Big 12: Josh Fields

Oklahoma State's all-decade team

January, 21, 2010
1/21/10
10:05
AM ET
Oklahoma State has emerged as a consistent power under Les Miles and Mike Gundy with bowl trips in seven of the last eight seasons.

The Cowboys have done it with a star-studded array of top players who have dotted their rosters over the last few years, most notably at wide receiver and running back. I was left with a tough choice between Adarius Bowman or Dez Bryant as the second wide receiver behind Rashaun Woods. And at running back, I went over and over as I tried to decide between Kendall Hunter, Keith Toston or Vernand Morency to go along with Tatum Bell.

After some careful deliberation, here are my choices for the Cowboys' top players of the last decade.

OFFENSE

QB: Zac Robinson

RB: Kendall Hunter

RB: Tatum Bell

WR: Rashaun Woods

WR: Dez Bryant

TE: Brandon Pettigrew

OL: Russell Okung

OL: Corey Hilliard

OL: Sam Mayes

OL: Charlie Johnson

C: David Washington

DEFENSE

DL: Kevin Williams

DL: LaWaylon Brown

DL: Juqua Thomas

DL: Greg Richmond

LB: Terrence Robinson

LB: Dwayne Levels

LB: Patrick Lavine

DB: Perrish Cox

DB: Vernon Grant

DB: Elbert Craig

DB: Darrent Williams

K: Luke Phillips

P: Matt Fodge

Ret: Perrish Cox

Offensive player of the decade: WR Rashaun Woods. His emergence in the early part of the decade foreshadowed the Big 12’s development into the most pass-happy conference in the nation. Despite facing constant double-coverage, he produced 293 catches and was the first receiver in Big 12 history to reach 4,000 career receiving yards.

Defensive player of the decade: DT Kevin Williams. Excelled as a mainstay in the Cowboys’ defensive front, making 42 starts in his career. He helped transform the Cowboys’ defense into a tough run-stuffing unit, making 160 tackles and 18.5 sacks over his career.

Coach of the decade: Mike Gundy. His coaching career is no longer dominated by sound bites of eruptions at press conferences. Gundy has directed the Cowboys to four straight bowl trips and back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in 21 seasons.

Moment of the decade: Josh Fields directs 2001 comeback victory at Oklahoma. Fields came off the bench to rifle a 14-yard touchdown pass to Rashaun Woods with 1:36 left, and the Cowboys held on for a 16-13 victory. The Oklahoma State defense notched three interceptions and seven sacks of Nate Hybl and gave Bob Stoops his first home loss.

Big 12 mailbag: Will Blackshirts be good in 2010 again?

January, 19, 2010
1/19/10
5:15
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I received a slew of comments about some of my early choices for my All-Decade teams across the conference. Hopefully, that will prove as popular during the rest of the week for the rest of the Big 12 teams as they are released.

Here's a representative example of some of the other missives I've received over the last few days.

Mike Heuertz of Iowa writes: Tim, even with Ndamukong Suh leaving Nebraska, as well as a couple other key defensive players, do you think the Blackshirts will be better next season? And what do you think Nebraska's record will be?

Tim Griffin: I talked with several Nebraska fans during my swing through the state last week who seemed almost giddy about the Cornhuskers’ chances next season.

That being said, the loss of Suh will be huge. I think he can be considered the arguably greatest defensive player in the history of the program. The Cornhuskers also will lose Barry Turner, Phillip Dillard, Larry Asante and the heart, grit and talent provided by Matt O’Hanlon.

Now I can see players like Prince Amukamara, Will Compton, Sean Fisher and Jared Crick getting a lot better gaining experience playing Bo Pelini’s defense. But it might be a little wishful thinking to hope for much improvement from this season -- considering the Cornhuskers’ big defensive personnel losses.

As far as their record, I would expect them to be one of the powers of the Big 12. They have a tricky game at Washington which will earn them a lot of national notoriety if they can win. Texas will be coming to Lincoln, as will Colorado and Missouri. A road game at Oklahoma State doesn’t look as daunting as it could be with the Cowboys breaking in a new quarterback. But an underrated challenge for the Cornhuskers might wait at Texas A&M with Jerrod Johnson and all of A&M’s strong returning offensive weapons back for next season.

