Big 12: Jeremy Springer

Big 12 links: Not much difference in OU, OSU defensive efforts

September, 9, 2009
9/09/09
12:46
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Two days and counting from what is suddenly turning out to be an interesting and meaningful game at the Glass Bowl Friday night in Toledo, Ohio.

Not many people would have thought that before the season started. But now, Colorado's game with Toledo is shaping as Dan Hawkins' biggest game in a long time.

Here are some Big 12 links to get you ready.
  • The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel relates the slim actual difference in the defensive efforts of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week.
  • Colorado running back Darrell Scott tells the Denver Post’s Tom Kensler he’s disappointed and surprised in his limited use in the Buffaloes’ season-opening loss to Colorado State.
  • Iowa State’s new spread offense should liven up the Cyclones’ traditional matchup with Iowa, the Ames Tribune’s Bobby La Gesse reports.
  • The Lawrence Journal-World’s Dugan Arnett reports about the sibling rivalry between Kansas linebacker Justin Springer and his twin brother, Jeremy, a linebacker on UTEP. The two teams meet Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
  • The Boulder Daily Camera’s Neill Woelk isn’t buying the doomsday scenario for Colorado -- yet.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder tells the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Austin Meek that the Wildcats’ special-teams issues are “easily correctable.”
  • Missouri’s running game will have to do without backup RB De’Vion Moore in the Tigers’ game Saturday against Bowling Green, the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Dave Matter reports.
  • The Norman Transcript’s Clay Hornung wonders how much worse it can get for Oklahoma.
  • Tommie Frazier tells Mitch Sherman of the Omaha World-Herald he likes what he’s seen in freshman quarterback Cody Green.
  • The Austin American-Statesman’s Randy Riggs writes that Texas A&M returned to its defensive roots with a strong first-game performance against New Mexico.

Mailbag: No Big 12 games at baseball fields

July, 31, 2009
7/31/09
6:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If it's a Friday, it must be time to open some e-mails from my mailbag.

Shane Riley from Arapahoe, Neb., writes: I know the Big 12 hasn't jumped on the bandwagon yet, but what is up with college teams wanting to play games in major league baseball stadiums? Why does Army want to play at Yankee Stadium so bad and why are Illinois and Northwestern looking to play at Wrigley Field? And if the Big `12 did jump on the bandwagon what teams would want to play at a Big 12 area baseball venue?

Tim Griffin: Shane, that has been an interesting trend in recent weeks. I've heard through the grapevine that Dodger Stadium would be interested in staging some college games there. Those baseball stadiums are looking for new revenue sources and they are trying to attract college games as another way to fill seats and sell more concessions.

I'm a football traditionalist and the idea of football returning to Yankee Stadium would be cool. I've heard all of the great stories about games there in the 1940s and 1950s. The New York Giants really got their fans turned on when they started playing there.

But even with the "wow factor," I would doubt if any Big 12 teams really would seriously consider any upcoming games in baseball stadiums. And the reason is because in every city with a major league franchise in the Big 12's geographic footprint, there is also a new football stadium with all of the bells and whistles that is significantly bigger than the baseball stadium in the city.

For example, I don't think that any college team would give up the chance for 25,000 extra seats by moving a game from Reliant Stadium in Houston to Minute Maid Park. I certainly don't think that will be the case in Arlington, Texas, where the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium has every accoutrement known to mankind and is much bigger than the nearby baseball stadium. And I don't see it happening in St. Louis, Denver or Kansas City, either.

The football stadiums are simply too big and it would hard to visualize any college giving up a shot for extra tickets to play in a baseball stadium that wasn't constructed to allow football in the first place.

It would be neat to see the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis lined up for a football game, but I'm not expecting it. The chance to play at the Edward Jones Dome at America's Center just provides too many more seats in a climate-controlled setting to boot.


