Big 12: Earl Campbell

I'm thinkin' of something orange. Something orange. Give up? It's an orange.

Roger Craig up for pro football HOF

February, 5, 2010
2/05/10
12:10
PM ET
Former Nebraska running back Roger Craig is among the finalists whose credentials have been studied and analyzed before the new class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame is announced on Saturday.

[+] EnlargeRoger Craig
US PresswireDuring an 11 season career, Roger Craig compiled 8,189 rushing yards and 4,911 receiving yards.
Craig is the only product from a Big 12 school among the group of 17 finalists. Others who made the final cut include Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Don Coryell, Dermontti Dawson, Richard Dent, Russ Grimm, Charles Haley, Rickey Jackson, Cortez Kennedy, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Andre Reed, Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe and Emmitt Smith.

Craig's candidacy appears to be strong. He was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams with the San Francisco 49ers. He was a four-time Pro Bowler who led the league in receptions in 1985 and ranked among the top seven receivers during four consecutive seasons from 1985 to 1988. He also finished in the top 10 in rushing for three straight seasons from 1987 to 1989.

His numbers appear strong, but he likely will be hurt by two "no brainer" selections. Smith and Rice have to be picked in their first seasons of eligibility. Smith was the greatest running back of his generation and Craig pales compared to him. And I'm thinking if voters choose to reward a player from the San Francisco dynasty of the late 1980s, it will be Rice.

The Big 12 is underrepresented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There hasn't been an alumnus from the conference selected since Thurman Thomas and Roger Wehrli in 2007.

Here's a look at the Big 12 schools and their alumni chosen for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Baylor: LB Mike Singletary (1998)

Colorado: None.

Iowa State: None.

Kansas: T Mike McCormack (1984), RB John Riggins (1992), RB Gale Sayers (1977).

Kansas State: None.

Missouri: CB Roger Wehrli (2007), TE Kellen Winslow (1995).

Nebraska: T Bob Brown (2004), E/coach Guy Chamberlin (1965), T William "Link" Lyman (1964).

Oklahoma: QB Troy Aikman (later finished at UCLA/2006), WR Tommy McDonald (1998), DE Lee Roy Selmon (1995).

Oklahoma State: RB Barry Sanders (2004), RB Thurman Thomas (2007).

Texas: RB Earl Campbell (1991), DB/coach Tom Landry (1990), QB Bobby Layne (1967), administrator Tex Schramm (1991).

Texas A&M: DB/P Yale Lary (1979).

Texas Tech: None.

How about it, readers? Are there any Big 12 products either retired or playing today in the NFL who deserve a slot in Canton for their deeds in the NFL?

I think an argument can definitely be made for Craig and for former players Tommy Nobis (Texas) and Lester Hayes (Texas A&M). I can also see recently retired players like Zach Thomas (Texas Tech) making it one day. And it also wouldn't surprise me to see Adrian Peterson (Oklahoma) and Wes Welker (Texas Tech) there if they can keep progressing in their careers.

What do you think?

'Thunder and Lightning' balances UT offense

November, 19, 2009
11/19/09
12:57
PM ET
It was the kind of play that delighted old-school Texas fans who are still a little wary about the team’s reliance on the spread offense.

[+] EnlargeTre' Newton
Brett Davis/US PresswireTre' Newton took it to the house on a 45-yard scamper against Baylor.
So when Colt McCoy lined up directly under center last week against Baylor and then handed off to redshirt freshman Tre' Newton, it was a start. But when Newton sharply veered before producing a textbook cutback that finished off a scintillating touchdown run 45 yards later, it was like old times for the Orangebloods.

Maybe Cedric Benson, Ricky Williams or Earl Campbell weren’t coming back any time soon. But it still was a signal that the Longhorns hadn’t ditched their traditional running attack completely and could still move the ball on the ground when they needed to.

The installation of Cody Johnson as the starter and Newton as the speedy backup is indicative that Mack Brown has turned to two precocious but talented parts of his stable of backs for a late-season lift.

“We needed balance and we felt we could do a few things with Cody and Tre’,” Brown said. “They both stepped up. We feel our offense can be really good if we are balanced.”

With 224 yards rushing and 187 yards passing against the Bears, the Longhorns had more rushing yardage than passing yardage for only the second time all season.

“Basically, running the ball was our No. 1 concern,” said Johnson, who was the fourth different Longhorn to start at tailback this season. "Of course, we can still pass the ball, but we put a huge focus on running the ball and being more effective when we were out there. And I think the way we did it opened up a lot of eyes out there.”

Brown has yet to identify a featured back. But he appears to have growing comfort in the “Thunder and Lightning” tailback tandem of Johnson and Newton to perhaps alternate in that role.

Newton, who rushed for 80 yards, has been installed as the team’s primary backup heading into Saturday’s game against Kansas. It’s a signal, Brown said, that the team’s rushing attack appears “headed in the right direction.”

“Every time we’ve put Cody in, he’s made yards,” Brown told reporters earlier this week. “And when Tre’s in, he’s made yards, too.”

Running the ball had been a real concern for the Longhorns, who had produced only 297 rushing yards on 100 carries in their three previous games before playing Baylor.

A simplified playbook that relied on a handful of running plays helped spark the Longhorns to an impressive 6.4 yards-per-carry average against Baylor. It was their best performance against any conference foe this season.

[+] EnlargeCody Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireCody Johnson got a a career-best 19 carries against Baylor.
Sure, the Bears came into the game ranked only 82nd nationally in rush defense, but it was still a strong sign of the return of the Longhorns’ ground attack.

Johnson had struggled with problems with his weight before finally rounding into shape over the last several weeks. His bullish running style appears to improve with the more carries he receives. He gained 109 yards after notching a career-best 19 carries last week.

