Big 12: Darrell Scott

Former five-star running back will leave OU

September, 13, 2011
Jermie Calhoun came to Oklahoma as the nation's No. 1 running back and the No. 7 overall recruit in the Class of 2008's ESPNU 150.

Stuck on the back end of the depth chart, Calhoun has become the second Oklahoma running back to transfer since the season began.

Jonathan Miller also announced his transfer earlier this month.

Both players plan on staying at Oklahoma through the semester.

"We understand Jermie wants an opportunity to play more. He has our support and best wishes," coach Bob Stoops said in a release.

Calhoun rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown on 45 carries as a freshman in 2009, but got just 11 carries in 2010 before suffering a serious knee injury against Colorado.

The Van, Texas native has been unable to crack the depth chart this season with two sophomore backs, Brennan Clay and Roy Finch, emerging, as well as walk-on Dominique Whaley, who rushed for four touchdowns and 131 yards in Oklahoma's season opener.

Calhoun's decision means the nation's top two running backs in the 2008 class both signed with Big 12 schools before eventually transferring. Colorado signed Darrell Scott from that class, but he transferred to South Florida after the 2009 season.

Here's how the rest of the ESPNU 150 Big 12 signees from 2008 have done throughout their careers.

Tracking Big 12 ESPNU 150 signees: 2008

January, 31, 2011
ESPN the Magazine had a fascinating feature looking back at the past 25 No. 1 high school recruits Insider, where they are now and what the ranking meant to them. With apologies to Vince Young, there aren't a ton of Big 12 talents on the list, but there have been plenty of great recruits to come through the Big 12. We took a look on Thursday at how the All-Big 12 team stacked up as recruits, and you saw quite a mixed bag.

Well, it's the same for the recruits who came to campus with high rankings and high profiles. Going back to 2006, here's how every Big 12 commit from the ESPNU 150 turned out. We'll eventually get to 2010 and the current class, 2011, around signing day, but here's how the 2008 class breaks down. No. 7: Jermie Calhoun, RB, Oklahoma. Has 242 yards and a touchdown on 56 carries. Missed final two months of sophomore season in 2010 after tearing ACL against Colorado on Oct. 30.

No. 9: Darrell Scott, RB, Colorado. Transferred to South Florida after 2009 season because of lack of playing time. Ran for just 95 yards on 23 carries as a sophomore after running for 343 yards and a touchdown on 87 carries as a freshman in 2008.

No. 11: R.J. Washington, DE, Oklahoma. Has seven tackles and half a tackle for loss in two seasons after redshirting his first year on campus.

No. 16: D.J. Grant, WR, Texas. Redshirted in 2008, missed all of 2009 season with knee injury. Still trying to fully recover from injury, per former offensive coordinator Greg Davis at a November news conference.

No. 17: Dan Buckner, WR, Texas. Caught 50 passes for 526 yards in two seasons, including 45 for 442 as a sophomore in 2009. Transferred to Arizona after the season, less than 24 hours after an arrest in College Station, Texas.

No. 38: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Two-year starter who threw for 6,822 yards and 40 touchdowns in his three-year career, which featured two All-Big 12 seasons. Projects as early first-round pick in 2011 draft.

No. 57: Cyrus Gray, RB, Texas A&M. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2010 with seven consecutive 100-yard games to close the season. Has 2,253 yards and 18 touchdowns for his career. Also caught 72 passes for three touchdowns and more than 500 yards.

No. 66: Jarvis Humphrey, DT, Texas. Forced to withdraw from the University of Texas because of a kidney condition.

No. 72: Jameel Owens, WR, Oklahoma. Caught four passes for 44 yards in 2008 before transferring to Tulsa after the season.

No. 79: David Snow, OG, Texas. Appeared in all 38 career games, including 13 starts at center (11 in 2010) and five at right guard.

No. 84: Stephen Good, OT, Oklahoma. Became a starter in 2009 and was second on the team in knockdowns that season. Part of the Sooners' rotation at guard in 2010.

No. 91: Derrick Hall, ATH, Texas A&M. Did not qualify academically. Enrolled at Navarro College before signing with Tulsa out of junior college.

No. 92: Daniel Franklin, ILB, Oklahoma. Reserve linebacker has seen playing time on special teams.

No. 95: DeSean Hales, WR, Texas. Has 11 career receptions for 77 yards. Appeared in 20 games over three seasons.

