Big 12: Georgia Bulldogs

Position U: Kicker

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
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video
Who really deserves to claim the title of “Kicker U” for the 2000s?

1. Ohio State (80 points): The Buckeyes placed first among place-kickers and tied for ninth at punter thanks to an award winner in each category. The high-point man who helped Ohio State win the “Kicker U” label was Mike Nugent, who won the Lou Groza Award, was a two-time All-American and All-Big Ten pick and was picked in the second round of the 2005 draft. Punter B.J. Sander won the Ray Guy Award and was drafted in the third round before enjoying a short career with the Green Bay Packers.

Award winners: B.J. Sander, Guy (2003); Mike Nugent, Groza (2004).
Consensus All-Americans: Mike Nugent (2002, 2004).
First-team all-conference: Dan Stultz (2000), Adam Groom (2002), Mike Nugent (2002, 2004), B.J. Sander (2003), Josh Huston (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: B.J. Sander (Round 3, 2004), Mike Nugent (Round 2, 2005).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

2. UCLA (72 points): A pair of consensus All-Americans (Justin Medlock and Kai Forbath) and a Lou Groza Award (which Forbath won in 2009) helped UCLA push toward the top of the rankings. Medlock was also drafted in 2007 and has spent portions of several seasons on NFL rosters, while also kicking at times in the CFL.

Award winners: Kai Forbath, Groza (2009).
Consensus All-Americans: Justin Medlock (2006), Kai Forbath (2009).
First-team all-conference: Nate Fikse (2001, 2002), Justin Medlock (2004, 2006), Aaron Perez (2008), Kai Forbath (2009), Jeff Locke (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Justin Medlock (Round 5, 2007), Jeff Locke (Round 5, 2013).

3. Colorado (64 points): Three-time all-conference pick Mason Crosby -- also a consensus All-American in 2005 -- accounted for nearly all of Colorado’s point production at place-kicker. He went on to become a sixth-round draft pick and has set several franchise records as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Mark Mariscal also added some points by winning the Ray Guy Award and becoming an All-American and all-conference selection in 2002.

Award winners: Mark Mariscal, Guy (2002).
Consensus All-Americans: Mark Mariscal (2002), Mason Crosby (2005).
First-team all-conference: Jeremy Flores (2001), Mark Mariscal (2002), Mason Crosby (2004, 2005, 2006), John Torp (2005).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Mason Crosby (Round 6, 2007).

4. Michigan State (62 points): With six first-team All-Big Ten selections -- including three-time honoree Brandon Fields, who was also a consensus All-American in 2004 -- Michigan State takes the No. 3 spot. The Spartans have also had two punters drafted since 2001, which is a rare feat for a college program, as well as kickers Dave Rayner and Craig Jarrett.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: Brandon Fields (2004).
First-team all-conference: Brandon Fields (2003, 2004, 2006), Brett Swenson (2009), Aaron Bates (2010), Dan Conroy (2010), Mike Sadler (2012, 2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Craig Jarrett (Round 6, 2002), Dave Rayner (Round 6, 2005), Brandon Fields (Round 7, 2007).

T-5. Baylor (56 points): Baylor places almost solely because of one player: mid-2000s standout Daniel Sepulveda. The two-time Ray Guy Award winner scored 44 points by himself, which is greater than the score for every other program in the punter rankings except one (No. 2 Michigan State, which had 48).

Award winners: Daniel Sepulveda, Guy (2004, 2006).
Consensus All-Americans: Daniel Sepulveda (2006).
First-team all-conference: Daniel Sepulveda (2004, 2006), Derek Epperson (2009), Spencer Roth (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Daniel Sepulveda (Round 3, 2007).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

T-5. Oklahoma State (56 points): Between Quinn Sharp’s three all-conference selections at punter and two at place-kicker, Dan Bailey's 2010 Groza Award and Matt Fodge’s 2008 Guy Award, Oklahoma State fared well at both kicking positions.

Award winners: Matt Fodge, Guy (2008); Dan Bailey, Groza (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Dan Bailey (2010), Quinn Sharp (2010, 2011, 2012 at punter; 2011, 2012 at place-kicker).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: None.

