Big 12: Chris Simms

HornsNation links: QBs past vs. present

March, 26, 2012
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HornsNation has more coverage of the Texas Longhorns:

Sean Adams writes Insider: History is telling Mack Brown that you can succeed with two QBs. However, the present climate begs to differ. If history wins out, is that the best thing for the Longhorns?

Carter Strickland writes: David Ash is learning to protect the football. He's learning the scheme, too. And as spring progresses, his confidence is growing.

Mack Brown deflecting QB criticism

November, 22, 2011
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Mack Brown is preaching patience when it comes to his quarterbacks.

And the Texas coach is trying to use the past as part of his lesson.

[+] EnlargeColt McCoy
Matthew Emmons/USPresswireColt McCoy set freshman records for Texas, but did sit for a year behind Vince Young.
“We cussed Vince Young around here for two years and he looked pretty good last night,” Brown said, referring to Young’s start and win for Philadelphia on Sunday night.

“We cussed Colt McCoy, he’s too young, small school, he’s not going to be tough enough to stand up here, and he looked pretty good yesterday,” he said of Cleveland’s quarterback.

“We cussed Chris Simms,” he added. “And he was 25-7 and beat the Aggies three out of four.”

It’s true those quarterbacks may have suffered criticism at the hands of an expectant fan base. But there is a difference in what Young, McCoy and even Simms accomplished as compared to what has gone on this season with the quarterbacks.

In Young’s first year, it was more the coaches taking the brunt of the criticism for not playing Young from the start or subbing him in and out of games, as they did in a bowl game loss to Washington State.

In 2003, Young, a redshirt freshman, was 84-of-143 for 1,115 yards, seven interceptions and six touchdowns. He rushed for 998 yards and 11 touchdowns. Texas made it to the Holiday Bowl.

Simms, a highly touted prospect, didn’t play much his freshman year. As a sophomore he was 67-of-117 for 1,064 yards with seven interceptions and eight touchdowns.

McCoy, who also redshirted, was 217-of-318 for 2,570 yards with seven interceptions and 29 touchdowns in his first year. McCoy did suffer a sophomore slump in 2007 and threw 18 picks. But Texas went 10-3.

Now as for comparing David Ash to those quarterbacks, all had at least a year of seasoning before being thrown into the fire. Ash started the fifth game of his career and has played in every game of his true freshman season.

That fact cannot be underestimated. To start as a true freshman at quarterback is rare and, as is evidenced by its rarity, extremely difficult.

But comparing him to Mack Brown’s most successful quarterbacks is a stretch.

Simms, Young and McCoy had visible evidence that there was hope on the horizon. Those three were maligned only when they didn’t live up to the potential that even casual watchers of the game knew they had.

It’s hard to say that same hope is being held in the current case. And that might be more due to circumstance than Ash. Texas is coming off a losing season and has gone through a season-long quarterback controversy.

But, then there are the facts. Simms, Young and McCoy all had a better stats and records than Ash has at this point.

Again, Ash is a true freshman. But it is hard to overlook the fact that he has been under center for 53 drives over the past five games and not thrown a touchdown pass. In the past two games, Ash has not led any sort of touchdown drive.

Those stats are bound to generate criticism. That criticism is hard to deflect no matter how hard you try or how far you reach back in history.

Mailbag: Bowls, Hammer time, MMA fights

March, 29, 2011
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Thanks for all the questions in the mailbag. Don't see yours? We'll have another one soon. Drop it in my mailbag.

Trey Willis in Krum, Texas, asked: Will the Big 12 lose any bowl alliances with the loss of 2 conference members next year? Also, is it conceivable, although unlikely that every Big 12 team could be bowl eligible next year?

David Ubben: I actually asked a Big 12 official about this recently. Right now it's still being ironed out. Those contracts will likely be altered, but this is one more thing that may not be finalized until the league's spring meetings in June. The Big 12 isn't going to be able to fill eight bowl spots next year.

Jesse in Amarillo, Texas, asked: Dear Ubbs, Do you think with all of the "love" Demarco Murray has been getting from Dana White and all of the UFC, that he is setting up something if football doesn't pan out? Would you step into the octagon with Demarco?

DU: I don't think that's really the plan for DeMarco. Football should work out for him. He started doing some MMA training during his summers awhile back, and I think he just developed a love for the sport. On Dana White's side, I'm sure he embraced DeMarco's interest. It's always good to have a high-profile athlete associated with a growing sport.

As for stepping into the octagon, I'd do it. DeMarco wouldn't, though. (Thanks to his NFL contract likely prohibiting it.) Guess that means I win by forfeit, right? I'll keep telling myself that.

Ronnell Lewis in Norman, Okla., asked: STOP! Hammer Time! Is it my time in Norman now that Jeremy Beal is gone?

DU: Now's the time if it's going to happen. I don't see Lewis getting beat out for a starting job across from Frank Alexander, but David King and R.J. Washington could make a push for playing time. The same goes for redshirt freshman Geneo Grissom. Get a nice start on a big year and that playing time will come, of course, but neither of those things is a given. Lewis looked like he struggled a bit with the mental side of the game last year, and the coaches barely even played him against option-attacking Air Force when he was at linebacker. He's a big hitter and a pass-rusher for sure, but to have big success, he's got to become a more complete player who better understands Oklahoma's schemes. That stuff takes time. Lewis has had it. Hammer Time is most likely now or never.

CB in Osage Beach, Mo., asked: David,Once Blaine Gabbert is drafted and signed, he will be the third straight Mizzou starting QB to make (and remain on) an NFL roster. That seems pretty rare, although not unheard-of (I think USC has a similar streak with Palmer, Leinart, and Sanchez right now). Am I right that this is pretty unusual?

DU: Yeah, it definitely is. Brad Smith, now a receiver/return specialist for the New York Jets is somewhat of a technicality, but Missouri's quarterback line is rivaled by very, very few across the conference.

Texas had Vince Young followed by Colt McCoy, but we'll see how five-star recruit Garrett Gilbert's career ends up. He may not even be the starter next year. That's still in flux. Before Young, Chris Simms made his way into the NFL. It seems like his ruptured spleen kind of derailed his career, among other things, but he's on the Titans' roster.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech have had great, great college quarterbacks who have had moderate to no success in the NFL after big college careers. Setting Sam Bradford aside (after all, he was the first Oklahoma quarterback ever to throw a pass as a quarterback in an NFL game since 1949), Jason White won a Heisman and Josh Heupel won a national title. That's pretty dadgum impressive, too.