No. 98: Jon Major, LB, Colorado. Missed entire freshman season with torn ACL in fall camp. Became a starter in 2010. Has 54 career tackles with three pass break-ups and two tackles for loss.

No. 100: Emmanuel Acho, OLB, Texas. Has 11 career starts and was an All-Big 12 performer in 2009 as a sophomore. Has 135 career tackles, 21 tackles for loss, four sacks, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

No. 114: Nolan Brewster, OLB, Texas. Reserve safety has appeared in 27 games, including special teams, over career. Has 32 tackles, one interception and two tackles for loss.

No. 117: Kye Staley, RB, Oklahoma State. Missed all of 2009 with knee injury and left the team before the 2010 season.

No. 118: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor. Two-time All-Big 12 performer has 194 career catches for 2,341 yards and 16 touchdowns.

No. 122: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma. Became starter as redshirt freshman in 2009 after Sam Bradford injured a shoulder in the season opener. Earned All-Big 12 honors in 2010. Has 7,916 career yards with 64 touchdowns and 26 interceptions.

No. 125: Justin Johnson, RB, Oklahoma. Transferred in June 2009 to Abilene Christian after playing sparingly as a freshman in 2008.

No. 138: Dravannti Johnson, LB, Texas. Made 21 tackles in 2010 after redshirting in 2008 and not playing in 2009.

No. 143: Rodrick Davis, DT, Texas A&M. Reserve lineman redshirted in 2008, accumulated no stats in 2010.

No. 150: Lynn Katoa, OLB, Colorado. Transferred in May 2009 after academic issues. Was ineligible for 2008 season.

Lunch links: Former blue-chip RB finds a home

June, 22, 2010
Tripleheaders? That's a lot of baseball, folks. A lot of baseball. Perhaps even more writing.

Colorado spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
2009 overall record: 3-9

2009 conference record: 2-6

Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (7) P/K (1)

Top returners: QB Tyler Hansen, WR Scotty McKnight, RB Rodney Stewart, OT Nate Solder, DB Anthony Perkins, WR Markques Simas, DB Jalil Brown

Key losses: TE Riar Geer, RB Darrell Scott (transfer), DB Cha’pelle Brown, LB Jeff Smart, DB Benjamin Burney, LB Marcus Burton

2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Rodney Stewart* (804 yards)

Passing: Tyler Hansen* (1,440)

Receiving: Scotty McKnight* (893 yards)

Tackles: Anthony Perkins*, Jeff Smart (77)

Sacks: Marquez Herrod* (6.5)

Interceptions: Benjamin Burney (2)

Three spring answers

1. Get to know Toney Clemons. The Michigan transfer made a big splash this spring, impressing his team enough to be the top pick in the draft when the Buffaloes split for the spring game. Clemons has size and speed, but 2010 will be about turning that into on-field production.

2. Stars staying strong. Colorado’s two most consistent players a year ago, offensive tackle Nate Solder and running back Rodney Stewart, both had good springs. Stewart was protected from contact often with dwindling numbers at running back, but Solder caught a touchdown pass in the spring game after being drafted with the No. 2 pick before the game.

3. Hawkins’ future not a distraction. Dan Hawkins will sit on maybe the hottest seat in the Big 12 this season, but he didn’t address it much during the spring as his team went about its business.

Three fall questions

1. Who’s the quarterback? After taking over for Cody Hawkins last season and finishing the year as the starter, most figured the job was all but Tyler Hansen’s entering spring. But Hawkins insists there’s a competition and that Hawkins and Hansen remain thinly separated. Colorado fans won’t be happy initially if Hawkins starts, but if he produces and the Buffs win a few games, few will be complaining. Some think the team would be better suited by naming a starter now and allowing him to embrace a leadership role over the summer. Hawkins wants competition.

2. Who’s catching the ball? Clemons will be a factor, but Colorado could end up having one of the conference’s most underrated corps of receivers in Clemons, along with last year’s leading receiver Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas. Kyle Cefalo could also be a player that emerges this fall after catching 12 balls for 144 yards in the spring game.

3. Can the Buffaloes defense improve? Colorado had the second-worst defense in the Big 12 last season, and with an underwhelming offense, it’s no surprise they won only three games. Defensive back Cha’Pelle Brown was the only Colorado player to make the All-Big 12 top two teams, and he graduated. Outside of Anthony Perkins, Colorado is replacing its top four tacklers and needs playmakers to emerge to improve on its 2009 season.

