Big 12: Michael Bishop

Our list of the top 10 Big 12 players ever generated as much response from you all as anything we've ever done. I really appreciate all of it. Many of you agreed with the list. Plenty of you didn't. That's pretty natural. It was an absolutely brutal list to put together. Tons of talented guys have a case to be on it, and might be on your list. I wouldn't necessarily disagree. Still, I only had room for 10. Here's an extensive list of all the guys who I also think have a strong case for inclusion. They're the players who just missed my all-time top 10. In no particular order, here they are:

Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska: In 2001, won the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien Trophy, Camp Award and was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year. Finished his career with 4,481 passing yards and 3,434 rushing yards and accounted for 84 touchdowns.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Won the Biletnikoff Award in 2010 and 2011, and was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year in 2011. Finished his three-year career with 252 catches, 3,564 receiving yards and 41 total touchdowns.

Grant Wistrom, DL, Nebraska: Won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors in 1996 and 1997. Won the Lombardi Award in 1997 and helped Nebraska go 49-2 during his career. Finished with 58.5 tackles for loss and 26.5 sacks.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech: The first-ever two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. He was a unanimous All-American in both seasons and finished his career with 231 catches for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Troy Davis, RB, Iowa State: Finished second in the Heisman voting in 1996 and fifth in 1995. Topped 2,000 yards rushing in both seasons and scored 37 touchdowns. He was the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Year in 1996.

Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State: Rushed for 1,986 yards in K-State's Big 12 title season in 2003. Finished his four-year career with just under 5,000 rushing yards. Scored 44 touchdowns in his final three seasons and was fifth in Heisman voting in 2003. Also returned a punt for a touchdown in 2003 and averaged more than 27 yards on kick returns.

Dat Nguyen, LB, Texas A&M: Won All-Big 12 first-team honors three times, and was the league's Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, leading the Wrecking Crew to Texas A&M's only Big 12 title. Won the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award that season. Made 51 consecutive starts and finished his career with 517 tackles, the only player in A&M history to lead the Aggies in tackles for four seasons.

Cedric Benson, RB, Texas: Won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's best running back in 2004 and was a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection. His 5,540 career rushing yards are second all-time at Texas to only Ricky Williams.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri: Led Missouri to two Big 12 Championship games and helped the Tigers reach BCS No. 1 in 2007. Finished his career as the school's all-time leader in total offense. Threw for 12,515 yards and 101 touchdowns in three years as a starter. Finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2007.

Tommie Harris, DT, Oklahoma: One of the greatest freshmen in Big 12 history. Won the Lombardi Award in 2003 and earned All-Big 12 and All-American first team honors in 2002 and 2003.

Derrick Johnson, LB, Texas: Made the All-Big 12 first team three times and finished his career with 458 tackles, 69 tackles for loss, 11 forced fumbles (nine in 2004) and nine interceptions. Won the Butkus Award and Nagurski Trophy in 2004.

Michael Bishop, QB, Kansas State: Became a starter at K-State after a junior college national title. Finished second in the 1998 Heisman voting to Ricky Williams and helped K-State to an undefeated regular season. Was 22-3 as a starter and accounted for 5,715 yards of total offense and 59 total touchdowns.
Thanks for all the e-mails this week. It's always fun to hear what you folks have to say. If you've got more, send it my way.

On to your mail!

Eric in Manhattan, Kan. writes: Come on David...K-State won't be upset by Iowa State. We know this is our trap game, as it's always been a nail biter game the last 3 years at least. Also we know those games haven't been played in Ames. No coach, player, or fan knows not to look past ISU. Because it's always a great game and full of tension. Both teams are getting better every year, but K-State at a faster pace. The team trifecta of Snyder, Klein, and Brown won't let the rest get too far ahead and keep us focused.

David Ubben: For me, this has nothing to do with Kansas State overlooking Iowa State. It's more about matchups. Iowa State's got a great defense, but its strengths are tackling and pursuit at linebacker, and that's what you've got to do to slow down Kansas State. Stop Collin Klein from getting easy yards and swarm to the ball. Iowa State does that well, and loves to play slower, lower-scoring games. It wins in those positions. When Iowa State holds opponents to under 24 points, Paul Rhoads is 19-1.

Iowa State's a good team, too, and playing well enough to beat K-State. It's not about focus or a lack thereof. It's a matter of Iowa State being a good team in good position to knock off the Wildcats. I picked K-State, but it's going to be close.

Steven in Iowa writes: You said you don't think ISU is a top 25 team. Do they have a top 25 D?

DU: I most definitely do. The secondary is way underrated, and I loved what Jacques Washington has done to this point. Jake Knott and A.J. Klein? There's not much to even say about those two. As good as any linebacker in the Big 12, though I might lean Arthur Brown.

The defensive line doesn't have a lot of freaks, but Jake McDonough and Roosevelt Maggitt have been fantastic. For my money, Iowa State may well end up the best defense in the Big 12. You can make a case for the Cyclones right now, and there's not a defense in the league that's been demonstrably better.

Michael Bay in Ames, Iowa writes: Coming soon...TransFarmers: Rhodesbots in disguise.Optimus Klein, IronSnyde, and the rest of the Autocats once again take on Sentinal Klein, WashingTron, and the Deceptaclones....Will the win go to the Autocats since they are on the side of the light? Or can the Deceptaclones rewrite classic story formats everywhere? We will find out Saturday in the battle on CYbertron.

DU: Oh man, this was the best e-mail I got all week. Love my readers only slightly more than the Transformers trilogy. Best trilogy since Spy Kids.

Jay in Kansas City, Mo. writes: Does K-State's style of play and program make it the natural born enemy of teams like WVU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas Tech and is it one of the reason why K-state went deep last year and is undefeated this year?

DU: To some degree, but I really love it. Kansas State is basically the antithesis of all things Big 12. Bill Snyder has watched the points explosion around the rest of the league and shrugged. His offense doesn't look a whole lot different than it did all the way back in 1998 with Michael Bishop. Can anybody else in the Big 12 say that?

It's one thing to not change. It's another to not change and still win. Snyder's done that.