7. Florida State (54 points): A pair of Groza Award wins (by Graham Gano and last season by Roberto Aguayo) helped Florida State place third solely among place-kickers and sixth overall. Aguayo helped extend the Seminoles’ streak of first-team All-ACC place-kickers to three consecutive years after Dustin Hopkins earned the honor in 2011 and 2012. Since Aguayo was only a redshirt freshman last fall, there is a good chance the streak will continue. Punter Shawn Powell was the Seminoles' only All-American during this stretch.

Award winners: Graham Gano, Groza (2008); Roberto Aguayo, Groza (2013).
Consensus All-Americans: Shawn Powell (2011).
First-team all-conference: Dustin Hopkins (2011, 2012), Shawn Powell (2011), Roberto Aguayo (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Dustin Hopkins (Round 6, 2013).

8. Georgia (52 points): Give Mark Richt credit: In his 13-plus seasons as Georgia’s coach, he has rarely been without a consistent place-kicker. Players like Blair Walsh, Brandon Coutu, Billy Bennett and most recently Marshall Morgan have given Georgia a consistent scoring threat in the kicking game. And Drew Butler had one of the best seasons by any punter in SEC history when he won the Ray Guy Award in 2009.

Award winners: Drew Butler, Guy (2009).
Consensus All-Americans: Drew Butler (2009).
First-team all-conference: Billy Bennett (2002), Brandon Coutu (2005), Drew Butler (2009), Blair Walsh (2010), Marshall Morgan (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Brandon Coutu (Round 7, 2008), Blair Walsh (Round 6, 2012).

8. Miami (52 points): Another program with two punters who were drafted (Matt Bosher and Pat O’Donnell, both in the sixth round), Miami hasn’t had a punter win the Ray Guy Award or earn an All-America nod, but the Hurricanes do boast four all-conference punters since the turn of the century. Bosher was also an all-conference place-kicker in 2010.

Award winners: None.
Consensus All-Americans: None.
First-team all-conference: Freddie Capshaw (2000, 2001), Todd Sievers (2001, 2002), Jon Peattie (2003), Matt Bosher (2009 at place-kicker, 2010 at punter), Pat O’Donnell (2013).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Matt Bosher (Round 6, 2011), Pat O’Donnell (Round 6, 2014).

10. Florida (48 points): Chas Henry, who won the Ray Guy Award and was a consensus All-American and first-team All-SEC pick in 2010, accounted for 24 of Florida’s 30 points at punter. The Gators also had a pair of place-kickers (Jeff Chandler and Caleb Sturgis, a two-time all-conference pick) drafted.

Award winners: Chas Henry, Guy (2010).
Consensus All-Americans: Chas Henry (2010).
First-team all-conference: Chas Henry (2010), Caleb Sturgis (2011, 2012), Kyle Christy (2012).
NFL first-round draft picks: None.
NFL draft picks, Rounds 2-4: Jeff Chandler (Round 4, 2002).
NFL draft picks, Rounds 5-7: Caleb Sturgis (Round 5, 2013).

REST OF “KICKER U” RANKINGS
46 – California; 44 – Auburn, Nebraska, Utah, Wake Forest; 42 – Georgia Tech; 40 – Purdue; 38 – Pittsburgh, Tennessee; 34 – Iowa, Louisville, Maryland; 32 – BYU, Texas A&M, TCU, Wisconsin; 28 – LSU, Michigan, Oregon State; 26 – USC, Virginia Tech; 22 – Arizona State; 16 – Ole Miss; 14 – Arizona, Penn State, Texas; 12 – Alabama, Duke, Illinois, Kansas State, Kentucky, Missouri, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Washington State; 8 – Virginia, West Virginia, Boston College; 6 – Indiana, Oregon, Rutgers, Stanford; 2 – Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt; 0 – Clemson, Iowa State, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi State, North Carolina, NC State, Notre Dame, Texas Tech, Washington.

Video: Week 1 games to watch

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
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Mike Bellotti and Matt Stinchcomb offer up the Week 1 matchups they are most excited to watch: Georgia vs. Clemson and LSU vs. TCU.

Video: Potential BCS matchups

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
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Lou Holtz, Mark May discuss the upsets of top-ranked Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon, and look forward to some potential BCS Championship matchups.

Video: Saturday's BCS implications

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
2:09
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Kirk Herbstreit discusses the implications of losses by No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon on Saturday.
Forbes magazine put together a list of the top 20 most valuable college football programs, and the team at the top is no surprise.

