Big 12: Big 12 conference

As the season rapidly approaches let’s take a look back at 2012 and some interesting stats which helped the Big 12’s top two teams finish near the top of the overall standings. With help from ESPN Stats and Information, here’s a look at five offensive and five defensive stats that can get overlooked but help reveal why co-champions Kansas State and Oklahoma suffered just one conference loss apiece despite neither fielding the conference’s top ranked offense or defense a year ago.

Offensive stats

Percentage of plays resulting in no gain or negative yardage: KSU led the way in this category at 26.4 percent, the lowest in the league. Every Big 12 team with a percentage less than 30 percent won at least eight games in 2012. Avoiding the negative play is critical in the Big 12. Losing yards on an offensive play is one of the few times the offense suffers a clear loss of momentum, ensuring the defense isn’t on its heels like many of the Big 12's up-tempo offenses are designed to create.

Percentage of plays gaining more than 10 yards: OU led the Big 12 with 26 percent of its plays gaining more than 10 yards. The Sooners’ offense was the league’s most explosive even though it finished behind Oklahoma State, Baylor and West Virginia in yards per game.

Fewest three-and-outs: OU tied with Baylor for the league lead with 35 three-and-outs (2.69 per game), although the Bears had nine more total drives. Kansas State finished tied with Texas Tech for third with 39 (three per game). A small number of three-and-out drives is a sign that a team has the ability to control the game’s rhythm and can keep its defense off the field.

Touchdowns percentage on drives that reached inside an opponent’s 40-yard line: This stat shows a team’s ability to finish drives and make key plays when it matters. KSU and OU finished 1-2 in the category. The Wildcats scored a touchdown 60.7 percent of the time while the Sooners converted 60 percent of the time. The league average was 52.3 percent.

Points per drive: Baylor and OSU immediately come to mind when thinking of explosive Big 12 offenses but Kansas State was right up there in points per drive last season. BU led the league at 3.16 followed by OSU’s 3.05 and the Wildcats’ 3.02. Those were the only Big 12 teams that averaged more than three points per drive.

Defensive stats

Opponent plays over 20 yards: TCU finished atop the league in several defensive categories but KSU topped the Big 12 by allowing just 3.08 per game in 2012. The Wildcats’ sound defense kept opponents from changing games on one play last season, a big reason why they went 11-2 and earned a Fiesta Bowl berth.

Starting field position margin: The Wildcats ran away with this stat with a 11-yard average. It’s a clear sign KSU was winning the defensive and special teams battles. The league average was 1.6 and TCU (5.4) was the only other team with a margin better than four.

Opponent quarterback rating: The Wildcats didn’t finish atop the conference standings in many pass defense categories but they finished second with a 47.7 opponent quarterback rating. Their ability to pressure the quarterback (2.46 sacks per game) and create turnovers (2.38 turnovers forced per game) overcame their 248.46 passing yards allowed average.

Opponent red zone touchdown percentage: TCU led the league at 42.5 and KSU was the only other Big 12 team under 50 percent at 43.4 percent. Not surprisingly, those two teams finished 1-2 in points allowed. Those defenses forced turnovers or field goals instead of allowing red zone touchdowns to keep themselves in games.

Percentage of opponent completions going for a first down or touchdown: OSU led the league in this category, allowing only 51.4 percent of opponents’ passes to gain a first down or TD. The Cowboys were joined by KSU (53.4), Texas (54.8) and OU (55.5) in the top four and those teams combined for 38 wins in 2012. It’s a sign those defenses were aware of down and distance and made key plays at key times. The league average was 56.3 percent.



The Kansas State Wildcats showed why Big 12 pundits should be paying closer attention to Bill Snyder’s squad with a dominant 52-13 victory over Miami. Here’s a closer look at how it happened:

It was over when: Miami appeared to be driving to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter, but KSU defensive end Adam Davis had other ideas, forcing a Eduardo Clements fumble which was recovered by Arthur Brown. Davis’ play gave the Wildcats all the momentum and, more importantly, sent the message that Davis and the rest of the KSU defense were going to be creating havoc for most of the game.

