Big 12 media week has been in full force this week, including the conference's media members voting on various preseason predictions. Wells asked in this thread when us bloggers would be donning our own prognosticatory caps, to which I replied: soon.
And here we are. I sent out an email to all of the Big 12's most active bloggers, asking them to participate in our own version of a community projection for the Big 12 this season.
Almost everyone who I got in touch with got their ballot back, and what follows is the results of our cumulative voting. Special thanks to each of the 16 bloggers who responded: Clone Chronicles, Crimson and Cream Machine, The 12th Manchild, K-State Cat Zone, Double Extra Point, Double T Nation, Off Tackle, 40 Acre Sports, TAMU & Baseball, Big Red Network, Aggie Sports, OU Sooners Blog, Corn Nation, Bevo Sports, Husker Mike, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk.
The Bloggers' Preseason Big 12 Predictions are after the jump. Please note that as the organizer of this vote, BON abstained from voting in this. Our own selections will come in this space in the coming weeks.
The media goes with Missouri, but the bloggers aren't buying it. My best guess? The bloggers don't trust Gary Pinkel. Hard to blame them, but this is a tough division to call.
Bloggers basically split between Texas and Oklahoma, with the Sooners receiving one more point of support in the balloting. Again: no shock here. The winner of the Red River Shootout will be heavy favorites to capture the division crown.
Quarterback: The majority of voters went with McCoy, which isn't a huge risk. McCoy should have beat out Zac Taylor for the conference Offensive POY award last year, and likely would have had he not been injured in Week 11. The strong support for Chase Daniel isn't surprising, either. He's a talented quarterback entering a year when many in his position hit their stride.
Running backs: Texas A&M is the overwhelming consensus here, and for good reason. They had the conference's best 1-2 punch last year, and both return. Token votes for Oklahoma, Texas, and Oklahoma State, who will all field talent in the backrfield, but at least in late July of the year, no one can claim to know they have what A&M does.
Wide Receivers: A smart bunch, these bloggers. The Longhorns' pass catchers receive the most support, followed by Oklahoma. No real controversy here. Both of the South Division's top teams have outstanding receiving talent.
Offensive Line: The Sooners get the bloggers' nod, with A&M not far behind. Tough to argue with this. Both schools return a lot of experience from units which achieved considerable success in 2006.
Defensive Line: I was pleasantly surprised to see my blogging brothers vote Texas to this top spot near-unanimously. I clearly agree and look forward to seeing Okam, Lokey, Miller, Lewis, and Orakpo wreak havoc this year. I'm not sure running on Texas is gonna be much easier in 2007 than it was in '06.
Linebackers: Nebraska has your blogger consensus best LB unit, which seems fair. Bo Ruud's a terrific player and should help Nebraska field one of their stronger run-stopping units since Callahan arrived. Surprisingly, Texas got a lot of support at #2. I happen to think our linebacking situation is much better than advertised, but I thought that might be the minority view. My colleagues apparently agree, though.
Defensive Backs: The Sooners swept the first place votes in this category, and it's tough to argue otherwise. Too many question marks in the secondaries across the rest of the conference.
Offensive Player of the Year: Colt McCoy gets the greatest support, and it's easy to see why. Not only was he probably most-deserving of the award last year, but he returns his top six pass catchers from the 2006 season. Colt will have to be outstanding, though, as there's a lot of elite offensive talent in the conference this year. Daniel, Bowman, McGee, Reid, Sweed, and Harrell make for a dynamic bunch of competitors.
Defensive Player of the Year: Reggie Smith and Aqib Talib garner the most blogger support, with Bo Ruud not far behind. I personally think Talib's a truly special player on a subpar team, which makes him both a worthy candidate for this award as well as an unlikely one. Keep an eye on our own Derek Lokey, too - before he broke his leg in 2006, he was wrecking this conference like no one else.
Conference Game of the Year: Voters weren't allowed to choose a game in which their affiliated team was participating, but we get a nice snapshot of the conference's most intriguing matchups. All the nominees (except A&M-Baylor) are must-see games, and a sign of how strong and challenging this conference should be in 2007.
Non-Conference Big 12 Game of the Year: Bloggers couldn't decide between Nebraska-USC, Oklahoma State-Georgia, and Miamia-Oklahoma. (Note: There were three votes for Texas A&M-Miami which was cut off from the posted table.) And it is a tough choice. I'm personally partial to OSU-UGA, if only because it's in the season's first week. Whatever your preference, it's critical that the Big 12 win at least one of those three games. Going 0-3 would really ding this conference's strength in the court of public opinion.
And that's it, kids. I can't even begin to tell you how much work this was to put this together. Without some sort of automated vote counter, it was an exercise in tedium.
Worth it, I think.
And now it's your turn, readers. Commentary? Criticisms? Personal thoughts on the various categories?
Thanks to all who participated.