The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

May 11, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: Big 12 gets little attention from NFL

MORGANTOWN — One could be led to believe, after three days of non-stop coverage of the NFL Draft in living rooms and bars across America, that the National Football League knows something about college players.

They employ hundreds of people and spend millions of dollars making sure they do.

That is their jobs.

And, going on the assumption that the league is the best at everything from playing the game to selling cars and insurance to putting on a halftime show, one can assume after this year’s draft that the Big 12 Conference wasn’t very good this past year.

No other conclusion was left after seeing the draft.

Consider the best players — at least those who were draft eligible — to come into the NFL.

They certainly would be found in the first round of the draft.

There were 32 first round picks. Two were used on Big 12 players. TWO!

That’s how many Texas A&M players were drafted in the first round BEFORE Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel went to Cleveland.

Texas A&M and Louisville had three players picked in the first round – not combined.

EACH!

 When we in West Virginia moved to the Big 12, we were told what a tremendous step up in football this was, that this was the conference in which Texas and Oklahoma played, as if we should genuflect whenever their names were mentioned.

Texas and Oklahoma, huh? Neither school had player selected in the first three rounds of the draft.

In fact, Oklahoma’s first selection did not come until wide receiver Jalen Sanders was picked by the Jets with the 104th selection of the draft.

Texas?

Zip. Not a single Longhorn was selected.

Weren’t we told about the athletes that come from the state of Texas and got to the University of Texas, told over and over again, and isn’t the NFL into not letting athletes get away?

Hmmmm.

Want to know what best tells you how weak the Big 12 was? WVU had more players drafted in the first three rounds than any other Big 12 team— two.

That’s right, through three rounds of the draft, the Big 12 had sent Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert to the Browns with the draft’s eighth selection; TCU had sent cornerback Jason Verritt to the San Diego Chargers with the 25th pick of the first round; Texas Tech’s superman of tight end Jason Amaro went to the Jets with the 49th pick in the second round while WVU running back Charles Sims went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 69th pick in the third round and WVU defensive end Will Clarke went to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 88th pick.

That was it for the Big 12.

The other power conferences?

The SEC had 23 selections in the first three rounds (11 in the first round), the Big Ten had 16 picked, the ACC 15, the Pac-10 had 14. The Mountain West, for goodness sake, had 6, one more than the Big 12 in the first three rounds.

Remember when they said you were doing better in the Big 12 than the Big East?

Consider this then: In the first three rounds former Big East teams Pitt (1), Syracuse (1), WVU (2) and Louisville (4) had eight selections to 5 for the Big 12, and the Big 12 total includes WVU.

Notre Dame had five players selected in the first three rounds, as many as the Big 12 alone.

Oh, and the realignment of conferences didn’t do much to help the Big 12’s rep, either, as Texas A&M with three picks (all in the first round), Missouri and Nebraska with two, combined for seven picks, which was more than all their old compadres out of the Big 12.

To be fair, this was a weak senior class in the Big 12, a lot of underclassmen making all-conference recognition, and it was a down year coming in for quarterbacks, but …

Face it. The 234th pick of the draft was used on Terrence Fede of Marist, the first player ever selected out of that New York state school, while Texas, a team that in 1974 had 17 players selected in the NFL draft, was still awaiting someone to be drafted … and it never came.

And so it ended. The SEC had 49 players selected, the ACC 42, the Pac-12 32, the Big 10 30 and the Big 12 had 17 players picked, seven of them in the final round.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

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