Big 12: Jim Leavitt

Lunch links: Behind the scenes of draft prep

January, 19, 2011
Yo, who's the grillmaster, dog?

Watson, Wilson, McCarney among those who applied for USF job

January, 28, 2010
The South Florida job eventually claimed by Skip Holtz prompted wide interest among current and former Big 12 coaches.

The Tampa Tribune reported that a variety of coaches had interest in the position created when Jim Leavitt was fired on Jan. 8.

Among the more notable applicants included Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, former Iowa State coach and current Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney and former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and current Southern Mississippi coach Larry Fedora.

Another candidate was Nebraska football consultant Joe Moglia, a former chairman at TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation and a former defensive coordinator at Dartmouth.

The interest in the Bulls job isn't unexpected. Many coaches see it as a potential coaching gold mine because of its facilities, location and conference affiliation. It's not a surprise that some of the top Big 12 coordinators and other coaches were intrigued by the school and its possibilities.

Big 12 links: Jeffcoat, McNeill, Leavitt could be on Stoops' radar

January, 19, 2010
In the middle of all of the stuff we're putting together looking back at the past decade, there's still some news across the Big 12.

Here are some of the conference's most notable headlines for your noontime edification.

Big 12 mailbag: "Curse of the QB" struck this season

January, 12, 2010
The season might be over, but letters and e-mails keep rolling in.

Here are some of the better missives I’ve received over the last several days.

Steven Johnson from Salina, Kan., writes: This season there truly was the “curse of the Big 12 quarterback” all season long. Did any other conference lose as many starting QBs as the Big 12 this season due to injury? In the South Division, only A&M had the luxury of their starting QB all season long. Who were the only quarterbacks in the Big 12 who started every game this season?

Tim Griffin: Yes, it was a bad time to be a starting quarterback in the Big 12 in 2009. The only quarterbacks who started every game were Kansas’ Todd Reesing, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson.

And McCoy’s injury against Alabama last week might have been the biggest injury of the season for any player in the nation.

I don’t know of any conference anywhere that had the run of injuries that the Big 12 endured this season.

Terrell from the Bay Area in California writes: It's obvious that Mack Brown's offensive staff doesn't develop the talent like it should or utilize the talent it has. What's the shelf life of Greg Davis? Mack has a history of going with the style that's winning. And right now a pro-style SEC offense is dominating the championship scene. Do you see Coach Brown having the courage to replace Davis or are we stuck with him until Will Muschamp takes over? I think now would be a perfect time to make the switch especially with the recruiting classes they've had the last three years. The lineman alone should make Brown a more pro-style coach.

Tim Griffin: Terrell, you raise an interesting point I often hear from Texas fans. Davis was successful enough to help Vince Young and Colt McCoy develop into two of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history. There’s no doubt the Texas running game struggled this season, but Davis was able to cobble together a short passing offense that still took them to the national championship game.

I think there’s a lot of loyalty between Mack Brown and Greg Davis. They’ve worked together for 17 seasons at three different jobs -- Tulane, North Carolina and Texas. Brown has never fired a coach before during his Texas stint. And I don’t see him starting with one of his most stalwart associates in Davis.

Zachary Cole from San Marcos, Texas, writes: I just read that Tommy Tuberville's new offensive coordinator will be Neal Brown from Troy. I don’t know much about Troy, do you think this is a good choice or do you think that Lincoln Riley should have got the call?

Tim Griffin: It doesn’t surprise me that Tuberville looked outside the Tech program to pick his offensive coordinator. And Brown is one of the rising stars of the business after the job he did with the Trojans over the last two seasons. He’s actually the youngest offensive coordinator in the nation but has more experience as a coordinator than Riley at the job.

Tuberville was looking for a proven commodity along with a coach rising in the profession. It's a bonus that Brown arrives with a few different wrinkles he wants to bring to his new job.

I think it’s a good choice, although it sounds like the offense will be pretty similar to the one the Red Raiders have run in recent years with Mike Leach serving as the coach and offensive coordinator. Tuberville wants his own immediate stamp on the program and that’s why I think he went out of it for Brown.

Chris Watkins from Lawrence,Kan., writes: Tim, now that Jim Leavitt, Mike Leach, and Ruffin McNeill are all available, would it be wise for Kansas State coach Bill Snyder to bring them in, even in the thick of the tumult? I could see going to Kansas State being a smart move for Leach and Leavitt considering their reputations have taken hits. Snyder is just the guy to "mentor" them, much like Tony Dungy did with Michael Vick. Who would be most likely to go to work for the Wildcats, in your opinion?

