DALLAS — Big 12 Media Days arrive Monday, kicking off the season of a sport that for all its ills has no threat of a lockout.
In honor of the number of schools that now call the Big 12 home, here are 10 questions I hope to have answered in the next two days.
1. Is Texas A&M as high on quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the Aggies were on Jerrod Johnson?
Think about it. A&M always loves its quarterback, then usually replaces him before his career is over. Johnson. Stephen McGee. Reggie McNeal. Does an Aggie quarterback ever go out in a blaze of glory?
Tannehill was solid after taking over for Johnson last midseason. But he wasn't great. He looks like Paul Thompson to me. Super guy. Great leader. But there's a reason he was playing receiver.
2. Is the Texas quarterback job open?
Garrett Gilbert last season threw 17 interceptions and just 10 touchdown passes. That's bad in 1949. It gets you slaughtered in 2010.
So why was Gilbert not replaced? Mack Brown believes in his man? Gilbert's competitiveness in the second half of that Big Bowl against Alabama remains a vivid memory?
What if the answer is simple? What if backups Case McCoy and Connor Wood just aren't any good?
3. How do you define hope in Ames, Iowa?
Let's see. In 2010, Iowa State beat Texas Tech in Ames and Texas in Austin, and still the Cyclones went 5-7.
Now Iowa State jumps into the round-robin Big 12, playing all six Oklahoma and Texas schools every year, plus Missouri and Iowa (the latter in nonconference).
I think Paul Rhoads is a good coach. The people at Iowa State do a lot with little. But you tell me how they're supposed to find hope.
4. Is Brandon Weeden the most engaging man in the Big 12?
Baylor coach Art Briles and supervisor of officials Walt Anderson are his chief contenders.
The Oklahoma State quarterback, who turns 28 in October, has more personality than most of the quarterbacks and head coaches in the league. Put together.
Weeden wowed Big 12 media last July with his charisma, then wowed Big 12 media last autumn with his quarterbacking, becoming OSU's first-ever all-conference QB.
5. How long will Bill Snyder coach?
Kansas State's return to the top is much more difficult in the new-order Big 12.
When Snyder built KSU into a respectable program, he did so in the Big Eight. When Snyder won the Big 12 championship, he did so in a divisional format playing in the weaker North.
Now everyone's in the virtual Big 12 South. Good luck with that. Will Snyder, who turns 72 in October, have the stamina to see it through?
6. Will Tommy Tuberville trash his own league again?
Last summer, the new Texas Tech coach said everyone knew the Big 12 was not long for this world.
Now, after a new cable-TV contract restored stability and Texas Network antics shook the same, what will Tuberville say?
7. Is Missouri becoming a quarterback factory?
Gary Pinkel's previous three quarterbacks have been Brad Smith, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert. An all-purpose NFL player, a Heisman finalist and a top-10 NFL draft pick.
Is James Franklin that caliber of player? Or is Pinkel's system so solid that any good quarterback will excel in Columbia?
8. What's Robert Griffin like?
The Baylor quarterback, once considered a budding superstar, didn't come to Media Days last July.
Bad move. The face of Baylor football needs to be the face of Baylor football. Hopefully he'll be here this week, but he's been passed on the pecking order by Weeden and Landry Jones.
9. How do the Jayhawks feel about their basketball team?
I mean, really. What major conference football program is as destitute as Kansas right now? Vanderbilt maybe. Washington State probably. Not even Duke ranks as lowly as Kansas.
The Mark Mangino Orange Bowl of 2007 seems as distant as the Pepper Rodgers Orange Bowl of 1968.
10. Will Landry Jones still be the Marlboro Man?
The Oklahoma quarterback actually showed traces of emotion the other day during his ESPN interview with Urban Meyer. Talking about the late Austin Box, Jones had to take a second to compose himself.
It's been quite an ascension for Jones. Last summer, a lot of Sooner types wondered if Jones was the man for the job. This summer, a lot of Sooner (and non-Sooner) types wonder if Jones is the man for the Heisman.
How will Jones handle himself in such a spotlight?
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.