Today, we’re going to talk about the Big 12. Yeah, that weird conference which is called “Big 12” but has 10 teams, the one which has no divisions but is going to have a conference championship, the one with a 38 year old and a 77 year old in the same job. The Big 12 is a crazy, weird, messed up conference with a bipolar leadership and no true sense of direction. But... that doesn’t mean there isn’t some REALLY fun football to watch. It’s sort of like how I felt about Les Miles at LSU. I absolutely loved having him in the conference, he provided a ton of fun every year. But there’s no way I would have wanted him coaching MY team. The Big 12 is great entertainment, but I’m just glad it’s not our conference.
This is a pretty easy one, right? As you all should know by now, now-official Auburn starting QB Jarrett Stidham last played Baylor during the 2015 season. Although he only played in three games for Baylor, he was a force as a true freshman, completing 68.8% of his passes for over 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. While that may not be much of a reason for us Auburn fans to pay attention to the Bears, you can bet fans in Waco will be keeping an eye on their former quarterback and (hopefully) wishing for what could have been. Baylor will be in their first year with new coach Matt Rhule, and although they still have a very talented roster, the program will be fighting uphill in the coming years to battle back from the sanctions placed on them. It may be easy to root against Baylor after all of the nasty things associated with the program in previous years, but they’ve essentially cleaned house and should have much better leadership going forward.
Auburn and Iowa State will always be linked by one man. On December 13, 2008, Auburn hired Gene Chizik away from Ames to succeed Tommy Tuberville as head coach. The move was highly criticized at the time (and even still, as a matter of fact), as he had gone just 5-19 in his only two seasons as a head coach. Chizik’s tenure will be always be scrutinized for the repeated conduct and recruiting violations, but still, he did bring Gus, Cam, and a national championship to the program.
While the programs will always be tied through Gene, what doesn’t give us anything to look at in 2017. Stepping away from football and looking at the universities themselves, Auburn recently hired ISU president Steve Leath away to the same job. Leath replaces former president Jay Gouge in a role Mr. Gouge filled admirably over the last decade. President Leath will have big shoes to fill, so here’s to hoping he’s the right man for the job.
Did you know Kansas beat Texas last year? That is all.
Kansas State Wildcats
There’s not much to say here that you don’t already know. Kansas State is a good team that likely won’t win the Big 12, will beat the teams they’re supposed to, and lose to the teams they’re supposed to. They’ll win about 8 games this year, and rumors will fly next offseason about Bill Snyder’s replacement, which will never be needed. Seriously, it’s too bad none of us put money on Snyder outlasting Bob Stoops. It’s not the most exciting thing, but K-State is something you can rely on. The Wildcats are the anti-Auburn, if you will. Such is life in Kansas.
IT’S THE GAME OF THE CENTURY... OF THE YEAR... OF THE WEEK... MAYBE! Thirty minutes after the Auburn-Clemson game kicks off, Oklahoma goes to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Buckeyes in week 2. Beating Ohio State in his second game as head coach might be a tall task for Lincoln Riley, but it would certainly make OU an immediate favorite for a playoff spot. A win would show the country that they are easily the best team in the conference, and it’s not like a Big 12 champion has ever missed the playoff, right?
Oklahoma State Cowboys
He’s a man! He’s... 50? Yeah, that legendary Mike Gundy rant happened TEN YEARS AGO. That happened the same month Auburn lost to USF... Shudder. Since then, Gundy has grown a mullet as legendary as his rant, and more importantly, he has made Oklahoma State a fairly steady force in the Big 12, winning ten games in five of the last seven seasons. Don’t expect this year to be all that different, though, with one of the Big 12’s Big 12-iest offenses. They have a quarterback who can sling it all over the field in Mason Rudolph, a strong receiving corps, and a game plan that loves the deep ball. The Cowboys have a weird OOC schedule, fittingly enough, with a Thursday night opener with Tulsa (bad idea), a Friday night game AT South Alabama (also a bad idea), and a trip to Pitt the week after that (worst idea). None of those games are going to be cakewalks for the Pokes, and if they get caught sleeping in any of those games, a loss is possible. I get the feeling this team may not want to let any games be decided by the refs, though.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs will play the road half of a home and home at Arkansas in week 2, and it should be a fun one. The pressure is amping up on Bielema to produce a strong season, and there are a lot of believers in this TCU team to be a top 25 squad. This will be the 2:30 CT CBS game before Auburn plays at Clemson that night, so you should have this on as you get ready for the game.
Let’s drop the pretenses. We don’t have to have any “Auburn connection” to care about what is going with Texas, and more importantly, Tom Herman. Sure, maybe you don’t want to have to hear about it as much as ESPN and the rest of the internet wants to tell you about the Longhorns, but it’s intriguing nonetheless. Herman’s a crazy dude and a pretty solid football coach, and he could either fit perfectly and take Texas back to it’s mid-2000’s peak, or he could cause a huge culture clash with some of the more uppity Texas boosters. Time will tell, but I do believe it will be interesting.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
You’ll have to forgive me for my youth here. Until I did the research for Texas Tech, I had absolutely no idea who David Gibbs was. If you’re like me and the name doesn’t ring a bell, let me fill you in. David is somewhat of an Auburn legacy. His father, Alex Gibbs, was the offensive coordinator at Auburn from 1979-81, which was about the time David was going through high school. Gibbs was a standout defensive back at Auburn High, and he went on to help lead the Colorado Buffaloes to the 1990 national championship. Gibbs has had various positional and coordinator jobs throughout the NCAA and NFL, including a short stint as defensive coordinator for Auburn in 2005 that was capped off with probably the most fun Auburn defensive performance we’ve ever seen; the Sack Game. But, that was 12 years ago. Things have not gone well for Gibbs the last two seasons since he has been at Texas Tech, and another bad season this year will likely cost him his job. Injuries and simply having to coach defense in Kingsbury’s Air Raid system crushed him last year, so let’s hope for a turnaround for our old friend David Gibbs.