Big 12: Chris Brown



Fifth-ranked Notre Dame sent a message to the rest of college football with a 30-13 win over No. 8 Oklahoma at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night. Here's a closer look at what happened and what it means for both teams.

How the game was won: In the trenches. Notre Dame shut down OU’s run game while rushing for 215 yards of its own. The Fighting Irish offensive and defensive lines manhandled the Sooners as Notre Dame improved to 8-0.

The game was over when: Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 46-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 23-13 lead with 3:22 remaining. The Irish tacked on a late touchdown to win by 17 points.

Turning point: After OU tied the game at 13 midway through the fourth quarter, the Irish stormed back on their next possession, sparked by a 50-yard reception from Chris Brown. It was a remarkable response to the Sooners. Everett Golson’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the drive and secured the win.

Stat of the game: 0.6. That’s the yards-per-carry average for Oklahoma. The Irish run defense was highly regarded when they arrived in Norman. And they didn’t disappoint, holding OU to 15 yards on 24 carries.

Player of the game: Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker was all over the field for the Irish. He sealed the victory with his fourth-quarter interception and finished the game with 11 tackles, one sack and one interception. He played like a Heisman candidate, leaving his mark on the game with his aggression and hustle.

Unsung hero of the game: Golson. The redshirt freshman quarterback showed exceptional maturity and savvy. He made plays when they were there, tossed the ball out of bounds when they weren't. He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards with zero turnovers and added 11 rushes for 64 yards and one touchdown. He didn't play like a first-year player.

What Notre Dame learned: Brian Kelly’s rebuilding job appears to be nearing completion. Programs are built on wins like this. With a road win against the Sooners, Kelly’s team made its case earn a spot in the BCS title game. And, at the very least, Irish fans must be thrilled with the progress of Kelly’s program during his third season in South Bend.

What Oklahoma learned: Winning home games against top-25 opponents isn’t as easy as it seemed under Bob Stoops. After heading into the season undefeated against top-25 teams at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium under Stoops, the Sooners suffered their second loss to a Top-25 opponent this year. No. 3 Kansas State knocked off the Sooners on Sept. 22.

What it means: The Irish are for real. Notre Dame is making a strong case to rise to No. 2 in the BCS standings. With wins over Stanford, Michigan, Michigan State and OU, the Irish have a solid résumé and can make a case for a spot in the BCS title game.

DeMarco Murray vs. 1,900 yards

May, 26, 2010
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Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made his way to Tulsa last night for the Sooner Caravan, giving him and other coaches within the program a chance to meet and speak with fans.

Though plenty was made of his comments about Oklahoma as it relates to possible realignment, he also had an interesting comment about running back DeMarco Murray.

[+] EnlargeMurray
John Rieger/US PresswireDeMarco Murray's best season came in 2008, when he gained 1,002 yards.
From The Oklahoman:
In his first season as the team's primary ball-carrier, Murray has set a goal for himself to rush for 1,500 yards, which would be a career high.

OU coach Bob Stoops has even greater expectations.

"I don't think that's enough," Stoops said Tuesday during an OU carvan stop in Tulsa. "I'd sure like to see him at 1,900. Not like we haven't done it. Adrian (Peterson) and Quentin Griffin both were over 1,900. We'll see. Hopefully he can do something like that."

I've talked about Murray plenty on the blog. I think you'd have a tough time finding a more talented running back in the conference. An easier task: finding a more productive back. He's topped 1,000 yards just once in his career, and that was in 2008 when he sat out the Big 12 and national championship games with an injured hamstring. Murray and Chris Brown complemented each other well, but Murray never seemed to get enough touches. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said he wanted DeMarco to touch the ball 25 times a game last season. There's a lot that goes into that number, but Murray got 25 touches in a game just twice, and eclipsed 20 in just two other games.

If he's going to flirt with 2,000 yards (1,000 more than the number I think he flirts with this season) three things have to happen:

1) He has to stay healthy. He did that, for the most part, last season. He missed just one game (a road win over Kansas) with an ankle injury. That's been the biggest knock on him throughout his career, and if he goes down again, that knock will continue. It's worth noting that the injury criticisms are probably a little unfair. In three seasons, he's missed six games. The problem has been when he's missed games. In 2007, he missed the Bedlam game, the Big 12 championship and the Fiesta Bowl loss to West Virginia. In 2008, like I mentioned earlier, it was the Big 12 and national championships.

2) He needs more carries. With a struggling offensive line in 2009, Oklahoma constantly worked the flats against good defenses with Murray and receiver Ryan Broyles, their two biggest playmakers in space. He can get receptions there whenever he wants them, but Stoops sounds like he wants to pound it with Murray, who isn't lacking for size at 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds.

He only carried the ball 171 times in 2009. He'd have to average 11.1 yards per carry with that number of carries to hit 1,900 yards. Good luck with that.

But he has to prove he's productive enough to warrant those additional carries. Stoops isn't going to give him the ball because he's DeMarco Murray. He'll have to earn them with his play in games and in practice, and if he doesn't, there's plenty of backs behind him such as Jermie Calhoun or Mossis Madu ready to pick up the slack, not to mention incoming freshmen Roy Finch and Brennan Clay.

3) The offensive line has to improve. This is far from a given, especially after losing their three best blockers from last year's team in Trent Williams, Brody Eldridge and Brian Simmons. But Ben Habern and Tyler Evans have to stay healthy and consistent, and they need help from guys like Donald Stephenson, Jarvis Jones and Cory Brandon.

Oklahoma spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
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2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters: Offense (9), Defense(4) P/K (2)

Top returners: QB Landry Jones, RB DeMarco Murray, LB Travis Lewis, S Quinton Carter, WR Ryan Broyles, DE Jeremy Beal, DE Frank Alexander

Key losses: DT Gerald McCoy, OL Trent Williams, QB Sam Bradford, RB Chris Brown, DE Auston English, OL Brian Simmons, OL Brody Eldridge


2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Chris Brown (774 yards)

Passing: Landry Jones* (3,198 yards)

Receiving: Ryan Broyles* (1,120 yards)

Tackles: Travis Lewis* (108)

Sacks: Jeremy Beal* (11)

Interceptions: Brian Jackson (4)

Three spring answers

1. O-line no longer offensive. Coach Bob Stoops tabbed his offensive and defensive lines as two of the most improved units on the team, a big difference from a year ago when Stoops called out his offensive linemen for not working hard enough. Part of the problem last season was injuries, and right guard Eric Mensik was lost for six weeks with an MCL injury, but even without their three best blockers from a season ago, the line is further ahead as a unit than they were last spring.

