Here's the 2012 AP All-Big 12 team. The 2012 AP selections are made from a pool of 18 sports writers. They'll get it mostly right because stats and reputation are useful guidelines, but they also tend to commit a few travesties built on unwarranted player reputation, inattention, or groupthink.
And here's the 2012 All-Big 12 Coach's selections. It comes from the "coaches" (often a SID) and they're not allowed to vote for their own players. They tend to do things like appoint 14 players to the 1st team Defense - which would have helped Manny Diaz's cause considerably. Their biggest issue is that they like to vote up their sewing circle and like nostalgia awards for seniors or injured players.
On offense, I'm selecting a FB, 2 RBs, and 3 WRs, 1 TE to account for the formational multiplicity of the league. Fullbacks deserve love, too. I try my best to pick a player at each position, but I'm not going to elevate a mediocre player simply because there's a glut of talent at one position.
Further, I don't do legacy awards. If you're an awesome player who missed a bunch of games, you're probably not making it.
My team is based on my imperfect viewing of a fair amount of Big 12 football. I welcome your input.
1ST TEAM OFFENSE
QB Collin Klein, Kansas State
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor
FB Trey Millard, Oklahoma
The argument for Klein is straightforward: he's the most important, best player on the best team in the league. He threw for 2490 yards, evidencing a particular gift for hitting play action deep, ran for 890 (with 22 rushing TDs), and, if removed from KSU and replaced with an average player, the Wildcats would be a borderline Top 25 team.
Joseph Randle led the league in rushing against a fairly modest field, mostly because he saw the ball a lot. The job share halfback is now a reality of college football and the 25+ carry a game runner is a rare creature.
My selection of Lache Seastrunk (115-874-6 tds, 7.6 yards per carry) will get a lot of push back (he finished 5th in the conference in rushing at the RB position), but his argument is compelling. Baylor won 4 of their last 5 games (wins over KU, conference champion KSU, OSU, TT, close loss to OU) and during that 5 game closing stretch, Seastrunk rushed 86 times for 693 yards at an amazing 8.1 yards per carry. He averaged 159 yards per game rushing and receiving over his last five conference games. Seastrunk as primary ball carrier and Baylor's outstanding finish are not correlative, but causative. He was the missing ingredient.
The talented Millard at FB was a touch choice over OSU's Kye Staley, who is the best pure blocking FB in the conference. Millard, however, is a quality receiver, a good blocker, and a solid short yardage back. Tough to pass up on the multi-tool.
WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
WR/APB Tavon Austin, West Virginia
TE Blake Jackson, Oklahoma State
Terrance Williams is the best WR in the league (95-1764-12 TDs). No player better combined strength and speed and his 18.7 yards per catch average made him the most dominant deep threat in college football.
Stedman Bailey (106-1501-23 TDs) would have been Offensive MVP in a lot of leagues.
Tavon Austin wouldn't have made my 1st team (I'd have taken OSU's Josh Stewart) if not for Holgorsen moving him to the backfield down the stretch to take advantage of his running ability. The resulting season-ending stat line of 110 catches for 1259 yards, 12 TDs paired with 61 carries for 598 yards rushing (almost 10 yards per carry) and his amazing performance against OU means Austin is a must-inclusion as our slot and all-purpose runner.
Jace Amaro is hands-down the best TE in the Big 12, but he missed too many games. OSU's Blake Jackson caught 28 balls for 565 yards (20.2 yards per catch) to comfortably lead all Big 12 TEs in receiving and he's an average blocker. His omission from all of the Big 12 teams is odd. Perhaps because the 6-3, 235 pound Jackson doesn't spent a lot of time with his hand on the ground, but that standard ignores the modern realities of the position. Lazy groupthink here, IMO.
OL Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL Trey Hopkins, Texas
OL Ivory Wade, Baylor
OL Cyril Richardson, Baylor
OL Tanner Hawkinson, Kansas
The Big 12 had very few dominant OL this year and the difference between the 1st and 2nd team is minor in most spots. And yes, I picked three 1st team guards. I don't like the OTs in the league enough to bump them.
Baylor had some of the best interior line play in the league. Give them Texas A&M's OTs and Nick Florence may be your Heisman Trophy winner. Seriously.
Trey Hopkins is the best pulling guard in the conference and a strong pass blocker. The general negativism with respect to the Texas program under-sells his good work.
Tanner Hawkinson is a good all-around tackle on a terrible team. He gets a very narrow nod over Cornelius Lucas from K-State who, though quite talented, was more inconsistent.
