Big 12: Dave Parks
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I know the pressures of coaching command a lot of time.
But I'm still surprised to learn about Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and his lack of diligence in signing his new contract.
Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler reports that Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder is unconcerned that Gundy has yet to sign the seven-year, $15.7 million contract extension approved by the school's board of trustees last December.
I know that Gundy's wife must be a little bit more forgiving than mine. Because if it were me, he would be receiving frequent "honey-do" reminders a couple of times a day about that little contract task that needed to be taken care of.
While Oklahoma State awaits Gundy's signature on the dotted line, here are a few lunchtime links for your perusal.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's staff kicks around whether Sheldon Richardson really will really honor his commitment to Missouri after junior college.
- T. Boone Pickens might have pumped millions into the Oklahoma State program. But he tells the Associated Press' Jeff Latzke that archrival Oklahoma has "got to be a front-runner for the BCS."
- Great piece this morning from Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star who retells the story of Jack Best, who inspired Nebraska to a stunning 1922 victory over a Notre Dame team that included the Four Horsemen on it.
- Missouri coaches note the lack of national respect the program has earned despite back-to-back championship game appearances, the Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond writes.
- The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa State has become the first Big 12 school to cease printed football media guides. School officials say the decision is a cost-cutting measure.
- Former Texas A&M defensive lineman Charlie Krueger, former Texas Tech wide receiver Dave Parks and former Baylor wide receiver Lawrence Elkins are among the nominees for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports. Other college nominees on the 20-person list include former Oklahoma player and Abilene native Jack Mildren and Corpus Christi native and former Missouri All-American Johnny Roland, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- Ben Jones of the Texas Tech Daily Toreador wonders whether the Red Raiders can really consistently fill 60,000 seats at an expanded Jones AT&T Stadium.
- Former Texas A&M linebacker/safety Billy Chavis has transferred to the fledgling football program at Lamar University, writes Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle. And the Bryan Eagle's Robert Cessna writes that Chavis never fulfilled his recruiting hype while at A&M.
- Remember the names of Sherrod Harris, Landry Jones and Alex Cate, among others. The Heisman Pundit takes a look at the backups of Heisman Trophy candidates.
- The Sporting News' Matt Hayes picks Colorado and Oklahoma State among the five teams whose record will improve the most this season. Hayes picks the Buffaloes to finish 9-4 and Oklahoma State to go 12-1.
- Several commentators on a College Football News panel select Texas Tech among the programs accomplishing the most with the least in college football.
- Former 13-year NFL veteran Ashley Ambrose is excited about his new role as an assistant coach in waiting for Colorado, the Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo reports.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
As anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis understands by now, I see numbers and statistics as a way of explaining a lot of things about sports.
A whole generation of analysts has constructed brand new ideas in baseball because of the work of sabermetricians like former Kansas student Bill James.
Football doesn't quiet have that wealth of study, mainly because there aren't as many numbers available.
But there are a growing segment of analysts out there doing more and more work on football analysis.
My wife got me a book over the weekend which I read while I was down at the beach over Memorial Day. Sean Lahman's "The Pro Football Historical Abstract" used some Jamesian methodology to rank the top pro players in history at their positions, among other things.
And bringing some of Lahman's study into closer focus, I was particularly interested in how players from Big 12 schools ranked among his career lists at various positions.
Here's a position-by-position glance at the top Big 12 players in NFL history, according to Lahman's rankings.
