Big 12: Mike Goodson
Goodson started for two seasons before coming to Baylor.
Started at point guard under Mark Few for Gonzaga's basketball team, that is. The Spring, Texas native's older brother is Mike Goodson, who ran for 1,964 yards in three seasons at Texas A&M, but Demetri Goodson bucked his brother's wishes to head to Baylor, where he earned a starting job at cornerback after sitting out most of last season with an injury.
In Baylor's 59-24 win over SMU last week, he made seven tackles and broke up a pass, adding a tackle for loss. He sat down with ESPN.com this week to talk about his incredible backstory.
What was it like making your first start last week?
It was very, very, very exciting. It was great to get back out on the field finally. I was kind of nervous a little bit, but after the first couple of plays, I kind of settled down.
I know this is your second year, but take us back. How'd you make the decision to leave Gonzaga hoops and come play Baylor football?
I just prayed about it one night. My dad, he had told me I should look into playing football for my future, and I started thinking about it. I was really, really good before I stopped playing, so I kept praying on it and one day I woke up and was like, "I'm gonna do it." I talked to my high school coach (Ronny Feldman of Klein Collins High School) and let him know I was looking to play football again and schools just started calling, so it made it easy.
The toughest part about leaving was just leaving all the close friends that I've made throughout the years at Gonzaga. That was probably the toughest part, but I was just ready to come back home and be closer to family, so that was a big part.
What do teammates think about your playing history?
They think it's crazy. Everyone tries to play me in basketball all the time, they always talk about how they can take me on the court and stuff. They're always giving me a hard time about basketball, but they just really think it's crazy how I switched sports like that.
I remember Robert Griffin III used to tell me he always got texts from (Baylor basketball coach) Scott Drew, half-jokingly asking him when he would come out for the team. How much do you hear from him?
I haven't even talked to him since I've been here. I told Coach Briles when I came that I was going to be all in to football, and I gave him my word I wouldn't try and go play basketball, so I've stuck to my word, just concentrating on football.
Your brother's a former Aggie. What'd he think about you coming back to play for Baylor?
He wanted me to go to Texas A&M, but throughout the years, watching him play there, I just wanted to go off and do my own thing. After coming up here and meeting the coaches like coach (defensive coordinator Phil) Bennett, I knew this was the place for me. I definitely think I picked the perfect spot.
Not too many guys have played two different sports at two different schools, and I'm sure there's tons of differences, but what's the biggest about starting at point guard for Gonzaga and starting at corner for Baylor?
Being a point guard, you really have to control your team like a quarterback playing football. Playing corner, you're really just doing a job. Everyone's got a job to do, and my job is to go out there and not let anybody catch the ball and hold down the corners. It's kind of similar, but it's definitely different. I feel like cornerback is more of a job, a team-type of position, more so than the point guard is. Cornerback is definitely tough, but I'm pretty good at it, I think.
Did you give your brother a hard time last year with Baylor winning 10 games and A&M struggling?
Oh yeah, definitely. I always talk mess. I think I got hurt the game before we played A&M last year and I was so mad, because I wanted to play against them so bad. He's always talking about Texas A&M this and Texas A&M that, so I was really disappointed I didn't get to play against them last year.
After months of a rumored move, he'll be sporting a much different look this season.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder has officially joined Baylor's program and will be eligible immediately because Gonzaga does not have a football program.
Goodson helped his Bulldogs knock off No. 9 Baylor in Dallas last season at the American Airlines Center. He played 31 minutes and scored six points with two assists and three steals.
Baylor coach Art Briles expects him to play defensive back.
Goodson is a native of Spring, Texas, just outside Houston, and hasn't played football since earning all-district honors as a cornerback for Klein Collins as a sophomore.
According to a report in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, he's quitting basketball to play football.
One problem: Gonzaga doesn't have a football program. That means he'll have to transfer. One possible landing spot?
The Texas native's older brother was Mike Goodson, a former Aggies running back who starred for three seasons in College Station before being drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Despite the loss for his own team, Goodson's college coach, Mark Few, supported the decision.
"I'm proud to be associated with him," Few said. "He’s a tough kid, a great teammate and from a coaching standpoint, day in and day out at practice he gave everything he had and in games, too. That’s a great quality.
"He gave it a good run up here, but his heart is kind of set on this. I just want him to graduate, and he’s in great shape to do that and then he’ll be in great position for the rest of his life."
Goodson, though, hasn't played football since sophomore year of high school. Even if he doesn't end up going to Texas A&M like his brother, another Big 12 school would seem logical for the Texas native.
He'll have two years of eligibility remaining.