Game ball goes to: The Hurricanes didn't have an answer for Collin Klein. The Wildcats' quarterback accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) and showed improved passing skills. He’s not a finished product by any means but he’s improving, undoubtedly putting a scare into defensive coordinators across the Big 12.

Unsung hero: Davis. The Wildcats' linebacker forced two fumbles and recorded two sacks. If he was wearing No. 92 in black and gold, you would have sworn James Harrison was on the field.

Unsung hero, Take 2: While the skill position players get the attention, the Wildcats dominated the game in the trenches. KSU’s offensive line opened running lanes and paved the way for 498 total yards (288 rushing, 210 passing) on offense.

Heisman watch: Largely considered a dark-horse candidate, Klein could catapult into the Heisman conversation if he continues to play like he did on Saturday. The senior had 210 passing yards and 71 rushing yards in the win. The Wildcats’ Sept. 22 date with Oklahoma could be a defining moment.

What it means: The Wildcats' win boosts the BCS profile of the Big 12 Conference after a dominating win over an ACC opponent. And for KSU, the battle with the Sooners -- assuming KSU wins its home game against North Texas on Sept. 15 -- has become a huge game with national implications.

Press coverage: The nation's No. 2 league?

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
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The SEC is king in college football after producing each of the last four national champions. That won't change until a team from another league hoists the crystal football.

But the SEC has a reason to look over its shoulder this season. Several of them, in fact. The Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten are trying to catch the SEC, and all three leagues can make cases for being the nation's No. 2 conference right now. According to the ESPN Stats & Info conference power rankings, the Big 12 is No. 2, followed by the Pac-10 and the Big Ten.

Which conference is right behind the SEC?

Bloggers David Ubben (Big 12), Ted Miller (Pac-10) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten) weigh in.

Adam Rittenberg: What the Big Ten lacks -- an undefeated team -- it more than makes up for with incredible depth. The league boasts three 1-loss teams in Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State, all of which could finish 11-1. It also boasts a veteran Iowa team that no one wants to face in a bowl, in addition to decent squads like Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan. Even Illinois has made some major strides from 2009.

[+] EnlargeIowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallThe Big Ten boasts some great talent at quarterback, including Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, who ranks third in the nation.
This is the deepest the Big Ten has been since 2006, when it entered late November with the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 team and three teams -- Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin -- ranked in the top 7 of the final BCS standings. The Big Ten's rise also has occurred while Michigan rebuilds. The league also has significantly upgraded its quarterback play, boasting five of the nation's top 15 rated passers. Although the Big Ten's nonconference performance was just so-so, competition within the league seems to be largely undervalued by those evil BCS computers. A top-tier SEC or Big 12 program seems to get much more credit for beating a mid-level team in its league than Wisconsin gets for beating Iowa on the road or Michigan State gets for beating Northwestern on the road. The human voters see the Big Ten in a different light.

The Big Ten finished the 2009-10 bowl season as the nation's No. 2 conference, recording four victories against top 15 opponents.

Nothing has changed to move the Big Ten off of the second line.

David Ubben: Hey, I get it. In college football, a conference is only as strong as its strongest link. That's how the expression goes, right? Gimme a break.

The Big 12 has landed a team in the title game in each of the past two seasons. Despite being on the outside looking in on this year's chase, the league still has five teams in the top 20, and earlier this year, nine teams were in the poll or receiving votes. All that should be even more impressive considering the league's glamour program, Texas, at 4-6, is having a "down year" that is insulting to down years. Nine consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins for the Longhorns has come to a rather spectacularly bad end.

But otherwise, strength is everywhere. Baylor is having one of the program's best years and should be just as good in 2011. Missouri, had they not tripped up at Texas Tech, could be in the top 10. Oklahoma State has emerged as the league's surprise top 10 team and Nebraska is proving everybody wrong who thought they were overrated in the preseason. Texas A&M struggled early, but has won four Big 12 games in a row to reach the top 20. All in a down year for the two programs who have ruled the conference, Oklahoma and Texas.

Outside of Colorado, which is leaving anyway, and rebuilding Kansas, every team in the league is proving to be, at the very least, capable. Iowa State, despite playing the toughest schedule in college football, still has a chance to qualify for a bowl, and if Texas does the same by beating rival Texas A&M, the league could have 10 bowl-eligible teams.