Missouri's got a good thing going at quarterback, though, and the program has benefited. Their rise is only more evidence that having a great quarterback means wins in the Big 12 pretty often.

Lunch links: Leach speaks

July, 2, 2010
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SPOILER ALERT: No. 1 on the Big 12's top 25 list: Garrett Gilbert.

Oklahoma's all-decade team

January, 20, 2010
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Oklahoma was the dominant program of the last decade in the Big 12, leading the conference with six titles, seven conference title-game appearances and four BCS title-game appearances.

All of those accomplishments are a testament to Bob Stoops, one of two conference coaches to direct his team throughout the decade.

Setting the Sooners’ all-decade team was difficult. The choice at wide receiver next to Mark Clayton was extremely difficult. Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias or Ryan Broyles all would have been good choices. I went with Broyles because of his proficiency despite constant double-team defenses this season when he produced 89 receptions.

And at quarterback, I went with Sam Bradford over Jason White in a tough positional choice between two Heisman Trophy winners.

Here’s my choice for Oklahoma’s all-decade team.

OFFENSE

QB: Sam Bradford

RB: Adrian Peterson

RB: Quentin Griffin

WR: Mark Clayton

WR: Ryan Broyles

TE: Jermaine Gresham

OL: Jammal Brown

OL: Trent Williams

OL: Davin Joseph

OL: Phil Loadholt

C: Vince Carter

DEFENSE

DL: Dan Cody

DL: Tommie Harris

DL: Gerald McCoy

DL: Jeremy Beal

LB: Teddy Lehman

LB: Rocky Calmus

LB: Curtis Lofton

DB: Derrick Strait

DB: Roy Williams

DB: Andre Woolfolk

DB: Brandon Everage

K: Garrett Hartley

P: Jeff Ferguson

Ret: Ryan Broyles

Offensive player of the decade: QB Sam Bradford. He became the first quarterback in Big 12 history to lead his team to back-to-back titles, capping his sophomore season by throwing for 50 touchdowns and earning the Heisman Trophy. His final season in college didn’t go as expected, but he still leaves school as a player who will be immortalized with a statue at Owen Field in the not-too-distant future.

Defensive player of the decade: S Roy Williams. He was such a natural that Bob Stoops created a position “the Roy” especially for his talents. He set the standard as a physical run-stuffing safety and sealed his legacy with the hit on Chris Simms that sealed the 2001 victory over Texas.

Coach of the decade: Bob Stoops. The only coach of the decade for the Sooners had more unprecedented early success than any coach in Big 12 history, winning the national championship in his second season and claiming a record six conference championships. They aren’t calling him “Big Game Bob” as much as before, but Stoops still ranks among the most pivotal figures in Big 12 history.

Most memorable moment of the decade: On a misty night at Pro Player Stadium, the Sooners’ defense turned in a masterful performance to claim the 2001 Orange Bowl and bring home the 2000 national championship. Josh Heupel managed to direct the offense despite a sore elbow and the Oklahoma defense would have pitched a shutout in a 13-2 triumph over Florida State except for a special-teams safety in the final minute of play.

Big 12 moments of the decade

January, 19, 2010
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An array of memorable moments from the past decade in the Big 12 still resonate. Here are some of the most unforgettable to me.

  • 1. Vince Young's game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl: Anyone who was there or saw it will never forget Young's 8-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left that led Texas to a 41-38 triumph over USC and the 2005 national championship.
  • 2. Michael Crabtree's last-second grab stuns Texas: Crabtree's game-winning 28-yard catch with one second left did more than merely wrap up the biggest victory in Texas Tech history, a 39-33 win over Texas. It heralded a national coming-out party for Crabtree and the rest of the Tech program, setting the stage for the wild three-way South Division tie in 2008.
  • 3. Superman's leap: Roy Williams' dramatic blitz forced Chris Simms to throw an interception to Teddy Lehman, who returned it for the game-winning touchdown in Oklahoma's 14-3 triumph over Texas in 2001.
  • 4. Torrance Marshall's theft saves the season: Texas A&M was driving, but Marshall's 41-yard fourth-quarter interception return provided a game-winning touchdown and a 35-31 triumph over the Aggies at Kyle Field. The big play preserved Oklahoma's victory in the Sooners' toughest challenge en route to the 2000 national championship.
  • 5. Eric Crouch's catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma: Crouch's 63-yard TD reception on a throwback pass from freshman receiver Mike Stuntz was Crouch's signature moment on his path to the 2001 Heisman Trophy and sparked a 20-10 triumph over Oklahoma.
  • 6. Darren Sproles sparks Kansas State's stunning 2003 Big 12 title game upset: Darren Sproles rushed for 235 yards -- the most gained against an Oklahoma defense ever to that point -- and Ell Roberson added four touchdown passes to help Kansas State claim its first Big 12 title in a 35-7 upset over No. 1 Oklahoma.
  • 7. Hunter Lawrence's kick pushes Texas into national title game: Despite a sputtering performance by Colt McCoy that included nine sacks and three interceptions, Texas held on for a 13-12 victory over Nebraska in the 2009 title game on a 46-yard field goal by Hunter Lawrence on the final play of the game. Lawrence's game-winning kick came only after McCoy nearly squandered the opportunity by throwing the ball out of bounds on the previous play as the clock originally appeared to have expired. Officials put time back on the clock, setting the stage for Lawrence's heroics.
  • 8. Chris Brown gashes the Cornhuskers: Colorado running back Chris Brown ripped Nebraska for 198 yards and six touchdowns, boosting the Buffaloes to a wild 62-36 victory over Nebraska that snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Cornhuskers. Brown's big game sent the Buffaloes to the 2001 Big 12 title game, which they won the following week against Texas.
  • 9. Postgame clash of the titans: Oklahoma State's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech in 2007 produced one of the most memorable games in Big 12 history. The teams compiled 94 points, 62 first downs and 1,328 yards. But all of the action on the field was upstaged in a wild postgame battle of soundbites when Mike Leach questioned the toughness of his defense and Mike Gundy berated an Oklahoma City columnist who he felt had unfairly portrayed quarterback Bobby Reid.
  • 10. Kyle Field's nod to patriotism: Texas A&M's 21-7 victory over Oklahoma State wasn't what was so memorable. It was that the Aggies fans decked out Kyle Field in red, white and blue in the first game after the 9/11 attacks on the country in 2001. Thousands of fans transformed the old stadium into a patriotic rainbow in a memory that endures to this day.

