Big 12: Chicago Bears

Memories of Hall of Famers Mongo and Wistrom

April, 30, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

I can't think of two more deserving inductees for the College Football Hall of Fame than the two defensive players who were named earlier today.

Steve "Mongo" McMichael of Texas and Grant Wistrom of Nebraska epitomized defensive excellence during their respective eras.

McMichael was a terror -- on and off the field, I might add -- during his time in Austin. He enjoyed the bright night lights along "The Drag" with the same fervor that he enjoyed pulverizing opposing opponents on the field.

He still ranks among the top 10 in career tackles, sacks, quarterback pressures and forced fumbles for the Longhorns.

His persona became bigger than life during his tenure with the Chicago Bears. He was actually drafted in the third round by New England in 1980 before ending up in Chicago the following year.

McMichael was a quote machine in post-game interviews for the great Bears teams in the mid-1980s. He later carried that same verbosity during his wrestling career.

I still remember how he and several other football players kept wrestlers out of the ring for the storied Lawrence Taylor-Bam Bam Bigelow match at an early WrestleMania.

And I also recall how he was kicked out of the press box after singing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at a Chicago Cubs game back in 2001. Earlier in the game, home plate umpire Angel Hernandez called Cub base runner Ron Coomer out at the plate on a controversial call. After finishing his song, McMichael questioned Hernandez's call and said that he'd be waiting for him after the game.

Hernandez then ejected McMichael from the press box after he sang.

Wistrom wasn't nearly as colorful, but was a similarly effective defensive force during his time with the Cornhuskers. He was a vital cog in three Nebraska national championship teams in 1994, 1995 and 1997, earning the Lombardi Award during his senior season.

Back in those days, veteran defensive coordinator Charlie McBride really had things going for the Blackshirts. And Wistrom was the key player, leading the team in sacks and tackles for losses during his senior season. He was the Big 12's defensive player of the year in both of the first two seasons of the conference.

He carried that strong play over to his professional career where he was a key player on the St. Louis Rams' victorious Super Bowl team in 1999.

But I'll always remember him as a Blackshirt, developing into one of the most dominant defensive players during the Big 12 era.

And I also admired his creation of a foundation that strives to allow pediatric cancer patients opportunities to just be children.

"Grant Wistrom was an ideal representative of University of Nebraska athletics," former Nebraska coach and current Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said.

His former coach couldn't have been more correct on that assessment.

Big 12 lunch links: Leach stirring it up again

April, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

We just thought the Texas Tech-Texas A&M rivalry couldn't get any more vituperative and nasty.

Tech coach Mike Leach, who in the past has teased the Aggies with his plans of starting "Mike's Pirate School," modeled along the lines of A&M's Corps of Cadets, has added some more fire this week with his comments about A&M quarterback Stephen McGee.

Leach was angry about how his own quarterback, record-breaking Graham Harrell was not drafted while McGee was picked by Dallas in the fourth round of the draft. McGee saw action in only three games as a starter last season.

Leach's barbs at the Aggies and McGee provided much fodder for day-after draft stories across the Big 12.

Leach remained unapologetic about his remarks about McGee, Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and McGee's draftability, Dallas Morning News reporters Brian Davis and Chuck Carlton report.

Bryan Eagle columnist Robert Cessna writes that Leach was wrong in his pointed criticisms of McGee and A&M's handling of the quarterback.

And Austin American-Statesman beat writer Randy Riggs has Sherman's response to Leach, where the A&M coach says the Tech coach is in no position to comment about his relationship with McGee.

All of this only ensures that the Oct. 24 game in Lubbock between the two bitter rivals will be that much more anticipated.

Here are some other stories from across  the conference, with a lot less indignation.

  • The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson reports that some ticket prices to the Iowa-Iowa State game on Sept. 12 in Ames will be going down to $60 per seat.
  • Gregg Doyel of wonders if Harrell was too productive for his own good.
  • Colorado's season-ticket sales are holding steady, despite a rise in some ticket prices and the declining economy, the Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo reports.
  • The Omaha World Herald's Tom Shatel weighs in on the alleged Cody Glenn ticket- scalping case and the free-agent competition between Chase Daniel and Joe Ganz for playing time with the Washington Redskins.
  • Sam Bradford and Zac Robinson shared their faith together at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Banquet in Oklahoma City and also planned an upcoming golf game, the Daily Oklahoman reports.
  • The Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter reports that Chase Daniel went against his rooting instincts as a fan when he opted for a contract offer from the Washington Redskins.
  • Iowa State tackle Doug Dedrick had already agreed to a free-agent contract with the Houston Texans before the NFL draft was completed, Ames Tribune reporter Bobby La Gesse writes.
  • Nebraska officials told the Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Christopherson they found no evidence to back up Cody Glenn's claims of ticket scalping.
  • It was understandable that former Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera ended up signing with the Chicago Bears, the Kansas City Star's Brady McCullough reports. Rivera has owned a jersey of Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher since high school.
  • Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel reports that Sam Bradford is the clear No. 1 pick among quarterbacks in the 2010 draft.