Big 12: Florida Gators

Best cross-conference recruiting battles 

July, 31, 2014
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Some recruits get attention from all over the country. Whether it’s their prowess or proximity to multiple teams, top prospects will have schools from multiple conferences pursuing them. ESPN.com’s conference recruiting reporters look at five players in the recently updated ESPN 300 who have different conferences after them and have recruiting battles that could carry throughout the fall.

NOTE: For battles with multiple teams, reporters chose reported leaders or best fits.

Position U: Defensive back

June, 18, 2014
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Who really deserves to claim the title of "Defensive Back U" for the 2000s?

1. Ohio State (238 points)
It didn’t hammer the field in the secondary like it did at linebacker, but more than a decade of consistency helped Ohio State claim the “Defensive Back U” title, too. When your school seems to always be in the thick of the championship chase, there’s a good chance that it will rank highly on these positional lists. Think Alabama, Oklahoma, LSU, USC, Texas. We keep seeing their names, which makes perfect sense if you think of how many wins they accumulated in the 2000s -- and in the case of Ohio State at defensive back, a lengthy tradition from Mike Doss, Will Allen and Chris Gamble to Malcolm Jenkins to Bradley Roby helped the Buckeyes outpace contenders like LSU, Oklahoma and Miami to proclaim itself “DBU.”

Award winners: Jenkins, Thorpe (2008).
Consensus All-Americans: Doss (2002), Allen (2003), Jenkins (2008).
First-team all-conference: Nate Clements (2000), Doss (2000, 2001, 2002), Gamble (2002, 2003), Allen (2003), Nate Salley (2005), Donte Whitner (2005), Ashton Youboty (2005), Jenkins (2006, 2007, 2008), Antonio Smith (2006), Kurt Coleman (2009), Chimdi Chekwa (2010), Jermale Hines (2010), Travis Howard (2012), Roby (2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Clements (2001), Gamble (2004), Whitner (2006), Jenkins (2009), Roby (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Derek Ross (Round 3, 2002), Doss (Round 2, 2003), Allen (Round 4, 2004), Dustin Fox (Round 3, 2005), Salley (Round 4, 2006), Youboty (Round 3, 2006), Donald Washington (Round 4, 2009), Chekwa (Round 4, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Derek Combs (Round 7, 2001), Donnie Nickey (Round 5, 2003), Coleman (Round 7, 2010), Jermale Hines (Round 5, 2011), Nate Ebner (Round 6, 2012), Christian Bryant (Round 7, 2014).

2. Oklahoma (220)
With four national awards and consensus All-Americans, Oklahoma was certainly going to be near the top of the board in the defensive back rankings. Its 16 first-team all-conference selections helped the Sooners edge LSU for the second-place spot even when Oklahoma only had two first-round selections in Roy Williams and Andre Woolfolk.

Award winners: Williams, Nagurski (2001), Thorpe (2001); Derrick Strait, Nagurski (2003), Thorpe (2003).
Consensus All-Americans: J.T. Thatcher (2000), Williams (2001), Strait (2003), Quinton Carter (2010).
First-team all-conference: Williams (2000, 2001), Thatcher (2000), Brandon Everage (2002), Strait (2002, 2003), Donte Nicholson (2004), Nic Harris (2007, 2008), Reggie Smith (2007), Dominique Franks (2009), Quinton Carter (2010), Jamell Fleming (2011), Aaron Colvin (2012, 2013), Tony Jefferson (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Williams (2002), Woolfolk (2003).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Strait (Round 3, 2004), Antonio Perkins (Round 4, 2005), Brodney Pool (Round 2, 2005), Smith (Round 3, 2008), Carter (Round 4, 2011), Jamell Fleming (Round 3, 2012), Colvin (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Mike Hawkins (Round 5, 2005), Nicholson (Round 5, 2005), Franks (Round 5, 2010), Jonathan Nelson (Round 7, 2011).

