Big 12 mailbag: Will Nebraska's recruiting losses signal offensive change?

December, 11, 2009
12/11/09
4:50
PM ET
If it’s Friday, how about some letters to send us out into the weekend?

Steve Johnson from Gretna, Neb., writes: With the recent decommitments by Tyler Gabbert and Curtis Carter from Nebraska, how do you think that affects the current Nebraska recruiting class. And does it signal that there will be a change in how the Cornhuskers’ offense has evolved under Shawn Watson?

Tim Griffin: I think both recruits must have been watching the Cornhuskers’ struggling offense last week before they made their calls to decommit. It wasn’t just in the Texas game, but throughout the last quarter of the season, that the Cornhuskers turned to a ball-control heavy offense with heavy use of a fullback and tight end on most plays.

It was the offense that was good enough to clinch the Cornhuskers the North Division with five straight victories down the stretch.

Because of that, it will be interesting to see which way the Cornhuskers go. Watson is comfortable coaching offenses many ways. While I’m sure he’d like to have a quarterback “sling the ball around the lot,” his current collection of talent seemingly lends itself better to a running game.

And considering Gabbert’s senior-season statistics, I’m not sure if that his decommitment will be such a big loss for the Cornhuskers. Carter would have been exactly what the Cornhuskers needed – a speedy receiver who can make big plays. That’s the element Nebraska’s offense is most sorely missing. And it was obvious in the game against Texas.


Jack Scarbrough from Tulsa, Okla., writes: Tim, I’m sure you are getting your fair share of castigation from the Nebraska fans after your Heisman vote. I’m sure it was a tough vote and you made what you felt was the right call.

My question is this. Which Heisman winner do you think had the most dominant season in history?

Tim Griffin: Jack, thanks for your sentiments. And your question is an easy one -- a lot more simple than my Heisman vote was this season.

Give me Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State in 1988. Something about rushing for 2,628 yards, scoring 234 points on 39 touchdowns, and having five consecutive 200-yard games impressed me.


Josh Jungman of Washington, D.C., writes: I noticed your post about the effect of Mack Brown's contract on Will Muschamp.

While I haven't seen the contract myself, the reports I have read suggest that his compensation does not require him to be the head coach for the full term of the contract since it includes a provision for re-assignment within the Texas athletic department. I have no idea what market rate is for an AD (though I would assume $5 million per is way above market), but if any athletic department could afford that, it would be Texas. Another way to think of the contract -- if my analysis is right and Mack were to transition to AD in a year or two -- is that they're just deferring compensation for him to later years. If I'm correct, it would seem that this week's amendment would then have little effect on his decision of when to retire from coaching.

Tim Griffin: Josh, you raise a good point that Brown conceivably could take the other job and continue as athletic director at his new salary. And you are correct that a $5 million contract for an athletic director would be the highest in college sports history. My point is Brown has never looked as relaxed and casual as he currently does. The fact his new salary has come along will likely make him want to stay in his job. I’m thinking it might be a couple of years longer than some would suspect. And like I wrote yesterday, I’ll be extremely curious to see how that would affect Muschamp if some other top jobs start popping up around the country. I’m thinking there is only a handful he would consider -- probably less than five. But if Alabama, LSU or Georgia materialized, would he be loyal to Texas or would he decide to go elsewhere? And if he did have one of the job opportunities, would it make Brown more likely to leave coaching to make room for his hand-picked successor?

My thought is that Brown has several more years of coaching in front of him. And the new contract only guarantees that.


Steve from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Tim, It seems over the past few years Missouri has been snubbed over and over again for bowl games.

The Orange Bowl picked Kansas in 2007, the Gator Bowl selects Nebraska in 2008, and now the Insight Bowl chose Iowa State over Missouri in 2009. I just don't get it. Does Mike Alden not have enough pull in the conference and does someone have it out for MU?

Tim Griffin: I know it’s been frustrating for Missouri and their fans over the past three seasons in their bowl placements. I think the only way for the Tiger and their fans to overcome those perceptions is to become known among bowls as a group of fans who travel to bowl destinations regardless of where they are.

I know that the Texas bowls aren’t the most glamorous stops in the Big 12 food chain. But I also know that Missouri has a lot of alumni scattered across the Lone Star State. If they want the trend to turn around, they need to pack the Texas Bowl for their game against Navy, or at least sell a large number of tickets. If that happens, the next time the Tigers are involved in competition with another Big 12 school for a bowl slot, those selectors will remember what Missouri has done in the past.


Mike from Lincoln, Neb., writes: Tim, I enjoy reading your blog.

But I have one question for you. Why do Suh's and Gerhart's teams having four losses make an impact on why you don’t vote for them for the Heisman? Last I checked, the Heisman wasn’t for the most outstanding player on the best team.

Tim Griffin: Many are curious about why I put Colt McCoy over Ndamukong Suh. As I considered my vote, I think a quarterback that completes more than 70 percent of his passes on a team that is undefeated and playing for a national championship is a pretty special player. One who would be worthy of a Heisman Trophy on most people’s ballots.

In a tough year where there’s no cut-and-dried winner, those facts resonate for me. Everybody has their own definition of how to vote.

That is mine.


Ken Lawson of Houston writes: Tim, do you think the NCAA should restrict teams from interviewing coaches till post bowl season?

The game is about the fans, teams etc. Not the coaches. We have seen time in and out as coaches bail on the team, or stay as a lame duck and it impacts the outcome. The distraction and emotion is too great for all.

Tim Griffin: Ken, your thought sounds good in theory. But with recruiting season coming up so soon after the end of the season, most losing programs feel a compunction to make a change as soon as possible.

Administrators want to get the best coaches possible, hoping to turn downtrodden teams around quickly. There will always be a rush to get what is presumed to be the best candidate.

And for that reason, I don’t see your idea ever happening. Although I agree with your sentiments.

Thanks again for of all the good questions. We’ll check back again early next week.

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