ESPN/ABC college football announcers Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit spent nearly an hour this week on a teleconference with reporters. They were asked their thoughts on the upcoming college football season and here’s a transcript of what they had to say about the Big 12:
Question: It’s been a pretty interesting three years for Texas ‑‑ but Mack Brown is now saying that it’s a year you can expect them to make another run. Curious what you guys expect from Texas this year.
Musburger: Well, we know one thing: They have always got outstanding, talented football players, simply because Texas is up there with Florida, California and now Georgia in the way the high school programs turn out with very talented athletes. So I don’t think there’s an excuse for Texas not to have a good season, and I think Mack Brown realizes that and I think he has felt some of the pressure from the fans and the media down there.
I don’t know about you, but I saw Texas as one of the sleeper this is year. If you’re looking at sort of a long shot to make a run, they might be able to do that down in the Big 12. I don’t know how you feel.
Herbstreit: Well, 19 starters back on a team that people forget, they still won nine games last year. It feels like they were 6‑6, but they went 9‑4. And I think that there’s two issues for me with Texas, that you want to see how much they have improved; No. 1, how consistent can they be at quarterback.
I think if you really go back and watch Vince Young hand the baton to Colt McCoy, that was seven or eight years of just outstanding play at that position, and the offense scored a lot of points. And then you go from that night to Brenton, Iowa there, watching Garrett Gilbert step in for Colt from the 2010 season and beyond, they have really struggled for consistency at quarterback and they have not been able to blow people off the ball. It’s a bad combination for an offense. Yet, still they scored 35 points a game a year ago; so how will they play at quarterback.
Then watching their defense last year, it was mystifying. I mean, they missed more tackles I think than any other team that I watched film all year a year ago, and most of those guys returned, and you just wonder, how is their off‑season gone ‑‑ how I think angry are they.
If I’m a Texas football player and I’ve had to be around for the last two or three years, and listen to what’s being said about my coach and my teammates and myself, I would think that they are going to show up somewhat with a chip on their shoulder and I think they are going to have to.
I think Texas, potentially, on paper, it’s hard to imagine them not having a good year. But until they go out and kind of play with an attitude and play in a bad mood, I think everybody has to really reserve judgment until you see the 2013 version of who the Longhorns are; but on paper, they look to be a team to look out for and have a legitimate shot at competing and winning the Big 12 and maybe getting back to a BCS Bowl game.
Question: Any particular story line(s) in the Big 12 you’re taking a look at? You were talking about Texas earlier, and Kirk, you just talked about TCU, but Baylor is a team that seems to have a little bit of swagger and thinks that they have got a chance to make some noise. Any other storylines you guys are looking at in the Big 12?
Musburger: I’m going to start with Oklahoma State and then I’ll turn it over to Herbie.
It’s interesting opener for them on a weekend where at Clemson, they will be playing Mississippi State at home and we will see how they come out of that. I like the fact that their home schedule includes obviously Oklahoma, and they play Baylor a couple weeks before that. They do have a game late at Texas, but I sort of am keeping an eye on the Cowboys.
I think the coaching staff down there has done an outstanding job and they know how to score some points. They always get a little bit overlooked, and I know that Oklahoma is a big brand down there along with Texas. But Herbie, I’m going to keep an eye on the Cowboys here, especially in that Mississippi State game.
Herbstreit: It’s funny, you and I have not spoken and I have Oklahoma State to win the Big 12, so you and I are seeing the same thing there. I think everybody has to be impressed with their offense, but I think the defense has a chance to be better this year.
So I like Oklahoma State in that story line. They are no longer a team that battles for three or four years and gets up and competes with the guys and they kind of go away for a few years, I think scratch and claw their way back.
I think Mike Gundy deserves a ton of credit and obviously the facility and the way they have upgraded, they are a legitimate top program now, not just in that conference, but in the country. I think Oklahoma State has definitely arrived with arrived with Mike Gundy’s leadership.
I think TCU, I think this is the year we them being more competitive in the Big 12. As we said they have had some off the field problems of their own and they seem to be poised to have a better year.
Baylor, I think at this point, with Art Briles, we all know that whoever is quarterback is going to put up crazy numbers and this year it’s going to be Petty. But Lache Seastrunk, anybody that’s watched film him play would realize that he’s one of the most explosive running backs in the country.
Obviously touch on Oklahoma, you go all the way down to Kansas State with Bill Snyder, 22nd year; I know he loses his quarterback but everything I’ve heard about this Jake Waters is he’s a legitimate player and coming out of the junior college ranks is one of the best players at that level. If he can pick up this offense ‑‑ the Big 12 has got a lot of depth and there really isn’t any leak that you can let your guard down and you could lose to about anybody in that conference.