Big 12: Jerry Hughes
The award also factors in a player's on- and off-the-field "IMPACT," an acronym signifying Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
No Big 12 player has ever won the Lott Trophy, which was first awarded in 2004. TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes did win the award in 2009.
- Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
- Toben Opurum, Kansas
- R.J. Washington, Oklahoma
- Meshak Williams, Kansas State
- Stansly Maponga, TCU
- Alex Okafor, Texas
Good list there. All deserving. I might add David King at Oklahoma and Will Clarke at West Virginia, but I don't think I could see either of those guys ultimately winning the whole thing.
Brian Orakpo (2008) is the last Big 12 player to win the award, but TCU's Jerry Hughes won the award as a member of the Mountain West in 2009.
No school has had multiple players win the award since its inception in 2002, but ESPN analyst David Pollack won the award twice at Georgia, back in 2003 and 2004.
More awards watch lists:
- Rimington Trophy--best center
- Bednarik Award--best defender
- Maxwell Award--best player
- Mackey Award--best tight end
- Lou Groza Award--best kicker
- Outland Trophy--best interior lineman
- Thorpe Award--best defensive back
- Butkus Award--best linebacker
- Lombardi Award--(it's complicated)
- Biletnikoff Award--best wide receiver
- Davey O'Brien Award--best quarterback
- Doak Walker Award--best running back
- AFCA Good Works Team
Leach and his family have moved to Key West, Fla. -- the continental United States' southernmost city -- to collect themselves after his tumultuous dismissal by Texas Tech last month, despite compiling the winningest record in school history.
The Key West area is familiar to Leach and his family, according to the Key West Citizen. He almost became the head football coach at the local high school there in 1996 and has vacationed with his friends and family in the area several times since then.
Leach has moved his children into schools in the area. He's also hooked up with old friend Jerry Hughes, the football coach at Key West High School.
The area has a rich history that Leach will love. He's fascinated by Ernest Hemingway. More than a few pirates have wandered Duval Street and ended up in Sloppy Joe's over the years.
And Leach's collection of Jimmy Buffett T-shirts he frequently wore around the Texas Tech facility will make him look like just another Parrot Head while he wanders around in the Keys.
Here are some of the better questions I received this week.
Shawn Starostka of Omaha, Neb., writes: In response to your post about Nebraska special teams. You mentioned in the article that Alex Henery has reached near "rock-star status" in our state. I was just e-mailing to let you know that he is officially a rock star. I'm expecting a son in March, and I convinced his mother to name him Alex Henery Starostka. No joke. God willing, one day he will make a career out of kicking footballs, too. Enjoy your stuff, Tim. Keep it up.
Tim Griffin: Shawn, your story is an interesting one. I could tell that Henery’s popularity is massive among Cornhusker fans. The Nebraska fans really have an appreciation for what he does for the team. I think that Henery rivals only Ndamukong Suh among the most popular Cornhuskers, when you consider the reaction for him at games.
But I don’t think I’ve heard of anybody who has shown quite the compliment to him that you have. Congratulations and good luck on the birth. And hopefully, your son will live up to your dreams one day.
John Greenslade of Kaufman, Texas, writes: Tim, who do you think will be the starting QB at Texas Tech next year? I know we will not know until the first game of the season but I feel that there could be a real battle between Steven Sheffield, Taylor Potts, Jacob Karam, and Scotty Young.
By the way, Scotty Young has the potential of beating all of Garrett Gilbert’s Texas high school records he set last year. What are your thoughts on him as well?
Tim Griffin: John, I would expect Sheffield and Potts to be the favorites as Tech’s starter next season. The major reasons are because of their game experience inside Tech’s system. It would be tough for Karam and Young to immediately duplicate that.
But I’ve really been impressed with Young from what I’ve heard so far. He’s had a great high school career so far. It will be interesting to see if his skills translate to the next level.
Joshua Cunningham of Independence, Mo., writes: Hey, Tim. Do you think there’s any chance that Bob Stoops will fire Kevin Wilson as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator and bring back Mark Mangino as offensive coordinator for next year?
