Big 12: Jimmy Johnson
- Tommy Tuberville: "You have to really enjoy college football to want to be a part of it, because it's not a lot of down time, it's a lot of busy time and it's a lot of late-night hours, seven days a week." All true, even if that's mostly just during the season.
- The show followed the team during its week of preparation heading into last week's 52-20 loss to Texas.
- I really enjoyed getting a look at Chad Glasgow working. An early opening segment offered a look inside a defensive coaches meeting. The Red Raiders defensive coordinator's side of the ball has struggled this year, but I'm sure the season has been a huge learning experience for the first-time coordinator from soon-to-be conference mate TCU, where he coached defensive backs.
- Robert Prunty, recruiting extraordinaire and defensive ends coach, explained the Red Raiders' "Pitbull" mentality. No, he doesn't have his players slam Dr. Peppers 24/7, Make plays, and you get your name up above the board below a picture of a pitbull. Scott Smith and Dartwan Bush made the top of the board, and the better you play, the more impressive-looking your pitbull is. Kind of hilarious. Jackson Richards and Kindred Evans were also on the board for making plays. Every week, Prunty prints out information of this weeks "bite victims." That means both team's tackles, and in Texas' case, QBs. Also, running backs. Case McCoy and David Ash were both on the wall in the DEs meeting room. From Prunty's assessment, it seems like the DEs have taken to it. Competition will do that. Here's guessing Brandon Weeden's face has spent a lot of time on the wall this week.
- The Masked Rider has used the same horse for 10 years. His name is "Midnight Matador." "This is all he's ever done, really." Becoming the masked rider comes with a written test about horse health and equipment. The rider is responsible for taking care of the horse during the year, and answers 10 open-ended questions and does a driving test with the truck and trailer that holds the horse. There's also a riding tryout and an interview with a panel of 12-15 people. The Masked Rider is far more fascinating than I ever knew.
- The statue of Will Rogers on Tech's campus was rotated after installation so its butt faced A&M, riding away from College Station. Touche, Tech.
- Interesting to see OC Neal Brown offer a team-wide academic update on Tuesday, calling out receiver Marcus Kennard to study for a history test. Stuff like that, and accountability, is where some senior leadership can come into play. Brown also announced in a team meeting that WR Tavares McRoy had gotten a 100 on a test and reserve QB Michael Brewer had gotten a 96. Positive reinforcement! "Smile, man. It's not illegal to smile," Brown said.
- "I'm only as good as my staff," Tuberville said. "I delegate responsibility and I took most of my philosophy from Jimmy Johnson when I was at Miami."
- Kansas could use a little more depth at linebacker after preseason injuries, writes Tully Corcoran of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini doesn't anticipate the crowd in Seattle being a problem for his "calm, cool, collected" quarterback, Taylor Martinez, writes Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star.
- This week's episode of the Kansas football reality show "The Grind" is up. Just like last week, it's awesome. A pregame speech from safety Olatian Oguntodu and a halftime speech from Turner Gill are must-sees.
- Colorado coach Dan Hawkins says the problems that plagued the Buffaloes in their loss to Cal are "totally correctable," reports Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is asking fans to stop yelling "Sooners!" at the end of the national anthem.
- Freshman kick returner Shontrelle Johnson is getting it done for the Cyclones, writes Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register.
- Jimmy Johnson on Survivor? Yep, that starts tonight. Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman talks to the former coach.
- John Helsley of The Oklahoman looks at the intersection of Tulsa and Oklahoma State's programs.
- Kansas State's defense has shifted to a less aggressive, bend-but-don't-break strategy, writes Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- Missouri tight end Michael Egnew was one of eight adopted children, and has found another new home as one of the Tigers' top targets, writes Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star.
- The Baylor-TCU rivalry is surrounded by all kinds of what-ifs, most importantly, what if TCU had gotten the invite to the Big 12 instead of Baylor, writes Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com.
- Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has the story behind Texas Tech's all-white uniforms.
- Kansas State's defense wants to prove last week's second half was out of the ordinary, writes Kellis Robinett of the Kansas City Star.
- Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb has his hometown shifting its allegiance, writes J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
STILLWATER, Okla. -- Give Boone Pickens credit for one thing. His money has helped build a heck of a football stadium.
