Big 12: Derrick Strait
Jake Trotter: What do you think about Mike coming back?
Derrick Strait: I think it’s a good idea. The pass defense wasn’t up to par like it should be. I think he’ll come in and do a great job.
JT: What will Mike bring to the table?
JT: It seems like the players enjoyed playing for him at OU?
DS: You like playing for him. He doesn’t put you in bad situations. He never put you in a situation where you didn’t feel comfortable with the game plan. We trusted in what he was saying. He trusted us enough. And he put you in the right situations. We didn’t have guys out there confused about anything. A lot of games this season it seemed the secondary was in limbo with what it should do. With us, it was more like we knew what we were doing and were confident about it. There was no second-guessing.
JT: You thought the secondary this season played confused at times?
DS: They just didn’t look as sure as needed to be in some games.
JT: How critical is that when you’re the last line of defense?
DS: When you’re the last line of defense, you have to be confident in the things do. When you’re thinking, you play slower, that’s when guys get behind you. That’s when big plays happen. You can’t afford that in the secondary.
JT: How intense was Mike when you played?
DS: More or less, it’s all about how you receive what he’s saying. Not how he’s saying it. You can’t take it personally. He’s not telling you something to hurt you. You just have to take it in stride.
JT: What is your advice to the current defensive backs?
DS: Just listen. If you don’t feel comfortable, just ask him. He does a great job teaching you, explaining the defense and how it should work. I sat next to him in the meeting room, and always asked questions.
JT: How did Mike and Brent Venables get along?
DS: They got along good. If there were any arguments, it was over a situation. It was never personal. They were both good guys. They worked great together, actually. I hope coach Venables stays.
All-time Top Offensive Player: Vince Young, QB, Texas
All-time Top Defensive Player: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska
All-time Coach: Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
QB: Vince Young, Texas
RB: Ricky Williams, Texas and Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech and Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri
OL: Dominic Raiola, Nebraska; Jammal Brown, Oklahoma; Aaron Taylor, Nebraska; Justin Blalock, Texas; Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
DL: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska; Tommie Harris, Oklahoma; Grant Wistrom, Nebraska; Brian Orakpo, Texas
LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas; Dat Nguyen, Texas A&M; Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma; Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
DB: Roy Williams, Oklahoma; Terence Newman, Kansas State; Derrick Strait, Oklahoma; Michael Huff, Texas
All-purpose: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
K: Mason Crosby, Colorado
P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor
Here's how it breaks down by team:
1. Oklahoma: 7
2. Texas: 6
3. Nebraska: 4
4. Kansas State: 2
4. Oklahoma State: 2
6. Baylor: 1
6. Colorado: 1
6. Texas A&M: 1
6. Texas Tech: 1
11. Iowa State: 0
11. Kansas: 0
Who got snubbed? Who doesn't belong?
It was a tough choice at several positions, but here's my all-decade team.
Please feel free to provide any changes you would make, and explain why you would make them.
Believe me, it's a hard choice. I spent more than an hour trying to choose between Darren Sproles and Cedric Benson and Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman.
QB: Vince Young, Texas
RB: Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma
RB: Cedric Benson, Texas
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
WR: Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri
T: Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
T: Jammal Brown, Oklahoma
G: Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
G: Derrick Dockery, Texas
C: Andre Gurode, Colorado
DE: Brian Orakpo, Texas
DT: Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
DT: Tommie Harris, Oklahoma
DE: Dan Cody, Oklahoma
LB: Derrick Johnson, Texas
LB: Rocky Calmus, Oklahoma
LB: Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma
CB: Terence Newman, Kansas State
CB: Derrick Strait, Oklahoma
S: Roy Williams, Oklahoma
S: Michael Huff, Texas
K: Mason Crosby, Colorado
P: Daniel Sepulveda, Baylor
Ret: Wes Welker, Texas Tech
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.
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
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Six Big 12 schools are represented in the initial 62-man watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award, which is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player as determined by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
Defensive end Jeremy Beal and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy represent Oklahoma, which leads all Big 12 teams with two selections.
Other nominees include Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek, Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle, Kansas defensive back Darrell Stuckey, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
The watch list is topped by 17 players from the Southeastern Conference and nine from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Big 12 is next in a three-way tie for third with the Big Ten and the Pacific-10.