So maybe the Big 12 doesn't have a team vying for the crystal football this year, but it has a whole lot of really good teams, and a handful of others who are proving there's no such thing as an easy week in the Big 12.

Ted Miller: Over at the Pac-10, we're grinning. We're about to point out the Pac-10 plays a nine-game conference schedule, which automatically adds five losses to the conference, which, of course, hurts the conference's national perception, not to mention its number of bowl-eligible teams. Every other BCS conference plays eight, other than the eight-team Big East. But that’s not why we're grinning. We're grinning because the Big Ten and the Big 12 will do that soon, and then they'll find out the perception consequence of not giving your entire conference an extra win with a nonconference patsy. Of course, the savvy SEC will continue to play eight conference games, schedule weak nonconference opponents and then trumpet itself as super-awesome.

Why is the Pac-10 No. 2? Well, it's got the nation's No. 1 team in Oregon. It's got the nation's No. 6 team in Stanford, which many believe to be the nation's best one-loss team. And four of 10 teams are ranked. Are Iowa and Wisconsin good teams? Absolutely. But Iowa lost to Arizona, which has three Pac-10 defeats, and Wisconsin got a fluky one-point win at home over Arizona State, which is 2-5 in the Pac-10. The Pac-10 is 10-4 overall vs. other BCS conferences. It's ranked No. 1 by the Sagarin ratings, which for some reason don't believe stadium size is a true measure of a team or a conference. Even lowly Washington State is no longer the pushover it was the previous two seasons.

Depth? Let's put it this way: The Pac-10 would love to match the team that ends up second to last in its conference versus the one that ends up in that spot anywhere else.

Rittenberg: Three strong cases for the No. 2 spot. But are any of these leagues closing the gap with the SEC?

Ubben: I guess we'll find out come bowl season, but I don't know that anybody in the Big 12 is in position for a run like the SEC's enjoyed in the latter half of the last decade.

Oklahoma and Texas will be Oklahoma and Texas, but the strength of the Big 12 has been a rising middle class with teams like Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas A&M and maybe Baylor and Texas Tech positioning themselves to become mainstays in the top 25 during the next couple years or beyond.

That's good for the computer ratings, but not good for a league trying to field a national champion. And for better or worse, a league's ultimate identity boils down to its best team or two. Thanks to that rising middle class, getting inside the top five and staying there could be harder than ever in the next few years.

[+] EnlargeOregon quarterback Darron Thomas
AP Photo/Paul SakumaThe SEC might be the top rated conference, but the Pac-10's Darren Thomas leads the nation's No. 1 team in Oregon.
Miller: Are we talking reality or perception? Because the SEC's ostensible superiority is largely about perception -- i.e., fan passion equals great football. The Pac-10 has a winning record vs. the SEC over the past decade, and the Big Ten has done just fine vs. the SEC in the Capital One and Outback Bowls. The SEC is probably No. 1, but the margin is thin, and the conference refuses to prove its superiority during the regular season by consistently scheduling tough nonconference games.

When USC ruled the Pac-10 from 2002-2008, folks called the conference the Trojans and the nine dwarfs. Now that USC has fallen, Oregon has risen, and teams such as Stanford and Arizona also have made moves. But USC will be back. That's just inevitable. And if Utah continues to play at a high level after it joins the Pac-12, you could make the case that the Pac-10 should start to produce multiple top-10 teams and five or six top-25 teams annually, which would put it on par with the SEC.

And, honestly, with resurgent Nebraska joining the Big Ten, I'm not sure we won't have a new No. 1 conference in 2011 anyway.

Rittenberg: Well, Ted made most of my points for me. I'll be sending a gift basket to Scottsdale.

The Big Ten certainly has matched up well with the SEC in the Capital One and Outback bowls, and the addition of Nebraska next fall truly enhances the league's clout. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany often points out the only way his league truly regains national respect is by beating the best from another conference at the championship level. The Big Ten still gets bashed for Ohio State's stumbles against the SEC in the BCS title game, and barring a wild final three weeks, a Big Ten squad won't be facing Auburn on Jan. 10 in Glendale. So the Big Ten must wait for that true statement game.