“Backs I’ve been around like Ricky [Williams] and Cedric [Benson], they got better and better the more snaps they got,” Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. “They would see things, lather up and really get going. I think the same started happening for Cody after we got him going.”

Newton had been hobbled since sustaining a concussion in a victory against Colorado last month. After a recovery of several weeks, it appears he is nearing peak performance.

"It feels good being back," Newton said. "It's always frustrating when you can't help your team. You have to stay focused and just be ready to help out when you get your chance."

Together, their divergent talents provide a good combination in the Texas backfield.

“Cody is just a beast out there -- he’s so physical,” Texas guard Charlie Tanner said. “And Tre’ is awesome. You give him an extra second and he’s gone. He has a great burst and can just run by people if you give him a chance.”

The Texas offense will remain centered on McCoy and the passing game. But the development of Johnson and Newton gives the Longhorns hope of balance that had been missing much of the season.

“This shows the world we can actually run the ball,” Johnson said. “It’s not just the passing game. We can actually line up and run the ball. And now, they have to respect both the run and the pass when they play us.”

Whatever happened to the Big 12's Heisman winners?

August, 12, 2009
8/12/09
5:51
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Back in my former life at the newspaper in San Antonio, there was a wildly popular weekly column we used to run every Sunday called "Where Are They Now." A veteran staffer with loads of institutional knowledge tracked down some of the area's most memorable athletes and found out whatever happened to them after their athletic careers finished. 

The concept has always been intriguing. It's why the list I found today at lostlettermen.com was so interesting to me (hat tip to the wizofodds.com.)

And heck, it's even topical with today's stories highlighting all of our Heisman Trophy stories.

Lost Letterman lists what has happened to all 73 previous Heisman winners. It's fascinating to see what men who had such football success have done with the rest of their lives.

Here's a list of the Heisman Trophy winners from Big 12 schools along with what happened to them after their college careers.

1952: Billy Vessels (Oklahoma) -- Worked in the horse racing business and real estate in South Florida before dying of heart failure in 2001 at the age of 70.

1957: John David Crow (Texas A&M) -- Former college coach and athletic director, now retired and living in College Station, Texas (age 74).

1969: Steve Owens (Oklahoma) -- CEO of a real estate company, Steve Owens & Associates, in Norman, Okla. (age 61).

1972: Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska) -- Owns JetWear kid's bedroom store in Omaha, Neb. (age 58).

1977: Earl Campbell (Texas) -- Assistant to the vice president of student affairs at Texas (age 54).

1978: Billy Sims (Oklahoma) -- Owns a chain of Billy Sims BBQ restaurants in Oklahoma (age 53).

1983: Mike Rozier (Nebraska) -- Stay-at-home dad living in Sickerville, N.J. (age 48).

1988: Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State) -- Retired from the NFL in 1998. Currently resides in West Bloomfield, Mich. (age 41.) His son, Barry Sanders Jr., is currently a high school star in Oklahoma City.

1994: Rashaan Salaam (Colorado) -- Promotes martial arts fights in China. Currently resides in San Diego, Calif. (age 34).

1998: Ricky Williams (Texas) -- Member of the Miami Dolphins (age 32).

2001: Eric Crouch (Nebraska) -- Owns playground equipment business called "Crouch Recreation" in Nebraska (age 30).

2003: Jason White (Oklahoma) -- Owns memorabilia stores in Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City (age 29).

2008: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) -- Starting quarterback at Oklahoma (age 21).

It's hard for me to believe the Steve Owens, a player who I avidly followed when I was a kid growing up, is now 61 years old.

And in a way, I can see Mike Rozier as a stay-at-home dad. He was always one of my favorite players to deal with when I was covering the Houston Oilers back in the day. I'm sure he a great dad -- and a very colorful one at that.

Big 12 mailbag: Where are the great Texas RBs?

August, 7, 2009
8/07/09
5:42
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If it's a Friday afternoon, it's time to dive into my mailbag.

I received a bunch of good questions this week. Here are some of the best: 

Justin from Austin, Texas, writes: I read your recent post about Texas having the most commits thus far from the ESPNU 150. One thing that interests me is the lack of a top running back on that list. I was curious as to your opinion on why Texas is not THE school to go to if you are a top quality running back, especially considering the Longhorns' lack of a true standout player at this position.

It would seem to me that someone with a lot of talent at the position would jump at the opportunity to come to a high profile school and potentially get 3 to 4 years of playing time right off the bat. Is it because Texas isn't perceived as a good running back school anymore, or are we already too stacked with players (though no "great" ones yet) so that recruits feel they won't get the playing time?

Tim Griffin: Justin, you make an interesting point. I, too, noticed that Texas hasn't attracted a blue-chip running back yet. Of course, Lache Seastrunk from Temple, Texas, would fit into that category. But it seems that Texas has missed out on the perceived great running backs and hasn't had a difference maker there since Cedric Benson graduated.

Maybe it's because of the Greg Davis' recent spread offense making top running back recruits shy away from the school as it becomes more heavily pass-oriented. But I think a bigger reason might be because of the development of spread offense as the de facto choice for many Texas high schools anymore. It means that more top athletes across the state are playing either quarterback or wide receiver.

There aren't nearly as many top running back prospects in Texas as there might have been 15-20 years ago. The days of top running backs like Earl Campbell, Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson now seems a little dated.

But if the Longhorns were successful in attracting Seastrunk, it wouldn't surprise me that Davis could develop an offense with him as a running back with 20-25 carries per game - even with a spread offense being employed much of the time.


Garon McClure writes: Tim, I am a Sooner fan and read your blog and columns almost daily. I was wondering what you thought about the Sooners trying to use Mossis Madu in the way that Florida used Percy Harvin the last few years. Have you heard any rumors or anything like that? I think it would be an intriguing wrinkle to the offense since they say they are moving him to the slot and he is a good runner too.