Which Big 12 school has produced the most starting NFL QBs?

August, 24, 2009
8/24/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin There was an outstanding piece of research that appeared over the weekend in the Altoona (Pa.) Mirror that set out to ascertain a question that has been vexing over the years. Namely, which college deserves the title of "Quarterback U" for its proficiency in producing college players who eventually started games in the NFL? The findings were very interesting, particularly in terms of which schools have produced starting NFL quarterbacks and which ones have not in the modern era, starting with the 1966 season. Purdue earns an argument in the "Quarterback U" debate because its alums have started more NFL games (704) than any other school. Also, Purdue is the only school to have four quarterbacks start at least 100 games (Jim Everett, Len Dawson, Drew Brees and Bob Griese). USC leads the list with 15 quarterbacks who have started at least one game, followed by Notre Dame (13) and Washington (12). The Big 12, with its previous tradition of ground-based offenses in the old Big Eight and Southwest conferences, struggles mightily in this comparison. Here's the list of Big 12 schools and their starting quarterbacks. In a way, the numbers are a little skewed because it credits the starts of former college quarterbacks like Colorado's Kordell Stewart and Missouri's Brad Smith. Both have gone on to pro careers at positions other than quarterback. Here's how the Altoona Mirror stacks up the Big 12 programs in terms of starting quarterbacks and NFL starts. Kansas State (249 games, four starters): Steve Grogan 135, Lynn Dickey 111, Dennis Morrison 2, Dan Manucci 1. Kansas (190 games, three starters): John Hadl 135, Bobby Douglass 53, Frank Seurer 2. Colorado (95 games, two starters): Kordell Stewart 87, Koy Detmer 8. Nebraska (79 games, six starters): Vince Ferragamo 53, Jerry Tagge 12, Bruce Mathison 9, Dennis Claridge 3, David Humm 1, Terry Luck 1. Iowa State (52 games, four starters): David Archer 23, Sage Rosenfels 12, Seneca Wallace 12, Tim Van Galder 5. Texas Tech (47 games, one starter): Billy Joe Tolliver 47. Baylor (45 games, five starters): Cody Carlson 19, Don Trull 15, Buddy Humphrey 5, Cotton Davidson 4, Brad Goebel 2. Texas (44 games, two starters): Vince Young 29, Chris Simms 15. Missouri (18 games, three starters): Brad Smith 13, Steve Pisarkiewicz 4, Gary Lane 1. Texas A&M (16 games, three starters): Edd Hargett 7, Gary Kubiak 5, Bucky Richardson 4. Oklahoma State (14 games, one starter): Rusty Hilger 14. Oklahoma (no games, no starters). The study also credits a quarterback with where he finished school rather than started. So, Troy Aikman is considered to have attended UCLA rather than Oklahoma. As the story points out, it's interesting that a Division II program like Texas A&M-Commerce has been able to turn out three starters -- more than traditional powers Texas and Oklahoma combined. The Big 12's recent ascension as the nation's foremost passing conference will help change these statistics quickly in a few years. Because I'm thinking quarterbacks like Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin and maybe even Austen Arnaud or Zac Robinson will get their shot in the NFL one of these days.

Williams' deflection is No. 3 Big 12 memory

July, 8, 2009
7/08/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Superman's leap: Roy Williams' tipped pass leads to OU's game-clinching 

Date: Oct. 6, 2001
Place: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
Score: Oklahoma 14, Texas 3

Bob Stoops warned Roy Williams not to leave his feet.

Fortunately for the Sooners, Williams didn't listen. His well-timed jump led to arguably the biggest defensive play in Big 12 history and the clinching moment of one of Stoops' most memorable and satisfying victories.

With Texas at its own 3-yard line, the Sooners' blitzing safety came up with the biggest of plays. His leap enabled him to hit the elbow of Texas quarterback Chris Simms, deflecting his attempted pass. The ball squirted into the hands of surprised Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman, who returned it 2 yards for a clinching touchdown with 2:01 left, capping a masterful defensive performance.

The Sooners claimed the victory in the annual rivalry, which had added importance in 2001 because both teams were ranked in the top five coming into the game for the first time since 1984.

And both played strongly in a memorable defensive slugfest that was won by Williams' heroics and a gritty relief performance by Oklahoma backup quarterback Jason White, who replaced injured starter Nate Hybl in the second quarter.

White made the most of his coming-out party, finishing by completing 16 of 23 passes for 108 yards. And he was just as effective as a scrambler, rushing for a team-high 38 yards on 12 carries.

Oklahoma tailback Quentin Griffin, who gashed the Longhorns for six touchdowns in a memorable 2000 performance, accounted for the game's lone offensive touchdown. The diminutive tailback took an option pitch from White and scooted 2 yards for a touchdown around left end to give the Sooners an early 7-0 lead, capping an 11-play, 61-yard scoring drive.

Texas struck back when Dusty Mangum converted on a 27-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half to pull the Longhorns within 7-3 at the break.

And that's how the score remained for most of the rest of the game as both teams' defenses alternated coming up with big plays.

Simms was terrorized by a blitzing Oklahoma defense which produced four interceptions, including three in the fourth quarter. He was also sacked five times, including three by speedy Oklahoma defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson.

The Longhorns appeared to have grabbed momentum late in the third quarter after Duncan shanked a 24-yard attempt and the Sooners failed on three straight plays inside the Texas 5-yard line.

The Longhorns were turned away on their deepest fourth-quarter possession at the Oklahoma 34 when Simms was intercepted by Antonio Perkins in the Sooners' end zone. Simms was aiming for Sloan Thomas on a post pattern.

Oklahoma then took the ensuing drive for nearly six-and-a-half minutes as they marched to the Texas 27. But Stoops eschewed another field goal attempt by Tim Duncan, who had missed two earlier, in favor of a pooch punt from Duncan.

The strategy worked perfectly as confused Texas defensive back Nathan Vasher fielded the kick and was immediately stopped at his own 3.

With all of their timeouts remaining, Texas coach Mack Brown said after the game that his team planned to win the game on the ensuing drive.

But Williams and his leap took care of that on the next play, icing a dramatic victory that still resonates as one of the best defensive performances in the Stoops era.

They said it, part I:  "To keep them out of the end zone, to have five sacks, force four interceptions. ... It's just amazing," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on his team's big defensive effort.

They said it, part II: "Roy made a great play on the quarterback. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman on his interception caused by Roy Williams' "Superman" leap.