3. LSU (218)
With six consensus All-Americans and four award winners on its resume, it is no surprise that LSU threatened to claim the top spot at defensive back. LSU has churned out some incredible talent in the secondary in the 2000s, including players like Patrick Peterson, Mo Claiborne and Tyrann “The Honey Badger” Mathieu.

Award winners: Peterson, Bednarik (2010), Thorpe (2010); Claiborne, Thorpe (2011); Mathieu, Bednarik (2011).
Consensus All-Americans: LaRon Landry (2006), Craig Steltz (2007), Peterson (2010), Claiborne (2011), Mathieu (2011), Eric Reid (2012).
First-team all-conference: Corey Webster (2002, 2003), Landry (2005, 2006), Steltz (2007), Chevis Jackson (2007), Peterson (2010), Mathieu (2011), Claiborne (2011), Reid (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Landry (2007), Peterson (2011), Claiborne (2012), Reid (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Webster (Round 2, 2005), Travis Daniels (Round 4, 2005), Steltz (Round 4, 2008), Jackson (Round 3, 2008), Chad Jones (Round 3, 2010), Brandon Taylor (Round 3, 2012), Ron Brooks (Round 4, 2012), Mathieu (Round 3, 2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tharold Simon (Round 5, 2013), Norman LeJeune (Round 7, 2003), Curtis Taylor (Round 7, 2009).

4. Miami (202)
It’s apparently going to be difficult for Miami to maintain such a lofty position in the future. The Hurricanes have certainly experienced a drop-off since joining the ACC in 2004, as evidenced by a reduction in all-conference picks and All-Americans since then. But of the players on this list from The U’s pre-ACC days in the early portion of the 2000s, it’s safe to say that DBs like Ed Reed, Sean Taylor and Antrel Rolle would have dominated in any conference.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Reed (2000, 2001), Taylor (2003), Rolle (2004).
First-team all-conference: Mike Rumph (2000), Reed (2000, 2001), Al Blades (2000), Phillip Buchanon (2001), Rolle (2002, 2003, 2004), Maurice Sikes (2002), Taylor (2002, 2003), Kelly Jennings (2005), Kenny Phillips (2007), Brandon Harris (2009).
NFL first-round draft picks: Buchanon (2002), Reed (2002), Rumph (2002), Taylor (2004), Rolle (2005), Jennings (2006), Brandon Meriweather (2007), Phillips (2008).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Devin Hester (Round 2, 2006), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Round 3, 2011), Harris (Round 2, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Leonard Myers (Round 6, 2001), James Lewis (Round 6, 2002), Alfonso Marshall (Round 7, 2004), Marcus Maxey (Round 5, 2006), Brandon McGee (Round 5, 2013).

5. Texas (194)
It says a lot about the top-end talent that Texas has had in the secondary that nearly half of the Longhorns’ draft picks since 2001 (six of 13) were first-round selections. Two of them, Michael Huff and Aaron Ross, also won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back. Others like Quentin Jammer and Earl Thomas were consensus All-Americans before becoming first-round picks.

Award winners: Huff, Thorpe (2005); Ross, Thorpe (2006).
Consensus All-Americans: Jammer (2001), Huff (2005), Thomas (2009).
First-team all-conference: Jammer (2000, 2001), Rod Babers (2002), Nathan Vasher (2003), Huff (2004, 2005), Cedric Griffin (2005), Michael Griffin (2006), Ross (2006), Marcus Griffin (2007), Thomas (2009), Kenny Vaccaro (2011, 2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jammer (2002), Huff (2006), Griffin (2007), Ross (2007), Thomas (2010), Vaccaro (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4:
Babers (Round 4, 2003), Vasher (Round 4, 2004), Griffin (Round 2, 2006), Aaron Williams (Round 2, 2011), Curtis Brown (Round 3, 2011).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Tarell Brown (Round 5, 2007), Chykie Brown (Round 5, 2011).

