Big 12: Ken Rucker
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas got a lot of notoriety the last few days after the media noticed that somebody had placed a designation inside the team room showing the school considered it had won the 2008 Big 12 title -- with an asterisk.
Mack Brown announced he would take the designation down on Monday, apparently clearing up that matter of interior decorating and room decor.
But Texas officials have decided to pay assistant coaches and several key support people like they won the championship.
The Austin American-Statesman reported that Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds received permission from Texas president William Powers Jr. and the university's men's athletic council to pay $44,000 in bonuses that are called for when the football team wins a conference title.
The Longhorns earned a three-way share of the Big 12 South division title with Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Sooners advanced to the championship game through a tiebreaker, despite losing to the Longhorns earlier in the season. Texas Tech beat Texas to account for the Longhorns' loss.
"I think this was the right decision," Powers told the American-Statesman. "A flip of a coin basically deprived them of the ability to earn that part of their compensation."
The Statesman reported that the coaches had already pocketed bonuses of nine percent of their base salaries for the Longhorns' playing in a BCS bowl.
Interestingly, Brown did not share in the largesse of the extra bonuses for Texas' "championship."
Brown, whose base pay is $2.91 million per year, could have pocketed an extra $150,000 -- $50,000 for claiming the South title and another $100,000 for winning the Big 12 title game.
Here's the breakdown for the bonuses for Texas coaches and support personnel:
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis: $5,000
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp: $5,000
Dir. of Football Operations Cleve Bryant: $5,000
Asst. AD for strength & conditioning Jeff Madden: $5,000
Secondary coach Duane Akina: $3,000
Running backs coach Major Applewhite: $3,000
Recruiting coordinator/tight ends Bruce Chambers: $3,000
Defensive ends coach Oscar Giles: $3,000
Wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy: $3,000
Offensive line coach Mac McWhorter: $3,000
High school relations/player development Ken Rucker: $3,000
Defensive ends/special teams Mike Tolleson: $3,000
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 has been dotted by several intriguing recruiting stories during its brief history. Here are some of my personal favorites.
1. Oklahoma's Jamar Mozee spurns Kansas State: Mozee, a bruising running back from Blue Springs, Mo., was an apparently solid commitment for Kansas State until late in the 1999 recruiting period. But as signing day approached, Mozee followed several of the Kansas State assistants who had been recruiting him as they joined Bob Stoops' fledgling program at Oklahoma. The late switch earned the wrath of Wildcat fans everywhere, but also provided Stoops one of his top early recruits. Mozee never materialized for the Sooners like expected, but his recruitment fueled an intense early rivalry between the two schools.
2. Kansas' underrated class of 2004: Unheralded prospects like Aqib Talib and Anthony Collins were barely recruited by most powers, but developed into All-Americans while working with coach Mark Mangino's staff by the time they left college. Defensive starters Joe Mortensen, Mike Rivera and Charlton Keith also didn't catch much recruiting attention, but also became key starters for the Jayhawks' team that made history by claiming the 2008 Orange Bowl and making back-to-back bowl trips for the first time in school history. It also made some recruiting analysts blush, considering they missed so badly with this group.
3. Ryan Perrilloux heads for home: Perrilloux committed to Texas before his senior season and was presumed to be the natural successor for Vince Young after recording a slew of records in his senior season at East St. John's High School in Reserve, La. Throughout the recruiting process, Perrilloux remained committed to Texas. But he made a late switch, signing with the first recruiting class of LSU coach Les Miles. Perrilloux's career never materialized and he was kicked off the LSU team for violating team rules after several earlier legal skirmishes. And his departure opened a place on Texas' roster for Colt McCoy, who developed into a Heisman Trophy runner-up with the opportunity.