They said it, part III: ''We were so close. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. Nothing fooled us. We got exactly what we expected.'' Texas quarterback Chris Simms on his team's disappointment after the loss.

They said it, part IV: ''It was two great defenses and two offenses trying to scratch them. It was a great football game. Both teams played as hard as they could," Texas coach Mack Brown on the bitter defensive struggle.

They said it, part V: "It was like two Mack trucks running into each other for 3 hours and 15 minutes," Brown on the physical nature of the game.

They said it, part VI: "Jason showed great leadership and toughness. He executed exceptionally well today coming off the bench. He had a solid game all around," Stoops on White's relief effort.

Factoids: The victory extended Oklahoma's winning streak to 18 games and marked the Sooners' second-straight victory over Texas ... White had thrown six passes in his career before this game, including four in the 2001 season ... Simms completed 24 of 42 passes for 198 yards ... The victory stretched Stoops' record against top 10 opponents to 8-0 at the start of his career at Oklahoma ... Texas was limited to 27 yards rushing on 25 carries ... Texas controlled Quentin Griffin, who was limited to 27 yards on 16 carries ... Mark Clayton led the Sooners in receiving with six grabs for 65 yards ... Texas wide receiver Roy Williams produced five receptions for 64 yards and B.J. Johnson added five catches for 23 yards ... Simms threw interceptions on three-straight fourth-quarter possessions to enable the Sooners to wrap up the victory. It was the lowest number of points for Texas since the infamous 66-3 loss to UCLA in 1997.

The upshot: The victory appeared to put the Sooners in the driver's seat for the South Division title. But they lost twice in the final five regular-season games, including a tough 16-13 regular-season home loss to Oklahoma State that cost them a berth in the Big 12 title game.

Instead, Oklahoma produced a gritty 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl to finish off an 11-2 season that saw them finish sixth in the final Associated Press poll.

Texas responded with a six-game winning streak that catapulted them into the Big 12 title game after Oklahoma's two late losses. But the Longhorns dropped a disappointing 39-37 defeat to Colorado in the conference championship game -- Mack Brown's second Big 12 title-game loss.

The Longhorns went on to defeat Washington, 47-43, in the Holiday Bowl to cap an 11-2 record. They were fifth in the final 2001 AP poll.

The countdown:

4. Davison's dramatic grab keeps Cornhuskers' national title hopes alive.
5. Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise's gadget plays doom Oklahoma.
6. Yes, Sirr. Parker's dramatic catches lead A&M to first Big 12 title
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Aggies' emotional win after bonfire tragedy is No. 9 memory

June, 30, 2009
6/30/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Bonfire game shows softer side of Texas-A&M rivalry

Date: Nov. 26, 1999
Place: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Score: Texas A&M 20, Texas 16

Just eight days after the most stunning tragedy in school history, Texas A&M had to refocus to play Texas in the 106th meeting of the storied rivalry between the two bitter adversaries.

Except this time, it was a little different.

Thousands of maroon balloons filled the sky, followed by the pregame release of 12 white doves -- one for each of the 12 current and former A&M students who were killed in the bonfire collapse. Four F-16 fighters flew overhead in the missing man formation, a tribute usually saved for pilots killed in the line of duty.

Earlier in the week, A&M missed practice for two days. When the bonfire stack collapsed, A&M players helped rescuers move the logs in search of survivors.

Texas players and the Longhorn football staff held a blood drive to benefit the victims. Texas officials also canceled their annual "hex rally" before the game in favor of a unity rally that also included hundreds of A&M students.

The Aggies jumped to quick lead on a 3-yard TD run by bullish tailback Ja'Mar Toombs. But the conversion backfired when holder Mark Farris bobbled the snap, leaving kicker Shane Lechler to try an ill-advised pass that was returned 96 yards by Lee Jackson for the two-point conversion.

But heralded freshman Texas quarterback Chris Simms led a pair of scoring drives later in the first quarter that gave the Longhorns the lead. Simms was starting only because Major Applewhite was ailing with an upset stomach.

A fumble by Texas A&M quarterback Randy McCown helped the Longhorns to score their first TD, provided on a 14-yard run by Hodges Mitchell. Texas extended its lead to 16-6 later in the quarter on a 1-yard TD plunge by Chris Robertson.

The Aggies blocked a punt later in the second quarter, but were unable to score as they trailed 16-6 at the break.

Many fans who were at the game still remember the halftime presentation by both bands as the most moving part of the game. The Texas band played "Amazing Grace" and members took off their hats at the end. The A&M Band honored the bonfire victims by marching off the field without its usual musical accompaniment as the Kyle Field crowd was eerily silent.

The inspired A&M defense was the difference in the second half, limiting Texas to only two first downs as Simms struggled and was eventually replaced by Applewhite in the fourth quarter.

Toombs, rushed for 126 yards on 37 carries to lead the Aggies, gradually wore down the Longhorns in the second half. His 9-yard scoring plunge pulled the Aggies within 16-13 with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

And with 5:02 left, McCown lofted a 14-yard lob into the end zone that was snagged by his roommate Matt Bumgardner for the game-winning score.

The Aggies' defense took care of the rest. With 23 seconds left in the game, cornerback Jay Brooks forced a midfield fumble by Applewhite. Linebacker Brian Gamble recovered the fumble to seal the victory.

A&M offensive lineman Chris Valletta wore a T-shirt with the names of the 11 A&M students and one former student under his pads and jersey.

"We had the thought and memory of those 12 who died in our hearts and minds every single play," Valletta told reporters after the game. "I hope this can ease the pain a little bit."

(Read full post)

Simms' turnover-binge boosts CU to title in No. 11 memory

June, 26, 2009
6/26/09
6:03
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 11

When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms"

Date: Dec. 1, 2001
Place: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas
Score: Colorado 39, Texas 37

Texas had already won a Big 12 championship, but was looking for its first title under coach Mack Brown. Underdog Colorado was making its first trip to the Big 12 title game.

Shortly before the game, the Longhorns' stakes were raised when Tennessee stunned No. 2 Florida, seemingly providing an avenue for Texas to play in its first Bowl Championship Series title game.

But Chris Brown, Bobby Pesavento and Gary Barnett's underdog Buffaloes had other ideas.

After Cedric Benson scored on a 5-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, the Buffaloes charged back. Chris Brown scored a pair of touchdowns, sandwiched around a 39-yard field goal by Jeremy Flores that provided the Buffaloes a 16-7 lead.