At one time, old Lewis Field was one of the worst football facilities in major college football. I always got the idea I was visiting something that was built by an erector set back in the old days.
But Pickens' gifts to his alma mater, estimated at $458 million, has changed things around here in a big way. The renovated football stadium is the most obvious and noteworthy sign of his benevolence.
Mike Gundy and his staff work in an airy football facility that looks nothing liked the cramped, dingy dungeons where Jimmy Johnson and Pat Jones once toiled when coaching here.
The stadium, expanded to 60,000, will be dedicated to the Cowboys' megabuck booster shortly before kickoff. The facility has all of the bells and whistles of the finest college stadiums across the country.
Pickens originally attended Texas A&M, where he hoped to become an athlete.
"Fortunately for us," Gundy said. "A&M didn't think he was a basketball player."
The Aggies' loss has been the Cowboys' gain ever since then.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12's nonconference schedule is marked with several extremely difficult tests early. These are statement games for the conference as a whole. If Big 12 teams can win these games, it would grab a lot of national attention.
If not, the Big 12's national reputation could take an early hit that could have naysayers reminding us about the conference's bowl struggles last season against the SEC.
But here's a look at six games that will be the most difficult for Big 12 teams. These will be a little more difficult than those last week I listed as potential trap games.
1. Nebraska at Virginia Tech, Sept. 19: Bo Pelini's toughest nonconference road game to date. The Hokies are ranked no lower than 14th nationally in any preseason magazine I've seen yet and will be a tremendous challenge in Blacksburg. In order to win, the Cornhuskers will have to keep Virginia Tech's defense and special teams in check and hope for a break or two.
2. Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5: This game will arguably be the biggest nonconference game in Oklahoma State history. And even though the Cowboys likely will be favored and facing a Georgia team breaking in a new starting quarterback, it will still be a huge test to beat one of the Southeastern Conference's traditional power teams.
3. Iowa at Iowa State, Sept. 12: The Cyclones have won four of the last five games at home in the series, but Paul Rhoads' first big test against his cross-state rivals looms especially large. Particularly with the Hawkeyes expected by many to be the surprise team in the Big Ten this season.
4. Illinois vs. Missouri (at St. Louis), Sept. 5: This game was already going to be tough before Sean Weatherspoon started tweeting about squeezing "the pulp" out of Illinois quarterback Juice Williams. And bet that Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini haven't forgotten that the Tigers have won four straight games against them in the bragging-rights battle.
5. Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3: This rivalry was one to circle back in the mid-1980s when Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson were battling. It's still a good one and Randy Shannon will be looking for a statement victory that would grab attention for his program from across the nation. Bet that Shannon will remind his team about the 51-13 whipping it endured last season in Norman for a little inspiration before the game at Land Shark Stadium.
6. Baylor at Wake Forest, Sept. 5: Baylor should be much better than last season and the Demon Deacons should be a little down from last season. But Wake Forest still should be a challenge considering Jim Grobe's recent transformation of the Demon Deacons, who have posted a 14-5 home record in the last three seasons. Baylor's defense will have to play much better than last season, when it allowed scoring drives on Wake Forest's first three possessions in an eventual 41-13 loss in Waco.
And 10 others to watch:
Colorado at West Virginia, Oct. 1
Oklahoma at BYU (at Arlington), Sept. 5
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (at Arlington), Oct. 3
Texas Tech at Houston, Sept. 26
Houston at Oklahoma State, Sept. 12
Kansas at UTEP, Sept. 12
Missouri at Nevada, Sept. 26
Connecticut at Baylor, Sept. 19
Southern Mississippi at Kansas, Sept. 26
Kansas State at UCLA, Sept. 19
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Big 12 teams should be seldom tested before conference play begins as most teams again are opting to compete with a pillow-soft slate of opponents.
Here's the toughest and weakest of the Big 12 nonconference schedules:
1. Oklahoma: BYU (at Arlington, Texas), Idaho State, Tulsa, at Miami
The Sooners deserve props for adding the BYU game late. The nationally televised game should showcase Oklahoma's defense as it thwarts Max Hall and Harvey Unga for the Cougars. Idaho State is a bad Division I-AA team that went 1-11 last season. Tulsa and Miami both went to bowl games last season. The Golden Hurricane will be breaking in a new quarterback and a new coordinator -- not a good recipe for success for a road team at Owen Field. And although the game against Miami brings back memories of Jimmy Johnson vs. Barry Switzer, the fact is that the Hurricanes could be worn out by the time Oklahoma visits. Miami starts the season with a meat-grinder schedule of Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before the Sooners visit.
