Big 12: Gary Pinkel

Big 12 viewer's guide: Week 14

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
10:00
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Baylor and Kansas State each face one final hurdle before a head-to-head matchup at McLane Stadium on the final Saturday of the season that could garner plenty of headlines. Meanwhile, West Virginia and Iowa State look to snap significant losing streaks.

Here are the storylines to watch in the Big 12 during Week 14:

West Virginia at Iowa State, noon ET (Fox Sports 1): Neither team brings much momentum into this game with the Cyclones on a four-game losing streak and the Mountaineers on a three-game slide. Those downward trends won't sit well with Dana Holgorsen or Paul Rhoads. ISU watched its first Big 12 win slip out of its hands against Texas Tech a week ago, so the Cyclones could be entering this game with more momentum than previous weeks. Intrigue will join WVU on the plane to Ames, Iowa, with Skyler Howard's performance against Kansas State putting a spotlight on the quarterback spot for Holgorsen’s squad. Even if starter Clint Trickett is healthy, Holgorsen might not hesitate to turn to Howard if Trickett struggles.

No. 7 Baylor versus Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas, 3:30 pm ET (ABC): The Bears can't seem to get the traction they need to rise in the College Football Playoff rankings. But BU needs to win, and win impressively, if it hopes to keep its name in the conversation for another week. The Bears have minimal room for error. Tech enters the game after its first win since mid-October against ISU a week ago. The Red Raiders would love to play spoiler for the Bears while creating a little momentum heading into the offseason if they're able to finish the regular season with a two-game win streak which includes a win over the nation's No. 7 team.

Kansas versus No. 12 Kansas State, 4 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1): The final home game for all-purpose threat Tyler Lockett could inspire the senior to do something special at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats have plenty to play for with a Big 12 title still within reach. Meanwhile, KU interim coach Clint Bowen could strengthen his résumé even further with a win over the in-state rival Wildcats. And the Jayhawks' sloppy showing at Oklahoma should give KU plenty of motivation to show they're better than they played against the Sooners a week ago.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Missouri players sat and watched the Allstate Sugar Bowl with the bewildered feeling the rest of the nation was experiencing. Oklahoma was imposing its will on SEC power Alabama in the heart of SEC country, going from underdog to the talk of the nation on Thursday night.

“It was crazy, it came down to what team wanted it most,” Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham said of the Sooners' 45-31 win. “You looked at Oklahoma and they wanted to win the game, they wanted to be Sugar Bowl champs, they went out and took what was theirs.”

Thus, Missouri players woke up on Friday morning with the knowledge that the weight of an entire conference was on their shoulders. Missouri needed to grab immediate revenge with a victory over Oklahoma State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl if it wanted to defend its conference’s reputation.

The SEC took a punch from the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl, but the Tigers punched back Friday night with a 41-31 win over Big 12 foe Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium.

[+] EnlargeHenry Josey, Blake Webb
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMissouri might be new to the SEC, but the Tigers understood the importance of beating Oklahoma State and keeping the conference's rep.
“I did feel a tad bit of pressure, because I know we represent the SEC,” senior receiver L'Damian Washington said. “I think [OSU cornerback] Justin Gilbert made a statement earlier this week that the Big 12 was better than the SEC and I think we had to go out and prove the SEC is a force to be reckoned with.”

The Tigers used a combination of a relentless pass-rushing defensive line, strong running game and timely plays to earn their school record-tying 12th victory of the season, equaling the win total of the 2007 team.

Led by Cotton Bowl offensive MVP Henry Josey, Missouri rushed for 256 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry against a Cowboys’ defense that allowed 132.9 rushing yards and 3.46 per carry during the regular season. OSU quarterback Clint Chelf will have nightmares featuring Tigers pass-rushing duo Michael Sam and Kony Ealy. Missouri got to Chelf for three sacks, but the Cowboys quarterback was constantly flushed out of the pocket and forced to make plays on the move thanks to the Tigers defensive line, which cemented the win when Sam forced a Chelf fumble that was returned 73 yards for a touchdown by Shane Ray to halt OSU’s hopes of a game-winning touchdown in the final minutes.

“First-team All-American makes an All-American play,” Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said.

SEC teams rejoiced as the conference escaped back-to-back losses to Big 12 opponents.

“We believe we’re the best conference,” said Andrew Wilson, who finished with a game-high 15 tackles. “And if you want to be the best conference you have to prove it, that’s why everyone is rooting for each other in these bowl games for everyone to go out and do what they can do.”

Make no mistake, the Tigers wanted the win for themselves, but they also wanted it for their conference.

“That’s something real big, representing the SEC,” Josey said. “The SEC is such a powerful conference, that’s the conference everybody looks to, that’s where the attention is. Coming into this game, that was in the back of our mind, that is always in the back of our mind that we had to hold up the rep for the SEC.”

Now, with its job done, Missouri passes the mantle to Auburn, which has the opportunity to win the eighth consecutive BCS title for the SEC when it takes on Florida State in the BCS National Championship on Monday night.

“Right now it’s up to Auburn to bring it home,” Ealy said. “We want to keep it in the SEC, that’s the most important thing as far as this conference goes.”