Looking at that schedule, I’ll pick the Cornhuskers to go 10-2 and finish as the Big 12 North champion. Considering their returning talent and their schedule, I think that’s a relatively conservative pick.

But as far as next year's team being better than the 2009 version of the Blackshirts, that might be wishing for a little bit much -- even for the Pelinis.


Chris Henson from Salt Lake City, Utah, writes: Tim, a quick addition to the Texas A&M-Oklahoma State tidbit. The Red, White, and Blue Out in 2001 was organized by a group of students first and foremost as a fundraiser for the victims of 9/11. I appreciate you noting this event as it really shows what Texas A&M is all about.

Tim Griffin: Chris, thanks for the clarification. Like you wrote, it was truly an emotional event. There’s a picture of the stadium that is still hung in the press box at Kyle Field of the stadium bedecked for that game. It still gives me goose bumps when I see it.


Travis from Seattle writes: Tim, the players of the decade category has created quite a stir, with many saying, "...well how could X player be off the list." For the most part I agree with your list if you look at it being, who were great players, AND who did the most to influence their team's success, (thus why Graham Harrell is off, being a plug-and-play quarterback in that system although he did do a fine job).

But I propose a different category. Who were the best ATHLETES of the decade? And how about the best competitors, the ones who did everything to try to win. What are your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: You raise a good point about my list earlier being an all-around grouping of all qualities. As far as the best athletes of the decade in the Big 12 from the last decade, in no specific order I would include Ndamukong Suh, Eric Crouch, Robert Griffin, Chris Brown, Vince Young, Seneca Wallace, Dez Bryant, Dezmon Briscoe, Darren Sproles, Danario Alexander (before and after his injury), Brad Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Adrian Peterson, Brian Orakpo, Michael Huff, Earl Thomas, Reggie McNeal, Robert Ferguson, Sammy Davis and Michael Crabtree.

And among the top competitors I’ve seen include Stephen McGee, Crabtree, Colt McCoy, Roy Miller, Joe Pawelek, Jordan Lake, George Hypolite, Todd Reesing, Chase Daniel, Sean Weatherspoon, Matt O’Hanlon, Suh, Josh Fields, Brian Iwuh, Darrell Stuckey, Steven Sheffield, Wes Welker and Kliff Kingsbury. There are many others, but those are just some of the names that come to me off the top of my head. And the fact that Suh and Crabtree made both of those lists is pretty indicative of how exceptional they really were.


Fred Dodge of Annapolis, Md., writes: Tim, in reference to your top 10 jobs in college football. You have a good list, BUT the one caveat that I think goes with this list or any list is context. Most of these are still the "right-guy-for-the-right-place" jobs -- as are coaches. Being a Husker, I lean toward Bo Pelini and Nebraska as my first examples. Bo would not be a good fit for many of these jobs...I just can't see Bo fitting at USC or Florida for example; but I also can't see Lane Kiffin or Pete Carroll being successful in Lincoln. And in my opinion there are only a few guys who can shape a program around their personality. Nick Saban could coach anywhere, Urban Meyer probably could, and Jim Tressel could in most places. But I have a difficult time seeing Mack Brown outside the southeast or southwest and Bo Pelini outside the midwest. All of these guys could still coach, but I think they would struggle in fan support -- and so they would also in recruiting.

Tim Griffin: You make an interesting point, although I think that Pelini would work in more places than you might suspect. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool football coach and would succeed at most traditional powers, although I think his style best suits him at Nebraska. But I could see him being successful in the Southeastern Conference, in the Big Ten or even at Notre Dame. Anywhere they have a deep appreciation for football, I can see Pelini working out.

I think coaches like Bob Stoops, Saban, Meyer and Tressel would work most places. I also think you might include some underrated coaches out there like Mike Riley of Oregon State, Gary Patterson of TCU, Jeff Tedford of California and Chris Peterson of Boise State would be adaptable at almost any job in the country. But it does seem that the smart coaches are the ones who pick places where they are comfortable and have the best chance for success.