2. Colorado: Colorado State, at Toledo, Wyoming, at West Virginia
Coach Dan Hawkins has this team pegged for good things in the conference. The Buffaloes will be tested by four FBS opponents, including two on the road. The rivalry game against Colorado State should be decided in the trenches and the Buffaloes' offensive line will be a load for the Rams. The Toledo game might be trickier than expected considering the Buffaloes will be playing this one only five days after the Colorado State game. But Colorado still should have the talent to prevail. Something tells me that Hawkins will remember that new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's offense hung 113 points against his defense the last two seasons when he was at Missouri. And the West Virginia trip will be a challenge, although new Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown is largely untested.
3. Missouri: Illinois (at St. Louis), Bowling Green, Furman, at Nevada
The Tigers' inexperienced defense will get a huge challenge in the opener against Illinois' pass-and-catch tandem of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. They'll be facing another experienced quarterback in three-year Bowling Green starter Tyler Sheehan, but the Falcons' defense will be breaking in two new cornerbacks. Furman has a talented quarterback in Jordan Sorrells, but the Paladin's defense shouldn't be able to match Missouri. The trip to Nevada might be a hornet's nest. The Wolf Pack have made four straight bowl trips, multi-purpose quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Western Athletic Conference's last two leading rushers. And, oh, yeah, the Wolf Pack probably still remember that 69-17 beatdown to the Tigers last season in Columbia.
4. Nebraska: Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, at Virginia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette
No truth to the rumor that the Cornhuskers are gunning for the September version of the Sun Belt championship. Their road game at Virginia Tech is the toughest game that any Big 12 team will play this season. But Bo Pelini will have two games to get his defense ready for Tyrod Taylor and Co. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger made his career name by beating the Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl while at Miami. He won't be nearly as successful this time around. Arkansas State stunned Texas A&M last season, but the Red Wolves will be utilizing a new offensive line this season. And Louisiana-Lafayette's offense is very young and the Cornhuskers will be catching them the week after they have met up with LSU.
5. Oklahoma State: Georgia, Houston, Rice, Grambling
Four home games make for an ideal schedule for the Cowboys to make some national noise. The Georgia game will be arguably the biggest home nonconference game in school history. But the Cowboys grab a break as the Bulldogs try to break in new quarterback Joe Cox. Houston will have Case Keenum and a high-powered offensive attack, but the Cowboys blistered the Cougars for 56 points last year and could score more this season. Rice won't be as good this season after losing most of its offensive firepower. And Grambling has a great football history and an even better band.
6. Baylor: at Wake Forest, Connecticut, Northwestern State, Kent State
The nonconference schedule could determine whether the Bears can snap that long bowl drought. And it won't be an easy one considering that Baylor is the only Big 12 team with two opponents from "Big Six" conferences. The Wake Forest opener will be a huge test, but Robert Griffin might be able to feast on a depleted Demon Deacon defense that lost four starters to the NFL draft. The Bears nearly beat Connecticut last season on the road and the Huskies lose their starting quarterback and top rusher from that team. New coach Bradley Dale Peveto will bring new ideas for Northwestern State, but the Bears have a big edge. And Kent State will be breaking in a new quarterback for a team that has won only 19 games in the last five seasons under Doug Martin.
7. Kansas: Northern Colorado, at UTEP, Duke, Southern Mississippi
The Jayhawks should be able to name their margin against Northern Colorado in the opener. The trip to the Sun Bowl against UTEP the following week might be a different matter. UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe could be a challenge, although the Jayhawks should have enough firepower to outscore them. A Kansas-Duke game would be a made-for-national television delight in basketball. Football, however, is a different story. And Southern Mississippi might be poised to challenge for the Conference USA title and might be a chore with leading conference rusher Damion Fletcher and all of its starting secondary back to challenge Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe.
