This week, the 2016 edition of the most dysfunctional family reunion in college football takes place in Dallas, Texas.
Yes, it's Media Days for the Big XII conference, and after an offseason in which the league flirted with expansion (aborted) and one of the conference's winningest teams of the past five years was rocked by an internal scandal that saw the head football coach fired in late May (there's never a good time to fire your coach, but that might be the worst), who the hell knows what to expect in 2016?
For now, the only big announcement expected to come within the Big XII over the next couple of days is Baylor's introduction of former Houston and Missouri athletics director Mack Rhoades as its new AD. (Rhoades's taking that job is probably a whole other post unto itself.) As for actual football, the media covering the Big XII unveiled their preseason poll, and if they're right, they should be happy in Norman... and in Houston (I'll explain momentarily):
2016 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll
1. Oklahoma (24) 258
2. TCU (2) 222
3. Oklahoma State 202
4. Baylor 156
5. Texas 151
6. Texas Tech 141
7. West Virginia 126
8. Kansas State 88
9. Iowa State 59
10. Kansas 27
(first-place votes in parentheses)
With links below to each team's schedule, here is one thought on each of the Big XII teams and their schedules (with many more thoughts to come between now and September 3):
Much respect to the Sooners for scheduling up outside of the Big XII in their three non-conference games, although when they signed up to open against U of H, Tony Levine was the head coach of the Coogs. They probably would've thought twice about scheduling Tom Herman and Urban Meyer in their first three games. Also, the conference opener is against TCU on October 1. Three of the first four games for the Sooners are against likely Top 15 teams. It will be fascinating to see what happens if Houston wins that opener and Oklahoma goes on to beat Ohio State at home and win the Big XII. The last playoff spot could come down to an undefeated Houston and a one-loss Oklahoma with a head-to-head loss to the Coogs. That would be fun!
TCU HORNED FROGS
Did you know that TCU plays two games the entire season outside the state of Texas? And that it gets Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at home? And that the two games outside the state of Texas are Kansas and West Virginia? What I'm saying is this lines up as a very college football playoff berth-friendly schedule.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
If Oklahoma State gets past Baylor in Waco in the conference opener, it could be a very hot undefeated team to discuss heading into late November, when Oklahoma State then travels to Fort Worth and Norman in the last two weeks of the season (and winds up in the Alamo Bowl).
I have no idea what to expect from Baylor, which will be operating for the first time since 2007 without Art Briles on the sidelines after the former head coach was ousted for his role in not punishing football players who were raping female students. The Bears should start out 3-0 against three non-Power Five layups, but maybe watch and see how they're winning those games. If the games are closer than expected, that could be a foreshadowing for a long conference season.
I'm not sure of the number of wins Charlie Strong needs to keep his job, but this schedule may make that difficult. The Notre Dame game will be either a huge confidence builder if they can pull off the upset, or another slap that could send the first five weeks of the season sideways again. My guess is the Longhorns are once again trying to play spoiler in the last week of the season, which is not what the Horn faithful (or ESPN) wants.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
If Tech can knock off Arizona State in Tempe and Oklahoma can take care of its business, that October 22 game in Lubbock could be a lot of fun. Is it weird that I think Tech has a better shot at being undefeated heading into that game than OU?
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
Seventh place in the conference is usually 4-5 or 3-6, so if that's the case here, Dana Holgorsen could be in trouble after this season. He probably has the hottest non-Longhorn coaching seat in the conference.
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
How soon until Bill Snyder says, "Screw this, I'm too old for this..." How old does he need to be? 90? 100? 150?
IOWA STATE CYCLONES
First two weeks of the season are like an Iowa college football jamboree — Northern Iowa and Iowa. Other than that, I got nothing.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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