Kyle Zander of Fort Hood, Texas, writes: Will Chris Whaley and Desean Hales get playing time for Texas in 2010? I played against Hales in high school and the kid is the real deal, Texas needs to get him involved as soon as possible. And Whaley could help, too.

Tim Griffin: Texas needs to find some help for its running game. Whaley was hurt when he reported to practice last summer and never regained his form. If he’s willing to rededicate himself, there likely is a chance for him to earn some playing time this spring. He needs to have a big spring to get there.

Sales is in a similar situation. The Longhorns have wide receiving talent in players like senior-to-be John Chiles and James Kirkendoll. Malcolm Williams is a big strong receiver who will emerge in coming seasons and should be the team’s featured receiver in 2010. But there are catches – plenty of them -- available for Hales if he can force himself into the mix.


Brett Stamm from Keller, Texas, writes: Tim, love the blog! Keep up the good work! Has Mike Sherman, or will Mike Sherman, or why will Mike Sherman not, consider Dat Nguyen for defensive coordinator? Talk about a guy who has done an outstanding job in his current position and would bring some instant credibility with players and recruits in a program that has pretty much let a proud defensive tradition die with questionable and mediocre hires. This is a guy who was the face of and exemplified the "Wrecking Crew" tradition for four years! Your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: Brett, Dat Nguyen has been a key member of Wade Phillips’ staff as an assistant linebacker coach and defensive quality control assistant with the Dallas Cowboys. But I would suspect that Sherman probably would like for Nguyen to have a little more seasoning and experience calling defenses before he would give him the responsibility of serving as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator.

In a way, Nguyen reminds me a little of Major Applewhite as they develop in their coaching careers. It won’t surprise me if both become successful coordinators and eventually outstanding head coaches. But they need more experience to get there.

Nguyen seems like a natural to join the A&M coaching staff in the future. But I think it might be a stretch to see him as the Aggies’ defensive coordinator at this stage of his career.

That’s all the time I have for today. Thanks again for all of the good questions and keep the letters and e-mails coming. I’ll check back again on Friday.

Big 12 lunch links: Josh Fields still revels in making Sooner fans cry

November, 25, 2009
11/25/09
12:30
PM ET
The holiday weekend means waiting for the stores to open on "Black Friday" and a tryptophan overdose during the second half of the Dallas Cowboys' late-afternoon Thanksgiving Day game.

But isn't it good when we see some good old-fashioned rivalries in college football?

The links have them today, and a lot more.

Brown's comebacks spark 11-0 record vs. OSU

October, 29, 2009
10/29/09
4:57
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas coach Mack Brown has beaten Oklahoma State 11 straight times, often thanks to late comebacks that enabled the Longhorns to claim improbable victories over the Cowboys.
Texas at Oklahoma State coverage
Can Texas stay undefeated in the Big 12? Will Oklahoma State be able to slow down Colt McCoy and gain an edge in the South race? Our experts take a closer look at the matchup.

• Griffin: Horns battle for playing time
• Griffin: Cowboys contend despite adversity
• Griffin: OSU's Robinson not fazed by Horns
• McShay: How to stop Texas Insider
• Scouts' edge: Longhorns at Cowboys Insider

As Brown prepared his Longhorns to play the Cowboys Saturday night in Stillwater, he reflected about the reasons his team often needed those dramatic comebacks to win.

“I wondered about the slow starts, like a lot of our fans have, up in Stillwater over the last couple of years,” Brown said. “I think that their coaches just probably did a better job than I did of getting them ready to play.”

Brown might deflect some of the blame from his players, but he knows that his No. 3 Longhorns must be ready Saturday night -- even with the long winning streak over OSU.

“They are very talented and they are very well coached,” Brown said. “This is a national game with national implications and it has our full attention and full respect.”

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been a part of the last four losses, including dramatic collapses the last two times the Longhorns have visited Stillwater. The Cowboys squandered a 19-point lead at home in 2005 and a 21-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter in 2007.

Despite the Longhorns’ repeated success, Gundy said he doesn’t consider the Cowboys as “snake bit” in their recent games against Texas.