Lane Johnson is probably the most physical OL in the league.
Gripes: Reasonable people could put a dozen different players on the 1st team, but constantly seeing Gabe Ikard on the 1st team is interesting to me. More reputation than performance, IMO. But maybe I got a bad sample viewing and he was playing at a new position. Similarly, I felt Tech's LaAdrian Waddle, though possessed of a lot of talent, had significant stretches where he underperformed his ability.
2ND TEAM OFFENSE
QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB Damian Williams, Oklahoma
RB James Sims, Kansas
FB Kye Staley, Oklahoma State
I was very tempted to give Baylor's Nick Florence the nod over Smith, but Smith took better care of the football. If I'm a betting man, I'd venture that Smith is more a creation of the offense and his two WRs than the reverse.
Damian Williams was a nice player for the Sooners, breaking 1000 yards rushing and 300 receiving. He struggled a bit over the back stretch of the season, but a strong showing in the finale against TCU sealed his spot.
James Sims was the most consistent RB in the entire Big 12. He maximized every run against stacked fronts and averaged over 100 yards per game in Big 12 play. He'd have made my 1st team, but his last two games (38-144-3.8 per carry) against weaker opponents was a bad comparison to Lache Seastrunk's late season dominance.
Kye Staley is the most punishing pure FB in the league.
WR Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
WR Mike Davis, Texas
WR Darrin Moore, Texas Tech
Josh Stewart turned in an amazing season and was one of the most consistent WRs in the Big 12. That he didn't make the 1st team is testament to the quality of the guys above him. He's the clear fourth, with a significant amount of distance between him and those below.
Mike Davis was probably the 2nd best deep threat in the Big 12 (54-909-7 TDs) and accounted for a significant portion of the Texas play action attack. As a percentage of the Longhorn passing offense, he rates quite favorably to his peers.
Darrin Moore was one of the premier red zone threats in the league (81-948-13TDs) and would have broken 1,000 yards receiving with a full season under his belt.
Gripes: Actually, there are legitimate ones to be made with my selections. There are strong arguments to be made for Eric Ward, Justin Brown, Kenny Stills, Tevin Reese, Josh Boyce, and Chris Harper. Stills and Brown's primary problem for inclusion here is that there were several good OU WRs and they shared a distributed workload. And Saunders, the mid-season eligible Fresno State transfer, was probably the most gifted of the bunch. As a percentage of offense, Baylor's Reese suffers. And I gave Tech teammate Darrin Moore the nod over the solid Eric Ward. I'm not rewarding both. Chris Harper and Lockett were a good 1-2 punch, but they just didn't have the opportunity that other attacks afforded their guys.
Travis Tannahill gets the TE nod mostly because who else is there?
OL Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
OL Blaize Foltz, TCU
OL Joe Madsen, West Virginia
OL LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech
OL Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State
Why would I have 3 guards in my 1st Team All Big 12 team and 3 tackles on my second team? Because these tackles don't deserve to have 1st team by their names. Now, get off of my lawn! If you'd told me I'd select Lane Johnson to the All-Big 12 team a few weeks ago, I would have laughed. But he improved over the course of the year and playing LT for Landry Jones is no easy task.
If anything, I think I'm being overly generous with LaAdrian Waddle, but maybe I just caught some of his worst snaps.
Keep an eye on Cornelius Lucas next year. He's immensely raw, but has upside.
P Alex King, Texas
K Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
PR Justin Brown, Oklahoma
P Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
K Anthony Cantele, Kansas State
KR DJ Monroe, Texas
PR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The exclusion of King from any All-Conference selection list is inexcusable and stupid. He finished fifth in the nation in net punting and had only one touchback all season.
Cantele was more accurate than Sharp but Sharp has the bigger leg, pulled double duty as a punter and kicker, and did a great job on kickoffs.
The return awards are based on pure productivity.
The 2012 Big 12 had a lot of competent OL, some good ones, and almost no dominant ones. Differentiating between the 1st and 3rd team was hard enough, much less the 1st and 2nd.
WR was a tough chore after the top four. The next half dozen are all really just a matter of taste and offensive context. You also have to factor in different offensive styles, junk yardage against meaningless opponents, the impact of 25 passing attempts per game vs. 45, and how that player impacts the larger offense.
RB was a bit like OL. The league had plenty of solid backs, but some of the best ones didn't have a full work load until later in the season or were involved in job shares.
Curious to hear your thoughts. Defense comes out tomorrow, so save defensive commentary for then.