Everything's bigger in (Austin) Texas. Especially football budgets.

The Longhorns topped the list with a value of $129 million, producing $96 million in revenue and $71 million in total profit, far ahead of its nearest competitors.

The program's value is $17 million more than No. 2, Notre Dame. Its produced $19 million more in revenue than Alabama, second in that category. It produced $18 million more in total profit than No. 2 Georgia.

The Big 12 had three teams in the top 20. Oklahoma checked in at No. 10 and Texas A&M was No. 17.

The Sooners were valued at $87 million, produced $59 million in revenue and made $36 million in profit.

The Aggies were valued at $63 million, produced $45 million in revenue and made $30 million in profit.

Forbes also studied the game's best teams for the money, and Kansas State checked in at No. 1 this year. Its expenses were just $11 million, which cashed out at $1,086,705 per victory, the best mark of any team in the country.

Oklahoma State checked in at No. 3, at $1,253,388 per win. Its expenses were $14 million.

Baylor was No. 8, at $1,619,672 per win. Its expenses were $15 million.

Schlabach: Iowa State's BCS surprise

November, 19, 2011
11/19/11
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AMES, Iowa -- So what happens now?

We've spent the past few weeks wondering what would happen to the BCS national championship race if No. 2 Oklahoma State lost to No. 5 Oklahoma in the Dec. 3 Bedlam game in Stillwater, Okla.

We've pondered what would happen if No. 1 LSU lost to No. 6 Arkansas in Baton Rouge, La., on the day after Thanksgiving, or maybe even against No. 14 Georgia a week later in the SEC championship game.

If the Cowboys lost to the Sooners, which they'd done in each of the past eight seasons, would No. 3 Alabama play LSU again in the Jan. 9 Allstate BCS National Championship Game?

If not Alabama, then what about No. 4 Oregon? The Ducks lost to the Tigers 40-27 in their Sept. 3 season opener and haven't lost since.

Or, even better, what would happen if LSU and Oklahoma State both lost?

Well, let the debate begin.

To read Mark Schlabach's full column, click here.

Big 12 pre-spring power rankings

February, 10, 2010
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With spring practice set to begin soon -- Texas opens its camp on March 2 -- here’s a quick look at how I have the teams ranked heading into spring practice. In formulating my rankings, I took into account returning players, transfers, arriving freshmen and a teams’ schedules.

1. Texas (14 starters back: 6 offensive, 7 defensive, 1 special teams). Garrett Gilbert got a head start on replacing Colt McCoy with his considerable playing time in the national title game, an invaluable learning experience for a young player. The Longhorns return most of the defense that improved in its second season under Will Muschamp. The biggest chores will be for offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who has to boost running game production and find a replacement for record-breaking wide receiver Jordan Shipley.

2. Nebraska (18 starters back: 8 offensive, 8 defensive, 2 special teams). Bo Pelini has the Cornhuskers positioned for a potential top-10 preseason ranking. Most of the offensive weapons will be back from a unit that sputtered down the stretch before breaking out in the Holiday Bowl victory. Quarterback Zac Lee will miss some of spring practice as he recovers from postseason surgery. Cody Green and Kody Spano will get most of the work until Lee returns. Nebraska coaches think the defense can be better this season, even without the up-the-middle strength of Ndamukong Suh, Phillip Dillard, Larry Asante and Matt O’Hanlon.

3. Oklahoma (15 starters back: 9 offensive, 4 defensive, 2 special teams). The Sooners overcame a debilitating run of injuries last season to finish with a flourish, knocking Oklahoma State out of a BCS game and winning the Sun Bowl in their final two games. Landry Jones will be infinitely better in his second season as a starter and Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray may be the best one-two receiving/running back combination in the conference. Bob Stoops will be facing a big renovation on defense where key players like Gerald McCoy and Dominique Franks left early for the NFL draft. Look for Travis Lewis to be the key to a defense that will need to improve by the time Big 12 play begins if the Sooners are to have any hope of claiming a seventh Big 12 title this season.

4. Missouri (19 starters back: 9 offensive, 9 defensive, 1 special teams). The Tigers will miss Danario Alexander and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who were arguably the best players at their positions in the conference last season. But Blaine Gabbert is back for a second season as starting quarterback and some talented recruits are expected to emerge on defense. A key for the Tigers’ success will be a more productive running game and consistency from the offensive line. Improvement on both will be critical for coordinator David Yost during the spring.