Mailbag: OU's home record under Stoops

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
4:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the emails today. I'll be back tonight with some thoughts on Baylor's game vs. Louisiana-Monroe. You can follow along with me on Twitter here and check the blog after the game for coverage.

Here's where you can reach my Mailbag if you've got more to say.

Keith Hurlbut in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Your article Challenged at Home talks of Oklahoma's at home stance against RANKED Teams. Lets not ignore TCU's 2005 victory in Norman, even though TCU was unranked at the time.

David Ubben: Ha, I'm not ignoring it, but my point with all that coverage today is pretty simple. When Oklahoma loses it home, it seems to do so against teams that sort of sneak up on it. The Sooners are 77-3 under Bob Stoops at home (Yes, I know they don't play Texas there. Anyone who knows anything about OU understands this and sees Stoops' home record through that prism), and all three losses have come to teams that Oklahoma understandably wouldn't be up to play. The Sooners have to care about TCU now, but back in 2005? That's not exactly going to be an opponent that gets the Sooners fired up.

It would have been easy to overlook a pretty mediocre Oklahoma State team back in 2001. That in-state rivalry was hardly a rivalry back then. Texas Tech last year? Oklahoma had completely stomped the Red Raiders in Norman for nearly a decade and Tech was coming off two losses heading into Norman. Not exactly a game the Sooners will be easily motivated for.

Coaches say they'd love for their players to look at every opponent equally. A realist says it's obvious that games like Florida State in 2010 and Texas every year mean more to teams like Oklahoma. That's natural. The point? When Oklahoma gets challenged at home, it answers the bell quite loudly every single time under Stoops.

John Lockett in Wichita, Kan., writes: Hi David:I was just curious about your comment about K-State can gain respect by playing Oklahoma. I think most of that respect storm has passed over the years. Oklahoma no doubt is an excellent ball club, but in my mind no different than playing OSU, WVU, TCU, Baylor, or Texas. Win or lose Saturday, K-State is undefeated and ranked 13th nationally in one poll, and came within one play in 2011 at OSU from being the Big 12 champs. From 1993 to 2000 K-State was one of the top schools in the nation, winning more than 9 victories almost every year. So to my point, playing Oklahoma is not about gaining respect, but competing and winning a game against a very good and respected ball club. Knowing the Stoop brothers as I do, I suspect they feel the same way about K-State and the respect is mutual.

DU: I'm not talking about respect as in recognition, I'm talking about people taking this team seriously as a Big 12 title contender. If you didn't hear the K-State skepticism this preseason, you weren't listening. People talked endlessly about the close losses last year.

"It'll catch up to them. Expect K-State to come back to earth this year," was the most common complaint. That's not to say the criticism was unfair, but I don't necessarily buy it. I'm not taking the Cats to win the Big 12, but not one of the top 20 teams in the nation? The sixth-best team in the Big 12?

Please.

If Kansas State goes into Norman and gets a win, they'll shut pretty much everybody up in just one game. That's the kind of respect I'm talking about.

Chad in Des Moines, Iowa, writes: Hey Ubbs, few questions or thoughts on Iowa State. If Coach Rhoads can get this team to 8-4 or 9-3 this year would you hand him Big 12 Coach of the Year Trophy? Also programs are always trying to improve the program to attract better recruits, examples for Iowa State, new video board to enhance game day experience, add-on to indoor practice facility... what do you think needs to be done next for Iowa State to take the next big step forward? Always talk about bowling in south end of the stadium... heard it would add 5-8,000 more seats. Thanks ISU #1 Fan.

DU: We'll see. He'd definitely be on the short list. It'll depend on what everybody else does. If K-State wins the league or if any coach can get through this season without a loss, I'm probably giving it to them. That said, Rhoads will get a huge chunk of votes if that happens.

I've talked a little about this in the past, but for Iowa State, getting better is pretty simple in theory and more difficult in practice. Growing a program isn't so much about seats, it's about winning.

How do you do it? I always use Oklahoma State and Missouri as examples.

They did it slowly, and by replacing a players at (almost) every position who were better than the guys before them. They did it in a lot of places, but for our purposes, we can talk quarterbacks. You saw the biggest jumps when those programs replaced "franchise" quarterbacks with guys who ended up playing at the next level.

Zac Robinson's gone? Hello, Brandon Weeden and a Big 12 title. Brad Smith gone? Hello, Chase Daniel and a No. 1 ranking and two Big 12 North titles.

It's more complicated than that, but getting a coach in place who's there for the long haul and gets his expectations in place is the first step. Iowa State has that in Paul Rhoads.

Kyle in Kansas City writes: Since there is no Cyclone game to discuss this week, I figured I'd drop off a little bit of awesome for you. Did you know Steele Janz's father is named Foxx? He also has an uncle named Wolf, another uncle named Stig, and a brother named Truk. And, boom goes the dynamite...

DU: I did know that, but I suspect plenty of our readers didn't. Thanks for reminding us. I'd like to be an honorary member of that family, if only so I could be gifted a sweet name. David's OK, but what can you folks come up with?
Robert in Phoenix writes: Ubbs,Is the Baylor-ULM game on Friday the most important non-conference game for the Big 12 this season (save for OU-ND)? If BU goes into Monroe and beats ULM handily, shouldn't that be the proof that the Big 12 needs to show it really is the strongest conference top-to-bottom? I mean, a double digit win over a team that beat Arkansas in Little Rock and nearly beat Auburn in Jordan-Hare, would say a lot, wouldn't it? Sic 'em!