Tim Griffin: I expect Jim Leavitt, Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeill all to be back in coaching quickly. But as far as Kansas State, I would suspect that Leavitt makes the most sense, mainly because he’s worked for Snyder before.

I know that Snyder has leaned on veteran counsel in the past and hasn’t hesitated to surround himself with former head coaches. And Snyder’s ability to “mentor” coaches, as well as work them pretty hard, is legendary. It would be a good place for any of those coaches you mentioned to land.

Preston Nix of Austin writes: Tim, now that the season is over I've been looking at recruiting and noticed that Texas doesn't have a running back ranked better than 31st in his position for 2010. Why is this? It seems with Texas underperforming at running back there would be a high demand for star running backs to fill the gap.

Tim Griffin: Preston, I’m not normally a huge fan of recruiting rankings except for the very top players. And it seems like Mack Brown has done a nice job melding together his program in recent seasons with players who weren’t the top recruits. But at running back, I am a little surprised that the Longhorns haven’t been in the ballgame for more top prospects. Obviously, the Longhorns’ running game problems since Jamaal Charles left the program have been well-chronicled. And it seems that Texas has steered away from the running game in favor of pass-heavy offense under McCoy. Obviously, recruits see that and likely are more interested in places where they will carry the ball more often.

Maybe Chris Whaley will be poised to earn playing time over the spring. Or Tre’ Newton could takes the next step in 2010. But it is clear that Texas does have an immediate opening for a top running back heading into next season. Improved punch in the running game will be important as the Longhorns try to lessen some of the pressure around new quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

Kelly Smith from Memphis, Tenn., writes: Tim, being an avid Cornhusker fan in SEC country, I have really enjoyed your coverage of the Big 12. I look forward to your outstanding continued reporting on college football. Keep up the good work. I have only one thing against you did not vote for Ndamukong Suh for Heisman. I will forgive you, however.

Tim Griffin: Kelly, I appreciate the kind words. And your note isn’t the only one that I’ve received for not voting for Suh for the Heisman.

But I am going to meet with Suh on Thursday night in Omaha. In my role as the president of the Football Writers Association of America I’ll be presenting him with his Outland Trophy, emblematic of his season as the best lineman in college football.

We supposedly will be having a record crowd for the banquet. I’ll look forward to seeing him, the Pelini brothers and all of the rest. I’ll report back on it after the banquet on Thursday night. It should be a good time.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. I’ll check again Friday as I leave Omaha and head into the weekend.

Lunch links: McCarney in hunt for USF job

January, 8, 2010
The season finished up last night and it's supposed to be quiet around college football.

But try telling that to administrators who are hiring and firing coaches as I write this.

Here are some stories percolating from around the Big 12 about the game last night and other assorted topics as I scramble to make my mid-afternoon flight.

Enjoy the weekend.

Longest-tenured coaches with no BCS bowls

August, 19, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

While doing some research for another story, I developed this chart. I was curious which coaches in BCS-affiliated conferences had the longest tenures without making a BCS bowl trip.

  1. Jim Leavitt, USF: 13th season at job
  2. Randy Edsall, Connecticut: 11th season at job
  3. Mike Leach, Texas Tech: 10th season at job
  4. Gary Pinkel, Missouri: ninth season at job
  5. Al Groh, Virginia: ninth season at job
  6. Mike Riley, Oregon State: ninth season at job
  7. Greg Schiano, Rutgers: ninth season at job
  8. Jeff Tedford, California: eighth season at job
  9. Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt: eighth season at job
  10. Rich Brooks, Kentucky: seventh season at job
  11. Mike Stoops, Arizona: sixth season at job

I think the list highlights several interesting trends. The top two are coaches who have led their programs from the formative stages.

Then, it gets interesting. Leach consistently has been one of the outstanding coaches in the nation. But his program still has never taken the "next step" to a BCS game.

The same goes for Pinkel, Groh, Riley and Schiano -- all accomplished coaches who have repeatedly taken their programs to bowl games over the years. They just haven't been able to take their program to that "big game."

Of those on the list, I think that Tedford has the best opportunity to break that streak this season as the Bears might be in line to challenge USC in the Pac-10 and maybe be in contention for a BCS at-large berth.

But I thought it was very interesting that two coaches who qualified for a share of their respective divisions championships in the Big 12 rank so highly on a list for the lack of a BCS bowl appearance.

KSU quarterback race still up for grabs

August, 18, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder appears no closer to settling on a starting quarterback for the Wildcats Sept. 5 season opener against Massachusetts than he was 14 practices ago.

