Big 12: Lynn Kotoa
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
National championship game day is finally here. Here are some stories to get you ready, along with some Big 12 tidbits from across the conference.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler writes that the speed advantage Florida is expected to have over Oklahoma might be a tad overstated. And Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel isn't buying the "tortoise vs. hare" label being given to tonight's game, considering Oklahoma's history at producing burners.
- John Rohde of the Oklahoman opines that Oklahoma players must forget about the burden of representing the Big 12 in Thursday's BCS National Championship Game and play for themselves.
- Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald likes the Oklahoma-Florida matchup. But he writes there are at least three other teams with legitimate claims as the nation's best team.
- A strong start in recruiting has enabled Kansas to close the talent gap with the rest of the Big 12's power elite, Lawrence Journal-World columnist Tom Keegan writes.
- Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove appears ready to surface as Minnesota's new defensive coordinator, according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. After he was fired following the 2007 season at Nebraska, Cosgrove spent the past season serving as a volunteer assistant coach of his son's team in Madison, Wis.
- Boulder Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo reports that highly regarded linebacker prospect Lynn Katoa, who missed the 2008 season after academic and legal struggles, remains on Colorado's roster and will attend classes this spring.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Times are changing around Oklahoma, where Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has opened up some practices this summer while Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has thrown up a "Crimson and Cream" curtain around his preseason work this fall.
Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler has as good of a handle on the inner workings of the Sooner program as anybody around. He said that some Oklahoma insiders are telling him that Stoops is closing his practices because he's still miffed from 2005.
It seems that Stoops believes that some "friends of the TCU program" tipped off the Horned Frogs with secrets they had learned by watching the Sooners' open scrimmages. The result was a 17-10 upset victory for TCU.
Sittler also said that former Oklahoma State coach Pat Jones, now a radio talk show in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, was turned down to watch the Oklahoma scrimmage because he's now considered a member of the media.
I'm sure the Sooners would be pretty vanilla in those scrimmages if they knew that we prying minds -- or even fans -- were watching.
Because you never know what those "friends" might be saying to your upcoming opponents.
Particularly when Oklahoma's first game will be against that vaunted defense of the Chattanooga Moccasins, which ranked 102nd in rushing defense, 75th in pass efficiency defense, 84th in total defense and 93rd in scoring defense in the Football Championship Subdivision last year.
Until then, we'll have to wait to hear what the players and coaches have to say after their scrimmage today at Owen Field. Because Stoops has made sure that nobody else will be watching.
And if Oklahoma-area fans really have to watch football today, they can drive up to watch Oklahoma State's open scrimmage this afternoon.
Sure, Gundy might scream at reporters when's he not happy. But he still knows that he needs us to help sell a bunch of seats for the Cowboys' home opener on Sept. 6 against Houston.
Until then, here a few other links to whet your appetite this weekend.
- It appears that Texas Tech DE McKinner Dixon still might be eligible after all, according to Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star will be conducting a contest for the best Nebraska fan video this season. But Larry the Cable Guy can't participate, can he?
- Nebraska DT Jared Crick emerged as a potential starter this week. His development will be important after Kevin Dixon's dismissal and Ty Steinkuhler battling through a back injury.
- Austin American-Statesman columnist Cedric Golden predicts that Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker will eventually emerge as Texas' primary running backs.
- New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is in no hurry to name a starting quarterback as Jerrod Johnson and Stephen McGee battle for the No. 1 position. "Why close the door on competition," Sherman told Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle. "That's not me. I want to keep them competing."
- Ron Prince's new contract amounts to a one-year extension, according to the Wichita Eagle's Bob Lutz. But for Prince, it's still one more season -- at a big salary hike to boot.
- Colorado LB Lynn Katoa is trying to find the right path back into the program's good graces. Katoa, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge and received a deferred sentence, is practicing with the team this season with hopes of returning to the team in 2009.
- The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerhoff writes about Missouri's underrated defense. I still think the Tigers' defensive improvement will be the key to their Big 12 title hopes.
- Iowa State football recruiting coordinator Scott Fountain joined the cacophony of Cyclone coaches who blasted the NCAA's ban on text messaging in a story in the Ames Tribune.
- Sittler reports flames are licking at the backsides of former Oklahoma assistants Chuck Long and Mike Stoops at their new jobs as head coaches.
- Chad Conine of the Waco Tribune-Herald said that increased depth inside will mean Baylor defensive tackles won't be playing nearly as much as last season. I'm guessing that Baylor's starting defensive tackles played as much as any in the Big 12 last season.