DU: I'm with you on this one, Robert. Baylor's spot on the Big 12 totem pole is pretty similar to where Arkansas and Auburn sit in the SEC, or at least close enough. When it comes to the Big 12 proving itself vs. the SEC, this is definitely a big one for the league. I expect Baylor to win convincingly, but it may not be easy. You don't win in Little Rock and come close at Auburn without a pretty good squad.

Still, if Baylor just rolls into Monroe and opens up a can on the Warhawks, how do you not take notice of that if you're comparing the Big 12 and the SEC? It's such an odd thing when you look back at the beginning of the season, but this game could be a good gauge for the two leagues.

Johnny in Oklahoma writes: Ubb,You keep bagging on the Sooners, dropping them when they didnt even play and you had no reason too. You will regret it, they will win the Big 12 over your beloved West Virginia...i hate the fact you are the Big 12 blog writer....No Brains what so ever.

Derek in Austin writes: So Texas destroys an SEC team and Oklahoma can barely beat a Conference USA team and you STILL have the Sooners ahead of Oklahoma? Do you pay attention at all? It's clear that you don't even watch the games. You just can't get enough of Booby Stoops and in your eyes, Oklahoma can do no wrong. Can we get a new Big 12 Blogger please? Maybe someone not so bias???

DU: Well said, guys. Consistently my favorite types of emails right there. I'd argue there's nothing funnier about my job than twin conflicting hate mail. It's a rarity, but when I see it I can't help but pass it along.

Farva in Iowa writes: Why do you favor other teams so much more than ISU? We went on the road and sloppily beat Iowa but yet you still don't give us credit. But when Texas Tech beats Texas State you think they are absolutely dominant?

DU: I get it, I get it. A win is a win. Yes, Iowa is better than Texas State. Still, Iowa is not that good. And there's something to be said for style points. You're being ridiculous if you completely rule them out. It's not like it's a walk-off for either team, but in my book, Texas Tech has been more impressive to this point. Iowa State's got great wins, but they've gotten two of them ugly.

Ultimately, it won't even matter. Next week, we'll find out who's better in Ames.

Thanks for all the questions in today's chat. It was one of the most fun in awhile. Here's the full transcript.

Got more to say? Reach me here.

Time for some highlights from today's chat.
Nick (Ames): Heard anything on the QB situation here? Steele Jantz looked real good in the spring game but Barnett lead the Cyclones down the stretch last year. High expectations here for this season!

David Ubben: Yeah, I still think Barnett is the guy for ISU. The difference is negligible, but the Cyclones need to keep building for the future. The 2012 team won't be all that different either way, but if you play Barnett, the 2013 team gets a whole lot better, without a doubt. That has to be taken into consideration. My expectations aren't too high, but ISU's going to be a good team. That said, it seems to me like the Big 12's depth is going to make it really difficult for the Cyclones to crack a bowl game.

Justin (Stillwater, OK): 41 wins in 4 years for an OSU program that has never experienced that much success. Give us your 3 keys to sustain that success over the next several years. Record wise, what would you consider to be a successful season next year for the Cowboys?

David Ubben: 1) Above all, make sure you have a QB and at least one more (preferably two) preparing to take over. 2) Keep instilling the idea that OSU can't do this without developing players and working. They're never going to bring in top 10 recruiting classes annually. 3) Give Mike Gundy everything he wants. As for this year, success would be probably nine wins.

W (Anaheim): D - What are the odds K-State repeats as the State of Texas football champs?

David Ubben: Not great. But here's hoping the Cats make "Back to Back Texas State Champs" shirts if they repeat.

David (Somewhere in Sooner Nation): I know it's highly unlikely, but let's say that OU runs the table in the Big 12, USC runs the table in the Pac 12, someone runs the table in the Big 10, and ditto on the SEC. Other than being a perfect argument for a 4 team playoff, who gets left out?

David Ubben: Ouch, that's tough. USC and the SEC team would probably play, for the simple reason that they started higher in the polls. It would depend on what each team's strength of schedule shook out to, but if it was close, the preseason polls would hold. Sad, but true.

Miles (Austin, TX): Do you think Texas can win the Big 12 with its new offensive identity? How about the SEC as it is more in the power run style that the horns are running now?

David Ubben: Yes. Its defense is going to be absolutely nasty. If they run it as well as they think they'll be able to by next year or so, Texas should be very, very scary.

Jason (Tyler): Are Coach Brown and Coach Stoops still by far the top 2 coaches in the Big 12 or are Coach Gundy and Coach Snyder catching up?

David Ubben: You could easily make the case Snyder is better than all of them. Gundy is knocking on the door of the nation's elite for sure. Big 12 lost a really good one in Pinkel, too. He was just behind Gundy in my book.

State43 (Iowa State): Have you been to a Big 12 game at your Father's Alma Mater yet in your capacity as Big12 Blogger? We would love to have you and will treat you like family.