2. Young talent rising. Plenty of young players didn’t get on the field in 2009, for various reasons, whether it be injury, more experienced talent, or still being in high school. But linebackers Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis, along with cornerback Demontre Hurst and receiver Kenny Stills could be big parts of Oklahoma’s 2010 team. Lewis will help replace one of the linebacker positions vacated by Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayon, but moved around in the spring. Wort is a likely starter as well after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Hurst will help replace one of the corner positions vacated by Dominique Franks and Brian Jackson. And Stills could start for a receiving corps that struggled in 2009.

3. Lewis takes the reins. Oklahoma’s defense won’t be short on talent, headlined by defensive ends Jeremy Beal and Frank Alexander. But junior linebacker Travis Lewis, the team’s leading tackler as a sophomore, is ready to take over as the voice of the team, talking plenty of trash before the spring game and backing it up with his play, helping his team pitch a shutout. Gerald McCoy was the heart of the defense last season. This year, it’s Travis Lewis.

Three fall questions

1. Can the Sooners stay healthy? The theme for last season was injuries everywhere for the Sooners. Stoops says confidently he isn’t changing a thing, and it’s the right move. But it won’t stop fans—and maybe a couple of coaches—from cringing every time a player goes down awkwardly. Injuries turned the Sooners from a national title contender into an eight-win team a year ago, and another year of getting beat up could add to the frustration.

2. How much better will Landry Jones be? Jones played well when forced into action early by Sam Bradford’s injured shoulder. He played poorly in games against Texas and Nebraska, but finished the season with a career-high 418 yards and three touchdowns against Stanford. Jones is loaded with potential, and Stoops is optimistic at how Jones will look after a full spring and fall as starter.

3. Do the Sooners have a kicker? Jimmy Stevens lost his job to walk-on Patrick O’Hara late last season, but the two combined were just 1-of-8 from beyond 40 yards last season. A rainy spring game did little to settle the spring debate, and a couple misses on reasonable kicks by whoever wins the job in the fall could lead to another switch.

Notable undrafted Big 12ers finding homes

April, 27, 2010
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Nine players from the Big 12 were drafted in the first round, but not everybody can make millions. Here's where a few notable Big 12ers ended up after going undrafted:

Baylor

Four-time All-Big 12er will try to fit in with new coach Pete Carroll.

Everyone respects Lake as a hitter, but a lack of speed will likely keep the Thorpe Award candidate from succeeding at the pro level.

Kansas

Might end up in Canada after struggling to show scouts he could compensate for his lack of height.

Kansas State

Banks ran a 4.43 at the combine, the fifth-fastest time recorded by a receiver, but his size will keep him from playing receiver at the next level. Some team will give him a shot as a return man eventually. What he does with it is up to him.

Missouri

NFL teams are waiting on Alexander to pass a physical after undergoing his fourth knee surgery in just over a year. The nation's receiving leader can't seem to catch a break.

Baston and Gregory were second-team All-Big 12ers and Carolina began contacting Gregory during the sixth round, expressing its interest in signing him.

Nebraska

Turner and O'Hanlon make five Blackshirts who ended up on NFL rosters after leaving Nebraska. DT Ndamukong Suh, S Larry Asante and LB Phillip Dillard were drafted.

Oklahoma

An ankle injury ended English's season early and any chance the defensive end, who was named to the All-Big 12 first team as a freshman, had of being drafted.

  • DT DeMarcus Granger - Seattle
Former blue-chip recruit never recovered from offseason back surgery before last season and didn't play until the bowl game.

Solid runner led the Sooners in rushing the past two seasons. Might be able to slip into Josh McDaniels' uncertain situation at running back. Lesser accomplished backs have done it in Denver in the past, but that was under Mike Shanahan, who's now in Washington.

Oklahoma State

Toston stepped in after Kendall Hunter was injured and ran for over 1,000 yards.

Lewis began the season on the cover of SI, and Bond came to Oklahoma State after playing eight-man football. Both are now on current NFL rosters.

Texas

The most accurate kicker in Texas history, Lawrence doesn't seem likely to beat out the solid Connor Barth, who took over the job midseason last year, for the starting job. But impress during minicamp, or stay on the roster through training camp, and other teams could take notice.

Ulatoski has the size (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) to succeed in the NFL, he just has to prove it with the Texans. Tanner and Ulatoski have a handful of All-Big 12 honors heading into the next level.

Texas A&M

McCoy caught 35 passes for 367 yards and two scores and made the All-Big 12 second team.

Texas Tech

Sharpe finished second in the Big 12 with 15 sacks.

Carter, most known for his hair and makeup, turned an All-Big 12 first-team effort in 2009 into a free-agent deal with the world champs.

Crowded Sooners backfield adds Madu

March, 26, 2010
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Mossis Madu ran for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the 2008 Big 12 championship. As a junior in 2009, he accounted for just 86 yards of total offense.

[+] EnlargeMossis Madu
John Rieger/US PresswireMossis Madu rushed for 114 yards and three TDs in the 2008 Big 12 championship game.
Madu has moved back to running back this spring in hopes of recapturing his performances in 2008, when he ran for 475 yards and scored six touchdowns.

Last spring, he moved to receiver with DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown slated to get the bulk of the carries in the running game. Oklahoma coaches wanted the playmaker to get the ball, and they saw opportunities at receiver for the 6-foot, 200-pounder.

Although he showed progress through fall practices after moving from slot receiver to wideout, Madu never found a place in a Sooners receiving rotation that struggled for much of the 2009 season. Madu caught just seven passes. With Brown gone and Murray being held out of heavy contact this spring, Madu has returned to the backfield and is getting plenty of touches in the spring.

