Morning links: Didn't this used to be a running league?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini can hardly tell this is the Big 12 since his return after being away at the LSU since 2005. The proliferation of spread offenses has resulted in a record-setting binge on offensive numbers across the conference. Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle gleaned that all Big 12 teams except Texas have set single-season passing records since 2002 -- including Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State last season.
"I think it's not just the Big 12, but college football in general," Pelini said. "You see all the spread offenses that are happening. It's gone from option football to zone read and spreading the field with fast break-type offenses."
Here are a couple of other numbers that Duarte developed to prove that point. In the conference's inaugural season in 1996, Colorado's Koy Detmer passed for a league-high 3,156 yards. That total would have been good for sixth in Big 12 passing last year as the number was eclipsed by five quarterbacks a year ago -- Texas Tech's Graham Harrell, Missouri's Chase Daniel, Kansas' Todd Reesing, Kansas State's Josh Freeman and Texas' Colt McCoy.
But most worrisome for Pelini is this: His leaky secondary will be playing all of them except McCoy this season.
Top of the mornin' from Kansas City, where we'll have one more day of hype about the upcoming season. Until then, here are some morning links tastier than any baby backs you might find at Arthur Bryant's legendary pits.
- The Daily Oklahoman's Scott Wright profiles Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson, one of only two quarterbacks last season who rushed for more than 800 yards and passed for more than 2,800 yards last season. The other? Florida's Tim Tebow.
My take -- Robinson might be one of the most underrated players in the nation.
- Oklahoma State megabooster T. Boone Pickens pitches a plan to the U.S. Senate he hopes will lessen America's dependence on foreign oil.
My take -- With $4 dollar a gallon gasoline prices, Pickens is finding it's a lot easier to get on the front page these days than when he was merely writing checks for buildings at his old school.
- Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that season-ticket demand at Texas Tech has already exceeded last season. The Red Raiders have sold 27,085 in 2008, compared to 27,027 last year.
My take -- Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree help make the Tech football program about as recession-proof an economic commodity in West Texas as can be found.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy arrived at the Big 12 media days basking in the glow of his Internet notoriety, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Gundy said that he's not concerned, even after Reid complained in an ESPN.com story that his celebrated rant "basically ended [his] life" before he transferred to Texas Southern. "I don't have any problems sleeping at night," Gundy told Finger.
My take -- Nobody will be happier than Gundy to start the 2008 season. At least then, most of the attention will be focused on the results on the field rather than what happened last season.
- Jeffrey Martin of the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle examines the pressures surrounding Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, who will be attempting to better his school-record passing totals of last season without record-breaking receiver Jordy Nelson. "It's his time," KSU coach Ron Prince told Martin about Freeman. "It's his team."
My take -- Hard to believe that Freeman isn't mentioned in the same breath as some of the other top Big 12 quarterbacks -- particularly considering he was as highly recruited as any of them coming into college football.
- Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said that he might consider using heralded freshman running back Darrell Scott as a punter in some situations.
- Hawk Digest has a list of 14 wishes for Kansas football this season.
My take -- If the Jayhawks accomplish half of them, Mark Mangino might be cashing in on another contract extension.
- Thayer Evans of the New York Times follows "The George Hypolite Show."
My take -- Hypolite -- by far -- is the early leader in the clubhouse as the Big 12's quote machine for this season.