Big 12: Joel Klatt
The Buffaloes have fallen on hard times recently, but they still have provided many outstanding players during the decade.
Here are my choices for Colorado's all-decade team.
QB: Joel Klatt
RB: Chris Brown
RB: Bobby Purify
WR: Scotty McKnight
WR: Derek McCoy
TE: Daniel Graham
OL: Brian Daniels
OL: Andre Gurode
OL: Victor Rogers
OL: Justin Bates
C: Wayne Lucier
DL: Abraham Wright
DL: Tyler Brayton
DL: George Hypolite
DL: Justin Bannan
LB: Jordon Dizon
LB: Sean Tufts
LB: Jeff Smart
DB: Michael Lewis
DB: Terrence Wheatley
DB: Jimmy Smith
DB: Donald Strickland
P: Mark Mariscal
K: Mason Crosby
KR: Jeremy Bloom
Offensive player of the decade: Chris Brown. He was the key player on Colorado’s Big 12 championship team in 2001 and was even better the following season before injuries derailed his Heisman hopes.
Defensive player of the decade: Jordon Dizon. Colorado’s only consensus All-American defensive player of the decade also was the Big 12’s defensive player of the year in 2007 after a four-year career as a starter for the Buffaloes.
Coach of the decade: Gary Barnett. Even with his unseemly departure, Barnett still coached Colorado to its only Big 12 championship and took the Buffaloes to four Big 12 title games in a five-season period. They haven't been back since.
Moment of the decade: Colorado stuns Texas for 2001 Big 12 title. The Buffaloes’ 39-37 victory was sparked by 182 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Brown, pushing them to their only Big 12 football championship and lone BCS bowl appearance of this decade.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few of the letters and e-mails I received over the last few days.
Dennis from Corpus Christi, Texas, writes: Tim, I enjoy your blogs very much even though I ride you a little hard at times. I still think your blogs are very informative. I've noticed that Mike Caputo, a walk-on from Omaha, has emerged as one of the top linemen in training camp for Nebraska this spring. Walk-ons have obviously been an important part of Husker football for a long time. How much better or worst can a walk-on program help by improving the talent level, player attitude and team spirit of a Big 12 team.
Tim Griffin: Obviously, there are some walk-on players that can help a program. It's as much with team chemistry as anything else because these players can help infuse a program with a different attitude. It's very rare when a true playmaker will come into a program as a walk-on, although standouts like Kevin Greene, Wes Hopkins, Daniel Sepulveda and Joel Klatt all started that way.
And no Big 12 program has embraced the concept of walk-ons quite like Nebraska. Bo Pelini sees the value in it and I think it provides the Cornhuskers with some advantages.
But I don't think a team can count on attracting a starter or two a year with walk-on players. I think most coaches count whatever contributions they get from those players as a bonus.
Sean Murphy from Omaha writes: Hey Tim, I absolutely love your blog. One question for you, why do you think Colorado will have the best offensive line in the North next season?
Tim Griffin: Sean, I just believe that the Buffaloes have been wracked by injuries in the last year or so in the trenches. If they can get guys like Ryan Miller and Mike Iltis back in the lineup, it will help them greatly. And players like Evan Eastburn and Bryce Givens should give them a boost in talent, on top of having four starters back from last season.
And it also would help the Colorado offense look good if Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart got back to health. Both are legitimate threats to rush for 1,000 yards this season if they are healthy. I realize that's a big if, but if they run behind a retooled line, the Buffaloes have a great shot to be a dark-horse contender in the North.
I don't know if they can make 10-2 as Coach Dan Hawkins has predicted, but I do think they are definite threats to go to a bowl game and can contend for the North title if they can catch a few breaks along the way.
Jay from Kansas City writes: Hey Tim! I hate to be the guy that emails you to moan about one of your rankings but I very much think Kerry Meier is far underrated by your blog. The stats speak plenty for Kerry. The fact that he is a playable Division 1 QB as well has to bump him up, in my opinion. Keep up that good work.
Tim Griffin: I labored about where to place Meier in my rankings. He's obviously a valuable player and can becoming that much more of a receiving threat if he was able to concentrate on playing wide receiver all the time. But realistically, Meier is the second most valuable receiver on the team. Dezmon Briscoe can stretch defenses with his deep receiving skills and could become one of the best receivers in college football if he can get back in Mark Mangino's good graces. That's why I placed Meier where I did with Briscoe in front of him. Meier is still a very valuable player, although I don't think he's the most valuable receiving threat on his team.
