Big 12: John David Crow

Will Nguyen join A&M coaching staff?

January, 29, 2010
Dat Nguyen might be the most recognizable Texas A&M football product of the Big 12 era.

Along with Aggie icons like John David Crow, John Kimbrough and yes, even original 12th man E. King Gill, Nguyen made a legendary mark on the school through his time with the football program.

Now, it seems to be a no-brainer for A&M coach Mike Sherman to bring the most decorated Aggie in recent history back into the fold. The Aggies have a vacancy on their defensive staff after Buddy Wyatt left for Turner Gill's new staff at Kansas.

Nguyen quit his work with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week after being offered a two-year contract extension to continue as the NFL team's assistant linebackers coach and a quality control assistant.

That job was more clerical in nature than Nguyen really wanted. And it's why he decided to quit after spending three years as a coach for his old professional team.

"I want to grow as a coach,” Nguyen told the San Antonio Express-News. "I want to be more hands-on, and be more accountable to players.

“I didn't think I'd have the chance to grow like I had envisioned as a young coach. They offered me an extension. I just didn't see where staying with the Cowboys was going to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish.”

Coming back to his old school might do just that.

“I definitely want to be in coaching; it's a part of my life,” Nguyen said. “I want to make differences in kids' lives.”

It's hard to imagine a more positive role model the Aggies could add to help revamp a struggling defense that ranked among the bottom 16 teams in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense in 2009.

Obviously, Nguyen has never coached in college or been involved in recruiting. But his name still resonates with Aggies everywhere and would likely do the same in any household of nearly any recruit in Texas.

“People think I'm crazy to not have signed that extension, that I should keep coaching for the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “But I've never done anything because of money. I understand what I gave up. I understand that I left an NFL job without a job at hand. I took that risk.

“I have faith, and as long as I have my wife and our two kids, I'm fine. I don't know where the Lord is going to take me. It's in his hands.”

Sherman is battling as he tries to build his program after losing 15 of his first 25 games as coach, capped by a 44-20 loss to Georgia in the Independence Bowl.

His defense struggled with former coordinator Joe Kines in charge, allowing at least 40 points in 12 of those games. The Aggies ranked 114th and 105th nationally in total defense in the last two seasons.

The hiring new coordinator Tim DeRuyter was a wildly popular move among Aggie fans, prompting a standing ovation for the new coach when he was introduced at the A&M basketball game against Colorado last week.

Bringing Nguyen back into the program would only continue that excitement for a defense that has looked little like the "Wrecking Crew" defenses of which he was such a prominent part during his playing career.

Big 12 links: Is Mack Brown really 'Capt. Clutch?'

December, 10, 2009
No games tonight, but the annual Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show will provide some entertainment.

It's always a lot of fun seeing college football's best dressed in their finest.

Here are a few stories from across the conference to get you ready.

Arkansas-A&M rivalry a nod to the old SWC

October, 3, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

ARLINGTON, Texas -- I think I've wandered into some kind of football time warp.

Sure, the Texas A&M-Arkansas game will be played in the modernistic Cowboys Stadium. Every known spectator amenity known to mankind -- especially that massive high-def television screen that is as stunning as I was told -- is present.

But this game assuredly is a nod to the storied rivalry that the Aggies and Razorbacks once enjoyed in the Southwest Conference.

It's been a treat for fans old and new to cheer the highlights of players like Bill Montgomery, Jack Pardee and John David Crow that have been showed before the game. We even had a couple of glimpses of Frank Broyles and Bear Bryant in some highlights, narrated by the venerable Kern Tipps.

This will be a fun series over the next 10 years. It will give both schools a chance to celebrate their storied football legacies.

And maybe even make a few more memories of their own.

Whatever happened to the Big 12's Heisman winners?

August, 12, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Back in my former life at the newspaper in San Antonio, there was a wildly popular weekly column we used to run every Sunday called "Where Are They Now." A veteran staffer with loads of institutional knowledge tracked down some of the area's most memorable athletes and found out whatever happened to them after their athletic careers finished. 

