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Friday, September 11, 2009
Big 12 mailbag: CU's aggresive national-television model explained

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If it's a Friday afternoon, it must mean it's time to check the mailbag.

With the season starting, we've got some interesting correspondence this week. Here are some of the more notable missives.

Calvin Kirkpatrick of Kyle, Texas, writes: Hey, Tim. What’s the deal with Colorado sucking up all of the Big 12's television time? Every time it looks like I’ll be tuning in this season they'll be playing somebody on national television.

Tim Griffin: Calvin, I will say one thing for Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn: He’s willing to play on some non-traditional nights to get exposure for his program. Most of the major powers aren’t willing to do that, feeling their games on Saturdays are almost sacrosanct. It hasn’t always been that way. I remember that Oklahoma traveled to Tulsa a few years ago to play on a Friday night. And who can forget Texas’ struggles on that Sunday night in 1994 when the Longhorns and John Mackovic lost to Rice?

But Colorado’s athletic department appears to be the most willing in the Big 12 to take this unconventional approach. It will provide them some additional money from playing in these games. But it also will provide them with the difficulty of playing on five days this week at Toledo. I imagine that Dan Hawkins probably isn’t as enthralled about this idea today as he might have been a few months ago.

But brace yourself for even more. The Buffaloes’ games against West Virginia (Thursday Oct. 1), at Oklahoma State (Thursday Nov. 19) and Nebraska (Friday Nov. 27) all will be played on days other than Saturday.

The game tonight might be the biggest one that Hawkins has coached at Colorado.

And I can’t wait to watch it.




Rusty from Hesston, Kan., writes: Tim, I enjoy your blog and find that I check multiple times each day. I’d thought I’d throw you a curveball in terms of your likes and dislikes. I’d like to know which uniforms you like in the Big 12 and which ones you don’t like.

Tim Griffin: Rusty, I appreciate the kind words. I’ve never been asked about my judgment about fashion, but here goes.

I always have been partial to the traditional, clean look for uniforms. Those worn by Texas and Oklahoma have remained relatively unchanged over the years and are my two favorites in the league. One of my favorite old uniforms was the Texas A&M uniforms from back in the 1970s when they had vertical stripes on the uniforms. I also really liked the Aggies’ helmets back then, as I do any helmet that has the player’s uniform numbers on it. I’m looking forward to seeing Nebraska’s throwback uniforms when they play Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 26.

I don’t dislike many uniform combinations. But I wasn’t crazy about Baylor’s all-white look they sported for the Wake Forest game. It made them look like they should have been delivering Cookies and Cream from the "Little Creamery in Brenham" than playing football.


David from Newport, R.I., writes: Tim, in regards to your grading the offenses and defenses. I like the idea and the comments others have made. How about this idea? Instead of using 1 or .5 points for the touchdown and FG, respectively, why not divide total points by 7 so the missed extra points and two point conversions are also included. Also, why not have a comparison between the offensive and defensive production similar to baseball’s run differential to get an idea how each team has compared to their opponents.

Tim Griffin: David, my offensive and defensive rankings prompted a lot of comments from readers. I appreciate them all. Some blasted them because they were so simple, or because they didn’t factor in strength of schedule or special teams.

I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted an easy-to-measure way to judge the effectiveness of an offense. I thought in terms of a batting average in baseball, which is clear and easy to understand. And using that same thought process, I thought I could come up with something like a batting average. And I think my measure does that, giving us a percentage of how well a team operates by judging its percentage of scoring drives. I wasn't interested in doing much more than that, like grading it on the measure of an opponent or anything like that.

That’s why I decided to go the way I did. I do like your mention of the run differential and might try that out to see if can determine the effectiveness of a team.


LeQuese DeJournett of Wylie, Texas, reports: What do you think about my 9-3 prediction for Baylor now? You told me I was too optimistic. Do you still think so?

Tim Griffin: I’m wondering how refreshing that green-and-gold Kool-aid tasted after the Wake Forest game?

I think a bowl bid looks like an achievable goal, but let’s remember the Bears still are members of the South Division – college football’s toughest.

And Baylor still has to travel to Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas A&M. They have games against Texas and Oklahoma State – currently two of the nation’s top five teams – at home.

Like I said before the start of the season, the Bears will be better than last season. But 9-3 still might be a tad too presumptuous after only one game.




David Paschall of Austin, Texas, writes: Tim, obviously, coming into the new season, Texas has had a lot of questions concerning its defensive line. It's probably still too early to tell, but regardless, how do you think Texas' D-Line has shaped up based on their performance against Louisiana-Monroe?