In the process, you'll always hear Big 12 coaches talk about how difficult it is to prepare for Kansas State's offense. It's complex, it's full of misdirection and it's unlike anything you'll see in the rest of the league. Teams see the spread pretty often in practice.

When Baylor goes over and plays Oklahoma State or West Virginia goes and plays Texas Tech, preparation's not all that difficult. Teams see it in practice every day. But Kansas State? That's a whole different challenge for defenses that are most often built to stop the spread.

No doubt that's a big part of Kansas State's recent success, too. It does things differently and do it well, and always provide a tough matchup.

Eric in Arkansas writes: David,I am starting to hear the engine starting about how the B12 champ will be at a disadvantage due to no conference title game. I dont remember hearing any of this when the B10 or P12 didnt have a title game. I feel that the round robin schedule more than makes up for not having a title game. What say you?

DU: I don't hear that or buy that at all. Look at it this way: If you're playing in the Big 12, you're going to play nine league games, period. So will the SEC and the Big Ten. However, you're guaranteed to play a good team in that ninth game, maybe somebody you've already played. In the Big 12, it's just another conference game.

In the Pac-12, you have to play 10 conference games to reach the national title game, nine league games and a league title game. That's obviously more difficult.

History has shown us the Big 12 title game doesn't really ever propel teams into the national title game. Far more often (four times in Big 12 history, actually), it's cost a team a shot at the national title. The league is strong enough where schedule isn't an issue, and now, coaches don't have to worry about a major hurdle in the last week of the season, perhaps one they've already cleared.

There's no question: The Big 12's schedule, compared to the rest of the leagues, makes it easier to reach the national title game.

Alex in Plano, Texas writes: Is Nick Florence the most underrated QB in the nation? He currently leads the nation in total offense and yet gets no mention anywhere. Thanks!

DU: Yeah, I'd buy it. The biggest reason is probably a) he still plays for Baylor, who despite RG3's best efforts a year ago, isn't a national brand and b) Baylor's not in the top 25.

It'll take a long while to change a), but b) is a little ridiculous, considering the Bears' only loss is by seven points on the road against a top-five team. I had Baylor at No. 22 on my last top 25 poll.

Florence has been outstanding to this point. His decision-making keeps getting better, and he clearly has a mastery of Baylor's offense. He doesn't have the big arm or the sprinter's legs of RG3, but he can play quarterback at a high level, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't get a great shot in the NFL.

Fans talk: The best individual seasons ever

June, 8, 2012
6/08/12
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We've wrapped up this week's countdown of the greatest individual seasons of all-time, but I asked you all to weigh in on the best ever in Big 12 history, as well as your favorite moments from those seasons. Here's what you had to say:

Dennis McElroy in Lamoni, Iowa, wrote: How quickly you forget Troy Davis. First back to have back to back 2000 yard seasons while playing on horrible Iowa State teams. If he had the benefit of the talent of an Oklahoma, there is no telling what he might have accomplished.

Ray Cobra in Los Angeles wrote: 1997, Michael Bishop led K-State to an 11-1 record and a Fiesta Bowl blow-out win while outplaying a guy named Donovan McNabb before a national audience. Bishop became a star that season and set K-State up as a national title contender for the next. How is that not one of the best Big 12 seasons by a player or at least on the just-missed list? Hard to argue that 11-1 and a Fiesta Bowl win in your first year out of juco as the starting QB for a Bill Snyder offense is better than losing the Big 12 title game and then failing to show-up for the Alamo Bowl as in Bishop's 98, which did make your 'just missed' list (and was indeed a fine season). Despite KSU's one loss to the eventual national champion in Lincoln and despite the fact that he was a basically a rookie, Bishop had a dream season in 97. Don't you agree?

Chris in Lindsberg, Kan., wrote: Big 12 Best Individual Seasons- Terence Newman, CB, Kansas State, 2002. In 2002, Terence Newman was a consensus First Team All-American, won the Jim Thorpe award, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski award.It is easy to forget just how dominant Newman was during his senior season. Newman was constantly locked up with top receivers (Keary Colbert, Mike Williams, Shaun McDonald, Roy Williams), but he only surrendered one receiving touchdown all year (Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State). In addition to eviscerating the other team's best receiver every week, Newman also contributed offensively and in the return game. He scored in four different ways (reception, punt return, kickoff return, defensive PAT), gave the Wildcats punt return touchdowns of 71 and 40 yards and a kickoff return touchdown of 95 yards. Newman's most memorable play of the season occurred during a 27-20 home win against #11 USC in September. With less than a minute before halftime and K-State holding a 10-0 lead, the Trojans recovered a fumble for a momentum-shifting touchdown. But the extra point attempt was blocked. Newman picked up the ball and raced 90 yards for a defensive two-point conversion.

Matt in Kansas City wrote: What about K-State Linebackers....Josh Buhl (undersized LB) had 184 tackles in 2003 which #2 all-time in college football....Mark Simoneau - 1999 consensus 1st team All American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year...if you look at best defensive careers he has to be up there....400 career tackles and 251 unassisted stops...also Big 12 1st-team 3 times

Kyle in Houston wrote: Best Individual Season: Dat Nguyen - 1998 -> Unanimous All-American -> Chuck Bednarik Award -> Lombardi Award -> Jack Lambert Award -> Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year -> First-Team All-Big 12

OU woofer in Houston wrote: Quentin Griffin - as a senior totaled 287 carries for 1,884 yards with 15 scores,and also caught 35 passes for 264 yards with 3 Tds, (single game for the season was 248 yrds/32 carries/1 td vs UT). The three-year starter helped OUwin a national championship in 2000 and he finished fourth in school history in career rushing yards (3,756), third in touchdowns (44) and finished second in all-purpose yards (4,973). He is 4 on OU's all time rushing leaders behind, Billy Sims, Joe Washinton, Adrian Peterson and Steve Owens. ...

Kenton in OKC wrote: Justin Blackmon's 2010 campaign deserves to be among the top 5 Big 12 seasons of all-time. He is the ONLY RECEIVER IN FBS HISTORY TO DO WHAT HE DID! 100 yds and a TD in every game played, come on. He torched OU's secondary on a bum ankle. I'm just appalled you left him out of the top 5. ONLY PLAYER IN HISTORY!

