Big 12: J.J. Bass
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The worst scheduling week in Big 12 history might be approaching.
Four Big 12 teams will be playing opponents from the Football Championship Subdivision in contests that have euphemistically been termed by many coaches as "body-bag games."
Coaches of those FCS schools know what they have to do in these games. Mainly, collect a big check and hope they emerge out of the game relatively unscathed for the rest of the season.
A 12-game season makes these games more necessary for the big boys from the Football Bowl Series, even if they aren't necessarily appealing, according to Texas coach Mack Brown.
"It's probably better if we didn't," Brown said, "but I don't know if it's possible right now."
Brown knows about these games after once coaching at Division I-AA Appalachian State, which then played two games against Division I-A teams as financial salvation for the rest of the school's athletic department.
"As tough as it is with the score and kids being mismatched sometimes," Brown said, "it is a positive for the university from the standpoint of exposure.
"And a lot of the kids I've talked to like the experience of going into big stadiums, even though they lose."
But try telling that to fans who pay full price, with increasing full costs, to travel to stadiums in order to watch these glorified exhibitions.
The difference is more than just the 22 extra scholarships that the FBS teams have -- 85 scholarship athletes on a roster compared to 63 for FCS teams.
During the first week of the season, FBS teams went 31-1 against their siblings from the FCS. The lone FCS victory was Cal-Poly's 29-27 triumph over San Diego State, coached by former Oklahoma assistant Chuck Long.
Baylor, Colorado, Kansas State and Missouri can only hope not to join the Aztecs on that dubious list this week.
Until then, here are a few morning links that are always competitive.
- Colorado can't afford a reprise of the last visit by a Football Championship Series opponent when Eastern Washington visits on Saturday. The Buffaloes lost 19-10 to Montana State in their 2006 opener. "It's almost surreal when you look back and you think about it," DT George Hypolite told the Boulder Camera.
- Texas A&M may consider a change in kickers after Richie Bean shanked two short attempts in the Aggies' loss to Arkansas State last week.
- Natalie England of the San Antonio Express-News writes about Texas QB Colt McCoy's emergence as a running threat.
- We now know who wears the pants in Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's family. If you don't believe it, check the 7:43 mark of this Oklahoman video to find out.
- Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes about the development of Nebraska LB Cody Glenn and QB Joe Ganz, two seniors who have hardly played most of their college careers.
- Oklahoma WR Manny Johnson is filling the void after Malcolm Kelly's departure to the NFL.
- The Columbia Tribune's Dave Matter writes about improvement necessary for Missouri's leaky secondary, which allowed Juice Williams to squeeze them for 451 passing yards.
- Missouri beat writer Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star writes and has video on the development of Missouri TB Derrick Washington.
- Baylor CB Dwain Crawford, a converted safety, tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Dwain Price about his enjoyment of his new position's challenges.
- Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue chats about Iowa State's extra rest from playing on Thursday, the Cyclones' memories of Kent State from last season and the Cyclones' looming rivalry game against Iowa next week.
- Iowa State RB J.J. Bass will suit up for his first game this season after being suspended for the opener.
- Kansas coach Mark Mangino isn't expecting Louisiana Tech to be a cupcake.
- Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant's athleticism makes him effective in jump-ball situations.
- Texas Tech inside receivers coach Lincoln Riley is responsible for providing Mike Leach reports from the press box. It's not a surprising evolution, considering Riley has been Leach's right-hand man since he was 19 and helping coach quarterbacks as a student assistant.
- Kansas State's passing game was effective -- as QB Josh Freeman predicted before the start of the season -- even without graduated WR Jordy Nelson.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The season begins a week from tonight for Iowa State, which will open against South Dakota State to open Coach Gene Chizik's second season.
The Cyclones return seven offensive and seven defensive starters from last season's 3-9 team as they attempt to qualify for their first bowl since the 2005 Houston Bowl under former coach Dan McCarney.
Heading into the final week of practice, here's five major questions that Chizik needs to settle to get his team for the upcoming season.
1. Settle on a quarterback. Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates are hooked up in a tight battle. Chizik has said he expects both quarterbacks will play early in the season. The sooner he can settle on a starter, the better.
2. Find a featured running back. The Cyclones have a deep collection of similarly skilled players with J.J. Bass, Alexander Robinson and Jason Scales all back from last season. Look for all of them to play.
3. Develop playmakers at linebacker. Losing Alvin "Ace" Bowen and Jon Banks robbed the Cyclones of two of their primary defenders from last season. Michael Bibbs, Fred Garrin and Jesse Smith appeared poised to claim the starting positions.
4. Get some run-stuffers in the trenches. Not having Ahtyba Rubin and Bryce Braaksma will be huge losses. But former Arkansas transfer Michael Tate and 308-pound junior NG Nate Frere have emerged as the likely starters.
5. Who will replaces Bret Culbertson at kicker? Freshman Grant Mahoney was slated to be the kicker and 6-foot-4, 169-pound freshman Zach Guyer is set for kickoffs in the opener. But Chizik still could switch them around over the next few days.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Iowa State coach Gene Chizik has reinstated J.J. Bass to his team, shortly after his team's second scrimmage.
Bass, who was second on the team with 462 rushing yards last season, rejoined his team after he was suspended for several months. Bass talked to his teammates before Saturday's scrimmage as part of his return to his team.
"(Bass) has done a very good job of working up to the expecations of our football program," Chizik said. "He's back on the football team. He talked to our team this morning and apologized for not being here earlier."