“That question comes up every year,” Gundy said. “I’m not so sure it’s snake bit, but the fact that when we played Texas, they have had some good football teams. If you look back over the last four years and see what their record is, it’s probably good.”

Texas’ traditional success will make the Cowboys especially attentive of factors that have led to their collapses over the years.

“When you are competing in a team sport against teams that are really good, you have to be sound in all areas,” Gundy said. “You have to have a good plan and your players tuned in to what you have to do to win. There’s some credit for putting players in position to win and then, you’d like to find a way to get it done.”

Oklahoma State has never done that when Brown was coaching the Longhorns. Here are some of his most memorable victories that he’s engineered over the years.

1998: Texas 37, Oklahoma State 34 -- Texas won the game only when Kris Stockton’s 29-yard field goal glanced off the left upright before sliding through the goal posts with three seconds left. “Shoot,” Brown said after the game. “This is a hell of a way to make a living.”

2002: Texas 17, Oklahoma State 15 -- The Longhorns jumped to a 17-3 lead before Oklahoma State charged back with 4:04 left on a 33-yard TD pass from Josh Fields to John Lewis. But their two-point conversion play was denied when Rod Babers tackled Rashaun Woods at the 1-yard line. Babers provided the clincher moments later with an interception that killed the Cowboys’ final drive.

2003: Texas 55, Oklahoma State 16 -- After trailing 16-7 late in the first half, the Longhorns blew the game open by running off 48 straight points. Cedric Benson rushed for 180 yards and Roy Williams snagged six receptions for 162 yards to key the comeback. Earlier, Oklahoma State took the lead after three field goals by Luke Phillips, including kicks of 52 and 53 yards.

2004: Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35 -- The Cowboys jumped to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter, only to have the Longhorns charge back for the biggest comeback in school history. Cedric Benson rushed for 141 yards and five touchdowns. The Longhorns blew the game open by scoring on six straight possessions as they limited the Cowboys to only 105 yards in the second half.

2005: Texas 47, Oklahoma State 28 -- The Longhorns’ national championship season was marked by this game, where they charged back from a 19-point second-quarter deficit against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State had lost four conference games in a row before this game, but jumped on the Longhorns fast after two long TD passes from Al Pena to D’Juan Woods. But Vince Young engineered the comeback rushing for a career-high 267 yards and two TDs and passing for two more scores.

2007: Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35 -- Ryan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Longhorns a victory to cap a comeback from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit. Jamaal Charles rushed for 180 yards and provided two of his three rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. And Oklahoma State kicker Jason Ricks misfired on a 34-yard field goal attempt with 1:13 left for the Cowboys that would have given them the lead. “The mind is a powerful, powerful thing, especially in sports,” Brown said after the game. “When we put pressure back on them, I think that question arises again, ‘Uh, oh. Here we go again.’”

2008: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24 -- Colt McCoy passed for 391 yards and two touchdowns, but the Longhorns’ defense paved the way for the victory with two huge stands late in the game. Jordan Shipley provided 15 receptions for 168 yards to spark Texas’ offensive attack. But the game wasn’t preserved until Curtis Brown swatted away a desperation heave from Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson on the final play of the game near the Texas end zone.

OSU's 2001 stunner over OU ranks as No. 19 on Big 12 list

June, 16, 2009
6/16/09
8:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Big 12 most memorable moments

Late OSU rally ruins OU's 2001 Big 12 South hopes

No. 19

Date: Nov. 24, 2001
Place: Owen Field, Norman, Okla.
Score: Oklahoma State 16, Oklahoma 13

Defending national champion Oklahoma was a heavy favorite heading into its regular-season finale, needing only to beat struggling Oklahoma State to wrap up its second-straight Big 12 South title under Bob Stoops.

The Sooners' hopes looked that much brighter after OSU starter Aso Pogi struggled in the first quarter, throwing two interceptions that sparked the insertion of freshman quarterback Josh Fields into the game.

One of the stories of the game was the transformation of the Cowboy defense, only a week after it was gashed for 517 yards by Baylor. But OSU repeatedly tormented Oklahoma quarterback Nate Hybl, who threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times.