John Galt in New York wrote: Got to say Dubs. A little shocked not to see RGIII not make the list. I wouldn't consider him number 1 but I would say its hard to deny him the 3-5 spot. It appears you went pretty team-centric in your choosing. 2 Texas, 2 OK, and a corn husker. All teams with loads of talent and not just at the dynamic positions. Looking at the title "Best Individual Big 12 Seasons Ever", emphasis should be on the individual and to say that RGIII wasn't in the top five is a little disappointing. Not too many people would be surprised to hear Texas, Oklahoma, or Nebraska have a Heisman talent player or that player be on a National Championship team...but Baylor? Not sure any other offensive player on your list could win 10 games with the same Baylor team.

Kevin in Ardmore, Okla., wrote: Went to OSU and was wondering why you skipped over Brandon Weedon this last year. Lets see his stats. 2011 OKST 408 Comp 564 Att 72.3 Ptc 4727 Yds 8.4 Avg 37 TD 67 Lng 13 Int 159.8 Rat. Who he beat, Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, David Ash, Collin Klein, RGIII, Landry Jones and Andrew Luck. How many of those are now or will be NFL QBs. Know tell me how he isn't good enough not only to make the list, but not to make Just missed.

Jeff in Manhattan, Kan., wrote: Jordy Nelson, Kansas State, 2007. While not Justin Blackmon or Michael Crabtree, he still deserves a "near miss" mention as he was a consensus All-American with 122 catches for 1606 yds and 11 TDs, also threw for 2 touchdowns and returned 2 more punts to round out the stat sheet. Also, this. Thanks, Ubbs.

Jay Adams in Ames, Iowa, wrote: How can you leave out Seneca Wallace? Not only did he have the most prolific career for an Iowa State quarterback, but he led Iowa State to an unprecedented, and since unmatched, 11th rank in the nation.
Yesterday, I unveiled my list of the best Big 12 seasons of all-time, but there were plenty of seasons that got left out.

In no particular order, here are the best of the rest:

Colt McCoy, QB, Texas, 2008: McCoy carried the Longhorns to a BCS bowl win and a win over national title participant and Big 12 champion Oklahoma while throwing for 3,859 yards, 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Most impressive? He completed just under 77 percent of his passes. Crazy.

Jason White, QB, Oklahoma, 2003: White racked up 3,846 yards passing with 40 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions, and won the Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award. The Sooners went undefeated in the regular season, but lost in the Big 12 Championship and national title games.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor, 2011: Griffin did the unthinkable and brought a Heisman Trophy to Baylor, as well as a 10-win season. He threw for 4,293 yards, 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also ran for 699 yards and completed 72.4 percent of his passes.

Darren Sproles, RB, Kansas State, 2003: Sproles led the nation with 1,986 yards and 16 touchdowns, leading K-State to its only Big 12 title with an upset of No. 1 Oklahoma, soundly beating the unbeatable Sooners, 35-7. Sproles ran for an eye-popping 235 yards and caught three passes for 88 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, 2010: Blackmon caught a touchdown pass and topped 100 yards in every game he played all season, winning the Biletnikoff Award (he'd do it again in 2011) and putting together the league's best individual season of 2010. He finished with 1,782 receiving yards, 111 catches and 20 touchdowns.

Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech, 2007: Harrell threw for a country mile and then some, topping 5,700 yards in Texas Tech's pass-happy offense (713 attempts in 2007) under Mike Leach and throwing 48 touchdowns to just 14 interceptions.

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech, 2007: Tech had a more memorable season as a team in 2008, but Crabtree's first of two Biletnikoff-winning seasons was better. He finished with a Big 12-record 1,962 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns on 134 catches.

Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska, 2001: Crouch carried the Huskers to the national title game in 2001 despite a Big 12 Championship Game loss, throwing for 18 touchdowns and running for 19 more. He rushed for 1,178 yards and threw for 1,115 to win the Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award.

Troy Davis, RB, Iowa State, 1996: Davis finished second in the Heisman voting after carrying the ball 402 times for 2,185 yards and winning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors in the league's inaugural season. That's not enough for you? It was his second consecutive 2,000-yard rushing season.

Roy Williams, S, Oklahoma, 2001: Williams is best known for his "Superman" play that sealed a Red River victory over Texas, but he had 12 tackles for losses and five interceptions that season. He also recovered two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown. Williams revitalized the safety position in the Big 12, bringing some bulk to the position and playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He earned the Nagurski Trophy and Thorpe Award that season.

Chase Daniel, QB, Missouri, 2007: Daniel took Missouri to the No. 1 ranking entering the Big 12 Championship Game and put Missouri football on the map. He finished with 4,306 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in the best season ever under Gary Pinkel. He also completed 68 percent of his passes and rushed for four scores.

Michael Bishop, QB, Kansas State, 1998: Bishop carried Kansas State to an undefeated regular season before losses in the Big 12 title game and Alamo Bowl. He threw for 2,844 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions, while also running for 748 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Wildcats narrowing quarterback race

April, 6, 2010
4/06/10
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Bill Snyder has a quarterback decision to make before his second season, and though it might not be made until fall, he's working toward it early this spring. Grant Gregory's graduation left him with Carson Coffman, Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur to step under center in 2010.

"I am not prepared to make any distinction at this particular point. When I say distinction, I mean a first-team, second-team, third-team," Snyder told reporters on Monday afternoon.

Coffman has the most experience of the three, earning the starting job in camp last season before later ceding the job to Gregory. He didn't appear in any of the Wildcats' final five games, but with that experience, he's the likely front runner.

Oregon transfer Chris Harper won't be taking reps at quarterback, instead working solely at receiver while Lamur plays the role of more mobile quarterback more in the mold of Ell Roberson and Michael Bishop, who Snyder saw plenty of success with.

"Sammuel probably has the longest route to travel because of inexperience, and not being involved with the offense for the same period of time that the others had," Snyder said.

Lamur worked mostly as a scout-team quarterback last season.

Klein, a 6-foot-5, 231-pound sophomore is back at quarterback after catching six passes for 38 yards as a freshman last season, when he worked as a receiver.