David Ubben: Ha, I haven't as Big 12 blogger, but I've been to games there twice. Would have loved to have seen the field stormings last year vs. Iowa and Oklahoma State. Keep winning, Clones. I'll be there soon.

Curtis (Dallas): Percentage that everything can fall right and Texas can will the Big 12 this year? Percentage for 2013?

David Ubben: Eight percent. 37 percent.

Coty (WV): Best Football/Basketball school in Big12?

David Ubben: I mean, there's no question it has to be Baylor in 2011-12, right? It's not really even close.

Tony (Richmond, CA): Geno Smith is receiving most of the preseason love for 1st team All Big XII. Do you think the offseason work Landry Jones has put in with George Whitfield is enough to tighten up his footwork, leading him to a monster senior year, and first team honors?

David Ubben: That race will be really, really interesting. I'll have to do a lot of thinking on my ballot. I probably lean Geno for now, but man, I could see that vote getting split and them sharing first-team honors.

John (Tulsa, OK): Ubbernator. Does Lunt win the starting job in Stillwater? He seems to have the most long-term upside.

David Ubben: I don't know what to think anymore. I've talked myself into all three guys. For now, I'm sticking with my pick of Walsh.

Links: Pinkel adamant, KU rivalry lives

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
12:00
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Big 12 Tourney Time. Should be some great games today. Who's watching?
TCU and West Virginia don't "officially" join the Big 12 until July 1.

But nothing happens in July. In March, we have spring football, and in every meaningful sense, the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers have become the first teams to join the Big 12 since its creation back in 1994.

[+] EnlargeJeff Fuller
Troy Taormina-US PresswireThe overall results produced by Texas A&M and Missouri should be easily replaced by new Big 12 members TCU and West Virginia.
Big 12 teams are showing up on both programs' new film for 2012. Recruiting efforts are shifting.

It's a new world in the Big 12. If you lost track, it still has 10 teams.

Since June 2010, though, it has lost four teams (Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri) before gaining two more back in October.

The Big East let TCU, which had promised to join the league in 2012, go without incident. Months of legal wrangling and a hard-to-swallow $20 million price tag for leaving were needed for the Mountaineers to make it official.

The Big 12 lost a lot when storied Nebraska left for the Big Ten. It lost nowhere near as much when Colorado left for the Pac-12.

Two big programs with lots of eyes, in Mizzou and Texas A&M, are gone. There's no getting around it: They'll be missed in some ways. You can't replace a century of rivalries without a century of new rivalries. And even then, it's difficult.

Missouri-Kansas? Texas A&M-Texas? You can't replace that, no matter how hard you try. Both rivalries -- annual staples on the college football calendar -- are dead now.

But what you can replace?

Texas A&M and Missouri's modest-to-OK results on the field since the Big 12 began.

TCU and West Virginia will be every bit the teams the Aggies and Tigers were on the field. They'll lack the history, sure. They'll lack the familiarity even more.

But they won't lack the success, however moderate it was for the Aggies and Tigers.

TCU coach Gary Patterson revitalized a historically mediocre program to unprecedented success, winning 11 games in six of seven seasons in the Mountain West Conference, including BCS bowl appearances in consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010, capped by a win in the Rose Bowl.

TCU won't make winning 11 games an annual occurrence in the Big 12, but would Texas A&M have done much better with a similar schedule?

Meanwhile, West Virginia is 3-0 in BCS bowl games of its own, winning six Big East titles since 2003.

Could Missouri have done much more in the Big East?

Doubtful.

The Tigers have won eight games in six consecutive seasons, one of just a handful of teams to duplicate the feat. It won at least a share of the Big 12 North in three of the division's final four seasons before the Big 12 moved to 10 teams in 2011.

A 12-win season in 2007 was the highlight under Gary Pinkel, but the Tigers have yet to reach the BCS and never won a Big 12 title, getting blown out by Oklahoma in both Big 12 title game appearances.

WVU, though, won 32 games in the final three seasons under Rich Rodriguez and won 27 games in three seasons under Bill Stewart. Dana Holgorsen won 10 games in his first season.

The Big East isn't the Big 12, but Missouri won 63 games in that same span. Add up West Virginia's? The Mountaineers have 70 wins.

Why can't WVU step in and duplicate, if not exceed, what Missouri was able to do?

The Mountaineers can -- and will.

Meanwhile, the Big 12's most frustrating question -- why can't Texas A&M be a national power? -- is the SEC's problem now.

The Aggies have had all the facilities, all the support and all the resources necessary to become one. It has exactly one Big 12 title to show for it and still yearns for the days of R.C. Slocum. The legendary coach won four conference titles, but the program has been blanked since 1998.

TCU, meanwhile, is poised for a rise in the new Big 12. Recruiting will get a boost now that the school has major conference affiliation to offer prospects. Win totals will take a knock from recent totals but stabilize.

For the curious: TCU won 77 games in its past seven seasons. Texas A&M won 47 games in the same span.

Call it a small sample size. Call it a down period for the Aggies.

It's both, but now is now, and TCU looks more than capable to replace every bit of what Texas A&M brought the Big 12 on the field while the Aggies try to swim in the cutthroat SEC West, college football's toughest division.

The Big 12 is adjusting to a new world.

Off the field, the Aggies and Tigers will be sorely missed. To argue otherwise is foolish.