Still, the Sooners led for much of the game. Quentin Griffin gave the Sooners an early lead in the second quarter on an 8-yard TD run. The Sooners held a 10-6 halftime lead after Tim Duncan added a 23-yard field goal sandwiched around a pair of field goals by Oklahoma State kicker Luke Phillips.

The two teams exchanged field goals early in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for Fields' late heroics. Phillips nailed consecutive 52-yard field goals to keep the Cowboys close.

After forcing its third consecutive three-and-out possession, OSU got the ball on the Oklahoma 35. Fields completed only three passes on the game-winning drive but he made them all count.

Fields first connected with Rashaun Woods on a 15-yard strike. He then kept the drive alive with a clutch third-down 31-yard pass to T.D. Bryant. On the next play, Fields hooked up again with Woods on a 14-yard game-winning TD toss with 1:36 left.

Oklahoma had one more chance, but Hybl's desperation pass was intercepted by Marcus Jones.

The victory touched off a wild celebration all across Texas after the Longhorns claimed an appearance in the Big 12 championship game. And it prematurely interrupted a barbecue celebration at the home of Texas defensive coordinator Carl Reese, who immediately went to work to prepare for the Longhorns' game against Colorado the next week.

The numbers: Woods produced eight receptions for 129 yards, giving him 80 for the season and breaking the then-school record of 74 set by Hart Lee Dykes in 1988. Oklahoma was limited to zero net yards of rushing on 27 carries. And the loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak for Oklahoma, including the first 18 home games under Stoops.

They said it, part I: "They are a good football team. They finally got an opportunity to show someone else," OSU coach Les Miles, describing his team's performance to reporters after the game.

They said it, part II: "I don't think we came into this game unprepared and looking ahead to next week. The team was outplayed and I was outcoached. That's really the only excuse I have for this loss," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, reflecting on his first-ever home loss with the Sooners.

They said it, part III: "Our two sons and my wife were screaming and shouting like they were on the sidelines. We had some unsportsmanlike conduct there I think," Texas coach Mack Brown, who described his reaction after the OSU victory to the Associated Press.

The upshot: The loss kept Oklahoma from the Big 12 championship game. Texas went in the Sooners' place, losing a 39-37 decision to Colorado in a game that will be described in detail later in this series.

The Sooners finished the season 11-2 with a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, wrapping up the season at No. 6 in the final AP poll.

The upset boosted OSU to 4-7 with victories in its final two games. That fast finish help set the stage for an 8-5 record the following season and a trip to the Houston Bowl - the first post-season appearance under Miles and the Cowboys' first bowl trip since 1997.

Since then, Stoops has lost only other home game, a 17-10 season-opening loss to TCU in 2005. Stoops is 60-2 at Owen Field, including a current 24-game winning streak.

The countdown:

20. It's never over until it's over: Texas Tech's 2006 Insight Bowl rally vs. Minnesota
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again: Kansas over Missouri in 2008
22. A Texas-sized comeback: Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest: Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" in final-play 1999 loss to UNLV.

It's the golden era of quarterbacks in the Big 12

June, 11, 2009
6/11/09
4:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Most of the preseason magazines have hit the newsstands.

I know. I've read most of them cover-to-cover. I'm still awaiting a few more to devour.

But one thing has struck me as I look at the Big 12 and analyze rosters and returning players.

Namely, it's amazing how good the quarterback talent has been in this league over the last few years. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it.

It really hit home when I saw a story from Oklahoma about a summit of almost holy proportions last weekend when Oklahoma's five national-championship quarterbacks appeared at the same autograph signing party. Claude Arnold, Jimmy Harris, Steve Davis, Jamelle Holieway and Josh Heupel remain some of the most noteworthy signal-callers in school history.

But for all of the talent there, I think Sam Bradford will go down as the greatest quarterback in Oklahoma history. He hasn't won a national championship yet, but he is in the process of obliterating the Sooner record book. He's already won a Heisman and could win another. And if he stays in school for two more years, he could end up as themost proficient quarterback by any measure in college football history.

And he's not alone. At other places around the league, we can see other quarterbacks who I think will be similarly remembered.