"We would like for someone to surface above someone else," Snyder said. "At this point in time that has not taken place, and I did not anticipate that it would this early. The sooner it happens the better, obviously."

Coffman, of course, is the conservative choice, and with Daniel Thomas likely to be the central figure in the Wildcats offense, the winner won't make or break the Wildcats season. But if Lamur can show some consistency and doesn't turn the ball over in camp, he could win the job, despite being a less-polished passer. Lamur's running ability could take some pressure off Thomas and open holes for him to run if Snyder turns to an option game. Thomas took snaps out of the Wildcat last season, so don't confuse Snyder as a coach who refuses to innovate.

Big 12 has had four Heisman winners

December, 11, 2009
12/11/09
11:48
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Colt McCoy and Ndamukong Suh are en route to New York City this morning. Both will be part of the Heisman Trophy activities Saturday night.

The Big 12 has featured four winners during its brief history: Ricky Williams of Texas (1998), Eric Crouch of Nebraska (2001), Jason White of Oklahoma (2003) and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma (2008).

The conference also has been involved in two of the three one-two finishes by a conference during that period.

Williams and Kansas State's Michael Bishop in 1998 and Bradford and McCoy account for two of the three instances that a specific conference had the first- and second-place finishers. The only other time it happened during that period was Tim Tebow of Florida and Darren McFadden of Arkansas in 2007.

Here's a look at how Big 12 players have placed since the conference was formed.

1996: Winner, Florida QB Danny Wuerffel; Iowa State RB Troy Davis, second; Texas Tech RB Byron Hanspard, sixth.

1997: Winner, Michigan DB/WR/KR Charles Woodson; Texas RB Ricky Williams, fifth.

1998: Winner, Texas RB Ricky Williams; Kansas State QB Michael Bishop, second.

1999: Winner, Wisconsin RB Ron Dayne; no Big 12 players among top 10 finishers.

2000: Winner, Florida State QB Chris Weinke; Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel, second.

2001: Winner, Nebraska QB Eric Crouch; Oklahoma S Roy Williams, seventh.

2002: Winner, USC QB Carson Palmer; Colorado RB Chris Brown, eighth; Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury, ninth; Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin, 10th.

2003: Winner, Oklahoma QB Jason White; Kansas State RB Darren Sproles, fifth; Texas Tech QB B.J. Symons, 10th.

2004: Winner, USC QB Matt Leinart; Oklahoma RB Adrian Peterson, second; Oklahoma QB Jason White, third; Texas RB Cedric Benson, sixth.

2005: Winner, USC RB Reggie Bush; Texas QB Vince Young, second.

2006: Winner, Ohio State QB Troy Smith; no Big 12 players among top 10 finishers.

2007: Winner, Florida QB Tim Tebow; Missouri QB Chase Daniel, fourth.

2008: Winner, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford; Texas QB Colt McCoy, second; Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, fourth; Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, fifth.

Who knows? Maybe McCoy or Suh will become the fifth Big 12 Heisman winner.

McCoy among three O'Brien finalists announced

November, 23, 2009
11/23/09
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Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was among three finalists announced for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award.

McCoy was joined by Florida's Tim Tebow and Houston's Case Keenum among the finalists for the award given to the nation's top quarterback.

The 2009 O'Brien Winner will be announced live on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The winner will be honored at the 33rd Annual Davey O'Brien Awards Dinner held at The Fort Worth Club next Feb. 15 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Five former Big 12 players have been honored six times since the conference began play in 1996: Two-time honoree Jason White of Oklahoma (2003, 2004), Kansas State's Michael Bishop (1998), Nebraska's Eric Crouch (2001), Texas' Vince Young (2005) and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (2008).

Big 12 lunch links: Is Snyder the father of the Wildcat offense?

September, 30, 2009
9/30/09
12:58
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Welcome to Wednesday, which means the Big 12 football is only a day away this week.

Here are some lunchtime links to get you primed for the upcoming action.

Big 12 mailbag: Where are the great Texas RBs?

August, 7, 2009
8/07/09
5:42
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

If it's a Friday afternoon, it's time to dive into my mailbag.

I received a bunch of good questions this week. Here are some of the best: 

Justin from Austin, Texas, writes: I read your recent post about Texas having the most commits thus far from the ESPNU 150. One thing that interests me is the lack of a top running back on that list. I was curious as to your opinion on why Texas is not THE school to go to if you are a top quality running back, especially considering the Longhorns' lack of a true standout player at this position.

It would seem to me that someone with a lot of talent at the position would jump at the opportunity to come to a high profile school and potentially get 3 to 4 years of playing time right off the bat. Is it because Texas isn't perceived as a good running back school anymore, or are we already too stacked with players (though no "great" ones yet) so that recruits feel they won't get the playing time?

Tim Griffin: Justin, you make an interesting point. I, too, noticed that Texas hasn't attracted a blue-chip running back yet. Of course, Lache Seastrunk from Temple, Texas, would fit into that category. But it seems that Texas has missed out on the perceived great running backs and hasn't had a difference maker there since Cedric Benson graduated.

Maybe it's because of the Greg Davis' recent spread offense making top running back recruits shy away from the school as it becomes more heavily pass-oriented. But I think a bigger reason might be because of the development of spread offense as the de facto choice for many Texas high schools anymore. It means that more top athletes across the state are playing either quarterback or wide receiver.

There aren't nearly as many top running back prospects in Texas as there might have been 15-20 years ago. The days of top running backs like Earl Campbell, Adrian Peterson and Eric Dickerson now seems a little dated.

But if the Longhorns were successful in attracting Seastrunk, it wouldn't surprise me that Davis could develop an offense with him as a running back with 20-25 carries per game - even with a spread offense being employed much of the time.


Garon McClure writes: Tim, I am a Sooner fan and read your blog and columns almost daily. I was wondering what you thought about the Sooners trying to use Mossis Madu in the way that Florida used Percy Harvin the last few years. Have you heard any rumors or anything like that? I think it would be an intriguing wrinkle to the offense since they say they are moving him to the slot and he is a good runner too.