Tim Griffin: Joshua, while this has been a disappointing season for Stoops and the Sooners, I would be shocked if Wilson’s job is in any jeopardy. Remember he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach last season when the Sooners rang up a school record for points and advanced to the BCS title game.
Stoops has never fired an assistant during his 11-season tenure at Oklahoma. I don’t think Wilson will be his first.
Eric Forbes of Hastings, Neb., writes: Tim, I know that Nebraska is struggling on offense and their defense is what is keeping them alive this season. But from what you know and what you’ve seen, do they have a shot at the Longhorns on Saturday. What will they have to do to beat them? Also, do you think that Bo Pelini is going to do better recruiting after what the Cornhuskers have accomplished this season?
Tim Griffin: I give the Cornhuskers a “puncher’s chance” of stealing an upset victory on Saturday night. In order to win, they will have to play mistake-free football on offense with a lot of success running the ball between the tackles. I know the Cornhuskers’ coaches feel they might be able to surprise Texas with their inside running ability. We’ll have to see about that.
Nebraska also needs to put consistent pressure on Colt McCoy. The toughest game he had was against Oklahoma when he faced a bunch of unusual blitz packages he wasn’t familiar with. Pelini could duplicate that.
And lastly, they really need to dictate field position with strong kicking from Henery and Adi Kunalic. They can’t let Texas have any cheap scoring drives and need to make them earn every point they score on long drives.
I also think the Cornhuskers could be primed for a better recruiting season after the bowl game. I think Pelini has done a good job trying to take his recruiting message across the country. It should resonate more now that they are Big 12 North Division champions.
Kyle Hobblet of Edmond, Okla., writes: Tim, what is your take on why Von Miller received no love from AFCA for its All-America team? After all he did lead the nation in sacks for the entire year.
Tim Griffin: Miller was the most dominant player on the Aggies’ team, and arguably one of the top players in the country. I can’t really answer for the coaches in their reasoning, but maybe they might have held Texas A&M’s struggling defense against him. The Aggies were 6-6 and ranked 105th in scoring defense and 107th in total defense. Miller had a large deal to do with their success because of his nation-leading 17 sacks. But I’m guessing the coaches probably didn’t just weigh pure sack totals when they made their decisions.
The AFCA picked Suh, UCLA’s Brian Price and Penn State’s Jared Odrick at defensive tackle. The defensive ends were Georgia Tech’s Derrick Morgan and TCU’s Jerry Hughes.
All of the teams have better records than the Aggies, with the exception of Price’s 6-6 record. I think the Aggies’ struggles, as well as Miller’s hybrid status at the “Jack” position, made coaches unsure if he really was a defensive lineman or a linebacker.
Jody Schrandt of Tampa, Fla., writes: So I read that TCU coach Gary Patterson thinks they can win without playoffs or joining a BCS conference. I think that’s highly doubtful. Wouldn't it make sense for TCU to try to replace Baylor in the Big 12? Baylor never fit the B12 very well anyway. TCU would provide another great shot in the arm to the league, and they would have to play through the B12 to earn their title shot. Why can't that happen?
Tim Griffin: Mainly because I don’t see any rush to get rid of Baylor from the other Big 12 teams at this time. The same unique challenges that Baylor faces as a Big 12 member would likely be in place for TCU as well. It can be argued that TCU became successful because it didn’t get chosen for the Big 12.
The Horned Frogs have taken some huge steps forward under Dennis Franchione and Gary Patterson. But could they have done that playing in the Big 12 rather than Conference USA or the Mountain West?
This season, the Horned Frogs would be a great addition. But would the Horned Frogs be able to sustain that success on a consistent basis in the Big 12?
We’ll never know.
Thanks again for all of the great questions and enjoy the championship game tomorrow. We'll check back again early next week.
Here's a look at what the Big 12 finalists have been able to accomplish this season.
JEREMY BEAL -- OKLAHOMA, JR
Beal, a junior from Carrollton, Texas, led the Sooners in sacks (11) for the second straight season. He finished the regular season with 65 tackles, 18 for loss and an interception. His sack total this season ties for fourth-best in Oklahoma history and his tackles for loss total ranks 11th. Nationally, Beal ranks tied for 10th in sacks and tied for 12th in tackles for loss. Beal's highlight game this season came against Texas when he recorded 12 tackles.
