Big 12: Gene Stallings

Lunch links: Can Missouri trust the Big 12?

October, 4, 2011
Who says two bros can't rock a birthing class?

Mailbag: 12 vs. Ten, OSU woes, and UT offense

May, 28, 2010
David in Austin, Texas, writes: Given the "regime change" down in Austin this offseason (GG for Colt) and Mack Brown's professed desire to bring GG help in the form of a tried and true running game, how long would you give it until they revert back into the "forget strategy, let's just give it to our best player"-strategy?

David Ubben: Technically, that's what they're doing now. For all the talk about Garrett Gilbert, they've got two experienced running backs in Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whittaker, so even though they've got to find three new offensive linemen, Brown's giving those guys a chance to carry the team. But you've got a point. If Gilbert's completion percentage starts floating toward 70 percent and he's taking care of the ball, you might see the Longhorns start to spread it out a little more.

Ben in Atlanta asks: David, last week I asked if the Big 10's public jockeying for expansion was nothing but circus publicity and you didn't agree, then curiously every one of your fellow ESPN bloggers inexplicably voted the Big 10 the second best conference behind the SEC. Coincidence? I think not, pure expansion hype has been good for business for the Big 10... agree?

DU: Sorry, Ben. Still not biting. And, for the record, my boy Ted Miller out West put the Big 12 as his second-best conference. I think the perception of the conference comes down to the amount of talent that left. While having nine first-round draft picks looks good in April, it doesn't bode well for the preseason prognostication in the following months. It doesn't help that the Big 12 doesn't have a player you could even come close to arguing as the best in the country, a major departure from last season. Texas and Oklahoma in apparent "down" years (i.e. 10 wins, rather than 11+) has more to do with people putting the Big Ten ahead of the Big 12 than any of the expansion talk.

Luke Hood asks: Whats up?

DU: Not much, man. Just bloggin'.

John in Denver asks: Do you think Dan Beebe will give a deadline next week during the Big 12 conference meetings for members to commit to the conference? If so, when do you think that deadline will be established and can he provide a solution to encourage Nebraska to stay?

DU: I'd be surprised if we hear a firm deadline to make a commitment, but the conference definitely wants to move in that direction. Beebe clarified his comments last week, so don't expect to hear an ultimatum to Nebraska, Missouri or Colorado. He says he has some ideas to rectify the instability -- perceived or real -- within the conference, and we might hear some of those in Kansas City next week. But my guess is we're more likely to see them enforce some sort of negative consequence for leaving, rather than a positive consequence for staying. I could be wrong, though. Either way, I'll be there next week and let you guys know what's up when we know.

Scott in Lubbock, Texas, asks: Here's a hypothetical. Its the Big 12 coaches meeting, and the coaches are kind of bored. The Big 12 South coaches challenge the Big 12 North coaches to a game of pick up basketball. How do you see this game play out?

DU: Lots of plays being called. Few being executed. Gary Pinkel and Mike Gundy keep trying to spread everyone out and go play hoops on the grass outside. Bo Pelini keeps packing everyone inside the paint and ordering them not to shoot. In short, it would be a mess. In the end, they all decide to stick to football.

Dan in Hanover, N.H., writes: Just a heads up on your college HoF article. Barry Alvarez, while he'll go for what he's done at Wisconsin was, in fact, a linebacker at Nebraska in the 1960s under the late Bob Devaney.

David Ubben: Ten or so folks wrote in about this. I'm aware, but Alvarez was inducted as a coach, and though Gene Stallings was better known at Alabama, his induction explicitly mentions his work at Texas A&M. So, sorry Nebraska fans, Alvarez doesn't count as another in the Hall of Fame. And here's a little more on Tommie Frazier, whose exclusion prompted a few e-mails as well.

Jeff in Shakopee, Minn., asks: Every five years a Big 12 team wins a National Title. 2005- Texas 2000 Oklahoma 1995- Nebraska 1990- Colorado 1985- Oklahoma. Who from the Big 12 is going to win it this year?

DU: Interesting observation, but last year would have been the next in the five-year cycle. Might as well not even bother to play this season. But those mid-90s Nebraska teams prove it's possible for a Big 12 team to win the title in other years, so I guess we'll hold off on canceling the next three seasons. As for this year, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma wouldn't completely shock anyone by winning the title.

(3:26 p.m.) EDIT: Whoops. The January crossover keeps the confusion coming. I'm an idiot. Jeff's right.

Randy in McKinney, Texas, asks: I'm curious as to why so many people think OSU will take such a huge nosedive next year. 64th in one poll, seriously? Ranked behind Kansas and Tech, both of which had a complete coaching overhaul? I know that preseason polls aren't reliable, but still. What gives?

