Big 12: Lou Holtz

Lunch links: Big 12 change of fortune

May, 24, 2012
Guess what, suddenly you're 60 years old, wandering toothless and alone in a post-apocalyptic wasteland!

Instant analysis: Ole Miss 21, Oklahoma State 7

January, 2, 2010
Oklahoma State’s hopes of claiming its first bowl victory since 2007 were undone by an embarrassing rash of fourth-quarter mistakes in the Cowboys’ 21-7 loss to Mississippi in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. Here’s a look at what went wrong for the Cowboys and right for the Rebels.

How the game was won: Ole Miss took advantage of six Oklahoma State turnovers on consecutive fourth-quarter possessions to blow the game open. The Rebels got the ball back via interceptions by free safety Kendrick Lewis on consecutive drives, followed by back-to-back fumble recoveries and then interceptions by Patrick Trahan and Fon Ingram during a run in which the Rebels scored the game’s final 14 points.

It’s notable: Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt becomes the first coach to win back-to-back Cotton Bowls since Lou Holtz at Notre Dame in 1993 and 1994.

Turning point: With about 9 minutes remaining in a tie game, OSU had the ball on the Ole Miss 19-yard line and appeared poised to claim the lead. Ole Miss defensive tackle Jerrell Powe looked to have obviously jumped offsides on a snap as he charged past OSU center Andrew Lewis before the snap was completed. Feeling that he had a free play, Robinson threw to the end zone, where he was intercepted by Lewis in the end zone. The Cowboys unraveled from that point in the game.

Player of the game: Oklahoma State’s defense was gearing to stop Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster. And it still didn’t matter. McCluster rushed for 185 yards on 34 carries, including touchdown runs of 86 and 2 yards to account for both of the Rebel’s offensive touchdowns. He also produced five receptions for 45 yards, becoming the first player in Southeastern Conference history to account for 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards in the same season.

Unsung hero: Patrick Trahan capped the victory with two pivotal fourth-quarter plays. He recovered a fumble by OSU wide receiver Hubert Anyiam and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to give the Rebels a 21-7 lead. He then provided an interception on OSU’s next possession to ice the victory.

Stat of the game: The two teams combined for 12 turnovers, but it didn't top the Cotton Bowl record of 13 that was set when Alabama claimed a 29-21 victory over Texas A&M on Jan. 1, 1942.

What it means: Oklahoma State failed to tie a school record with a 10th victory. The Cowboys’ late collapse in the final two games was a disappointment, but OSU overachieved considering their injury and suspension losses over the course of the season. The Cowboys lose key players like Robinson, Russell Okung, Keith Toston, Perrish Cox and starting linebackers Andre Sexton, Donald Booker and Patrick Lavin next season. But they will try to rebuild around a retooled offense that will should be centered around running back Kendall Hunter, who looked to regain his form Saturday after struggling with injuries all season.

Ole Miss didn’t achieve its preseason goal of contending for an SEC championship, but the Rebels claimed back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1959 and 1960. And they likely will have Jevan Snead back for another season as well.

Remembering the player who caught 'The Texas Special'

February, 11, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It's a shame that ESPN's "College Game Day Final" wasn't around 44 years ago. Because if it was, Ken McLean's fame would have been built for one remarkable play that still resonates in the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry.

I'm remembering McLean today after learning that the former Texas A&M player passed away Monday after a long battle with cancer. His memorable catch on "The Texas Special" is still recalled as one of the first grainy memories I have of college football.

If Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz had been breaking down plays when McLean was playing, he likely would have been a household name for one bit of trickery in a 1965 game between the Aggies and Longhorns.

Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings singed the Longhorns for a 91-yard touchdown pass from wingback Jim Kauffman to McLean.

Early in the second quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Harry Ledbetter bounced a lateral to Kauffman, who stomped his feet in anger as the fans at Kyle Field thought it was a busted play. All of the Aggie players acted like it was an incomplete pass rather than a lateral.

Kaufman then looked up and connected with a wide-open McLean, who had jetted 15 yards past the Texas secondary. The field judge had been tipped off before the game by Stallings so that an inadvertent whistle would not be blown when the lateral hit the ground.

