Big 12: Ed Warinner
His interest makes sense on several levels. He's an Ohio native who has flirted with other head coaching jobs in the past, as he was nearly hired at Army last season.
Warinner was a respected member of Mark Mangino's staff who was given much of the credit for the development of Todd Reesing during his career. He was one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Association's national assistant coach of the year award this past season.
The Jayhawks marked their three most productive offenses in school history over the past three seasons.
Warinner arrived at Kansas after serving as a line coach at Illinois.
After Mangino's resignation last week, Warinner is not expected to remain at Kansas. He was not selected among three current Kansas assistants who are serving as the interim head coach for the Jayhawks until a new hire is made.
The FBS award was eventually won by Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre. The other nominee was Mississippi defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix.
The AFCA's Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.
The criteria for the award is not limited to on-field coaching ability or the success of the team and players that these assistant coaches work with. Service to the community through charitable work and other volunteer activities, participation in AFCA activities and events, participation in other professional organizations and impact on student-athletes are all taken into account in the selection process.
Warinner is on his second stint on coach Mark Mangino's staff. He served as Kansas' offensive coordinator for the past three seasons. Earlier, he had served as the Jayhawks' running game coordinator and line coach from 2003-04.
He also has served on coaching staffs at Akron, Michigan State, Army, Air Force and Illinois.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Let's throw open the mailbag on a Friday afternoon and see what you the readers are thinking and asking me about.
W. Dawson of Dallas writes: Tim, have you looked at Oklahoma State's schedule yet? How can they get away with having eight home games? I can't believe the Big 12 allowed this to happen, much less their competition. This is an incredible advantage, especially given the narrow margins that separate various Big 12 foes. Talk about running downhill before anyone else has snapped the ball.
Tim Griffin: Obviously, Mike Holder and Mike Gundy can do anything they want with their schedule. And it's a good home schedule with the four Big 12 games and home non-conference games against Georgia, Houston, Grambling and Rice. I guess the risk/reward is this. Most coaches want their team to face a non-conference challenge of some kind before they head into conference play. It doesn't have to be especially taxing - Texas going to Wyoming, Kansas to UTEP -- but most coaches believe that kind of experience is good before they head into conference play.
Obviously, Gundy doesn't think like that. The Cowboys will get a huge boost after playing four home games, but he won't know much about how ready his team will be to play on the road for their first trip to Texas A&M on Oct. 10. If I was coaching, I'd like a little more piece of mind before that first conference road game. And I bet Gundy will be thinking that way the week before the game.
Ocean from Kemah, Texas, writes: Tim, I'm very interested to hear if there has been any shift of momentum due to freshman Chris Whaley's arrival this summer. Also an update on the other Big 12's other freshman prospects would be greatly appreciated.
Tim Griffin: Whaley has struggled keeping up with the other Texas backs after reporting to training camp with an ankle injury that was aggravated playing basketball before he ever arrived. It set him back in his battle for playing time in a crowded Longhorn backfield.
From what I'm hearing, Fozzy Whittaker will be the leading candidate to have more of the carries in the Texas backfield. But he's got to remain healthy, which is something he hasn't been able to do so far. Then, look for veteran Vondrell McGee to have the next shot. Cody Johnson will also be there along with Tre' Newton and Whaley. I look for Whaley to get more playing time as he shows coaches he is more comfortable with his role in the offense and particularly in pass-protection schemes. We'll see that later, rather than sooner for the Longhorns.
And also, look for a post early next week where I'll break down the conference's leading freshman producers so far in training camps.
Mark M. from Arlington, Texas, writes: I know Baylor is pegged as your eighth team in the conference, but I think even that might be overrated! Why is no one talking about how incredible of a job Jason Smith did protecting Robert Griffin last year? Without his protection, combined with a very challenging non-conference schedule, I think Griffin takes a lot more hits and goes through a sophomore slump. I think they finish last in the Big 12 South as a result. Am I wrong?