Tim Griffin: I think the Sooner coaches are tinkering with a variety of ways to employ Madu. His receiving skills, as well as the logjam at tailback with Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, led to his move as a slot receiver this spring. It wouldn't surprise me if they still found a chance to let him run the ball, maybe in a limited role like Harvin did for the Gators last year.

I was very impressed with Madu last season for the Sooners. He came up big for them in the Big 12 championship game against Missouri when he rushed for a career-high 114 yards and three touchdowns after Murray was injured. And I look for him to be occasionally featured as a runner at times in 2009.


Dan Kaminski of Des Moines, Iowa, writes: When most teams are blowing out another team, coaches pull their starting quarterback and put in their backups. Texas did this and Florida did this last season with Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow respectively.

How come everyone talks about Sam Bradford's numbers last season but no one talks about the fact that when OU was blowing teams out by 50 points, Bob Stoops rarely (or at the last few minutes of the fourth quarter only) put in his back-up and thus inflated Bradford's stats?

Don't get me wrong, I think Bradford is one of the top quarterbacks, but his stats wouldn't have been anywhere as impressive as McCoy's had McCoy stayed in and played all games until the end.

Tim Griffin: I think that the usage of Bradford and McCoy assuredly speaks to the comfort and confidence that Mack Brown had in his backup quarterback compared to Bob Stoops with his. But I don't think the scoring was as significant for Bradford in blowout games as you might think.

Late in the season, Bradford played into the fourth quarter against Texas Tech and was needed in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State, considering the Sooners were nursing only a three-point lead midway through the quarter.

It was understandable for him to be in the fourth quarter of the Big 12 championship game, his last opportunity to shine for Heisman voters. Still, Bradford accounted for only seven of his 50 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and three of those came in Oklahoma losses or games settled by two touchdowns or less.

Bradford's single-season numbers were the best in Oklahoma history by a quarterback, but I don't necessarily think that playing deep into games was that big a factor in them.


Cecil Wilson from Plano, Texas, writes: Tim, when are you hosting your next online chat? And what does Mack Brown and Co. have to do, besides go undefeated and win the Big XII Championship to get to the National Championship game in Pasadena? Thank you.

Tim Griffin: My next chat will be coming up probably not next week but the week after, likely on the same day as my Big 12 previews appear.

I'll give a couple of days notice when it will be approaching, because I always enjoy receiving all of your questions.

And I don't necessarily think Texas would have to go undefeated to win the national championship. I do think it would be crucial for them to finish quickly and win the Big 12 title game. And they should hope that the other contenders all have a loss or two to help winnow the field and make them stand apart from the rest.

I think if they do that, a Big 12 champion team with zero or one loss is going to have a good shot to make the national championship game. A one-loss team made it last year from the conference with Oklahoma.


Clayton Buehrle from Dallas writes: Tim, concerning the Top 40 teams in the BCS, could you please explain how ESPN expects to "play" the different teams against each other? What teams are playing (Current teams or past teams?)? The whole scenario is fun but seems a bit confusing. My friends and I could use some insight. Thanks.

Tim Griffin: My colleagues took a novel approach of breaking up the 40 teams into four 10-team conferences and then having a playoff. Mark Schlabach's story today spells out how the fantasy would play out.

My favorite part is a yearly relegation that would drop out the bottom feeders every year and replace them with teams from outside the top 40. I know that sounds a little like European soccer, but I think that would really be interesting to see teams jump up a level or drop depending on how they played the previous season.

And that's what makes the whole idea of relegation such a fun topic idea.


Brad Millican of Fort Worth, Texas, writes: How are fall practice schedules set? There seems to be a huge difference in when all the Big XII teams report for camp. Is this regulated by the NCAA?

Tim Griffin: Brad, different coaches have different strategies in how they want to break down the practices as they get ready for the season. Each school has 29 practices from the start of practice to the first game. The first three practices are without pads. But the schedule is
different based on the academic schedule of each school. Some coaches like to have a lot of two-a-days early to immediately challenge their teams. Other coaches like to backload things and test their teams a little closer to the start of the season.


Mark McCabe of Stafford, Va., writes: Tim, growing up a Cornhusker fan and now having lived in several places around the country... I found the recent ESPN poll asking, "What are you most looking forward to in the fall? College or Pro Football (never mind the World Series)." Both the Big 12 (TX and MO the exceptions) and the SEC areas picked college football.

Do you think fan support has a major impact on success or does success lead to fan support?

Tim Griffin: Mark, I noticed the same chart. I've lived in both the South and Midwest for extensive periods and think that the passion for college football is the strongest in those "flyover areas." The lack of competing NFL teams lead to that support. And I do think it has a major impact on success. Recruits know they can pick a school in that area and realize their games will be the biggest sporting events in their states. That's a heady feeling for a recruit and a big reason why places like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama and Iowa have been able to continue their success over many years.

And it doesn't surprise me that Texas and Missouri aren't as excited about college sports as other Big 12 areas. The heavy influence of professional sports in both states - probably as strong there as any area in the conference - has tempered some of the excitement for college sports in recent years. The fans there still get excited when a team like Texas or Missouri makes a run at a national championship. But the NFL helps cut down some of the day-to-day excitement in college football there.


Kenneth Smith of Houston writes: Who do you think will win the starting QB spot at Kansas State? Also do you think that K-State will be in the mix for the Big 12 North title?

Me personally, I think the Wildcats are going to upset a team this year, maybe Missouri or Kansas. The offense seems to be pretty good with Keithen Valentine in the backfield again and Brandon Banks at wide receiver. The defense last season was OK, but they need to learn just to wrap up to make a tackle. Who do you think will be the two teams competing in the North?

