DALLAS -- The Big 12 Conference is a quarterback-driven league, a statement as true as the days are hot in Texas.
There are binders of evidence from Waco to Manhattan, Kan.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Texas Tech's Seth Doege and West Virginia's Geno Smith were among Division I-A's top passers in 2012, and Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor in 2011.
But just three starters return to the league this season and as many as eight quarterback battles will be in play at the league's 10 camps next month.
That includes West Virginia, where finding Smith's successor will occupy August for the Mountaineers.
"We're in the same situation as, I think, seven or eight other Big 12 schools right now," said coach Dana Holgorsen at the league's annual media days. "The quarterback play in the Big 12 last year was phenomenal, and it's always going to be phenomenal. It's just going to be with newer people. Who is our guy going to be? I don't know."
He will come from the trio of Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, redshirt freshman Ford Childress and junior Paul Millard, Smith's backup last season, and the only one with live snaps as a Mountaineers player.
Holgorsen raved about Trickett without prompting, if that says anything.
"We've got Clint Trickett coming in, who has probably as much experience in the college game as anybody in the Big 12, just because he's been a starter in some big games, he's been around it his whole life," Holgorsen said. "He's a very smart kid, graduated at Florida State in three years, backed up two first-round draft picks at Florida State in three years.
"Didn't tell him that he was going to start either."
He'll have to beat out Millard and Childress, Holgorsen said.
It's been a five years since Holgorsen went through a bona fide competition in preseason, dating to 2008 at Houston when Case Keenum was named the starter three weeks into camp.
"When I see one guy separate himself from the other guys we'll name that starter whether it's a week into it, two weeks into it or three weeks into it," said Holgorsen, who refused to put a timetable on naming a starter.
He said he didn't see Millard or Childress separate himself from the other at spring football, and said clues at camp will come from sources other than his staff.
"Production, confidence, the way the other guys react to a specific guy is big," Holgorsen said. "We'll talk to our receivers, the O-line. We'll watch them for some sort of a sign that says they believe in a particular guy. That's a big thing. I didn't see that in spring."
And so it will go around the league.
Oklahoma must replace Jones.
Blake Bell -- the "Belldozer" -- has rushed for 24 career touchdowns, but will have competition.
Kansas State has to fill Colin Klein's cleats, and Texas Tech needs to find a successor to Doege -- both among Division I-A's top passers in 2012 with Smith.
Jake Heaps, a transfer from BYU, is expected to be the starter at Kansas, and at Baylor, Bryce Petty is considered the heir apparent to Nick Florence, who followed Griffin.
Casey Pachall rejoined the program at TCU, but will compete with Trevone Boykin. No starter has been named yet.
At Oklahoma State it's also unclear. Clint Chelf returns, but will compete with sophomore J.W. Walsh.
Texas returns quarterback David Ash, who is playing with confidence, said coach Mack Brown.
"Yes, we're a quarterback-driven league, and if you just look at the last 10 years, this league has been known for the best quarterbacks in the country and the best passers and the best offenses," Brown said. "So the fact that we've struggled at quarterback for two years on and off is a true fact that we've struggled as a team some because he touches it every time..
"[Ash is] leading the team much better, and they believe in him right now. Sitting here the last two years, I haven't been able to say that."
For Holgorsen, his situation is no different than the rest of the Big 12.
"I think everybody's pretty much in the same boat," he said. "Everybody's got the ingredients to win. It's how you develop them, and it's catching some breaks that win you some games."
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published July 24, 2013 4:00 AM