Texas quarterback Chris Simms struggled through a miserable first half, throwing three interceptions and fumbling away another turnover in the first half before he was replaced by Major Applewhite. Those miscues prompted the wrath of fans, who booed him louder with each turnover.

His last interception typified Texas' luck in the game. Top lineman Mike Williams and Benson ran into each other trying to tackle Colorado safety Medford Moorer, who eluded them on a 64-yard touchdown. Both Williams and Benson were hurt for the rest of the game and Simms sustained a dislocated ring finger on his throwing hand on the play.  

Several Buffaloes mentioned after the game they were infuriated when they saw that Simms wearing patent leather shoes during his pregame warm-ups. They thought that action and a pregame television interview by Simms disrespected their team.

Applewhite provided a surge of momentum two plays after entering the game, hooking up with B.J. Johnson on a 79-yard touchdown pass which pulled the Longhorns within 29-17 at the half.

Brown added another 11-yard touchdown to start the second half and Applewhite led his first two second-half drives that led to field goals by Dusty Mangum, pulling Texas to 36-23.

Colorado was poised to put the game away when Barnett made what he confessed after the game was a bad mistake. Third-string quarterback Robert Hodge's pass from punt formation was intercepted by Roderick Babers, who returned in 54 yards for a touchdown, trimming Colorado's lead to six with 9:10 left.

Barnett was saved from criticism when the Buffaloes added Flores' clinching 43-yard field goal with 1:58 left, capping a 51-yard drive that consumed 7 minutes, 12 seconds.

Applewhite hooked up with Johnson on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds left, but it was too late. The Buffaloes escaped with a 39-37 victory and their first conference championship since winning the Big Eight in 1991.

Factoids to note: Colorado's impressive victory continued a five-game winning streak that had included a blowout victory over Nebraska the previous week. Chris Brown rushed for 182 yards on 33 carries and scored three touchdowns. It gave him nine touchdowns in his last two games ... Applewhite completed 15 of 25 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions ... Texas came into the game ranked second nationally in scoring defense (11.4 points per game) and yards allowed (227.3 per game) but were trampled by Colorado's ground-based attack ... Simms' four turnovers led to 22 Colorado points. Coming into the game, Simms had thrown 16 touchdown passes and two interceptions in his previous six games ... The victory enabled Colorado a measure of revenge after losing earlier in the season to the Longhorns at Austin, 41-7. 

They said it, part I: "When we left the hotel today, I told them we are a team of destiny. No one is playing with more heart right now." Colorado coach Gary Barnett on his team's resiliency in notching the upset.

They said it, part II: "I was stunned with what happened to me. We had a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. I don't know what happened." Texas quarterback Chris Simms, in explaining his struggles to the Associated Press.

They said it, part III: "We wanted to intimidate him. We wanted to hit him so often that he'd feel we were coming even when we weren't. I think it worked pretty well. We did cause him to throw some bad balls," Colorado safety Michael Lewis, who told the New York Times about his defense's plans to rough up Simms.

The upshot: The victory boosted Colorado into its first and only BCS bowl berth in history, where the Buffaloes lost, 38-16, to Oregon. The Buffaloes ended the season 10-3 with a No. 9 finish in the final Associated Press poll. It was Colorado's highest end-of-season finish since placing eighth in 1996.

Texas' loss dropped them to the Holiday Bowl. Before the game, Texas coach Mack Brown announced on a Web site interview -- extremely rare for its time -- that Applewhite would be his starter in the bowl game. 

Applewhite produced when he got a chance as a starter. He capped his Texas career by passing for a career-best 473 yards to lead the Longhorns to a dramatic 47-43 comeback victory over Washington. The Longhorns overcame a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter as Applewhite led what at the time was the largest rally in school history. The Longhorns finished the season 11-2 and No. 5 nationally in the AP poll, their highest finish since 1983.

The countdown:

12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.

Texas Football's magazine release tells us the season beckons

June, 15, 2009
6/15/09
6:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Today is a special summer day for football fans across Texas and the Southwest.

Today is the annual release date of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, which is the unquestionable college football magazine of record in these parts every year.

This magazine is special because it's the 50th anniversary edition. The first one was laid out on the kitchen table of former Waco Tribune-Herald sports editor Dave Campbell, who started it in 1960.

It's gotten much bigger than that over the years, being read by three generations of football fans over the years. Today, there's a Texas Football classic every year at the Alamodome and even an official Texas Football song.

I first learned about the magazine in the late 1960s when a friend of mine in fifth grade, Richard Jackson, moved to Memphis from Houston. Along with his neat Houston Astros hat that I always was envious of was his copy of Texas Football Magazine. The story and pictures of the guys from Texas, Baylor and Rice were so different than anything I came across in the Southeastern Conference. I wanted mine, too.

My dad occasionally traveled to Texas with his job and soon learned to look at the 7-Eleven on one of his trips to Dallas to see if he could score a copy of Dave Campbell for me.

Later, my family moved to Texas and I learned the excitement of visiting the newsstand in mid-June to pick up the Dave Campbell magazine, which was there to chronicle the demise of the Southwest Conference and the start of the Big 12.

The new one will officially be released today across the area. And the coverboy is Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who becomes the first individual player to be pictured since Texas wide receiver Roy Williams in 2003.

I picked up my copy and am already deeply into it. It takes me back to my childhood.

The only problem is that I wonder why I couldn't pick up a Grape Slurpee to drink with it like I used to back in the day.

A list of the cover boys in the magazine's history exhibits a unique history of football in the southwest. Here's a list of the players who have graced the cover of the magazine over the years.