5. Texas Tech (15 starters back: 7 offensive, 6 defensive, 2 special teams). New coach Tommy Tuberville immediately will have to sort through a potentially difficult decision at quarterback between Taylor Potts and fan favorite Steven Sheffield. New coordinator James Willis hopes to install a 3-4 defense that should be a haven for athletic linebackers. But the group’s success will hinge on replacing Jamar Wall at cornerback and finding some pass-rushing threats to replace Brandon Sharpe, Richard Jones and Daniel Howard along the front.

6. Texas A&M (19 starters back: 8 offensive, 9 defensive, 2 special teams). With Jerrod Johnson, Jeff Fuller, Uzoma Nwachukwu and Christine Michael back, the Aggies shouldn’t have trouble scoring points, although the line needs to do a better job of protecting Johnson. But the Aggies’ success will depend on the returning starters quickly taking to new coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s teachings. The group was blistered for at least 35 points in seven games last season and allowed at least 30 points in two other games. So needless to say that even with nine starters back, DeRuyter has his work cut out.

7. Kansas (16 starters back: 7 offensive, 7 defensive, 2 special teams). New coach Turner Gill inherits an uncertain quarterback situation, but has the framework for a strong running attack with all of his starting linemen back, along with Toben Opurum and heralded back Brandon Bourbon as running threats. The Jayhawks will need to fill in for the loss of Darrell Stuckey in the secondary, but new coordinator Carl Torbush should find the elements for a blitzing, attacking defense among the returnees. But the biggest reason the Jayhawks might be bound for a bowl game in Gill’s first season is swapping Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma for Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Baylor in their cross-divisional schedule.

8. Iowa State (13 starters back: 8 offensive, 4 defensive, 1 special teams). Paul Rhoads returns most of the offensive weapons that led the Cyclones to the Insight Bowl, most notably quarterback Austen Arnaud and running back Alexander Robinson. But the team loses all of its starting linebackers; veteran coordinator Wally Burnham will be challenged to cobble together a serviceable unit. The Cyclones could actually be a better team in 2010 but post a worse record. A tougher schedule featuring nonconference games against Utah, Iowa and Northern Illinois and the addition of South Division powers Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech will make last season’s bowl trip much tougher to duplicate.

9. Oklahoma State (10 starters back: 4 offensive, 4 defensive, 2 special teams). The Cowboys must find replacements for key players like Zac Robinson, Keith Tosten, four offensive linemen (including Outland finalist Russell Okung) and six of their back seven on defense. New offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen finds an uncertain quarterback situation but will lean heavily on a healthy Kendall Hunter. A manageable nonconference schedule should have them in bowl contention, but this should be a step back from Mike Gundy’s last two teams.

10. Kansas State (15 starters back: 7 offensive, 6 defensive, 2 special teams). The Wildcats missed out on a bowl trip last season only because they scheduled two FCS teams, but they surprisingly challenged for the Big 12 North title up to their last game of the season. It might be tougher to do that this season, although Daniel Thomas will provide the foundation on offense. Carson Coffman has the inside track at quarterback, but keep an eye out for Oregon transfer Chris Harper at either that position or wide receiver. Players like Jeffrey Fitzgerald and John Houlik will be missed on defense, but all four starters are back in the secondary.

11. Colorado (16 starters back: 8 offensive, 7 defensive, 1 special teams). Dan Hawkins’ seat is the hottest in the Big 12 and arguably in college football after missing a bowl for a second straight season last year. Tyler Hansen returns as the starting quarterback, but the Buffaloes need to find some help in the backfield with only three scholarship backs in spring practice. The defense was young last season and should be improved, but will miss the leadership provided by Jeff Smart and Cha’pelle Brown. A bowl trip likely will be necessary to save Hawkins’ job and a tough nonconference schedule featuring games at California and against Hawaii and Georgia will prove troublesome even before Big 12 play begins.

