Big 12: Anthony West
- Nebraska's Zac Lee, D.J. Jones and Anthony West all graduated on Saturday.
- While Chase Daniel now has a Super Bowl ring, his former backup at Missouri, Chase Patton, is in dental school, writes Daniel Paulling in the Kansas City Star.
- The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel digs into a big stash of reader e-mail on the Dez Bryant controversy.
- Former Texas star Sergio Kindle would like his promise that he would win Rookie of the Year stricken from the record.
- Conner Teahan has retired from the game of football.
- Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter could be a sleeper in a 2011 draft thin on Cowboys prospects, writes John Helsley of The Oklahoman.
- Brandon Chatmon of The Oklahoman checks in on the big questions for Oklahoma State midway through spring practice.
- Woody Paige of the Denver Post says Colorado’s QB battle is simple: Pick Hansen.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman was as impressed as anyone with Garrett Gilbert.
- Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald takes a closer look at Anthony West's move from cornerback to safety.
- John Hoover of the Tulsa World says the Sooners' offensive line is looking for some chemistry after starting 11 different lineups last season.
- ISU receivers are looking for some YAC this season, writes Bobby La Gesse of the Ames Tribune.
- Kansas State is holding a college football class for fans on April 17.
- The Sporting News breaks down Perrish Cox's NFL draft profile.
- Tony Dungy says he'd take Colt McCoy over Sam Bradford.
- In case you missed it late on Friday, Taylor Potts will join fellow QB Steven Sheffield on the sideline for the rest of the spring at Texas Tech.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
If it's Friday, it must mean it's time to crack open the mailbag.
Here are some of the better questions I received this past week.
Ryan Lund of Minneapolis, Minn., writes: Hi Tim. I love your blog, especially as a Cyclone and Big 12 fan who lives in Big Ten country. You wrote recently that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is considering the creation of a Big 12 network. Do you see this eventually becoming a reality? And if so, when?
Tim Griffin: I would imagine that discussions are taking place in a broad sense between the conference and some of its partners about a potential television network. But before these plans would go forward, a determination has to be made on which way the conference's schools really want to go.
Mainly, would those Big 12 schools be willing to start their own television network -- with all the inherent chances for riches but with a greater gamble. Or would they prefer to take the model of the Southeastern Conference and employ a model where a television partner offered extensively wider distribution to the conference in exchange for them not creating their network. In essence, let somebody else do the work for them.
Both models seem to have worked.
I think the Big 12 is also hamstrung when compared to the Big Ten in a couple of ways. The Big 12 doesn't have as many attractive big-city markets or populous states as the Big Ten, lessening its chances for more money through wider distribution in their immediate areas.
More importantly, the Big Ten has always been more conducive to sharing revenues. It makes a smaller school like Northwestern feel like an equal partner to Ohio State or Michigan.
In the Big 12, the teams that have the most nationally televised games or make the most tournament trips receive more money.
That's been an ingrained idea that has been in place throughout the history of the conference and would be difficult to change, despite the wailing of some of the little brothers at the table clamoring for a bigger piece of the conference's pie.
I think for the idea of a conference television network to fly, it would be practical for all partners to be on an equal footing to help get it off the ground. And frankly, I don't know if the strongest schools in the Big 12 would be willing to share that much.
James from Swede Home, Neb., writes: Tim, remember you heard it here first. Evidence points to 2010 being the Year of the Cornhuskers. Exhibit A: A cupcake non-conference schedule with home games against Western Kentucky, South Dakota State, Idaho and Washington. Exhibit B: A friendly conference schedule favors the Cornhuskers with games against more difficult foes like Texas, Missouri, Kansas and Colorado at home. On the road, they will meet Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This is the kind of schedule that would win championships.
Tim Griffin: And that's besides the fact that Zac Lee, Roy Helu Jr., Quentin Castille, Mike McNeill, Mike Smith, Keith Williams, Pierre Allen, Blake Lawrence, Anthony West and Prince Amukamara all should return for their senior seasons, as well. Add that younger players like Cody Green, Rex Burkhead and Chris Williams will have another year of experience. I expect the Cornhuskers to be pretty good in 2009 and even better in 2010.