Tim Griffin: I think the Sooner coaches are tinkering with a variety of ways to employ Madu. His receiving skills, as well as the logjam at tailback with Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray, led to his move as a slot receiver this spring. It wouldn't surprise me if they still found a chance to let him run the ball, maybe in a limited role like Harvin did for the Gators last year.

I was very impressed with Madu last season for the Sooners. He came up big for them in the Big 12 championship game against Missouri when he rushed for a career-high 114 yards and three touchdowns after Murray was injured. And I look for him to be occasionally featured as a runner at times in 2009.


Dan Kaminski of Des Moines, Iowa, writes: When most teams are blowing out another team, coaches pull their starting quarterback and put in their backups. Texas did this and Florida did this last season with Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow respectively.

How come everyone talks about Sam Bradford's numbers last season but no one talks about the fact that when OU was blowing teams out by 50 points, Bob Stoops rarely (or at the last few minutes of the fourth quarter only) put in his back-up and thus inflated Bradford's stats?

Don't get me wrong, I think Bradford is one of the top quarterbacks, but his stats wouldn't have been anywhere as impressive as McCoy's had McCoy stayed in and played all games until the end.

Tim Griffin: I think that the usage of Bradford and McCoy assuredly speaks to the comfort and confidence that Mack Brown had in his backup quarterback compared to Bob Stoops with his. But I don't think the scoring was as significant for Bradford in blowout games as you might think.

Late in the season, Bradford played into the fourth quarter against Texas Tech and was needed in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State, considering the Sooners were nursing only a three-point lead midway through the quarter.

It was understandable for him to be in the fourth quarter of the Big 12 championship game, his last opportunity to shine for Heisman voters. Still, Bradford accounted for only seven of his 50 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and three of those came in Oklahoma losses or games settled by two touchdowns or less.

Bradford's single-season numbers were the best in Oklahoma history by a quarterback, but I don't necessarily think that playing deep into games was that big a factor in them.


Cecil Wilson from Plano, Texas, writes: Tim, when are you hosting your next online chat? And what does Mack Brown and Co. have to do, besides go undefeated and win the Big XII Championship to get to the National Championship game in Pasadena? Thank you.

Tim Griffin: My next chat will be coming up probably not next week but the week after, likely on the same day as my Big 12 previews appear.

I'll give a couple of days notice when it will be approaching, because I always enjoy receiving all of your questions.

And I don't necessarily think Texas would have to go undefeated to win the national championship. I do think it would be crucial for them to finish quickly and win the Big 12 title game. And they should hope that the other contenders all have a loss or two to help winnow the field and make them stand apart from the rest.

I think if they do that, a Big 12 champion team with zero or one loss is going to have a good shot to make the national championship game. A one-loss team made it last year from the conference with Oklahoma.


Clayton Buehrle from Dallas writes: Tim, concerning the Top 40 teams in the BCS, could you please explain how ESPN expects to "play" the different teams against each other? What teams are playing (Current teams or past teams?)? The whole scenario is fun but seems a bit confusing. My friends and I could use some insight. Thanks.

Tim Griffin: My colleagues took a novel approach of breaking up the 40 teams into four 10-team conferences and then having a playoff. Mark Schlabach's story today spells out how the fantasy would play out.

My favorite part is a yearly relegation that would drop out the bottom feeders every year and replace them with teams from outside the top 40. I know that sounds a little like European soccer, but I think that would really be interesting to see teams jump up a level or drop depending on how they played the previous season.

And that's what makes the whole idea of relegation such a fun topic idea.


Brad Millican of Fort Worth, Texas, writes: How are fall practice schedules set? There seems to be a huge difference in when all the Big XII teams report for camp. Is this regulated by the NCAA?

Tim Griffin: Brad, different coaches have different strategies in how they want to break down the practices as they get ready for the season. Each school has 29 practices from the start of practice to the first game. The first three practices are without pads. But the schedule is
different based on the academic schedule of each school. Some coaches like to have a lot of two-a-days early to immediately challenge their teams. Other coaches like to backload things and test their teams a little closer to the start of the season.


Mark McCabe of Stafford, Va., writes: Tim, growing up a Cornhusker fan and now having lived in several places around the country... I found the recent ESPN poll asking, "What are you most looking forward to in the fall? College or Pro Football (never mind the World Series)." Both the Big 12 (TX and MO the exceptions) and the SEC areas picked college football.

Do you think fan support has a major impact on success or does success lead to fan support?

Tim Griffin: Mark, I noticed the same chart. I've lived in both the South and Midwest for extensive periods and think that the passion for college football is the strongest in those "flyover areas." The lack of competing NFL teams lead to that support. And I do think it has a major impact on success. Recruits know they can pick a school in that area and realize their games will be the biggest sporting events in their states. That's a heady feeling for a recruit and a big reason why places like Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama and Iowa have been able to continue their success over many years.

And it doesn't surprise me that Texas and Missouri aren't as excited about college sports as other Big 12 areas. The heavy influence of professional sports in both states - probably as strong there as any area in the conference - has tempered some of the excitement for college sports in recent years. The fans there still get excited when a team like Texas or Missouri makes a run at a national championship. But the NFL helps cut down some of the day-to-day excitement in college football there.


Kenneth Smith of Houston writes: Who do you think will win the starting QB spot at Kansas State? Also do you think that K-State will be in the mix for the Big 12 North title?

Me personally, I think the Wildcats are going to upset a team this year, maybe Missouri or Kansas. The offense seems to be pretty good with Keithen Valentine in the backfield again and Brandon Banks at wide receiver. The defense last season was OK, but they need to learn just to wrap up to make a tackle. Who do you think will be the two teams competing in the North?

Tim Griffin: I think that Kansas State will be the mystery team in the North this season - even more than Colorado. I've always had huge respect for the coaching acumen that Bill Snyder brings to his program. He'll be facing a huge challenge at Kansas State, but I think his task will be a little easier because so many of his assistant coaches have coached or played for him and are familiar with his demands.

I think Carson Coffman will get the start for the Wildcats' opener Sept. 5 against Massachusetts. But I'm thinking that Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas likely will have chances to play as well. I think Thomas could be the starting quarterback later this season, as Snyder has always favored quarterbacks who were adept at running and passing like Michael Bishop, Ell Roberson and Jonathan Beasley. Thomas fits that mold.