4. Darrell Scott picks family and the Buffaloes: The nation's top running back recruit waited until the last minute before choosing Colorado and Texas, following his uncle Josh Smith, a wide receiver/kick returner who already was on the Buffaloes' roster. Scott apparently had given the Longhorns a private commitment which changed when running backs coach Ken Rucker became the team's director of high school relations and player development and was replaced by Major Applewhite. His announcement was carried live on ESPNU, where he became Colorado's highest-ranking recruit since Marcus Houston in the 2000 recruiting class.
5. Travis Lewis chooses Oklahoma: Not all of the most heated battles take place over five-star recruits. Lewis had played little linebacker in Lee High School in San Antonio and had barely even played defense. But several schools saw promise in his unique combination of speed and size, leading to a spirited recruiting battle that intensified as the 2007 signing day approached. Lewis eventually decided on Oklahoma from a fervent group of suitors that also included Oklahoma State and fast-closing Nebraska. After a redshirt season, Lewis developed into an All-Big 12 linebacker and the conference's freshman defensive player of the year in 2008.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
With my flight for Kansas City fast approaching, I figured this would be my best chance to provide a few Big 12 links that caught my attention. Thanks to the the free wireless at San Antonio International Airport, here they are:
- The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff compares the Big 12's relatively soft non-conference schedule to the NFL's preseason. But now, the real games begin.
- Oklahoma State safety Quinton Moore is trying to overcome the memory of his critical roughing-the-kicker penalty that helped wrap up Texas A&M's victory over the Cowboys last season.
- Texas players and coaches say they harbor no grudges against Colorado tailback Darrell Scott, who almost ended up playing for the Longhorns and likely would have if Ken Rucker had remained the Longhorns' running backs coach.
- After leading the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage in 2006, Texas Tech running back Shannon Woods was demoted to the scout team last season. Woods has battled back from that adversity to become a key producer for the Red Raiders.
- Colorado defenders are convinced that Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is the real deal. Defensive tackle George Hypolite calls him as dangerous as Chase Daniel, only more athletic.
- Baylor tackle Jason Smith is doing more than calling Oklahoma out this week and being one of the most notable alumni of the team-roping program at W.T. White High School in Dallas. He's also the Bears' top potential NFL draft pick in more than 10 years.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Mack Brown will have a difficult decision deciding what kind of punishment to hand out after starting DT Lamarr Houston's arrest early Sunday morning.
Houston was charged with drunken driving after he was involved in a two-car accident in Austin in the wee hours of Sunday morning -- only a short time after he started in the Longhorns' impressive 52-10 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
Houston's important role on the team will test Brown's intention of "zero tolerance" around his program after six Longhorn players were arrested in a four-month period last summer.
Since then, Brown has placed former running backs coach Ken Rucker in the role of director of high school relations and player development. His major aim has been to keep the Longhorns out of off-field trouble, and he's been successful so far with no arrests since the spree last summer before Saturday night.
Among those arrested last summer included linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive end Henry Melton, who were both arrested on drunken driving charges. Both were suspended for the first three games of the 2007 season before they were reinstated.
A three-game penalty would idle Houston for the rest of the Longhorns' nonconference games. It would bench him from this week's game against UTEP and upcoming games against Arkansas and Rice, but have him back for the Longhorns' Oct. 4 conference opener at Colorado.
Houston's role is vitally important for a Longhorns team that desperately needs a pass rush to help protect a young secondary starting freshmen safeties Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas. The safeties had an uneven first game, missing several tackles and allowing FAU QB Rusty Smith to torch them for 151 passing yards in the first quarter.
Texas allowed 102 yards in the air during the rest of the game. The defensive improvement was particularly noticeable in the second half when the Longhorns allowed the Owls to produce only 53 total yards on 26 snaps.
If Houston can't play, his likely replacement would be Aaron Lewis, a senior who appeared in 11 games and started seven at defensive end last season.
The move of Lewis and Houston, also a converted defensive end, was made by new Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to boost the speed and athleticism of the interior of the Longhorns' defensive front. The Longhorns failed to notch a sack against Smith Saturday night.