Here's a quick refresher course on every Big 12 ESPNU 150 signee:
- Big 12 signees in the 2006 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2007 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2008 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2009 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2010 ESPNU 150
- Big 12 signees in the 2011 ESPNU 150
I learned a lot in looking back on these classes, and the spectrum of results was fascinating. Here are a few thoughts:
- There wasn't a Heisman Trophy winner among the bunch -- Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was a three-star recruit -- but there were plenty of All-Americans and All-Big 12 talents, as well as a few draft picks. It's interesting to note that the 2010 class was the only one in which more than one Big 12 Freshman of the Year came to campus as an elite recruit. Oklahoma State linebacker Shaun Lewis and Oklahoma safety Tony Jefferson shared the defensive honors last season.
- I'll count probable draft picks, but here's how many NFL draft picks emerged from each class. Obviously, the most recent classes won't be included, and it tapers off quite a bit as you reach the '08 class, which will have a few more drafted eventually. Any players after the 2008 class are ineligible for the draft.
- 2006: 8
- 2007: 3 (Dez Bryant, Sam Acho, Curtis Brown)
- 2008: 1 (Blaine Gabbert)
- Additionally, I don't have a ton to say about the 09-11 classes because, well, at this point, you can't have much to say. Oklahoma or Texas don't have too many four-year, or even three-year starters at too many positions. It's still very, very early to pass judgment on those guys.
- Obviously there's still time, but the 2008 class looking back was pretty weak in comparison to those around it. It's easily the worst of the four classes, not including 2011. Two of the top five recruits have transferred. The other three in that group have yet to make significant contributions. Players like Jon Major, Cyrus Gray, Emmanuel Acho, Kendall Wright and Landry Jones join Gabbert as some of the best in the class, but guys like Jameel Owens, Kye Staley, Lynn Katoa and Justin Johnson aren't even with the teams they've signed anymore. Plenty of others haven't come close to the projected impact others would hope.
- Compare that to the accomplished 2006 class, which was loaded at the top of the board. DeMarco Murray, Sergio Kindle, Jevan Snead, Gerald McCoy and Eddie Jones won't make anybody say, "Who?" That's a strong top 5. Mike Goodson, Jeremy Beal, Josh Freeman, and Jermaine Gresham could all have solid NFL careers, too. In my book, this is the class others will have to live up to.
- One quick thought: Are Jevan Snead and Josh Freeman's careers the inverses of each other?
- I'll give a full breakdown of the team totals later on next week, but I was shocked at how few Nebraska reeled in. From 2006-10, they had just three. S Rickey Thenarse signed in '06, OT Baker Steinkuhler signed in '08 and OG Andrew Rodriguez signed in '10. Steinkuhler, of course, has moved to defensive tackle since. For a team that's won the North the past two seasons and at times looked like a national title contender in 2010, that's a pretty solid endorsement of Bo Pelini's coaching. He's won 29 games in his first three seasons, and his nationally-ranked class in 2011 signed four ESPNU 150 recruits alone. For all you non-mathematicians out there, that's more than 06-10 combined. That has to give Nebraska fans a whole lot of confidence about the program moving forward, even if three of those four signees are from Texas, where Nebraska may struggle to recruit after its move to the Big Ten. That, however, is a whole different post and discussion.
- As an overview of all this, I can't stand it when people decry the recruiting rankings system all together, declaring it worthless. It's not. I also can't stand it when others contend the rankings mean everything. They don't. The truth is right where it usually is: somewhere in the middle. Cite all the two-star recruits you want. I can come back with 10 more that showed in their college careers why they were two-star recruits. You can build a successful program on three and four-star signees, but the facts are this: if you keep reeling in top-level recruits, you've got a much, much greater chance of having big success. Bottom line, that's the truth. You'll encounter some busts among the five-stars. You'll encounter some gems in the two-stars. But recruiting rankings mean something, just not as much or as little as people like to think sometimes.
Well, it's the same for the recruits who came to campus with high rankings and high profiles. Going back to 2006, here's how every Big 12 commit from the ESPNU 150 turned out. We'll look at 2006 in this post before eventually reaching 2010 and the current class, 2011, by signing day.
No. 6: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma. Murray set the school records for touchdowns (64) and all-purpose yards (6,498) as a Sooner. He's projected to be drafted on the first day of this year's NFL Draft.
No. 7: Sergio Kindle, OLB, Texas. Kindle was a finalist for the Butkus and Hendricks Awards and was a two-time All-Big 12 performer with 176 career tackles. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round last year's NFL Draft, but missed his rookie season after fracturing his skull in a fall on the stairs at his home.
No. 13: Jevan Snead, QB, Texas. Lost a quarterback battle to Colt McCoy following the 2005 season. Played sparingly as a freshman before transferring to Ole Miss. Went undrafted in 2010. Now plays for Arena League's Tampa Bay Storm.