12. Bobby Layne (Texas)
27. Troy Aikman (started at Oklahoma, UCLA)
28. John Hadl (Kansas)
62. Steve Grogan (Kansas State)
63. Kordell Stewart (Colorado)
100. Bernie Masterson (Nebraska)
2. Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State)
5. Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State)
21. Earl Campbell (Texas)
30. Roger Craig (Nebraska)
32. John Riggins (Kansas)
38. Priest Holmes (Texas)
45. Ahman Green (Nebraska)
54. Larry Brown (Kansas State)
98. Gale Sayers (Kansas)
99. James Wilder (Missouri)
17. Cliff Branch (Colorado)
27. Del Shofner (Baylor)
47. Irving Fryar (Nebraska)
48. Mel Gray (Missouri)
49. Dave Parks (Texas Tech)
6. Kellen Winslow (Missouri)
14. Keith Jackson (Oklahoma)
34. Henry Childs (Kansas State)
49. Paul Coffman (Kansas State)
7. Will Shields (Nebraska)
32. Richmond Webb (Texas A&M)
34. Bob Brown (Nebraska)
39. Bob Young (Started at Howard Payne, Texas, Texas State)
46. John Wooten (Colorado)
18. Ron McDole (Nebraska)
19. Steve McMichael (Texas)
43. Ray Childress (Texas A&M)
2. Mike Singletary (Baylor)
26. Andy Russell (Missouri)
28. Jack Pardee (Texas A&M)
29. Zach Thomas (Texas Tech)
30. Leslie O'Neal (Oklahoma State)
16. Yale Lary (Texas A&M)
21. Pat Fischer (Nebraska)
36. Roger Wehrli (Missouri)
20. Bobby Layne (Texas)
2. Glyn Milburn (Started at Oklahoma, Stanford)
4. Dante Hall (Texas A&M)
7. Tyrone Hughes (Nebraska)
10. Gale Sayers (Kansas)
5. Eric Metcalf (Texas)
12. Glyn Milburn (Oklahoma, Stanford)
Combined kick returners
11. Dante Hall (Texas A&M)
14. Mike Nelms (Started at Baylor, Sam Houston State)
24. Dick Todd (Texas A&M)
TWO-WAY ERA PLAYERS
5. Verne Lewellen (Nebraska)
7. Glenn Presnell (Nebraska)
10. Guy Chamberlin (Started at Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska)
1. Link Lyman (Nebraska)
3. Ox Emerson (Texas)
5. Charley Brock (Nebraska)
6. Frank Bausch (Kansas)
4. Tom Landry (Texas)
53. Jack Pardee (Texas A&M)
72. Guy Chamberlin (Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska)
I had a chance to see many of these players as my frame of reference for the NFL goes back to about 1964, when I was 5 years old. The only one that really shocked me was how low Gale Sayers was ranked among running backs. I grew up watching the Chicago Bears and saw almost every one of Sayers' pro games. I find it hard to believe there were 97 better running backs in NFL history than him.
One fact that was interesting from this list was the number of running backs and linemen that were Big 12 products, in comparison with quarterbacks and receivers. In the old days, the Big Eight and Southwest conferences always had reputations based on stout running games. I think that will change in the future because of the conference's growing aerial status.
Obviously, there will be other Big 12 players who will be able to make the list in the future. It would be a shock if we don't see Adrian Peterson charging into the best backs in NFL history. It wouldn't surprise me if Michael Crabtree was able to be that kind of player. Maybe Jason Smith, too.
But it's always interesting to me to see the kind of work that Lahman has developed on a grand scale for the NFL and compare it to the Big 12 schools.
I just wish some other researchers would feel as passionate about college football history, too.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's fitting and somewhat understandable that the NFL draft will have a distinctly Big 12 tinge Saturday as the early part of the first round plays out.
Keep an eye for Big 12 players to be very conspicuous in ESPN's broadcast of the draft. Four Big 12 players have been invited to watch the proceedings from the "Green Room" for Saturday's first day of the draft.
Baylor tackle Jason Smith, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo all will be at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the draft.
Smith, Crabtree and Orakpo all could be taken among the draft's 10 or 15 picks. But Freeman, who could go as high as the middle of the first round or drop to the second round, could provide the most compelling drama of the draft's broadcast. Does anybody remember Brady Quinn or Aaron Rodgers in recent years?
The draft undoubtedly will showcase the Big 12's collection of talent that was continually highlighted last season.
Most mock drafts expect the Big 12 will have five or six first-round draft picks. Likely players to be selected include Orakpo, Smith, Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, Freeman and Crabtree.