Snyder said Tuesday that there is tight, ongoing competition between four contenders for the job. Carson Coffman, Grant Gregory and redshirt freshmen Joseph Kassanavoid and Collin Klein all are hooked up for the starting job.

"No decision has been made and just about every time that I seem to think that someone is starting to pull away, the pack closes the gap on them," Snyder said. "I would say that on any given day they are probably pretty equal at this point in time."

That lack of separation is a trend that Snyder hopes will be ending with six practices remaining.

"The longer it goes it makes it harder and harder because it is human nature to settle into routines and to settle into performance levels," Snyder said. "I am trying to encourage that someone needs to rise above it all and continue to make that kind of improvement. And that doesn't mean that there hasn't been improvement, I'm not saying that, but not enough and not consistently enough for one to firmly establish himself."

Coffman and Gregory were presumed to have a slight edge because of their previous experience. Coffman, a redshirt junior, had 41 passes as Josh Freeman's backup last season. Gregory, a senior, threw 37 passes in the previous two seasons at South Florida as Matt Grothe's backup before transferring to Kansas State this spring.

"They both seem to do some of the same good things," Snyder said. "Carson, having been here in the spring, has had a little more experience. He's had 15 days more experience in this actual system and many more days than that when you encompass the offseason program and all that goes along with it.

"Grant probably has more playing time experience and has been around the game for a few more years with this being his sixth year in college football. Both of them come from football families, are pretty astute, and try to be good students of the game."

Coffman's father, Paul, is a former Kansas State tight end who played 11 years in the NFL. His older brother, Chase, was a record-breaking tight end at Missouri and a third-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Gregory's father Greg, was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at South Florida on coach Jim Leavitt's staff before he was fired earlier this year. He now works as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Joey Jones' staff at South Alabama.

Snyder was also pleased with the progress of the two redshirt freshmen, who have both shown flashes of potential.

"Joe and Collin have both done reasonably well," Snyder added. "But, they haven't progressed at quite the same level that the other two have. They continue to make improvement and do good things."

The Wildcats will be on display Saturday at an open practice. It should be interesting to see which one of the quarterbacks takes the majority of the snaps -- or if Snyder chooses to keep them relatively equal as the season approaches.

Coffman's KSU starting QB quest still has several hurdles

April, 29, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman appears to have emerged among the players currently practicing for the Wildcats, moving past redshirt freshmen Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid during spring practice.

But we shouldn't immediately anoint Coffman as the Wildcats' starter for their Sept. 5 opener against Massachusetts.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported today that Grant Gregory, a backup quarterback at South Florida, will transfer into the KSU program to attend graduate school. Because of that, he will be able to play immediately.

Gregory was beaten out by Matt Grothe for the Bulls' starting quarterback. But he apparently was encouraged to consider KSU by USF coach Jim Leavitt, a former assistant coach under Bill Snyder during Snyder's earlier coaching tenure with the Wildcats.

"I'm going to K-State," Gregory told the Capital-Journal. "We're just getting everything finalized with my admission into the graduate school ... I'll be out there definitely by June 1 if not earlier."

KSU will be Gregory's third career school after he began his career at Indiana. After redshirting as a freshman after a stress fracture of his back, he opted to transfer after coach Gerry DiNardo was fired after that season.

He then moved to South Florida where his career hopes as a starter were scuttled after he sustained a thumb injury early in his first season of eligibility with the Bulls. Grothe eventually emerged as the Bulls' starter and Gregory was his primary backup the last two seasons. Gregory completed 17 of 30 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns during that period.

Snyder has repeatedly said he's already expecting competition for Coffman when junior-college transfer Daniel Thomas arrives in June.

"He's very capable and we'll give him every opportunity at quarterback and if not that at running back," Snyder said.

Snyder compared Thomas' opportunity to that received by Michael Bishop in 1997.

"Daniel will be here in the first part of June," Snyder said. "Michael didn't get here until mid-July, but by the first game, he was the No. 1 quarterback and we had a pretty decent quarterback at that time in Jonathan Beasley. Michael developed in that short of a time."

So it should be an interesting and competitive summer for Coffman and the rest of the Wildcat quarterbacks.

And also leads me to believe that whatever performances we see at the Wildcats' Saturday spring game should be taken with a grain of salt.

Because the real competition for the starting job will begin in June.

Nebraska is newest team on Marve's watch list

March, 16, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Nebraska has been added to the teams that former Miami quarterback Robert Marve is considering as he prepares to transfer out of the Miami program.

The Lincoln Journal-Star reported that the Cornhuskers are among Marve's current six finalists. Others include Michigan, Purdue, Texas Tech, South Florida and UCLA.