No. 21: Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma. McCoy was a Lombardi finalist, a three-time All-Big 12 performer, a two-time All-American who left Oklahoma after his junior season and was selected No. 3 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
No. 22: Eddie Jones, DE, Texas. Jones just finished his career at Texas with an All-Big 12 honorable mention year in 2010. Finished his career with 111 tackles and 13.5 sacks.
No. 34: J'Marcus Webb, OT, Texas. Webb played one year at Texas before transferring to Navarro College and eventually West Texas A&M. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2010 draft and spent the season with the Chicago Bears.
No. 36: Adron Tennell, WR, Oklahoma. Tennell finished his four-year career at Oklahoma with 40 catches, 505 yards and five touchdowns.
No. 42: Dustin Earnest, LB, Texas. Earnest finished his career in 2010 with 84 tackles and a sack for the Longhorns.
No. 45: Mike Goodson, RB, Texas A&M. Goodson was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2006 with his career high 847 yards. He finished with 1,966 yards and 13 TDs in three seasons before being drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers.
No. 67: Phillip Payne, WR, Texas. Caught his first career pass in 2009, his third year at UT, before transferring after the season.
No. 75: Derek Burton, DE, Oklahoma State. Started 15 games in four years for the Cowboys, recording 67 career tackles.
No. 82: Ben Alexander, DT, Texas. Made four career starts, with 51 tackles and half a sack in 38 career appearances.
No. 104: Terrance Anderson, CB, Oklahoma State. Made 96 tackles in four years with the Cowboys. Had four career interceptions.
No. 110: Jonathan Nelson, CB, Oklahoma. Started all 14 games in 2010 for the Sooners after earning All-Big 12 honorable mention as a junior in 2009. Finished career with 155 tackles and five interceptions.
No. 111: Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma. Caught 111 passes for 1,629 yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons, including an All-American season in 2008. Missed all of 2009 with knee injury. Drafted No. 21 overall in the 2010 draft by Cincinnati Bengals.
No. 137: Jeremy Beal, DE, Oklahoma. Had 224 tackles, 58.5 tackles for loss, and 29 sacks in four seasons, including three All-Big 12 seasons, an All-American season and was a Hendricks Award finalist in 2009. Projects as middle-round pick in 2011 NFL Draft.
No. 141: Josh Freeman, QB, Kansas State. Threw for 8,078 yards and 44 touchdowns and 34 interceptions in 35 career games. Also ran for 404 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Drafted No. 17 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
When I was a little kid, one element among my favorites of going to a football game was collecting a game program. I loved nothing better than to scan rosters and check the heights and weights of players as I looked at them through my father's binoculars.
It led me to collecting many programs that probably still are around my parents' house somewhere. I guess I just wanted to add to the clutter of my bedroom.
If I had known then what I know now, I might not have been so diligent about all of the effort. Little boys don't know those heights and weights for their football heroes aren't always correct.
The best way to analyze the discrepancy is by comparing the heights and weights of some of the Big 12 players who attended the recent NFL combine and compare them with what they were listed at during their college careers.
The before is their listed height and weight during last season. The after is what they were measured over the weekend by the NFL.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has told anybody who would listen the last few months that he thought Stephen McGee had the right stuff to play quarterback in the NFL.
Most thought it was just a way for Sherman to put a feel-good spin for his senior who lost his starting spot due to injury and then didn't complain after Jerrod Johnson assumed the No. 1 job.
But McGee's performance at last weekend's NFL combine shows that he still might fulfill his college coach's prophecy after all.
McGee blazed a 4.66 time in the 40-yard dash, second behind only West Virginia's Pat White, at his position. He also was tied for third among quarterbacks with a 33-inch vertical leap and ranked fourth among quarterbacks with a broad jump of 9 feet 4 inches. Those numbers should indicate that somebody will give McGee a shot based on pure athleticism when draft day rolls around.
The workouts of Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree (stress fracture of left foot) and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (hyper-extended left knee) curtailed their workouts. Both players were expected to be first-round picks before the combine. It will be interesting to see if their status is affected by their injuries.
Other notable performances by former Big 12 players at the combine included:
- Nebraska offensive lineman Lydon Murtha had the fastest time of any offensive lineman when he was clocked at 4.89 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Murtha's time was the only one by an offensive lineman that was less than 5 seconds. Murtha also had the fastest time among linemen in the three-cone drill (7.06 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.34 seconds) and was second among offensive linemen with a vertical jump of 35 inches.
- Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo had the third-fastest time among defensive linemen in the 40-yard dash at 4.7 seconds and also was second with a vertical jump of 39 ½ inches.