Look for the Big 12's burgeoning reputation as being on the cutting edge in terms of passing to be showcased this weekend. Most mock drafts have Crabtree and Maclin ranked as the top two receivers available. And Pettigrew is the top tight end on most draft boards.
If six Big 12 players are selected in the first round, it would match the league's previous high of six first-round selections set in 2003.
The most interesting potential selection will be Smith, a lightly-regarded recruit after a high-school career as a tight end. He blossomed after adding nearly 80 pounds of muscle over his college career.
Smith will become the Bears' first first-round draft selection since defensive tackle Daryl Gardener was picked by the Miami Dolphins in 1996.
Most prognosticators expect Smith will be picked among the first three picks in the draft. That would be the earliest a Baylor player has been chosen since quarterback Adrian Burk was the second pick in the draft by Baltimore in 1950.
The exposure for the Baylor program will be immense, according to Baylor coach Art Briles.
"We could get the smartest marketers in Texas and ask them how we could best market Baylor University, and they couldn't come up with a better scenario than what's going to happen Saturday in New York," Briles said. "Jason is a great person, and it's been nothing but positive for Baylor. We just have to take that and continue to climb as a football program."
Freeman is poised to become only the second quarterback in Big 12 history to be selected in the first round. He would join Vince Young, who was picked third by Tennessee in the 2006 draft.
Freeman also would be Kansas State's first first-round pick since Terence Newman was picked fifth in the first round by Dallas in 2003. He will also become the Wildcats' highest-selected quarterback, bettering the previous selection of Lynn Dickey, who was picked with the fourth pick in the third round by Green Bay in 1971.
Freeman's size (6-6, 250 pounds) and his rocket arm are his two biggest attributes, despite his lack of extended success in college. His abilities were clear to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and OSU coaches.
"The first time we saw Josh, because of his size, stature, the way he carried himself, and then his arm strength, we knew he had a chance to play," Gundy said. "He's just kind of arrived nationally -- people are just now starting to find out about him -- but we knew in our staff room that we was going to be first-round pick.
"You just don't find guys that are 6-6, 250, that can throw it and are as accurate as he is, and he's seemed to be very durable. We were impressed with him from day one."
Crabtree will become Tech's first first-round draft selection of the Big 12 era and the Red Raiders' first first-round pick since Gabe Rivera was picked with the 21st pick by Pittsburgh in 1983.
He will become the highest-selected Texas Tech wide receiver since Dave Parks was the first pick of the 1964 draft by San Francisco and the first one of Mike Leach's players to be picked on the first day of the draft.
Orakpo is poised to continue Texas' recent development as a factory for first-round selections.
Despite missing out last season, the Longhorns produced eight first-round picks in the previous four seasons and 13 over Mack Brown's coaching tenure.
In the process, Orakpo is hoping to counter-balance the so-called "Texas factor" that several analysts have mentioned this week to explain why some Longhorns have been disappointments once they started their NFL careers.
Brown angrily refuted those charges earlier this week.
"People can be more critical of us because we've had as many, or more, than anybody else in the draft," Brown told the Austin American-Statesman. "I don't really pay attention to (that), and I talk to enough general managers, coaches and scouts to know they don't either."
Maclin will become the first Missouri player selected in the first round since Justin Smith was picked by Cincinnati with the fourth pick of the draft in 2001. And Maclin also is poised to become the first Missouri wide receiver ever taken in the first round.
Here's my unofficial pegging of Big 12 draft status during the weekend draft.
Sure first-round picks: Baylor OT Jason Smith, Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, Texas DE Brian Orakpo, Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin,
Likely first-round picks: Kansas State QB Josh Freeman
Maybe first-round picks: Missouri DT Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew
Likely picks inside the first five rounds: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas Tech S Darcel McBath, Texas Tech DE Brandon Williams, Texas DT Roy Miller, Texas A&M RB Michael Goodson, Texas A&M DE Mi
chael Bennett, Oklahoma S-LB Nic Harris, Texas Tech G Louis Vasquez, Nebraska DE Zach Potter, Nebraska T Lydon Murtha.