Is the conference of high powered offenses now the conference of quarterback indecisions?
As Big 12 teams have piled up the points and yards, star quarterbacks have been an integral part. Robert Griffin III. Landry Jones. Collin Klein. Brandon Weeden. The list goes on.
And the list is empty entering the season. Texas' David Ash is the only returning quarterback with significant starting experience last season. It's a big reason why you can make a legitimate case for a number of teams as conference champions.
Oklahoma's decision to go with redshirt freshman Trevor Knight as its starting quarterback doesn't do much to clear up the starting quarterback picture. It's in-state rivals, Oklahoma State, are going with a two-QB system to begin the year. And four other teams are either playing coy or haven't decided on a starting quarterback for the beginning of the season. That's half of the 10-team conference. USC, you are not alone.
Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy said Thursday that Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh would split time in the season opener against Mississippi State. Both Chelf, a senior, and Walsh, a sophomore, started games last season, though Walsh posted a higher completion percentage and threw for more yards per pass. Chelf started the final five games of the season, including the Cowboys' bowl blowout of Purdue.
The Cowboys are a popular pick to win the conference for the second time in three seasons. If that's going to come true, they'll likely have to pick one quarterback and stick with him. It says here that Walsh becomes that guy.
Kansas State: Klein is gone, and in true Bill Snyder fashion, the coach isn't saying much about his starting quarterback for the opener against North Dakota State yet.
The candidates are Daniel Sams and Jake Waters. Sams backed up Klein last season and Waters is a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, where he threw for 3,501 yards and 39 TDs versus 3 interceptions last season and was a JuCo All-American. In situational duty last season, Sams threw just eight passes, but he ran 32 times for 235 yards and 3 TDs.
We'll likely find out who's going to start on Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star. That's when Snyder traditionally announces his starting quarterback if there's a preseason competition.
TCU: Casey Pachall is the most experienced returning QB in the conference after starting 13 games in 2011, but he only played five games in TCU's first Big 12 season before left the team in October and entered rehab after a DWI arrest.
His replacement for the final eight games was redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin, who was up and down. In his first game as a starter at home against Iowa State, he threw three interceptions and TCU's 12 game winning streak was snapped. A week later at Baylor, he didn't turn the ball over, threw four TDs and TCU won by 28.
TCU coach Gary Patterson says that Pachall is "not even the same person" after returning to the team. However, he's not announcing a starting QB anytime in the immediate future. TCU plays LSU in Dallas August 31 and Patterson would like to keep the Tigers in the dark about his plans as long as possible.
Texas Tech: Is a true freshman going to start at quarterback in Kliff Kingsbury's first game as Texas Tech head coach?
It's very possible.
Michael Brewer, the favorite for the starting job, has been sidelined with a back injury and isn't practicing. That's opened up the position for freshmen Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield is a preferred walk-on, though he was offered a scholarship from former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach at Washington State. After playing in high school at Lake Travis in Austin, he elected to stay in-state and walk on with the Red Raiders with the hope of eventually getting a scholarship. Webb enrolled in January and participated in spring practices.
Kingsbury hasn't said which direction he's leaning, though he did leave the option open of a plan similar to Gundy's where both quarterbacks see action against SMU.
West Virginia: Geno Smith is now in a quarterback circus with Mark Sanchez in New York, so the candidates for West Virginia's starting quarterback are Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, Ford Childress or Paul Millard.
Or there could already be a starter named and we just don't know. Last week, coach Dana Holgorsen said that he was close to naming a starter amongst the three, though he would keep that decision private.
If a decision has, or hasn't, been made, Trickett was considered the favorite. Last season at Florida State, Trickett completed 22-34 passes across seven games as EJ Manuel's backup. He was able to transfer immediately as a graduate student.