Big 12 mailbag: Zach Smith questions, future conference projections

Welcome to our Dec. 13, 2017, 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. 

Playing for a Big 12 championship is always a big deal. Only five major teams walk away with conference titles every year. Even in a scenario like TCU, where Oklahoma was clearly better, it’s a high accomplishment for the conference.

However, finishing runner up in the Big 12 pales in comparison to playing in a New Year’s Six bowl. These games bring a level of money and notoriety that dwarfs a conference championship game. I don’t need to tell TCU fans that – winning a Rose Bowl is still one of the greatest accomplishments in program history.

The good news is that most years this won’t be a question. The Big 12 has a tie-in with the Sugar Bowl, so the team that loses the Big 12 title game  should still make a New Year’s Six every season. But this year, it probably hurt more than it helped.

We talked to College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt about it, and the answer to him was fairly simple. All the next UCF has to do is schedule strong Power Five teams and win all of their games. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

The Knights had a matchup against Georgia Tech scheduled this season, but it was canceled because of the hurricane. That’s obviously not Scott Frost’s fault. Schedules are made years in advance; two years ago, UCF went 0-12. This seems to penalize teams that improve.

Realistically, only a team like Houston can make the College Football Playoff. It takes multiple seasons of success and multiple wins over quality Power Five teams to even get a look. It doesn’t appear any Group of Five team will be able to get in strictly off their single-season merits. It’s garbage, but that’s the way things are unfortunately.

Multiple people: What happens to Baylor quarterback Zach Smith now that he’s transferring? What does Baylor do for the future at quarterback?

Obviously, it’s very early to try and get a read on this situation. Most though Smith would leave at some point, but this was early. The Bears don’t have a commitment in the Class of 2018 at quarterback. Baylor is in a bad spot.

Smith might try to look at a school in the area. Texas and Kansas offered him, but it’s unlikely he can transfer within the Big 12. SMU also had interest, but Ben Hicks is the quarterback of the future there.

Smith committed to Art Briles’ system when he enrolled at Baylor, so Tulsa could be a strong option. Former Baylor offensive coordinator Phil Montgomery is now with the program, and there could be an opening at quarterback.

He could also look for one of the local Texas schools, like UTSA or Houston, though the Cougars have a nice underclassman. Regardless, Smith’s top priorities will likely be finding a school with opportunity and one that can take advantage of his pro-style skillset.

As for Baylor, the Bears are going all-in on 4-star quarterback recruit Gerry Bohanon. 247Sports’ crystal ball gives the Bears a great shot to get him. Baylor could also look at Hebron quarterback Clayton Tune, or perhaps try to add a quarterback in the grad transfer market.

@BearApologistBU: Top three Big XII football teams at the end of the 2018 season? // @WhoSleeps: What would you predict are the top 3 teams in the Big 12 over the next 3 years

These two questions felt like they went together.Oklahoma is an obvious answer for top of the conference. No team is poised better to run the conference for the immediate and distant future. Even with Kyler Murray under center, the Sooners are in a great spot.

Next season, West Virginia will be a top-two team. The Mountaineers bring back virtually their entire offense, including star quarterback Will Grier. Grier is my pick to be the best quarterback in college football next season. TCU should also be in good shape next year. Even though the Horned Frogs lose playmakers on defense, there’s enough experience coming back to be good.

Heading forward, Oklahoma still ranks at the top. However, Oklahoma State and TCU are the next-best-run programs at this point. The consistency that Gary Patterson and Mike Gundy bring to their program cannot be overstated. Tom Herman has a shot to bring Texas into that top three, but he has lots of work left to do.

Iowa State and West Virginia are also in great spots heading into the future. Baylor has plenty of opportunity to grow too. The league is in an excellent position and should only get better.

The good news for Oklahoma fans is that he has a hearing scheduled for a few days from now. That gives the legal system at least some opportunity to do its job and make things clearer. But right now, this is a tremendously murky situation.

Oklahoma is in a tough spot because of the criticism that came after the Joe Mixon case. Failing to hold firm in their decision made the program look soft on discipline. This decision will shape how people view Lincoln Riley’s decision-making.

If I had to guess, I’d think Anderson misses the games while the Title IX office does its work. Remember, Title IX offices have different thresholds of evidence than the court system; its investigations are separate. It’s just such a sticky situation that the school might avoid taking chances. If Anderson plays, the school should be ready for some level of backlash.

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

The post Big 12 mailbag: Zach Smith questions, future conference projections appeared first on Diehards.

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