By now, everyone is aware of what happened; the U.S. finally wised up to the real threat of the Covid-19 and began social distancing. The downside was the cancellation of all live sporting events, specifically spring collegiate sports and activities.
For the Big 12, just like everyone else, that includes spring football. While this is obviously a set-back for every college football team, there are some who will feel the affects of the pandemic shutdown more than others.
So, Andy Mitts, Colton Wood, and myself — Phillip — decided to hop into our Slack chat and discuss which teams were going to feel the affects of no Spring Ball the hardest.
Phillip: Who do we each think is the team most impacted by the cancellation of spring ball?
Colton: In my mind it goes to the teams with new/newer coaches. I think culture is going to be a big part of this because with a good culture the players will probably hold themselves more accountable. Also I think if you have a lot of younger players, that hurts as they usually grow a lot in spring ball. West Virginia and Texas Tech are in the top half of returners so I think they’ll fare a little better. That leaves Baylor, Kansas, and K State.
I think Coach Klieman has done a great job of getting that winning mentality to his program. I also think Les Miles is doing pretty well and has been able to make KU more competitive. His experience alone will help him with this, along with the strong recruiting he has done. I think it will be Baylor. Not that Aranda is a bad coach but with the limited interaction with players, there may be a difference between what he expects and what the players are doing.
Andy: I think it’s also determined by who is replacing the most production at key positions or dealing with significant coaching changes
Phillip: Baylor would be one of my number two two, but I would put Texas at number one. Combine the fact that Tom Herman basically replaced his entire staff including OC and DC with last season’s disappointment, and that all means he has to win this year. That could be hard to do even with the talent they have. They return a lot.
Andy: It really comes down to Baylor, Texas and Kansas. I think, since KU is implementing a brand new offensive system in really turning the reins over to (OC Brent) Dearmon AND trying to find a brand new quarterback with no clear leader, they have some real issues.
Phillip: I didn’t think about Kansas but that’s a good one. They rank 126th out of 130 FBS schools in returning production next season, according to ESPN’s Bill Connelly.
Andy: I think Kansas has a slight advantage in install, since there is a little bit of familiarity with what Dearmon wants, but they were always going to rely so much this year on development of players and being flexible with schemes based on what they learned in camp. And not having a QB is going to be REALLY hard to deal with. Baylor and Texas at least have good collections of talent that will allow them to get good basic plans and strategies set up. I don’t see a lot of variance in what they are going to do at a basic level that I do from Kansas .
TCU might struggle similarly if they still have QB issues, but probably not to the same degree, and probably not necessarily because of spring practice being cancelled.
Phillip: Back to Colton’s point on Baylor; along with a new coaching staff, they rank 108th in returning production including 127th on defense. Throw in the fact that you have a QB that’s often hurt and a back-up QB battle to figure out, they might be No. 1.
Andy: Yeah, I could easily make a case for either Baylor or Kansas. Texas is probably a solid 3
Phillip: I just think the expectations for Texas pushes them higher. The move to replace his coaching staff means that if he doesn’t win more than 8 games this season, Herman could be gone as the end of the season. Neither Kansas or Baylor are facing the same kind of pressure to win.
Andy: I think a lot of this depends on how you define the impact. Are you talking about how this affects results? Or differences in how you evaluate the program? And what kind of time horizon are we talking about?
I think Kansas is going to rely a lot more on development of players, whereas Texas and Baylor is much more development of the system.
I also thinks it’s easier to mitigate impacts on the development of the system through education efforts with a higher talent/knowledge base. That’s why I put Texas at 3.
The head guy is the same, and they have a good collection of athletes and returning players that can contextualize differences and can rebound quickly once they get on the field. Baylor is trying to install completely new systems (theoretically), but in the short term, Aranda is a good enough coach that I think he and his staff can work with what they have to put something together. But I basically have KU and Baylor as 1A and 1B here
Colton: Yeah sorry. Had to catch up on the conversation. I completely forgot about Herman replacing almost his entire staff. That would probably push them top 3 for me as well with K State at a close 4.
Now that you bring it up Baylor and Kansas may be closer than I thought. Yes development of players is big, but that’s not Aranda’s bread and butter to begin. Hes a huge Xs and Os guys and loves to scheme. If he can get that information out to his players over the internet/phone, that may help him. It’s just a matter of how complex it is and whether they can pick it up quickly when they come back. That may end up being tough though.
Phillip: So Colton, explain KSU at 4 to me a little more. I know they lost their DC, but they’re 76th nationally in returning production and bring back most of the coaching staff.
Colton: I like to look at both returning production and just straight up returning starters. Yes people with more production returning is good, but if you have a higher quantity of people with experience that can be leaders, that’s good in a situation like this. Kansas state ranks last in returning starters at only three on offense and five on defense.
Phillip: Yikes. That’s not much returning starting production.
So to wrap this up how would we rank each Big 12 team in regards to most impacted by a lack of Spring Ball?
Andy: I tend to rate teams with unsettled QB situations higher
Andy: Boom, Kansas wins! Oh wait…..
Phillip: Ha! Perfect ending.