"I could be selfish and say that last year was a lost year,” Madu told The Oklahoman. "But it was one of those things that they asked me to do. They told me beforehand that I had an opportunity to start there. But in the end it was just harder for me to adapt to.”

Madu and fellow senior Murray are the most experienced running backs in Norman, but the Sooners have plenty of young running backs that will be itching for carries of their own when the season arrives.

Sophomore Jermie Calhoun will be in the mix this spring, but Jonathan Miller won't be active this spring after knee surgery. Freshmen Brennan Clay and Roy Finch could redshirt, but they won't arrive at fall camp with plans to sit out their first season.
It was a busy weekend at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, and several former Big 12 stars found themselves in the spotlight during the extensive evaluations.

Here's a quick look at the Big 12's top performers in the combine events (more events follow today and Tuesday):

40-Yard Dash

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, third among quarterbacks (4.71 seconds)
  • Colt McCoy, Texas, fifth among quarterbacks (4.79)
  • Brandon Banks, Kansas State, fifth among wide receivers (4.43)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, second among offensive linemen (4.88)
Bench Press

  • Keith Toston, Oklahoma State, tied for fourth among running backs (22 reps)
  • Jordan Shipley, Texas, tied for eighth among wide receivers (16 reps)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for eighth among tight ends (20 reps)
  • Russell Okung, Oklahoma State, second among offensive linemen (38 reps)
  • Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, tied for sixth among defensive linemen (32 reps)
  • Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri, second among linebackers (34 reps)
  • Keenan Clayton, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among linebackers (27 reps)
Vertical Jump

  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, second among quarterbacks (35 inches)
  • Chris Brown, Oklahoma, tied for 10th among running backs (36 inches)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (35 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, first among offensive linemen (34.5 inches)
Broad Jump

  • Colt McCoy, Texas, tied for third among quarterbacks (9 feet, 6 inches)
  • Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State, tied for fifth among quarterbacks (9 feet, 2 inches)
  • David Gettis, Baylor, third among wide receivers (10 feet, 4 inches)
  • Jared Perry, Missouri, ninth among wide receivers (10 feet, 1 inch)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, tied for fifth among tight ends (9 feet, 5 inches)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, tied for second among offensive linemen (9 feet, 5 inches)
3-Cone Drill

  • Jared Perry, Missouri, fifth among wide receivers (6.75 seconds)
  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fifth among tight ends (7.07 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for ninth among offensive linemen (7.60 seconds)
20-Yard Shuttle

  • Riar Geer, Colorado, second among tight ends (4.29 seconds)
  • Trent Williams, Oklahoma, fifth among offensive linemen (4.63 seconds)
  • J.D. Walton, Baylor, tied for 10th among offensive linemen (4.69 seconds)
60-Yard Shuttle

  • Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma, fourth among tight ends (11.88 seconds)

Oklahoma recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
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Oklahoma

Total class: 29

ESPN 150: 7

By position: ATH 6, DE 4, WR 3, OT 3, OLB 3, RB 2, S 2, DT 2, TE 1, QB 1, G 1, C 1.

By state: Texas 17, Oklahoma 4, California 3, Kansas 3, Florida 1, Missouri 1.

Already enrolled in school: 4.

The big ones: QB Blake Bell, a tall player with surprising athleticism for his size, was the Big 12’s top quarterback recruit. LB Corey Nelson was a late snatch from Texas A&M who should provide playmaking ability as a nimble, roving run-stuffer.

Sleeper: S Aaron Colvin missed his junior season with an injury but had a strong senior season. Oklahoma coaches feel like they are getting a steal because of his lack of national notoriety.

Needs met: Chris Brown is gone and DeMarco Murray has one more season of eligibility. But the Sooners added a couple of immediate contenders for playing time in Brennan Clay and Roy Finch. Austin Haywood adds immediate depth at tight end with Jermaine Gresham leaving. And Sam Bradford’s departure is lessened with the arrival of Bell, who appears ticketed to redshirt during 2010.

Analysis: Offense was the target in this recruiting class and the Sooners appear to have filled most of their needs. The late addition of Corey Nelson was huge for Oklahoma’s defense, particularly after losing Jackson Jeffcoat to Texas a few days earlier. Receivers Justin McCay and Kenny Stills should help provide pop in the offense. It’s a strong, solid class, dotted by playmakers, that was ranked as high as second nationally by one recruiting service.

What Bob Stoops said: “We met every one of our needs by position the way we needed to with the number of guys, the number of signees, at each of those positions and addressed just the graduation and guys departing through the year. I felt like we really got great talent in all of those positions.” On Blake Bell: “He's a talented guy when you look at his ability to throw the football. He's an excellent pocket quarterback, which is a staple of what we do.”

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: A, second in Big 12.

NFL combine list dotted by Big 12 players

February, 3, 2010
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The NFL has released its final list of late additions to its annual pre-draft player combine, which will take place in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2.

The Big 12 is well represented on the list of invited players, with every team but Iowa State and Texas A&M having at least one representative.

Here's the final list. The late invitations, typically from underclassmen who declared for the draft, are listed in bold.

BAYLOR (2)

WR David Gettis

C J.D. Walton

COLORADO (1)

TE Riar Geer

KANSAS (3)

WR Dezmon Briscoe

WR Kerry Meier

S Darrell Stuckey

KANSAS STATE (3)

WR Brandon Banks

TE Jeron Mastrud

CB Joshua Moore

MISSOURI (4)

WR Danario Alexander

G Kurtis Gregory

WR Jared Perry

LB Sean Weatherspoon

NEBRASKA (4)

S Larry Asante

LB Phillip Dillard

C Jacob Hickman

DT Ndamukong Suh

OKLAHOMA (9)

QB Sam Bradford

RB Chris Brown

OLB Keenan Clayton

TE Brody Eldridge

CB Dominique Franks

TE Jermaine Gresham

CB Brian Jackson

DT Gerald McCoy

T Trent Williams

OKLAHOMA STATE (6)

S Lucien Antoine

WR Dez Bryant

CB Perrish Cox

T Russell Okung

QB Zac Robinson

RB Keith Toston

TEXAS (7)

DT Lamarr Houston

DE Sergio Kindle

QB Colt McCoy

LB Roddrick Muckelroy

WR Jordan Shipley

S Earl Thomas

T Adam Ulatoski

TEXAS TECH (2)

G Brandon Carter

CB Jamar Wall

Big 12 mailbag: Would Texas ever move to the Big Ten?