SERGIO KINDLE -- TEXAS, SR
The Dallas native has recorded just three sacks this season, but has been credited with being the most disruptive player on the Longhorns' defense. Kindle has recorded 17 tackles for loss and an astounding 31 QB hurries, to go along with two fumbles forced.
VON MILLER -- TEXAS A&M, JR
Miller, a junior from DeSoto, Texas, enjoyed a breakout season for the Aggies and was named a first-team 2009 All-Big 12 defensive end. He leads the nation in sacks with 17 and ranks fourth in the nation with 21 tackles for loss. His sack total is just three shy of the A&M school record. Miller also has recorded a team-high four forced fumbles and a second-best five passes broken up.
Other finalists included Derrick Morgan of Georgia Tech, Greg Romeus of Pittsburgh, Brandon Graham of Michigan and Jerry Hughes of TCU.
The final vote for the Hendricks Award will be announced on Dec. 8 and the winner will be announced the following day.
Brian Orakpo of Texas won the Hendricks Award last season, becoming the first Big 12 player to be honored.
Other finalists named include TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes, Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody, Tennessee strong safety Eric Berry and Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer.
Suh leads the Cornhuskers with 31 solo and 25 assisted tackles. He has also produced 13 tackles for 47 yards in losses, including five sacks. He's also generated eight pass breakups, 19 quarterback hurries, forced a fumble and blocked three kicks. Nebraska ranks 10th nationally in total defense and 11th in rush defense.
The winner will be announced Dec. 7 during a banquet in Charlotte, N.C.
Additionally, the FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will present their third Bronko Nagurski Legends Award to former standout Missouri defensive back Roger Wehrli, a member of the 1968 FWAA All-America team.
Three Big 12 defensive players are among the eight semifinalists chosen for the Lott Trophy.
Texas defensive end Sam Acho, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy were included on the list released by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation of Newport Beach, Calif., which sponsors the award.
Other semifinalists include Tennessee safety Eric Berry, USC safety Taylor Mays, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes and South Carolina defensive end Eric Norwood.
The four finalists for the award will be named Nov. 24 and the award will be presented at a banquet on Dec. 13 in Newport Beach, Calif.
A Big 12 player has never won the award in its five-year history.
Two Big 12 defensive linemen are among the four finalists for the Lombardi Award, which will be presented by the Rotary Club of Houston.
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy are among four finalists who will attend a banquet in Houston where the winner will be announced on Dec. 9. Other finalists include TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes and Alabama defensive tackle Terrence Cody.
The Big 12 has featured four winners in its history as a conference since 1996. Previous winners include Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen in 1998, Nebraska defensive end Grant Wistrom in 1997, Oklahoma defensive tackle Tommie Harris in 2003 and Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo last season.
In the history of the award, more honorees have come from Big 12 schools than any other conference. Many of those winners came from schools in the old Big Eight and Southwest conferences.
It would appear that Suh is the early favorite for the award. But he will need a strong finish to stave off the others. Cody would appear to be Suh's biggest challenger, and the Alabama player should get much exposure as the Crimson Tide battle to claim the Southeastern Conference championship.
Happy Friday. Here are some of the better e-mails and questions I received this week.
Brian Gardner from Seattle writes:
Hey Tim, could you use your extensive political power with ESPN to get some Big 12 games to actually be shown on ESPN out in Seattle? I'm a Nebraska transplant that has had to deal with both the Virginia Tech and Oklahoma games not being included in our broadcasting packages out here. I know I'm in Pac 10 territory, but an angry USC beatdown of ASU this weekend doesn't seem like it's even worth watching. Also, I love your column. Being way out here it helps keep me connected into the Big 12. Your weekly rankings of the teams are great, but what about a current ranking for the coaches up to this point in the season?
First, thanks for the compliment. But my power at ESPN and four quarters might be able to get you a cup of coffee in the lunchroom in Bristol.