8. Texas A&M: New Mexico, Utah State, UAB, Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)
The Aggies desperately need to build confidence and collect a few victories before the South Division gauntlet begins. After last season's opening-game loss against Arkansas State, expect coach Mike Sherman to have the Aggies focused for all of the games. They catch new New Mexico coach Mike Locksley with an uncertain quarterback in the Lobos' opener. Utah State is universally picked to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference. UAB will be rebuilding its defense and likely won't pose many problems for Jerrod Johnson. But the game against Arkansas at
the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium will be a challenge for A&M's defense. The Razorbacks should be much improved in Bobby Petrino's second season. Fans are paying premium prices and expect big things from both teams. The Aggies may catch a break considering the Razorbacks will play SEC contenders Georgia and Alabama in their previous two weeks.
9. Texas Tech: North Dakota, Rice, at Houston, New Mexico
Mike Leach's nonconference schedule won't be as bad as last season's trip to the pastry wagon, but not by much. North Dakota is transitioning into FCS status this season after ranking 137th among the 148 Division II passing teams last season. Sounds like target practice for Taylor Potts, doesn't it? Rice won't be nearly as tough as last season without James Casey, Jarrett Dillard and Chase Clement gone. The trip to Houston will be Tech's biggest challenge and Case Keenum will test Tech's rebuilt secondary in the first battle between the old Southwest Conference rivals since 1995. And New Mexico will have had several weeks to work under Locksley's system, making them a tougher challenge for the Red Raiders in early October.
10. Texas: Louisiana-Monroe, at Wyoming, UTEP, Central Florida
The Longhorns had a couple of game against Utah and Arkansas fall through in their planning. But don't expect the Longhorns to get that much sympathy for a group of opponents that won't give them much BCS bounce. Louisiana-Monroe will be breaking in a retooled offense with a new quarterback. The road trip to Wyoming doesn't resonate like some the Longhorns have made to places like Ohio State and Arkansas in recent seasons. The Cowboys will be breaking in a new quarterback, too. UTEP could contend for the Conference USA West title, but the Miners are a different team on the road. And the Nov. 7 game against Central Florida will bring the nation's worst offensive team from last season into Austin.
11. Iowa State: North Dakota State, Iowa, at Kent State, Army
Paul Rhoads doesn't want any surprises early in his first season and his nonconference schedule. North Dakota State has posed problems to FBS teams like Minnesota in the past. Iowa doesn't have Shonn Greene back, but has almost everybody else back on a stout defense that will challenge the Cyclones. Mighty mite 5-foot-5, 170-pound tailback Eugene Jarvis will test ISU's defense and the trip to Kent State won't be a gimme. And new Army coach Rich Ellerson will bring 6-10, 283-pound wide receiver Ali Villanueva along with starting quarterback Chip Bowden from a team that won three games last season.
12. Kansas State: Massachusetts, at Louisiana-Lafayette, at UCLA, Tennessee Tech
The schedule doesn't provide as many gooey treats as some that Bill Snyder's teams have feasted on in the past, but it's still nothing to write home about. Massachusetts is a contender in the CAA, which is the toughest top-to-bottom FCS conference in the nation. Louisiana-Lafayette will have to replace a lot of offensive talent, but can be troublesome at Cajun Field. UCLA struggled offensively last year and will be breaking in a new quarterback with four new offensive linemen. KSU might be able to compete in that one better than most might think. And Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown, returns a talented pass-and-catch combination of Lee Sweeney and Tim Benford. KSU still should roll, however.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and the games that the Big 12 will provide.
During a flight of fancy last night, I sat down and plotted my ultimate dream schedule if I could watch what I now consider the best game every week.
Here's my list, including a running total of the miles I would travel from my San Antonio home:
Week 1: Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5 -- This might be the best nonconference game of the season for a Big 12 team as Mike Gundy's Cowboys face the Bulldogs. It should be a clash of two top 20 teams in the season opener. We'll get an early opportunity to see whether the Cowboys are as legitimate as their preseason publicity might suggest.
- Other games I considered: Oklahoma vs. Brigham Young (at Arlington), Illinois-Missouri (at St. Louis), Colorado State at Colorado.
- Round-trip mileage from San Antonio to Stillwater: 934 miles