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Preseason All Big 12 Teams

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Here's what the Big 12 Coaches said:

Offense

Pos; Name; School; Ht.; Wt.; Cl./Exp.; Hometown

WR; Michael Crabtree!; Texas Tech; 6-3; 206; So./1L; Dallas
TE; Chase Coffman; Missouri; 6-6; 245; Sr./3L; Peculiar, Mo.
OL; Duke Robinson; Oklahoma; 6-5; 330; Sr./3L; Atlanta, Ga.
OL; Phil Loadholt; Oklahoma; 6-8; 350; Sr./1L; Fountain, Colo.
C; Jon Cooper; Oklahoma; 6-2; 285; Sr./3L; Fort Collins, Colo.
OL; Louis Vasquez; Texas Tech; 6-6; 335; Sr./3L; Corsicana, Texas
OL; Colin Brown; Missouri; 6-8; 325; Sr./3L; Braymer, Mo.
OL; Cedric Dockery; Texas; 6-4; 315; Sr./3L; Garland, Texas
WR; Jeremy Maclin; Missouri; 6-1; 200; So./1L; Kirkwood, Mo.
QB; Chase Daniel; Missouri; 6-0; 225; Sr./3L; Southlake, Texas
RB; Marlon Lucky; Nebraska; 6-0; 215; Sr./3L; North Hollywood, Calif.
RB; DeMarco Murray; Oklahoma; 6-0; 191; So./1L; Las Vegas, Nev.
PK; Jeff Wolfert; Missouri; 6-2; 185; Sr./2L; Overland Park, Kan.
KR; Marcus Herford; Kansas; 6-3; 208; Sr./3L; DeSoto, Texas

Defense

Pos; Name; School; Ht.; Wt.; Cl./Exp.; Hometown

DL; Auston English; Oklahoma; 6-3; 257; Jr./1L; Canadian, Texas
DL; Ian Campbell; Kansas State; 6-5; 249; Sr./3L; Cimarron, Kan.
DL; George Hypolite; Colorado; 6-1; 285; Sr./3L; Los Angeles, Calif.
DL; Brian Orakpo; Texas; 6-4; 260; Sr./3L; Houston, Texas
LB; Sean Weatherspoon; Missouri; 6-1; 235; Jr./2L; Jasper, Texas
LB; Joe Mortenson; Kansas; 6-1; 250; Sr./3L; Concord, Calif.
LB; Joe Pawelek; Baylor; 6-3; 236; Jr./2L; San Antonio, Texas
DB; Nic Harris; Oklahoma; 6-3; 226; Sr./3L; Alexandria, La.
DB; William Moore; Missouri; 6-1; 230; Sr./3L; Hayti, Mo.
DB; Jamar Wall; Texas Tech; 5-10; 196; Jr./2L; Plainview, Texas
DB; Jordan Lake; Baylor; 6-2; 206; Jr./2L; Houston, Texas
P; Justin Brantly; Texas A&M; 6-3; 241; Sr./3L; Sealy, Texas
PR; Jeremy Maclin; Missouri; 6-1; 200; So./1L; Kirkwood, Mo.

My take:

I've grown to hate preseason all-conference teams.

First, you are inevitably forced into the false choice between production, system, and talent.

Example: Eric Morris of Texas Tech couldn't make the Longhorn nine deep, but in Tech's system he's a dangerous role player that will catch 70 balls for 8-9 TDs this year. Are we sure that Chase Daniel is clearly better than Sam Bradford? Against a top flight defense? An average college team? Graham Harrell is better than Zac Robinson and Todd Reesing? Are we sure about that? Should I care that several of these guys won't play a down of NFL football?

Second, coaches (or more accurately, the assistant SID who fills out their ballots) reward seniority, name recognition, and multi-year starters, even if they are average players, over talented newcomers. Try to find Michael Crabtree on a preseason All-Big 12 team last year. I knew who he was in high school and followed his career with interest. But I didn't know. I could make legitimate arguments for Brian Orakpo that range from Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year all the way to Honorable Mention injured by mid-season non-entity.

Third, the media influences perceptions heavily and they have no clue what the hell they're looking at with respect to OL, DL, and DB play. There is a conventional wisdom that calcifies around some of these players that is absolutely absurd. Do educated Sooner fans really believe that their OL is far and away the league and nation's best to the tune of three first team All-Big 12 guys? And a second teamer? If that's true, this is a national champion Sooner team. Are we seriously trying to compare what Rylan Reed does in his offense at Tech to what Russell Okung is asked to do at Oklahoma State?