12. Baylor (14 starters back: 6 offensive, 6 defensive, 2 special teams). The Bears’ hopes of stopping the conference’s longest bowl drought will hinge largely on the health of Robert Griffin, who is recovering from knee surgery that forced him to miss the final nine games of the 2009 season. New offensive lineman “Big” Robert Griffin will have to protect his quarterback if coach Art Briles has any hope of making a bowl trip. Jay Finley and Kendall Wright are underrated offensive threats, but the Bears will miss key defensive leaders like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake who were stalwarts for several years.

Big 12 lunch links: Texas wasn't interested in Seantrel Henderson

February, 5, 2010
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Here are some tasty lunchtime links from across the conference.

Enjoy them.

Sooners will shift coaching duties with Martinez's arrival

February, 4, 2010
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The recent hiring of former Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez will result in some changing responsibilities on coach Bob Stoops' staff at Oklahoma.

Martinez will coach the defensive backs, as has been his specialty throughout his coaching career. And veteran Bobby Jack Wright, who has been a member of Stoops' staff since his arrival at Oklahoma in 1999, will again coach the Sooners' defensive ends as he did earlier in his coaching career with the Sooners.

"Our staffs had been together exchanging ideas and I was impressed with Willie," Stoops said. "In those meetings, you not only get a feel for how well someone knows the game, but their ability to communicate and interact with other people, and Willie was a guy that represented himself and his school very well."

But Stoops, who has been heavily involved in defensive coaching throughout his career, promised to have a hand with the Sooners' secondary.

"I'll always have a hand in the secondary. I have since I've been here," Stoops said. "That's what I've coached forever, so I'll have a hand in the cornerbacks or the safeties, whatever we feel."

Big 12 lunch links: Is Odighizuwa headed to Huskers?

February, 2, 2010
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The day before signing day obviously is dominated by recruiting news.

But it's not all that is going on across the Big 12.

Check out these links along with your lunchtime respite. You'll thank me for it later.

Reports: OU hires Martinez as assistant

February, 1, 2010
2/01/10
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Several Oklahoma papers are reporting that current Stanford secondary coach, and former Georgia defensive coordinator, Willie Martinez has been hired to the Sooners' coaching staff.

Martinez would replace Chris Wilson, who left as the Sooners' defensive ends coach to take a job on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State.

In a sense, the hiring of Martinez would be a surprise. His defenses struggled last season at Georgia, where he was let go with two more assistants before the Bulldogs' victory over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl. When Martinez left, the Bulldogs had allowed at least 34 points in five of their 12 games and ranked 119th nationally in turnover margin.

Those don't exactly sound like the strongest of credentials to join one of the nation's strongest and most stable defensive staffs. But Martinez has known Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops for nearly two decades. He was a defensive backfield coach at several south Florida high schools and Stoops was a rising defensive coordinator at Kansas State and Florida.

Martinez' primary interest has been in coaching the secondary. Bobby Jack Wright is the current Sooners' assistant defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He has coached defensive ends with Stoops before, during the program's most consistent point of national success from 1999 through 2004.

It's not known at this time if Martinez's arrival would bump Wright back to defensive ends or if Martinez would coach that position. But it could make for some interesting speculation until the school announces the hiring.

Will Nguyen join A&M coaching staff?

January, 29, 2010
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Dat Nguyen might be the most recognizable Texas A&M football product of the Big 12 era.

Along with Aggie icons like John David Crow, John Kimbrough and yes, even original 12th man E. King Gill, Nguyen made a legendary mark on the school through his time with the football program.

Now, it seems to be a no-brainer for A&M coach Mike Sherman to bring the most decorated Aggie in recent history back into the fold. The Aggies have a vacancy on their defensive staff after Buddy Wyatt left for Turner Gill's new staff at Kansas.

Nguyen quit his work with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week after being offered a two-year contract extension to continue as the NFL team's assistant linebackers coach and a quality control assistant.

That job was more clerical in nature than Nguyen really wanted. And it's why he decided to quit after spending three years as a coach for his old professional team.

"I want to grow as a coach,” Nguyen told the San Antonio Express-News. "I want to be more hands-on, and be more accountable to players.

“I didn't think I'd have the chance to grow like I had envisioned as a young coach. They offered me an extension. I just didn't see where staying with the Cowboys was going to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish.”

Coming back to his old school might do just that.

“I definitely want to be in coaching; it's a part of my life,” Nguyen said. “I want to make differences in kids' lives.”