Shane from Elm Creek, Neb., writes: Hey Tim, any ideas on other possible Heisman hopefuls that are not on the offensive side of the ball, both from the Big 12 and outside the conference? Will the Heisman voters ever change the way they vote? Will they ever stop voting just on the quarterbacks, with a running back in the race here and there. It would be nice if the award went back to its original roots, in my opinion.
Tim Griffin: I don't see a defensive player winning a Heisman Trophy award solely on his defensive merits any time soon. I think most voters think the multitude of awards solely for defensive players already rewards them. Charles Woodson's award in 1997 was as much for his kick returns as his defense. Obviously, I would think that USC safety Taylor Mays, Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes, Tennessee safety Eric Berry and Big 12 defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska or Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma could be considered as Heisman contenders with a monster season. But it will be an unusual circumstance for it to occur.
Big Steve from Floydada, Texas, writes: Tim, how much is Texas Tech going to miss Graham Harrell this season? Can they still make a challenge for the Big 12 South or make a bowl trip with Taylor Potts in charge?
Tim Griffin: There's no doubt that Harrell will be missed around Texas Tech program. His record-setting numbers attest to his abilities and it's unfair to compare Potts or anybody else in the program to his high standards. But I think people are forgetting the turnover that used to follow the Tech program in previous seasons at quarterback. Harrell was one of the few multiseason starters in the program at quarterback along with Kliff Kingsbury. Mike Leach had a repeated run of one-year starters in B.J. Symons, Sonny Cumbie and Cody Hodges over a three-year period from 2003-05. I haven't seen Potts play yet, but from everything I've heard about him, I think he's comparable with any of those previous one-season starters. He's bigger and apparently has a strong arm. So it will be interesting to see what he does when he gets the chance to start.
James Williams from Tulsa writes: I'm curious if you think R.J. Washington will play much for Oklahoma this season? The Sooners have one of the deepest defensive lines in the country, but I think he's just too talented to sit the bench.
Tim Griffin: You might need to convince Bob Stoops because I think he likely believes he can never have too much depth in the trenches. That being said, I think the Sooners could have more talent along their defensive line than any Big 12 team I can remember. And for Washington playinf, he's going to have to beat out Jeremy Beal, David King, Frank Alexander and Auston English.
I think English could really emerge as a breakthrough player -- again. People forget how dominant he was in 2007 before he was hurt late that season and last year. If he is ever healthy, I think he can be one of the best pass-rushing threats in the nation. But I also believe that Brent Venables will rotate his players, giving Washington a chance to get some snaps this season. When he gets them, he needs to make the most out of them.
Adam Bates writes: Hey, Tim, is there any chance that Missouri game is going to be on television on Saturday like it was last season. Or will any of the other Big 12 teams with spring games left this season have their games televised live?
Tim Griffin: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no Big 12 team will have their games televised live during the rest of spring practice from what I've heard.
Please keep the e-mails coming. I'll try to answer as many as I can next week.
Thanks again for your contributions. I appreciate them.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a representative sample from the group of letters that came this week.
Chris from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Tim, from what I'm hearing, Kansas State actually has a good shot at landing Bryce Brown. What kind of impact would you expect him to make next year if he does suit up for Coach Bill Snyder?
Tim Griffin: Obviously, Brown immediately would immediately become Kansas State's top back if he arrived in Manhattan as well as the most publicized recruit in Snyder's coaching tenure. He would give Snyder's team the kind of rushing threat it had with Darren Sproles when it was most successful in its championship season back in 2003.
But I'm still thinking it might be tough to keep him from linking up with his brother at Miami. It will be interesting to see where the younger Brown ends up, although I'm hearing it won't be until well after National Signing Day when we find out where he will be playing.
Steve from Reston, Va., writes: Is there any chance Oklahoma will be adding another wide receiver in this year's recruiting class? I think the recent addition of the junior college of junior college wide receiver Cameron Kenney will help. What do you think?
Tim Griffin: Obviously, I believe that Bob Stoops could find room for Rueben Randle if the heralded receiver from Bastrop, La., would choose the Sooners over LSU among others. Randle is visiting Gene Chizik and Auburn this weekend. And the Sooners probably will still need to add another receiver or two to help Sam Bradford, considering the loss of key targets like Manuel Johnson, Juaquin Iglesias and Quentin Chaney from this year's team.