When I look at these two leagues from top to bottom, I don't see much difference. The Big Ten has continued to build off of its strong finish to 2009, while the SEC seems to have backslid. All you need to do is look at the SEC East division. Could Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State beat Auburn or LSU? It's possible, but I really think the entire league matches up better now with what the SEC is offering.

Like Ted writes, it's all about perception. Until a team from another league beats the SEC at the highest level, the SEC will keep living off of its incredible run.

But the Big Ten is catching up.

Could new matchup in Alamo signal Big 12 bowl shakeup?

August, 13, 2009
8/13/09
9:15
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It sounds like the first of the bowl dominoes is fixing to fall.

The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that the Alamo Bowl is aggressively scrambling to better its bowl matchup, moving from a shared No. 4/No. 5 pick in the Big Ten to the No. 2 pick from the Pac-10.

I would expect that if the $3 million payout the Times mentions is correct, the Alamo Bowl likely could move up at least to the No. 3 Big 12 pick. It would then give the Alamo the Holiday Bowl's current matchup of Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-10 No. 2.  

This game would be a huge coup for the San Antonio bowl. Traditionally, the San Diego game has featured some of the most intriguing offensive bowl games because the evolving playing styles of the Big 12 and Pac-10 appear to be such a good combination.

What it would mean for the Big Ten is unclear. Maybe Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany would be able to rejigger his conference's configurations in Florida, work the Holiday Bowl in its mix or involve the Texas Bowl.

The most interesting bowl to watch in the future in terms of the Big 12 will be the Cotton Bowl. If the Dallas Cowboys Stadium proves to be as attractive for fans as it appeared during my short visit there last month, I think it will only be a matter of time before that bowl is included in the Bowl Championship Series.

If that is the case, the Alamo Bowl would be in prime position to pick up the Cotton Bowl's current matchup of Big 12 No. 2 team one of these days.

I've always thought that San Antonio would be an ideal place to anchor the loser of the Big 12 championship game -- mainly because the championship game figures to switch between larger stadiums in Arlington, Texas, and Kansas City in upcoming seasons because of harsh economic realities for the Big 12.  

The twinkling River Walk lights in late December in the Alamo City would be a nice consolation prize for the team that loses the Big 12 title game.

But until then, the Alamo Bowl's positioning to move up and snatch the Pac-10 team appears to be a wise move.  

Why the Big 12 ranks solidly second behind SEC

August, 7, 2009
8/07/09
3:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

By all accounts, 2008 was a landmark season for Big 12 football.

The unprecedented three-way tie for the South Division championship that involved Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma made the conference must-see television for the second half of the season for fans across the country. Attention was riveted to the conference unlike any previous time in the Big 12's history.

It should be more of the same this season as strong races are expected in both the North and South Divisions.

The conference again will feature cutting-edge offensive units that will score boatloads of points and be powered by the most talented collection of quarterbacks that can be found anywhere.

Those numbers are nice, but the Big 12's lack of defensive production is the main reason I still think it ranks behind the Southeastern Conference.

The top athletes in the Big 12 are clustered on offensive units, helping to result in shootouts.

In the SEC, those same athletes seem to end up playing defense. It might not be as much fun to watch, but the physical nature is apparent.

In recent bowl games, the Big 12 has struggled to match that defensive nature of the SEC for many statement-making victories.  Oklahoma's loss to Florida in the BCS title game and Texas Tech's defeat to Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl last year indicated there's still a gap between defenses found in the SEC and the Big 12.

The SEC also has a deeper concentration of top teams, as seen by its four teams in the top 10 when the USA Today coaches' poll was released earlier today.

It doesn't mean the Big 12 won't be exciting or fun to watch this season. Because it will be -- again.

But until Big 12 teams can notch some statement-making victories where defense isn't an afterthought, its national perception will continue to lag behind the SEC's.

The rest of the nation is no comparison. Big 12 teams can occasionally win their BCS bowl games, unlike the ACC. It might not have the fancy television network of the Big Ten, but has a more exciting brand of football to showcase. And it's not nearly as top heavy as the Pac-10 with its concentration of USC and Oregon at the top and little balance after.