Colorado RB Stewart taking control of backfield

April, 5, 2010
BOULDER, Colo. -- Rodney Stewart’s 2009 wasn’t ideal. His team won just three games. He suffered an ankle injury against Kansas and had to miss time after a hamstring injury early in the season.

But the Colorado running back still rushed for more than 800 yards and scored nine touchdowns, both career highs. This offseason, the Buffaloes talented backfield thinned out with the departures of running backs Demetrius Sumler and Darrell Scott, who came to Colorado ranked No. 9 in the 2008 ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 running back.

“I’m the most experienced [running back], so I kind of feel like a leader,” Stewart said.

The junior known around Boulder as “Speedy” could be a key cog in the Colorado offense.

This spring, with just four running backs practicing, Stewart isn’t getting as much action as he’d want. That will change soon.

“You always want to get the ball to your playmakers, so we try, whether you want to hand it to him or throw it to him, and he’s been doing a good job in the return game, too,” said Colorado coach Dan Hawkins. “He’s good with the ball in his hands, so we’ll try to get the ball to him.”

And with Hawkins’ commitment to get him the ball, combined with Scott and Sumler freeing up 59 carries from a season ago, Stewart's 198 carries could rise.

Stewart said he was “disappointed” his friends chose to leave the program, but understood they wanted to make an impact elsewhere.

Stewart caught just 12 passes in 2009, and that number should rise, too.

“This spring I’m focused on catching the ball out of the backfield, completing all my pass blocks, whether its cutting the guy and getting him down or lighting him up,” Stewart said. “We’ve done a lot more screens in practice, and they’re getting the ball to me a lot more on spot routes. Behind the line of scrimmage and things like that.”

Weak & Strong: Colorado

March, 9, 2010
Here, we’ll take a look at one area where each team in the Big 12 can expect to succeed and another that needs improvement.

Next up: Colorado

Weak: Running back

Rodney Stewart rushed for a respectable 804 yards in 2009, topping 100 yards in five games. But Stewart’s backups, Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, both left Boulder in the offseason, leaving Dan Hawkins with just three scholarship backs to employ during spring practice. Outside of Stewart, Brian Lockridge is the only one with experience, and he carried the ball just 12 times for 53 yards in 2009.

Colorado was 11th in the Big 12 in total rushing yards last season, but averaged more than half a yard less per carry than any other team in the conference and rushed for the fewest touchdowns (14). Hardly anyone uses just one running back anymore, and Stewart will need help from someone when the season arrives. If no one can give it to him, and Stewart is forced to miss time with injury, 2010 could be another long year for Colorado, which finished 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 play last year.

Strong: Left tackle

Nate Solder enters his junior season as a two-year starter at tackle after transitioning to the position from tight end. Solder earned All-Big 12 honors as a junior, but even at 6-foot-9 and 305 pounds, he can’t block all 11 players lined up across from him. His unit gave up 44 sacks in 2009, 12 more than any other team in the conference.

Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner returns after missing much of 2009 with knee injuries, and JUCO transfer Eric Richter, a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from California, could inject some hope into the rest of the Buffaloes' line.

More Weak & Strong:

Rodney Stewart shared carries with former blue-chip recruit turned CU transfer Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler last season. After Scott denied rumors last month of a return to Boulder and Sumler left the program, Stewart’s spring could determine how many carries he gets in the fall after tallying 198 last season. Brian Lockridge and Corey Nabors are the only other two running backs scheduled to take part in spring practices, but Lockridge carried the ball just 12 times as a sophomore and Nabors is a former walk-on whose experience is mostly on special teams.

Junior quarterback Tyler Hansen showed flashes of greatness last season, throwing for more than 250 yards in three of the Buffaloes final four games, including 269 against Big 12 North champ Nebraska. This year, he’ll get to throw to Toney Clemons, a Michigan transfer who coach Dan Hawkins has lauded since Clemons’ arrival.

The chemistry between the two that begins this spring could determine how much damage Colorado can do in a Big 12 that should be stocked with solid defenses again in 2010.