And with challenges with strong-armed quarterbacks like UTEP's Trevor Vittatoe, Arkansas' Casey Dick and Rice's Chase Clement looming, the young secondary could be tested in upcoming weeks without a consistent pass rush.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Few schools have the rich historical base of Texas. And that's why the recent addition at Darrell K. Royal/Texas Memorial Stadium is so neat.
School officials have installed an exhibit in the stadium's north end zone that will list and honor the five retired numbers in the school's football history. Players who have been honored include Vince Young, Ricky Williams, Bobby Layne, Earl Campbell and Tommy Nobis.
Other schools have done this. I always have a fond remembrance of the past when I see Johnny Roland's or Kellen Winslow's number at Faurot Field or Rashaan Salaam at Folsom Field. It's a great way to recall the past.
I'm still waiting for some school to erect its own version of Monument Park like I saw at Yankee Stadium. Walking up to the bronze plaques of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle left me with a lump in my throat. And I don't even like the New York Yankees.
Here's hoping that the Texas architects have arranged for these retired numbers to be prominently displayed where it will occasionally be noticeable on television broadcasts and be clear enough for people in the stadium. Because schools need to remember great players and their history.
And hopefully, these links will be as similarly cherished in 50 years.
- Colorado G Devin Head has adopted a scruffy, unkempt look. He's done it to honor the wife of his former high school coach, who recently died from breast cancer.
- Iowa State will generate more than $2.4 million in new revenue after the addition of new luxury boxes and club seating at Jack Trice Stadium. Only one of the 47 new suites remains unsold.
- Kansas coach Mark Mangino announced that redshirt freshmen Jeff Spikes and Jeremiah Hatch will be his starting offensive tackles for the Jayhawks Aug. 30 opener against Florida International. Spikes, who will replace Outland Trophy finalist Anthony Collins, might be the most adept 300-pound-plus saxophonist this side of Clarence Clemons.
- Veteran Lawrence Journal-World sports columnist Tom Keegan writes that Kansas QB Todd Reesing throws the most accurate ball in practice he's seen since he watched Troy Aikman at UCLA.
- "Mad" Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star takes a clue from Alfred E. Neuman in his most recent video log as he breaks down several recent calamities that have hit Missouri.
- Heralded RB Jocques Crawford took most of his repetitions Friday with Kansas' first-string offensive unit. And Mangino isn't bemoaning his depth although he's working with only four scholarship running backs.
- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel tells the Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter he can tell a difference in his team's attitude after watching the end of another intense practice. "About six years ago, hardly anyone would have cared who won those things," Pinkel told Matter. "Now it's like venom. They're in attack mode."
- After producing a Big 12-worst 13 sacks last season, new Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini is intent on juicing production in his pass rush.
- The Oklahoman reports that former Oklahoma WR Josh Jarboe isn't currently eligible at Troy. Oklahoma officials said they didn't refuse Jarboe admission, meaning that Jarboe now is being treated as a transfer student, Troy coach Larry Blakeney said.
- WR William Cole will miss the upcoming season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. The Oklahoman's Scott Wright analyzes the Cowboys' options after his injury.
- Tulsa World beat writer John Hoover reports that Oklahoma TE junior Jermaine Gresham isn't giving much consideration to jumping to the NFL after this season. That would be good news for Bob Stoops, after losing four players early to the NFL in his last two seasons.
- Missouri QB Chase Daniel tells Terrance Harris of the Houston Chronicle that unfinished business brought him back to Missouri for his senior season.
- Dallas Morning News columnist Chuck Carlton had a great line describing Texas high school relations and player development director Ken Rucker, calling him Jiminy Cricket in burnt orange.
- Speaking of mirth and whimsy, Texas Tech's new "Elf" formation has been developed to get the ball in diminutive WR Eric Morris' hands more often.