- Texas Tech offensive lineman Louis Vasquez led all at his position with 39 reps in the bench press. Vasquez's total was five more than any at his position and the highest number of any player who was was tested. Missouri's Ziggy Hood was fourth among defensive linemen with 34 bench press repetitions.
- Kansas State's Josh Freeman led all quarterbacks with a broad jump of 9 feet 11 inches and was second in the vertical jump with a leap of 33 ½ inches.
- Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel was tied for third among quarterbacks with a vertical jump of 33 inches and was fourth at his position in the 20-yard shuttle with a time of 4.31 seconds.
- Texas A&M's Mike Goodson was third among running backs with a vertical jump of 39½ inches and seventh in the 40-yard dash with a time of 4.54 seconds.
- Texas running back Chris Ogbonnaya was third at his position with a time of 6.85 seconds in the three-cone drill.
Some Big 12 players will work for scouts as their respective school's pro days. I'll have a list of those dates later today.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Mike Leach's quest for a new contract spilled into the public when e-mail records between Leach's agents and Texas Tech athletic department and school officials were released Friday afternoon. And it's provided ready fodder for comments from both sides at several Texas newspapers.
Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes about the simmering disagreement between Leach's representatives and his employers. And e-mail records show that the chasm has widened over the last several months -- despite the Red Raiders' 11-2 record in 2008 that matched a school single-season record for victories. The Dallas Morning News' Brandon George provides an extensive timeline detailing the key dates in the dispute between the two sides.
Here are some other stories from across the Big 12 for your edification.
- Five Texas A&M players have left the program and are no longer on the Aggies' roster, Lori Dann of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. They include defensive tackle Kellen Heard, wide receiver E.J. Shankle, tight end Harold Turnage, linebacker Aaron Buckley and running back Mike Goodson.
- John Hoover of the Tulsa World writes about intangibles that college coaches consider when they are recruiting.
- Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press weighs in on recruiting -- using one-time Texas A&M recruit Craig Loston and current Texas A&M signee Colton Valencia as examples for a system he thinks is flawed.
- The unprecedented financial climate has resulted in stark cuts being considered at Missouri for all sports. After generating a record $7.7 million for the Tigers Scholarship Fund after the school's breakout 2007 football season, David Briggs of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes that school is bracing for a significantly reduced amount this year.
- Top 2010 quarterback recruit Connor Wood of Houston is considering Texas and Oklahoma and will likely make his call within two weeks. Wood could be attracted to Oklahoma because he wants to major in petroleum engineering and has been intrigued with the school's Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering, the Oklahoman's Jake Trotter writes.
- Eric Peterson of the Cedar Rapids Gazette writes why Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads seldom leaves his house without wearing a ball cap.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
As the Super Bowl approaches on Sunday, it's interesting to remember who almost became the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals the last time the job came open.
The two finalists in 2007 when the job last opened were Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Sherman. Whisenhunt was the hot offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers with no previous NFL head coaching experience. Sherman was the offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans after an earlier head coaching stint with Green Bay, where he led the Packers to four playoff berths in six seasons before he was fired after his only losing season in 2005.
Both were called back for second interviews.
Whisenhunt got the job and faced a massive rebuilding project with the Cardinals, which had one winning season and one playoff appearance in the previous 22 seasons.
Sherman got his chance to become a head coach again 10 months later when he was hired at Texas A&M. It was a place he was familiar with after ably serving as an assistant coach under R.C. Slocum for seven seasons in two coaching stints.
At the time, it could be argued that Sherman looked to have the easier job. The Aggies had been to 17 bowl games in the previous 23 years. Players like Stephen McGee, Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson were coming back.
Compared with the Cardinals, the Aggies' job appeared to be a piece of cake.
Fast forward to January 2009. Whisenhunt has the Cardinals in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. Arizona appears to be the class of the NFC West for the next several seasons with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald poised to become one of the game's transcendent players.
And Sherman's job now has never looked tougher. The Aggies were 4-8 last season, with an unprecedented 0-5 record against South Division foes.
Texas and Oklahoma look to be capable of contending for BCS berths for the immediate future. Texas Tech is coming off the most celebrated season in school history, with the recruiting bump to match. Oklahoma State is a fashionable pick to crack the top 10 in many preseason polls. Baylor has more excitement than in recent memory with coach Art Briles' offense orchestrated by Robert Griffin.
Sherman has lured A&M's most impressive recruiting class in several years this season. But his rebuilding task appears formidable -- to say the least.
Most coaches don't look backwards very often.
But I'm wondering if Sherman is thinking this week about how close he got to the Cardinals' job?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
After struggling through a disappointing 4-8 season that was Texas A&M's worst since 2003, coach Mike Sherman has redoubled efforts in his first full recruiting season with the Aggies.
