This preview is not concerned with X’s & O’s or talent. It is going to predict the standings of the Big 12 based on the mental health of each Big 12 team with a focus on the head coach. DISCLAIMER: I am not a psychiatrist.
1. Iowa State Cyclones
Many of you are scratching your heads wondering how this could happen. Iowa State has gone 24-27 under Paul Rhoads and has made a bowl game three out of four years. Their best returning starter may very well be their punter, Kirby Van Der Kamp. All of that doesn’t matter because Rhoads has reached a serenity with his team that would earn the aproval of any psychiatrist. Rhoads’ willingness to open up is a major breakthrough for a profession that too often relies on stoicism. The relationship between head coach and players will no doubt give the Cyclones an advantage in this year’s campaign.
2. Baylor Bears
Another team whose head coach seems to be in a very good place. Art Briles has decided to stay in Waco the past few off seasons when many believed he would leave for a better job. With a new stadium on the way and a long term commitment by Briles, the Baylor program is in great shape for mental tranquility. (Also, handing the ball to Lache Seastrunk behind a spread out offense is a hell of a thing to do to opposing defenses.)
3. Kansas State Wildcats
I can’t get a read on Bill Snyder. In fact, I’m pretty certain he’s a wizard like Gandalf. After a brief retirement he returned as Gandalf the White, more powerful than ever. Plus he eats one meal a day late at night. This is beyond earthly talents.
4. TCU Horned Frogs
It seems as though Gary Patterson’s defense is suffering from Bipolar Disorder. It only gave up 24 to Oklahoma, 21 to Baylor, and 16 to SMU which are really impressive performances. On the other hand, giving up 56 to Texas Tech, 39 to West Virginia, and 37 to Iowa State were not signs of a healthy mind. I’ll give Patterson the benefit of the doubt with him just joining the league and predict a more balanced year. (Also, his 4-2-5 base could be the Rosetta Stone of slowing down Big12 offenses.)
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Kliff Kingsbury returns to Lubbock to lead the Red Raiders after starring at QB and setting records there. Kingsbury’s goal is to win the Big 12 conference. His Air Raid mentor, Mike Leach, led Texas Tech to heights previously unmatched in Tech’s history. Leach was good for 8-9 wins a year and even had Tech ranked at #2 in the country at one point. I bring this up to show how unlikely it is to essentially have back-to-back eras of the best results in school history. These delusions of grandeur mean Kingsbury will have difficulty coping with the struggles of reality.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Gundy has won 49 games in Stillwater over the last 5 years, which is very impressive. However, this offseason has not been smooth for the coach of the Cowboys. Gundy was heavily criticized for how he handled Wes Lunt’s transfer. Gundy’s reluctance to let go of this relationship and his inability to move on is worrying. Especially for someone who has a bunch of talent at QB returning. Gundy has a history of unpredictable episodes (Man, 40) which leads me to believe he has Intermittent Explosive Disorder. This is very treatable with medication or therapy so hopefully Gundy can get back to coaching quarterbacks instead of quarantining them.
7. Oklahoma Sooners
Bob Stoops seems to be in crisis. He has had an offseason full of strange comments preceded by that weird AT&T ‘Hello’ commercial. He is showing signs of Acute Stress Disorder. His statement that the SEC is overrated indicates a reduction in awareness of his surroundings. Acute Stress Disorder is most often a result of a traumatic event in which the subject responded with intense fear and helplessness (ie, The Cotton Bowl and Johny Manziel). This could be just the beginning of a mid-life crises that ends with him leaving Norman to become the DC of his high school alma mater in Youngstown, Ohio, which would officially be the worst pilgrimage ever. Add in the looming issues of fratricide with his brother on staff and things could get ugly in Norman this year.
8. Texas Longhorns
Oh, my…what a mess. Mack Brown seems to be dealing with issues that should have been resolved long ago. An identity crisis is most commonly seen in the younger part of a coach’s tenure, not at what could be the end. Since their loss to Alabama, Brown has claimed a young team each preseason. This is either a miracle achievement in a sport where players have 4 years of eligibility or an awful lack of self-awareness. Last year, Brown was boasting that he had remade his Longhorns to play like an SEC team. He even did radio hits in SEC country repeating this falsehood. This year, Brown claims the team is a hurry-up spread team. How has Brown forgotten that opponents should be trying to be more like Texas and not the other way around?
9. West Virginia Mountaineers
A fascinating subject, Dana Holgorson is. That offensive scheme in Morgantown could have only been developed in the mind of a pyromaniac. A scorched earth policy that gives in to even the slightest impulse. With Holgo, the fire seems to come not in pursuit of team gain, but rather only for the worship of the flame itself. Combine this with incoming QB Clint Trickett (who seems a great fit for WVU if you recall his performance against Oklahoma after an injury to EJ Manuel) and the offense at Milan Puskar should be a ton of fun. But two pyros playing with fireworks without restraint can’t end well.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Too many problems. Requires independent case study.