Could this be the best Big 12 football season ever?
The Sporting News polled 12 former college coaches on several topics.
One question was which conference is superior?
The Southeastern Conference won by a landslide, 11 1/2 votes to 1/2. Former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder split his vote.
But the fact the Big 12 is viewed as the SEC's stiffest competition shows why there are lofty expectations this season.
"I think it's definitely the best it's been, top to bottom,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. "Oklahoma has been consistent. We've been consistent. A lot of the other guys have gone up and down. Right now, in this league, you better play (well) every week.”
The primary reason many believe this could be a banner year for the Big 12 is 10 teams return a starting quarterback.
Five of the following QBs — Chase Daniel (Missouri), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Zac Robinson (OSU), Colt McCoy (Texas), Todd Reesing (Kansas) and Josh Freeman (Kansas State) — won't make first or second-team all-Big 12.
"It's not just quarterbacks but a good number of returning players,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. "But the quarterbacks do make such a difference. Last year was pretty strong itself. But I agree, it's going to be challenging, no question.”
The league returns 164 starters. Every team returns at least 10 starters. Nine teams return 14 or more starters. Combine that with a bumper quarterback class, and it's a fair question: Could this be the best season in Big 12 history?
"Yeah, maybe,” said Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.