James Coulter from Corpus Christi, Texas, writes: Tim, I completely agree with you on your assessment of the rushing statistic in college football and how it compares to how the stat is kept in the pros.
Do you think, however, that college football keeps its rushing game because of the larger role that quarterbacks play in the running game versus how much quarterbacks run in the NFL?
Tim Griffin: James, I got a lot of good feedback on that post. I just think that it diminishes the ability of running quarterbacks who are forced to include their sacks with their rushing total.
Actually, I think the NCAA does their statistics as a throwback to the older days when teams were more run-heavy than they are today. Sacks were fewer in those earlier days because teams didn't pass the ball as often.
But today, a quarterback is susceptible to a sack on many more passing attempts than in earlier eras of football. Those numbers eventually add up to diminish their rushing totals.
I just believe we would have a clearer, more consistent view of the rushing productivity of an offense or a defense -- those sack yards shouldn't be subtracted from the rushing totals. Instead, they should be kept in a separate category like in the NFL.
And yes, it does grieve me to say they do something better in the NFL than college football.
Dan Swanson writes: The story you wrote about Oklahoma giving $3 million back to the school was nice, but hardly merited the front-page coverage it received on your college-football link.
Why is it so special that Oklahoma's athletic department contributed $3 million back to the school?
That sum is pocket change from an athletic department of this size, particularly when you consider individual donors sometimes give $50 million to $100 million.
Tim Griffin: Dan, I respectfully disagree with your comments. I thought the Oklahoma gift to the general academic department at the school was significant for a couple of reasons.
First, it's one of the largest gifts that an athletic department has made back to its school this year. Secondly, the Sooners' athletic department made this gift without the benefit of new megabuck television deals like those garnered by some of the schools in the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten.
But the main reason I think the story was newsworthy was what Oklahoma president David Boren said when the gift was announced. The gifts, he said, helped the school avoid tuition increases or faculty layoffs.
In these challenging economic times, to hold the line on those costs is commendable. And if Boren credited the athletic department for helping to bring that about, it was noteworthy.
Jack Branch from Oklahoma City writes: Hey, Tim. You've got the ball on your own 20-yard line with 2 minutes left in a game needing a touchdown to win.
Which Big 12 quarterback do you want running your offense?
Tim Griffin: Jack, great question. Maybe it's because I just watched the tape of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl a couple of nights ago, but I would go with Texas' Colt McCoy. He might not have the deep arm of other quarterbacks in the league, but he has a knack for improvising big plays when he needs them.
Here's a statistic that best shows McCoy's clutch value, in my opinion. In games that he has started and finished that have been decided by seven points or less, Texas is 8-2.
Andrew Gaskill of Aledo, Texas, writes: Tim, I read your answer to a question about Chris Brown where you stated that you believe the combination of Brown and DeMarco Murray are the best combination in the Big 12. Wouldn't Oklahoma State's combination of Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston, which led the conference in rushing last season, be your top combination?
Tim Griffin: Andrew, I think the Oklahoma group is just a shade better because both of the backs rushed for 1,000 yards last season. Hunter led the conference in rushing last season, but the combination of Oklahoma's two primary backs makes them collectively just a little bit better, in my opinion.
And I also think an argument could be made that Nebraska's Helu and Castille are the second-best pair of running backs along with the Oklahoma State duo you mentioned.
Joe Costas from Memphis, Tenn., writes: As a Southeastern Conference fan, I'm enjoying your mythical matchups with the Big 12. But one question. What's with posting the midpoint between the two locations?
Tim Griffin: Joe, I just thought that might be a neat little trinket that would show the distances between the two teams. And the fact that it's often a small town only adds to its appeal, in my opinion.
The matchups will continue for the next couple of weeks. I'm taking a critical look at both teams before I make my pick, which is why the Big 12 hasn't fared so well, so far.
But you never know -- things could change in the mythical matchups. Keep reading them.
Thanks again for all of the great questions this week. Keep them coming and enjoy your weekend.