At Texas, Colt McCoy hasn't duplicated the national championships that have been won by Vince Young, James Street and the others. But McCoy already has most of the record book and could finish this season by doing something none of the other Texas quarterbacks have accomplished by winning the Heisman Trophy. And he could win the national championship, too.

At Oklahoma State, Zac Robinson has accomplished feats no other quarterback is school history has done. Another big statistical season could make him the greatest quarterback in OSU history. He's in the discussion right now, along with his Mike Gundy and Josh Fields. But Robinson can distance himself with a big season.

Todd Reesing at Kansas has quietly developed into the top record-holder in Jayhawk history. He's already led them to the first BCS bowl berth in school history, along with a share of the Big 12 North title in 2007. And a big season could make him the consensus top quarterback in school history. He's being mentioned with players like Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes and Frank Seurer.

Right now, those four quarterbacks can make strong claims to being the top quarterbacks in school history. And with big finishes to their respective careers, it won't be close.

And three other Big 12 quarterbacks could have a chance at one day being considered the greatest quarterback at their respective schools.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin did some magical things last year as a combination rushing/passing threat after a mind-blowing freshman season. If he takes the Bears to a bowl and keeps them winning at that level, he's the kind of player who might have statues built outside Floyd Casey Stadium in his honor.

And two others have a chance with strong growth and development.

Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud had a strong freshman season. If he can grasp the concept of new coordinator Tom Herman's offense and keep piling up statistics over the final two seasons of his career, he might merit mention as the top quarterback in Cyclone history.

And it wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility that Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson could develop into that type of player with two huge statistical seasons. He showed flashes last season when he threw for a school-record 419 yards against Kansas State. He also set the school single-season record for touchdown passes with 21. If he can lead the Aggies back into bowl contention, it might not be a stretch to group him among the very best in school history.

That means there are four quarterbacks who I believe have legitimate arguments to be considered as the best quarterback in the history of their respective schools. And three others with a shot to earn that distinction if they keep progressing during the rest of their careers.

Two schools will be replacing quarterbacks who I believe will go down as the greatest quarterbacks in their school's history. It won't surprise me if Chase Daniel at Missouri and Graham Harrell at Texas Tech are remembered that way.

With all of that talent at quarterback, it's no wonder that we've seen so many big numbers posted offensively in the Big 12 in recent years.

Remember that when you're watching quarterbacks in the league. Because we may never see anything like it again.

Mailbag: How good are OSU's offensive triplets?

May, 1, 2009
5/01/09
5:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Happy Friday afternoon. Here are some of the more interesting letters I received during the past week.

Adam: Would you care to make any comparisons between Oklahoma State's ultra-talented trio of Zac Robinson/Dez Bryant/Kendall Hunter to other OSU trio greats of Mike Gundy/Barry Sanders/Hart Lee Dykes and Josh Fields/Rashaun Woods/Tatum Bell?

Tim Griffin: Adam, I think it terms of total firepower, the Gundy/Sanders/Dykes grouping was the best, followed by the current group of Robinson/Bryant/Hunter with Fields/Bell/Woods ranking last.

The reason I give the 80s group the edge is because of Sanders. Earlier this week, a national web site said that Sanders was the second-greatest living Heisman winner behind only two-time winner Archie Griffin. His rushing numbers are still mind-boggling.

And it would be interesting to see how much better Hart Lee Dykes would have done if he played in today's era where passing is such an important part. Dykes was by far the second offensive option on those teams and he still had 60, 61 and 74 catches in his three seasons as a starter.

That being said, I think that Zac Robinson could go down in history as the greatest quarterback in OSU history and Dez Bryant's numbers will end up being as good as anybody. But as good as Hunter is, he's still no Sanders.

Chance from Memphis, Tenn., writes: Thanks for the heads up regarding the possible Minnesota home-and-home addition for Texas. Didn't Texas have Utah and Arkansas on the 2009 schedule at one time, and both opted out?

