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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Tim's mailbag: No 7-0 bowl season expected for the Big 12

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are some letters I've received over the last several days about Big 12 happenings.

Ashtyn from Jefferson City, Mo., writes: Which has a better chance of happening? The Big 12 going 7-0 or the Big Ten going 0-7 in the bowl season?

Tim Griffin: Actually, I don't see either happening. For some reason, it wouldn't surprise me if Wisconsin upsets Florida State in a battle between two underachieving teams. And I think that Iowa might be ready to play against South Carolina, too.

And in the Big 12, I think that Oklahoma and Nebraska both will have difficulty pulling off upsets in their bowl games against Florida and Clemson, respectively. It wouldn't be impossible, but I think both will be pushed to do it. I beleive Oklahoma is going to miss DeMarco Murray more than most people might think.


T. Broyles from Austin writes: First off, I wanted to tell you that your blog is amazing. But let's get down to the point. I won't ramble on about who I think is better between Texas and Oklahoma, but let's pretend that Texas made it to the national championship game against Florida. I believe Oklahoma will have a tough time beating UF, but do you think Texas would have a harder time beating them? If you could drop a final score between Texas and UF, what would it be?

Tim Griffin: First, thanks for your nice compliments about the blog. I think that Texas will face similar problems that Oklahoma does. Mainly, their secondary and defense will be facing a big test in trying to control Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow. And both teams would be challenged to control Florida's fast and active front seven on defense. Texas might have even more trouble because I don't think its running game is as good as Oklahoma's. So if the Longhorns got behind, I think they would be one-dimensional against Florida's fierce pass rush.

But in the end, I would make the Gators slight favorites over both Big 12 teams. And I think Florida would win both games by a score of, say, 35-31.


Jim from Grand Junction, Colo., writes: Tim, I don't know if you follow recruiting closely, but perhaps you can answer this. I've noticed on the recruiting sites that Colorado has only eight signed recruits. Most already have 20-plus recruits. Why is the Colorado number so low? Are they on NCAA sanctions or what? Thanks.

Tim Griffin: Colorado has a different philosophy than many schools with only eight recruits so far. But coach Dan Hawkins prefers to add to his classes later in the recruiting season. He has told Colorado reporters he plans to have 20-22 recruits in his class this season, so I wouldn't expect anything too strange at this point.


M. Holliday from New Braunfels, Texas, writes: I know this is subjective but Colt McCoy at number 11 in your poll of the best players in the Big 12 invalidates and removes subjectivity and borders on lunacy!

Tim Griffin: I appreciate your concerns, but the opinions I made were based strictly on my own opinions after talking to some of my friends in professional scouting. They actually had McCoy ranked a little lower than I ranked him. But it's interesting to see how different people value different kinds of players. I guess that's why some teams like the Tennessee Titans always seem to play well with players who were presumed to be borderline talents. And others like the Detroit Lions continually struggle despite continually getting top players in the draft every season.

But it has been interesting to see how different fans of different schools have taken personal umbrage with these lists. C'mon, lighten up. It was developed to merely to provoke some meaningful discourse about the Big 12.

And I can assure you it has certainly done that!


Zac F. from Houston writes: Hey, Tim, I'm a big fan of your blog, but I'm curious with Oklahoma losing some of its big men up front that this would affect the big numbers that their passing game has been generating?

Tim Griffin: Zac, I think you might be onto something. Something tells me that Sam Bradford might be more worried about the departure of senior starting offensive linemen Phil Loadholt, Duke Robinson, Jon Cooper and Brandon Walker than any of his receivers.

The Sooners do have some talent along the offensive line, but it will take time to develop. And it remains to be seen if this young group will grow up with Bradford or a new quarterback.


Ray from Hanford, Calif., writes: Now that its official and Jordan Shipley has a sixth year, how do you think Texas will do next season? With the emergence of Malcolm Williams late this season, does Texas have a 1-2 punch at receiver to work along with Colt McCoy?

Tim Griffin: Most definitely. I think that Williams and Shipley potentially might be one of the best receiving duos in the conference. And the expected return of Blaine Irby at tight end will only strengthen that group. It's one of the biggest reasons I think the Longhorns are the team to beat in the Big 12 South heading into the 2009 season.


Chris from Austin writes: Great job on the blog, it's become my go-to for any time I want Big 12 news. I feel that the "curse" of the Heisman isn't really a curse, it's mostly caused by the media tour that follows after a winner is announced and all of the practice that you miss. But how much preparation time does the Heisman winner actually miss on average?

Tim Griffin: Chris, a Heisman winner usually doesn't miss much practice time with his team. It's basically some of the conditioning that players take care of themselves before reporting back to practice after exams finish up. Heisman winners typically are stuck on the rubber chicken circuit when all that is going on.

I think an even bigger factor is that opposing teams zero in on a player with much national notoriety like a Heisman Trophy winner. It's a big reason why Heisman winners are 2-6 in their bowl games since 2000.

And if you want to impress your friends, know the only Heisman Trophy winners who have won during that eight-season period in the bowls were USC's Matt Leinart (over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl) and USC's Carson Palmer (over Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl). Leinart is also the last Heisman winner to win a national championship in the same season as his Heisman. Recent losing Heisman winners in order have included Reggie Bush, Troy Smith and Tebow last season.

I wish a blessed and peaceful holiday season to all of my readers. Enjoy the times with your family and I'll look forward to more cards and e-mails after the holidays are over.