Big 12: John Lilley
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
College football history is marked by historic coaching battles, some that have been a big part in the history of Big 12 schools.
No rivalry was as intense, or as nationally regarded, as those in the 1970s and 80s between Nebraska and Oklahoma when Tom Osborne and Barry Switzer were prowling the sidelines. Their relationship always was cordial but has deepened after both men left coaching. Switzer campaigned when Osborne was running for governor in Nebraska a few years ago. They've even made television commercials together.
Texas coach Darrell Royal had his own legendary battle with Arkansas' Frank Broyles over the years. The two coaches always were close friends. It was somehow fitting that both left the coaching profession together, facing off in their final games in the 1976 season finale.
The Big 12 now has a similar rivalry that likely will be as fondly remembered in the future. Berry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman correctly is putting the recent battles between Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Texas' Mack Brown in the same historic category.
The Stoops-Brown matchup is as good as it gets in college football these days. They will meet for the 10th time this season at the Cotton Bowl, with Stoops holding a 6-3 edge.
It's been interesting to watch both coaches have such completely different styles but be able to have sustained success. Both have won national championships. Both have pushed their respective programs among the handful of the most dominant in the country, restoring the order at two of the nation's traditional power schools.
It's rare that two division rivals like Texas and Oklahoma can be so good at the same time for so long. And the way college coaches bounce around to better jobs makes such a sustained rivalry as Stoops-Brown hard to find.
Here are a few other Big 12 links worth checking out this morning.
- Anything less than a Big 12 championship this season would be a step backwards for Missouri, the Norman Transcript's John Shinn writes.
My take: Such are the expectations that come with success. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel always wanted his program judged like that -- and he's about to get it this year.
- Tom Kensler of the Denver Post does a question-and-answer session with Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson, a Denver-area native.
My take: Robinson might be among the most indispensable players in the conference. The Cowboys would crater without him.
- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik wants to name a starting quarterback by at least a week before the Cyclones' Aug. 28 season opener against South Dakota State.
My take: The competition between Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates for the starting job appears close heading into camp after talking with Chizik this week.
- The Kansas City Star's Jeffrey Flanagan reports that Lawrence, Kan., is the only Big 12 outpost still standing in ESPN's "TitleTown USA" competition.
My take: Which is a pretty good indication of the lack of recent lack of national title success in the conference, except for the Jayhawks, isn't it?
- How close was Colorado from winning big in the Big 12 last season? "We were a skosh from winning 10 games a year ago and also a skosh from (winning only) two, as horrific as that sounds," coach Dan Hawkins told the Iowa State Daily.
My take: The margin of error could be even closer this season. I'm betting the Big 12 will be more competitive from top to bottom than any season in recent memory.
- The blog fanIQ.com writes that new Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman's chance for success is worst among any of the 16 new coaches hired before this season. Nebraska's Bo Pelini is third and Baylor's Art Briles is sixth.
My take: Sherman is facing a tough rebuilding job, but it's not that tough. What about Greg McMackin, who has to follow June Jones at Hawaii?
- Some might think he's lost his sanity, but Baylor coach Art Briles thinks he can be competitive at Baylor.
My take: Most people thought Mark Mangino's job at Kansas once was impossible, too.
- The Bergen Record's Aditi Kinkhabwala uses school-paid marketing agreements paid to Bob Stoops and Mack Brown as rationalization for a $250,000 add-on in Rutgers coach Greg Schiano's contract.
My take: The comparison is a little bit dicey. Both Stoops and Brown have national championships and their programs are awash with money. Rutgers isn't close.
- Rivals.com's Olin Buchanan said a healthy Brian Orakpo will be critical for Texas' defensive improvement.
My take: And also could make Will Muschamp's chances for a head coaching job come that much sooner.
- The Nebraska football blog Double Extra Point isn't buying Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman's self-love about his abilities as a quarterback
My take: Freeman's career totals (24 touchdowns, 26 interceptions) make his claims a little suspicious.
- The firing of Baylor president John Lilley has thrown the school into a tizzy.
My take: Some unexpected football success might be the best thing to settle everybody down in Waco. Or the creation of a high-sugar, high-caffeine version of Dr Pepper.
- Fresno State's Pat Hill and Kansas State's Ron Prince won't be exchanging Christmas cards this season.
My take: But if the Wildcats make a bowl game, all of those bitter thoughts will be forgotten -- at least at the Prince household.
- Want all of your Big 12 previews in one neat place? Try the Paperless Preview Project at the Auburn blog warblogeagle.com, which aims to collect as many free team previews in one site as possible.
My take: Who needs those preseason football magazines with a resource like this?
- Mack Br
own was impressed with his first glimpse of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, but isn't ready to bestow legendary status on him just yet, writes Austin American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls in his great blog "Bohl Games."
My take: It's tougher to look good the second time around in the Red River Rivalry. Just ask Colt McCoy.