TG: Chance, yes they did. Texas had a planned series with Utah for 2008 and 2009 called off fby the Utes. And after beating the Razorbacks in 2008, Arkansas officials decided they didn't want to play Texas in 2009. Instead, the Razorbacks have asked that game to be pushed back until 2014 as they start a 10-year contract for games against Texas A&M at the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas.

All of this doesn't do Mack Brown much good for this season. He might have to answer for his non-conference schedule which is packed with gooey treats like Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and Central Florida.

If there's a close race in the BCS standings, something tells me that Brown will be doing a lot of spinning about his schedule during November.


Adam Nettina from Baltimore writes: Tim, Why the heck is Logan Dold moving the safety when he showed such promise as a running back? He was the second all-time leading rusher in Kansas high school history, was K-state's leading rusher in terms of yards per carry among regulars a year and runs the 100 in 10.9 seconds.

Yet, he's being replaced a senior who only ran for 3.8 yards per carry in limited duty a year ago and a redshirt freshmen with basically no on-field experience. So why make the move with Dold and not somebody else?

TG: Adam, I agree that I was a little surprised by the move of Dold, particularly considering his production last season. But I also know that Bill Snyder traditionally has favored small, quick backs like Darren Sproles. I'm wondering if he thinks that Keithen Valentine better suits his philosophy. And I also know that Jarell Childs has been a big surprise during spring practice.


Seth from New Haven, Conn., writes: Hey Tim, I'm a Yale student who just saw that Nebraska's Patrick Witt intends to transfer to New Haven. What should we expect to see from him?

TG: I get the feeling that Witt transferred to Yale more for academic reasons that for a chance to play. He had the opportunity to play at places like Duke and South Carolina and also considered UCLA. But I think his style will suit him at Yale, playing for Coach Jack Siedlecki.

Witt is a big, strong quarterback who has a strong arm for deep throws. Remember, he was the player who Bo Pelini turned to when Joe Ganz was injured for a few plays against Clemson in the Gator Bowl.

I'm not thinking that Witt will be heading to the Bulldogs with any sense of entitlement. And I'm also expecting he will be excited about continuing his career. So I wouldn't be surprised if he really thrived with his opportunity.


Preston Nix from Austin, Texas, writes: Tim, what keeps the Big 12 from trading Iowa State, Colorado, and/or Baylor for Utah, Boise State or other schools that could broaden the Big 12 market and make it a national powerhouse like the SEC seems to be?

TG: Mainly, it's tradition and the relationships that all of the schools have made with the others over the years. Iowa State was in the Big Eight with many of those other schools since 1928. Colorado was a member of the Big Eight from 1948. That's a lot of years for relationships.

And if Baylor hadn't come along with the other three schools from Texas when the Big 12 was formed, it's likely that none of them would because of the Bears' strong political power in the state legislature in Austin. Also, the complete sports programs of those schools - both in men's and women's sports - will be a factor in keeping them together.

I don't look for the Big 12 to break up any time soon. From everything I'm hearing, I think there's greater cohesiveness among the 12 partners who make up the league than ever before.


Joseph Hauss from College Station writes: Tim, I love your blog and read it every day. The 2009 season can't get here quickly enough. I just was wondering what your thoughts were about Mike Leach's comments about Stephen McGee? An A&M student I should be all against Tech. Unlike, many of my colleagues I find Mike Leach to be my kind of guy because he speaks his mind and isn't scared to. That being said, I believe he was actually complimenting McGee on his accomplishment but was inferring that he would have been using McGee's skills in the passing game since he stepped foot on campus in 2005.

TG: I think that Leach's compliment was a backhanded swipe at McGee's previous and current coaching staff. And I've got to think there's a tad of envy for Leach in the fact that McGee, who started two games last season, was drafted in the fourth round.

Meanwhile, Graham Harrell, the prototypical quarterback for Leach's offense went undrafted despite setting a FBS career record for most career touchdown passes.

I've got to wonder if there might be a fear for Leach and the Red Raiders that Harrell's failure to be drafted might hurt the school in returning at a later time. But it seems like top quarterbacks always end up playing for the Red Raiders. It's just that the elite ones might have been more willing to make that move if Harrell had been a higher draft selection.