Tim Griffin: I think that Kansas State will be the mystery team in the North this season - even more than Colorado. I've always had huge respect for the coaching acumen that Bill Snyder brings to his program. He'll be facing a huge challenge at Kansas State, but I think his task will be a little easier because so many of his assistant coaches have coached or played for him and are familiar with his demands.

I think Carson Coffman will get the start for the Wildcats' opener Sept. 5 against Massachusetts. But I'm thinking that Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas likely will have chances to play as well. I think Thomas could be the starting quarterback later this season, as Snyder has always favored quarterbacks who were adept at running and passing like Michael Bishop, Ell Roberson and Jonathan Beasley. Thomas fits that mold.

And as far as the last two teams competing in the Big 12 North, I'll go with Nebraska and Kansas. I think the regular-season finales for both teams - Nebraska at Colorado and Kansas and Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City - will have much importance in determining the North champion this season.

Thanks for all of your questions this week. We'll check back again next Friday. 

Thoughts on the 'Best of Texas' voting on College FB Live

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
12:52
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I got a chance to watch College Football Live's recent two-day look at the traditions and greatest players and teams from Texas.

Here are the most recent results of the viewers and readers poll taken in conjunction with the visit, which is part of the program's state-by-state tour leading up to the season.

The results of the poll are up-to-date through noon ET on Wednesday. I'm also including my thoughts on the vote.

Which team is the best in state history?

  • 1939 Texas A&M 41 percent
  • 2005 Texas 28 percent
  • 1938 TCU 27 percent
  • 1982 SMU 2 percent
  • 1969 Texas 2 percent

Ballots cast: 2,586 votes.

Right or wrong: Wrong.

My take: It's hard to believe there are too many teams better than the 2005 Texas team. It looks like a lot of voters have read Mickey Herskowitz's fine book about that A&M team, elevating them above the others because of the mystique of being the "greatest generation's greatest team."

Who is the best player to play college football at Texas?

  • Earl Campbell 55 percent
  • Vince Young 27 percent
  • Ricky Williams 7 percent
  • Bobby Layne 6 percent
  • Tommy Nobis 5 percent         

Ballots cast: 3,622 votes.  

Right or wrong: Right.

My take: Hard to argue with "The Tyler Rose" as the best player in the history of the school.

Who is the best player to play college football at Texas A&M?

  • John David Crow 49 percent
  • Aaron Glenn 16 percent
  • Lester Hayes 15 percent
  • Darren Lewis 10 percent
  • Johnny Holland 9 percent

Ballots cast: 3,378

Right or wrong: Right.

My take: The school's only Heisman Trophy winner always epitomized to me what an A&M player should be -- tough and determined. But I was surprised that Dat Nguyen, the greatest modern-day defensive player in school history, wasn't included on the list.

Who is the best college player at a school other than Texas or Texas A&M?

  • LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 36 percent
  • Eric Dickerson, SMU, 22 percent
  • Sammy Baugh, TCU, 19 percent
  • Doak Walker, SMU, 17 percent
  • Davey O'Brien, TCU, 7 percent

Ballots cast: 3,742.

Right or wrong: Wrong.

My take: Even with recent familiarity from watching him, how could voters elevate Tomlinson above three iconic figures in Baugh, Walker and O'Brien who all have trophies named after them? My pick would be Walker, but you can't go wrong with either of the other players.

Which coach is the best in state history?

  • Darrell Royal, Texas 33 percent
  • R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M 30 percent
  • Mack Brown, Texas 17 percent
  • Dutch Meyer, TCU 11 percent
  • Bill Yeoman, Houston 8 percent

Ballots cast: 4,055

Right or wrong: Right

My take: The homespun Royal didn't attend college in Texas, but got there as fast as he could after his playing career.

Missouri remains the last of the Big 12 states to be profiled. The show will examine "the Show-Me State" in detail on July 29.

Texas Football's magazine release tells us the season beckons

June, 15, 2009
6/15/09
6:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Today is a special summer day for football fans across Texas and the Southwest.

Today is the annual release date of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, which is the unquestionable college football magazine of record in these parts every year.

This magazine is special because it's the 50th anniversary edition. The first one was laid out on the kitchen table of former Waco Tribune-Herald sports editor Dave Campbell, who started it in 1960.

It's gotten much bigger than that over the years, being read by three generations of football fans over the years. Today, there's a Texas Football classic every year at the Alamodome and even an official Texas Football song.

I first learned about the magazine in the late 1960s when a friend of mine in fifth grade, Richard Jackson, moved to Memphis from Houston. Along with his neat Houston Astros hat that I always was envious of was his copy of Texas Football Magazine. The story and pictures of the guys from Texas, Baylor and Rice were so different than anything I came across in the Southeastern Conference. I wanted mine, too.

My dad occasionally traveled to Texas with his job and soon learned to look at the 7-Eleven on one of his trips to Dallas to see if he could score a copy of Dave Campbell for me.

Later, my family moved to Texas and I learned the excitement of visiting the newsstand in mid-June to pick up the Dave Campbell magazine, which was there to chronicle the demise of the Southwest Conference and the start of the Big 12.

The new one will officially be released today across the area. And the coverboy is Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who becomes the first individual player to be pictured since Texas wide receiver Roy Williams in 2003.

I picked up my copy and am already deeply into it. It takes me back to my childhood.

The only problem is that I wonder why I couldn't pick up a Grape Slurpee to drink with it like I used to back in the day.

A list of the cover boys in the magazine's history exhibits a unique history of football in the southwest. Here's a list of the players who have graced the cover of the magazine over the years.