February, 2, 2010
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Happy day before National Signing Day.

I couldn’t jump into the recruiting hubbub, however, without taking care of some Tuesday afternoon correspondence.

Here goes.

Richard Sylvester from Houston writes: Tim, love your blog. Thanks for all of the diligent hard work you’re cranking out day after day. I read it every morning and throughout the day.

My question is whether you’ve been reading an excellent set of posts from Frank the Tank’s Slant about a potential move by Texas to the Big Ten. It lays out several well-researched reasons why the ultimate big fish out there – bigger than Missouri, bigger than Syracuse and way bigger than Notre Dame – is Texas.

Could you envision a scenario where the Longhorns would ever leave the Big 12 behind and jump to the Big Ten?

Tim Griffin; I have been reading Frank’s interesting posts on the subject. And he raises some interesting points about how much money the Longhorns could ultimately make by joining the Big Ten in one of his most recent missives.

Obviously, the Big Ten is one of the most tradition-rich conferences in the nation, if not the most. Adding Texas would give them, like Frank writes the ultimate free agent in terms of college sports.

Texas matches the research qualities that members of the Big Ten’s academia would demand when a new conference partner would be added.

And it would deliver a huge potential market for the fledgling Big Ten cable television network if the state of Texas would be added. Some estimates are that the population for the states in the Big 12 would account for more than 90 million people if Texas was added to the Big Ten.

It would also conservatively mean the Longhorns would make at least $10 million in new athletic revenue because of the new revenue sources the Big Ten’s whopping television network provides, compared with the Big 12's current deal.

But whether they would leave the traditional rivals from the Southwest Conference and the new ones from the Big 12 is debatable. The travel costs would be huge in all sports and the Longhorns would be jumping into a cauldron of potential new opponents like Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa among others.

Texas would have to agree to a revenue sharing deal in place in the Big Ten that is different from the Big 12’s where the teams that appear in the most television games and make the most NCAA basketball tournament appearances earn more money.

And remember how the Texas Legislature became involved with news leaked that Texas was leaving for the Big 12 Conference. It basically paved the way for Baylor and Texas Tech to tag along with Texas and Texas A&M. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Texas announced it wanted to go to the Big Ten by itself.

The Big 12 has been good for Texas. Virtually every sports program is at a level where the Longhorns can legitimately contend for a national championship. It has an intriguing mix of local and regional rivals.

It makes for some fanciful thinking and has a lot of interesting points to think about Texas leaving the Big 12. But I just don’t see it happening – at least at this time -- because of so many obstacles that would exist in the move.

Meni of Manchester, N.H., writes: In regards to the link you had yesterday about the Oklahoma players who were likely first-round selections in the Class of 2011, the guy in College Football News listed Travis Lewis, DeMarco Murray, Quinton Carter and Dominique Franks on his list. I thought Franks declared for the NFL draft, didn’t he?

Tim Griffin: Meni, you are correct. Franks declared for the draft shortly before the deadline. Most draft analysts have him going in the third or fourth round. He’s a very determined player and I think his speed should help him make an NFL squad as a special-teams player, making him an intriguing sleeper pick.

Steve Sutton from Ozona, Texas, writes: Tim: Interesting story about players who exceeded recruiting expectations, showing how uncertain the recruiting process is. I was wondering if you might elaborate on some of the more celebrated misses during the time of your survey.

Tim Griffin: Steve, I hope I was able to showcase how inexact recruiting can actually be. But I think the player in the most celebrated Big 12 player in recent seasons who has failed to live up to expectations was Colorado running back Darrell Scott, who was the No. 2 running back in the nation in 2008 and had an 89 ranking by ESPNU. He played with the Buffaloes during his freshman season before leaving the team midway through the season in 2009. His next playing situation is unknown at this time.

Of course, the player ranked ahead of him at running back has been a bust as well. Jermie Calhoun of Oklahoma was the No. 1 running back in the 2008 class, but redshirted and then gained only 220 yards and scored a touchdown in his redshirt season. Calhoun had trouble getting a chance at playing time behind Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray last season. It will be interesting if he develops and gets more of a chance for a playing time in 2010 after Brown’s graduation.

Another player who hasn’t lived up to expectations has been Texas defensive end Eddie Jones, who had an 88 ranking and was the No. 2 defensive end in the nation in the 2006 class. He hasn’t started a game at Texas in his first three seasons, although he showed some flashes as a situational pass rusher with five sacks and seven tackles for losses in 2009.

Pete from Omaha, Neb., writes: Tim, great blog, I love reading every day. I noticed that ESPN Sports Nation did a poll that asked if recruiting or game planning was more important for a coach to succeed. The vote showed that most fans think recruiting is more important.

But I disagree.

Bill Callahan and Charlie Weis were great recruiters, but did they ultimately succeed? What about John Blake? Nope. Game planning is what wins. Take Pat Fitzgerald at Northwestern, Bo Pelini at Nebraska and Kirk Ferentz at Iowa. All of them are good recruiters, but they never attract top-five classes. Yet they have their programs at a consistent level. What’s your take on the issue?

Tim Griffin: Pete, you raise an interesting question. I think you ultimately have to have a combination of both, but I would lean to game planning as being just as important as recruiting in developing a contending program.

Like you mentioned, coaches like Pelini and Ferentz get good players, but they take them to high competitive levels thanks to their teaching and game planning.

The old recruiting adage has always described college football as “not being about the Xs and Os, but about the Jimmys and the Joes.”

But I think that’s changing as there’s more parity across the nation. When good coaches get good players, that’s when programs the foundations for really good programs start being built.