But on the field?

Credit the Big 12 on this one. The conference can easily say "Sayonara" without shedding a tear.
We're handing off Missouri from the Big 12 blog to the boys at the SEC blog today, and as part of the proceedings, it's time to get a bit sappy.

Ol' Mizzou, here's what I'll miss about you when you leave for the SEC.

And, if you were curious, here's our past installments of this series: 1. Columbia. I called the city home for four of the best years of my life and earned a degree that I had so much fun earning it almost felt stolen. That doesn't affect how I cover the team, but I'd be a liar if I said I enjoyed visiting any Big 12 campus more than Mizzou. Sorry, Austin. Whether it's a Booche's burger, a slice of Shakespeare's Pizza or a stop by The Heidelberg, which somehow gets consistently left out of the "Must Go" places in Columbia, I love it. And if you didn't know, now you know, Tigahs.

2. The Border War. Nebraska and Colorado checking out didn't cost us any big annual rivalries, but this one hurts. The Kansas-Mizzou hate flows 365 days a year, and now, they'll have no chances on the football field or basketball court to give that hate an outlet. It's a shame. Please, please, play this game. I understand Kansas' side of the debate and why it wants to end it. That doesn't make it any less ridiculous.

3. The coaching staff. This was always a fun group to work with. Offensive coordinator David Yost -- we had some fun with him on Twitter last week -- will tell it like it is and offer some solid insight, too. He's always good to help folks better understand what's happening on the field, but the Tigers have a great mix of coaches. The fiery nature of defensive coordinator Dave Steckel balances well with the straight-laced Gary Pinkel, who handled an embarrassing incident this year with about as much class as you'll ever see, personifying the idea that character isn't mistakes, it's how you react to them.

4. Senior Day at Mizzou. The Tigers have one of the least-publicized, coolest senior day traditions around. After a player finishes his career on Faurot Field, he runs down, hops the fence surrounding the field and grabs a rock from the Rock M to keep for good.

5. Seeing DGB's career play out. Top recruits at schools that traditionally don't get them are much more interesting than ones who go to factories like Texas and OU. Dorial Green-Beckham will be a fun, fun player to watch over the course of his career. Unfortunately, I won't get to see it. But, good luck to him in Columbia.
MissouriCal Sport Media/AP ImagesCan Gary Pinkel's squad continue their run of recent success when they move to the SEC?
We introduced Mizzou to the SEC earlier Tuesday, but now it's time to get dirty.

Big 12 blogger David Ubben and Edward Aschoff debate: What awaits Missouri in the SEC?

The decline of one of college football's rising programs? Or new heights in a foreign conference that's college football's toughest?

Let's hash this out.

Edward Aschoff: So, with the Tigers joining the SEC, some are wondering if the Tigers will make more of an impact in basketball, rather than football. After all, the Big 12 hasn't exactly had its way with the SEC lately. But Mizzou does bring back a slew of talent on both sides of the ball and could compete in the SEC East in its first season. David, why should we believe that Missouri will be anything more than just a one-hit wonder?

David Ubben: Gary Pinkel. You'll hear this stat parroted often, but the Tigers are one of just a handful -- six, I believe -- teams in college football to win at least eight games in six consecutive seasons. TCU and Boise State have done it, too, but doing so outside of a power conference is nowhere near as impressive.

The Tigers haven't necessarily won big. The program is still seeking its first BCS bowl appearance but they've won consistently on the back of solid recruiting and even better development. Even in the program's glory years under Dan Devine in the 1960s, it never saw this kind of consistent success.

Players know what is expected of them under Pinkel. He wants to retire at Missouri, a point he's reiterated several times. The fans love him after this six-season stretch that followed some rough years early on, and would love to have him there as long as he wants. He's got the program rolling, and deep enough where a nightmare year of 4-5 wins just isn't going to happen.

Of course, he's done much of this on the back of Texas recruits, a luxury afforded many of the teams in the former Big 12 North after the Southwest Conference merged with the Big 8.

We've already seen them shift some recruiting focus into your neck of the woods, Florida and Atlanta. What does this program have to do to make some recruiting inroads there and continue this success?

[+] EnlargeJames Franklin
Sarah Glenn/Getty ImagesHow will James Franklin fare against more athletic and tougher defenses?
EA: Well, getting into the Florida and Atlanta areas is a good start, but Missouri can't forget about the entire Southeast. There are some other states that can be Missouri's friends as well. One thing going for Missouri is that St. Louis and Kansas City are pretty close. Both are about two hours away from Columbia and kids just love the those big cities! But the bright lights and the big malls can only take Missouri so far. Missouri has to prove that it can really compete on the SEC's level for an entire season and beyond. Winning just comes naturally in this conference, so Missouri will have to prove that it can keep up for years to come. One thing that will really get the athletes' attentions in the Southeast will be starting things off on the right foot. Playing in the SEC East and returning a good amount of starters should help with that. But make no mistake about it, there will be tons of negative recruiting thrown Missouri's way because of the Big 12 past and the fact that those starters will soon be gone after their SEC introduction.

Missouri's coaches are going to have to get very aggressive when it comes to recruiting over here. It's a rough game in the South. There are no unwritten rules about being respectful of committed prospects. SEC coaches play for keeps down here.