Sherman has seen some strong results with increased athleticism from several top early commitments, most notably breakaway running back Christine Michael from Beaumont, Texas -- the program's first five-star recruit at the position in the past decade.
Michael's arrival is important as the Aggies lose Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson opted to declare for the NFL draft as a junior. The Aggies have little experience at the position as sophomores-to-be Cyrus Gray and Bradley Stephens and Keondra Smith will likely be battling Michael for immediate playing time. Any improvement would be noticeable after the Aggies ranked 114th nationally in rushing last season.
The Aggies' passing game looks in good shape with the return of quarterback Jerrod Johnson, freshman receiver Jeff Fuller and redshirt freshman receiver Ryan Tannehill. There's a need for an upgrade in the offensive line considering last season's struggles and the fact that starting tackle Michael Shumard, starting guard Lee Grimes and starting center Kevin Matthews all will be seniors in 2009.
The defensive line will take a hit as starting defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cyril Obizor and top substitute Amos Gbunblee all were seniors last season. But the development of freshman tackles Eddie Brown and Tony Jerod-Eddie will make the need less immediate inside.
An upgrade is also needed in the secondary after the Aggies lost starting cornerback Arkeith Brown and rover Devin Gregg and the top two substitutes at the position as seniors. And it behooves the Aggies to develop some young players quickly with starting cornerback Jordan Pugh and starting free safety Jordan Peterson both entering their senior seasons in 2009.
The Aggies ranked no better than 108th in any of the four major defensive statistical categories as they finished with losses to all of their South Division rivals for the first time in school history. So an immediate upgrade of defensive talent is mandatory after those struggles.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are a few letters from my mailbag that I collected this week.
Clay from Oakland, Calif., writes: With Colt McCoy's firm announcement that he will be a Longhorn in 2009 (and the belief that Sam Bradford will opt for the NFL) you discuss Texas as a very early favorite in the Big 12 for 2009, despite the number of playmakers they will lose on offense. However, could it actually be Oklahoma State that is in the best position to win the Big 12 South, considering the number of offensive starters that will be returning for the Cowboys? Or, after Missouri's disappointing 2008 campaign, will the buzz about non-traditional powers winning the Big 12 be muted next year until it is proven on the field?
Tim Griffin: I'm putting Texas in the favorite's role largely for the reason that I'm expecting McCoy to play much like he did this season. And I'm not entirely sure that Bradford will be back. It might behoove Mike Gundy to talk to Gary Pinkel about how things are different when you come in expected to do well rather than sneaking up on people. Yes, Oklahoma State will have a favorable schedule with games against Texas Tech and Texas at home next season.
But let's chew on this statistic before we anoint the Cowboys as favorites. Texas has won 11 straight games over the Cowboys. And Texas has won five straight games at T. Boone Pickens Stadium dating to 1997. So I like Texas to win the South because of their historic dominance in the series.
Billy Johnson from Horn Lake, Miss., writes: Just curious, Tim. How would you rank the teams in the North coming into next season?
Tim Griffin: It's a tough choice with what should be a balanced, entertaining conference race. I'm hesitant to pick Missouri to win a third-straight championship because the Tigers lose Chase Daniel and their defense underperformed so much this season.
When in doubt, go with the team that will have the veteran quarterback who has achieved something. So I'll give Kansas a very shaky vote as the favorite, mainly because Todd Reesing will be back again next season. I know they have the tough South schedule next season, but they will have Nebraska at home and I would expect that game would be very meaningful in how the North plays out.
Brian from Tulsa, writes: Tim, I'm honestly getting tired of the Oklahoma-Texas discussion. Everyone talks about how Texas got ripped off because of the head-to-head win over Oklahoma. Has everyone forgotten that it was a three-way tie? And more importantly, if Texas had won the Big 12 Ssouth, any Oklahoma argument would have been that they should have beat Texas (which would be true). Why doesn't anyone say that to Texas fans? Texas shouldn't have lost to Tech. If they took care of business on the field, then they would not be in this situation.
Tim Griffin: Brian, I think you just took care of it. I honestly don't think we'll ever come to an agreeable solution in terms of settling a three-way tie -- except that maybe Dan Beebe hopes to avoid another one through perpetuity.
Jon from Houston writes: Any updates on Mike Leach? I haven't heard anything further about his extension. Is his name still in the mix at Auburn?
Tim Griffin: The talks between Leach and Texas Tech are taking a break this week as Leach visits New York City to the Hall of Fame awards and will be visiting Florida for the awards presentation. I would expect to see him back in New York City if Graham Harrell is deservedly chosen as a Heisman finalist.