1960: Texas RB Jack Collins

1961: Baylor RB Ronnie Bull

1962: TCU QB Sonny Gibbs

1963: Texas coach Darrell Royal and DT Scott Appleton

1964: Baylor coach John Bridgers and WR Lawrence Elkins

1965: Texas Tech RB Donny Anderson

1966: SMU NG John LaGrone, Baylor DT Greg Pipes, Texas DT Diron Talbert

1967: Texas A&M T Maurice "Mo" Moorman

1968: Texas A&M QB Edd Hargett

1969: Texas QB James Street

1970: Texas RB Steve Worster

1971: Texas Tech QB Charles Napper

1972: Texas A&M LB Brad Dusek

1973: Texas LB Glen Gaspard

1974: Texas coach Darrell Royal

1975: Baylor coach Grant Teaff

1976: Houston coach Bill Yeoman

1977: Texas Tech QB Rodney Allison

1978: Texas A&M K Tony Franklin and Texas K/P Russell Erxleben

1979: Texas DT Steve McMichael

1980: Baylor LB Mike Singletary and Texas A&M QB Mike Mosley

1981: Baylor RB Walter Abercrombie and SMU RB Craig James

1982: Texas A&M QB Gary Kubiak

1983: SMU QB Lance McIlhenny

1984: Texas A&M DE Ray Childress

1985: TCU coach Jim Wacker and TCU RB Kenneth Davis

1986: Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill

1987: Texas QB Bret Stafford and Texas coach David McWilliams

1988: Texas RB Eric Metcalf and Texas A&M LB John Roper

1989: Houston coach Jack Pardee and SMU coach Forrest Gregg

1990: Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes

1991: Houston QB David Klingler

1992: Rice RB Trevor Cobb

1993: Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum

1994: Texas QB Shea Morenz

1995: A collage of Southwest Conference historical figures including Texas RB Earl Campbell, Houston coach Bill Yeoman, Baylor LB Mike Singletary, TCU QB Sammy Baugh, Texas coach Fred Akers, Texas coach Darrell Royal and SMU RB Doak Walker.

1996: Baylor coach Chuck Ready, Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, Texas coach John Mackovic and Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum

1997: Texas QB James Brown and Texas RB Ricky Williams

1998: Texas A&M LB Dat Nguyen, Texas RB Ricky Williams and Texas coach Mack Brown

1999: Texas coach Mack Brown and TCU coach Dennis Franchione. Note: Alternative cover for those magazines sold outside the state featured Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman

2000: Midland Robert E. Lee H.S. RB Cedric Benson

2001: Texas QB Chris Simms, TCU QB Casey Printers, Texas A&M QB Mark Farris and Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury

2002: Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury, Celina H.S. coach G.A. Moore, Dallas Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith and Baytown Lee H.S. QB Drew Tate.

2003: Texas WR Roy Williams

2004: Texas Tech DE Adell Duckett, TCU S Marvin Godbolt, Houston QB Kevin Kolb, North Texas RB Patrick Cobb

2005: Texas QB Vince Young and Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal

2006: Former Texas RB Earl Campbell, Mansfield Summit H.S. QB John Chiles, Texarkana Texas H.S. QB Ryan Mallett and Gilmer H.S. QB G.J. Kinne

2007: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas QB Colt McCoy and TCU DE Tommy Blake

2008: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree

2009: Texas QB Colt McCoy

Source: ESPN.com research

Mailbag: There's no place like Nebraska for a spring game

February, 6, 2009
2/06/09
7:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here's a collection of letters I received over the last week.

Ross Struss of Lincoln, Neb., writes: Hey Tim, I just wanted to know how you would rate spring games across the Big 12? In my opinion Nebraska should be No. 1 not only in the Big 12 but maybe even in the nation.
We had to buy our tickets for the Cornhuskers' spring game on Wednesday and it took us three hours to get through. Any other place like this?

Tim Griffin: I don't know of many schools that emphasize a spring game as a promotional tool for the school quite like Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers. There is more pent-up demand to watch that game than any place across the Big 12 and likely anywhere in the country.

I think the excitement that Pelini has helped foster there in less than a year has made this the toughest ticket in all of spring football. It will be interesting to watch the spectacle this season, particularly as Shawn Watson sorts through his quarterback options. I'm kind of curious to see how Cody Green looks, too.


Darrell from Orlando, Fla., writes: Any news on Miami quarterback Robert Marve's proposed move to a Big 12 school? Does Oklahoma or Oklahoma State even need Marve. Your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: I know that both Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are on Marve's list of "finalists" along with Purdue and South Florida. All of the Big 12 schools would appear to have more national appeal for the former Miami quarterback than his other finalists. I think he will face some acclamation "issues" wherever he ends up.

Marve would be a natural addition if he chose Oklahoma State, considering that Zac Robinson is leaving school after next year. Most presume that Sam Bradford likely will remain at Oklahoma for only one more year, providing a natural entry at Oklahoma in much the same manner. And Taylor Potts will have two remaining years at Texas Tech.

Strong sources around the Oklahoma program told well-connected Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler the Sooners have no interest in Marve. So I think it's more likely he would end up at Oklahoma State or Texas Tech, if he ends up in the Big 12.

But I'm guessing that the most likely place for Marve to land will be somewhere a little closer to home like South Florida. He grew up in Tampa and staying at home might make sense for him in the end. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.


Matt from Dallas writes: I know in the course of monitoring Texas and Oklahoma recruiting as well as fawning over the talent the Aggies are about to spend four years wasting, you may not have noticed that Texas Tech pulled in a very solid class on the defensive side of the ball. Pearlie Graves and Myles Wade will be added to Colby Whitlock and Chris Perry. Suddenly Texas Tech may not be so soft up the middle anymore.

Tim Griffin: I agree with you. I think this might be the most solid defensive recruiting class that Mike Leach has ever attracted. And I know that Graves and Wade, along with Whitlock, should really anchor the Red Raiders' interior for the next couple of seasons.

I thought the Red Raiders showed a lot of improvement defensively until their late slide against Oklahoma and Mississippi. It will be interesting to see how they will rebound from those struggling performances next season.


Austin R. from Austin writes: Hey Tim, it really didn't surprise me that my Longhorns lost out on Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama or Devon Kennard from Arizona. The moment I hear that these guys are going to announce their school sitting at a table with hats, I knew the Horns are out of the running. Is it that Texas gets the guys that are not into the dramatics? Or is Texas not cool enough for some recruits?

Tim Griffin: I saw Kirkpatrick's announcement on television as well. Longhorn fans might not have liked his sense of dramatics, but I bet they would have warmed to him if they had seen him play cornerback in the burnt orange.

It was interesting to me that Texas wasn't as successful out of state as in previous seasons when they missed out on recruits like Kirkpatrick and Kennard. I'm thinking that the Longhorns are good enough to be at the top of the Big 12 recruiting lists almost every season by dominating Texas talent as they did this season.

But for them to make to challenge for the mythical national championship in recruiting, they need to generate a national splash by attracting a couple of quality out of state recruits. They did it recently with recruits like Blaine Irby and Lamarr Houston and previously were successful recruiting top out-of-state recruits like like Chris Simms, Bo Scaife, and Ricky Williams. They probably need to do it again to reclaim the top spot in national recruiting in future years.