The play, which at the time was the longest in Texas A&M history and the Southwest Conference, helped stake the Aggies to a 17-0  halftime lead.

"It was one of the most original, clever plays I have ever seen," Texas coach Darrell Royal said at the time.

McLean produced some Michael Crabtree-like numbers in the game that were unusual for the era -- 13 catches for 250 yards. The receiving yardage remains an A&M single-game record. But it wasn't enough as Texas stormed back to win, 21-17.  

The major reason, Texas players remembered, was Royal's simplistic approach after being burned for the long touchdown on "The Texas Special."

"Coach Royal told us he could put all kinds of diagrams on the blackboard and they wouldn't help," Texas quarterback Marvin Kristynik told Steve Richardson in his fine book "Tales from the Texas Longhorns."

"It was just a matter of whether we wanted to win or not. Then he wrote 21-17 on the blackboard and said, 'That's what we can do. And then we did it.'"  

After his football career ended, McLean graduated from law school and began a long career as a noted defense attorney in the Houston area. 

Funeral services for McLean, 65, will be at Klein Funeral Home in Houston at 3 p.m. Friday. Graveside services will be held Monday in Stennett, Texas, where McLean was a high school teammate of legendary former Texas Tech and Green Bay Packers running back Donny Anderson.

I mourn McLean's passing for his family members as I think about one of the most innovative gadget plays in college football history.

Cosh named Wildcats' co-defensive coordinator

December, 6, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Maryland defensive coordinator Chris Cosh has been hired as Kansas State's co-defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Cosh previously worked under Bill Snyder in 2004-05 as the Wildcats' linebackers coach.

The Terrapins ended the regular season ranked 35th nationally in scoring defense (21.4 points allowed per game) and were led by All-ACC performers Alex Wujciak at linebacker and Jeremy Navarre on the defensive line.

Earlier, Cosh worked as linebackers coach and defensive coordinator at South Carolina under Lou Holtz and as defensive coordinator under Nick Saban at Michigan State. 

It's a solid hire and Cosh is a respected, veteran coach. I'm still curious who will be working with him as co-coordinator.

I'm still hearing that Vic Koenning, most recently of Clemson and a former standout linebacker at Kansas State during his playing career, might be the choice. We'll see over the next few days.

Biggest surprises list missed most obvious Big 12 shocker

August, 21, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

One of my favorite non-traditional blogs is, which always comes up with some off-the-wall stuff about college football history that I find fascinating.

The report's posting today was on the 12 biggest surprise whippings in college football since 1965. Big 12 schools feature prominently on the list with three of the games.

Oklahoma's surprise upset loss to Arkansas in the 1977 season's Orange Bowl is ranked at No. 7. The Sooners were heavily favored, but were stunned by Lou Holtz's Arkansas Razorbacks in a 31-6 thumping.

Nebraska features in the other two stunners, marking upset victories that helped the Cornhuskers claim two undisputed national championships.

According to the list, Nebraska's 38-6 triumph over Alabama in the 1971 season's Orange Bowl was the 11th biggest stunner in history. Funny, I didn't remember that as being an upset. Hadn't the Cornhuskers whipped Oklahoma in the "Battle of the Century" only a few weeks before in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams?

And Nebraska's 62-24 triumph over Florida in the 1995 season's Fiesta Bowl was ranked 12th. That victory stamped the Cornhuskers' mid-1990s domination in college football as a legitimate dynasty in the eyes of most observers.

The list is interesting, but I think left out the most obvious game, and maybe the biggest stunner in Big 12 history. Don't they remember Colorado's 62-36 upset victory over Nebraska in 2001?

Because I'm sure many Nebraska fans still have nightmares of seeing Chris Brown charge through their defense en route to one of his six touchdowns. It remains the defining moment of Craig Bohl's abortive tenure as the Cornhuskers' defensive coordinator.

That victory helped catapult Gary Barnett's team into the Big 12 championship game, where they beat Texas the following week to qualify for the Fiesta Bowl. And despite the big loss, the Cornhuskers made the Rose Bowl, where they were thumped by Miami for the national championship.