An added bonus: All spring practices will be open, beginning with Saturday’s two-hour practice at 10 a.m. Just don’t get caught with a cell phone, pet or a camera, unless you’re also a fan of Hawkins’ bad side.
Happy Monday. What's happening in the Big 12?

Darrell Scott denies report he's planning to return to Colorado

February, 10, 2010
Former Colorado running back Darrell Scott has refuted a report by a Denver television station that he has met with Colorado coach Dan Hawkins and is interested in returning to the Buffaloes' team.

Scott told the Boulder Camera he has no plans to return to the Colorado team he left last season after playing five games while struggling with injuries.

"Nope, not at all," Scott told the Camera when asked if there was any truth to an anonymous report that was given by Denver station KCNC. "It is a lie. I don't plan on coming back."

Scott has been the most-heralded recruit signed during Hawkins' tenure, but struggled through two injury-plagued seasons with the Buffaloes. He rushed for only 95 yards last season, rushing for most of those yards against Toledo. He injured his knee in that game and underwent minor surgery before leaving the team in November.

The Camera also reported that senior running back Demetrius Sumler has appealed the decision where his Colorado scholarship was revoked by Hawkins for the spring semester. Sumler announced last month that he planned to graduate from Colorado this spring and then transfer to another program for his senior season next fall, utilizing an NCAA rule that allows graduates with remaining eligibility to make a move. Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory utilized the rule to transfer to the Wildcats from South Florida for his senior season last fall.

The departure of Sumler and Scott's rebuff of the Buffaloes' program has placed a huge priority heading into spring camp for running backs. Hawkins added four running backs among his Class of 2010 who could arrive when fall camp begins in August. But in the spring, the Buffaloes will have three scholarship running backs on their roster -- projected starter Rodney "Speedy" Stewart, Brian Lockridge and Corey Nabors.

Mailbag: Scott still could help Buffaloes

February, 9, 2010
If it’s Tuesday, it must be a day for a reader’s mailbag.

Here are some of the better offerings from the last several days.

Victor Romero from Boulder, Colo., writes: Hey Tim, If Darrell Scott were to come back to the Buffs, I think the Boulder community would rejoice and might actually soften its "Fire Dan Hawkins" stance a little bit, as it could be seen as Hawk getting Scott into the program twice.

I still think the kid could be a special back, and if he's eligible next season should get 15-20 carries per game. The fact that he wasn't is the biggest reason he wanted to transfer. I think he sees Demetrius Sumler's transfer as the opportunity to get those carries that Hawkins kept from him. What do you think?

Tim Griffin: Victor, you raise a very interesting point. Obviously Rodney “Speedy” Stewart will be the Buffaloes’ No. 1 back coming into the season. But there are still a lot of carries for another back. Scott averaged 7. 9 carries in 2008 as a freshman and saw those numbers drop to 4.6 carries per game in an injury-riddled 2009 before he quit the team.

I agree that Scott could be a productive back if he’s healthy and used correctly. But I don’t see him as a player who could withstand 25 to 30 carries per game.

It will be interesting to see if he returns to the Colorado program. There has been limited interest from other schools. That might lead me to believe that the best place for him is Colorado -- if he and Hawkins can put their differences behind them.

Brad Williamson of Killeen, Texas, writes: Tim, I claim to not get confused about things, but when I do become confused, I make it a point to do my research to find the answer myself. However, there have been a few blog postings you've put on here that I will freely admit I am at a loss on. You have mentioned how Eric Morris and Graham Harrell have been hired by Houston and (I believe) Oklahoma State as assistant coaches.

However, both of those players played last year and are currently still on the roster for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. I bleed Red and Black and like to follow the pro careers of former Tech players, but I was wondering if you know how this works. Are both players still playing for Saskatchewan and on staff with the schools, or have they given up their roster spots? I know most people don't care about the CFL, but I was just curious, and it gives me an opportunity to type Saskatchewan a few times. Thanks for your blog!

Tim Griffin: Both Morris and Harrell have given up their professional football careers to start coaching careers with Oklahoma State and Houston.

Both had a chance to play a little in the CFL, but have decided that starting a coaching career is their best path to future employment. I think it's a wise choice for Morris and Harrell.

And I know all about Saskatchewan and Taylor Field. I was in Regina on a windy day back in 1995 when the Baltimore Stallions became the only American team to win the Grey Cup by beating Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders. It remains one of the most vivid memories of my reporting career.