And here's an intriguing nugget I came up with when looking at their recent recruiting lists. Texas has earned only three commitments from out-of-state players in the last three recruiting lists. Compare that with the 49 out-of-state players who have committed to Oklahoma during that time, or the 29 who have committed to defending national champion Florida.


Brent from Overland Park, Kan., writes: Tim, you haven't mentioned Kansas very much since the bowls ended. They are quietly putting together one of the best classes in the nation, but have had little coverage on ESPN, from what I've seen. Mangino is known for getting the 'diamonds in the rough' (Reesing, Briscoe, et al.). Do you see any more in this 09 class?

Tim Griffin: No coach has done a better job in developing underrated talent after their arrival at college than Mark Mangino. The story about how they got hooked up with Dezmon Briscoe ranks as one of the most notable recruiting stories in Big 12 history. But this class for the Jayhawks appears to have more talent than any since his arrival. I think recruits are starting to notice the Jayhawks after their back-to-back bowl appearances and particularly their trip to the 2008 Orange Bowl. And I think the fact they attracted top recruits Prinz Kande and Bradley McDougald is a testament to that.


Bruce from Columbus, Ga., writes: This is a long-term recuiting question I asked during your recruiting-day chat and you didn't answer it. Anyway, I had thought that Bo Pelini's tenure at LSU would provide the Cornhuskers with access to top players to recruit, yet he has none. Will it be a source in the future and why hasn't it helped in the short-term? Thanks.

Tim Griffin: Bruce, thanks for the question and I apologize to not getting to it during my chat. I might not have even seen it. I would answer one question and 15-20 more would materialize in the time I had been away from the board. I wasn't able to answer or even read many of them.

You do raise an interesting question. But I don't see the South ever really being a critical recruiting area for Nebraska. Pelini only had three years of exposure in that area when he was coaching at LSU.

Because of that, I think the Cornhuskers will always look first to areas like California and especially Texas. I think they have contacts in place in both states. It was critical for them this year with eight recruits from Texas and six from California.

The South is
really a closed shop where the Southeastern Conference teams really dominate. Look at how both Texas and Oklahoma both were stoned in their bids for top talent when Texas unsuccessfully tried for Dre Kirkpatrick and Oklahoma went for Rueben Randle. So I think most Big 12 teams will look elsewhere for their major areas of recruiting.


J. Aston of Lubbock, Texas writes: Who in your opinion does the most in the Big 12 with the least as far as recruiting goes? I have my personal opinion, but it might be a little biased. And do you think that if those teams got more highly recruited players, would they be able to do better in the big 12?

Tim Griffin: I think in recent years the coaches that have done the most with underrated talent have been Mark Mangino of Kansas, Gary Pinkel of Missouri and Mike Leach of Texas Tech. All have turned their programs into consistent bowl teams while not normally having access to the upper talent base.

It's been interesting to me that those teams all have had trouble with winning consistently against Oklahoma and Texas - the two teams that typically recruit the most top athletes in the conference.

It would be interesting to see what all programs like the Jayhawks, Red Raiders and Tigers would be able to do with the access to five-star talent. Managing those players - and egos - is a little different than working with some of the other recruits. But I'm thinking all of those schools could develop into national powers if they were able to get more top-ranked talent like the Sooners and Longhorns traditionally feast on.


Clint Seaton from Tecumseh, Okla., writes: With Bill Young becoming the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, what would be a realistic timeline for improving their defense? And maybe even having their defense ranked in the top 30?

Tim Griffin: It's not like Oklahoma State fans aren't putting any pressure on Young, is there?

That being said, Young's work will likely determine if the Cowboys can live up to all of the early hype about their team during the upcoming season. The Cowboys appear to have an offense that can keep up with anybody nationally. But in order to contend for their first Big 12 South title, the defense will have to play markedly better than it did in late losses to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oregon.

Young is known as one of the most wily coordinators in college football. And I expect him to improve the Cowboys. But moving them into the top 30 might be a little bit much - particularly with all of the prolific offenses that the Cowboys will be facing next season.

Maybe they might be able to talk about a top 30 defense in a couple of years. The Big 12's offenses should be just as potent in 2009 as they were last year. And Texas, at No. 51, ranked as the Big 12's best defense in 2008.

That's all for this week. Please keep the e-mails coming and I'll try to answer as many as I can. Thanks again for all of the good correspondence.

Tim's mailbag: Why the early love for OSU next season?

December, 19, 2008
12/19/08
5:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few letters that I've received in the last several days. I don't have a Christmas card for everybody, but how about a few honest answers?


Drew from St. Louis writes: Tim, I know Texas is your early favorite for next year but I think Oklahoma will have the best defense in the Big 12. They return nine starters including their D-line and two All-American caliber linebackers in Travis Lewis and Ryan Reynolds. I think it all rests on Sam Bradford returning.

Tim Griffin: Let's not assume that you can immediately plug Reynolds back into the starting lineup as he will be recovering from knee surgery. He's shown great recuperative powers in the past, but we can't assume anything. And the Sooners will lose safeties Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes, who both will be difficult to replace.

But I agree with you that the Sooners' hopes of repeating will hinge greatly on whether Bradford returns or stays in school.

Also, I think that Oklahoma State will be a contender with most of its offensive weapons coming back. The South Division will be extremely competitive again next year and I think that Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are my early favorites for the top three positions.

I think the Cowboys' unexpected charge into South contention has helped build some confidence in players like Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant. Next season, I think the Cowboys are going to expect to be in contention, rather than just happy to be included.


Steve from Norman, Okla., writes: I've watched every OU game for 5 years and attend practices as well and also coach 6A football here in Oklahoma. Lendy Holmes is not even the best safety on his team. Nic Harris will be a pro and also has had a little better year than Holmes.

Tim Griffin: Obviously, Steve, my only point of reference I could employ for my All-Big 12 teams were the Oklahoma games I actually have seen. None of us media types have the insight that we could have gleaned by watching practice.

It was a tough decision between Holmes and Harris for me. In the end I picked Holmes because he played every game at defensive back and wasn't switched to linebacker for one game like Harris was. And I also gave Holmes an edge because he produced eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumble recoveries) while Harris had one fumble recovery. Where they will be playing in the pros had no relevance in picking my team from this year.


Jordon Olson from Durant, Okla., writes: Hey Mr. Griffin, First of all I love the blog. But why did you put A & M's Justin Brantly as your All Big-12 punter when OSU's Matt Fodge won the Ray Guy Award? With all due respect to Justin, I'm sure he is also a great punter.