Cecil Wilson of Plano, Texas, writes: With recruiting coming to an end, I just noticed that Texas did not get a commitment from a tight end. Looking at the Longhorns’ roster, they have several, but I have not seen or heard of any of them, except for Blaine Irby. What do you think the Horns will do about this position in the upcoming season? With a new quarterback, either Garrett Gilbert or Case McCoy, they are going to need all the options they can have. Thank you for all your hard work. Hook 'Em.

Tim Griffin: The tight end hasn’t been a position of much relevancy for the Longhorns since Jermichael Finley left after the 2007 season. Irby was injured early in the 2008 season and didn’t play last season.

That left the Longhorns utilizing four-receiver sets in many occasions for many occasions. Greg Smith, a 260-pounder was the primary blocking tight end for most of the season. He was backed up by Ahmard Howard. Wide receiver Dan Buckner emerged at the flex tight end spot early in the season, but struggled getting the ball late in the season and has elected to transfer to Arizona.

The status of Irby is unknown at this time as he recovers from his injury. I look for D.J. Grant to have the best shot of emerging during spring practice. Grant was declared academically ineligible at the start of the season, but should be ready to go.

The tight end position will be of vital importance as Gilbert uses it for checkdown receptions. The question will be who will ultimately be catching passes from that position.

Thanks again for all of the good questions this week. I’ll check back again on Friday.

Robinson, Weatherspoon boost draft stock at Senior Bowl

February, 1, 2010
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Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson needed a big week at the Senior Bowl to help his chances in the upcoming NFL draft.

Robinson got that and more in strong play for the South team at Saturday's game at Mobile, Ala.

His efforts in practices during the week enabled him to get most of the playing time for the South team in its 31-13 loss to the North.

The South team struggled, but it wasn't necessarily Robinson's fault. He completed 12 of 21 passes for a game-high 176 yards as he outplayed fellow South quarterbacks Tim Tebow of Florida and Jarrett Brown of West Virginia. Robinson hooked up with Colin Peak on a 19-yard touchdown pass shortly before halftime to account for the South team's only touchdown.

Robinson, like Tebow, had two fumbles including one lost. And Robinson had minus-9 yards in four carries including two sacks.

Here's a look at the individual statistics and participation for the Big 12 alumni in the game.

NORTH


  • Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon: Started, two tackles, three assists, .5 tackle for a loss, one interception for 43 yards, one pass broken up.
  • Nebraska linebacker Phillip Dillard: One tackle, two assists.
  • Nebraska safety Larry Asante: Started, one tackle, one forced fumble.
  • Oklahoma running back Chris Brown: Saw action.
  • Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander: Saw action.
SOUTH


  • Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox: Started, One tackle, one kickoff return for 11 yards.
  • Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy: One tackle.
  • Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston: One assist.
  • Baylor center J.D. Walton: Saw action.

Why Lache Seastrunk left the Big 12 behind

January, 28, 2010
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At an earlier stage of my life, I spent almost two years living in Temple, Texas.

It's a nice town. Back then, it had a good mall and a great location. I was never more than an hour away from either Austin or Waco if I really wanted to do something.

But it's surprising to me that Lache Seastrunk, the most notable football prospect from that city in many years, has decided to foresake all of the schools of the Big 12. Instead, he will travel 1,661 miles away from home (according to the Web site How Far Is It) and play for Oregon.

I'm sure that Seastrunk was struck by all of the cool Nike-influenced uniforms the Ducks have. And he also probably saw a better chance of being a featured running back so far away from home than if he had stayed in the Big 12.

With the Big 12's developing reputation as a conference of passers and throwers, that's the way the school's recruiting philosophies have tilted.

We've seen first-round picks like Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew all selected from the conference last year. We should have more this season with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant and Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham all likely to be picked in the first round in April.

Contrast to the conference's running backs. Most draft projections have Oklahoma's Chris Brown pegged as the Big 12's top running back. He's not expected to be picked during the first day of the draft.

Adrian Peterson was the last first-round running back picked from a Big 12 school, and that came in 2007.

So it's not surprising that Seastrunk has decided to pack his bags and head to Oregon when all of those factors are considered. I'm sure it was noted to him that Oregon's Jonathan Stewart was a first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2008.

I also checked the Web site the Sports Librarian.com, which has already posted a group of favorites to win the Heisman in 2010.

No Big 12 players are listed among the site's top 12 contenders, and only Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert is included among seven potential candidates who could emerge as dark-horse contenders.

Included among the top 12 contenders for the 2010 Heisman are Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon running back LaMichael James. It's also interesting to consider that Rodgers graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in Richmond, Texas, and James is a product of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas.

Like Seastrunk, both players would have been a natural fit at a Big 12 school. But they all decided to travel far away from home to play in offenses that they deemed more conducive to their running talents.

Sometimes, playing time in a run-friendly offense is a more important determiner for a running back recruit than all of the home-cooked meals he would receive by staying closer to home.

Six Big 12 schools represented in Senior Bowl

January, 26, 2010
1/26/10
8:39
AM ET
Both teams in Saturday's Senior Bowl will feature Big 12 players, according to the most recent rosters that have been posted for the game.

It's a little interesting because teams members from Oklahoma will be on the North team and those from Oklahoma State will be on the South. I guess the game officials didn't consult an atlas, considering that Norman is south of Stillwater on the Oklahoma map.

But whatever. The game, which will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday and shown on NFL Network, annually showcases the top senior players from across the country. Ten Big 12 players from six conference schools will be able to show their stuff to an assembled group of NFL scouts during workouts this week before Saturday's game.

Here's a look at Big 12 players who will be participating.

North roster

Missouri

WR Danario Alexander

LB Sean Weatherspoon

Nebraska

DB Larry Asante

LB Phillip Dillard

Oklahoma

RB Chris Brown

South roster

Baylor

C J.D. Walton

Oklahoma State

CB Perrish Cox

QB Zac Robinson

Texas

DT Lamarr Houston

LB Roddrick Muckelroy

Big 12 South recruiting needs

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
12:18
PM ET
Here's a look at what each of the South Division teams need to address in terms of recruiting with signing day fast approaching.

