THE BEST OF THE BIG 12 IN 2012
1. Interim B12 commissioner Chuck Neinas leads the league to agree on a granting of television rights back to the conference through 2025, solidifying the league ... for now.
The work of Neinas to secure the grant of rights led to the Big 12 and SEC partnering up for the Sugar Bowl starting in the 2014 season. That Sugar Bowl agreement alone will add $8 million per school in additional TV revenue, giving each school a baseline of $28 million from TV revenue starting in 2014.
The Big 12 is now in a position to add schools as opposed to being raided - like it was the last two years with Nebraska and Colorado leaving after the 2010-11 school year and Missouri and Texas A&M leaving after the 2011-12 school year.
2. Collin Klein becomes a Heisman finalist and Bill Snyder wins Kansas State's third-ever conference title at age 73.
K-State was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 this year because no one thought the Wildcats could repeat their performance from 2011, when 8 of the Wildcats' 10 victories came by a touchdown or less.
K-State put seven on the All-Big 12 first team as selected by the coaches: QB Collin Klein, RB John Hubert, TE Travis Tannahill, OL Cornelius Lucas, DE Meshak Williams, LB Arthur Brown and S Ty Zimmerman.
3. Senior quarterback Landry Jones comes up big down the stretch for the Sooners in victories over Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU to help OU claim a share of its eighth Big 12 title in 14 years under Bob Stoops.
Jones helped erase two, 11-point deficits against Oklahoma State and two fourth-quarter deficits at West Virginia with a down-the-field passing game to Penn State transfer Justin Brown and Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders.
Thanks to Baylor's upset of Kansas State, Stoops was able to claim another Big 12 title under Stoops, who is now 9-5 against Mack Brown.
4. Baylor QB Nick Florence led the entire country in total offense, and the Bears won 4 straight games over Kansas State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and UCLA to finish 8-5.
If Florence hadn't come in for spot duty in relief of injured starter Robert Griffin III in the Texas Tech game of 2011, he'd have another year of eligibility.
But Florence went out with a bang, setting the school record for passing yards in a game (581) in a 70-63 loss to West Virginia and beating out Johnny Manziel as the nation's total offense leader.
Senior WR Terrance Williams, a two-star recruit, led the nation in receiving yards (140.9 ypg) and finished with 1,832 yards and 12 TDs.
Lache Seastrunk has already declared himself the one to beat for the 2013 Heisman Trophy. Art Briles was rewarded with an 8-year, guaranteed contract that will pay him roughly $3.5 million annually, sources told Orangebloods.com.
5. Oklahoma State overcomes injuries to freshmen quarterbacks Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh to finish 8-5, including a wipeout of Purdue in the Heart Of Dallas Bowl.
Athletic director Mike Holder opened his check book to keep Mike Gundy from leaving for Arkansas, and the Cowboys are a team to watch in 2013.
I'm still not sure how Oklahoma State lost to OU 51-48 in OT this year, even with junior, third-stringer Clint Chelf at QB.
THE WORST OF THE BIG 12 IN 2012
1. Oklahoma, favored by 3 ½ points, beats Texas 63-21 to make it three in a row over the Longhorns, including an average margin of victory the past two years of 40 points.
Four of Texas' seven worst losses in the Red River Shootout have now come in the Mack Brown Era: 52 points (65-13, 2003); 50 points (50-0, 1908); 49 points (63-14, 2000); 45 points (45-0, 1956); 42 points (63-21, 2012); 39 points (52-13, 1973); 38 points (55-17, 2011).
This loss, more than any other, alienated the Texas fan base and put Mack Brown's relationship with UT faithful a week to week basis.
At one point in the first half, OU had 314 yards of offense, and Texas had 14 yards of offense. Texas was down 36-2 at halftime.
Carrington Byndom scored on a pick-six in the third quarter. But the UT offense didn't score a TD until there was 4:43 left in the game to cut OU's lead to 56-8.
2. Some defenses in the Big 12 definitely cost their teams dearly this season, even Oklahoma.
Texas' defense gave up more yards and more yards per game this season than any in school history.
Baylor and West Virginia were in the bottom three pass defenses nationally. And at the time of Baylor's upset of Kansas State, the Bears were the worst total defense in the nation, giving up 519 yards per game.
Baylor's defense, which ranked dead last in tot got a little better down the stretch, but the Bears' D cost BU a chance to pull off victories at West Virginia and Texas.
Oklahoma's defense gave up 229 yards rushing to Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel in a 43-14 loss to the Aggies in the Cotton Bowl and gave up truckloads of yards down the stretch of the season, including 344 yards rushing to West Virginia's Tavon Austin.
Despite West Virginia's amazing offensive performances from QB Geno Smith ( 42 TDs, 6 INTs and 71 percent completion), WR Stedman Bailey (1,622 yards receiving and 25 TDs) and RB/WR Tavon Austin (1,289 yards receiving, 12 TDs), WVU lost 6 of its last 8 games, including a defeat by Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl.
3. Tommy Tuberville leaves Texas Tech, a member of an automatic-qualifying conference, for Cincinnati in the disintegrating Big East.
Tuberville was never fully accepted at Tech after the way Mike Leach was run out of town. Much of the fan base was still loyal to Leach and mad at the administration for the way that relationship ended.
Tuberville brought some pain on himself by rifling through three defensive coordinators in three seasons:
1) Alabama LB coach James Willis (who resigned because of personal issues);
2) TCU secondary coach Chad Glascow (fired after one season);
3) Art Kaufman (Tuberville's former DC at Ole Miss).
After losing four of their last five to end the regular season, Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt wanted a commitment from Tuberville that he was determined to take the Red Raiders to the next level or life could get difficult.
Tuberville initially said he was committed to turning things around at Tech. But less than 24 hours later he was on his way to Cincinnati, a school in a dissolving conference.
It's clear Cincinnati is trying to look attractive as a realignment target and decided to invest in Tuberville to help the Bearcats land somewhere other than the Big East.
But still a surprising move.
4. There were some injuries that seemed to have devastating effects on their teams, such as Texas LB Jordan Hicks (groin), K-State S Ty Zimmerman and Iowa State LB Jake Knott (shoulder).
Hicks was supposed to be the quarterback of the 2012 Texas defense, and when he left with a groin injury in Game 3 against Ole Miss, it seemed the confidence of the Texas D went with him.
Hicks' injury exposed the poor job Manny Diaz had done in developing the team's younger linebackers to handle Hicks' absence.
It also exposed the recruiting shortcomings of Texas LB positions, including Dravannti Johnson in 2008 and Tariq Allen and Patrick Nkwopara in 2009.
K-State safety Ty Zimmerman's injury right before the Baylor game seemed to create some serious doubt in the Wildcats' D, which gave up 342 yards rushing in that 52-24 upset by the Bears.
Iowa State lost four of its last five after Knott suffered a season-ending shoulder injury. ISU gave up at least 31 points in each of those four losses after giving up 31 points only once in the first eight games of the season.
5. TCU's player suspensions.
Gary Patterson had four defensive players suspended before the season who were caught up in a drug sting, including leading tackler Tanner Brock.
Then starting QB Casey Pachall was suspended at mid-season after being arrested on a DWI charge.
At that point, freshman Trevone Boykin, who was working at backup running back, was moved back to quarterback and played well enough to help pull out road victories at Baylor, West Virginia and Texas.