Jon from Topeka, Kan., writes: Do you see more kids signing up and playing soccer in Nebraska than ever before, because of Ndamukong Suh? And where do you think Neb will finish out next season? Can they be a top 5 team?

Tim Griffin: Maybe those kids have seen the value of playing soccer because of Suh, or maybe the multipurpose kicking talents Alex Henery developed before beginning his football career. Both are role models for what soccer players can later accomplish if they decide to play football.

And as far as Nebraska next season, I think the Cornhuskers will be the team to beat in the Big 12 North, but top five might be a little optimistic. I’ll say they will be a top 12-15 team and finish up with a 10-2 record. That should be good enough to get them back in the Big 12 championship game for a second straight season.

Josh Saunders from Tampa, Fla., writes: Tim, in last week’s mailbag, you stated that "Nebraska desperately needs those big-time receivers to consistently challenge Texas and Oklahoma." Correct me if I'm wrong, but Nebraska beat Oklahoma and had Texas beat until the officials (rightly or wrongly) put one second back on the clock. And they did this with an injury-plagued offense that was the worst statistically at NU in almost 40 years. What gives?

Tim Griffin: I hope you noticed that the key word in my answer is “consistently.” Before last season’s victory in Lincoln, the Sooners had won the last four games in the Nebraska series. Texas’ victory in the 2009 Big 12 championship game is the Longhorns’ fifth straight against Nebraska. During the Big 12 era, Texas has won eight of its last nine games against the Cornhuskers with the only loss coming in the 1999 Big 12 title game.

I still think the Cornhuskers need more offensive firepower to compete against the very best teams in the Big 12 -- which in the last decade has been Texas and Oklahoma. Both those teams have the offensive pop to make big plays on a consistent basis. The Cornhuskers need a couple of playmakers to get closer to both of them. That’s still the biggest deficiency I see in Nebraska as the Cornhuskers prepare for the 2010 season.

Ryan S. Williams of Keller, Texas, writes: Hey Tim, thanks for the updates in this college football downtime. I'm a longtime Kansas fan and I'm hoping you could give your opinion on the KU running game this upcoming season. Do you think Toben Opurum will be the lead back with a few doses of Brandon Bourbon or do you think it will be a legitimate two-back system?

Personally I feel like KU should use a lot more of a ground game this season. Thanks for your input and keep it coming.

Tim Griffin: I look for the Jayhawks to run more of a balanced offense this season, along the lines of the one that Chuck Long ran when he was at Oklahoma and at San Diego State. In both situations, Long tried to run the ball to set up the pass.

I know Jake Sharp will be gone from next season’s team, but the Jayhawks return all five starting offensive linemen and their starting tight end. I think a running game also would relieve some of the pressure on the Kansas quarterback -- whether it’s Kale Pick or Quinn Mecham -- as they try to get acclimated to running Long’s offense.

Look for Opurum to get the first shot at becoming the Jayhawks’ featured back. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bourbon get more and more carries as the season progresses.

Thanks again for the consistently good questions. I appreciate them all.

Darrell Scott may be headed back to Colorado program

February, 9, 2010
Wayward running back Darrell Scott has met with Colorado coach Dan Hawkins about rejoining the Buffaloes program.

Denver television station KCNC reports that Scott has not been reinstated, as Hawkins wanted to meet with other coaches and players before making a final decision.

The Boulder Camera reported that Scott was not enrolled for spring classes at Colorado at the close of business operations on Monday. Scott would need permission from a dean to enroll in classes at this point.

Scott quit the Colorado team last season after five games after injuries limited him to only 95 rushing yards in five games in his sophomore season.

He arrived as the top recruit in Colorado's 2008 recruiting class. He was rated as the nation's top running back recruit after rushing for more than 7,600 yards and 99 touchdowns at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif. The Buffaloes beat out a host of suitors for Scott, who was the top recruit to be attracted by Hawkins during his coaching tenure.

If Scott were invited back into the program, he could play or redshirt during the 2010 season. The NCAA allows a "missed term exception" for every student-athlete one time during their careers. That would mean that Scott could take summer school classes later this season and likely make enough progress toward his degree to be academically eligible for the Buffaloes' 2010 season.

Scott has never fulfilled the promise that marked him coming into the program, struggling with injuries as he's rushed for 438 yards and one touchdown during his career. He was beaten out for the starting position last fall by Rodney "Speedy" Stewart.

