Big 12: American Football Coaches Association
Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State were among the 41 teams named by the AFCA.
Notre Dame and Miami will share the AFCA's Academic Achievement Award for having a 100 percent graduation rate for members of its freshman football class of 2002. It was Notre Dame's eighth citation from the AFCA and the first for Miami.
The winners were determined by the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate.
Nine schools graduated 90 percent of their football student-athletes, including Alabama, Boston College, Connecticut, Duke, Navy, Northwestern, Penn State, Rice and Southern Mississippi.
Along with the Big 12 schools, others to reach the 75 percent mark included Air Force, Army, Central Florida, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Marshall, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Troy, Tulane, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington and West Virginia.
The conference breakdown for schools that were honored included the Big Ten and Conference USA with six schools; the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences with five; Independents, Southeastern and the Mountain West with three schools apiece; two each from the Mid-American and Pacific-10 conferences and one from the Sun Belt and the Western Athletic conferences.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 has more villains than can rightfully be included in one post, but so does college football in general.
Here are some my major perpetrators of ignominy.
Anybody else have some other suggestions about what in college football really raises their hackles?
College rulemakers -- Those soulless technocrats who attempted to make the game faster by instituting quick-play rules. Don't they know that the reason that college football is so much better than the NFL is the additional offense from more plays?
The Southeastern Conference -- The South shall rise again -- or at least it already has with its new megabuck television contract. Now, can the rest of the college football keep up?
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany -- By placing all of his bowl teams on the East and West coasts, he's robbing us in the flyover parts of the country of watching how slow and unathletic his teams really are.
Coaches as unchecked poll voters -- Who is the American Football Coaches Association trying to fool? Giving coaches the chance to hide behind the mask of anonymity in their final votes prompts a chance for widespread poll abuse and makes a mockery of their poll.
Weak nonconference schedules -- Every team owes its fans at least one marquee nonconference opponent a season and a pledge of avoiding FCS schools. Is that really asking for that much, especially with the run of Big 12 pastry-trough games with "opponents" like North Dakota State, Northern Colorado and North Dakota scheduled in the first week alone by Big 12 teams?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's time to unveil my preseason power rankings, which is a pretty good indicator that the season is fast approaching.
Unlike some of my coaching friends, I'm all about releasing these every week. Maybe Grant Teaff and my friends at the American Football Coaches Association could learn something about transparency in polling.
As far as the rankings, there's been little movement since May. I've boosted Baylor up a notch because Robert Griffin appears ready to direct the Bears back to a bowl game. Colorado is down because deep threats are becoming sparse in the Buffaloes' offense. And in the Big 12, you can never have enough deep threats.
Other than that, I still like Texas over Oklahoma by a smidge -- although the lack of a tight end or quick improvement from the Sooners' offensive line could cause those to change.
And in the North, I'm picking Nebraska over Kansas because of Ndamukong Suh, a better running game and the Cornhuskers' easier cross-division schedule. But it's not a great margin.
So read and remember these picks and check back in December when I'll take stock of how I did.
1. Texas: The Longhorns have long memories about what happened last season when the BCS standings kept them out of the Big 12 title game. If a running game can be cobbled together and Will Muschamp can work his magic on the defensive front, the Longhorns might not have to worry about polls this season.
2. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops has built the nation's quietest dynasty with an unprecedented three straight Big 12 championships. He's got a good shot at four straight if his young offensive line jells and that pesky recent problem at the Cotton Bowl with Texas can be taken care of.
3. Oklahoma State: No team in the conference is as balanced and explosive as the Cowboys, but the defense is another story. If veteran coordinator Bill Young can coax enough improvement from the defense, the Cowboys might shock their way to their first Big 12 title and BCS bowl game.
4. Nebraska: Last year's late finish has Cornhusker fans believing the magic is back with Bo Pelini. But breaking in a new quarterback and trying to find some deep receiving threats will keep the Cornhuskers from dreaming about a Big 12 title -- at least for this season.