Here's my ranking of the top eight conferences heading into the upcoming season

    1. SEC
    2. Big 12
    3. ACC
    4. Big Ten
    5. Pac-10
    6. MWC
    7. Big East
    8. WAC

      Eight Big 12 teams make ESPN.com's relegation top 40

      August, 4, 2009
      8/04/09
      4:59
      PM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      All right Big 12 fans, don't say that the ESPN.com football pundits didn't keep you on the edge of your seat.

      Pat Forde, Mark Schlabach and Ivan Maisel attacked an interesting proposition, choosing the top programs if the FBS was being winnowed to 40 members.

      The Big 12 finished with eight teams selected, including three of the final four picks. Don't say that we at ESPN.com don't enjoy a little finely-crafted drama from the live chat from their 40-team draft, which played out at this link.

      Here are the Big 12 teams and where they were picked in the draft.

      3. Oklahoma

      4. Texas

      12. Nebraska

      25. Texas Tech

      26. Oklahoma State

      37. Missouri

      38. Kansas

      39. Texas A&M

      And for the fans of the other four schools -- Baylor, Colorado, Iowa State and Kansas State -- I wish my deepest sympathies. And please send the irate e-mails to the panel members and not to me.

      The late run enabled the Big 12 to have the second-most schools picked in the relegation game than any other conference, trailing only nine picks from the SEC. The Pac-10, Big Ten and ACC had six schools apiece, two from the Mountain West and one each from the WAC, Big East and from the independents.

      I wasn't surprised that the three power teams in the Big 12 were picked as high as they were. And South Division powers Texas Tech and Oklahoma State were actually picked a tad earlier than I might have expected. And the run of the three late schools might have showed that the esteemed panel might have been using some collective notes.

      But having eight teams picked in this game is a pretty good indication of the Big 12's stature among national powers.

      Truthfully, it's one or two more Big 12 schools than I expected would be picked.

      Big 12 lunch links: ISU's James Smith finally finds his mother

      August, 4, 2009
      8/04/09
      1:20
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      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      Here are the Big 12's best stories today for your lunchtime edification.

      • The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson has a touching story about how Iowa State defensive back James Smith found his mother in Haiti this summer after not seeing her for the past 19 years.
      • Joe Williams of the Orlando Sentinel catches up with Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Texas, one of the nation's top recruits who is in Paisley, Fla., for the Football University's Top Gun Camp. Among the schools Seastrunk is considering includes Baylor, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M.
      • Texas Tech could make millions by taking advantage of Lubbock's new "wet" laws by designating vendors for sales at football games at Jones AT&T Stadium, the Daily Torreador's Ben Jones reports.
      • ESPN.com's JC Shurbutt reports that Oklahoma State snatched a recruiting commitment from heralded offensive line prospect Dan Koenig of Cape Coral, Fla. Koenig, whose two older brothers played for the Cowboys, picked OSU over Nebraska, Mississippi and Clemson.
      • Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune provides another interesting "Case of the Mondays" with particular interest in Missouri's upcoming practice schedule, five questions heading into Missouri's fall practice and his need for assistance in a Big 12 fantasy football team.
      • The Big 12 is in danger of being lapped by the SEC in terms of its mega television deal, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple reports.
      • Jake Vehyl of Athlonsports.com predicts that Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant will be among the Heisman finalists this season.
      • The Baton Rouge Advocate's Randy Rosetta writes that LSU might be willing to play Big 12 schools Texas and Texas A&M in the future at facilities like Reliant Stadium in Houston and the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
      • Paul Myerburg of the New York Times' "The Quad" blog ranks Texas Tech as the nation's No. 29 team.
      • John Werner of Lindys.com writes about Robert Griffin's attempt to lead Baylor to its first bowl game since 1994.
      • Big 12 foes have trouble deciding whether Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford is the better quarterback, the Tulsa World's John Hoover reports.
      • Bob Devaney's omission in a recent Sporting News poll of history's top-50 coaches makes development of a Nebraska Football Hall of Fame at Memorial Stadium a priority, Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel writes.

      Big 12 links: Was Callahan one of the worst coaches ever?