6. Alabama (166)
Alabama is sort of a Johnny Come Lately on this list, but with four consensus All-Americans and five first-round draft picks (Kareem Jackson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dee Milliner and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix) in the last five seasons, the Crimson Tide is making its move. This is another example of the Saban Effect. Between 2000 and 2006, Alabama had two all-conference defensive backs and five draft picks. In the seven seasons since Saban’s arrival, Alabama has had nine all-conference DBs and nine draft picks.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Javier Arenas (2009), Barron (2011), Milliner (2012), Clinton-Dix (2013).
First-team all-conference: Roman Harper (2005), Simeon Castille (2006, 2007), Rashad Johnson (2007, 2008), Arenas (2009), Barron (2009, 2010, 2011), Milliner (2012), Clinton-Dix (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Jackson (2010), Barron (2012), Kirkpatrick (2012), Milliner (2013), Clinton-Dix (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Tony Dixon (Round 2, 2001), Harper (Round 2, 2006), Johnson (Round 3, 2009), Arenas (Round 2, 2010).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Waine Bacon (Round 6, 2003), Charlie Peprah (Round 5, 2006), Ramzee Robinson (Round 7, 2007), Marquis Johnson (Round 7, 2010), DeQuan Menzie (Round 5, 2012), Vinnie Sunseri (Round 5, 2014).

7. Florida (136)
Florida always seems to have at least one lockdown corner -- the Sunshine State is certainly loaded with athletes -- and good safeties. That’s reflected in its spot in the top 10 here. The Gators don’t have an award winner and have just three consensus All-Americans (Keiwan Ratliff, Reggie Nelson and Joe Haden), but there is an all-conference pick or draft pick from Florida in nearly every year we examined.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Ratliff (2003), Nelson (2006), Haden (2009).
First-team all-conference: Lito Sheppard (2000, 2001), Ratliff (2003), Nelson (2006), Haden (2009), Ahmad Black (2010), Matt Elam (2012), Vernon Hargreaves (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Sheppard (2002), Nelson (2007), Haden (2010), Elam (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Todd Johnson (Round 4, 2003), Guss Scott (Round 3, 2004), Ratliff (Round 2, 2004), Major Wright (Round 3, 2010), Jaylen Watkins (Round 4, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Marquand Manuel (Round 6, 2002), Reynaldo Hill (Round 7, 2005), Dee Webb (Round 7, 2006), Ryan Smith (Round 6, 2007), Black (Round 5, 2011), Josh Evans (Round 6, 2013).

8. Florida State (134)
There was a big gap between FSU’s consensus All-Americans at DB -- from Tay Cody in 2000 to Lamarcus Joyner last season -- but the Seminoles’ BCS crown certainly signifies that the program is back on the map. Jimbo Fisher’s club had a pair of all-conference picks and two players drafted from that secondary, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the program start moving up this list over the next couple of seasons.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Cody (2000), Joyner (2013).
First-team all-conference: Derrick Gibson (2000), Cody (2000), Chris Hope (2001), Stanford Samuels (2003), Antonio Cromartie (2004), Joyner (2012, 2013), Xavier Rhodes (2012), Terrence Brooks (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Gibson (2001), Cromartie (2006), Patrick Robinson (2010), Rhodes (2013).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Cody (Round 3, 2001), Hope (Round 3, 2002), Jerome Carter (Round 4, 2005), Bryant McFadden (Round 2, 2005), Brooks (Round 3, 2014), Joyner (Round 2, 2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Pat Watkins (Round 5, 2006), Myron Rolle (Round 6, 2010), Mike Harris (Round 6, 2012).

9. Georgia (126)
Mark Richt’s Bulldogs have just one first-round pick (Thomas Davis, who shifted to linebacker in the NFL) and two All-Americans, but a whopping 17 draft picks -- including guys like Brandon Boykin and Reshad Jones who are making an impression in the NFL today -- helped Georgia crack the top 10 at defensive back.