But his return would be critical for backfield depth for the Buffaloes, who have already lost running back Demetrius Sumler to transfer last month.

Colorado recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
Colorado Buffaloes

Total class: 21

ESPN 150: 0

By position: TE 3, RB 3, ATH 2, WR 2, OT 2, G 2, LB 2, DE 2, QB 1, CB 1, K 1

By state: California 8, Colorado 2, Texas 2, Hawaii 1, Ohio 1, New Jersey 1, Louisiana 1, Arizona 1, Alabama 1, Florida 1, North Carolina 1, Maryland 1.

Already enrolled in school: 2.

The big ones: QB Nick Hirschman, the nation’s No. 26 quarterback, has already enrolled in college with hopes of getting a head start at playing time. WR Harold Mobley, the nation’s No. 64 wide receiver, is the physical kind of pass-catcher who will mesh well with Marques Simas as a pair of bookend receivers.

Sleeper: K Justin Castor will receive the chance to contend for immediate playing time as he battles slump-ridden Aric Goodman for playing time.

Needs met: After losing Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, the Buffaloes needed depth at running back and met it with the addition of underrated Tony Jones and sleepers Trea Jones and Justin Torres. Six tight ends or H-backs graduated from the team last year and coach Dan Hawkins addressed the need with three players keyed by three-star recruit Justin Favors, the nation's No. 38 tight end. Hirschman will help at quarterback, but the Buffaloes missed out on Munchie Legaux, a late defection to Cincinnati.

Analysis: The critics are out after Hawkins’ class, which featured no recruits with more than three stars and only two players from Colorado. It was the first time in Hawkins’ tenure the Buffaloes failed to crack the top 50 nationally in recruiting rankings. And they were hurt by the defection of RB Mister Jones (Texas A&M) and QB Danny Spond (Notre Dame), two top in-state prospects who both chose to go elsewhere after originally committing to the Buffaloes.

What Dan Hawkins said: "Athletically, top to bottom, they might be the most-athletic class we have had. ... There are a ton of guys you miss on. There are always guys that you don't get and that's the nature every year. ... Everyone around America is fired up on signing day with optimism. I think with this class, there is just a tremendous amount of quality there and I am very impressed by the kind of people they are."

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: C-minus, ninth in Big 12.

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

February, 2, 2010
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.

Big 12 North recruiting needs

January, 21, 2010
Signing day is just around the corner, and each Big 12 team is doing what it can to keep together its class while adding a late upgrade in talent.

Here's a look at what immediate recruiting needs each North Division team must address first.


Running back: With the departure of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, Dan Hawkins needs to find some talent at running back. With only three scholarship backs on the roster, an immediate talent infusion is needed. Tony Jones is the only commitment and the Buffaloes could use size from a bigger back.

Tight end/H-back: All of the positions are important in Kent Riddle’s offense, and six players graduated from those positions in December. The only player who will return with experience includes junior tight end Ryan Deehan, so Hawkins needs players at the position who can help immediately.

Quarterback: With Tyler Hansen set at quarterback and Cody Hawkins set to graduate after next season, the Buffaloes still would like to add some depth at the position. Nick Hirschman has enrolled early to get a head start on his development, and Josh Moten appears ready to enroll after failing to make his grades before last season.

Iowa State

Across the board talent infusion: The Cyclones already have added 24 commitments for the upcoming season. Junior college players like massive offensive lineman Jon Caspers, defensive end Rony Nelson, wide receiver Anthony Young and tight end Ricky Howard should provide an immediate lift. And look for coach Paul Rhoads to add a couple of more to capitalize on the late momentum from the Insight Bowl victory.

Running back: Preparing for the future will be important as Alexander Robinson will be entering his senior season. Freshmen Beau Blankenship still has some developing to do and Jeremiah Schwartz has left the program. The Cyclones have added depth with the addition of Duran Hollis and Shontrelle Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Hollis moves positions once he comes to college if Johnson develops as expected.

Wide receiver: The Cyclones had trouble making big plays and could use a talent boost at the position. Leading 2009 receiver Marquis Hamilton has graduated and Jake Williams will be a senior next season. Recruits Jarvis West and Chris Young appear to have addressed those needs.