The Iowa State defense won the scrimmage by a 40-35 margin in a scoring system devised by Chizik. Sophomore quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates, who are hooked up in a tight battle for the starting job, were both impressive at times.
"They are really battling hard to be the best quarterbacks they can be and move our football team. We're proud of them," Chizik said. "Reps are building up and making them better, which is what happens. I've seen a great improvement in the last three days."
Bates hooked up with R.J. Sumrall on a 70-yard TD strike on the first play of the scrimmage to highlight the offense's production.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
While scanning the Omaha World-Herald's Web site this morning looking for something new from Tom Shatel, I came across a very cool feature that was buried deep on the newspaper's site.
The World-Herald has done a laborious job archiving game stories and pictures from each of the Cornhuskers' 44 bowl games.
My favorite was reading about Nebraska's trip to the 1941 Rose Bowl led by Coach Biff Jones. Game reporter Gregg McBride referred to the coach as "The Biffer" in his game notes. I also enjoyed reading about how the Cornhuskers met with film star Robert Taylor, a native of Filley, Neb., after the game.
For Cornhusker fans who want to remember how much fun it is to spend late December away from the frigid Midwest, it's probably the next best thing to a trip to San Antonio or Shreveport.
And it's a pretty good reminder of what will be expected on a regular basis from Bo Pelini.
But before we look forward to December bowl trips, let's serve up some morning links from around the Big 12. Happy munching.
My take: Rock-star greetings are fine in July, but Gundy would prefer fans cheering for him like that in December or January -- after bowl games.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler tracked down Bob Stoops in Jackson, Miss., where he was attending the New Orleans Saints practice. Interestingly, Stoops spent much of his time studying the defense of Saints coordinator Gary Gibbs, one of his predecessors as Oklahoma's coach.
My take: So much for fishing or golf. Stoops is already in football-mode when many other coaches are squeezing in their last couple of days of vacation.
- Campussqueeze.com ranks Iowa State among the 11 schools with the worst uniforms in college football.
My take: The Cyclones are ripped for their gold pants, which the Web site compares to those worn by M.C. Hammer. I'm sure Gene Chizik is more old school than that, aiming more to clothing worn by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- The Bleacher Report compares Bo Pelini to Pete Townshend as it likens the once- mighty Cornhuskers to the historically great but recently struggling band The Who.
My take: Both the Cornhuskers and The Who have had Hall of Fame production in the past but have fallen on hard times. But I'll know there's something to the comparison if Pelini starts smashing Gatorade coolers after games like Townshend does with his guitars.
- Foxsports.com isn't buying the early preseason hype that Texas Tech is receiving and doesn't think Texas A&M will be as bad as most prognosticators predict.
My take: Funny, most predictions are going the other way on this. The Foxsports.com guys are going to look awfully smart or awfully foolish on this one.
- Baylor-bound K Ben Parks' 41-yard field goal with 25 seconds left boosted the North to a 16-15 victory over the South in the Texas High School Coaches' Association All-Star Game last night in San Antonio. Texas signee D.J. Monroe earned offensive MVP honors after rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown.
My take: I can only hope to see a few games as exciting as this one later this season. The North scored three times in the final 98 seconds to win the game. And the South's chances were snuffed out when Drew Nelson's 45-yard field goal with time expiring was blocked.
- No more "Mr. Nice Guy?" Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman says that a hard-edged Mack Brown might be what Texas needs this season.
My take: It seems the Longhorns responded better to Brown's boot than his former Kumbaya-singing ways -- at least if the Holiday Bowl is any indication.
- Dugan Arnett of the Lawrence Journal-World spells out a multitude of reasons why the Big 12 has the nation's best collection of quarterbacks.
My take: I enjoyed Arnett's story, but I really thought the illustration that accompanied the story was neat. It showed quarterbacks Chase Daniel, Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell and Todd Reesing as the four faces of "Mount Passmore," a takeoff of the historical site Mount Rushmore. Good idea, but where was Colt McCoy?
- Boulder Daily Camera reporter Kyle Ringo said that Colorado needs improvement from WR Patrick Williams, CB Gardner McKay, DE Maurice Lucas and massive 6-foot-8, 298-pound TE Nate Solder for a big season.
My take: I think Ringo forgot about the most obvious player on the roster. As QB Cody Hawkins plays, so will go the Buffaloes.
- Senior Iowa State RB J.J. Bass remains indefinitely suspended as the Cyclones prepare for their first day of practice.
My take: The best indicator about Bass' status can be found in the Big 12's media guide. He's not listed on Iowa State's roster.
- Terrance Harris' Texas A&M blog in the Houston Chronicle gives an early look at Mike Sherman's 2009 recruiting class.
My take: So much for those thoughts about teaching an older dog new tricks. Sherman appears to have gravitated to recruiting -- at least if 25 commitments is any indication.
- Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News details Art Briles' efforts to change the culture at Baylor.
My take: Briles is a proven winner, but he'll be facing the challenge of his career at his new job.
- Former Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill had some high praise for Texas-bound QB Garrett Gilbert of Lake Travis, Texas, saying he's the best quarterback prospect he's seen since Dan Marino.
My take: I know Sherril
l is a media member now, but hyperbole has never been part of his schtick. This kid must be pretty good.
- Mack Brown and Mike Sherman give their thoughts on how the new 40/25 clock rules will affect play once the season begins.
My take: I know the television networks love the rule, but I don't. I'd rather savor and celebrate college football's differences from the NFL rather than make it more like the "No Fun League."