1960: Texas RB Jack Collins

1961: Baylor RB Ronnie Bull

1962: TCU QB Sonny Gibbs

1963: Texas coach Darrell Royal and DT Scott Appleton

1964: Baylor coach John Bridgers and WR Lawrence Elkins

1965: Texas Tech RB Donny Anderson

1966: SMU NG John LaGrone, Baylor DT Greg Pipes, Texas DT Diron Talbert

1967: Texas A&M T Maurice "Mo" Moorman

1968: Texas A&M QB Edd Hargett

1969: Texas QB James Street

1970: Texas RB Steve Worster

1971: Texas Tech QB Charles Napper

1972: Texas A&M LB Brad Dusek

1973: Texas LB Glen Gaspard

1974: Texas coach Darrell Royal

1975: Baylor coach Grant Teaff

1976: Houston coach Bill Yeoman

1977: Texas Tech QB Rodney Allison

1978: Texas A&M K Tony Franklin and Texas K/P Russell Erxleben

1979: Texas DT Steve McMichael

1980: Baylor LB Mike Singletary and Texas A&M QB Mike Mosley

1981: Baylor RB Walter Abercrombie and SMU RB Craig James

1982: Texas A&M QB Gary Kubiak

1983: SMU QB Lance McIlhenny

1984: Texas A&M DE Ray Childress

1985: TCU coach Jim Wacker and TCU RB Kenneth Davis

1986: Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill

1987: Texas QB Bret Stafford and Texas coach David McWilliams

1988: Texas RB Eric Metcalf and Texas A&M LB John Roper

1989: Houston coach Jack Pardee and SMU coach Forrest Gregg

1990: Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes

1991: Houston QB David Klingler

1992: Rice RB Trevor Cobb

1993: Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum

1994: Texas QB Shea Morenz

1995: A collage of Southwest Conference historical figures including Texas RB Earl Campbell, Houston coach Bill Yeoman, Baylor LB Mike Singletary, TCU QB Sammy Baugh, Texas coach Fred Akers, Texas coach Darrell Royal and SMU RB Doak Walker.

1996: Baylor coach Chuck Ready, Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, Texas coach John Mackovic and Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum

1997: Texas QB James Brown and Texas RB Ricky Williams

1998: Texas A&M LB Dat Nguyen, Texas RB Ricky Williams and Texas coach Mack Brown

1999: Texas coach Mack Brown and TCU coach Dennis Franchione. Note: Alternative cover for those magazines sold outside the state featured Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman

2000: Midland Robert E. Lee H.S. RB Cedric Benson

2001: Texas QB Chris Simms, TCU QB Casey Printers, Texas A&M QB Mark Farris and Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury

2002: Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury, Celina H.S. coach G.A. Moore, Dallas Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith and Baytown Lee H.S. QB Drew Tate.

2003: Texas WR Roy Williams

2004: Texas Tech DE Adell Duckett, TCU S Marvin Godbolt, Houston QB Kevin Kolb, North Texas RB Patrick Cobb

2005: Texas QB Vince Young and Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal

2006: Former Texas RB Earl Campbell, Mansfield Summit H.S. QB John Chiles, Texarkana Texas H.S. QB Ryan Mallett and Gilmer H.S. QB G.J. Kinne

2007: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas QB Colt McCoy and TCU DE Tommy Blake

2008: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree

2009: Texas QB Colt McCoy

Source: ESPN.com research

The best Big 12 players in NFL history

May, 29, 2009
5/29/09
2:00
PM ET

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.

Quarterbacks

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)

Running backs

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)

Wide receivers

17. Cliff Branch (Colorado)
27. Del Shofner (Baylor)
47. Irving Fryar (Nebraska)
48. Mel Gray (Missouri)
49. Dave Parks (Texas Tech)

Tight Ends

6. Kellen Winslow (Missouri)
14. Keith Jackson (Oklahoma)
34. Henry Childs (Kansas State)
49. Paul Coffman (Kansas State)

Offensive linemen

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)

Defensive linemen

18. Ron McDole (Nebraska)
19. Steve McMichael (Texas)
43. Ray Childress (Texas A&M)

Linebackers

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)

Defensive backs

16. Yale Lary (Texas A&M)
21. Pat Fischer (Nebraska)
36. Roger Wehrli (Missouri)

Kickers

20. Bobby Layne (Texas)

Kickoff returners

2. Glyn Milburn (Started at Oklahoma, Stanford)
4. Dante Hall (Texas A&M)
7. Tyrone Hughes (Nebraska)
10. Gale Sayers (Kansas)

Punt returners

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

Backs

5. Verne Lewellen (Nebraska)
7. Glenn Presnell (Nebraska)

Ends

10. Guy Chamberlin (Started at Nebraska Wesleyan, Nebraska)

Tackles

1. Link Lyman (Nebraska)

Guards

3. Ox Emerson (Texas)

Centers

5. Charley Brock (Nebraska)
6. Frank Bausch (Kansas)

Coaches

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.

Vintage UT uniform up for sale on eBay

May, 12, 2009
5/12/09
12:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Looking for a Father's Day gift for that Longhorn fan in your life with everything?

Auction site eBay might have the gift for you. Just be prepared to dig deeply in your pocket to pay for an interesting piece of Texas football history.

Bidding will continue until late Wednesday afternoon on a vintage Texas football uniform from 1914 that was once worn by former Longhorn star quarterback and running back Len Barrell.

Long before Ricky Williams, Chris Gilbert, James Saxton or even Bohn Hilliard, Barrell was a record-breaking Texas running back.

John Maher of the Austin American-Statesman crafted an interesting story this morning about Barrell, a 145-pound runner who scored 121 points in the 1914 season. That total stood as the school's single season record until Williams broke the record with 152 points in 1997.

Barrell also is credited with being the first player in Longhorn history to rush for more than 100 yards when he gashed Baylor for 162 yards in a 57-0 thrashing of the Bears on Oct. 10, 1914.

He later served in World War I, moved to Mississippi where he opened a Ford dealership in 1926 and was inducted into the Texas Hall of Honor in 1972. Barrell passed away in 1975.