Chance Cole in Charleston, S.C., asks: With Dez Bryant suspended, Zac Robinson playing injured the last few games (and throwing inconsistently when healthy), and Toston bearing the load for an injured Hunter, the Ok. State Cowboys still put together a decent season. So with a mature gunslinger like Weeden, a healthy Kendall Hunter, a blossoming Hubert Anyiam, and a new O-coordinator, why so sour on the Cowboys for 2010? Can the defense be that bad?

DU: I was really surprised to see them that low in that ranking. I'm not sour at all on the Cowboys, I think they'll be solid. But the South is still going to be tough, and Texas and Oklahoma will be much better; Texas A&M will be slightly better. Oklahoma State and Tech are kind of on a similar rung, and Baylor is drawing some hope from their potential, which is very real. Replacing four linemen, including Russell Okung, doesn't help the Cowboys' case, and they have to figure out who they can count on at the skill positions. With Dana Holgorsen's quick-release scheme, they could probably manage if the offensive line plays poorly, but those guys playing well is obviously going to make it a lot simpler.

Big 12 sends three to Hall of Fame

May, 27, 2010
Two Big 12 players and a coach are among 14 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2010.

Ray Childress spent two seasons dominating on the defensive line for the Texas A&M's defense in the mid-80s. He was a two-time All-American and two-time All-Southwest Conference selection after racking up 25 sacks and 241 tackles in his final two seasons.

His 360 career tackles and 25 sacks rank fifth all-time in school history, and Childress was drafted by the Houston Oilers with the third pick in the 1985 NFL Draft.

Alfred Williams helped the Buffaloes capture the 1990 national title and won the Butkus Award as college football's best linebacker. He also earned All-American honors in 1989 and 1990. He's the school's all-time leader in sacks, with 35.

Williams is the program's fifth Hall of Fame selection, and the school plans to honor him with a celebration surrounding the Sept. 18 home game, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
"I'm speechless," Williams said. "I'm honored ... I've been nervous all day. I was supposed to be waiting for some kind of envelope, and I was sitting around the house waiting for it all day. I started to think it wasn`t going to come."

Williams had been on the list of nominees for the last three years. "I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen," he said.

[...]At one point after being told of the honor, Williams teared up in the radio studio and briefly took a break from the show.

Gene Stallings might be best known for winning a national title at Alabama in 1992, and being a part of Bear Bryant's staff for championships in 1961 and 1964, but his first head coaching job came as a 29-year-old in College Station. He was also one of Bryant's "Junction Boys" at A&M before joining his staff at Alabama when his playing career was up.

In 1967, under Stallings' direction, the Aggies won the Southwest Conference title.

Here are the other inductees for the Class of 2010, who will be enshrined later this year.
  • Dennis Byrd, NC State
  • Ronnie Caveness, Arkansas
  • Randy Cross, UCLA
  • Sam Cunningham, USC
  • Mark Herrmann, Purdue
  • Clarkston Hines, Duke
  • Desmond Howard, Michigan
  • Chet Moeller, Navy
  • Jerry Stovall, LSU
  • Pat Tillman, Arizona State
  • Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin

Remembering the player who caught 'The Texas Special'

February, 11, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It's a shame that ESPN's "College Game Day Final" wasn't around 44 years ago. Because if it was, Ken McLean's fame would have been built for one remarkable play that still resonates in the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry.

I'm remembering McLean today after learning that the former Texas A&M player passed away Monday after a long battle with cancer. His memorable catch on "The Texas Special" is still recalled as one of the first grainy memories I have of college football.

If Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz had been breaking down plays when McLean was playing, he likely would have been a household name for one bit of trickery in a 1965 game between the Aggies and Longhorns.

Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings singed the Longhorns for a 91-yard touchdown pass from wingback Jim Kauffman to McLean.

Early in the second quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Harry Ledbetter bounced a lateral to Kauffman, who stomped his feet in anger as the fans at Kyle Field thought it was a busted play. All of the Aggie players acted like it was an incomplete pass rather than a lateral.

Kaufman then looked up and connected with a wide-open McLean, who had jetted 15 yards past the Texas secondary. The field judge had been tipped off before the game by Stallings so that an inadvertent whistle would not be blown when the lateral hit the ground.

The play, which at the time was the longest in Texas A&M history and the Southwest Conference, helped stake the Aggies to a 17-0  halftime lead.

"It was one of the most original, clever plays I have ever seen," Texas coach Darrell Royal said at the time.