And as far as the last two teams competing in the Big 12 North, I'll go with Nebraska and Kansas. I think the regular-season finales for both teams - Nebraska at Colorado and Kansas and Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City - will have much importance in determining the North champion this season.

Thanks for all of your questions this week. We'll check back again next Friday. 

Six Big 12 QBs on Davey O'Brien watch list

August, 3, 2009
8/03/09
5:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12 has developed the reputation as the best conference in the nation for producing top quarterbacks in recent seasons.

That trend continued today when six Big 12 quarterbacks were named to the initial watch list for the Fort Worth-based Davey O'Brien Award.

It wasn't much of a surprise that the Big 12's top two quarterbacks -- returning Heisman finalists Colt McCoy of Texas and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford made the list. Bradford is the returning Davey O'Brien winner from last season.

Other Big 12 quarterbacks who made the list include Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson, Kansas' Todd Reesing and Baylor's Robert Griffin.

The other Big 12 choice raised a few eyebrows. Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts was selected despite the fact he has thrown only 85 passes and never started a college game before. Members of the O'Brien's selection committee obviously feel comfortable that Potts will follow in the long line of quarterbacks for Tech coach Mike Leach who produce monster numbers once they get a chance to play.

The O'Brien Award has been presented to six previous Big 12 players since the conference began play in 1996. Big 12 winners included Kansas State's Michael Bishop in 1998, Nebraska's Eric Crouch in 2001, Oklahoma's Jason White in 2003 and 2004, Texas' Vince Youung in 2005 and Bradford last season.

Bradford will be looking to become the fourth back-to-back O'Brien Award winner. Others who have won the award in consecutive seasons were BYU's Ty Detmer in 1990-91, Florida's Danny Wuerffel in 1995-96 and White.

No other conference had more than four nominees on the watch list among the 33 players who were named.

This year's winner will be announced Dec. 10 as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

Parker, A&M's overtime heroics is No. 6 memory

July, 6, 2009
7/06/09
8:14
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 6  

Yes Sirr: Parker's big catches lead A&M to 1998 championship

Date: Dec. 5, 1998
Place: TWA Dome, St. Louis, Mo.
Score: Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33 (2 OT)

Kansas State was on the verge of the biggest triumph in school history and a likely berth in the first Bowl Championship Series national title game if the Wildcats could claim their first Big 12 title.

That excitement intensified early in the Big 12 title game against Texas A&M after the final score of Miami's 49-45 victory over UCLA was announced over the TWA Dome public-address system. That was only a couple of moments after Darnell McDonald's 66-yard touchdown reception from Michael Bishop boosted the Wildcats to a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter.

A berth in the national title game hinged on the Wildcats completing their victory over the Aggies.

But a funny thing happened after that. A&M became the rejuvenated, more focused team in the fourth quarter after the Wildcats had extended their lead to 27-12 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Bishop late in the third quarter.

A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart, forced into action because of starter Randy McCown's broken collarbone, caught fire during a wild fourth-quarter rally.

Stewart cut into the deficit 5:40 into the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown strike to Leroy Hodge to trim the KSU lead to 27-19. And he later moved the Aggies 76 yards on four plays to the Kansas State 14 before a sack by KSU linebacker Ben Leber and a fourth-down pass deflection by Damion McIntosh caused the drive to stall.

The Aggies' "Wrecking Crew" defense came up with a huge play on the ensuing possession after KSU took control with 3:26 left with hopes of running out the clock. But on the second play of the drive, Bishop was hit by A&M linebacker Warrick Holdman, forcing a fumble that was recovered by A&M linebacker Cornelius Anthony at the Wildcats' 35.

A spectacular diving catch by backup A&M wide receiver Matt Bumgardner accounted for 36 yards to the KSU 14. Two plays later, Stewart hit backup tailback Sirr Parker on a slant play for a 9-yard touchdown pass. After a timeout, Stewart and Parker connected on the two-point conversion play to tie the score with 1:05 left.

Bishop had one more chance during regulation. The Wildcats lined up for a 69-yard field goal attempt by Martin Gramatica in the closing seconds, but a delay-of-game penalty prevented them from trying the kick. Instead, Bishop lofted a "Hail Mary" play that was caught by Everett Burnett for a 55-yard gain before he was stopped at the A&M 2 on the final play of regulation.

A&M took the first possession of overtime and marched to the KSU 1 before settling for an 18-yard Russell Bynum field goal. KSU answered by gaining 21 yards on a drive that was capped by a 22-yarder by Gramatica that tied the game at 30.

Gramatica added another 25-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 33-30 lead to start the second overtime. The Aggies then lost two yards on their first play of their possession and faced a third-and-17 play after a penalty from the KSU 32.

But rather than playing to tie the game, Stewart hit Parker on another clutch slant pass. The 5-foot-7 Parker eluded Luke Butler and then streaked past Lamar Chapman en route to the right corner of the end zone. He finished with a 32-yard touchdown reception that ranks as the biggest play in A&M football history.

They said it, part I: "It's a sick feeling. It's a terrible situation," KSU quarterback Michael Bishop on the Wildcats' late collapse.

They said it, part II: "This may be, in their young lives, the most difficult thing that they've ever had to handle. The pain that comes from this is obvious," KSU coach Bill Snyder on his team's collapse at the end of regulation.

They said it, part III: "Once I caught the slant, I felt him (Butler) fall of my back. I saw I had one man to beat, so I ran for the end zone," A&M running back Sirr Parker on his game-winning TD grab.

They said it, part IV: "I love opportunities to prove people wrong. People say, 'Stewart can't do this. Stewart can't do that.' I love proving them wrong." A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he delighted in confounding naysayers with his dramatic comeback performance.