- Texas A&M DT Lucas Patterson might be unassuming, but he's emerging as his team's most underrated player. "Lucas is quiet, and so people tend to overlook him," A&M defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt told Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News. "That's a mistake."
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is remembering his roots, reaching out to 50 retired high school coaches and retired college assistants he invited to practices this weekend.
- Missouri K Jeff Wolfert, who has a streak of 16 consecutive field goals, is getting some rest in training camp. Coaches are limiting his kickoff duties to keep him fresh for the Tigers' Aug. 30 opener against Illiniois in St. Louis.
- Freshman WR Kendall Wright is making a successful transition after a stellar career as a high school quarterback. And he tells the Waco Tribune Herald's John Werner he plans to join the Baylor basketball team after the football season ends.
- Kansas announced its 2009 football schedule, with non-conference home games against Southern Mississippi, D
uke and Northern Colorado and a road game at UTEP. Site for the "Border War" game against Missouri remains undetermined, although it's slated to be a home game for the Jayhawks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The quote of the day comes from Scott Wright of the Oklahoman, who caught up with Troy coach Larry Blakeney and asked him about Oklahoma State's aim for revenge after losing at Troy last season. "They might have a bonfire and burn some of T. Boone's money to get ready for the game," Blakeney said, referring to the megabuck Oklahoma State booster.
Meanwhile, new Baylor coach Art Briles has shucked a traditional playbook in favor of his new team learning his philosophies by seeing and doing rather than reading. It's targeted to a younger generation that doesn't have the attention span to sit and learn by reading a book.
"It does require a lot of film study, because you've got to know what to do in live action in case anything happens," junior receiver Ernest Smith told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "If there's a check or an audible, you've got to be able to react fast. I've watched a lot of U of H film ... just getting familiar with it all."
Briles was successful with his new-age strategy, at least if four bowl appearances in the last five seasons at Houston is any indication. We'll see how it works at Baylor this season.
And for those readers out there who are too impatient to wade through 20 newspapers that cover the Big 12, I've take something from Briles' approach. Here's a condensed version of what's happening around the conference in about 20 quick links.
- Kansas sophomore RB Carmon Boyd-Anderson has opted to transfer from the program for "personal reasons," the Kansas City Star reported.
- A massive offensive line has prompted a new word around the Colorado team to describe them: "gifreakinnormous."
- Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler has to cover Iowa State and Iowa relatively equally. That's why he listed his top 23 ranking for a combination of the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences on his blog. Hope that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany doesn't see this. He might get an idea for some kind of "gifreakinnormous" super-conference.
- The Topeka Capital-Journal's Tully Corcoran unearthed an interesting nugget buried deeply in Ron Prince's new contract.
- Colorado DE Drew Hudgins will miss the season with a knee injury. Hudgins told the Denver Post he plans to petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility.
- Massive Texas A&M FB Jorvorskie Lane tells the Houston Chronicle's Terrance Harris that he's come to terms with his lessened role in the Aggies' backfield.
- New Texas director of high school relations and player development Ken Rucker is credited for the Longhorns' lack of off-the-field incidents this summer, according to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls.
- Mike Leach's European vacation is fodder for the San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger's report on Texas Tech. Leach earlier described the trip as something like the Griswolds might have made.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
New Texas A&M president Elsa Murano is saying all the right things to the most tradition-steeped of all fan bases in the Big 12. Murano told the San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman that she has developed into a big sports fan since arriving in the country from Cuba in 1961.
Murano has quickly embraced all things dealing with Aggie athletics since taking the job. She's had members of A&M's women's basketball team over to her office for cake and ice cream.
And she's told new A&M football coach Mike Sherman she's pining for a victory over the college team from her hometown when the Aggies meet Miami on Sept. 20.
"I'm counting on a win," Murano told Zwerneman. "I've told Coach Sherman if you win nothing else, you've got to win this game for me."