The uniform is a striking piece of Longhorn memorabilia, even down to a strange piece of rubber that was used by Barrell as a nose protector.

Barrell told family members the unusual contraption was worn in a certain way.

"You held it with your teeth," Barrell explained.

Bidding for the jersey, pants/belt, socks, shoulder pads, cleats, leather helmet and nose guard had topped $5,250 early Tuesday morning.

As this piece of history is being sold, it's interesting to me that a school like Texas that has such a rich football history doesn't have a Hall of Fame, or even really an exhibit at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to showcase its most historic artifacts.

I can remember how excited Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione was when he showed me through the Switzer Center in Norman, showcasing similar historical pieces of memorabilia.

Texas A&M has started its own sports museum in the Bernard C. Richardson Zone at Kyle Field. And Oklahoma State has started its own sports museum at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Longhorns have Heisman trophies and national championship titles prominently displayed at their football facility. But nothing like some of their Big 12 South rivals have started.

History is such a part of Texas football with statues of Earl Campbell and Darrell Royal so prominent at the stadium.

It's just surprising and a little bit sad there's not a specific area dedicated to the preservation of the school's rich athletic history somewhere at the mammoth facility where artifacts like Barrell's jersey could be displayed for fans to witness every day.  

The best NFL players for each Big 12 team

April, 22, 2009
4/22/09
4:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I got a lot of good feedback last week after I detailed a post that listed the top NFL player from each Big 12 school in the modern era.

ESPN Stats & Information went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

The rankings were based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this was the criteria that was used:

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

After popular demand, here's how the formula calculated the five most valuable NFL players produced from each Big 12 school. I'm curious what some of your thoughts about these players and others might be.

Remember, this includes only players who were drafted. So free agents like Wes Welker were not included.

BAYLOR

Mike Singletary 81
Mike Nelms 22
Vann McElroy 10
Gary Green 8
Thomas Everett 8

COLORADO

Dick Anderson 30
Cliff Branch 29
Mark Haynes 23
Chad Brown 15
Charles Johnson 14
Alfred Williams 12

IOWA STATE

Matt Blair 18
Keith Sims 9
Marcus Robertson 5
Otto Stowe 4
Karl Nelson 3

KANSAS 

John Riggins 25
Dana Stubblefield 24
Nolan Cromwell 21
Leroy Irvin 15
Larry Brown 14

KANSAS STATE

Larry Brown 34
Martin Gramatica 8
Barrett Brooks 3
Clarence Scott 2
Henry Childs 2
Terence Newman 2

MISSOURI

Roger Wehrli 44
Kellen Winslow 40
Eric Wright 23
Russ Washington 16
Mel Gray 12

NEBRASKA

Will Shields 44
Roger Craig 30
Neil Smith 28
Irving Fryar 17
John Dutton 13

OKLAHOMA

Lee Roy Selmon 46
Keith Jackson 28
Billy Sims 14
Roy Williams 14
Adrian Peterson 13
Greg Pruitt 13

OKLAHOMA STATE

Barry Sanders 93
Thurman Thomas 60
Kevin Williams 24
Leslie O'Neal 16
Dexter Manley 13

TEXAS 

Earl Campbell 65
Doug English 21
Steve McMichael 21
Bill Bradley 17
John Elliott 16

TEXAS A&M

Shane Lechler 31
Lester Hayes 29
Richmond Webb 28
Ray Childress 26
Sam Adams 13

TEXAS TECH

Zach Thomas 40
Curtis Jordan 4
Dylan Gandy 3
Maury Buford 3
Ted Watts 3
Timmy Smith 3

Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis Team

Best NFL players from each Big 12 school analyzed

April, 15, 2009
4/15/09
12:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There was a very interesting piece on ESPN.com's Insider earlier this week about the NFL draft. Some of the very fine number crunchers and statistic analyzers went back through every draft of the modern era -- since the NFL-AFL merger -- to determine the players who accomplished the most during their NFL careers.

ESPN Stats & Information ranked players based on the following criteria: Hall of Fame induction, MVP awards, All-Pro first-team selections, All-Pro second-team selections, Pro Bowls, offensive and defensive player of the year and rookie of the year awards and membership on a Super Bowl-winning or -losing team. A player scores on the ranking system when he earns at least one of those honors.

Specifically, this is the numeric criteria that was used:

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Players received points based on the following criteria, coming up with rankings for the 13,808 NFL players who have played since 1967:

Super Bowl loss (1 point)
Offensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Defensive rookie of the year (2 points)
Pro Bowl (2 points)
Super Bowl win (3 points)
AP All-Pro second team (3 points)
AP All-Pro first team (4 points)
AP Defensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Offensive Player of the Year (6 points)
AP Most Valuable Player (8 points)
Hall of Famer (15 points)

Here's how the formula calculated the most valuable NFL player produced from each Big 12 school.

  • Oklahoma State: Barry Sanders, 93
  • Baylor: Mike Singletary, 81
  • Texas: Earl Campbell, 65
  • Oklahoma: Lee Roy Selmon, 46
  • Missouri: Roger Wehrli, 44
  • Nebraska: Will Shields, 44
  • Texas Tech: Zach Thomas, 40 
  • Kansas State: Larry Brown, 34
  • Texas A&M: Shane Lechler, 31
  • Colorado: Dick Anderson, 30
  • Kansas: John Riggins, 25
  • Iowa State: Matt Blair, 18

Interesting numbers to say the least. We'll look at other items in regards to Big 12 schools and the NFL draft in the next several days.

Big 12 lunch links: Ready for $300 Big 12 tickets?

March, 19, 2009
3/19/09
1:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Thanks for squeezing in a few minutes for some lunch links during the basketball games today. Hopefully, these will be more interesting than a couple of early 2-15 blowouts.

Here are some of the more notable Big 12 stories people are talking about.