Tim Griffin: Your scenario could very easily happen, although I do have the Bears winning six games and making a bowl trip. But I think that watching the Bears' left tackle position will be one of the most interesting positions in the conference.
Obviously, Smith was the best lineman in the conference last season, as evidenced by his No. 2 selection in the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams. I've heard some great things about his replacement, muscular 6-foot-4, 315 pound former Canadian fireman Danny Watkins. But we won't know anything until he starts hooking up with players like Jeremy Beal, Sergio Kindle and all of the others.
Watkins' inexperience will be one of Baylor's biggest question marks. And one missed blitz assignment could end the Bears' season in a hurty. Coach Art Briles has to hope that Watkins is ready for the challenge.
But we'll see how he does. It might be the major factor if the Bears are able to go 6-6 and make that elusive bowl trip, or end up in the Big 12 cellar and you hint. The margin between the two is very slim - particularly with the balance in the Big 12.
Ross Jackman from Sioux Falls, S.D., writes: Tim, I saw the story you linked earlier this week about the conference's most underrated and overrated coaches from that guy in Lincoln. Who is your selection, as the most underrated head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in the Big 12?
Tim Griffin: Ross, good question. For a head coach, I'll take Kansas' Mark Mangino, who quietly has taken the Jayhawks on their most successful, consistent run in school history. The Jayhawks made back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history the last two years and are poised for much more this season.
For my offensive coordinator, I'll take Nebraska's Shawn Watson. The work he did with Joe Ganz the last two seasons was simply phenomenal. Earlier work at Colorado with Gary Barnett's team was outstanding as well. Watson's past history is one of the reasons I think Zac Lee might be better than a lot of people expect for the Cornhuskers. I know he'll be ready, considering Watson's track record.
And for my most underrated defensive coordinator, I'll choose Texas Tech's Ruffin McNeill. The work he did with the Red Raiders to help develop their defense was a big reason the Red Raiders were able to forge a three-way tie for the South Division title last season. He'll have his work cut out trying to replace pass-rushing specialists like McKinner Dixon and Brandon Williams and safeties Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet, but I expect McNeill will have another strong unit again this season.
Mitch Nelson from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Tim, the Big 12 has four high-profile quarterbacks this year in Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Zac Robinson and Todd Reesing who will probably finish their college careers after this season. Can you break down who their possible replacements will be and which team has the best chance to not miss a step with a new quarterback next year?
Tim Griffin: I really am hesitant to pick which team has the best quarterback situation in the future because so many of these players don't have any game action. I'd like to reserve my decisions until I get to see some of the young kids play in a little bit of game action. But here's how I see those four schools in the future.
Oklahoma: The leader as far as experience would appear to be redshirt freshman Landry Jones, along with junior John Nimmo and Ben Sherrard. I've heard some good things about Drew Allen, a tall 6-foot-6 thrower from San Antonio Alamo Heights High School. But especially keep an eye out for Blake Bell of Wichita, Kan., a dual-threat thrower/runner who is one of the prizes of the Sooners' 2010 recruiting class. He will be the most heralded quarterback to enter the Oklahoma program since Rhett Bomar.
Texas: As far as promise goes, the Longhorns would appear to have it with Garrett Gilbert who I expect to play as a freshman and beat out Sherrod Harris for the backup role this season. And they also have two more quarterbacks coming in the 2010 recruiting class - Connor Wood of Second Baptist High School in Houston and Case McCoy, the 6-foot-2, 169-pound little brother of Colt McCoy.
Oklahoma State: I know that Gundy actually wasn't that disappointed with Zac Robinson's injury last week because it forced the action in the backu quarterback battle
between junior Alex Case and sophomore Brandon Weeden. Gundy told me he was a little angry that one of the two players hadn't jumped out and taken the backup role. Whoever wins that would appear to be in line to replace Robinson.