Defensive end: The Jayhawks could use a talent upgrade here with occasional starters Jeff Wheeler and Maxwell Onyegbule graduated, and Jake Laptad and Quintin Woods entering their senior seasons in 2010. It became more of a need after Oklahoma beat out the Jayhawks for top defensive end prospect Geneo Grissom earlier this week.

Quarterback: With unproven Kale Pick set to take over for Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks have added junior college transfer Quinn Mecham of Snow Junior College to immediately contend for playing time. Meacham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and has already captured the attention of new offensive coordinator Chuck Long because of his experience in the spread offense.

Secondary: New coach Turner Gill also needs help in the secondary where starters Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton were seniors and Philip Strozier, Chris Harris and Calvin Rubles will be seniors next season.

Kansas State

Adjust time-held notions to recruiting: Bill Snyder said recruiting seemed “out of kilter” in his first season back because of how teams now are in a hurry to link up with rising juniors. This strategy has caused Snyder to change his recruiting strategy, looking into signing more players earlier than in his previous coaching strategy.

Junior-college additions again will be critical in the trenches: Snyder has attacked the junior colleges with his traditional fervor as he attempts to unearth a couple of under-recruited gems in the offensive line and defensive lines -- the Wildcats’ two primary needs. Also, the Wildcats need some immediate help from the junior colleges after a recruiting imbalance during the last two seasons under Ron Prince that has left them with a need for immediate contributors. Snyder has estimated that up to 13 players will enroll at the semester break to contend immediately for playing time.

Quarterback: Even with a crowded group of potential contenders at the position, Snyder is still considering another quarterback. Carson Coffman, Sammuel Lamur, Collin Klein and Oregon transfer Chris Harper all are in the mix at the position heading into spring practice.


Wide receiver: The Tigers have a lot of talent returning, but still will lose leading 2009 receiver Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The opportunity for eventual playing time will be there for new arrivals, although Jerrell Jackson, Brandon Gerau, T.J. Moe and Wes Kemp will be back.

Nose tackle: The graduation of Jaron Baston and Bart Coslet’s senior-to-be status opens up a position for a contribution in the trenches for the Tigers.

Secondary: All four of Missouri’s projected starters next season -- cornerbacks Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and safety Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons -- will be seniors. The Tigers need to restock depth at the position and perhaps move it forward from this class.


Defensive end: The Cornhuskers could use an additional player with Barry Turner graduating and Pierre Allen set to enter his senior season in 2010. They are in the hunt with Oregon for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a heralded speed rusher from Portland, Ore., who would be the crown jewel in the Cornhuskers’ incoming class if he commits.

Wide receivers: Many players are back, although the Cornhuskers could use an infusion of speed at the position. Niles Paul will be a senior and more talent is needed to make the Cornhuskers competitive with the athletic teams in the South Division like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Safety: Starters Matt O’Hanlon and Larry Asante both will be graduating and Eric Hagg will be a senior in 2010. The Cornhuskers will need some help to join with youngsters Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy and P.J. Smith at the position.

Big 12 mailbag

January, 15, 2010
It wouldn't be a Friday afternoon without answering a few questions from the readers.

It's funny, but the stream of e-mails hasn't abated with the end of the season. If anything, more people are interested in what is going on with their favorite teams and players.

Here's a representative sample of some of the better missives I've received over the last couple of days.

Jason from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: First of all, I enjoy reading your blog everyday. Hopefully next season I will see more posts about Baylor winning games. I'm curious if it has been officially determined that Robert Griffin will get a medical redshirt? And if so, do you see him staying at Baylor all four years?

Tim Griffin: Baylor submitted the paperwork for an injury redshirt for Griffin soon after he got hurt. Heath Nielsen, the intrepid associate athletic director for media affairs at Baylor, tells me the Big 12 approved it in November.

It means Griffin will be classified as a sophomore during the 2010 season. I expect him to rejuvenate the Bears’ offense the minute he steps on the field.

And if he played like he did as a freshman and last season, he’ll immediately inject the Bears with the opportunity to challenge for a bowl trip. But I don’t necessarily know if he’ll stay four years. He might develop into a pro football prospect before his eligibility is over. A more likely possibility might be that he elects to compete for the U.S. Olympic team in track and field in 2012.