But my gut tells me that if Auburn had wanted to hire him, we would have already heard something by now. And with the parade of various candidates emerging, I'm thinking his chances for that job -- if he ever really wanted it -- are growing dimmer by the day.
Matt from Victoria, Texas, writes: Tim, sorry, but you've made an error. Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley has already applied for his medical redshirt with the NCAA and Mack Brown says he will also be back for a sixth year with Colt! You're supposed to know this stuff, right?
Tim Griffin: Matt, I do. But I also know that Shipley was introduced with the rest of the senior class at his final home game against Texas A&M a couple of weeks ago. I realize that Shipley is talking about applying for a hardship case and has an outstanding case, but nothing is certain yet. While it looks like he'll have a good chance of obtaining that extra year, it still isn't certain. And until he receives that official clearance, I'm not considering him back. After it comes, his status will change in my predictions.
Scott from Tulsa writes: I shouldn't be surprised that an ESPN writer is throwing out the dynasty comment again about Oklahoma. How many different programs just this decade have anybody been mentioned as a potential dynasty by ESPN. I guess you didn't step back to consider that the team you're calling a potential dynasty has lost four-straight BCS games. They've also lost three of four games to their arch-rival Texas. Hardly a dynasty. Sensationalism at its best.
Tim Griffin: Scott, I respectfully disagree. I always prefaced my recent comments about Oklahoma in the context of Big 12 play only. I also mentioned some of their BCS failings as well. And I don't think we can really argue that the Sooners are a dynasty in terms of conference play.
Oklahoma made history against Missouri by becoming the first Big 12 team to win three consecutive titles. No other Big 12 team has even won back-to-back titles. Bob Stoops has claimed six Big 12 titles. No other coach has won more than one in the 13-season history of the conference. No other program has won more than two titles in the history of the conference.
That sounds like a Sooner dynasty to me -- at least in terms of Big 12 play.
Jeremy from St. Louis writes: Tim, thanks for the great blog. It's become my go-to for all things Big 12 football. I want to comment on your recent post regarding whether Stoops erred in running up the score in the Big 12 title game. As to your assertion (or your linked assertion), I think Dan Hawkins has the perfect response: It's Division 1 Football!!! It's the Big 12 !!! If Matt Eberflus and Co. don't want to play defense, why is that Stoops' problem?
If Dave Christensen wants to quit running the ball and drag the game out, why is that Stoops' problem? If the shoe were on the other foot, I wouldn't have wanted us to step off the gas. There is too much at stake not to achieve the greatest margin of victory possible.
And frankly, I'm a little glad that Oklahoma kept its starters in so Gary Pinkel could clearly see what an epic fail this defense, and specifically the defensive line, was. Our three games against real opponents (UT, OSU, and OU) showed how far we still have to go. These types of games are good reminders that we aren't there yet. Hopefully, Pinkel knows that too.
Tim Griffin: Thanks for your kind words. I bet your opinion isn't shared by the majority of Missouri fans. And your comments a
bout the Missouri defense are correct, in my opinion. The Tigers have a lot of work to become competitively defensively against the South Division powers.
Ryan from Denton, Texas, writes: Hey Tim, I wanted to start by saying I love your blog, I've always appreciated your unbiased responses. Anyway, I was looking at all the conference's bowl matchups and I am hard pressed to find a matchup where the big 12 teams aren't likely to lose, other than the Oklahoma-Florida game, which is a toss-up. Do you think the Big 12 has the ability to run the table in bowl games this year?
Tim Griffin: The Big 12 is favored in five of the seven games. Only Nebraska and Oklahoma are slight underdogs. Considering that, the conference needs a big bowl season to get some of the criticism about the lack of defense in the conference to subside. The only way to do that is to play well against teams from other power conferences. That always hasn't been the case. But Big 12 teams will have their ability to stifle some of that criticism in the next few weeks.
Stephen Jones from Checotah, Okla., writes: Which Big 12 team do you think will have the most trouble as a favorite and which Big 12 underdog has the best chance of springing an upset during the bowls.
Tim Griffin: I'll say that Missouri will have the most difficulty as a favorite in the Alamo Bowl, mainly because of the way the Tigers finished the season. I'm curious about their mental approach heading into the Northwestern game. I also think Nebraska has the best chance to spring an upset. I really believe the Cornhuskers got a favorable matchup against Clemson in the Gator Bowl. And their chances will be bolstered because Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning left to take the job at Kansas State. That uncertain leadership should work to the advantage of Joe Ganz, Roy Helu Jr. and Nate Swift for the Cornhuskers.
Ramon from Ecuador writes: Tim, I'd like to know your thoughts on Coach Mike Sherman's first season at Texas A&M and how you see the program moving in the future. Will I have to wait until 2009, or can you write on this subject any time soon? Best regards.