Baylor

Defensive line: After losing starters Jason Lamb and Trey Bryant and having Phil Taylor and Earl Patin entering their senior seasons, the Bears need to add immediate depth. Xavier Ruben and Anthony Gonzales will help shore up the deficiencies and the Bears still are in the hunt for top prospects like Carlos Thompson and Byran Jones.

Secondary: Starters Jordan Lake and Jeremy Williams have graduated and four juniors in the two-deep roster will start their senior seasons. Coach Art Briles has already lured surprising strength in the defensive backfield with Ahmad Dixon, Tyler Stephenson and Prince Kent. That trio makes it one of the finest positional groupings for Baylor in recent history.

Robert Griffin’s redshirt season has lessened the immediate need at quarterback: With Griffin now having three years of eligibility remaining, recruits now see only a two-season window to play. But another Robert Griffin should help the Bears as well. Baylor coaches see the other Griffin, a junior college transfer from Coriscana Junior College, being able to contend for the starting position at right tackle from his first day in the program.

Oklahoma

Running back: With Chris Brown graduating and DeMarco Murray entering his senior season, the Sooners need some producers at the position. Bob Stoops has never hesitated to playing top freshman players in the past if they can help. Don’t be surprised if top recruits like Brennan Clay and Roy Finch get an early chance in 2010 with the Sooners.

Receiver: Ryan Broyles is entrenched in the slot, but the Sooners are looking all over for pass catchers who can challenge existing players. Recruits Kenny Stills, Joe Powell, Julian Wilson and Sheldon McClain all should challenge this summer to battle their way into the rotation.

Defensive tackle: Injuries and NFL declarations have riddled the Sooners’ depth at the postion. Gerald McCoy will leave early for the NFL draft with JaMarkus McFarland ready to take over. Adrian Taylor was set at the other position, but his nasty ankle injury sustained in the Sun Bowl has depleted the Sooners’ depth. Redshirt sophomore Casey Walker and four incoming freshmen are all that is in place as far as depth at the critical position.

Oklahoma State

Offensive line: The Cowboys lose four senior starting offensive linemen from the Cotton Bowl team, including the left side of their offensive line in tackle Russell Okung, guard Noah Franklin and center Andrew Lewis, as well as right tackle Brady Bond. Mike Gundy needs some immediate help at the position, both from existing players and incoming ones.

Defensive tackle: Starters Swanson Miller and Derek Burton both will graduate and top backups Shane Jarka and Chris Donaldson both will be senior this season. Defensive coordinator Bill Young needs to find some defensive linemen who can challenge for playing next season.

Linebackers: Young also will have to rebuild this group after the underrated group of Andre Sexton, Donald Booker and Patrick Lavine helped sparked the Cowboys’ surprising defensive growth last season. All will be gone this season, putting pressure to add some more contributors to add to the returning mix of players including James Thomas, Tolu Moala and Justin Gent.

Texas

Defensive end: With Sergio Kindle graduating and Sam Acho and Eddie Jones both entering their senior season, the Longhorns need a talent boost here. It also just happens to be the position where top target Jackson Jeffcoat would immediately fill the rather sizable hole.

The left side of the offensive line: Tackle Adam Ulatoski, guard Charlie Tanner and center Chris Hall combined for 114 starts during their careers.The Longhorns has some strong arriving talent, but they’ll still miss the leadership and savvy that this trio provided over the years.

Quarterback: Even with Garrett Gilbert seemingly entrenched as the Longhorns’ quarterback of the future, the Longhorns added depth with the commitments of Connor Wood and Colt’s little brother Case McCoy. It will make for some interesting competition this spring and fall as the rotation sorts itself out.

Texas A&M

Defensive end: The Aggies received a huge boost when Von Miller announced he would return for his senior season, but A&M needs to prepare for his departure -- particularly after losing starting defensive end Matt Moss and Miller’s backup Matt Featherston as departing seniors from 2009.

Tight end: Starter Jamie McCoy graduated and top replacements Kenny Brown and Craig Raschke both will be seniors next season. Adding at least one player would be beneficial as the Aggie coaches hope they can find a combination blocker/receiving threat at the position like McCoy was.

Offensive tackle: The Aggies lose bookend senior starters Michael Shumard and Lee Grimes. They do have Stephen Barrera and Danny Baker in the depth chart but would like more depth to help the line develop.

Texas Tech

Defensive line: The Red Raiders’ biggest need is at defensive end where all three players in the two-deep roster -- Brandon Sharpe, Ra’Jon Henley and Daniel Howard were seniors. At defensive tackle, Richard Jones departs as a senior and Colby Whitlock will be a senior next season. New coordinator James Willis needs to find some productive players in the trenches quickly.

Linebackers: Starters Bront Bird and Brian Duncan will be back as seniors next season, but Tech loses departing starter Marlon Williams on the other side. They need some depth to help build for the future at the position.

Quarterback: Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield will wage one of the closest-watched battles for playing time in the nation during the spring and summer. But both will be seniors, meaning the Red Raiders need to prepare for their departure by grooming some young talent like Scotty Young, a recent commitment at the position.

'05 Texas team was best Big 12 team of the decade

January, 20, 2010
1/20/10
9:00
AM ET
The Big 12 had two national championship teams and five others that played in the BCS title game in the decade.

The two championship teams were the best of the conference's last 10 years. Some of the other BCS title participants were good, but not necessarily among the very best teams during the conference's recent history.

Here's how I rank the Big 12's top 10 teams over the last decade.

1. 2005 Texas: A star-studded team paced by All-Americans Michael Huff, Jonathan Scott, Rodrique Wright and Vince Young ran off 13 straight victories, capping the season with a BCS title-game victory over USC. The team averaged 50.2 points per game en route to a then-NCAA record 652 total points, earning Texas’ first undisputed national championship since 1969. It was the greatest team that Mack Brown ever coached and arguably the best team in the rich football history of Texas.

2. 2000 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops claimed a national championship in his second season coaching the Trojans behind Josh Heupel, who finished second in the Heisman race that season. All-Americans Heupel, linebacker Rocky Calmus and J.T. Thatcher helped the Sooners notch the first undefeated season and national championship in Big 12 history. After winning three of their final four regular-season games by less than five points, the Sooners dominated Florida State in a 13-2 triumph in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.