Weeden has a little bit more maturity because of his five-season career in minor-league baseball. But Cate has more game experience and comfort in the OSU offense. And the Cowboys also have a commitment from 2010 recruit Johnny Deaton of Sand Spring, Okla., who might be their long-term answer.
Kansas: I think the fact that redshirt freshman Kale Pick has won the backup job is significant here. First, it will enable Kerry Meier to move to wide receiver full time. It will also get Pick more snaps in practice and have him ready in the spring when the opportunity to replace Reesing will materialize for him.
Mangino is also high on a couple of freshmen quarterbacks he has in Christian Matthews, a taller, skinner thrower and Jordan Webb, who kind of looks like Reesing and followed his route by graduating early and reporting to college a semester early to boost his early assimilation into Ed Warinner's offense.
That's all the questions I have time for this week.
Thanks again and have a great weekend.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
In only two seasons, Dezmon Briscoe has developed into one of the most explosive players in Kansas football history.
Now, if the Jayhawks could be absolutely sure he'll be playing for them this fall.
Earlier this spring, Kansas coach Mark Mangino suspended Briscoe for all of their practices so far for an undisclosed violation of team rules. He still isn't back yet heading into the Jayhawks' spring game Saturday afternoon.
It's hard to imagine the Jayhawks being able to contend for the North Division championship if Briscoe isn't a big part. It would be hard to fathom if Briscoe doesn't fulfill whatever demands that Mangino has for him to rejoin the team.
Player: Dezmon Briscoe
Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Vitals: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds; Jr.; Dallas (Cedar Hill)
Why he was picked: Briscoe blossomed into one of the Big 12's most explosive players last season, snagging 92 passes for team-high totals for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdown receptions. He also set the school's single-game record with 269 receiving yards against Oklahoma - a total that was the nation's single-game high last season for FBS teams. He also and tied the single-game record with 14 catches in the Jayhawks' Insight Bowl triumph over Minnesota.
Briscoe already has broken the school career mark for touchdown receptions after only two seasons. And he showed flashes of being able to counteract one of Kansas' biggest weaknesses when he produced 195 yards in kickoff returns in Kansas' final regular-season game to spark the upset over Missouri.
What 2009 will hold: First, he's got to get back in Mangino's good graces. But if he does that, it's not unimaginable that Briscoe could develop into one of the nation's most explosive players. Considering he has another season of experience in coordinator Ed Warinner's offense and Todd Reesing back throwing passes, it wouldn't be out of the question that Briscoe could grab more than 100 passes and produce 1,600 receiving yards. And if he continues his late-season success running back kicks, he might emerge as one of the biggest keys in the Jayhawks' Big 12 title hopes.
23. Oklahoma DE Jeremy Beal
24. Kansas S Darrell Stuckey
25. Texas Tech RB Baron Batch
26. Kansas WR-QB Kerry Meier
27. Texas T Adam Ulatoski
28. Oklahoma State S Andre Sexton
29. Missouri G Kurtis Gregory
30. Missouri RB Derrick Washington
31. Texas Tech LB Brian Duncan
32. Texas S Earl Thomas
33. Kansas State WR Brandon Banks
34. Oklahoma LB Keenan Clayton
35. Baylor S Jordan Lake
36. Oklahoma State CB/KR Perrish Cox
37. Texas C Chris Hall
38. Texas Tech DE/DT McKinner Dixon
39. Kansas State DE Brandon Harold
40. Oklahoma FB Matt Clapp
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy New Year's Eve! Before partaking in the daylong feast of football tomorrow, here are a few links to get you ready.
- Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple writes that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was overcome with emotion when asked about coaching quarterback Joe Ganz's final game Thursday in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl against Clemson.
- A more mature Texas quarterback Colt McCoy prepares for Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Dallas Morning News Big 12 columnist Chuck Carlton writes.