The concept has always been intriguing. It's why the list I found today at was so interesting to me (hat tip to the

And heck, it's even topical with today's stories highlighting all of our Heisman Trophy stories.

Lost Letterman lists what has happened to all 73 previous Heisman winners. It's fascinating to see what men who had such football success have done with the rest of their lives.

Here's a list of the Heisman Trophy winners from Big 12 schools along with what happened to them after their college careers.

1952: Billy Vessels (Oklahoma) -- Worked in the horse racing business and real estate in South Florida before dying of heart failure in 2001 at the age of 70.

1957: John David Crow (Texas A&M) -- Former college coach and athletic director, now retired and living in College Station, Texas (age 74).

1969: Steve Owens (Oklahoma) -- CEO of a real estate company, Steve Owens & Associates, in Norman, Okla. (age 61).

1972: Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska) -- Owns JetWear kid's bedroom store in Omaha, Neb. (age 58).

1977: Earl Campbell (Texas) -- Assistant to the vice president of student affairs at Texas (age 54).

1978: Billy Sims (Oklahoma) -- Owns a chain of Billy Sims BBQ restaurants in Oklahoma (age 53).

1983: Mike Rozier (Nebraska) -- Stay-at-home dad living in Sickerville, N.J. (age 48).

1988: Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State) -- Retired from the NFL in 1998. Currently resides in West Bloomfield, Mich. (age 41.) His son, Barry Sanders Jr., is currently a high school star in Oklahoma City.

1994: Rashaan Salaam (Colorado) -- Promotes martial arts fights in China. Currently resides in San Diego, Calif. (age 34).

1998: Ricky Williams (Texas) -- Member of the Miami Dolphins (age 32).

2001: Eric Crouch (Nebraska) -- Owns playground equipment business called "Crouch Recreation" in Nebraska (age 30).

2003: Jason White (Oklahoma) -- Owns memorabilia stores in Norman, Okla., and Oklahoma City (age 29).

2008: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) -- Starting quarterback at Oklahoma (age 21).

It's hard for me to believe the Steve Owens, a player who I avidly followed when I was a kid growing up, is now 61 years old.

And in a way, I can see Mike Rozier as a stay-at-home dad. He was always one of my favorite players to deal with when I was covering the Houston Oilers back in the day. I'm sure he a great dad -- and a very colorful one at that.

Thoughts on the 'Best of Texas' voting on College FB Live

July, 22, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

I got a chance to watch College Football Live's recent two-day look at the traditions and greatest players and teams from Texas.

Here are the most recent results of the viewers and readers poll taken in conjunction with the visit, which is part of the program's state-by-state tour leading up to the season.

The results of the poll are up-to-date through noon ET on Wednesday. I'm also including my thoughts on the vote.

Which team is the best in state history?

  • 1939 Texas A&M 41 percent
  • 2005 Texas 28 percent
  • 1938 TCU 27 percent
  • 1982 SMU 2 percent
  • 1969 Texas 2 percent

Ballots cast: 2,586 votes.

Right or wrong: Wrong.

My take: It's hard to believe there are too many teams better than the 2005 Texas team. It looks like a lot of voters have read Mickey Herskowitz's fine book about that A&M team, elevating them above the others because of the mystique of being the "greatest generation's greatest team."

Who is the best player to play college football at Texas?

  • Earl Campbell 55 percent
  • Vince Young 27 percent
  • Ricky Williams 7 percent
  • Bobby Layne 6 percent
  • Tommy Nobis 5 percent         

Ballots cast: 3,622 votes.  

Right or wrong: Right.

My take: Hard to argue with "The Tyler Rose" as the best player in the history of the school.

Who is the best player to play college football at Texas A&M?

  • John David Crow 49 percent
  • Aaron Glenn 16 percent
  • Lester Hayes 15 percent
  • Darren Lewis 10 percent
  • Johnny Holland 9 percent

Ballots cast: 3,378

Right or wrong: Right.