Tim Griffin: Ramon, anybody writing from South America deserves an answer.
I think the Texas A&M season was a huge disappointment, particularly the way it finished with a 90-30 combined margin of defeat to Baylor and Texas. I'm sure that Sherman was surprised by how far his team dropped. And the fact that the Aggies went 0-5 against the rest of the South Division for the first time in history indicates that the program has hit rock bottom in that regard.
The departure of Mike Goodson will open a position for Cyrus Gray, who looked good in brief bursts late in the season. Sherman has a strong offensive nucleus with players like Jerrod Johnson, Jeff Fuller and Jamie McCoy and an offensive line that will return four starters. Defensively, the Aggies have a lot of work to do. But I did like the late progress of Tony Jerod-Eddie and linebackers Von Miller and Garrick Williams.
Across-the-board growth will be important because I think the Aggies will be picked in the South Division cellar coming into next season. The competition in the division has never been more intense with two BCS teams, another that almost made it and teams like Baylor and Oklahoma State poised for continued improvement. I would suggest that Sherman better plan on rolling up his sleeves, because he clearly has his work cut out in turning around Texas A&M's program at this time.
Thanks again for all of the good questions. I'll be back again next week to answer another collection of them.
The Dallas Morning News reported today that Texas A&M tailback Mike Goodson is likely not expected to return for his senior season.
A&M coach Mike Sherman told the paper's Kate Hairopoulos that "a combination of things" explain why Griffin likely won't be coming back.
I'm thinking that Sherman might not miss Goodson as much as some might think. Goodson struggled with injuries throughout the season, producing only 406 yards rushing during a disappointing season.
Before the season started, Goodson openly talked about contending for the Heisman Trophy. He rushed for 100 yard efforts against Arkansas State and Oklahoma State. But he tailed off badly in his final three games, producing only 20 yards on 19 carries for an average of 1.1 yards per carry.
Instead, by the end of the season freshman Cyrus Gray had emerged as a running threat that Sherman trusted as much as Goodson. Gray set a school record for kickoff returns and rushed for 363 yards and 4.8 yards per carry in spot duty for the Aggies.
It will be interesting to see what kind of draft standing Goodson can produce coming off his struggling season. It wouldn't be unprecedented if he has several impressive workouts. But it's going to be very tough for him to do that considering his late struggles. He likely will need to transfer, or move to a FCS school.
And Gray's late emergence might have him targeted as A&M's potential featured back in 2009 if Goodson does leave.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are 10 things I'll be watching for around the Big 12 on Saturday.
1. The matchup between Oklahoma State's offensive line and Texas' defensive front -- The Cowboys have the most underrated offensive line in the conference, keying the most multi-faceted offense in the Big 12. But OSU's talented front will be tested by Texas' surging line led by defensive end Brian Orakpo and defensive tackle Roy Miller -- two likely all-Big 12 performers if the vote was taken today. Oklahoma State must be balanced in order to give Zac Robinson a chance to take advantage of Texas' youth in the secondary with play-action passes -- something that Chase Daniel wasn't able to do last week until it was too late.
2. Texas Tech's sputtering special teams -- After benching kickers Donnie Carona and Cory Fowler in back-to-back weeks, the Red Raiders could turn to walk-on Matt Williams as their primary kicker against Kansas. Could Williams, a former winner of an in-game kicking promotion at a Tech game earlier this season, really provide a key field conversion or field goal that would extend the Red Raiders' BCS hopes? And could quirky Tech coach Mike Leach really follow through with his intention of possibly going for two points after every touchdown because of his kicking woes? We'll see.
3. Robert Griffin's interception streak -- The Baylor freshman has thrown 155 passes without an interception to set an NCAA record for freshmen at the start of his career. Can Griffin keep it going against a Nebraska defense that has produced only five interceptions this season -- a figure way below expectations when Bo Pelini took over as head coach.
4. The Oklahoma running game against the weak Kansas State run defense -- The Sooners failed to produce 50 rushing yards in two of their last three games before erupting for 206 yards last week against Kansas. The Sooners will be facing a struggling Kansas State defensive front that has allowed an average of 229.2 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns in its last five games.
5. Missouri's response to its recent two-game losing streak -- Losses to South powers Oklahoma State and Texas have shown that Missouri might have been a paper tiger and virtually crushed Chase Daniel's Heisman hopes. A start for the Tigers against Colorado would be grabbing a lead, something they haven't done in the last two games. During the first five games of the season, the Tigers trailed for a total of 13 seconds. In the last two games, Missouri has trailed for a period of 92 minutes, 14 seconds.