Johnathan Morrow of Knoxville, Tenn., writes: I agree that the Texas job is more appealing right now and that Will Muschamp probably made the right decision to stay in Texas. But the assumption that the Texas job is better than the Tennessee job could ever possibly be is just that, an assumption, completely void factual information and riddled with bias and speculation.

I firmly believe in the right to express an educated opinion but making predictions from now to the end of time is nothing more than a shot in the dark. Give us some responsible reporting instead of playing this guessing game.

Tim Griffin: Johnathan, thanks for writing and expressing your opinion. But let’s look at the facts in one particular way. I think Tennessee scrambling for its fifth or sixth choice on the coaching job is a pretty good indication of where it ranks among the relative jobs that are out there. By last count -- and this could change after I make this post -- the Volunteers have been turned down by head coaches from Air Force, Utah and Duke (with a Tennessee connection, to boot) along with Muschamp. I can’t see that happening for a top 10 job, and particularly, I could never see it happening for a school like Texas or Florida.

Maybe back in the day when General Bob Neyland was prowling the sidelines, Tennessee was a great job. But in today’s football culture, as we can see by the string of rejections piling up on Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton’s desk, it’s certainly no longer the case

W. Jones of Dallas writes: OK, Tim. We get it. You hate Tech. First, saying you "can't understand why" Tommy Tuberville took the Tech job, and now saying Tech is not a top 30 job but OSU is. Careful, your bias is showing.

Tim Griffin: Sorry, W., but I have no axe to grind with Texas Tech. They handled the coaching switch a little haphazardly, but I’ve got a lot of good friends up on the High Plains. It’s definitely one of my favorite stops along the Big 12 and I’ve enjoyed going up there for more than 20 years.

But the reason I placed Oklahoma State over Texas Tech was simple. Oklahoma State now has better facilities than Texas Tech. It’s obvious when you visit Stillwater. And with a deep-pocketed money guy like T. Boone Pickens, the Cowboys have the Red Raiders beat in that category. Take those two items away and Tech would be even with the Cowboys. Tech barely misses the top 30, but is still a step behind Oklahoma State.

Hondo from Houston writes: Tim is it fair to say that Texas will have the best secondary in the country next season? Led by Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown, the Longhorns will have two shutdown corners.

Tim Griffin: Hondo, I might have agreed with you before last week, but the loss of Earl Thomas strips the Longhorns of their best returning defensive player. I do like Williams, who I think could emerge to become a potential Thorpe Award contender by the time he leaves school. Brown is a solid player, too. Nolan Brewster and Blake Gideon will have to emerge at safety without Thomas. They also need Christian Scott to emerge as a potential big hitter. But there’s still a little bit of a question mark at safety before I give the Longhorns the No. 1 position nationally among secondaries, although I expect Muschamp and Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina to have their group productive during 2010.

David Harris from Joplin, Mo., writes: Hey Tim, is Mike Leach a candidate for the Tennesse position? It seems like he would be a good fit for their program and his scheme would definitely be new to the SEC. What would you think of his chances?

Tim Griffin: I think if Leach was coming off his success from last season, he probably would have had the opportunity to interview with Tennessee by now. But the baggage Leach is carrying after his ouster at Texas Tech will give most athletic directors a lot of pause before hiring him. I think he’s going to have to take a job as an NFL assistant or as a college coach at a smaller-scale program to rebuild his luster as a BCS-level coach.

Leach's offense technically isn’t new in the SEC. He worked as an offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme when Kentucky used the “Air Raid” attack in the late 1990s with Tim Couch at quarterback. That association helped make Couch a Heisman finalist in 1998. Leach then started his Big 12 career the following season as he joined Bob Stoops’ first coaching staff in 1999.

Steve Summers from Arvada, Colo., writes: Tim, what is up with Darrell Scott. Do you expect him to play at Colorado again?

Tim Griffin: Steve, I would be very surprised. I can't see Dan Hawkins allowing him back in the program, although the depth at the position is lagging after Demetrius Sumler announced he was leaving the program earlier this week.

I think Scott could be productive in the right situation. I was surprised that UCLA had little interest in him when news surfaced about his transfer from the Colorado program.

Remember, this was still one of the nation's top running back prospects in the nation in the 2008 recruiting class. If he is in the right situation, I still think he can flourish.

The question for Scott is, where exactly is that place where he can blossom?

Thanks again for all of the great questions. Enjoy the weekend and check back again early next week for another mailbag.



Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12