Award winners: Boykin, Hornung (2011).
Consensus All-Americans: Davis (2004), Greg Blue (2005).
First-team all-conference: Tim Wansley (2000, 2001), Sean Jones (2003), Davis (2004), Blue (2005), Tra Battle (2006), Bacarri Rambo (2011).
NFL first-round draft picks: Davis (2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Jamie Henderson (Round 4, 2001), Terreal Bierria (Round 4, 2002), Bruce Thornton (Round 4, 2004), Jones (Round 2, 2004), Tim Jennings (Round 2, 2006), Paul Oliver (Round 4, 2007), Asher Allen (Round 3, 2009), Boykin (Round 4, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Wansley (Round 7, 2002), Jermaine Phillips (Round 5, 2002), Blue (Round 5, 2006), DeMario Minter (Round 5, 2006), Reshad Jones (Round 5, 2010), Shawn Williams (Round 3, 2013), Sanders Commings (Round 5, 2013), Rambo (Round 6, 2013).

10. Virginia Tech (124)
There isn’t much flashiness here -- no award winners and just Jimmy Williams among consensus All-Americans – but 17 draft picks helped the Hokies break into the top 10. Frank Beamer’s program has produced some incredible DBs including Williams, DeAngelo Hall and Victor “Macho” Harris, as well as one of the best late-round picks in recent NFL drafts, Kam Chancellor.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Williams (2005).
First-team all-conference: Ronyell Whitaker (2001), Hall (2003), Williams (2004, 2005), Brandon Flowers (2006), Harris (2007, 2008), Jayron Hosley (2010), Kyle Fuller (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: Hall (2004), Fuller (2014).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Cory Bird (Round 3, 2001), Eric Green (Round 3, 2005), Vincent Fuller (Round 4, 2005), Williams (Round 2, 2006), Aaron Rouse (Round 3, 2007), Flowers (Round 2, 2008), Rashad Carmichael (Round 4, 2011), Hosley (Round 3, 2012).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Kevin McCadam (Round 5, 2002), Willie Pile (Round 7, 2003), Justin Hamilton (Round 7, 2006), Harris (Round 5, 2009), Cody Grimm (Round 7, 2010), Chancellor (Round 5, 2010), Antone Exum (Round 6, 2014).

“DEFENSIVE BACK U” RANKINGS
240 -- Ohio State; 220 -- Oklahoma; 218 -- LSU; 202 -- Miami; 194 -- Texas; 166 -- Alabama; 136 -- Florida; 134 -- Florida State; 126 -- Georgia; 124 -- Virginia Tech; 122 -- USC; 118 -- Wisconsin; 112 -- Nebraska; 104 -- TCU; 98 -- Tennessee; 94 -- West Virginia; 92 -- California, Michigan State; 90 -- Iowa, Louisville; 88 -- Utah; 84 -- Oregon, South Carolina; 82 -- Clemson, Michigan; 74 -- UCLA; 72 -- Penn State; 70 -- Kansas State, Washington State; 68 -- Pittsburgh; 66 -- Auburn, Oregon State; 62 -- NC State; 60 -- Oklahoma State; 56 -- Wake Forest; 54 -- Rutgers; 52 -- Arizona, Notre Dame; 48 -- Colorado, Maryland, Stanford; 46 -- Arizona State; 44 -- Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Syracuse; 40 -- Minnesota; 36 -- Arkansas, Ole Miss, Washington; 34 -- Georgia Tech; 32 -- Baylor; 30 -- Texas A&M; 28 -- Duke, Virginia; 24 – BYU, Purdue; 22 -- Northwestern, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt; 20 -- Boston College; 18 -- Kentucky, Missouri; 16 -- Iowa State; 12 -- Indiana
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Washington has a chance to turn its 2014 recruiting efforts around with key Pac 12 games; Texas Tech running back commit Justin Stockton found himself in a problem this week; and will the New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr duo of Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis III visit Gainesville this weekend?


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Cameron RobinsonGreg Ostendorf/ESPNFriday's decision by offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the No. 3 prospect in the ESPN 300, between LSU and Alabama could foreshadow the last five months of the 2014 cycle.

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Cameron Robinson announces on Friday and his pick could go a long way toward determining who has the No. 1 class, TE DeAndre Goolsby is quickly climbing the charts of many recruiters, and Elijah Hood’s decision could help UNC lure one of nation’s top surprise classes.

