Welcome to 2011, and here's the inaugural conference call.
As usual, the answers are after the jump.
1. You probably saw our All-Conference Teams (before conference play), but who is the Coach of the Year so far?
EP: The Mayor, Fred Hoiberg. We’ll see what the Cyclones can do in conference play, but if you told me that the Clones would have two on the Pre-Conference team, that they’d be 13-2 and ranked 8th in Power Ranking, I’d have told you to lay off the whiskey.
JL: Well my first instinct is to say Bill Self since his team wasn’t the favorite in the conference but he has them at #3 in the country already but I gotta go with Fred Hoiberg. Nothing was expected out of the Cyclones and he has got them playing some good competitive ball.
MP: Hoiberg's done a great job, but I'm going with Mark Turgeon. The Aggies have survived a massive talent drain: Donald Sloan, Bryan Davis and Derrick Roland were their top three contributors last season. Turgeon is responsible for a lot of success.
2. Where does Kansas’ first loss come this year (or does it not come at all)?
EP: When do they play Bucknell? Just kidding …They went to overtime in Boulder last season, and I still expect CU to play up to my preseason hype, so I’ll say January 25. (I don’t see them losing at home and their games at K-State, A&M and Mizzou are after the game in Boulder).
JL: First loss in general or at home? I am gonna go out on a limb here and say maybe Jan 17th @ Baylor. Could be one of those games where Lace Dunn just smokes a bunch of threes and I think Baylor has frontcourt to deal with Kansas. If they are going to lose at home this year I think the best chance would be the game after Baylor against Texas.
MP: At Baylor the 17th makes the most sense to me. I think Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy will tear the Jayhawks apart on the offensive end. That said I also expect Baylor to start living up to some expectations. That might be a little much to ask, but we'll see. I also think this is the year that the home winning streak comes to an end. The Jayhawks have been flirting with losses already, and the top half of the conference is very strong.
3. Which teams do you think are trending up for conference play? Which teams are trending down?
EP: Trending up, Mizzou. They are on fire right now. Simply en fuego. Trending down, Baylor. No doubt.
JL: Definitely up are Iowa State & Texas from their preseason expectations and Missouri also. Going WAY DOWN at the moment is Baylor. K-State you would say is going down but with Wally Judge maybe stepping up finally it’s hard to tell if they are up or down. I am probably only person who think this but I really think Nebraska will be improved in conference this year.
MP: I think Texas is trending up. The Longhorns are looking better and better every game. I'm really excited to see their game with Connecticut this weekend, and their game with Kansas later this month is arguably the most important game of conference play (and maybe Kansas' best chance for a loss at home). On the other side of things is Oklahoma State. They've racked up a ton of wins (and a little buzz), but I think they're ready to go downhill very quickly.
4. What’s your New Year’s Resolution for the Big 12 (or a team in the Big 12)?
EP: I think that K-State needs to resolve to let a leader emerge and win some ball games. If that is the case, the conference can reclaim the number one RPI ranking in the country.
JL: The Big 12 as a whole conference? I wouldn’t even know where to begin to be honest after the whole conference re-alignment fiasco showed they aren’t always on top of things down there in Dallas.
MP: Live up to preseason potential. Baylor and K-State have major talent, but have been off on their execution. I think bot teams still have a chance at greatness if they can get it together here in conference play.
5. Back to college football one more time. Who wins the national title between Auburn and Oregon and where do you set the over/under? Second, what has been your favorite part of Bowl Season this year?
EP: Auburn has to win, right? Right. And it’s going to be a HUGE point total. Let’s set it at 75. Growing up in Ohio, my favorite part has been the Buckeyes victory over the SEC, but as a football fan it has to be Tyrod Taylor’s amazing scramble/touchdown pass – and the fact my wife’s alma matter, Stanford, won the game makes the play one of those you can just watch in amazement and not feel guilty that it cost your team the game.
JL: I have gone back and forth on this game but I am gonna go with Auburn, have to stick with SEC team. I just feel they play a better brand of football than PAC-10 does. Over/Under I would say what 64.5 points, I don’t know really. I can’t say I have a favorite part since nothing sticks out to me. I do have a least favorite part and that has to be the screw job given to K-State by the Big 10 officials. If Syracuse can flash the Jay-Z thing after every touchdown I am pretty sure KSU can give a freakin salute. Between this and the rule change next year negating td’s for excessive celebration penalties along with the NFL rule changes where it’s a penalty to hit anyone especially a QB, football is getting more frustrating to watch.
MP: Cam Newton is having the most dominant season since Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State shout out!), so I've got to go with Auburn. Should be an unbelievable game. I'll split the difference and go with 70.5. Although it'll be interesting to see if either team tries to be a little more conservative given the huge consequences of the game, but I doubt it. Well my least favorite part is hearing entire SportsCenters dedicated to Jim Harbaugh's undecided future. My favorite game might have been the huge Alabama win over Michigan State. I felt like Alabama really lost focus after their lost to South Carolina, and it was great to see that group perform at their highest level. I also had been a little annoyed with all the "Michigan State should've been in a BCS Bowl" stuff, so that didn't hurt too much either.