It's hard to imagine a more positive role model the Aggies could add to help revamp a struggling defense that ranked among the bottom 16 teams in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense in 2009.

Obviously, Nguyen has never coached in college or been involved in recruiting. But his name still resonates with Aggies everywhere and would likely do the same in any household of nearly any recruit in Texas.

“People think I'm crazy to not have signed that extension, that I should keep coaching for the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “But I've never done anything because of money. I understand what I gave up. I understand that I left an NFL job without a job at hand. I took that risk.

“I have faith, and as long as I have my wife and our two kids, I'm fine. I don't know where the Lord is going to take me. It's in his hands.”

Sherman is battling as he tries to build his program after losing 15 of his first 25 games as coach, capped by a 44-20 loss to Georgia in the Independence Bowl.

His defense struggled with former coordinator Joe Kines in charge, allowing at least 40 points in 12 of those games. The Aggies ranked 114th and 105th nationally in total defense in the last two seasons.

The hiring new coordinator Tim DeRuyter was a wildly popular move among Aggie fans, prompting a standing ovation for the new coach when he was introduced at the A&M basketball game against Colorado last week.

Bringing Nguyen back into the program would only continue that excitement for a defense that has looked little like the "Wrecking Crew" defenses of which he was such a prominent part during his playing career.

Why Muschamp, Kiffin made wise choices

January, 15, 2010
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I’ve been intrigued by all the commentary in recent days about Lane Kiffin’s move from Tennessee to USC.

Fans and pundits have castigated Kiffin about his move to a job that has to rank among the top 10 in college football -- even after some of the Trojans’ pending dealings with the NCAA.

Soon thereafter, Texas assistant coach Will Muschamp was thrown into the conversation as a potential replacement for Kiffin at Tennessee. Muschamp, who is the coach-in-waiting at Texas, apparently had the chance to make an unprecedented salary for a first-time college football coach if had decided to lead the Volunteers.

Muschamp opted to stay in Texas, which I believe was a wise choice. The promise of the Longhorns’ top job, even if he has to wait on Mack Brown’s retirement for several seasons, is still is better than the Tennessee job will ever be.

And who can blame Kiffin for trading the life at Tennessee for the glitz and glitter of living in southern California? It seems like an easy choice, particularly because the USC program is a better job.

While I was talking with Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini last night, we started ticking off an informal list of the best jobs in college football. Here’s my list of the 10 most attractive head coaching positions in college football. Three of them are in the Big 12.

1. Texas: It’s got it all -- facilities, support, tradition and located within a rich recruiting base. Mack Brown has made this the nation’s best job. Muschamp would be crazy to skedaddle to Rocky Top and leave this behind.

2. Florida: Recruiting might be better than Texas and the location provides a beach lifestyle. The only trouble with this job, compared to Texas, is that Florida’s place in the SEC is a little more tenuous than Texas’ place in the Big 12.

3. Ohio State: Tradition, facilities and an unmatched place in the pecking order of the Big Ten. Some coaches would love the weather in Columbus, while snowbirds might see it lacking compared to places like those at the top..

4. USC: “Tailback U” has returned to the top thanks to Pete Carroll’s transformation. This is the football team for a southern California without an NFL franchise.

5. Alabama: Still wondering why Dennis Franchione left Alabama for Texas A&M. Another stadium expansion after this season’s national championship has made this a job that Nick Saban would willingly leave one of the NFL’s flagship franchises to return to. Considering his college allegiance, he’s a smart man.

6. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops might have the best setup in coaching considering he’s working for Joe Castiglione and David Boren. Recruiting will always be a matter of plucking Texas players and Stoops has done a marvelous job at that over the years.

7. Penn State: It will be interesting to see who follows Joe Paterno when he finally decides to hang up his whistle. This is one of the Big Ten’s best jobs with facilities and history to match. It might be daunting to follow Paterno, however.

8. Notre Dame: Still has the attention of NBC and the tradition of college football’s most storied program. Can they find the right coach to return Notre Dame to its place of dominance?

9. LSU: There’s a reason why Les Miles decided to stay here rather than pursue the Michigan job. Rabid talent base and SEC television money make this one special. And you can eat good crawfish any time you want.

10. Nebraska: The only drawback for this job is its lack of a fertile home recruiting area. But other than that, this job has got it all including one of the nation’s most knowledgeable fan bases. It’s the biggest unifier for the entire state as college football is clearly king here.

