O'Colly sports editor Brendon Morris and CBS National Columnist Gregg Doyel had the honors in this week's "Quick Hits". They talked about Oklahoma State football, the Big 12 conference landscape, and what teams may surprise or disappoint their fan bases this season.
1) Has Oklahoma State done enough to be considered among the top college football programs, and if not, what else do they have to do?
Gregg Doyel: Depends on what you consider "top." The top five? No, of course not. That's the SEC West. Kidding! Sort of ... But anyway, are we talking top 10? Maybe. Two years in a row does not a reputation make, but it comes pretty damn close. Another year or two like the last year or two, and it would be hard to name the top 10 programs in college football and leave OSU off that list.
Brendon Morris: Not quite, but they’re on the brink. After last year’s entire season was spent on the national stage, the exposure for Oklahoma State is at an all-time high. Gundy’s teams have amassed a 41-11 record since 2008 and 23 wins in the last two years, but all of that was done with only two generations of quarterbacks. If the Cowboys can prove that they can simply have the next guy step up this year with Wes Lunt, they will solidify themselves in the upper-class of college football.
2) Does the addition of West Virginia and TCU, and subtraction of Texas A&M and Missouri make the Big 12 Conference stronger, weaker, or the same?
Doyel: It's a wash at the moment, but if Dana Holgorsen's first year at West Virginia was no fluke -- and I don't think it was -- then long term it'll be a plus move for the Big 12. For whatever reason Texas A&M just can't be a great football program, and it damn sure can't be great in the SEC. TCU and A&M might be roughly equal -- I need to see TCU go 11-1 in a BCS conference before I get too effusive -- but a good West Virginia program is greater than a good Missouri program. I just re-read this and agree with every last one of you: What I said makes no sense. But I'm too lazy to delete it, so I'll repeat: It's a wash at the moment.
Morris: I think the changes have made the conference slightly weaker, and by slightly I mean fractional. West Virginia has an established following and program, and it’s only getting better with Dana Holgorsen at the helm. TCU is still growing, and it seems as though the sky is the limit in Fort Worth. On the flipside, you lost Texas A&M’s home strength with Kyle Field and the 12th Man, and lost the death-trap in Missouri where top-ranked teams go to die. Those are two road games that, if won, boost a team’s standing with the polls and national crowd, no matter what kind of team the school has. West Virginia is there, but TCU isn’t—Yet.
3) Who are the most underrated and overrated teams in the Big 12 this year?
Doyel: Man, you picked the wrong guy to ask this question. I'm not expert enough to tell you, so let me look real quick at the Top 25 and give you a top-of-the-head, probably wrong answer ... Texas is overrated. Texas seems to have two quarterbacks, which means it has zero quarterbacks. Not a good place to be. And underrated? Oklahoma State, obviously. And not just because this is going in the OSU student paper. Well, maybe.
Morris: When I think of overrated, I think of Texas. David Ash was finally named the starter at quarterback, but that’s the only real change the Longhorns have made from their 7-5 team a year ago. The wild card there is freshman running back Jonathan Gray, who could relieve stress on the quarterback situation. As far as underrated, I’m taking West Virginia. Oklahoma was picked to win the conference, but the Mountaineers have Heisman contenders at quarterback and running back, as well as a stout home field advantage. I think West Virginia wins the Big 12 without a fight from hardly anyone.