Big 12: Bobby Elliott

Lunch links: Look back at QB controversy

January, 26, 2012
Did you know that the original title for War and Peace was War, What Is It Good For?

Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

January, 24, 2012
Signing day is coming fast. Next Wednesday, the next round of players will sign up for their respective programs and start what could be storied careers.

Here's what each team across the Big 12 needs. You'll find Texas A&M and Mizzou on the SEC blog and West Virginia on the Big East Blog.


Quarterback: This one's pretty simple. Robert Griffin III is taking his talents to the NFL early. Nick Florence is waiting to take over, and the Bears have Bryce Petty behind him, but more reinforcements at quarterback are needed. Dual-threat quarterbacks, ideally.

Defensive tackle: Baylor already was one of the nation's worst teams (102nd nationally) at stopping the run. Now it'll need to replace both its interior linemen, Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson.

Offensive linemen: Baylor's offensive line, meanwhile, has been solid. It loses junior college transfer and two-year starter Robert T. Griffin, as well as All-Big 12 center Philip Blake. John Jones, a reserve guard, also has exhausted his eligibility.


Receiver: This has been a weak spot for the team for several years, and its top overall talent, Darius Reynolds, is gone. Darius Darks is, too. Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz will be the team's best weapons in 2012, but the pair of shifty slot guys will be seniors. This position needs reinforcements.

Defensive back: The DBs have been a quiet strength for ISU, especially in 2011. Cornerback Leonard Johnson and safety Ter'Ran Benton both have exhausted their eligibility, though, and defensive backs coach Bobby Elliott left for Notre Dame. You'll see plenty of new faces in the Cyclones' secondary next year.

Defensive line: Experienced starters Stephen Ruempolhamer and Jacob Lattimer are both gone, and Iowa State has struggled to stop the run consistently the past few seasons.


Quarterback: Kansas landed high-profile transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (BYU), but this is still a huge position of need. Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, left the team. Quinn Mecham is out of eligibility. Heaps is sitting out his NCAA-mandated year after transferring. Crist is the starter, but he badly needs a backup, especially if Brock Berglund's transfer appeal allows him to leave.

Wide receiver: Kansas lacks a big threat at this position. It needs a talent upgrade in a big way. Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay is joining the team, but he's no guarantee to a) be granted immediate eligibility or b) become an impact player.

Defensive tackle: Kansas is thin here, too. Richard Johnson, Patrick Dorsey and Michael Martinovich are gone, and Kansas couldn't stop much of anything on defense. Some push up front could help make everything look better. A late addition to the 2012 class from a junior college seems like a no-brainer. The Jayhawks need physically mature players to contribute immediately.


Offensive line: K-State's offensive line was much better in 2011 and could be again in 2012. It needs help replacing All-Big 12 lineman Clyde Aufner, though. Starter Colten Freeze is also gone.

Defensive line: Kansas State is bringing back about as many starters as anyone in the Big 12, but the biggest losses are along the defensive line. Kick-blocking specialist (five in 2011) Ralph Guidry is gone, along with tackle Ray Kibble. Juco transfer Jordan Voelker exploded onto the scene this year, but he's gone, too.

Defensive backs: Cornerback David Garrett leaves a huge hole behind. Tysyn Hartman may not be as talented as teammate Ty Zimmerman, but his experience leaves a big hole. Zimmerman will have to mentor a younger safety in the near future.


Receiver: The Sooners are thin here in a big way. That was obvious late in the season when Ryan Broyles' storied college career ended a few weeks early with a knee injury. The team also lost Justin McCay (transfer) to Kansas. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills are the likely top two targets, but they need help.

Tight end: This position inspired a bit of panic at the end of the season. Seniors James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are gone. Austin Haywood wasn't allowed back on the team, and two more tight ends left the team for various reasons. That left the Sooners suddenly without a scholarship player at the position returning in 2012.

Offensive line: Starting tackle Donald Stephenson must be replaced, as will guard Stephen Good, who moved in and out of the starting lineup throughout his career. The Sooners bring back a lot of talent and aren't dying for depth there, but those two will leave holes. Three more offensive line starters will be seniors in 2012.


Offensive line: The Cowboys need a whole lot of help here to fill in behind young players stepping into the starting lineup. Starters Levy Adcock, Nick Martinez and Grant Garner are gone. Backup center Casey LaBrue is gone, too. Those are two All-Big 12 linemen who leave big shoes to be filled.

Receiver: Justin Blackmon surprised no one by leaving a year early, and Josh Cooper leaves with perhaps the most underrated career of any receiver in school history. In OSU's offense, there's always room for depth here. Nine receivers had at least 19 catches in 2011. Blackmon and Cooper combined for 192, though.

Defensive ends: The pass rush was solid for Oklahoma State this year, but both starters, Jamie Blatnick and Richetti Jones, are gone. Replacing both is a necessity.


Receiver: Texas lacks a true game-changer at the position, though Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis may develop into that role in 2012. Former blue-chip recruit Darius White left for Missouri, too.

Quarterback: David Ash and Case McCoy didn't show a ton of potential at quarterback this year, though Ash may grow with an offseason to prepare as starter. Garrett Gilbert got a big chunk of the work in the spring, summer 7-on-7 and fall preseason camp. Even if Ash does grow, the Longhorns need reinforcements at the position.

Linebacker: Two senior impact players are gone. Texas is left trying to replace Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, though Jordan Hicks may mature into a star in 2012.


Offensive line: TCU's offensive line is headed for some major turnover. OT Robert Deck, OG Kyle Dooley and OG Spencer Thompson are gone. Two more starters, OG Blaize Foltz and C James Fry, will be seniors in 2012.

