Big 12: Cory Ross
All of the Cornhuskers’ coaches experienced success in their own way over the decade. With Bill Callahan and Bo Pelini, Nebraska was the only Big 12 school to make championship game appearances in the 2000’s with different coaches. And Frank Solich, the Cornhuskers’ first coach of the decade, took them to a national championship game in 2001.
In 2001 Eric Crouch claimed the first of the Big 12’s three Heisman trophies in the decade. And Ndamukong Suh had a great case for one in 2009.
Pelini has the Cornhuskers pointed in the right direction after only two seasons. But here are my choices for the Cornhuskers' best players and brightest moments.
QB: Eric Crouch
RB: Correll Buckhalter
RB: Cory Ross
WR: Nate Swift
WR: Maurice Purify
TE: Tracey Wistrom
OL: Russ Hochstein
OL: Toniu Fonoti
OL: Richie Incognito
OL: Matt Slauson
C: Dominic Raiola
DL: Adam Carriker
DL: Ndamukong Suh
DL: Jared Crick
DL: Kyle Vanden Bosch
LB: Carlos Polk
LB: Demorrio Williams
LB: Barrett Ruud
DB: Keyuo Craver
DB: Josh Bullocks
DB: Prince Amukamara
DB: Daniel Bullocks
P: Kyle Larson
K: Alex Henery
Ret: DeJuan Groce
Offensive player of the decade: QB Eric Crouch. Received playing time early in his career as a receiver, but eventually became the most athletic quarterback to win the Heisman this decade. He finished as Nebraska’s career leader in total offense and total offense touchdowns.
Defensive player of the decade: DT Ndamukong Suh. His unique blend of athleticism gave him a skill set unlike those for many defensive tackles. Before his career was finished, Suh left with a legitimate claim as the greatest Blackshirt in history.
Coach of the decade: Bo Pelini. All three Nebraska coaches experienced success in different ways. Pelini gets the nod for his 20-8 record as a head coach and three bowl victories, including one as interim coach in 2003.
Moment of the decade: Eric Crouch’s throwback pass reception in 2001. Not only did Mike Stuntz’ 63-yard touchdown pass to Crouch wrap up a huge 20-10 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma, but it also provided a highlight that helped catapult Crouch to the Heisman Trophy.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It might be the most endangered species this side of the American bison.
True workhorse running backs are disappearing across the nation, but particularly in the Big 12.
It's a marked contrast from the past where many Big 12 teams would rely on one major back to account for much of its running production.
Even the expansion of spread offenses can't be blamed entirely for this predicament. If anything, the overabundance of passing attacks should make it easier for one back to dominate carries because most teams are utilizing fewer running plays than ever before.
Here's an indication of how skewed the statistics were last season in the Big 12. Only four backs accounted for at least 40 percent of their team's rushing totals.
Texas Tech's Shannon Woods led all Big 12 backs last season with 44.5 percent of his team's carries -- 141 totes among Texas Tech's 317 rushing attempts.That total is the smallest for a leader in the Big 12 in the conference's history.
Consider only four years ago that nine Big 12 backs accounted for 40 percent of their team's carries in 2004 and seven backs that season topped 50 percent of their team's running plays.
But in today's Big 12, coaches are opting to predominantly use a rotation of backs. Teams like Nebraska (Quentin Castille and Roy Helu Jr.), Oklahoma (DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown) and Texas (Vondrell McGee, Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and freshman Chris Whaley) all are expected to rotate carries in 2009.
Here's a look at how those numbers have changed during the Big 12's history.