I would have a few other jobs like Georgia, Tennessee, Oregon, UCLA and Florida State ranked just below these top jobs. Texas A&M would be in my top 20. Oklahoma State -- as long as Boone Pickens is financially priming the pump -- would be in my top 30.

I’m curious what the readers might think in terms of a top 10 of destination coaching jobs? Please feel free to provide your rationale to back up your assertions.

Big 12 has highest, lowest ratings of 34 bowl games

January, 14, 2010
1/14/10
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It was the best of times and worst of times for the Big 12 during the bowl games -- at least as far as television ratings went.

The Big 12 had the bowl with the highest television rating and also the lowest rating, according to information compiled by the Sports Business Daily.

Here's a look at how the Big 12's bowls fared, according to a chart compiled by the Birmingham News.
  • The Citi BCS National Championship Game between Texas and Alabama on ABC garnered a 17.2 ranking -- the top ratings of any bowl and up 9 percent from last season.
  • The controversial firing of Mike Leach helped the Valero Alamo Bowl game between Texas Tech and Michigan State earn the second-highest ranking for the conference and the highest by any bowl shown on ESPN in history. The game earned a 4.8 rating, up 23 percent from last season.
  • The AT&T Cotton Bowl ranked ninth among all bowls and third among Big 12 games. The Oklahoma State-Mississippi game earned a 4.5 rating, up 2 percent from last season.
  • The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl between Nebraska and Arizona checked in at 15th place and fourth among Big 12 games. The game earned a 3.7 rating, down 5 percent from last season.
  • The Brut Sun Bowl was in 17th place and fifth among Big 12 games. The Stanford-Oklahoma game earned a 3.3 rating, up 50 percent from last season.
  • The Texas Bowl was in 23rd place and sixth among Big 12 games. The Missouri-Navy game earned a 2.1 rating during its first time on ESPN, up 2,000 percent from the ratings last season on the NFL Network.
  • The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl was in 25th place and seventh among Big 12 bowl games. The Texas A&M-Georgia game earned a 2.0 rating, up 150 percent from last season.
  • The Insight Bowl between was in 34th place and eight among Big 12 bowl games. The Iowa State-Minnesota game carried by the NFL Network earned an 0.4 rating, unchanged from last season.

Final 2009 Big 12 power rankings

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
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Here's my final look at the Big 12 power rankings for this season.

1. Texas: Longhorn fans will always remember Colt McCoy’s injury in the national championship game and what could have been. Texas overcame every challenge during the regular season, but came up lacking without its leader in the biggest game of the year. The way the Alabama game played out will always haunt Texas fans. If they could have ever grabbed a touchdown lead or more over Alabama, was there any real indication that Alabama could have won with Greg McElroy and the Crimson Tide’s leaky offensive line? But it went the other way and the Longhorns were ground into submission by Alabama’s potent rushing attack to put a disappointing capper on an otherwise memorable season.

2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers finished 10-4 and were only five or six plays removed from winning three of those games -- losses to Texas, Iowa State and Virginia Tech. If that had happened, it’s not out of the realm of possibility the Cornhuskers could have finished in the top five or six teams nationally. But the convincing victory over Arizona, especially with the unexpected offensive firepower, should build confidence and embolden Bo Pelini and his team for bigger and better things next season.

3. Texas Tech: A roller-coaster season finished with Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeill looking for work despite an impressive 9-4 record where the Red Raiders overachieved to a Top 25 finish. Tommy Tuberville’s arrival will bring changes, but Tech returns with a strong nucleus starting of quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield and running back Baron Batch. If Tuberville can get the Red Raiders up and running quickly, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that his new team could challenge Texas and Oklahoma next season. But it will be tough as he tries to change the culture of the most memorable era of Tech football.

4. Oklahoma: A fast finish took some of the sting out of Bob Stoops’ most disappointing recent season. The Sooners’ hopes of a Big 12 four-peat were doomed as soon as Sam Bradford was lost for the season. And Jermaine Gresham’s injury before the season changed the way Kevin Wilson’s offense could operate. But at the end of the season, Landry Jones showed enough promise to give him a foothold for the starting position next season. The defense developed some young playmakers like David King and Demontre Hurst who showed promise in the bowl game for future growth. The Sooners will be back challenging for the Big 12 title next season if those players build on their late-season efforts.