Also, Missouri's coaches are going to have to compete with the distance factor. Columbia is almost 700 miles away. There certainly are players who travel away from the Deep South, but most of them stay home. Can Missouri build enough of that family atmosphere to get these players to venture over to its neck of the woods?

We've hit Missouri's returners, but in order to win in the SEC you have to play well up front. Everyone says this a line-of-scrimmage league and from what I've read it sounds like Missouri's defensive line could have/should have played better in 2011. How do the Tigers make sure they're strong and tough enough up front to compete in this league?

DU: Good points on Mizzou's recruiting trying to spread its wings. The problem? They'll try to maintain those ties in Texas and it'll have to make sure they don't get spread too thin.

These are all issues Mizzou's coaching staff will have to figure out. I'm glad I don't have to.

You're right about the defensive line. They were good in 2011, but not as good as people thought. They'll have to be better. Landing a couple of those big defensive tackles down south would serve the Tigers well. For now, they've got great size coming back in a St. Louis kid, Sheldon Richardson. He's a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder with great athleticism who went to junior college before coming back to Mizzou. Monte Kiffin almost got his hands on him out at USC, but the Tigers have him and need him to have a huge season as a senior in Year 1 in the SEC.

The defensive line lost three starters, but they were deep in 2011 and have good pieces to fill the losses of Terrell Resonno and Dominique Hamilton at tackle and Jacquies Smith at defensive end. The time is now for promising ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy.

Richardson's the biggest piece at tackle. Brad Madison was a Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year candidate at defensive end, but had a disappointing season after playing through a shoulder injury that really limited his effectiveness and flexibility on the line. He'll be hungry as a senior in 2012. Memo to SEC offensive lines: look out for the spin move.

[+] EnlargeGary Pinkel
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesGary Pinkel's success in coming seasons will hinge on how well Missouri can recruit in the South.
Players like Richardson come down to recruiting, though. The kinds of players Mizzou needs on the defensive lines are much more plentiful in their new recruiting soil. Getting their feet on the ground in junior colleges will be huge.

What about the offense, though? You've seen these SEC defenses up close all season. I'd argue that outside of Alabama, LSU and Georgia, the SEC's defenses were way overrated based on reputation this season.

Will the Tigers' spread offense work in the SEC East? What, if anything, has to change?

EA: Well, you certainly won't make friends down here with that sort of talk. South Carolina fans will surely let you know just how they feel about being left out of the defensive discussion. After all, South Carolina ranked third nationally in total defense and the SEC had six defenses ranked in the top 25, including five in the top eight. But I digress. We've seen the spread work before in the SEC. Florida's 2007 and 2008 offenses were two of the best in the country. The 2009 team put up a good bit of yards too. We've seen elements of the spread in other offenses as well around the SEC and Arkansas does a great job of spreading defenders out with its passing game. Mississippi State also utilized a pretty successful spread offense in 2010.

In order for it to work, the offensive line has to be beefy and athletic. I know, it's an interesting concept, but you won't survive in this league without some real athletes up front. You've said in the past that Missouri's offensive line was a better than average, well that won't cut it in this league.

You also need some elite speed at the wide receiver position and a sound running game. Getting Dorial Green-Beckham out there could be a major get for this offense because of his size and speed. As for running, mobile running backs and commanding the read option are key. Missouri will have to find ways to combat the tremendous speed off the edge from SEC pass rushers every week. That's James Franklin's running ability comes in. Working the option is huge in the spread.

Well, let's wrap this thing up. I think Missouri will be fun to watch next season, but I'm not sure how well the Tigers will do afterward. You've been around Missouri a lot longer, where do you see Missouri stacking up in the next few years in the SEC?

DU: Good point on those SEC defenses being awesome. I know guys like Morgan Newton, Justin Worley and Clint Moseley give defensive coordinators nightmares. Somebody get the Gamecocks a medal for not letting Arkansas score 50 and getting lucky enough to dodge LSU and Alabama on the schedule.

But I'm getting off target here, much like SEC quarterbacks' passes.

As for the Tigers, it's going to be tough when the current players begin to leave. I don't think they'll have as much success recruiting in Texas, but I've got no idea if they'll be able to get a foothold near the SEC East and, like you said, convince some of these kids to come to Missouri.

Neither outcome would surprise me, but I think as the transition happens and the current talent begins to drain out of the program, the Tigers will hit some lean years. Whether they bounce back depends on what everything in college football depends on: recruiting.

Can Mizzou do it? Only time will tell.
Missouri FansJamie Squire/Getty ImagesWhat should SEC teams expect from Missouri, one of the conferences newest members?
Friends, today is the day.

Mizzou officially announced its move from the Big 12 to the SEC back in November, but today we'll make the move official on our blog network.

Mizzou will now officially be members of the SEC blog and moved off the Big 12 blog. We'll have a full day of posts today commemorating, debating and celebrating, but we'll kick things off the right way: with an introduction.

Big 12 blogger David Ubben introduces the SEC to its newest member on the blog with a Q&A with SEC blogger Edward Aschoff.

Edward Aschoff: Once the Texas A&M talks with the SEC heated up, Missouri's name was thrown right in. It wasn't much of a secret the Tigers would join, but what was your reaction to Missouri joining the SEC?

