I’m glad you all made it without me. I'm back. Enjoyed the trip to California. Got some surfing and various other beachery in. There was also some Dodgers baseball, some Disneyland, lots of walking and most importantly, some good times with friends.
Anyway, here’s a bit of what we missed while I was away:
Lots of former Big 12ers on “Simply Saturday” list
You probably got a chance to at least gloss over our Q&A with former Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, who came in at No. 45 on our “Simply Saturday” list, which ranks the top 50 players of all-time who are best known for their college careers.
We’ll have more this week as it moves on, including a Big 12 wrap-up, but White’s not the only Big 12 player on the list.
No. 49: Hart Lee Dykes, WR, Oklahoma State
He’s best known for getting four schools put on probation, but a broken kneecap ended his career early.
No. 45: Jason White, QB, Oklahoma
The Heisman winner took some time out for us at ESPN.com last week.
No. 43: Steve Owens, RB, Oklahoma
One of the Sooners’ other five Heisman winners, Owens racked up 17 consecutive 100-yard games and went 19th overall in the draft, but a knee injury forced him to retire after the 1974 season.
No. 34: J.C. Watts, QB, Oklahoma
He helped Barry Switzer and Oklahoma in consecutive Orange Bowls in 1980 and 1981, but eventually found success in politics, serving four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
We’ll have more at the end of the week after we unveil the rest of the list.
Four from Big 12 on Blue Ribbon top 25
The Blue Ribbon Yearbook released its top 25, and four teams cracked the top 25. Here’s where they landed:
8. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
It’s an interesting list. You could make a case either way on A&M and OSU, but ultimately, I think when the official AP and ESPN/USA Today preseason polls drop in August, you’ll see those two schools flipped. They’re very close in my book entering the season. Assuming they’re undefeated heading into their Sept. 24 showdown, I’d expect the team that’s simply more impressive in nonconference to hold the higher ranking.
Jayhawks OC Chuck Long sits down with ESPN.com
Kansas offensive coordinator, a former Iowa quarterback, helped us out with our Simply Saturday series by chatting with fans on Tuesday.
A few highlights:
John in Kansas City asked: With a lot of young talented running backs, what will be the approach to handling carries? Running Back by committee?
Chuck Long: Well, we still need to figure that out. That's what our training camp is for. We're all going in wide eyed. Miller was here in the spring and came along in a great way. Training camp will play out. We're not talking redshirting at this time. With the physicality of the Big 12, we'll need the guys. We'll let it play out. We do plan on running the football.
My take: Very interesting that Darrian Miller was the first name that came to mind for Long. I’m not taking any larger truths from that, but it’s very, very obvious that he’s going to be a big part of what they do this year.
Daniel in KC asked: How are the quarterbacks progressing this year?
CL: The QBs have been progressing very well. I think they've made some steps forward from last year. They had some rough experiences at times, but experience is experience. They have it under their belt. I thought in the spring that Jordan and Quin improved. We are starting to develop a better foundation there. We feel good about where they're at.
Jeff in Kansas asked: Do you feel the offensive line that will not only allow a good running game but enough pass protection to have an effective passing offense
CL: Yes we do. That's one of the things I wanted to mention before, our OL is better. We were going in cold last year. We had some experience on the OL, but not much. We really have that lined up. We know what they can do. We think we'll make some progress there. A lot of that too goes back to the QB position and our WRs getting open. We feel with a good run game, we'll be able to have better pass protection.
Greg in Kansas asked: What are you looking forward to most about 10 teams in the Big 12?
CL: We pick up teams like Oklahoma and Texas this year. Our schedule got tougher. That's the one thing. The other side of it, we play a round robin schedule. Everyone plays each other. That's good, it makes for a more pure champion of the league. This goes back to the Big 10 days when I was there, when there were only 10 teams there. I've gone full circle.
Lots more later today as the Big 12 Blog gets back to full speed.