Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Five things about the Big 12 that I don't love
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
There aren't many things I don't like about my job. But the Big 12 has a few things I wish could be changed.
Here are five things that still aggravate me after covering the conference since its inception.
- The conference's arcane tiebreaker system: This is an easy one. The Big 12 was a national laughing stock when Oklahoma nosed out Texas for a spot in the conference title game due to a three-way tie between the Longhorns, Sooners and Texas Tech for the South Division title. The current system subjected us to incessant lobbying from coaches and a notable lack of sportsmanship when coaches tried to run up scores in their end-of-season games to prove their teams' worth. Even worse was the whining on all sides after the final results were generated. There assuredly has to be a better way.
- Mike Leach's news judgment: Even though Leach is to be commended for his personal media accessibility, he's got to let up a little in allowing more players to be interviewed. For most of last season, three or four players were deemed by Leach to be the major spokesmen for the Tech team. Often that group didn't include All-American players like Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree, who were sometimes not available for interviews despite being Heisman Trophy contenders. Leach has to let up a little to allow reporters to do their jobs. Isn't learning to deal with the media part of the overall personal growth that goes with the college experience for players?
- Hot, late-summer days at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco: The conference's only open-air press box sometimes makes for a suffocating kind of experience on sticky September afternoons or evenings -- particularly when the windows are open and the blast-furnace Central Texas heat bakes the stadium. So much for decorum at those games. If the temperature is soaring, I'm wearing shorts to Baylor games as a matter of personal comfort before I start melting.
- Middle-of-the-night drives back from College Station: As much fun as covering a game at Kyle Field is, it's a different story when the Aggies play a night game and I'm trying to drive back home in the midnight hour and beyond. It can get downright desolate at times along the more foreboding stretches of Texas State Highway 21 between Bastrop and San Marcos, and I've made the trip hundreds of times. I've often thought if you careen off the road in some of the more isolated areas, you might not be rescued -- or maybe even seen -- for a couple of days. Maybe that's why you often see buzzards circling the highway.
- Human mascots: Cheerleaders dressed up like tigers, wildcats, cyclones or cowboys just aren't quite the same as authentic animal mascots. And I guess they never will be to me. Give me the real thing and not just somebody parading around in a costume.