Willis from Raleigh, N.C., writes: OK, I'm a traditionalist and love the old rivalries that college football has every year. When most conferences started to expand (SEC, Big 8 to Big 12, ACC), they kept the traditional games playing every year (Georgia-Auburn, Tennessee-Alabama, OU-Texas, Florida State-Miami, etc) and other conferences kept their "big" games (Michigan-Ohio State, USC-UCLA, etc). I mean, what is college football without Ohio State playing Michigan every year? That said, what was the Big 12 thinking when it got rid of the Nebraska-Oklahoma game every year? I grew up watching that game in the 70's, 80's, and 90's and it was one of the greatest rivalries in college football. It's a shame that they play each other every four or five years like Bonow.

Tim Griffin: I've heard that the lack of a yearly Oklahoma-Nebraska game bemoaned since the first conference schedules were generated for the Big 12.

The rivalry was a great one, although truth be told, it had slipped a lot in the 1990s in the Big Eight as Nebraska turned the conference into a cakewalk shortly before the Big 12 started.

One way around it could be making that game a designated rivalry game each season, although it would put those Nebraska and Oklahoma at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the teams in their divisions because they would be facing one of the powers of the other division every season.

I'm betting that Bo Pelini and Bob Stoops wouldn't like that idea nearly as much as some of the traditionalists.  

And actually, the gap between games isn't as bad as you wrote. With the Big 12's sliding schedule, the two old rivals meet twice every four seasons.

I know it's not like the days when Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne were roaming the sidelines, but it's the best we can do for now.


Jim Perry from Albuquerque, N.M., writes: About Bill Callahan, I liked a lot of things about his offense. It was one of the few that sent Michigan wondering what happened. Callahan had a lot of answers but still needed a hard-nosed defense. I liked that he had class when it came to dealing with unruly players. I still think Callahan could still do it at the collegiate level and I wish him the best.

Tim Griffin: I also wonder about some of the contentiousness that some hard-core Nebraska fans hold for the Callahan era. Sure, he tried to dismantle a lot of the tradition on which that storied program is steeped. But at the same time, he helped the Cornhuskers win a Big 12 North title as recently as 2006.

If Callahan had played more to the Nebraska tradition, it definitely would have helped him out -- along with maybe a choice of a different defensive coordinator than Kevin Cosgrove. If Callahan had embraced the image of Nebraska and played to it like Mack Brown did at Texas or Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, it might have helped him weather some of the storms that he eventually faced. Not all of them, but it might have bought him an extra season or two.

I think the majority of Cornhusker fans are more excited about the future now than they've been since early in the Frank Solich era. And it should only get brighter as Pelini starts getting better players.


Charles Seibert of Albuquerque, N.M. writes: A couple of weeks ago you had an e-mail in the mailbag basically saying "Mack Brown only has one conference championship? What do Longhorns fans see in him?" Your answer focused on Stoops' domination in that department. Here's the rest of the answer.

The Longhorn fans would love to have more Big 12 crowns, but we judge UT's football program on many criteria. The 'Horns under Mack have a national championship, a stellar win-loss record (having passed Nebraska, Ohio State and Notre Dame among others on the all-time lists), regular finishes in the top five and top 10 (and ahead of the hated Sooners), near-automatic bowl wins (including 3-0 in BCS bowls) and solid records against their traditional rivals. With all of that, who wouldn't be proud to have Mack Brown coaching their team?

Tim Griffin: Charles, I agree with you. Mack Brown has the Texas program going as well as any in the country. And like you listed, he has many accomplishments and has his program pointed to claim a few more before he hangs up his whistle.

But with all of those facts in place, Stoops still has claimed six Big 12 titles and Brown has one. I hear from Texas fans all the time about their three victories in the last four seasons over the Sooners, but they also privately grumble they are disappointed that the Longhorns still have made only one trip to the Big 12 title game during that span compared to three for the Sooners. 