   Marc Serota/Getty Images
  Robert Marve threw for 1,293 yards and nine touchdowns last season for the Hurricanes.

"That is the final six right now, but there is time for others to still jump in the game," Marve's high school coach, Robert Weiner, told the Tampa Tribune.

Marve started 11 games for the Hurricanes as a redshirt freshman last year, throwing for 1,293 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

But he was also suspended twice by Miami coach Randy Shannon for violating team rules -- for the season opener and the Hurricanes' 24-17 Emerald Bowl loss to California.

Earlier, Marve was said to be considering Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, but both of those schools reportedly have already ruled Marve out.

I'm a little suprised that Bo Pelini would become involved in this drama for a couple of reasons. First, the Cornhuskers appear to have a nice quarterback mix for the future with Zac Lee and Cody Green already in place. Also, the Nebraska program under Pelini hasn't been active in seeking disgruntled star players from other programs who are looking for a new opportunity. I can't see Marve being a good first player to break that trend.

But Marve would definitely provide an upgrade of talent for the Cornhuskers at quarterback. And he would be working with one of the best offensive coordinators in the game with Nebraska's Shawn Watson.

I'm still thinking that Marve will end up close to his home in Tampa. His father, Eugene, a former NFL linebacker, is battling prostate cancer and has said he wants his son close to home.

Also, I wonder if it was a coincidence that Marve was home this weekend on the USF campus in Tampa, coaching players from Tampa's Plant High, his old school, at a seven-on-seven tournament.

Who knows, USF coach Jim Leavitt might have given him the grand tour of his facilities when he was there. Or at least told him how important it would be to have a former hometown standout play for his team over the final two seasons of his college career.

Marve must sit out the 2009 season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining after that.

Three more Big 12 teams begin practice this week

March, 9, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

While the basketball tournaments in Oklahoma City will command much of the attention across the conference, three more teams will start spring football practice this week.

Oklahoma State and Kansas will begin practice Monday and Missouri starts on Tuesday. It means that six teams in the conference-- the others are Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas -- have started their work for the spring.

Seven different Big 12 schools will conduct pro days for NFL scouts. Colorado will conduct its session Monday. Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska will hold pro days on Tuesday. Oklahoma State will hold its pro day on Wednesday and Kansas State and Texas Tech will host the scouts on Thursday.

Most of the Big 12 coaching movement should be cleared up now that Jim Leavitt finally hired his defensive coordinator at South Florida after having interviewed candidates from three Big 12 schools.

The only position still to be filled is at Missouri for the defensive coordinator vacancy created when Matt Eberflus departed to join Eric Mangini's staff with the Cleveland Browns. Dave Steckel's hiring is expected to be announced sometime before the Tigers' first spring practice on Tuesday afternoon.

Big 12 lunch links: Max Tuioti-Mariner injured again

March, 4, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It's March and college football is blooming across the southern reaches of the Big 12.

The germination will eventually spread north.

Trust me.

Until then, here are a few lunchtime links to keep you stoked for the eventual blooming.

  • Hard-luck Colorado offensive lineman Max Tuioti-Mariner will miss spring practice after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera reports. It will be require his third knee surgery in the past two years.
  • Oklahoma offensive linemen say they understand why their group received a harsh assessment from coach Bob Stoops before their first spring practice, Norman Transcript beat writer John Shinn reports.
  • Nebraska senior safety Major Culbert has been kicked off the Cornhuskers' roster, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Culbertson reports. Culbert has played 29 games in his Nebraska career at linebacker, defensive back and running back.
  • Big 12 coaches can relax. South Florida coach Jim Leavitt finally filled his defensive coordinator position, hiring former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, Tampa Tribune beat writer Brett McMurphy reports. Leavitt interviewed coaches from three Big 12 staffs who turned him down along the way.
  • Several Kansas coaches were in Reno Tuesday to study Nevada coach Chris Ault's Pistol offense, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.
  • Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star reads the fine print to explain why Ndamukong Suh was left off the Lombardi Award's preseason watch list.

Big 12 lunch links: OU starts spring practice

March, 3, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

And then there were three.

Big 12 teams, that is, who will have begun spring practice after Tuesday afternoon (Baylor and Texas are the other two). Oklahoma's practice begins today.

Bob Stoops will be busy trying to rebuild an offensive line that loses four starters and finding a few new receiving threats for Sam Bradford to throw to. It should be an interesting spring around his team over the next several weeks.

Here are some stories around the Big 12 for your lunchtime perusal this afternoon. Enjoy them.