And let's agree to meet here again next week, OK?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here is a representative sample of the questions I received during the past week about the Big 12:
Jeff from Austin writes: Tim, thanks for your work at ESPN.com covering the Big 12. I enjoy reading your stuff. But I'm floored by your perspective about Baylor being sixth in the South next year. There is not any way that Texas A&M or Texas Tech is better than Baylor next season. I think Baylor will easily win six games, maybe seven or eight. I think you might be picking according to history, and not looking at the information that is the 2009 season. I don't see how they finish without a bowl game.
Tim Griffin: I did consider history pretty strongly. For example, Baylor hasn't won in College Station since 1984. Their schedule also turns around. Baylor's four toughest games will be at home, but I just don't see them being able to consistently beat teams like Texas, Texas Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma State. All are listed in most preseason top 25 lists. Baylor will be lucky, in my opinion, to win one of those games. The Bears go to Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M and Iowa State for their road games. They haven't won at any of those schools except Iowa State since the Big 12 was formed. Their nonconference schedule eases a little bit, but I still see them as an underdog at Wake Forest. They should win remaining home games against Connecticut, Northwestern State and Kent State.
So even with another year of experience for Robert Griffin and Joe Pawelek's return, it will be tougher for the Bears to improve by two games with their schedule turning around. I think it will be close between Texas A&M and Baylor, but I give A&M a slight edge just because they are playing coach Art Briles' team at home.
Joe from Omaha writes: Tim, some up here are all over you about picking Nebraska to win the North Division. What is your rationale for picking the Cornhuskers to win?
Tim Griffin: I know that many polls are picking Kansas to win the North Division. But I'm thinking that the South Division will dominate the North as before, and Kansas has a murderous South with visits to Texas Tech and Texas and a home game against Oklahoma. That likely will give the Jayhawks three losses right there. It will mean that Kansas absolutely has to beat Nebraska in the showdown game and hope the Cornhuskers lose two other games in the division.
I also looked at how Joe Ganz flourished under Shawn Watson's tutelage and think he should be able to get Patrick Witt or Zac Lee to similarloy develop in his offense. Quentin Castille looked like a monster in the Gator Bowl and Roy Helu Jr. had his moments. The Cornhuskers will have four starting offensive linemen returning. And the Cornhuskers' defense with Ndamukong Suh, Pierre Allen and Phillip Dillard and the secondary with Anthony West, Larry Asante, Matt O'Hanlon and Eric Hagg will be the strength of the team.
If Pelini can find a serviceable option at quarterback, they should be able to cobble together enough wins to win a tight North Division race.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
2:00 PM ET Washington State Colorado State 3:30 PM ET 20 Fresno State 25 USC 5:30 PM ET Buffalo San Diego State 9:00 PM ET Tulane Louisiana-Lafayette
6:00 PM ET Pittsburgh Bowling Green 9:30 PM ET Utah State 23 Northern Illinois
2:30 PM ET Marshall Maryland 6:00 PM ET Syracuse Minnesota 9:30 PM ET Brigham Young Washington
12:00 PM ET Rutgers Notre Dame 3:20 PM ET Cincinnati North Carolina 6:45 PM ET Miami (FL) 18 Louisville 10:15 PM ET Michigan Kansas State
11:45 AM ET Middle Tennessee Navy 3:15 PM ET Ole Miss Georgia Tech 6:45 PM ET 10 Oregon Texas 10:15 PM ET 14 Arizona State Texas Tech
12:30 PM ET Arizona Boston College 2:00 PM ET Virginia Tech 17 UCLA 4:00 PM ET Rice Mississippi State 8:00 PM ET 24 Duke 21 Texas A&M
12:00 PM ET Nebraska 22 Georgia 12:00 PM ET UNLV North Texas 1:00 PM ET Iowa 16 LSU 1:00 PM ET 19 Wisconsin 9 South Carolina 5:00 PM ET 5 Stanford 4 Michigan State 8:30 PM ET 15 UCF 6 Baylor
7:30 PM ET 13 Oklahoma State 8 Missouri 8:30 PM ET 12 Clemson 7 Ohio State