McLean produced some Michael Crabtree-like numbers in the game that were unusual for the era -- 13 catches for 250 yards. The receiving yardage remains an A&M single-game record. But it wasn't enough as Texas stormed back to win, 21-17.  

The major reason, Texas players remembered, was Royal's simplistic approach after being burned for the long touchdown on "The Texas Special."

"Coach Royal told us he could put all kinds of diagrams on the blackboard and they wouldn't help," Texas quarterback Marvin Kristynik told Steve Richardson in his fine book "Tales from the Texas Longhorns."

"It was just a matter of whether we wanted to win or not. Then he wrote 21-17 on the blackboard and said, 'That's what we can do. And then we did it.'"  

After his football career ended, McLean graduated from law school and began a long career as a noted defense attorney in the Houston area. 

Funeral services for McLean, 65, will be at Klein Funeral Home in Houston at 3 p.m. Friday. Graveside services will be held Monday in Stennett, Texas, where McLean was a high school teammate of legendary former Texas Tech and Green Bay Packers running back Donny Anderson.

I mourn McLean's passing for his family members as I think about one of the most innovative gadget plays in college football history.

Lunchtime links: Brown family helps start Stillwater school

October, 24, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Oklahoma State and Texas will renew a fierce rivalry Saturday involving two of the top six teams in the country. An entire nation will be watching a game with Bowl Championship Series and Big 12 title ramifications.

And even though the competition between the two schools will be fierce, there's a connection between the two schools that goes much deeper than any football game.

San Antonio Express-News columnist David Flores writes about how Texas coach Mack Brown and his wife, Sally, helped start the Rise School of Stillwater, a school for special-needs children. The idea came after Oklahoma State director of football operations Jimmy Gonzales' daughter, Mya, was born with Down Syndrome in 2005.

Gonzales was the director of football operations at Texas under John Mackovic. And although Brown brought his own person to fill the job after the coaching change, he has maintained a close relationship with Gonzales over the years.

Soon after their daughter was born, Gonzales told Brown about Mya's diagnosis. Brown told him about his family's work in starting the Rise School of Austin, a school modeled along the lines of the Rise School, a nationally recognized early childhood program at the University of Alabama for children with disabilities.

The University of Alabama Rise School-Tuscaloosa is housed in the Stallings Center, named after the late Johnny Stallings, the son of former Alabama football coach Gene Stallings.

The Browns, along with the Gonzales family, have played active roles in the start of the Stillwater center that opened last October.

The facility celebrated its grand opening the following week, coinciding with last season's Texas-OSU football game. Sally Brown came early to attend the festivities.

"I went to the airport to pick her up," Gonzales told the Express-News. "Even though we had a big game with Texas the next day, it was neat to have her share that occasion with us because we found out about the Rise School through her and Mack."

The following day, Gonzales met with Brown on the field before the game between the Cowboys and Longhorns.

"Mack shook my hand and gave me a hug, and then he said, 'How's Mya?'" Gonzales told Flores.

That's why tomorrow's game between the Cowboys and Longhorns would be special, even if the attention for the game wasn't nearly as high as it is.

More information about the Mya Gonzales Foundation, a non-profit organization created for families of children with Down Syndrome and other special needs, can be obtained here.

And here are some other links from across the Big 12 for your edification. Enjoy them.

  • The Denver Post's John Henderson isn't buying the Big 12 as the nation's best for one main reason -- lack of defense. Henderson determined that all but one team that made the BCS title game in its history had a defense ranked 23rd or better nationally. Nine of the top 24 teams in the country are from the SEC. And the Big 12's best defense this season is Oklahoma at No. 34.
  • The Des Moines Register's Andrew Logue profiles Texas A&M freshman wide receiver Ryan Tannehill, who has emerged as the Aggies' top receiver despite starting the season as a backup quarterback.
  • With Missouri struggling and Kansas facing a difficult upcoming schedule, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Christopherson says that Nebraska could be poised to win the North Division with a few breaks.
  • The Dallas Morning News' Kate Hairopoulos writes a touching story about how Texas running back Chris Ogbonnoya has overcome several family tragedies to emerge as one of the Longhorns' key players this season.
  • Oklahoma State will bring a roster heavily stacked with Texas natives to meet the Longhorns, Scott Wright of the Oklahoman writes.
  • With his red-tinted contact lenses and Mohawk hairstyle, the Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner says Baylor free safety Jordan Lake looks like a crazy man in cleats. Lake's father says his son watches a DVD "The NFL's 100 Hardest Hits" to psyche himself up before games.