David Ubben: It's a complicated one. This move has so many facets to it. In terms of stability, I totally understand. When Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State started looking west at forming the Pac-16 for the second consecutive year, Mizzou knew it didn't want to have to wonder where it's future league home was going to be. The summer of 2010 when it looked like Mizzou, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor were going to be left out of these new "superconferences" was scary for the Tigers. A move to the SEC, above all, ensures those conversations won't have to occur anymore.

A ticket to the SEC became possible. The Tigers chased it and caught it.

Well, now they're here. Fans are going to have to travel a whole long way to see road games. The recruiting game is going to be vastly different, and much more cutthroat, perhaps a world the Tigers are a bit unfamiliar with.

This season, they were right outside the national top 25 in recruiting, but that ranked ninth in the SEC. The bar has been raised. The big question is can Missouri clear it and be a successful program in the long run?

[+] EnlargeDorial Green-Beckham
Denny Medley/US PresswireBy signing Dorial Green-Beckham, the Missouri Tigers showed the school can attract top recruits.
EA: Travel will be really interesting. Columbia, Mo., is almost 900 miles away from the other Columbia and Gainesville is more than 1,000 miles away. Talk about Delta miles. Missouri won't have to worry about filling opposing fans' ticket allotments because SEC fans travel well. So, when these fans get on campus, what are some of the new traditions they'll be exposed to from the Missouri faithful?

DU: Good question. There are teams with stronger traditions in the Big 12, but Mizzou's are solid.

The most evident one will be the Rock M at the North end of Faurot Field. Every August, they add a few rocks and the university's freshmen offer a fresh coat of paint to keep it looking fresh, which it always does.

For the biggest games, the Rock M and the field surrounding it will be packed with fans. Lately, the Tigers have had a few big wins to celebrate with ripped up goalposts. Wins over Oklahoma and Nebraska come to mind. When that happens, those goalposts are toted up that field and carried almost a mile to Harpo's, a bar downtown, where fans will cut them up and take home a piece.

If Bama goes down in Columbia next season, the Tide fans will see that up close and personal.

During the game, you'll get a taste of the Missouri Waltz, which is a pretty recognizable song featuring the fans waving their arms to the music.

They'll also get to meet Truman the Tiger, who treks around the track surrounding the field in a fire truck before the game with a hose to spray fans on hot days.

Faurot Field only seats a little more than 70,000 fans, but it's a solid atmosphere more often than not. It won't wow many folks, but it's got a very unique feel, and the stadium is set into the ground, so it feels a little underground, too.

EA: I also hear homecoming is a pretty big deal in Columbia as well. Let's hit the team a little. Some guy named Dorial Green-Beckham signed with Missouri and from all accounts he's a pretty big deal. The Tigers return a couple of solid receivers to help James Franklin, but Green-Beckham might really be special. How big was that pickup and how do you think he'll be used in the Tigers' offense this fall?

DU: Ah yes, how could I forget?

You want to be wowed by Mizzou? Come to campus during homecoming weekend and check out house decorations. I've seen plenty on several campuses in my day. None top Mizzou.

The DGB signing might honestly be bigger off the field than it is on it. He signifies that if you're one of the nation's top recruits, you don't have to go to somewhere like Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma or Texas. It's OK to go somewhere in state or somewhere you feel comfortable.

Most importantly, you can go to Mizzou, and DGB will vouch for that.

On the field, I don't think you can expect him to walk in and be a gamechanger. The SEC is a lot different than Missouri high school football. That said, I'd be surprised if he had fewer than 40 catches this season, and of course, he has the potential to become one of the best receivers this game has ever seen.

That idea is kind of crazy to think about. Mizzou's offense will give him a chance to fulfill that potential.

EA: Well, the guy throwing the ball to DGB ain't so bad. We saw quite a bit of Franklin last season and he was pretty impressive running and throwing, but this is the big league. SEC defenses prevent shootouts. So how do you see Franklin adjusting to all that speed on defense? And I might as well put you on the spot and see how you think Missouri will do in its first season in the SEC. What's your prediction, David?

DU: I think he's well-suited for the SEC, really. He doesn't get his yards on the ground with a lot of speed. He's really instinctive and runs when he should run. He does it with power and a great feel for creases in the offensive line and some nice wiggle that makes it hard to lay a good knock on him like SEC defenses will want to do.

Mizzou's production will dip a bit, but I still think the Tigers' offense will be effective.

As for my pick for the Tigers in Year 1?

Nine wins. Second place in the SEC East. Not a bad first season, eh?

Lunch links: Gary Pinkel's big entrance

January, 19, 2012
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Some voters find Claire angry and unlikeable. To those voters I would say ... wait 'til she reads this.

Lunch links: Best Kansas State team ever?

January, 6, 2012
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Independence Bowl: Missouri vs. UNC

December, 26, 2011
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The Big 12 bowl slate kicks off with what's technically not a Big 12 bowl. Mizzou landed in the V100 AdvoCare Independence Bowl after the league had more bowl-eligible teams than bowl tie-ins, and will be heading to the SEC next season.

Before that happens, we'll preview its finale as a member of the Big 12.