But one thing that might give Aggie fans some concern are Murano's favorite professional teams she follows. It's understandable she would follow the recently downtrodden Miami Dolphins, considering its her home town. But she lists the Atlanta Hawks as her favorite basketball team - particularly those of the Spud Webb/Jon Koncak vintage in the late 1980s.
I've followed the NBA for 40 years. And I can legitimately say that I've never heard anyone from outside the greater Atlanta area ever claiming that the Hawks were their favorite team.
Here are some stories that had me thinking from around the conference this morning.
- Natalie England of the San Antonio Express-News catches up with Ken Rucker, Texas' new director of high school relations and player development. The new job should be ideal for the Longhorns' former running backs coach, who was diagnosed with and overcame prostate cancer last season.
My take -- This is a great move for one of the nice guys in the coaching profession. It will also help the Longhorns to have a mentor like Rucker around the program.
- Former Heisman Trophy winner Jason White is mulling a return as a high school coach.
My take -- It's just not right seeing a recent Heisman Trophy winner as a retail manager so close to the end of his playing career.
- Oklahoma State has to do a better job of holding leads for success in 2008, according to Chip Brown of the Dallas Morning News.
My take -- Chip is right, or there's no telling what kind of tantrums that could be in store for Mike Gundy.
- Former Texas Tech assistant coach Dave Brown will be among this year's class enshrined Saturday into the College Football Hall of Fame. Others with Big 12 titles in the 2008 class include Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney and Texas defensive back Johnnie Johnson.
My take -- Although he played at Michigan, Brown's legacy as a leader has been embraced at Texas Tech as if he were an original Red Raider.
- Oklahoma fans still remember the Sooners' 63-14 win over Texas in 2000 as the moment when Bob Stoops had returned the program to glory.
My take -- So does Mack Brown.
- The top nine returning Big 12 quarterbacks combined to total nearly 18 miles of passing yardage last season.
My take -- It's not a good time to be a defensive coordinator in the Big 12.
- Nine of 12 Big 12 coaches arrived with offensive backgrounds, according to Rivals.com's Tom Dienhart. Stoops, however, is one of three national championship winners during the BCS era with a defensive pedigree.
My take -- Another reason why it's not a good time to be a Big 12 defensive coordinator.
- New Nebraska linebacker Cody Glenn tells the Lincoln Journal-Star he's "amped" about his position change from running back.
My take -- The Cornhuskers need a surge defensively from a lot of people this season.
- Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman wonders where were all of the Texas A&M players on the preseason All-Big 12 team that was released Thursday.
My take -- Me, too. I was kind of surprised that DeMarco Murray beat out Mike Goodson for the second running back slot. But maybe the rest of the media knows more about A&M's offensive line than I do.
- Missouri junior-college transfer defensive end Brian Coulter has earned the nickname "Godzilla II" before his first game with the Tigers. The Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond writes that some Missouri fans are already saying that Coulter could develop into a pass-rushing threat like the original "Godzilla," Justin Smith.
My take -- Coulter might talk a good game, but he'll have a long way to go to match the production of Smith, who might be the pass rusher in Missouri history.
- The web site Pro Fantasy Sports rates Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree as the best potential quarterback and wide receiver -- for fantasy purposes -- in the conference this season. Other top choices include Nebraska running back Marlon Lucky, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, Missouri kicker Jeff Wolfert and the Oklahoma defense.
My take -- C'mon, fantasy football for college players? Give me a break.
- Missouri athletic director Mike Alden has proposed an endowment fund to ensure his program's long-term financial stability.
My take -- Great idea. When your football is as loaded as Missouri's should be for the next couple of years, strike while it's hot. Cha-ching!
- Rangy defensive end Andrew Hudson of Bushland, Texas, is Oklahoma State's fifth commitment of the upcoming recruiting class.
My take -- Gundy probably envisions Hudson adding 40 pounds or so after arriving at college and learning about the merits of extensive weight training and midnight burritos.