5. Kansas: The Jayhawks are loaded offensively and have enough defense to arguably make this Mark Mangino's best team. The only problem, however, is that a tough cross-division schedule will make Kansas play Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech. It might be enough to keep the best North team from playing in the championship game.
6. Texas Tech: Why is Mike Leach smiling so much these days? It's not just his new contract. The Red Raiders have an underrated defense and Leach doesn't think the loss of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree will be as grievous as most outside the program believe. The Red Raiders are rebuilding, but Leach likes his new players.
7. Missouri: The Tigers are breaking in new coordinators and looking for replacements for Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin and Ziggy Hood. Gary Pinkel's recruiting has improved -- typified by new quarterback Blaine Gabbert -- but there are likely too many holes to think about a third straight trip to the Big 12 title game.
8. Baylor: Could this finally be the team to break the bowl drought? Art Briles is starting to get the pieces in place -- starting with Griffin at quarterback. But the schedule is unforgiving in the South Division and the Bears could be a little thin in the trenches to think about bowling just yet.
9. Colorado: Whether Dan Hawkins said his team would win 10 games or not isn't the point. The fact is that a deep collection of running backs, an improving offensive line, an underrated defense and the North Division's most favorable schedule could make the Buffaloes a surprise challenger. But there are still many questions -- starting with the quarterbacks on hand and the lack of a proven deep threat.
10. Texas A&M: Expectations are lower for the Aggies than any time in recent memory. These Aggies bear little resemblance to the consistent winners of the early Big 12 era, particularly on defense. Jerrod Johnson gives Mike Sherman a playmaker to start building his offense around, but winning in the South with this group might be an impossible task.
11. Kansas State: Speaking of reclamation projects, Bill Snyder might have stepped into a big one as he tries to return the Wildcats to their earlier dominance of his previous coaching tenure. It will be a long trek back as Snyder settles on a quarterback and tries to improve a porous defense.
12. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads knows the culture at Iowa State after growing up near Ames and previously working as an ISU assistant. He has quarterback Austen Arnaud back to run a retooled high-tempo offense. But Rhoads will face a monumental rebuilding job as he tries to stem a nation-worst 17-game road losing streak.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The realization came a few years ago, early one morning in the Lubbock airport, when I thought nobody could have cared what I was doing.
After a long night of covering Texas Tech, I was scheduled on the first flight back home the following morning. But before I left, I knew I had to take care of something.
As I went to a bank of pay telephones back in those pre-cellular phone days, I mumbled off my list of 25 teams to the Associated Press desker in New York City. I usually tried to get my vote in by 9 a.m. -- always settling on them the night before but always looking at them one more time the following morning before I submitted them.
The teams tumbled out in my order for the week. After I finished, I tried to relax for a couple of minutes before my flight left until an elderly man tapped me on my shoulder.
"Excuse me, sir," the man said. "I think you had Michigan ranked too high this week. And West Virginia, they were way too low."
How the fellow passenger had determined I was a voter, I had no idea. But he -- as do most college football fans at that time of the year -- had his own idea how the polls should be voted. And fans don't hesitate to tell you about it, either, in person or by e-mail.
That idea infused me with the thought of how important some considered my vote. As such, I knew the kind of diligence the poll deserved if I was voting.
And the idea that my vote was being made public each week made me take even more care in trying to get things right in my mind. Because, I knew I would hear something if it was skewed.
This is why I think the American Football Coaches Association's decision to keep their final votes private is so wrong.
Horribly wrong, in fact.
Not making the votes public robs the poll of its greatest attribute -- its credibility. When that is stripped away, the poll loses its relevance.
AFCA executive director Grant Teaff argues differently.
"Why do you think they have voting booths," Teaff told the Tulsa World. "Why do you think they have curtains around voting booths? Experts believe that's the truest way of getting the purest vote. That's what coaches are after."
Teaff is wrong in his thinking. Horribly wrong, in fact.