WHO TO WATCH: James Franklin, QB, Missouri. Franklin's the center of everything Missouri does offensively, especially since Henry Josey went down with a knee injury. When Franklin finds some running room, it opens up the passing game. And when he hits on a few passes down the field, it opens things up for his leg. He can do either to set up the other, and Missouri's offense goes as he goes. A big day for one means a big day for the other. A bad day for one means a bad day for the other.

WHAT TO WATCH: Missouri's defense vs. North Carolina's skill positions. The Tigers are strong up front, but have struggled in the secondary at times. The Tar Heels boast a 1,200-yard rusher in Giovani Bernard and an 1,100-yard receiver in Dwight Jones. Quarterback Bryn Renner has a lot around him, and Missouri's defense has to play well to win this one.

WHY TO WATCH: Missouri's had a few classics in bowl games under Gary Pinkel, and this is a good matchup that could be another. The Tigers erased a 21-0 deficit to beat South Carolina in this game back in 2005. The next year, Mizzou lost the Sun Bowl when Oregon State converted a two-point conversion with 23 seconds left. In 2008, the Tigers beat Northwestern in overtime in the Alamo Bowl. Last year, a late Blaine Gabbert interception was returned for a touchdown and the final dramatic drive came up short in a close loss to Iowa in the Insight Bowl. Stay tuned this year.

PREDICTION: Missouri 34, North Carolina 28: The Tigers match up pretty well with UNC, and take care of business with a solid performance from Franklin, who tops 125 yards rushing and throws for 225, accounting for four touchdowns. The Tigers head to the SEC on the right note.

Mizzou and Huskers: Texas pipeline drying?

December, 21, 2011
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Nebraska left the Big 12 after the 2010 season. Some, myself included, contended that their exit would parallel the eventual erasure (perhaps not completely) of the recruiting pipeline to Texas that so many Big 12 programs have built since the Big 8 merged with four Southwest Conference teams in 1996.

Early returns suggest this may be the case. We updated the Big 12 recruiting scorecards last week, but in the process, I took a gander at Nebraska's, too.

The Huskers have just eight commits so far this year, the same number as Kansas, who has the fewest in the Big 12. The 2012 class figures to be small, but here's what the numbers from Texas look like for the Huskers in the past.
  • 2006: 1 of 25 signees from Texas
  • 2007: 7 of 28 signees from Texas
  • 2008: 9 of 27 signees from Texas
  • 2009: 8 of 21 signees from Texas (four of top five recruits were from Texas)
  • 2010: 5 of 22 signees from Texas
  • 2011: 5 of 20 signees from Texas (Three of four ESPNU 150 signees were from Texas)
  • 2012: 1 of 8 commits from Texas

So, what's to take from this?

Nebraska is a national brand, much more so than Missouri, another non-Texas school in the Big 12 leaving the league after this season. Missouri is going to the SEC, which is much closer to Texas than the Big Ten. Colorado left for the Pac-12, but the Buffaloes never quite asserted themselves in the Lone Star State the way Missouri and Nebraska did. The Huskers look likely to supplant that loss with players from Ohio and elsewhere around the country.

Nebraska offered fewer players in Texas this year, but that looks like a sign they know it could be difficult to pull the same number of players from the South when all their games are in Nebraska or further north.

So, will the same fate await Missouri? The Tigers don't have the history or brand strength of Nebraska, but they do have a recent winning tradition on their side, moreso than even Nebraska.

Missouri has 34 players from Texas on its roster, and that number would seem likely to fall. How far, though?

Here's how the recruiting in Texas has looked for Mizzou since 2006:
  • 2006: 9 of 25 signees from Texas (four of top six signees)
  • 2007: 5 of 27 signees from Texas
  • 2008: 12 0f 24 signees from Texas (three of top five signees)
  • 2009: 7 of 25 signees from Texas
  • 2010: 9 of 23 signees from Texas
  • 2011: 8 of 17 signees from Texas
  • 2012: 8 of 15 commits from Texas (three of top six commits)
  • 2013: ??

Missouri has already added recruiting responsibilities in Florida (two coaches) and Atlanta (one assistant), in addition to their responsibilities in Texas.

Coach Gary Pinkel says his team will reassess its recruiting strategy soon.

Unlike Nebraska's original exit, though, the Big 12 won't just be subtracting teams. It will add two teams. TCU, after joining the Big 12, figures to steal a few of those recruits in Texas that traditionally would have gone out of state to programs with less tradition and history than Oklahoma or Texas. West Virginia, coached by Dana Holgorsen, should grab a few Texas recruits too. Holgorsen coached at Texas Tech and Houston for a decade before moving on to Oklahoma State and now, West Virginia.

Florida is the only other state in SEC country with a depth of football talent comparable to Texas, and it would seem paramount that the Tigers shift their future pipeline from finding hidden gems like Danario Alexander and Sean Weatherspoon in Texas to finding others in Florida.

Can they do it?

We'll see what the long-term effects are in Texas on Nebraska, but the early results seem to suggest Missouri will have to if it wants to keep winning.

Lunch links: Strong words from Texas AD

December, 20, 2011
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Lunch links: Texas' real issues in its bowl

December, 19, 2011
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There really is not a better draw in the NFL this year than one Timothy Tebow.

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