Enjoy them -- and the basketball games, too.

  • The Bryan Eagle's Robert Cessna wonders how many fans really will shell out $300 a ticket -- not including parking -- to watch Arkansas and Texas A&M play this season in the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
  • Boulder Daily Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo writes about how busy Colorado cornerback Benjamin Burney has been over the last year. Burney has recovered from surgery and rehabilitation on five different body parts, written a 500-page book and is in the process of shooting a full-length movie.
  • The College Football News' Pete Fiutak writes that Dan Hawkins and Bill Snyder are among coaches who need to "get their mojo back" this season.
  • Sheahon Zenger, a finalist for the Kansas State athletic director's job and a former member of coach Bill Snyder's support staff, has some definite ideas in life. Zenger tells the Topeka Capital-Journal's Austin Meek that he worries about the declining newspaper industry and says that every married man should watch "The Family Man" at least once a year.
  • Missouri is trying to overcome extreme youth in its defensive line as it compensates for three missing starters from last season, the Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter writes.
  • Rich Kaipust of the Omaha World-Herald analyzes the difficulties that former Nebraska quarterbacks have had after transferring away from the school.
  • The Houston Chronicle, consistently one of the area's top Web sites as far as bells and whistles, provides  an innovative multimedia presentation of the 13 retired jersey numbers in Texas athletic history. Football players included on the list include Ricky Williams, Vince Young, Tommy Nobis, Earl Campbell and Bobby Layne.

Texas' Mount Rushmore

February, 12, 2009
2/12/09
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Something tells me that Bevo is going to be grazing contentedly at my Texas version of Mount Rushmore. "The Eyes of Texas" and "Texas Fight" assuredly will be heard on the breeze.

And four pretty monumental football icons will be there too, at least if the choices of cutting down to the four most noteworthy figures in the school is any indication.

Here are my picks:

  • Darrell Royal -- Claimed a school record 184 victories, including a share of three national championships and 12 Southwest Conference titles.
  • Earl Campbell -- Texas' first Heisman Trophy winner led the nation in rushing with 1,744 yards in his senior season in 1977.
  • Mack Brown -- Has helped turn Texas into a national power with eight straight 10-win seasons, two Big 12 South titles and the 2005 national championship.
  • Vince Young -- Did anybody ever finish their career with as memorable a finish as he did in the Longhorns' 2006 Rose Bowl victory over USC?

That's not to say that Ricky Williams, Tommy Nobis, Scott Appleton, Freddie Steinmark, James Street, Derrick Johnson or even Colt McCoy doesn't deserve consideration on the Longhorns' Rushmore.

But I think my four picks are a little bit above the rest because of their storied success while at Texas.

Any grievous omissions?  

Tim's mailbag: Has A&M's talent really diminished that much?

January, 23, 2009
1/23/09
5:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I received a bunch of good letters this week, telling me that Big 12 fans are observant about their football even when the season is over. Here are some of the more notable ones.

Ryan from Austin writes: Tim, Did I read that right? Only one, repeat one Texas A&M player made Dave Campbell's Texas Football's All-Texas list for 2008? Not a knock on Justin Brantly, but has A&M's program really fallen that far, or is it a reflection of the massive amount of talent in the state?

I would also like to point out how many Texas Tech players made the list, and it was especially exciting to see Texas Tech running back Baron Batch on the first team. I think he will (if Leach gives him the touches) take a huge load off of a new QB next season. If Batch touches the ball 20-25 times a game, I could see Tech having 9 or 10 wins. Think Westbrook in Red and Black.

Tim Griffin: Ryan, it does speak to how far the talent level has dropped at Texas A&M when you saw no players other than Brantly on the Dave Campbell team. I do think that coach Mike Sherman got some production from players like Jerrod Johnson, Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Fuller. The line struggled and there wasn't a single player who emerged as a top defensive player, other than maybe Michael Bennett. Considering A&M's 4-8 record, it wasn't a surprise the All-Texas team wasn't stocked with many Aggies.

Batch was a big producer for Texas Tech after missing last season with an injury. But he did have Shannon Woods who spelled him in a tailback-by-committee rotation. It will be interesting to see what Batch does as a truly featured back next season. Is he durable enough to thrive in that role? We'll see.


Chuck from Omaha writes: Could you please share any knowledge as to why Iowa State is taking so long to hire a defensive coordinator? Is Coach Paul Rhoads filling that role and I missed it, or does no one want the job? No one in the Ames area is reporting anything. Thanks.

Tim Griffin: As of the time I write this, Iowa State hasn't hired a defensive coordinator yet. I don't know why it's taking so long. Maybe it's because somebody has given Rhoads a qualified answer and might be waiting on another job. Maybe it's because Rhoads is putting more attention on building relationship with meeting with his new players and recruiting. Maybe he has a line on somebody who is still coaching in the NFL and will make an announcement after the Super Bowl.

But it is curious that it's taken so long to fill this position. I'll be interested to see who he chooses and his explanation for why it took so long to fill the position.


Eric from Denver writes: I don't think Colorado's recruiting class this year will have much - if any - effect on if they win 10 games in 2009. They may land one or two junior-college players who can help but the majority of these kids will be freshman and won't be counted on to contribute immediately. The only exception to that is defensive end Nick Kasa, but as Darrell Scott showed us, counting on a true freshman is a risky proposition.

Tim Griffin: You are right, but a truly special freshman player -- like Scott was supposed to be and Kasa apparently is as well -- can lift the play of an entire team because of his athleticism. And Colorado desperately needs that kind of boost if they are going to come close to fulfilling Dan Hawkins' 10-2 prediction for next season.