My suggestion would be to invest in ESPN GamePlan, which does a good job of bringing a lot of out-of-market games into all areas across the country. For example, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game this week is available on ESPN GamePlan. I think it’s well worth the cost because you get to see games all day long.
Interesting question about the coaches. Here would be my ranking of the jobs that coaches in the Big 12 have done to this point in the season. I reserve my option to switch them before the end of the season, but heading into this week’s games this is what I see.
Here's how I would rank them on what they have accomplished to this point of the season.
1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State – Proving it again with another Manhattan Miracle.
2. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State – Most amazing thing is how hard the Cyclones are playing.
3. Mack Brown, Texas – Has the league’s best talent, but he’s had to manage it.
4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – No surprise he’s kept the wheels on for the Sooners despite amazingly bad run of injuries.
5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – He’s done a good job of coaching the Cowboys without Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter for most of the season.
6. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M – Young Aggies have responded to his motivational ploys. And he one-upped Leach, which the A&M former students enjoy.
7. Mike Leach, Texas Tech – He’s done a good job coaching around his quarterback injuries, but he hasn’t won much respect from his players’ girlfriends.
8. Bo Pelini, Nebraska – Cornhuskers have a fearsome defense, but have looked unprepared on offense.
9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri – Some drop-off was expected with all of the new players, but a three-game losing streak is still too much.
10. Mark Mangino, Kansas – Has the best personnel of any of his previous teams, but the team’s recent slump has him making some treacherous personnel choices.
11. Art Briles, Baylor – Griffin’s injury was a killer, but the Bears haven’t come close to winning in the conference.
12. Dan Hawkins, Colorado – Burning Hansen’s redshirt and then taking him out of the game two weeks later was the sign of a desperate coach.
Ric from Boston writes:
In reference to your post earlier today about cross division scheduling...In my opinion, the Big 12 missed a golden opportunity to strengthen their schedules by not adding a ninth conference game. In this scenario, each team would play four teams from the other division. Every two years, they would drop two of those teams and pick up the other two that they did not play the previous two years. In this way, each school plays all the other division schools four times in six years; equally home and away. Thus, in any 12-season span each team has played every other division team eight times rather than six times, as occurs now. The best part of this is that, no matter which team is up or down in the other division, it minimizes the number of times that any team misses out on the two strongest teams from the other division. This certainly would lend strength toward arguing the difficulty of going undefeated in the Big 12.
I agree with you. I received a lot of e-mails about that post and different readers’ idea to better make things equitable. I still like the idea of every team playing every other team every season. But I think that makes too much sense – we’ll never see coaches and administrators go along with that. It will be interesting to see what the conference’s board of directors finally comes up with.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
NORMAN, Okla. -- Greetings from Owen Field, where TCU will attempt to keep up its surprising recent winning ways over the Sooners.
The Horned Frogs don't figure to be intimidated by any kind of aura about playing at Owen Field. They've won four of their last five games in Norman, including the shocking opener from the 2005 season. Several key Oklahoma players are still around from that game.
Oklahoma has much to play for tonight. Their performance will be judged against the winner of the Georgia/Alabama game to determine the No. 1 position when the polls are released.
The Sooners haven't been No. 1 since Mike Stoops left the program to become the head coach at Arizona. It's been fashionable in many circles to say that Bob Stoops has never been able to return the program to that level since then, particularly from national sources who don't realize the domination the Sooners have had in the Big 12. So it would be an important accomplishment for Bob Stoops if his team could rise to that level.
But TCU would be able to show something to the country with an upset. The Horned Frogs cracked the Top 25 and could continue a march to the first BCS bowl berth in school history with a win tonight.
TCU is a much better program than in 2005, at least in terms of personnel, because TCU coach Gary Patterson has been attracting better athletes into his program. The best example of that is along the defensive front. Many teams would have taken a step back after losing key producers like Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz. So what has Patterson done? Just plug in guys like 2008 starters Jerry Hughes and Matt Panfil.
A hot night is expected with temperatures expected to be around 90 degrees at kickoff. Here are some things I'm interesting in watching from the (thankfully) air-conditioned press box tonight.