      July, 31, 2009
      7/31/09
      1:11
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      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      It's the end of a long grueling week for me after the media days. I'm still having flashbacks about too many coaching clichés and too much Dr Pepper after I finally got home last night.  

      But there were a nice collection of links across the blogosphere today to finish my week.

      There is one that I bet will provide a little fodder for my friends in Nebraska.

      Enjoy the weekend.

      Big 12 media attendees finalized

      July, 24, 2009
      7/24/09
      8:10
      PM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      Three schools have decided on the players who will join their head coaches at next week's Big 12 media days in Irving, Texas.

      Texas A&M, Kansas State and Texas made their decisions and the players were announced by the conference late Friday afternoon.

      Here's the list:

      Texas A&M (Monday): Coach Mike Sherman, QB Jerrod Johnson, S Trent Hunter, T Lucas Patterson.

      Kansas State (Wednesday): Coach Bill Snyder, QB Carson Coffman, TE Jeron Mastrud, LB Alex Hrebec.

      Texas (Wednesday): Coach Mack Brown, QB Colt McCoy, WR Jordan Shipley, LB Roddrick Muckelroy.

      Considering that all three teams will be bringing their projected starting quarterbacks, I'm betting that few media members will be disappointed about these choices.

      Media pick OU-UT tie and Nebraska to win Big 12 divisions

      July, 23, 2009
      7/23/09
      12:14
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      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      The media that regularly cover the Big 12 have selected Texas and Oklahoma as co-No. 1 teams of the South Division in the conference's annual preseason poll.

      Both teams received 174 points in the balloting of 32 media members. Texas had 17 first-place votes and Oklahoma had 15. They were followed in order by Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas A&M.

      Nebraska got the nod in the Big 12's North Division in the media poll. The Cornhuskers had 172 points and 17 first-place votes, compared to 164 points and 12 first-place votes for second-place Kansas and Missouri was third with three first-place votes and 124 points. The other Big 12 North teams in order were Colorado, Kansas State and Iowa State.

      The conference will release its preseason All-Big 12 team on Friday in advance of the conference's media days that begin Monday in Arlington, Texas.

      Here's a look at the media balloting, with the number of first-place votes in parentheses, followed by the point totals. 

      North Division
      1. Nebraska (17) 172
      2. Kansas (12) 164
      3. Missouri (3) 124
      4. Colorado 100
      5. Kansas State 81
      6. Iowa State 33

      South Division
      1. Texas (17) 174
      1. Oklahoma (15) 174
      3. Oklahoma State 130
      4. Texas Tech 89
      5. Baylor 75
      6. Texas A&M 33

      SEC football package invading Big 12 markets

      July, 23, 2009
      7/23/09
      8:21
      AM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      There were some fears among Big 12 officials when details about the SEC's whopping television contract with ESPN was announced last year. Some coaches have mentioned the recruiting advantages present for the SEC with virtually every game available in some form or fashion.

      But it's trickling down even more than that. ESPN Regional has arranged for station clearances for over-the-air broadcasts of a package of SEC games this season in Big 12 markets like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.

      This is the package for the early Raycom games that once were seen only in the nine-state geographic footprint of the SEC. But that's changed this season as the SEC has also ram-rodded itself into markets like Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix and Pittsburgh for those games. The SEC also has hopes of having affiliates in places like Chicago, Detroit and New York City by the time the regular season begins.

      These syndicated games likely will be carried on independent stations in their respective markets, taking time away from paid programming.   

      I myself will love having another game available. The more the merrier has always been how I look at it.

      No other conference can match the SEC's mainstream national assault -- even with the availability of the Big Ten Network on some satellite systems.

      And it highlights why the Big 12's television future has become such a huge priority for Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

      As more SEC games are available in the three largest markets of his league's most significant recruiting area, it's understandable why Beebe is hoping the Big 12 can attract a similar television package to match this exposure when its TV deal comes up. The Big 12's current contract with ESPN/ABC runs through 2015-16, but its deal with Fox Sports Net expires after the 2011-12 season.