Tim Griffin: It was a good first step against Louisiana-Monroe, but nothing I saw really wowed me about the Longhorns. No sacks against the War Hawks was a telling statistic, although Louisiana-Monroe seemed to have schemed the Longhorns’ pass rush with quick passes.

I thought Sam Acho had a strong first game and is poised to really emerge as a player for the Longhorns. Keeston Randall, Ben Alexander and Lamarr Houston also showed enough inside, although they didn’t come up with many big plays.

I still think the Longhorns’ pass rush will be a work in progress. And we won’t really be able to tell much about them until next week when they square off with Texas Tech’s big offensive line. That will tell us much about the Longhorns' defense.



Josh from Stillwater, Okla., writes: Tim, I know we don't know yet how good Georgia will turn out to be (or not be), but after such a standout defensive performance, and a two-touchdown win with a very subpar offense/special teams performance, is it finally time to buy some of the hype on Oklahoma State? Where did you put OSU in your version of the polls? Love the blog, thanks, and keep it up!

Tim Griffin: I saw the Cowboys' game last week and I’ll be watching the Cowboys in person tomorrow as well against Houston. I’m interested to see how they follow up such an emotional victory – particularly when it will be played against an opponent who might have a better offense than the one they faced in Georgia last week.

I was extremely impressed by the depth of Oklahoma State’s defensive performance. I’ve seen them crater in previous seasons on defense, as recently as last year. When they allowed the touchdown to Georgia on the first possession last week, I was waiting for them to fall apart. Instead, with strong performances by players like Lucien Antoine, Shane Jarka, Donald Booker and Perrish Cox, they rebounded with a strong effort I didn't know they could muster. Veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young did a heck of a job in that game, too.

Considering that in Mike Gundy’s own words that their offensive and special teams performances were a disappointment, it could really be something if they can ever put all three facets together in one game.

And in our national power poll, I ranked them fifth. I thought they played that well, but I’ll be interested to see how they respond in the game tomorrow.



Josh Ingram of Dallas writes: Why doesn't anyone talk about how the Aggies did. Everybody is talking about everybody else around the conference instead of us. I do believe that Texas A&M has made a hell of a change from last year. What did you think of how they played in their opener?

Tim Griffin: It was an impressive first game for A&M against New Mexico. I was particularly impressed by the quick tempo they had, the running of Christine Michael and particularly the Aggies' defense. I’m not suggesting that this is anywhere reminiscent of "The Wrecking Crew" defenses of the past, but Joe Kines' group does look improved from last season. But let’s also take into account that their victory did come over New Mexico, which was playing its first game under new coach Mike Locksley and is picked to finish in the cellar of the Mountain West Conference.

But compared to last season’s opener against Arkansas State, Mike Sherman’s team looked much, much improved. They should be 3-0 heading into that huge game against Arkansas. I think after that game, we’ll be better able to judge if the Aggies are a legitimate threat to escape the Big 12 South cellar and challenge for a bowl game.



Robert Wills of Albuquerque, N.M. writes: Tim, two quick questions.

First, is Oklahoma paying the price for using the tail end of games last season to score style points instead of properly preparing a backup QB? And also, when will the media love fest for Bob Stoops ever end? I think "Big Game Bob" is an average coach who unravels in the face of adversity. He got behind against Texas last year late and his play calling was filled with panic. He got behind against Florida last year and the wheels came off the bus. And last night, as soon as Sam Bradford went down, you knew that loss was imminent. Will you finally be the one who treats Stoops like the rest of the media treats Mack Brown? He gets all the talent in the world but is unable to coach it up.

Tim Griffin: Robert, in answer to your first question, I do think the Sooners are paying for using many of their starters deep into games last season. But let’s remember that Landry Jones was Oklahoma’s third-string quarterback behind Bradford and Joey Halzle. You don’t typically burn a redshirt for a few snaps for a third-string quarterback. Oklahoma's receivers looked unprepared, so a case could have been made for getting young receivers like Adron Tennell and Brandon Caleb more playing time last season. And the offensive line looked woefully unprepared for its game. I’m curious to see how the Sooners look in their second game after the disappointments of their loss to BYU.

And in answering your second question, let’s remember one fact. Bob Stoops has won six Big 12 championships, including the conference’s only three-peat of championships. No other coach has won more than one Big 12 title.

Case closed.

Thanks again for all of the correspondence this week. We'll do it again next Friday afternoon.