There figures to be a lot of passes for somebody to catch for the Sooners next season.
Ryan from Lincoln, Neb., writes: You reported earlier this year that Bo Pelini was one of the lowest-paid head coaches in the Big 12. Have you heard any rumors about when he might get offered a raise after going 9-4?
Tim Griffin: Coaches are like anybody else, with ego driving their salary demands.
But that being said, I think Pelini earned every penny of his $1.1 million salary last season, which now ranks as tied for the lowest in the league along with Paul Rhoads of Iowa State and Bill Snyder of Kansas State, according to the web site coacheshotseat.com. The league's formerly lowest paid coach, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, got a big raise back in December.
I'm thinking Pelini would be deserving of a renegotiation, considering the way that salaries are spiraling upwards in college football. But the decision will ultimately be made by Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne.
David Correa from Dallas writes: Tim, Any truth to the rumors that Baylor and Wake Forest are looking to drop each other from the upcoming 2009 schedule?
Tim Griffin: I haven't heard any rumblings from either side about canceling that game. But I know after covering the game in Waco back in August that Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe saying that he wasn't looking forward to the rematch in Winston-Salem in 2009. And that was before Robert Griffin started really showing what he could do as a versatile run-pass option.
And with Baylor looking to qualify for its first bowl game since 1994, I could see why they wouldn't necessarily be looking forward to facing the Demon Deacons on their home field, either.
It will be interesting to see if the game comes together. Because there still is a contract for a return date in place, the last I checked.
Steve Johnson from Wichita, Kan., writes: Tim, how could you forget about the infamous story about how Josh Freeman got out of his Nebraska commitment and left for Kansas State on your list of memorable recruiting stories this morning.
Tim Griffin: Sorry, Steve, that one slipped my mind. It was a good one. Namely, the urban legend is that Freeman informed then-Nebraska coach Bill Callahan he wouldn't be attending Nebraska by a text message.
Understandably, the announcement didn't make Callahan very happy. He responded with the legendary line where he called out Freeman, although he didn't call him by name. Callahan said about Freeman's de-commitment: "If you're a prima donna, if you're a drama queen, there's no room for you at Nebraska. You can go to Kansas State."
Ryan Carrell of Round Rock, Texas, writes: Tim, you said that former Miami quarterback Robert Marve "blistered Texas A&M for 212 passing yards and two touchdowns to orchestrate a 41-23 victory over the Aggies in College Station last season." Would you like to take a mulligan on the word "blistered?" Especially in the context of the A&M squad. Blistered might have been 400+ yards, but a little more than 200 is barely enough to get a rug burn.
Tim Griffin: Except when it concerns Robert Marve. It was his career high, so I think the term "blistered" is used in the right context for him. And Marve could have thrown for many more yards if the game had been closer, but Miami ran the ball for much of the second half in the easy victory.
So putting everything into context, I think that Marve blistered the Aggies. Or at least that's what I remembered A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines saying after the game.
Tom Krier writes: Tim, I read your comments on Nebraska winning the North if they can find a "serviceable quarterback." You might point out that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson seems to be a master of doing just that. The success he had at Colorado with backup quarterbacks (Bobby Pesavanto, for example) was impressive.
Tim Griffin: Tom, I agree with you. The work that Watson did with Joel Klatt, Robert Hodge and Craig Ochs wasn't too shabby, either, during his time at Colorado. And I doubt many Nebraska fans could have projected Joe Ganz's record-breaking season last season if you had asked him if those numbers were possible back in August.
It's why I think that Watson is one of the most underrated offensive coordinators in the nation. I expect him to be a head coach somewhere pretty soon. While I'm writing checks for Osborne, I might considering bumping up Watson, too.
That's all for this week. Keep the letters and e-mails coming and I'll check back again next week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Struggling through one of the most embarrassing days in his football career, Colorado defensive tackle George Hypolite remembers wishing the game at Reliant Stadium could have ended much quicker.
Linebacker Brad Jones has tried to blot away memories of that day, figuring his team's 70-3 demolition at the hands of Texas was nearly three years ago. What good, he said, does it do to bring up bad memories?
"I don't like to talk about that game," Jones said.
Saturday's game will be the first between the two teams since the Longhorns' infamous 2005 Big 12 Championship Game victory over the Buffaloes, which set a record for the largest margin of victory in a conference championship game.