6. Texas A&M's struggling running game -- With the return of players like Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane back from last season's offense that ranked 13th nationally in rushing, the Aggies were expected to be able to consistently run the ball. But they floundered again last week, producing 20 yards against Texas Tech -- the lowest for any A&M team in nearly nine seasons. A&M's rushing offense ranks 100th nationally. Can it be resuscitated against an Iowa State run defense that ranks 95th in the country?
7. Will Oklahoma State finally break down the door against Texas? The Cowboys have blown huge leads in three of the last four seasons against the Longhorns, including a 21-point advantage early in the fourth quarter last season against them in Stillwater. OSU obviously has confidence it can make big plays and have success against the Longhorns. But can the Cowboys hold a lead if they get one Saturday in Austin with that mental baggage still around them?
8. The matchup between Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe -- Crabtree and Briscoe were almost college teammates as Crabtree considered attending Kansas before opting to go to Tech. Crabtree won the Biletnikoff Award last season and is poised for a big game against Kansas' leaky secondary. And Briscoe is coming off a school record-breaking 12-reception, 269-yard game last week against Oklahoma. The Big 12 record for single-game receiving yards is 300 yards set by Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman against Kansas in 2006. It might be challenged by either Crabtree or Briscoe on Saturday.
9. Colorado's quarterback rotation -- Coach Dan Hawkins navigated the ticklish situation of benching his son, Cody, for freshman quarterback Tyler Hansen last week. The combination helped lead the Buffaloes to a gritty victory over Kansas State. How will Hawkins handle juggling his quarterbacks against Missouri in a virtual North Division title elimination game for the loser?
10. Josh Freeman's slump -- The Kansas State quarterback has struggled recently and has not thrown a touchdown pass since the opening possession against Texas Tech on Oct. 4. Since then, Freeman has gone 92 passes without a touchdown pass during a span that has stretched for nearly three games. He'll be facing an Oklahoma pass defense that has struggled recently before storming back to force five straight punts down the stretch to seal the victory against Kansas last week. Freeman must find his groove if the Wildcats have any hopes of notching the upset over the Sooners.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a look at some tidbits from around the league that are transpiring as teams get ready for games this week.
1. Both Kansas and Oklahoma have added more playmakers to their special teams after recent struggles for both teams covering and returning kickoffs. Bob Stoops plans to add four new members to his kick coverage team that has been blistered for two TD returns, including a pivotal 96-yard return by Texas' Jordan Shipley last week that turned the game around. And Kansas coach Mark Mangino has talked about placing starters like James Holt and Joe Mortensen on his special teams as the Jayhawks rank last in the nation in kick returns. The Jayhawks are averaging 12.4 yards per kickoff -- almost three yards per return less than the next-lowest team, Kent State at 118th.
2. Iowa State has inserted freshman Jerome Tiller as its backup quarterback after Phillip Bates left school. Coach Gene Chizik hopes that he can still make it through the season using only Austen Arnaud as the quarterback and keeping the redshirts intact for Tiller and fellow freshman Bret Bueker. Early word is that Bates likely won't resurface at another Big 12 school because it would cost him an additional season in the transfer. A more likely location would be a FCS school where he could play immediately or an FBS school like Ohio University, where his family already has a strong association with coach Frank Solich. Bates' father, Phillip Bates Sr., was a running back at Nebraska who played there when Solich was his position coach under Tom Osborne.
3. Texas ditched using a tight end in favor of a four-wide receiver look as its base offensive formation against Oklahoma. And the unit's success -- 438 total yards and 20 combined catches from Quan Cosby and Shipley -- make it likely to be used more during the rest of the season. Starting tight end Blaine Irby's season-ending injury robbed the Longhorns of their top receiving threat at the position. The four-receiver sets have made the Longhorns lethal in terms of big-play capabilities, but a little weaker trying to consistently run the ball.
4. Considering the recent injury to Lamark Brown, it wasn't surprising that quarterback Josh Freeman emerged as a key rushing threat in the Wildcats' victory last week over Texas A&M. Freeman produced career-high totals of 18 carries, 95 yards and four rushing touchdowns against the Aggies. In the philosophy of Kansas State quarterbacks coach Warren Ruggiero and offensive coordinator Dave Brock, the quarterback is used as more of a rushing weapon. Freeman has gained positive rushing yards in each of his six starts this season. Before this season, Freeman had netted positive yards in only eight of his 20 previous career starts.
5. Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is doing what he can to instill discipline on his team, even if it affects its performance in the short term. Key players Michael Bennett and Mike Goodson weren't in the starting lineup last week against Kansas State after discipline issues, paving the way for the Wildcats to jump to an early 27-3 lead over Sherman's beleaguered team. Sherman is hoping that his struggles bottom out as he tries to make the Aggies know they've got a firm leader running the program.