Kiko Thomas from Los Angeles writes: Ever since Ricky Williams and even before him, Texas has not had a prolific runner. Save for maybe Jamaal Charles. I wonder of your opinion on Chris Whaley who some compare to Darren McFadden from Arkansas. I see he has had many 400 yard-rushing games. No ways to tell how good he will be in college, but the remaining running backs that Texas has now are O.K. at best. Your thoughts on if he could get some time or really make an impact.

Tim Griffin: Kiko, first of all Texas has had some backs like Earl Campbell, Chris Gilbert and Hodges Mitchell who were pretty productive when they had their chances. I think that Campbell even won a Heisman.

But you are right about the needs for a running back at Texas. It was noticeable all season considering that Colt McCoy was the Longhorns' top rushing threat in 2008.

They certainly need more balance in the future. It's tough to project high-school backs into college players. But I would expect Whaley to receive every opportunity to emerge as a featured back once he arrives at Texas. I don't know if it will happen right away. But I expect he'll have that opportunity during his college career.


Korey from Midland, Texas, writes: Tim, Oklahoma plays Sept. 5 and the Big 12 Championship will be held in the billion-dollar new Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. How long until the OU-Texas game gets moved to the new stadium?

Tim Griffin: I think that as long as DeLoss Dodds and Joe Castiglione are calling the shots at Texas and Oklahoma, there's a good chance that the game remains at the Cotton Bowl. I think both realize how special the game currently is in its current location. Obviously, Dallas owner Jerry Jones can offer them more seats in his stadium. And it certainly will be a palace, from everything I'm hearing. But by keeping the number of seats at their current levels, both schools can drive interest in priority seating because there is more demand than tickets.

Maybe, some day the game gets moved. But to be honest with you, I think a more likely scenario might be that the game would be moved to campus locations in the future. Alabama-Auburn played at Legion Field forever before moving to campus sites for good in 1998. I could see the same thing happening to Texas-Oklahoma one day -- but likely after Dodds and Castiglione are gone.


Chris Watkins from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Tim, I know ESPN selects a team each spring to broadcast their spring game. Two years ago it was Oklahoma, this past spring it was Florida. Is there enough buzz around the ESPN networks or the nation about Bill Snyder's comeback that they would consider broadcasting the Kansas State spring game? If it's still in the brainstorming process, it might be something you might want to suggest for the spring of 2009. I think it would be a fabulous idea, and if they did, I would bet a large crowd would turn out.

Tim Griffin: Bad news, Chris. Apparently the network has chosen to go to Georgia. The information is related in this story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other Georgia papers this morning.

I agree that the trip to Manhattan would have been interesting. But I also think that Kansas State's 5-7 record wouldn't qualify them with some powers that might be a little closer to challenging for a national title. I think that was a major determiner in who got the ex
posure for their spring game.


Adam from Broken Arrow, Okla., writes: I enjoyed your list of 2008 moments and realize this might be a little late now. But how could you forget Artrell Woods of Oklahoma State making his first reception in a game against Iowa State after a spinal injury that nearly caused paralysis and sidelined him for more than a year. Boone Pickens Stadium gave him a standing ovation afterwards. It was a big moment for Oklahoma State football.

Tim Griffin: Adam, forgive my oversight on leaving Woods out. I saw an ESPN story on it and it absolutely brought chills to me when I saw how hard he worked to get back from injury and back into the lineup. I should have mentioned it.


Derek from Salina, Kan., writes: I enjoy reading your Big 12 coverage. I usually agree with or at least understand the things you post. Then I came across your prediction that Nebraska will win the North in '09, and more importantly that you don't think Kansas will win in Lubbock. Are you serious, and if so, why?

Tim Griffin: Derek, again I choose to respectfully disagree with your assessment of the Jayhawks. I think if Nebraska can find a serviceable quarterback from one of their potential starters, the Cornhuskers should be in good shape. Quentin Castille and Roy Helu Jr. give them a nice running attack. They'll be running behind a veteran offensive front. And the return of Ndamukong Suh might be the biggest factor in the reason why I think the Cornhuskers' defense should be stout.

And the reason I think Texas Tech will beat Kansas can be found in past history. I know Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell won't be back next year. But Texas Tech has beaten Kansas 10 out of 11 times in the previous games of the series. The Red Raiders did hang 63 points on Kansas in Lawrence in 2008, didn't they? And Mike Leach's offense has averaged 40 points a game in the last five contests against the Jayhawks.

I think the Jayhawks will struggle in Lubbock, although I think that will be the crossover game they should have the best chance to win. I think Oklahoma will beat Kansas in Lawrence and Texas will be the Jayhawks in Austin.

Again, thanks for all of the great questions this week and keep them coming. I'll check back with more from my mailbag next week.

Big 12 lunchtime links: Another huge game this week

October, 28, 2008
10/28/08
1:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here's a lunchtime fix of the top stories from across the Big 12 this morning. Enjoy them.

  • Another week, another monster Big 12 game. The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff breaks downs the ramifications of the Texas-Texas Tech game on Saturday, as well as his always tasty package of conference nuggets.
  • The Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel wonders why a special dinner Friday night honoring former Nebraska and Oklahoma players is being held behind closed doors.
  • Texas cornerback Curtis Brown got the first start of his career last week against Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State. His reward this week, the Houston Chronicle's Joseph Duarte reports, is a date against Texas Tech Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree.
  • Texas A&M is building for the future with seven freshman starters this season and nine freshmen who have seen substantial action, San Antonio Express-News beat writer Brent Zwerneman writes.
  • The Tulsa World's Matt Doyle writes about how Oklahoma State tailback Kendall Hunter has been exceeding expectations all of his life. In high school, Hunter broke Earl Campbell's school record at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas. And this season, he's become only the second sophomore in OSU history to rush for 1,000 yards, joining Thurman Thomas.
  • John Helsley of the Oklahoman writes about the collapse of the Oklahoma defense since Ryan Reynolds was injured against Texas.

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