They said it, part V: "Gimme some sugar! Whoop! Whoop!" The chant of A&M players and Coach R.C. Slocum after finishing the victory that earned them a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Factoids: Stewart, who transferred from Tennessee after Peyton Manning beat him out for the starting job, struggled early in the KSU game. The A&M quarterback misfired on his first five passes, with one interception ... Despite his late fumble, Bishop had one of the best games of his career, passing for 324 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 101 yards ... Kansas State entered the game with a nation-best 19-game winning streak and had outscored its first 11 opponents of the season by an average margin of 49-11 ... But KSU was its own worst enemy as the Wildcats were penalized 13 times for 110 yards against the Aggies ... A&M tailback Dante Hall gashed KSU's defense for 113 yards and bullish tailback JaMar Toombs added a 1-yard TD plunge. It was only the third rushing touchdown that the Wildcats had allowed during the 1998 season ... Stewart completed just 4-of-11 passes for 89 yards and an interception through three quarters. But he was 9-of-16 for 185 yards for two TDs in the fourth quarter and finished with a career-high 324 yards after his overtime TD pass to Parker ... The Aggies claimed their first conference championship since winning the 1993 Southwest Conference title. They also denied KSU's hopes of earning its first title since claiming the Big Six Conference in 1934 ... A&M's comeback from a 15-point deficit tied the school record at the time of the game, matching the Aggies' 15-point comeback in a 1997 overtime triumph over Oklahoma State ... A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen set a Big 12 championship game record with 17 tackles.

The upshot: The victory boosted the Aggies into their first BCS bowl game in history as they advanced to the Sugar Bowl. But the Buckeyes claimed a 24-14 victory that dropped the Aggies to 11-3 for the season. A&M finished the season ranked No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll. They have finished ranked only once at the end of season since then - a No. 23 ranking after the 1999 season.

KSU's loss caused them to free-fall all the way to the Alamo Bowl, where they met Purdue. Bishop struggled with a four-interception performance as the Boilermakers escaped with a wild 37-34 upset victory. The Wildcats finished 11-2 for the season and No. 10 in the final AP poll.

Bishop finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting after the 1998 season, substantially behind winner Ricky Williams of Texas. And Nguyen's big effort in the championship game helped him claim the Lombardi and Bednarik awards as the most decorated player in A&M's Big 12 history.

The countdown:

7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, helps beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun top-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
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" against UNLV in 1999.

Kansas reportedly lands juco All-America linebacker

June, 29, 2009
6/29/09
9:16
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Kansas apparently has shored up its biggest weakness heading into preseason camp.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Vernon Brooks, a junior-college All-American linebacker from Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, has decided to play for the Jayhawks. He would be available to join the Jayhawks immediately.

Brooks, a 6-foot, 228-pounder, will fill a hole where the Jayhawks lost three starters from last season. The departure of James Holt, Mike Rivera and Joe Mortensen from last season's team has had coach Mark Mangino scrambling for answers for the last several months.

Mangino has been considering a 4-2-5 defense as his base as one way around the problem. And he's also moved former running back Angus Quigley to the position to bolster talent there.

But Brooks would provide an immediate upgrade in talent at the position. The Journal-World reported he visited Kansas last weekend and picked them over offers from Oklahoma, Tennessee, Auburn and Tulsa.

The Jayhawks will be hoping for better production from Brooks than from another junior-college All-American they recently attracted. Running back Jocques Crawford led the nation's junior college rushers in 2007 at Cisco (Texas) Junior College. After predicting before last season he would rush for 2,000 yards, Crawford struggled finding a niche and produced only 262 yards rushing for the Jayhawks.

Earlier this spring, Crawford was suspended from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules. His future remains uncertain in the Kansas program.

Blinn College is noted for producing strong athletes like former Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop, former Texas running back Shon Mitchell and former Kansas State wide receiver Quincy Morgan. Brooks was coached there by Brad Franchione, son of former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione.

Brooks' arrival could be a critical personnel addition for the Jayhawks, who have higher expectations heading into the season than at any time in Big 12 history. Mangino has taken the Jayhawks to back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time in school history. The Jayhawks are a fashionable pick to contend in the Big 12 North Division.

And adding a junior-college All-American -- even long after spring practice is over -- shouldn't hurt those hopes.

Ochs' tackle of Crouch is Big 12's No. 16 moment

June, 19, 2009
6/19/09
5:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

No. 16

KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers

Date: Nov. 14, 1998
Place: KSU Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
Score: Kansas State 40, Nebraska 30

Kansas State had labored in the shadows of Nebraska for many years. The Wildcats' 10-0 start in the 1998 season had pushed them to No. 1 in the national rankings, but they were still looking for a breakthrough victory against their old nemesis to catapult them into their first Big 12 title game.

They got that and more in an impressive victory over the Cornhuskers  that clinched the Wildcats' North Division title -- the Wildcats' first football title of any kind since 1934.

And they did it with a flourish as a KSU defense that had struggled earlier in the game provided two key plays to seal the victory late in the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Travis Ochs made a critical fourth-down stop of Eric Crouch, grabbing his face mask to make the tackle. No penalty was called, although television replays showed that Ochs could have been flagged on the play.

A blitzing Ochs came around untouched on Crouch's left side. As the Nebraska quarterback ducked to avoid him, Ochs grabbed Crouch's face mask and never let go as he nearly spun his helmet around before throwing him to the turf at the Nebraska 20.

Kansas State took over but couldn't move the ball. Nebraska had one more possession, but Jeff Kelly picked up Crouch's fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown with three seconds left to ice the victory.

But it wasn't easy. The Wildcats overcame an early 17-7 deficit after Nebraska had jumped ahead on a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes from Crouch and an 18-yard Kris Brown field goal. It was the first time in the season that KSU trailed.

KSU charged back and pulled within 17-14 at halftime after Michael Bishop added his second TD run of the game.

Bishop helped boost KSU into the lead early in the third quarter - the first time the Wildcats had led Nebraska since 1991 -- on a 17-yard TD pass from Bishop to Darnell McDonald and a 25-yard field goal by Martin Gramatica. But Nebraska tied the score when Ralph Brown recovered a Frank Murphy fumble and rambled 74 yards for a touchdown.


The lead changed again early in the fourth quarter when Gramatica boosted KSU ahead on a 21-yard field goal. Nebraska responded on a 9-yard scoring pass from Crouch to tight end Sheldon Jackson gave put them back in the lead with about 8 minutes left.

