1. Outside of 5 or more undefeated teams, do you see a scenario were the Bears can be left out of the Playoffs with a 12-0 record?
No. Any talk of any Power 5 champion going undefeated and getting left out of the playoff is pure fantasy.
2. You recently named your top players in the Big 12. Andrew Billings was ranked 2nd behind only Trevone Boykin. How does Billings rank compared to the best defensive tackles you have seen in the Big 12?
He's not quite to that level yet. When I think of the best tackles in league history, I think about Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Tommie Harris. You can't argue with that kind of consistency, production and dominance. Billings isn't to that level yet, but he's also still young. There's time to write his legacy.
3. Is Baylor a household name across the US now? If not, how long would it take with this level of performance to get there?
Well, I think it's safe to say people associate the name more with a university now than a dude named "Elgin." Is Baylor accepted as one of college football's best brands? No.
However, it's winning the important battle in its most important place: Texas. I've always said that one generation in recruiting is about five or so years. Baylor has had it going about that long while Texas has slid and Oklahoma hasn't been what it once was. Texas A&M and Baylor have joined Texas as programs every 15 and 16-year-old wants to hear from on the recruiting trail.
4. How does Shock Linwood stack up against the rest of the top running backs in the Big 12? His success more him, the offensive line, or the offense?
Shock is a great fit for this offense. He has a really low center of gravity and rarely lets the first guy who touches him bring him down. His production is a combination of all of those things. Would his YPC be as high if he played for Texas or Oklahoma? Probably not. Is he as powerful as Samaje Perine or as speedy as other backs we've seen in the league? No. However, he's solid and is going to be productive in that offense. He doesn't have many runs that make you say "Wow," but he does more than fine in this offense and gives Baylor more than it needs in the talent department in the offensive backfield.
5. What is the biggest issue holding UT back? Is it as simple as they need a QB, or is it their offensive line performance in recent years?
The offensive line is thin, but like we saw from many of Texas' one-dimensional teams with Colt McCoy, good quarterback play can mask a ton of deficiencies. When you don't have it and the losses pile up, it feels like a mountain of problems. Texas' issues run deeper than quarterback (this year, a depleted, young defense will probably take a step back) but its ceiling is extremely low without an above-average passer.
6. With Baylor being the best of the Big 12 the past two years, and TCU coming on strong last year, how long do you think it will take Texas and/or OU to get back to where they were 4-5 years ago (the Colt era so to speak)?
Oklahoma could do it this year. I don't see the Sooners returning to a perennial top five team in the near future, but Oklahoma is a real Big 12 title sleeper and has a ton of talent and potential all over the field. TCU and Baylor have more proven entities, giving them the edge, but nobody will be surprised if Oklahoma puts together an 11-win season this year.
Texas is still another year or two away, but the Longhorns have a ton of variables and things that have to fall into place for it to happen. The defensive personnel is excellent, but they need to find 8-9 guys they can rely on along the offensive line and find some big-play guys at receiver, or at the very least some consistency.
7. How much of a gap do you see between Baylor and TCU and the rest of the Big 12?
This year, it's going to be pretty large. Eight of the Big 12's teams could knock them off without raising many eyebrows, but only Oklahoma or Oklahoma State will be able to put up any real competition to win the league. Still, I expect this year to be a lonely two-horse race for the Big 12 title.