- The development of oft-injured Oklahoma MLB Ryan Reynolds, replacement for Curtis Lofton, will be critical for the Sooners' Big 12 three-peat hopes.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Mike Leach has Texas Tech on the brink of challenging for the school's first BCS bowl. But school officials say they can't afford to negotiate a rollover on his existing five-year deal until after the regular season ends in December.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that the upshot will mean that Leach will finish the season with with only two years remaining on his current deal.
"Let me preface this by saying we want Mike to be our coach," Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the newspaper. "We made a decision some time back to wait 'til after the season to do his contract. I don't want anybody to read anything into that.
"We want him to be our coach. We want to be able to compensate him at the level that the market dictates. As you know, we operate on a tight budget every year, and I just felt that we would know a lot more about our budget situation in December, so we've made a decision to wait until after the season to do his contract.''
Tech officials told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the school is running a deficit for the second time in the last three fiscal years, making it prudent for them to be careful financially.
But can they really afford that with Leach, whose modest contract ranks him in the middle of Big 12 coaches? Leach's salary guarantees him $1.75 million this season, $1.85 million next season and $2.15 million in 2010 and two contract-completion incentives totaling $1 million - $800,000 if his stays through 2009 and $200,000 if he remains in place through 2010.
Leach has become an almost larger-than-the-program figure for Tech football. His love of all things concerning pirates has become well known over the last few years.
A big season might provide him with the ultimate treasure chest - and the booty might be coming from another school if Tech officials aren't careful.
Shiver me timbers, enough about Leach and his contract. How about some links from around the Big 12?
- WTLG isn't some kind of new radio station in Norman, but the Oklahoma Sooners still are listening closely to Coach Bob Stoops' mantra of "Win The Last Game."
- Barry Switzer will be appearing as himself in an upcoming episode of the TNT series police drama "Saving Grace." A TNT publicist told the Tulsa World that Switzer is hailed as a hero by all of the policemen in the series except for "Butch," a former University of Texas football player. The show may be set in Oklahoma City, but it doesn't keep an occasional tropical plant from popping up in the background if you look hard enough. It would be kind of like Switzer's mentioning his old QB Turner Gill in the show's dialogue.
- Topeka Capital-Journal reporter Tully Corcoran's "Hawk Bloc" blog has a couple of funny stories about how former Kansas coach Don Fambrough still can't stop hating Missouri. His angst obviously has been heightened as Gary Pinkel's program has kept getting better.
- A YouTube video showed Oklahoma freshman WR Josh Jarboe rapping about guns and shooting people. It wasn't a wise choice for Jarboe, who was arrested earlier this year for bringing a gun to Cedar Crest High School in Georgia. The felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors, reports Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman, enabling Jarboe to keep his scholarship.
- Veteran Waco Tribune-Herald Baylor beat writer Jerry Hill is leaving the paper after a 25-year career there covering the Bears. He'll become the director of communications for Baylor's Bear Foundation. His newspaper has an 11-minute video stocked with some of his favorite memories.
- Forget about the rush to find a new quarterback and featured receiver at Iowa State. Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register said the Cyclones' biggest task will be finding a replacement for NG Ahtyba Rubin.
- Nebraska WR Todd Peterson had a unique description of playing for the Cornhuskers in a diary he's writing for the Sporting News. "I am always telling people this about growing up in Nebraska and what football means to the state - from the outside looking in, you can't understand it, and from the inside looking out, you can't explain it." I always thought that was how Aggies described their association with their school, too.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram Oklahoma beat writer Mike Jones doesn't expect Auston English will be slowed down by his recent appendix operation.
- A visit by Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and athletic director Tom Osborne was big news in North Platte, Neb., where it merited top-story placement on Page 1 of the local newspaper, the North Platte Telegraph. "(The support around the state has) been great," Pelini told the Telegraph's Ben Vigil."Myself, our staff, we've been well received and people are excited right now. Ultimately, it's our job to keep them excited by putting a good product on the field and that's what we're focused on right now."
- New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman isn't ready to mimic other A&M coaches and auction a chance to go hunting with him for charity. "Until I beat Texas Tech and Texas, I'm not going hunting," Sherman joked to the San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman. Probably a wise choice to avoid guns altogether. Are you listening, Josh Jarboe?
- Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Sherman told the Austin American-Statesman's Randy Riggs of his basic philosophy in recruiting. It sound remarkably like one he probably used as an NFL head coach.
- Colorado LB Lynn Kotoa avoided jail time after pleading guilty to felony menacing for assaulting two men
with a rock in his fist during an altercation on Feb. 16. Buffaloes coach Dan Hawkins doesn't let convicted felons play on his team. Katoa has already been suspended from the team and won't play this fall.