KSU then turned to Bishop, who finished with 446 yards of total offense in the game, for its late rally. His 11-yard TD strike to McDonald put KSU ahead for good at 34-30 with 5:25 left.

Delirious KSU fans rushed the field twice before the game ended. It took them about 30 minutes to tear down the goalposts to celebrate what likely is the biggest home victory in KSU history.

Factoids to note: The victory was the first by victory by the Wildcats over Nebraska since 1968 and their first home victory over the Cornhuskers since 1959 ... Bishop passed for 306 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries and scored twice ... KSU's McDonald produced a career-high 12 receptions for 183 yards ... Crouch completed only 10 of 21 passes for 139 yards, but passed for three TDs and added 108 yards rushing on 22 carries ... It was Nebraska's third loss of the regular season, the first time the Cornhuskers had lost that many regular-season games in 22 years ... The game was played before a then- record crowd of 44,298 at KSU Stadium.

They said it, part I: "I don't want to be branded as a cheater. But the referee was right there. Those are the breaks of the game," Ochs' post-game comments to the Associated Press about his late tackle of Crouch.

They said it, part II: "The torch being passed? I'm not falling for that. I don't believe it. I take nothing from their win. They're a good team. But I believe the best team in the country has three losses this season and it wears 'N' on its helmet," Jackson's post-game comments to the Associated Press about Nebraska's loss.

They said it, part III: "We knew if we lost, people would call us flukes. We had to beat them to get the respect we deserve," Kansas State defensive end Joe Bob Clements, who told the Daily Nebraskan that the victory was monumental for the KSU program.

The upshot: The victory guaranteed KSU a spot in its first Big 12 championship game three weeks later in St. Louis. But the 11-0 Wildcats squandered a 15-point fourth-quarter lead in a 36-33 double-overtime loss to Texas A&M.

That defeat sent the Wildcats careening to the Alamo Bowl, where they lost to Purdue and finished 11-2. After ranking No. 1 earlier in the season, KSU finished the season ranked 10th in the final Associated Press poll.

Nebraska rebounded to beat Colorado the following week, but lost to Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. Frank Solich finished his first season 9-4 and ranked No. 19 in the final AP poll - Nebraska's lowest end-of-season ranking in eight seasons.

The countdown:

17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
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" against UNLV in 1999.

Snyder charged by another KSU renewal project

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
10:10
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- The game-clad figure in purple and white jumps out from the billboards along the Kansas prairie, standing apart from the notices for truck stops, ice cream parlors and outlet malls.

The image of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder can be found at several locations along Interstate 70, pointing across expanses of the Sunflower State as he seemingly implores motorists to get out of their cars to hurry into game action.

 
  John Rieger/US Presswire
  Bill Snyder knows he has his work cut out for him at Kansas State.

While Snyder says he's uncomfortable with becoming such a front-and-center symbol of the school's intended resurgence, it's understandable why he has become spotlighted so much since his return.

"I'm not a big fan of that," Snyder said. "This is about a program and not Bill Snyder. But maybe I'm in a position where I can help smooth the waters. I'd like to think I could do it without my face being all over billboards. It's not appropriate, because it's never been about Bill Snyder. I'm just a part of it."

On the school's Web site, Snyder's return has been given a prominent constant presence. An advertisement for season tickets harkens that "the Hall of Fame can wait" and "the tradition continues" with Snyder's return to bring the Wildcat program back from its recent doldrums.

As fans and players exit Interstate 70 and head to Manhattan, they turn onto the Bill Snyder Highway. And when they arrive in Manhattan the focal point of the campus is where the Wildcats play their games -- the Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

But even with that exalted status after his legendary career, Snyder was restless during retirement. Those concerns led him to return to coaching after a three-year sabbatical, eager to resume coaching with another challenging rebuilding job facing him.

It won't be easy. When asked about where the Wildcat program is and where he wants it to eventually be, Snyder has a succinct answer.

"I can't see there from here." Snyder said. "It's a long ways from where I would like it to be."

(Read full post)

Coffman's KSU starting QB quest still has several hurdles

April, 29, 2009
4/29/09
12:13
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman appears to have emerged among the players currently practicing for the Wildcats, moving past redshirt freshmen Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid during spring practice.

But we shouldn't immediately anoint Coffman as the Wildcats' starter for their Sept. 5 opener against Massachusetts.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported today that Grant Gregory, a backup quarterback at South Florida, will transfer into the KSU program to attend graduate school. Because of that, he will be able to play immediately.

Gregory was beaten out by Matt Grothe for the Bulls' starting quarterback. But he apparently was encouraged to consider KSU by USF coach Jim Leavitt, a former assistant coach under Bill Snyder during Snyder's earlier coaching tenure with the Wildcats.

"I'm going to K-State," Gregory told the Capital-Journal. "We're just getting everything finalized with my admission into the graduate school ... I'll be out there definitely by June 1 if not earlier."

KSU will be Gregory's third career school after he began his career at Indiana. After redshirting as a freshman after a stress fracture of his back, he opted to transfer after coach Gerry DiNardo was fired after that season.

He then moved to South Florida where his career hopes as a starter were scuttled after he sustained a thumb injury early in his first season of eligibility with the Bulls. Grothe eventually emerged as the Bulls' starter and Gregory was his primary backup the last two seasons. Gregory completed 17 of 30 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns during that period.

Snyder has repeatedly said he's already expecting competition for Coffman when junior-college transfer Daniel Thomas arrives in June.

"He's very capable and we'll give him every opportunity at quarterback and if not that at running back," Snyder said.

Snyder compared Thomas' opportunity to that received by Michael Bishop in 1997.

"Daniel will be here in the first part of June," Snyder said. "Michael didn't get here until mid-July, but by the first game, he was the No. 1 quarterback and we had a pretty decent quarterback at that time in Jonathan Beasley. Michael developed in that short of a time."

So it should be an interesting and competitive summer for Coffman and the rest of the Wildcat quarterbacks.

And also leads me to believe that whatever performances we see at the Wildcats' Saturday spring game should be taken with a grain of salt.

Because the real competition for the starting job will begin in June.

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