Decision day set for Robinson
One of the most significant recruiting battles of the 2014 class will come to close Friday when the nation’s No. 3 overall player Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe) announces his decision. Robinson, a five-star prospect, is a franchise offensive tackle that only comes around once every few classes, and the battle between LSU and Alabama is one that could set the tone for the rest of the recruiting season. If LSU lands him, then it could help the Tigers run the table with other high profile in-state recruits like No. 1-ranked Leonard Fournette. That type of run could help the Tigers unseat the Tide from the top spot in the class rankings that it’s held for the last two years. If Alabama lands him, then the Tide basically locks up another No. 1 class with more than five months left in the recruiting calendar. Most projections, including RecruitingNation’s Hot Board, have Robinson leaning towards Alabama.

A picture is worth a thousand words

videoThe Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Florida pulled off a trifecta Monday that established Travaris Robinson as a leading candidate for recruiter of the year, Baylor landing K.D. Cannon is not a small thing, and who has the respect of recruiters in the Mountain West.

Big Monday for Gators


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The Big 12-SEC dream games

May, 16, 2013
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The SEC and Big 12 announced an annual challenge on the basketball court, but colleague Edward Aschoff wondered what it would look like if that challenge extended to the football field.

There are already two games on the schedule this season -- between TCU and LSU, and Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. What else would I like to see?

Let me start by saying that renewing the Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas rivalries are a given. I'm omitting those matchups, but I'd love to see them.

Let's get started:

Oklahoma State vs. Alabama: OSU narrowly missed out on playing for the national title back in 2011, and both are among their conference favorites again in 2013. When the BCS "snubbed" the Pokes after the 2011 regular season, OSU coach Mike Gundy half-jokingly suggested these two play for the right to play LSU in the title game. It would be fun to see this one finally played out on the field.

Baylor vs. LSU: Straight up offense vs. defense. That's the Big 12 vs. SEC debate at its heart. Baylor just might be the Big 12's best offense, and LSU will put together another strong defense. These are the matchups we want to see. The Big 12 has faltered on the big stage, helping the SEC stretch its run of national titles, but seeing Bryce Petty sling it around against an athletic defense would be a lot of fun.

Texas vs. Arkansas: Arkansas' exit from the Southwest Conference helped usher in the birth of the Big 12 after the SWC crumbled. Texas has bigger rivals like Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but these two played some of the greatest games in college football history, and as an Arkansas native, I've seen up close how much Razorbacks fans detest the Longhorns to this day. The result would be a great game and a hyped atmosphere.

TCU vs. Texas A&M: Texas A&M fans take exception to the idea that TCU was an on-field "upgrade" over the Aggies in the Big 12. The Aggies largely struggled in the Big 12 after some early success and a Big 12 title under R.C. Slocum. Since leaving for the SEC, the Aggies have gone nowhere but up, and ended 2012 as the hottest team in college football. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has a Heisman Trophy. Could he shred the Frogs? Want to prove TCU is not an upgrade? Beat TCU on the field.

Kansas State vs. Florida: Kansas State is perpetually underrated and wins with a bunch of junior college guys, and high school players overlooked by major programs. Florida won big under Urban Meyer, but has been largely overrated since Meyer left and was whacked by Louisville to end 2012. The Gators would be suiting up an army of recruiting stars, but could Bill Snyder, the Manhattan Magician, grab a win for the Big 12?

Oklahoma vs. Georgia: Mark Richt and Bob Stoops have one big thing in common: Neither fan base truly appreciates what their coach has accomplished. Consider this an opportunity for both to quiet the hot-seat talk. It's been a lot more intense for Richt, who endured a 6-7 season back in 2010, but he's won the SEC East in each of the past two seasons. Stoops has averaged just over 10 wins a season at Oklahoma, and Richt has averaged just under 10 wins. Call this the "Underappreciated Bowl."
DALLAS -- Kansas coach Charlie Weis spent a season as Florida's offensive coordinator under Will Muschamp in 2011. He joins Iowa State's Paul Rhoads (Auburn defensive coordinator in 2008) as the only Big 12 head coaches with experience in the SEC since its run of seven national titles began at the end of the 2006 season.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has been out of the SEC since his days as Florida's defensive coordinator from 1996-98, but made headlines with some sharp critiques of that conference's current status as college football's kingpin.