Defensive linemen: TCU isn't losing a lot at this spot, but Ross Forrest and D.J. Yendrey will be seniors in 2012. The Horned Frogs would be well-served to prepare, and offer some depth next year.

Specialists: TCU will have to break in a pair of new starters on special teams next season. Kicker Ross Evans and punter Anson Kelton have exhausted their eligibility.


Receiver: The Red Raiders' offense requires a lot of depth here. Tramain Swindall is the only loss at the position, but three more (Alex Torres, Cornelius Douglas, Darrin Moore) will be seniors. Douglas moved to cornerback this year after the team was racked with injury, but we'll see whether he moves back this offseason.

Offensive line: Tech has a huge need here. Four players won't be returning in 2012. Lonnie Edwards, Mickey Okafor and center Justin Keown must be replaced.

Defensive linemen: Tech's Donald Langley and Scott Smith are both out of eligibility, and juco transfer Leon Mackey will be a senior.

Lunch links: Big 12 scheduling mess

January, 18, 2012
Sometimes, saying "I made a mistake" is just too difficult.

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Getting a head-coaching job is sometimes as much about timing as coaching skills or any other factor.

An intriguing story by Randy Peterson in Sunday's Des Moines Register reminded me of that when it mentioned several coaches with Big 12 backgrounds who likely were interested when the Iowa job opened up after the 1998 season following the retirement of legendary head coach Hayden Fry.

Former Iowa defensive back Bob Stoops may have been one of the most attractive potential candidates. His connection with Fry ran deeply from his career as a player and graduate assistant coach there before he became the nation's hottest assistant coach while working under Steve Spurrier at Florida.

Terry Allen was another coach whom Iowa might have been intrigued with when Fry left, despite his lack of personal history with the program. His father, Robert, was well-known in the program. Robert Allen was a champion swimmer with the Hawkeyes who later become an assistant football coach and head swimming coach at the school. His son had developed into a hot commodity after leading Northern Iowa to a 75-26 record as a head coach.

But the hottest candidate of them all might have been Bobby Elliott, a former Iowa player who had chosen to remain at his alma mater to work with Fry through the years as a trusted member of his staff. His father, Pete, had been a Iowa athletic director.

At the age of 45, Bobby Elliott was on the cusp of earning his shot as the Hawkeyes' head coach when an illness cost him a shot at the job.

When then-Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby was sorting through his candidates, Elliott informed him he couldn't take the job because he had been taking daily doses of chemotherapy to control a blood disorder called polycythemia vera. Bowlsby instead turned to then-NFL assistant Kirk Ferentz to fill the job.  

Stoops decided to take a sure offer at Oklahoma, where John Blake had recruited the framework of a strong but underachieving team. With the addition of Stoops' coaching acumen, the Sooners claimed a national championship in less than two seasons.

Allen decided to take the Kansas job, which proved more daunting for him than expected. He was let go after posting a 20-33 record after five seasons.

After Elliott was cured, he became a respected defensive coordinator who ably served under Dan McCarney at Iowa State and Bill Snyder at Kansas State. He most recently served as a defensive coordinator under Chuck Long at San Diego State -- a staff that was let go after last season.

Peterson's masterful story relates Elliott's thoughts about coaching and how his illness profoundly shaped so many lives during another relapse of the serious blood disorder in 2001. The poignancy became even more significant as Elliott related his thoughts about facing death with his wife and two children.

Peterson received unmatched access to Elliott during that season. It was an arrangement that McCarney didn't know about.

He updated the story with a masterful lead, describing how Elliott arranged to have a rose bush delivered to his wife, Joey, on Mother's Day in 1999 as he was being treated for a bone marrow transplant on that day.

"It was the first thing I saw when I walked outdoors that morning," Joey Elliott recalled in the story. "He knows how much I love gardening, but not knowing what was going to transpire, he had a Mother's Day present arranged."

The story provided a lot of insight into the battling nature of Elliott as he dealt with a life-threatening illness and beat it twice. Even more interesting was how he dealt with knowing the illness denied him a shot at his dream job.

It made me wonder what might have been -- for Elliott, for Stoops, for Allen, for Ferentz, for Iowa State and for Kansas State.

And it also made me think about so many other coaches who aren't blessed with the right timing when they finally get their chance to be a college head coach.

Clements named first member of Snyder's staff

December, 4, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Kansas defensive line coach Joe Bob Clements has been named as the first member of Bill Snyder's new staff at Kansas State.

Clements had worked at Kansas for one season. Before that, he was a defensive line coach under coordinator Bobby Elliott at San Diego State and served as the Aztecs' recruiting coordinator in 2007.

Earlier, Clements served on Snyder's staff for the final three years of his coaching tenure from 2003-05. He will coach the Wildcats' defensive ends.

It's not a surprise that Clements, a former standout defensive end at KSU who arrived as a walk-on, would find his way back to his old school. But it will be interesting to see how many of Snyder's old players and coaches would come back with him.

I've heard repeated reports that former San Diego State coach Chuck Long, who played under Snyder at Iowa and was perhaps his greatest player, could end up in Manhattan as the Wildcats' coordinator under the right circumstances.

And ex-Clemson coordinator Vic Koenning, a former Kansas State player and coach, resigned from the Tigers' staff earlier this week. His stock has never been hotter after each of his first three Clemson defenses finished in the top 25 in scoring, rushing defense, total defense, and pass efficiency defense each season.

I'm a little surprised that Snyder didn't announce all of his coaches at once. But Clements is a start and a big name that shows Kansas State fans that Snyder is intent on building his program with familiar coaches.

I'm wondering if the rabid Kansas State fan base is happy about this move? And who are some other coaches they would be interested in seeing join Snyder's staff?