boiled venison. Chef’s Metamucil. Geriatric gourmet!

6:45 p.m.

PowerCat Nap.

7:30 p.m.

Glenn Beck time! Is it too late to adopt him?

8:00 p.m.

Slips into his monogrammed purple PJ’s. Yep, they’re his alright. Get your own damn pair, Sonny!

9:15 p.m.
10:45 p.m.
1:00 a.m.
2:45 a.m
4:15 a.m.

Wakes up to piss.

5:30 a.m.

A purple dawn awakes Bill Snyder for another day of winning at life.

We'll finish off this sexy beast tomorrow with Texas, Nebraska, Okie State, and Baylor. Mmmm... Baylor.

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