Fourth, preseason teams heavily influence postseason teams irrespective of production during the year. I can cite many examples. Years ago, the Austin American Statesman had Roger Roesler on their postseason All Big 12 team when he lost his starting job at year end. I shit you not. Every one put Ian Campbell of KSU on their first team last year despite the fact that he had negligible impact. It was all based on a strong 2006 and his presence on the 2007 preseason teams. And he's back again on this year's preseason All Big 12.

That written, there are a huge percentage of these players who are fantastic irrespective of role and system and there should be little debate.

I'll run down the list and see your responses:

Offense

 height=WR Maclin & Crabtree - The two best WRs in America. I'd actually contend that Dez Bryant may be #3 in the league. Oooo, oooo, but Scipio - Iglesias had more yards and catches last year. Yeah. Good. Just to piss you off, I'll put Dexton Fields ahead of him too.

QB Daniel is the safe choice because of his consistency and the weapons around him. Is that what this is about though? I'll assert that Zac Robinson would be perceived as the best QB in the league if you plugged him into Missouri's offense. How do you treat Sam Bradford, who has big numbers and the physical attributes that could actually translate to the NFL. Harrell will finish his career as the 2nd most prolific passer in NCAA history behind the worthless Timmy Chang. That sentence was intended to communicate two different truths at once. The truth is, there are a several guys you can plug here that no one should snicker at. But having anyone other than the safe choice makes you suspect.

RB DeMarco Murray makes sense to me. Marlon Lucky is a talented, multi-faceted back. Is he great? The truth is that Mike Goodson is a purer talent. He'll just run behind a shitty OL so people are shying from him.

OL The coach's selected 6 OL, so we just incurred a penalty. Robinson and Loadholt are fine choices and will make more improvement in their final year as big body OL always do. They weren't quite as dominant last year as the media portrayed them. Hi West Virginia! Center Jon Cooper is a steady senior with name recognition. Things I don't care about on my elite all conference team at all. At center Baylor's JD Walton is more physical and Ryan Cantrell at KU is damn good. Off to honorable mention, Jon. Can you really keep Rylan Reed off of this team? Texas OL Cedric Dockery is a dominant player? News to me. The truth is, there are a dozen guys in the Big 12 in the same ball park once you get past a couple of clear elite choices. That doesn't even take into account the Kyle Hix's (UT) and Ryan Millers (CU) of the world, who are future 10 year NFL guys.

TE Coffman is the popular choice because he'll catch 70 balls this year and he'll be Daniel's #2 option behind Maclin. He gets the ball like a receiver...and blocks like one too. Brandon Pettigrew is the greater talent, but he'll be lucky to catch 40 balls. And how do you treat Gresham? Classic production vs. talent vs. system arguments here. All defensible, IMHO.

Defense

 height=DL Auston English is a known quantity. Ian Campbell had 4.5 sacks last year and 11 TFL. Dominator! Uh, OK. Brian Orakpo is a pure projection of fantasy. It may be absolutely accurate given his physical gifts, but let's be honest about it. George Hypolite is fine here, but why not engage in a similar projection fantasy with a Lamarr Houston, Roy Miller, Gerald McCoy, or even Tech's Colby Whitlock, who is a phenomenal run stopper but who is guilty by implication because of Tech's poor run defense.

LB Pawelek, Witherspoon, Mortenson. Witherspoon isn't debatable and the other two are as good a choices as any in the next pack of six or seven guys league wide. No problem here really but let's not pretend that there's any great separation.

DB William Moore is a no brainer. Arguably the best defender in the league last year after Jordan Dizon. OU's Nic Harris is a physically gifted run hawk who is mediocre against the pass. Baylor's Jordan Lake is a run stopper who is awful against the pass. His most notable game last year was against Buffalo. No, not the Bills. Note to selectors: this is a passing league. There are ten safeties in this league better than Jordan Lake. Because he will be Baylor's run force, he'll finish the year with 130 tackles and make All Big 12. Horrendous. At CB, Tech's Jamar Wall is defensible. I don't think it's crazy at all to think that UT's Deon Beasley will break out this year but that will draw snickers from people who don't understand how quickly CBs can improve playing in real schemes and as they mature.

Anyhow, there's my two cents. Fire away.