Tim Griffin: Oklahoma State did lead the conference in net punting, but the biggest reason were the return yards that Texas A&M gave up in comparsion with other teams in the conference -- much like the defensive struggles that bedeviled the Aggies all season. I thought Brantly was a tad better than Fodge, despite having to kick much more often. His gross average was about one yard per kick better. And that's ultimately why I chose him.


Steve from Braymer, Mo. writes: I don't understand why the Holiday Bowl and Alamo Bowl pick their Big 12 teams ahead of the Gator Bowl. The Gator Bowl pays more money, and is a New Year's Day bowl . New Year's Day bowls have always been considered the more prestigious bowl games and who doesn't want more money? Can you explain this please?

Tim Griffin: The Gator Bowl's contract with the Big 12 enables it to pluck a team from the conference twice in a four-year period. It's a shared pick with the Big East and would give them access to a Big East team or Notre Dame when they don't pick from the Big 12.

The Gator Bowl is considered more prestigious only from a historical bent, in my opinion. And I've got to think the chance to play a game in either San Diego or San Antonio is just as attractive as playing in Jacksonville. And the appeal for many schools of playing as the only game on their particular night - like Missouri in the Alamo Bowl - is even more attractive than getting lost on New Year's Day among a jumble of games.

The Gator Bowl's contract enables it to get the fourth pick among Big 12 teams twice in a four-season period. It picks after the Holiday Bowl and before the Alamo Bowl. And it did have a caveat in its contract where it could have even jumped ahead of the Holiday Bowl in a season where the Big 12 only had one team in the BCS.

The Gator now has taken two teams from the Big 12 in back-to-back years with Texas Tech and Nebraska. It means they will not pick from the Big 12's pool of teams next season.


Ryan from Round Rock, Texas, writes: Tim, Why does everyone fawn over Josh Freeman? I know he has prototypical size for a QB, but he's maddeningly inconsistent. He's Chris Simms, except in a purple uniform. If I were Bill Snyder, I'd make him Kerry Meier 2.0 and put in a signal caller than can really read defenses.

Tim Griffin: The scouts I talk to all love Freeman's size and arm and his ability to move in and outside the pocket, but like you aren't enthralled with his consistency. I think he would do better to return to school, but I think some NFL team will make him a first-day selection if he was to declare.

And with all of the talk about the upcoming rookie salary scale, I think we'll probably see more players than ever declare for the draft this season.


Brian from Washington, D.C., writes: Five Texas posts in a row, Tim? You have done a great job all year long being unbiased. Don't fail me now and turn it into a Longhorn blog.

Tim Griffin: Brian, I appreciate your concern about the slant of my blog. I had a lot of Texas posts yesterday afternoon after spending the day with the Longhorns at their pre-bowl media availability. I'll chip in with some stuff from Oklahoma early next week as the Sooners conduct a similar press gathering before they break for the holidays.

Again, thanks for all of the questions and we'll do this again next week.

Coaches' disdain for Big 12 title game is wrong

December, 5, 2008
12/05/08
9:11
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We're here for the 13th edition of the Big 12 championship game, something most coaches still aren't exactly excited to be playing in the first place.

Coaches went on record before the conference was even formed that they weren't crazy about the addition of an extra game after the regular season ended. The vote was 11-0, with then-Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum unable to attend. He's said he would have voted against it as well if he had gotten the chance.

Most have remained adamant about not wanting the game, but it's done little good. The extra money provided to cash-strapped athletic departments has become an expected revenue source. For better or worse, the title game has become a part of the Big 12's landscape.

That's not to say we haven't had some memorable moments over the years. Take a look at some of stunning upsets in which teams in AP's top 3 have lost in the Big 12 title game.

  • 1996 -- A gutsy fourth-down pass from deep in his own territory helped John Mackovic and Texas claim a 37-27 stunner over No. 3 Nebraska.
  • 1998 -- Texas A&M's wild 36-33 double-overtime victory over No. 2 Kansas State denied the Wildcats a chance to play in the national championship game.
  • 2001 -- Colorado took advantage of a rash of early mistakes by Chris Simms and withstood a furious late comeback rally by Major Applewhite to dash the No. 3 Longhorns' BCS hopes in a 39-37 victory.
  • 2003 -- Many were calling No. 1 Oklahoma one of the best teams of all time before they ran into Darren Sproles and Kansas State. Sproles gashed them for 235 yards to key a 35-7 upset that remains Bob Stoops' only Big 12 title game loss.
  • 2007 -- Curtis Lofton keyed a second-half run with a pivotal interception, sparking Oklahoma's 38-17 upset over No. 1 Missouri.

And games like those are precisely why the title game is such a good idea. It focuses national attention on the conference and has sparked some intriguing games over the years.

Sure, the games has become one-sided since that Kansas State victory in 2003. Big 12 South teams have won the last four games by a combined core of 171-30 and have trailed for a grand total of 3 minutes, 22 seconds during that 240-minute span.

But who knows what could happen Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium? Maybe Derrick Washington morphs into a version of Sproles on a similarly icy field.

Or Jeremy Maclin erupts for a huge game, slicing through Oklahoma's much-maligned special teams like so many other kick returners have done this season.

Or Sam Bradford leads the Sooners to a convincing victory to put an exclamation mark on his Heisman Trophy bid.

I'm just glad the coaches got outvoted way back when. The Big 12 has benefitted from having the title game.

McCoy off to best total statistical start in Texas QB history

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
2:48
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

His passing statistics and running statistics separately aren't the best in Texas history after five games. But I don't think it can be argued by anybody that Colt McCoy is off to the best statistical start when all statistical measures are collectively factored for any quarterback in school history.

To prove that point, compare McCoy's stats from five games with the other four leading statistical seasons in school history.

Here's McCoy's early numbers, compared to the other single-season statistical leaders in school passing history:

By the Numbers: Colt McCoy
QuarterbackYrRYdsAvg.TDComp%PYdsIntTDRatingRecord
Major Applewhite 1999 -46 -2.2 1 64.8 1,492 1 10 150.73 4-1
Chris Simms 2002 -2 -0.1 2 56.1 1,161 3 10 132.03 5-0
Vince Young 2005 355 5.5 2 62.4 1,021 5 10 162.17 5-0
Colt McCoy 2006 59 3.0 1 71.1 846 2 10 174.29 4-1
Colt McCoy 2008 317 7.0 4 79.2 1,280 3
16 197.94 5-0
Source: ESPN.com research

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