That shows the strength of the South Division and the struggles that winning a division championship provides in each season. And for all of the accomplishments you listed, I still bet Mack Brown wishes he had more than one Big 12 title to show for it.


Steve Rodriguez of Sisson, Texas, writes: Tim, in reading your blog on a daily basis, I love your numbers and charts you come up with. I know of no other place I can find to get that kind of information with your spin on it. I wish you would share a weekly stat or tidbit in your mailbag or perhaps as a regular post that delv
es deeply into the numbers in the conference.

Tim Griffin: Steve, sounds like a great idea. And here's my tidbit for today. Or maybe I can "borrow" a term from the Tim Horton doughnut shops in Canada - thanks to my old CFL coverage I know about them - and provide a weekly "Timbit."

How about this one? During the course of the 13-season history of the Big 12 Conference, Bob Stoops has claimed six championship game victories. The most amazing fact is that no other coach has claimed more than one Big 12 title during that span. 

Here's a list of coaches and their titles

Bob Stoops -- 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
John Mackovic -- 1996
Tom Osborne -- 1997
R.C. Slocum -- 1998
Frank Solich -- 1999
Gary Barnett -- 2001
Bill Snyder -- 2003
Mack Brown -- 2005

That list speaks about as well to Stoops' domination of the Big 12 as any I could find.


Wally Gonzales of San Antonio writes: Hey Tim, I was wondering if you had any information on the new linebacker group at KU. I am interested in Justin Springer, who is from my hometown of Los Fresnos, Texas. Also when Kansas plays UTEP, it will be the first time that Springer will play against his twin brother, Jeremy. It also gets even more interesting when Justin goes up against his best friend Eloy Atkinson who is also from Los Fresnos and is the center for UTEP. I'd love to hear some inside information about this game.

Tim Griffin: Wally, Justin Springer has a chance to step up at linebacker, which appears to be the biggest weakness for the Jayhawks coming into the season. But Springer was hobbled by a knee injury that he sustained last season against Kansas State that caused him to miss the Jayhawks' final four games last season.

Springer has prototypical size for football of the 1990s when you consider he's 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds. But Coach Mark Mangino has placed a premium on speed with his defense and will want his linebackers to move well in space. That has to be a concern for Springer, considering he's coming off knee surgery.

Mangino also has hinted he plans to go to a 4-2-5 defense this season as his base. And he mentioned earlier this week that Arist Wright and Angus Quigley have really looked good so far in spring practices.

Springer wasn't able to practice during the spring, but Mangino has said he expects him to be ready for preseason camp. His recovery will be one of the interesting stories to follow next month for the Jayhawks.

And I think the UTEP game might be more difficult for the Jayhawks then some might expect. If they can't get much pass rush against underrated UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, it might be a long evening in the Sun Bowl for the Jayhawks. Along with the potential matchup between the Springer brothers from Los Fresnos.


Chris Leonard from Minneapolis, Minn., writes: Tim, I read your summary of the Sporting News' all-time top coaches list. I was glad to see Tom Osborne on there, but 34th? And ninth among the college football coaches mentioned? I couldn't believe it.

Some writers have said that he didn't belong among the top 10 college head coaches and others have written that he wasn't a sexy enough coach to put on a top-10 list because of his perceived lack of flamboyance and personality.

What's with all the disrespect for the guy with the second-highest winning percentage in the modern era of college football? No one's ever reached 250 wins faster!

Tim Griffin: I agree with you that Tom Osborne was one of the greatest coaches in football history. He might not have been as verbose as Bobby Bowden or have the longevity of Joe Paterno, but his teams were always ready and he did a great job at making Nebraska a consistent national power.

I think the most significant facts about Osborne are that he won a share of the national championship three times in his final four seasons of coaching and nearly had another one in the previous season. And he finished the final five seasons of his career with a 60-3 record. Those are flashy numbers, in anybody's book.

Thanks for all of the good questions and I'll be checking in again next week.

Have a good weekend.

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