The Big 12 has accounted for four of the Bronko Nagurski Award winners since it began play in 1996, most recently Texas' Brian Orakpo last season. Other Big 12 winners have included Oklahoma's Roy Williams (2001) and Derrick Strait (2003) and Texas' Derrick Johnson (2004).
Finalists for the award will be announced in mid-November. The trophy will be presented on Dec. 7 in Charlotte, N.C.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Crouch overcomes struggling effort for Heisman-defining moment vs. Oklahoma
Date: Oct. 27, 2001
Place: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Score: Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 10
To all Nebraska fans, it's become a larger-than-life memory known simply as "Black 41 Flash Reverse Pass" -- one of the most unforgettable plays in school history.
But Crouch's heroic touchdown reception that helped beat Oklahoma in 2001 was more than just a great play.
It pushed the Cornhuskers into the No. 1 position in the BCS poll after the victory.
It also helped boost Crouch into the lead for the Heisman Trophy, an honor he claimed later in the season. His dramatic catch came in one of Crouch's worst statistical games ever.
The victory turned out to be the biggest in Frank Solich's coaching tenure with the Cornhuskers.
The Sooners carried a 20-game winning streak to the game and hadn't lost since Bob Stoops' first season when they brought their No. 1 team in the BCS poll into Memorial Stadium.
Oklahoma had built that streak on its defense and appeared ready to continue that during the game.
The game turned early when Oklahoma quarterback Jason White sustained a knee injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season -- save for a couple of plays later in the game.
Backup Nate Hybl then entered the game and engineered the game's first scoring drive. His 4-yard strike to tight end Trent Smith gave the Sooners an early 7-0 lead.
Nebraska matched that less than five minutes later on a 2-yard touchdown run by Dahrran Diedrick. Both teams traded field goals -- a 27-yarder by Nebraska's Josh Brown and a 20-yarder by Oklahoma's Tim Duncan with 15 seconds left in the half -- for a 10-10 halftime deadlock.
The Cornhuskers went ahead early in the third quarter after Erwin Swiney picked off Hybl on a pass that bounced off the facemask of receiver Antwone Savage. Thunder Collins scooted 39 yards on an end-around to the Oklahoma 25 on the next play, setting up a 26-yard field goal by Brown.
Hybl injured his left shoulder on the next Oklahoma possession when he was slammed to the turf by Nebraska linebacker Chris Kelsay, but returned after missing two plays. Amazingly, White returned to action for those plays despite his earlier injury.
After recovering from his injury, Hybl rallied the Sooners in the fourth quarter. But the drive stalled at the Nebraska 36. Stoops then decided against a long field goal in favor of a pooch punt that pinned the Cornhuskers at their own 5. Similar strategy had boosted Oklahoma to a victory over Texas earlier that season.
Crouch gained 19 yards to get the Cornhuskers out of the shadow of their end zone. But Oklahoma appeared to have gotten a defensive stop after Tommie Harris and Cory Heinecke produced a seven-yard loss on third down. Officials ruled Heinecke had grabbed Crouch's face mask on the play, giving the Cornhuskers a first down at the Nebraska 37.
On the next play, the Cornhuskers struck. Crouch handed the ball to Collins, who then pitched it to freshman Mike Stuntz, a backup quarterback on what appeared to be a reverse.
Stuntz instead fired a perfect spiral to a wide-open Crouch, who caught the ball at the Oklahoma 38 and easily jetted past Oklahoma 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle Kory Klein and defensive back Derrick Strait to the end zone. The play covered 63 yards.
Interestingly, Oklahoma had tried almost the exact play earlier in the game. The Sooners' play failed when Hybl fell down.
It wasn't the longest play for Crouch, who earlier in the season had run 95 yards for a touchdown against Missouri. It wasn't even his first touchdown reception.
But it was the kind of play that resonated with Heisman voters and helped him become the first Nebraska quarterback to win the award.
They said it, part I: "This was one of those games where you want some excitement, so we thought we'd come out and try it. It worked," Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch on his game-clinching touchdown reception.