3. 2008 Oklahoma: Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy with this team, which overcame a midseason loss to Texas and still claimed the Big 12 title in a 12-2 season that was marred by a 24-14 loss to Florida in the national championship game. The Sooners rolled-up a record 702 points as Bradford passed for 50 touchdowns, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray each rushed for 1,000 yards and Juaquin Iglesias topped 1,000 yards receiving. The Sooners scored 35 points in each regular-season game and finished the regular season with five straight games of at least 60 points before the BCS title-game loss.

4. 2004 Oklahoma: The Sooners charged to 12 straight victories before a dropping a 55-19 decision to USC in the Orange Bowl for the national title. Freshman running back Adrian Peterson rushed for an NCAA freshman record 1,925 yards to finish second in the Heisman. Jason White claimed the Heisman the previous season and his numbers were down with Peterson's arrival, but he still passed for 3,205 yards and 35 touchdowns. This group had strength in the trenches with All-Americans like Vince Carter, Dan Cody, Jammal Brown and Mark Clayton as it claimed Bob Stoops’ third Big 12 title.

5. 2009 Texas: After streaking to a school-record 13-0 mark through the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns dropped a 37-21 decision to Alabama in the national title game in a contest that changed when Colt McCoy was hurt on the fifth play of the game. McCoy became the winningest quarterback in NCAA history during this season, repeatedly hooking up with favorite target Jordan Shipley, who snagged a school-record 116 receptions, 1,485 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Longhorns led the nation in rush defense, and All-American safety Earl Thomas tied a school record with eight interceptions. Lamarr Houston and Sergio Kindle also added playmaking abilities to the defense.

6. 2004 Texas: The Longhorns overcame a midseason 12-0 loss to Oklahoma to finish the season with seven straight victories in a season capped by a dramatic 38-37 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns ranked second nationally in rushing offense and seventh in total offense as Young gradually found his confidence as a passer late in the season. Cedric Benson rushed for 1,834 yards and 19 touchdowns, and Young chipped in with 1,079 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. This team showed a knack for comebacks, overcoming an early 35-7 deficit against Oklahoma State and also coming from behind in an early-season victory at Arkansas.

7. 2007 Oklahoma: Bradford led the first of two consecutive Big 12 championships on a team that enabled the Sooners to become the first Big 12 school to win back-to-back titles. The Sooners dropped road games to Colorado and Texas Tech but still overcame Missouri in the Big 12 title game behind a huge defensive effort keyed by Big 12 defensive player of the year Rufus Alexander. Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency, but the Sooners' bowl struggles continued in an embarrassing 48-28 loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.

8. 2003 Kansas State: Don’t let the Wildcats’ 11-4 record fool you. After an early three-game losing streak to Marshall, Texas and Oklahoma State (by a combined margin of 15 points), Bill Snyder’s team won its final seven regular-season games by a combined margin of 271-66. That streak was culminated by a stunning 35-7 upset victory over Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game -- the last victory by a North Division team in the title game. The Wildcats ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing, scoring, total defense, scoring defense and pass defense as Darren Sproles rushed for 1,986 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Wildcats dropped a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State in a game they fell into an early 21-0 deficit and had a chance to tie on the final play of the game after a frantic comeback directed by Ell Roberson.

9. 2007 Missouri: Chase Daniel led Missouri into the Big 12 title game for the first time in school history, taking the team to No. 1 nationally heading into the conference championship game. The Tigers lost twice to Oklahoma during a 12-2 season that was capped by 38-7 beatdown over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Tony Temple made that game memorable by rushing for a record 281 yards and four TDs that pushed Missouri to No. 4 nationally at the end of the season. A star-studded collection of talent including Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Martin Rucker and Sean Weatherspoon helped the Tigers rank among the top-10 teams nationally in passing, total offense and scoring and 11th in turnover margin.

10. 2007 Kansas: The Jayhawks earned Mark Mangino the national coach of the year award by running to an 11-0 start before losing to Missouri in the regular-season finale. The Jayhawks rebounded for a 24-21 victory over Virginia Tech in their first BCS bowl appearance in school history, finishing a 12-1 season that set a school record for victories. Todd Reesing passed for 33 touchdowns to highlight a high-powered offense that scored 76 points against Nebraska and scored at least 43 points in eight games. The Jayhawks were a balanced team that ranked second nationally in scoring offense, fourth in scoring defense and in the top 10 nationally in eight different team statistics. Anthony Collins and Aqib Talib earned consensus All-America honors.

Big 12 mailbag: Will Blackshirts be good in 2010 again?

January, 19, 2010
1/19/10
5:15
PM ET
I received a slew of comments about some of my early choices for my All-Decade teams across the conference. Hopefully, that will prove as popular during the rest of the week for the rest of the Big 12 teams as they are released.

Here's a representative example of some of the other missives I've received over the last few days.

Mike Heuertz of Iowa writes: Tim, even with Ndamukong Suh leaving Nebraska, as well as a couple other key defensive players, do you think the Blackshirts will be better next season? And what do you think Nebraska's record will be?

Tim Griffin: I talked with several Nebraska fans during my swing through the state last week who seemed almost giddy about the Cornhuskers’ chances next season.

That being said, the loss of Suh will be huge. I think he can be considered the arguably greatest defensive player in the history of the program. The Cornhuskers also will lose Barry Turner, Phillip Dillard, Larry Asante and the heart, grit and talent provided by Matt O’Hanlon.

Now I can see players like Prince Amukamara, Will Compton, Sean Fisher and Jared Crick getting a lot better gaining experience playing Bo Pelini’s defense. But it might be a little wishful thinking to hope for much improvement from this season -- considering the Cornhuskers’ big defensive personnel losses.

As far as their record, I would expect them to be one of the powers of the Big 12. They have a tricky game at Washington which will earn them a lot of national notoriety if they can win. Texas will be coming to Lincoln, as will Colorado and Missouri. A road game at Oklahoma State doesn’t look as daunting as it could be with the Cowboys breaking in a new quarterback. But an underrated challenge for the Cornhuskers might wait at Texas A&M with Jerrod Johnson and all of A&M’s strong returning offensive weapons back for next season.

