What a difference a year makes. Going into the 2019 season, there was a lot of unknowns within the Big 12 conference. The league was breaking in four new head coaches and several other teams were going to be starting new quarterbacks. Now, a year later, the outlook is a lot different. In a sport where returning QBs and coaching stability have often led to success, the Big 12 is looking strong in 2020.
Incredibly enough, using that traditional metric for predicting success, it is Baylor and Oklahoma, the two teams that played into overtime in the 2019 Big 12 title game, that look to be weaker on paper. Baylor is starting fresh with a new head coach, while Oklahoma will be starting a QB that will be making his first collegiate start since Trevor Knight in 2013; something the Sooners have avoided due to transfers. Obviously, both schools have reason for optimism, however. Baylor loses a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball, but still returns most of their dynamic players on offense, and Lincoln Riley has done his part on the recruiting trail which should pay dividends. But essentially every team can make an argument that they will be better in 2020 than 2019. TCU played with a freshman QB all season long last year. Chris Klieman led K State to a surprising season in his first year and the Wildcats return most of their pieces. And even West Virginia, a squad that looked bad at times last year, was playing much better football towards the end of the year.
It would not be a surprise if the 2020 Big 12 season turned out like the 2012 season. That year the conference had 9 teams that were bowl eligible. It was filled with a bunch of squads that had records of 6-6 or 7-5. Top to bottom that was one of the most competitive years the Big 12 has ever had. Unlike the 2015 and 2008 seasons, which had much a more top-heavy competition, the 2012 season was one where anybody could beat anybody on any given weekend.
It will be interesting to see if there is an odd team left out at the end of the season. Will any of the programs lose momentum from 2019? Assuming there is football in 2020, it should be an exciting year in the Big 12 conference.