My take: The school's only Heisman Trophy winner always epitomized to me what an A&M player should be -- tough and determined. But I was surprised that Dat Nguyen, the greatest modern-day defensive player in school history, wasn't included on the list.

Who is the best college player at a school other than Texas or Texas A&M?

  • LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 36 percent
  • Eric Dickerson, SMU, 22 percent
  • Sammy Baugh, TCU, 19 percent
  • Doak Walker, SMU, 17 percent
  • Davey O'Brien, TCU, 7 percent

Ballots cast: 3,742.

Right or wrong: Wrong.

My take: Even with recent familiarity from watching him, how could voters elevate Tomlinson above three iconic figures in Baugh, Walker and O'Brien who all have trophies named after them? My pick would be Walker, but you can't go wrong with either of the other players.

Which coach is the best in state history?

  • Darrell Royal, Texas 33 percent
  • R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M 30 percent
  • Mack Brown, Texas 17 percent
  • Dutch Meyer, TCU 11 percent
  • Bill Yeoman, Houston 8 percent

Ballots cast: 4,055

Right or wrong: Right

My take: The homespun Royal didn't attend college in Texas, but got there as fast as he could after his playing career.

Missouri remains the last of the Big 12 states to be profiled. The show will examine "the Show-Me State" in detail on July 29.

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Happy Friday. Here are some delecteable links that go especially well with Lenten lunches.

  • Columbia Daily Tribune beat writer Dave Matter writes that Dave Steckel should be named as Missouri's new defensive coordinator before the start of the Tigers' spring practice Tuesday.
  • Ohio coach and former Nebraska coach and player Frank Solich plans to return to Lincoln to watch practice and check out improvements in Nebraska's football facilities, the Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple reports. It would be Solich's first trip back to the program since he was fired as its coach after the 2003 season.
  • Legendary former Texas defensive back Bill "Super Bill" Bradley was obliging and appreciative after he was inducted into the statewide Texas Sports Hall of Fame earlier this week, San Antonio Express-News columnist David Flores writes. And Bryan-College Station Eagle columnist Robert Cessna notes that there were no Texas A&M alumni who were inducted in this year's Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction class.
  • Waco Tribune-Herald beat writer John Werner writes that former Waco High School standout running back Jarred Salubi of Baylor is ready to challenge for playing time after sitting out his redshirt season.
  • The Omaha World-Herald's Mitch Sherman provides a video breakdown of the Cornhuskers' running backs.
  • Pete Fiutak of analyzes all of the Big 12 teams heading into spring practice.
  • An online survey commissioned by the Houston Chronicle indicated that John David Crow was the greatest Texas A&M football player in history. Other players finishing in the top five, in order, included Dat Nguyen, Ray Childress, John Kimbrough and Jacob Green.

Texas A&M's Mount Rushmore

February, 12, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin  

No fan base in the Big 12 values its history and tradition quite like Texas A&M's supporters do.

The Aggies have many strong candidates who would merit consideration on my mythical Mount Rushmore for football. It was tough, but here are my four choices.

  • E. King Gill -- The 12th Man never saw action in the 1922 Dixie Classic, but his readiness if needed has infused the tradition of the school ever since.
  • Dat Nguyen -- The most decorated defensive player in Aggies' history won the Bednarik and Lombardi awards, leading Texas A&M to its only Big 12 football title in 1998.
  • John David Crow -- The only Heisman Trophy winner in school history claimed the award despite his team losing its final three games in 1957.
  • John Kimbrough -- The first two-time consensus All-American in school history finished as the runner-up for the Heisman in 1940, the year after leading the Aggies to their only national championship in 1939.

Of course, there might be room for argument as far as R.C. Slocum, Bear Bryant, Pat Thomas, Dave Elmendorf, Jackie Sherrill or Homer Norton is concerned. 

Any other suggestions?