Looking at that schedule, I’ll pick the Cornhuskers to go 10-2 and finish as the Big 12 North champion. Considering their returning talent and their schedule, I think that’s a relatively conservative pick.

But as far as next year's team being better than the 2009 version of the Blackshirts, that might be wishing for a little bit much -- even for the Pelinis.


Chris Henson from Salt Lake City, Utah, writes: Tim, a quick addition to the Texas A&M-Oklahoma State tidbit. The Red, White, and Blue Out in 2001 was organized by a group of students first and foremost as a fundraiser for the victims of 9/11. I appreciate you noting this event as it really shows what Texas A&M is all about.

Tim Griffin: Chris, thanks for the clarification. Like you wrote, it was truly an emotional event. There’s a picture of the stadium that is still hung in the press box at Kyle Field of the stadium bedecked for that game. It still gives me goose bumps when I see it.


Travis from Seattle writes: Tim, the players of the decade category has created quite a stir, with many saying, "...well how could X player be off the list." For the most part I agree with your list if you look at it being, who were great players, AND who did the most to influence their team's success, (thus why Graham Harrell is off, being a plug-and-play quarterback in that system although he did do a fine job).

But I propose a different category. Who were the best ATHLETES of the decade? And how about the best competitors, the ones who did everything to try to win. What are your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: You raise a good point about my list earlier being an all-around grouping of all qualities. As far as the best athletes of the decade in the Big 12 from the last decade, in no specific order I would include Ndamukong Suh, Eric Crouch, Robert Griffin, Chris Brown, Vince Young, Seneca Wallace, Dez Bryant, Dezmon Briscoe, Darren Sproles, Danario Alexander (before and after his injury), Brad Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Adrian Peterson, Brian Orakpo, Michael Huff, Earl Thomas, Reggie McNeal, Robert Ferguson, Sammy Davis and Michael Crabtree.

And among the top competitors I’ve seen include Stephen McGee, Crabtree, Colt McCoy, Roy Miller, Joe Pawelek, Jordan Lake, George Hypolite, Todd Reesing, Chase Daniel, Sean Weatherspoon, Matt O’Hanlon, Suh, Josh Fields, Brian Iwuh, Darrell Stuckey, Steven Sheffield, Wes Welker and Kliff Kingsbury. There are many others, but those are just some of the names that come to me off the top of my head. And the fact that Suh and Crabtree made both of those lists is pretty indicative of how exceptional they really were.


Fred Dodge of Annapolis, Md., writes: Tim, in reference to your top 10 jobs in college football. You have a good list, BUT the one caveat that I think goes with this list or any list is context. Most of these are still the "right-guy-for-the-right-place" jobs -- as are coaches. Being a Husker, I lean toward Bo Pelini and Nebraska as my first examples. Bo would not be a good fit for many of these jobs...I just can't see Bo fitting at USC or Florida for example; but I also can't see Lane Kiffin or Pete Carroll being successful in Lincoln. And in my opinion there are only a few guys who can shape a program around their personality. Nick Saban could coach anywhere, Urban Meyer probably could, and Jim Tressel could in most places. But I have a difficult time seeing Mack Brown outside the southeast or southwest and Bo Pelini outside the midwest. All of these guys could still coach, but I think they would struggle in fan support -- and so they would also in recruiting.

Tim Griffin: You make an interesting point, although I think that Pelini would work in more places than you might suspect. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool football coach and would succeed at most traditional powers, although I think his style best suits him at Nebraska. But I could see him being successful in the Southeastern Conference, in the Big Ten or even at Notre Dame. Anywhere they have a deep appreciation for football, I can see Pelini working out.

I think coaches like Bob Stoops, Saban, Meyer and Tressel would work most places. I also think you might include some underrated coaches out there like Mike Riley of Oregon State, Gary Patterson of TCU, Jeff Tedford of California and Chris Peterson of Boise State would be adaptable at almost any job in the country. But it does seem that the smart coaches are the ones who pick places where they are comfortable and have the best chance for success.


Kyle Zander of Fort Hood, Texas, writes: Will Chris Whaley and Desean Hales get playing time for Texas in 2010? I played against Hales in high school and the kid is the real deal, Texas needs to get him involved as soon as possible. And Whaley could help, too.

Tim Griffin: Texas needs to find some help for its running game. Whaley was hurt when he reported to practice last summer and never regained his form. If he’s willing to rededicate himself, there likely is a chance for him to earn some playing time this spring. He needs to have a big spring to get there.

Sales is in a similar situation. The Longhorns have wide receiving talent in players like senior-to-be John Chiles and James Kirkendoll. Malcolm Williams is a big strong receiver who will emerge in coming seasons and should be the team’s featured receiver in 2010. But there are catches – plenty of them -- available for Hales if he can force himself into the mix.


Brett Stamm from Keller, Texas, writes: Tim, love the blog! Keep up the good work! Has Mike Sherman, or will Mike Sherman, or why will Mike Sherman not, consider Dat Nguyen for defensive coordinator? Talk about a guy who has done an outstanding job in his current position and would bring some instant credibility with players and recruits in a program that has pretty much let a proud defensive tradition die with questionable and mediocre hires. This is a guy who was the face of and exemplified the "Wrecking Crew" tradition for four years! Your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: Brett, Dat Nguyen has been a key member of Wade Phillips’ staff as an assistant linebacker coach and defensive quality control assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. But I would suspect that Sherman probably would like for Nguyen to have a little more seasoning and experience calling defenses before he would give him the responsibility of serving as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator.

In a way, Nguyen reminds me a little of Major Applewhite as they develop in their coaching careers. It won’t surprise me if both become successful coordinators and eventually outstanding head coaches. But they need more experience to get there.

Nguyen seems like a natural to join the A&M coaching staff in the future. But I think it might be a stretch to see him as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator at this stage of his career.

That’s all the time I have for today. Thanks again for all of the good questions and keep the letters and e-mails coming. I’ll check back again on Friday.

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