They said it, part II: "In the end, losing is a strange feeling in our locker room (as far as) what to feel. We haven't experienced this in quite a while," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on the end of his team's 20-game winning streak.
They said it, part III: "No matter what happened, I knew we were going to get the job done. It wasn't finesse. It wasn't gaining 500 or 600 yards, but we got it done when we needed to," Crouch on Nebraska's big-play effort against the Sooners.
They said it, part IV: "I won't lie. I was a little bit nervous. I was just thrilled to death,'' Nebraska wide receiver Mike Stuntz, on his game-clinching TD pass to Crouch.
Factoids: The loss was the first time that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops ever lost against a top-10 opponent, snapping a winning streak of eight games ... The Sooners came into the game as the nation's No. 1 ranked team in the BCS standings and Nebraska was No. 2 ... The Nebraska upset ended a 20-game winning streak for the Sooners that dated to their 1999 Independence Bowl loss to Mississippi. It was the nation's longest winning streak at the time of the game ... Crouch rushed for 21 yards on 13 carries and completed 10-of-18 passes for 102 yards. His rushing total was a career low in a game where he started at quarterback ... On the three possessions before Crouch's game-clinching TD reception, the Cornhuskers had produced three, eight and nine yards ... Hybl completed 17-of-36 passes for 184 yards and an interception ... The victory extended Nebraska's home winning streak to 20 games, a streak that would eventually stretch to 26 games before the Cornhuskers lost in 2002 to Texas ...
The upshot: Nebraska and Oklahoma switched spots in the BCS poll the following week, with Nebraska at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2.
The potential for a rematch in the Big 12 title game never materialized as both teams lost the final game of the regular season to cost them a chance at their respective division titles. The Cornhuskers were blown out in a 62-36 loss at Colorado that snapped their 11-game winning streak to the start the season. And Oklahoma dropped a 16-13 home loss to Oklahoma State.
Even with the loss, Nebraska still qualified to play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl. But mistakes cost them three quick touchdowns as Miami cruised to an easy 37-14 victory. The two losses at the end of the season dropped the Cornhuskers (11-2) to No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll. The Cornhuskers haven't finished the season ranked as highly since then.
Despite the late struggles, Crouch still claimed the Heisman Trophy, winning the award by 62 points over Florida quarterback Rex Grossman. His touchdown reception against Oklahoma no doubt helped catapult him to the honor, becoming the first Big 12 quarterback to win the honor.
Stuntz never threw another touchdown pass for the Cornhuskers. He ended his career in 2005 as a defensive back.
Oklahoma finished the season with a gritty 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, limiting the Razorbacks to six first downs and 50 net yards as the Sooners wrapped up an 11-2 season. The Sooners ended the season ranked sixth in the final AP poll.
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma's dynasty under Bob Stoops wasn't built on fancy offensive attacks that rolled up yards and produced point-a-minute scoring totals.
At its very peak when the Sooners claimed the 2000 national title, Oklahoma had a solid offensive attack. But the Sooners' major claim to fame was a bruising defense that was seldom dented by opposing teams.
Players such as Rocky Calmus, Roy Williams, Torrance Marshall and Derrick Strait dotted the Sooners' roster back then. In those days, Oklahoma's means of stopping opponents was about as subtle as a roundhouse punch.
Those days appear to be long gone as the Sooners are struggling through the worst statistical defensive season of Stoops' 10-season coaching tenure. The Sooners have already allowed 298 points, more than in any season since 1997. And their 249.7 yards per game allowed through the air would be the worst mark in the school's records, which date to 1937.
Those figures have intensified scrutiny on a defense that has allowed at least 28 points in six of its last seven games heading into Saturday's championship game against Missouri.
The Tigers' chances will likely depend on getting into a shootout with the Sooners' explosive offense. Quarterback Chase Daniel keys an explosive attack that ranks fourth nationally in scoring and passing and sixth in total offense, which might give Missouri a chance to upset the Sooners.
And considering that third-string linebacker Mike Balogun will be making his first career start after playing only 20 snaps earlier this season, the Sooners' defense could have a weak link in the middle.
Such talk has caught the attention of the Sooners as they prepare for Saturday's game.