- Texas Tech coach Mike Leach related his favorite Cotton Bowl memory as the Red Raiders prepare for the Jan. 2 game against Mississippi. Jackson Clarion-Ledger columnist Rick Cleveland told of how Leach left a dummy set of plays when he was an assistant at Oklahoma, hoping a Texas coach or player would stumble upon them and believe he had found the Rosetta Stone as far as cracking his spread offense.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops will collect a $3 million bonus on New Year's Day, pushing his 2008 compensation over $6 million, the Tulsa World's John Hoover reports.
- With Dez Bryant playing on one gimpy leg and Zac Robinson struggling with a bum shoulder, Oklahoma State was stripped of many of its offensive weapons in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. But the Oklahoman's John Rohde writes that OSU coach Mike Gundy refused to use injuries as an excuse for his team's 42-31 loss to Oregon.
- Kansas is poised for big things next season with the return of most of its major offensive skill-position players and both starting tackles. But Kansas City Star reporter J. Brady McCollough writes that the most important returning item could be offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, who guides the team into tonight's Insight Bowl game against Minnesota.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|Will Muschamp (left) will be handling Mack Brown's UT defense in '08.|
They are the coaches who are becoming more noticeable with increased awareness in college football.
A coordinator or highly paid assistant coach at a top school is a lightning rod for public criticism or praise depending on the success of the program. And the immediate success of assistant coaches like Bob Stoops, Mark Richt, Jim Leavitt, Mike Leach and Bret Bielema in their first head-coaching jobs has led to wide scrutiny from athletic directors looking for replacements for potential head-coaching opportunities.
The Big 12 is as stacked with good assistant coaches as any conference in the nation. Here's my list of the top 12 assistants in the conference heading into the 2008 season.
1. Will Muschamp, Texas defensive coordinator -- His reputation precedes him coming into the conference like a hired gunslinger with the largest paycheck among all Big 12 assistants to boot. But his work will be cut out transforming Texas' recent leaky secondary.
2. Brent Venables, Oklahoma co-defensive coordinator -- His unit's meltdowns have been embarrassing in recent bowl games, but OU's defenses have been rock solid in conference play.
3. Dave Christensen, Missouri offensive coordinator -- As the Tigers' productive offense gets more notoriety, he could be poised to become the first member of Gary Pinkel's staff to get a head-coaching shot.
4. Joe Kines, Texas A&M defensive coordinator -- Veteran coach comes to Aggieland with one of the most sterling reputations in college football, including 10-game stint as Arkansas' interim coach in 1992.
5. Greg Davis, Texas offensive coordinator -- Reviled on some message boards, but keeps developing a productive unit year after year.
6. Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator -- Helps manage Oklahoma's bruising running game, which has been the key to the Sooners' balanced, explosive attacks in recent seasons.
7. Ruffin McNeill, Texas Tech defensive coordinator -- Productive first season as interim coordinator last season, but will be facing immense challenge with heightened expectations riding on his work.
8. Joe DeForest, Oklahoma State special teams/safeties coach -- His special teams have always been consistently solid and he has one of the conference's best reputations for recruiting excellence.
9. Ed Warinner, Kansas offensive coordinator -- Helped transform Todd Reesing from an undersized, lightly regarded recruit into a touchdown-pass-flinging machine.
10. Shawn Watson, Nebraska offensive coordinator -- One of only two holdovers on Bo Pelini's staff from last season kept around because of Joe Ganz's late-season development in 2007. He was known for his diverse offenses at Colorado, where Buffaloes were effective running the ball early in his career and throwing it with Joel Klatt in later years.
11. Matt Eberflus, Missouri defensive coordinator/safeties coach -- Credited for recent development of playmaking safeties like Pig Brown and Willie Moore and overall transformation of Missouri's rapidly improving defense.
12. Mark Helfrich, Colorado offensive coordinator -- Youthful play-calling savant who helped develop Andrew Walter while quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. It will be interesting how he assimilates heralded freshman RB Darrell Scott into his offense with the Buffaloes.