"You’re listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you. You’re more than smart enough to figure it out," Stoops told the Tulsa World. "Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?"

Stoops' comments have ignited something of a debate in the past week, but Weis, who hadn't heard anything of Stoops' comments until I informed him of them Thursday, says the Sooners coach is speaking the truth.

"Do you know the stats? In the SEC, the record of the good guys and the bad guys?" Weis asked ESPN.com in a recent interview.

"The stats" to which Weis is referring have appeared a few times on this blog, and paint the SEC as a league devoid of parity, at least last season. The conference's bottom eight teams went 0-30 against the top six teams in 2012.

"I’m just sayin’, you look at the bottom of our league and the bottom of their league, just going based off the numbers, there’s validity in what he said," Weis said. "I’m just going based off the numbers, I mean, I’m a numbers guy. Just based off the numbers, you’d have to say he’s got a point."

The Big 12 and SEC both sent nine teams to bowl games, but that number meant 90 percent of the Big 12 participated in the postseason, the highest number of any conference in college football history.

"We were the only team in the whole league that didn’t play in a bowl game. It was us. We were the sole member," Weis said. "You talk about bottom-feeders, you think Iowa State was a bottom-feeder?"

Certainly not. The Cyclones have reached bowl games in three of the past four seasons, never finishing the regular season with a record better than more than three Big 12 teams. Iowa State reached a bowl in spectacular fashion in 2011, upsetting BCS No. 2 Oklahoma State and derailing the Cowboys' national title hopes.

The Big 12 hasn't been able to beat the top of the SEC on the field in quite awhile, but Stoops, Weis and I are in agreement on at least one front: The bottom of the Big 12 is anything but a sure victory for any team in the league.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops stirred up a healthy debate this week when he took a few shots at the SEC, the same league that's captured the last seven national championships.

"So they've had the best team in college football," Stoops told the Tulsa World. "They haven't had the whole conference. Because, again, half of 'em haven't done much at all. I'm just asking you. You tell me."

Stoops, who recruits players to Oklahoma and as such, the Big 12, has a responsibility to defend the league he coaches in, but he may have gone a little too far.

"So you're listening to a lot of propaganda that gets fed out to you," he said. "You're more than smart enough to figure it out. Again, you can look at the top two, three, four, five, six teams, and you can look at the bottom six, seven, eight, whatever they are. How well are they all doing?"

What I don't understand about the ensuing uproar is this: People don't want to buy three statements I believe are true and far from being mutually exclusive:
  1. The Big 12 has the strongest bottom half of any conference in football.
  2. The SEC is the nation's best conference on the football field.
  3. Considering its reputation and the way people refer to it, the SEC is far overrated.

I agree with Stoops that the gap isn't as wide as people think, but fresh off a 28-point beatdown to an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl, now is probably not the time to be making that argument.

Fortunately, our colleagues at SportsNation have stepped in and taken Stoops' points to the people. How would you rank a Big 12/SEC 24-team superconference? You can fill out your own ranking here, but here's how I'd slot it:
  1. Alabama
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Georgia
  4. South Carolina
  5. Oklahoma State
  6. Florida
  7. TCU
  8. LSU
  9. Texas
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Baylor
  12. Kansas State
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Vanderbilt
  15. Ole Miss
  16. Mississippi State
  17. Auburn
  18. Missouri
  19. West Virginia
  20. Arkansas
  21. Iowa State
  22. Tennessee
  23. Kentucky
  24. Kansas

Thoughts on my ranking?

Champions Bowl headed to SEC territory

November, 6, 2012
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So much for JerryWorld.

The so-called Champions Bowl will essentially just be the new Sugar Bowl and be played in the Superdome in New Orleans, La, sources told ESPN.com.

From our news story:
New Orleans was chosen over the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. Two weeks ago, SEC commissioner Mike Slive told ESPN.com those cities were the two finalists.