5. Oklahoma State: All of the promise at the start of the season unraveled with a disappointing string of injuries and suspensions. And even with all of those struggles, the Cowboys still had a chance to play in a Bowl Championship Series game if they had beaten Oklahoma. Losses in the last two games of the season left a bad taste for what could have been Mike Gundy’s breakout season. The defense played much better than expected under new coordinator Bill Young, but the offense didn’t live up to the promise -- especially when Zac Robinson was hurt and his offensive weapons were stripped away. All things considered, a 9-4 record with everything the Cowboys overcame this season was better than could be expected.

6. Missouri: As well as the Tigers played at times during the season, their season was marked by their fourth-quarter home collapse against Nebraska and their confounding Texas Bowl upset loss to Navy. Truthfully, it was expected to be a rebuilding year after losing Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Co., but some of that was lost after a four-game winning streak to start the season. Blaine Gabbert surpassed expectations and is in line to become the conference’s best quarterback over the next couple of years. And Danario Alexander was the best receiver in the nation over the second half of the season. Defensive woes hurt them, but Gabbert’s return and some young defensive talent should have the Tigers pointed to improvement next season and maybe a challenge at the North title.

7. Iowa State: Was there a better moment in the 2009 Big 12 season than Paul Rhoads’ emotional response to his team’s upset victory over Nebraska which became a YouTube staple? Rhoads’ first season far surpassed expectations with a 7-6 record, the Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota and all of the other surprising accomplishments. Alexander Robinson was the most underrated player in the Big 12 and the gritty Iowa State defense played just like you would expect from a Rhoads-coached team. It won’t be easy for them to duplicate next year as they switch to the Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma gauntlet of South Division opponents. But it was a nice first step for Rhoads in building his program.

8. Kansas State: The Wildcats missed out on a bowl trip because of playing too many creampuffs during the nonconference season, but Bill Snyder’s first season was better than expected. The Wildcats received huge contributions from Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas, who both arrived before summer practice with no real expectations coming into the season. Thomas developed into one of the conference’s best backs and should return for more next season. If Oregon transfer Chris Harper can develop into a playmaker at either quarterback or wide receiver and the defense comes together, the Wildcats might be a threat to make a bowl appearance in 2010.

9. Texas A&M: For all of their offensive weapons, the Aggies’ defense and special teams were the primary culprits in a 6-7 season capped by a disappointing Independence Bowl loss to Georgia. Jerrod Johnson posted the top statistical numbers ever produced by an A&M quarterback and he’s surrounded by a bevy of strong offensive weapons. But Mike Sherman’s new coordinator is going to need to produce more improvement from a young defense if the Aggies have any hopes of contending in the South Division next season and beyond.

10. Kansas: The Jayhawks’ leaky defense did it with mirrors against a weak early schedule, but it all caught up with them during a seven-game losing streak to close the season that precipitated Mark Mangino’s resignation. Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe all finished careers that will go down among the top players in Kansas history. But the challenge for new coach Turner Gill and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush will be to rebuild a defense that allowed at least 31 points in seven of eight conference games.

11. Colorado: Dan Hawkins popped off about challenging for a Big 12 North title at the end of last season. Instead, his team’s struggling performance ended his hopes of “10 wins and no excuses” before conference play even began. The season started off badly with embarrassing nationally televised losses to Colorado State, Toledo and West Virginia and didn’t get much better once conference play began. The Buffaloes did start Kansas’ losing streak and beat Texas A&M, but sputtered offensively as they ranked in the bottom 10 teams in rushing, passing efficiency and sacks allowed and in the bottom 20 teams in total offense. Tyler Hansen emerged as the quarterback of the future. His development will be critical in Hawkins’ hopes at a contract extension.

12. Baylor: The Bears started the season with a confidence-building upset at Wake Forest, but their season for all intents and purposes ended as soon as Robert Griffin sustained a season-ending injury in the third game. Griffin should be back next season but key defensive players like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake won’t be. The quarterback's return will be critical in rebuilding offensive confidence that was booming heading into the season. The Bears might have the opportunity to snap the conference's longest bowl drought next season in a more balanced Big 12 South, but the key for the season will be developing a defense that can better challenge the South Division’s powers.

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