  • The Miami Red Hawks are trying to get out of their Sept. 12 game against Colorado in order to play a potentially more lucrative game against Kentucky in Cincinnati, Boulder Daily Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo reports. If the move is made, the Mid-American Conference will work to find a suitable replacement for the Buffaloes that could be Akron, Bowling Green or Toledo.
  • The Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner writes that converted Baylor running back Jeremy Sanders can help the Bears at his new position of safety due to his athleticism.
  • Oklahoma redshirt freshman linebacker Austin Box was cited by Norman police for urinating in public early Saturday morning, the Tulsa World's John Hoover reports.
  • The Kansas City Star reports that Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger, a Kansas State graduate and a former associate athletic director for development at KSU, could emerge as a leading candidate for the vacant athletic director job at his alma mater. The school announced an eight-member search committee that will help KSU president-elect Kirk Schulz find the president, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
  • Austin American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden have video anlyzing what they've seen at Texas' first two spring practices.
  • Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's experience in developing quarterbacks in his previous coaching history should be invaluable as he attempts to find a new starter for the Cornhuskers this spring, Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple reports.
  • Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler turned down a restructured offer from South Florida coach Jim Leavitt to become a defensive co-coordinator for the Bulls, Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times reports. The Tampa Tribune's Brett McMurphy reported that Ekeler, who had earlier turned down a similar offer to join Leavitt's staff, was offered a co-coordinator position along with Iowa State secondary coach Chris Ash.

This week in the Big 12: Two more teams begin spring work

March, 2, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Spring football practice will begin in earnest around the Big 12 this week at several schools. Here are several stories that we will be following:

Baylor starts spring practice today and Oklahoma will start its work on Tuesday. The Bears are building for their first bowl appearance since 1994, and the Sooners will attempt to continue the success that has led to an unprecedented three-peat of Big 12 championships coming into 2009.

Kansas, Oklahoma State and Missouri will have their final week off before beginning their spring practices next week. And considering the below-freezing temperatures across the conference this morning, some teams might be working in frigid conditions during their early spring work.

Texas will continue its work with three practices this week after beginning on Friday. After two open practices with big crowds attending both of them, the Longhorns will go behind closed gates this week. Obviously, that's when the real work will start.

It will be interesting to see if South Florida coach Jim Leavitt comes calling for another Big 12 assistant for his vacant coordinator role. Leavitt has already been turned down by Colorado secondary coach Greg Brown and Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler among the four rejections he's received after Wally Burnham left to become Iowa State's defensive coordinator. Who will be next?

And my best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Oklahoma redshirt freshman wide receiver Corey Wilson, who remains hospitalized at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City after he was critically injured in an automobile accident on Friday. His injury makes all of the spring practices and coaching changes seem truly meaningless. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Colorado's Brown offered USF coordinator job

February, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Several media sources indicate that Colorado secondary coach Greg Brown has become the second Big 12 assistant in less than a week to be offered the vacant defensive coordinator position at South Florida.

Brown, 50, has been a member of coach Dan Hawkins' staff with the Buffaloes for three seasons. Earlier, he coached 15 years in the NFL and was a member of Bill McCartney's Colorado staff from 1991-93.

The Buffaloes led the Big 12 in pass defense last season, but still struggled defensively in a disappointing 5-7 season that saw them lose seven of their final nine games after starting 3-0.

The vacancy at South Florida was created when Iowa State hired veteran former USF coordinator Wally Burnham to become defensive coordinator on Paul Rhoads' staff.

USF coach Jim Leavitt had offered the defensive coordinator position to Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch and Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler. Both declined the opportunity.

Hawkins earlier lost two members of his staff and has one other current coaching vacancy. Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes quit the Buffaloes' coaching unit to join Gene Chizik's staff at Auburn. And Mark Nolan, Colorado's on-campus recruiting coordinator, left to become a head coach at Regis (Colo.) High School.

Former Illinois State head coach Denver Johnson was hired to replace Grimes, but Nolan's position remains vacant.

Ekeler's chances at USF job still alive

February, 25, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It appears that Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler's chance to become defensive coordinator at South Florida could still be alive.

Presumed favorite Dan Disch, the co-defensive coordinator at Illinois, has notified USF coach Jim Leavitt that he will remain at his old school, Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times reported Wednesday afternoon.

That decision could mean that Ekeler has a chance to rejoin Leavitt, whom he played under at Kansas State.

Leavitt also interviewed former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. But Disch was the first person to whom the job was offered.

Whoever fills the position will replace veteran coordinator Wally Burnham, who resigned last week to serve as defensive coordinator under Paul Rhoads at Iowa State.



Saturday, 10/25