Sources said one of the factors why the Sugar Bowl was selected was the SEC's long history in New Orleans. An SEC team played in the inaugural Sugar Bowl in 1935 and SEC teams have been a staple with the bowl game since.

Besides New Orleans and Arlington, the other cities submitting bids for the Champions game were Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio.

The game will take the name of the Sugar Bowl as the Champions Bowl name was a temporary placeholder.

Money is money, and the SEC and Big 12 will share and $80 million payout for the game, the same amount the Pac-12 and Big Ten get for the Rose Bowl.

Still, I'm sure Big 12 coaches are really fired up about having to play SEC teams down on the Bayou.

See more about the game in our news story.

Big 12 falling further behind the SEC

October, 16, 2012
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The Big 12 lost its lead last week, but the SEC gained four full points on the Big 12 in this week's Conference Power Rankings from ESPN Stats and Info.

The Big 12 was hurt most by West Virginia’s loss to unranked Texas Tech Red Raiders," wrote Stats and Info's Sharon Katz. "West Virginia fell from fifth to 17 in the AP Poll and no Big 12 teams was able to regain the points lost by the Mountaineers."

Here's the full rankings:

That's a troubling trend for the Big 12, but Oklahoma will have a big chance to earn the Big 12 some nonconference respect next week when Notre Dame makes a trip to Norman.
The Big 12's held on all season, but the SEC finally passed it for the No. 1 spot in the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings.

The Big 12 still has the No. 1 spot in the computer polls, but the Big 12 took a hit in the human polls after just four Big 12 teams showed up in Sunday's AP rankings. The SEC took the lead by a full point after steadily creeping up on the Big 12 since the rankings debuted.


What was the biggest factor for the move? From the Stats & Info Blog:
Losses by Top-5 teams LSU and Georgia did not impact the SEC’s conference ranking because they lost to teams that were also in the Top 10.

On the other hand, losses by TCU and Texas Tech impacted the Big 12 in the rankings since they lost to teams with worse records entering the game.

The computers still favor the Big 12 over the SEC due to the depth of the conference, but the gap has narrowed. The SEC’s dominance in the polls has vaulted the conference into first place for the first time since the final conference power rankings of the 2011 season.

It's going to be a tight race all season, but for now, the SEC's pulled ahead by a nose.
The Big 12 still has a lead over the SEC as ESPN Stats & Info's No. 1 conference, but it continues to grow smaller and smaller.

Last week, by way of grabbing four teams in the top six of the polls, the SEC took the lead over the Big 12 in the human polls.

The Big 12 still has the lead in the computers, but its overall lead is just half a point in this week's update. The Big 12 and SEC, however, are a healthy 12.5 points ahead of the Pac-12 at No. 3.

"The computers favor the Big 12 with nine of its 10 teams ranked in the top 34 out of 124 possible schools," writes the Stats and Info crew. "In comparison, only eight of 14 schools in the SEC rank in the top 34 by the computers."

SEC jumps over Big 12 in human polls

September, 25, 2012
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ESPN Stats & Information has released its latest iteration of the college football conference rankings, and the Big 12 has officially lost its lead over the SEC in the human polls.

The Big 12 still holds the overall lead, but it holds the No. 1 spot by only 0.9 points. Conversely, the Big 12 and SEC are ahead of the Pac-12 by nearly 11 points.

The Big 12 has a 25-3 record in nonconference play, the best of any conference, and two of those losses came by Kansas, the Big 12's 10th-place team.

Still, the SEC grabbed four of the nation's top six spots, and you can see that progress in the new conference rankings.

TCU and West Virginia gave the Big 12 a pair of wins over the ACC.

ESPN Stats & Information College Football Conference Power Rankings

 

Big 12, SEC need to square off more

September, 12, 2012
9/12/12
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Finally, it’s time. College football’s two best conferences will meet on the gridiron, with bragging rights at stake.

The Big 12. The SEC. Head to head. Get excited.

... Wait, what?