      'College Football Live' begins two-day stop in Texas

      July, 20, 2009
      7/20/09
      1:17
      PM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      Sorry for the short notice, but I wanted to let everybody know that "College Football Live" will continue its innovative series of visits to respective states, making a two-day stop in Texas beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

      The series will concentrate on Texas' Big 12 schools Monday and cover the rest of the state's FBS schools Tuesday.

      As usual, the show will be packed with all kinds of information this afternoon. It's definitely worth a look. I'll be tuning in. 

      Back from vacation and getting ready for the season

      July, 20, 2009
      7/20/09
      7:55
      AM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      After a week chasing through the New York subway system with a 4-year-old, I was ready for my vacation to end before it finished.

      But I'm back, rested and tanned after enjoying those 80-degree days from the top of a double-decker bus crisscrossing Manhattan.

      Football season beckons. The Big 12's media days start next Monday in Arlington, Texas.

      We're at 45 days and counting until Iowa State meets North Dakota State on Sept. 3 in the opener for Big 12 teams.

      I can hardly wait.

      Happy July 4th!

      July, 3, 2009
      7/03/09
      10:23
      AM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      A lot of people are taking today and this weekend off, so I wanted to wish everybody a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday.

      Take some time this weekend to think about the troops who are making sure this is the greatest of all countries. Remember them and keep them in your prayers.

      Football season is just around the corner. We've got the Big 12 media days coming up in the Dallas area beginning on July 27.

      I can't wait for what promises to be another great season of Big 12 football and that gathering will kind of kick everything off.

      I'll be back on Monday. We've got a big week with the continued countdown of the most memorable Big 12 moments and the mythical Big 12-SEC challenge.

      Be safe and enjoy the holidays.

      Frederick remembered as strong leader, gentleman

      June, 15, 2009
      6/15/09
      2:15
      PM ET

      Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

      Memorial services for former Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick will be held Wednesday at the Lied Center on the campus that he loved.

      Frederick died Friday from injuries that he sustained the previous day in a bicycle accident when he was riding through the streets of Lawrence.

      Frederick was involved with Kansas athletics for the better part of 40 years. He played basketball there as a walk-on. He married his wife on a chapel on the campus. He worked as an assistant basketball coach and later was involved in administration there for much of his professional career.

      To give you an idea of how special Lawrence was for Frederick and his family, he retreated from a fast-track career as an assistant basketball coach at places like BYU and Stanford to return home and begin work as head high school basketball coach at Lawrence High School.

      That move eventually led to his return to Kansas. I could think of no place where he was happier.   

      I still remember working with Frederick when he was the chairman of the men's basketball committee. It was back in the day when San Antonio was first trying to position itself as a national contender for  NCAA events. Obviously, this story was of huge interest in the city. I called Frederick a bunch of times, but he was always gracious and patient in his dealings with me.

      Later, he was a finalist for the Big 12 commissioner when Steve Hatchell was hired as the conference's first commissioner. I wonder how the conference would have turned out if Frederick has earned the job.

      I can recall his two most celebrated hires at Kansas. He went against the norm, using a strong recommendation from his mentor Dean Smith, to hire little-known Roy Williams as his basketball coach. His qualities as a gentleman away from coaching were what attracted Frederick to hiring him.

      It turned out to be his most successful hire. 

      Later, he used a similar strategy when he hired Terry Allen as his football coach. Allen was the winningest coach in the history of the Gateway Conference when he arrived at Kansas. But Frederick was attracted by his qualities as a gentleman away from coaching.

      That hire turned out to be Frederick's most unpopular, a decision that helped lead to Frederick's undoing at Kansas after Allen struggled.

      But through it all, Frederick never changed.

      He was a moral man who once canceled a schedule with Notre Dame when he was Kansas' athletic director because the Fighting Irish had abandoned their deal with the rest of their college football brethren to strike their own television deal with NBC.

      To those who knew Frederick best, that decision didn't surprise him. He was a man of his convictions.

      The athletic landscape around the Big 12 changed a little when Frederick left his job in 2001.

      His alma mater has developed into an emerging football power in the last several years with back-to-back bowl trips in the last two seasons.

      They could be poised for even more in 2009.

      But it won't be the same without him being around to revel in his alma mater's success.

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