R.W. Dobbins of Oklahoma City writes: Jermaine Gresham as the best tight end in Oklahoma history? Well considering Keith Jackson was the best tight end in the history of any school, you might be a little off.

TG: I appreciate your response, but remember, I said that if Gresham had a huge year he could be remembered as Oklahoma's greatest tight end. I still think that is the case.

Jackson was a great athlete who averaged 23.7 yards per reception. But he also benefited from defenses which were stacked to stop the Sooners' wishbone offense when he was playing. And also remember that Jackson had 62 catches in his career. Gresham had 66 catches and 14 touchdowns last season.

I realize that football is different today than when Jackson was playing. But Gresham can be just as valuable and could earn All-America status with a big season this year. And he probably deserved it last season.


Benson from Washington, D.C., writes: Tim, I loved following the draft and I noticed that Missouri had more players picked than any team from the Big 12. Has that ever happened before? Also, was their total the most ever picked in one draft for a Big 12 team and was it the most ever for Missouri in one draft?

TG: Benson, you're right. Missouri had the most players picked in the Big 12 with six draftees. But it wasn't the most in school history. That came in 1981 and 1943 when the Tigers had seven players selected. And both of those drafts were significantly bigger than today's current seven-round draft. The NFL went 12 rounds deep in 1981 and 32 rounds in 1943.

The Tigers' haul last weekend still didn't match Oklahoma's Big 12 record of 11 players that were picked in 2005.

Thanks again for all of the letters. Enjoy your weekend and I'll be checking back again next week.

Tim's mailbag: More Jayhawks coverage looming from me

October, 14, 2008
10/14/08
5:03
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Noah from Lawrence, Kan., writes: Hey Tim, love the blog, even though KU hasn't been covered much since the USF game. I know Oklahoma is favored this weekend and needs a win, but what does KU have to do to pull the huge upset in Norman on Saturday?

Tim Griffin: Noah, I appreciate the kind words. I just got finished talking to Jake Sharp for a post I'll have later in the week and I'm also going to be in Norman for the game, which I think will be a fascinating one. First, people don't realize that Kansas quietly has crept into first place in the North Division. But they are catching Oklahoma at a bad time, considering the Sooners' loss to Texas. Oklahoma is 9-0 in the week after the Texas game under Bob Stoops. For Kansas to escape with the upset, they'll need to do the same things that Texas successfully did -- run the ball successfully, pressure Sam Bradford and get a couple of plays on special teams. It's not impossible, but I think Mark Mangino is going to have a difficult return to Norman.


Patrick from Austin writes: Who do you think poses the biggest threat to Texas' undefeated regular season? Chase Daniel & Co? Oklahoma State? Texas Tech?

Tim Griffin: Patrick, how about all three? I've got a funny feeling about this week's game in Austin. Chase Daniel has orchestrated a big turnaround in that program. Even after the loss last week, it wouldn't surprise me if they came into Austin and gave the Longhorns a tough game and maybe even pull off the upset. I also think that Oklahoma State and Texas Tech both could give the Longhorns problems. If I was ranking them as far as likelihood of an upset today, I would list them at Missouri, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. I expect Texas to lose one of those three games and maybe even two of them, even with the No. 1 ranking.


Moorpark writes: I can't believe that the polls have Oklahoma at fourth. This team is overrated as demonstrated by Texas' win. All they do is embarrass themselves against a mobile quarterback. It's been clearly depicted in their last two bowl games. They are just like LSU. Overrated. Maybe, some day the media will acknowledge that.

Tim Griffin: When I first learned of OU's ranking, I, too, was a tad surprised. But then I started thinking. They played Texas evenly for most of the game. They had as many yards and actually scored more offensive touchdowns. They did twice blow double-digit leads. But I think, as anybody who was there at the Cotton Bowl last week would acknowledge, that the game was closer than the 10-point final margin indicated. The Sooners still have a shot for the conference championship, a BCS bowl and maybe even the national championship. LSU accomplished that with two losses. What Oklahoma has to hope for is that they can finish out without a loss and have Texas lose twice. Because the Longhorns win any head-to-head tie with the Sooners because of their victory last week in Dallas.

(Read full post)

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