It’s Texas and Ole Miss? As in, No. 12 Texas and Ole Miss, who was picked to finish last in the SEC West after winning two games a year ago and firing its coach.

Sigh. Nevermind.

The two leagues’ only 2012 meeting will take place in Oxford on Saturday, but could you draw up a worse representation of the two leagues?

The annual Big 12-SEC debate, at its core, is a simple one: Offense vs. Defense. The SEC swept both meetings in 2011, but both involved the SEC’s top spread attack, Arkansas, and one of those games involved Texas A&M, who’s now an SEC member.

On Saturday, the Big 12’s best defense (and No. 8 offense a year ago) will take on the Rebels, who, well, weren’t good at much of anything a year ago, and finished last in total defense and 11th in total offense.

In each of the past two seasons, the two leagues have scheduled just one regular-season matchup, and played once in the Cotton Bowl.

There’s hope in the future: West Virginia will meet Alabama in Atlanta to open the 2014 season. Oklahoma will play a home-and-home against Tennessee in 2014 and 2015, and the same against LSU in 2018 and 2019. Kansas State is scheduled to host Auburn in 2014. TCU is scheduled for a home-and-home against Arkansas in 2015 and 2016, right after it finishes a home-and-home with LSU in 2013 and 2014.

Next year, Texas hosts Ole Miss as the back half of the home-and-home, and there's a chance Oklahoma State and Mississippi State meet in Houston to kick off the season.

For both leagues, more meetings would be a win-win. The SEC can strengthen the debatable premise that it’s the nation’s best league. Yearly Big 12 beatdowns would assure that.

Head-to-head wins by the Big 12 (along with a national title or two) would boost the league into the SEC’s equal, an idea that’s not as far as it seems even now.

The best piece of news for fans clamoring for more? The Champions Bowl.

The Cotton Bowl provides the biggest stage for the two teams to meet, but the SEC has dominated that rivalry, winning eight of the last nine games. The Big 12’s lone winner — Missouri in 2007 — left for the SEC after 2011.

The Champions Bowl provides a better game, a bigger stage and more money. The details of the game (site, cash payouts, television deal) still have to be ironed out, but when it's done, there's no doubt it will stake a claim as one of the game's best postseason exhibitions.

There’s a natural rivalry between the two leagues fostered on and off the field now, after Texas A&M and Missouri spurned the league they helped found to become the SEC’s 13th and 14th members.

The Big 12 says it’s stronger with TCU and West Virginia as replacements, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that’s the case. The only way to know? Prove it on the field.

Of course, Texas and Kansas hold the key to two more Big 12-SEC matchups, but refuse to make them happen. Texas A&M and Missouri were the other half to two of college football’s oldest rivalries. For now, both are dead. If (and it’s a big if) Texas and Kansas change their minds, the two leagues can add two more annual meetings. Don’t count on that any time soon.

The Big 12’s new nine-game conference schedule helps up the Big 12’s TV money with a better inventory of games to sell TV networks, but further discourages any difficult nonconference games.

The Champions Bowl will help foster more on-field meetings between the leagues. It won’t every be the SEC champion vs. the Big 12 champion as advertised, but it’s guaranteed to be two really good teams from both leagues, followed up by another matchup with between the leagues in the Cotton Bowl.

This weekend’s no reason to get excited about the two leagues colliding.

The Champions Bowl is. It provides a much-needed, high-demand matchup between college football’s best leagues.

In short, it makes college football better. With rampant scandal and realignment threatening to do the opposite, that’s a welcome development.

That game will thrive, and because of it, so will the two leagues who helped make it happen.

The Big 12 Blog chat returns today

August, 14, 2012
8/14/12
2:30
PM ET
Have you missed our weekly chats? Today is your lucky day, my friends. The season is nearing, and the Big 12 blog weekly chat is back.

We'll start it back up at 3 p.m. ET today.

Here's the link.

As always, you can leave your questions there before we start, and I'll get to them once I arrive at 3 p.m. ET on the dot. Keep them coming once we start, and I'll see you there.

Can't wait.

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