That embarrassing loss catapulted the Longhorns into the national championship game and also brought an unceremonious end to Gary Barnett's coaching tenure at Colorado.
"Coach Hawkins talks a lot about a perfect storm where everything is clicking with your offense, your defense and special teams," Hypolite said. "That was definitely the case for them on that day. I honestly believe that Texas could have beaten the New England Patriots the way they were playing on that day."
The Longhorns scored on 10 of their first 11 possessions and rolled up 486 yards in the game.
It didn't make it any easier for Hypolite, who was a freshman on that Colorado team, to finish the game after Texas jumped to a 42-3 halftime lead and scored four more touchdowns during a span of less than four minutes early in the third quarter.
"I'm a competitor and sometimes you just have to take your medicine," Hypolite said. "At that time, we didn't have the mentality to make a game out of it. They clicked on cylinders and we just weren't prepared."
Colorado running backs coach Darian Hagan, who was on Barnett's staff in that game, told the Boulder Camera he hasn't forgotten that day or Texas' reaction to the Buffaloes before it.
"I remember warming up and those guys were laughing and joking over there," Hagan said of the Longhorns. "They didn't respect us. We thought we could go in there and hang with them. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be 70-3. And then in the fourth quarter, blitzing and piling it on, I didn't think that would happen, but it did.
"What they did was pretty much try to clown us on a national stage, but you can't carry that. We have to let it roll off our back, but it's going to be in the back of our minds, I can tell you that."
Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt was knocked out of the game with a concession after he was hit on a blind-side blitz by Drew Kelson on a play in which the Texas defender received a roughing-the-passer penalty. Klatt never played again for the Buffaloes, missing the team's appearance at the Champs Sports Bowl several weeks later.
If Texas coach Mack Brown had been malicious, the Longhorns could have reached 100 on that sunny day in Houston. The Longhorns scored 70 points in the first 37-plus minutes of the game and clearly took their foot off the accelerator for most of the second half.
"Colorado had a lot of effort, but we were just on the top of our game," Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "We basically tried not to run the score up on them at the end of the game."
The Buffaloes ran into a hot team in the Longhorns who were intent on showing their national championship aspirations. It wasn't pretty.
"I remember it was a fun game," Orakpo said. "A lot of us are from Houston and we just played well offensively and defensively. Guys were flying to the ball, pinning the ears back and getting after people. It just seemed like it was a perfect game because everything was going so well for us.
"We were one game away from playing for the championship and didn't want to leave anything behind. Colorado was the next step for us on the way."
Dan Hawkins now is coaching the Buffaloes. That switch in leadership has undeniably changed how the Buffaloes are approaching Saturday's game.
"It's a different team for Texas and a different team for us," Jones said. "I don't think revenge will play any part for us."
But Brown expects that most Colorado fans haven't forgotten about that 2005 game and will remind the Longhorns when they arrive at Folsom Field on Saturday. The game is already sold out and should have as much intensity as any in the previous 16-game history of the series.
"The air will be light, I know that," Brown said earlier this summer. "[The stadium] will be full because it's been full every time we've been up there. There are enough Texans that move to Colorado for the summer so there is a natural rivalry between the two. And Dan has done a good job and they're competitive. So it will be like it is everywhere else we go to play. We'll have to be ready."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some notable memories from games played on this date earlier in Big 12 history.
The Way Back Machine for Aug. 30:
Aug. 30, 1997: No. 5 Tennessee 52, Texas Tech 17 (Knoxville, Tenn.) -- The Volunteers blew the game open with two TDs during a 13-second span late in the first half. Peyton Manning tied the school record with five TD passes and passed for 310 yards to spark the rout.
Aug. 30, 1997: No. 14 Miami 45, Baylor 14 (Waco, Texas) -- Edgerrin James rushed for 120 yards and scored three TDs to lead the Hurricane onslaught. Miami put the game away late with a 72-yard fumble recovery for a score by Jeff Popovich and an 85-yard punt return for a TD from Duane Starks.
Aug. 30, 2003: Colorado 42, No. 23 Colorado State 35 (Denver) -- After squandering a 14-point lead in the second half, Colorado bounced back to win the game on Bobby Purify's 9-yard TD run with 40 seconds left. Joel Klatt passed for 402 yards and four TDs to lead CU's triumph.