Big 12: Mike McKinney
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The glory days of Oklahoma football were remembered this weekend in a personal appearance where all five national championship winning quarterbacks for the Sooners appeared.
Hundreds of fans from across the state lined up for several hours for the chance to meet the players who quarterbacked those seven national championship winners -- Claude Arnold, Jimmy Harris, Steve Davis, Jamelle Holieway and Josh Heupel.
Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts could not allow all five players to be present at the same time. But the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel wrote an interesting story about reliving so much Sooner history in one place on Sunday with all of the quarterbacks.
Sam Bradford hopes to be able to join that fraternity this year. He's already made history by becoming one of two Oklahoma Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks with Jason White. And Bradford already is the only Sooner quarterback to lead his team to back-to-back Big 12 titles.
But before that plays out, there's plenty of time for some lunchtime links. And we have a strong collection for this afternoon.
- Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads isn't buying the dire predictions being forecast for his team, Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler writes. And Keeler predicts that Rhoads will be a 'quote machine' at his press conferences during his coaching tenure with the Cyclones.
- Tully Corcoran of the Topeka Capital-Journal wonders who's the biggest man on Kansas' campus -- Todd Reesing or Sherron Collins.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's staff kicks around some comments about the apparent end of the Missouri-Illinois rivalry.
- The Oklahoman's Jake Trotter lists five players who are poised to emerge for the Sooners this season.
- The Williams and Hyatt Show Blog has a great take on the Mike McKinney vs. Elsa Murano showdown taking place these days in the Texas A&M administration.
- The Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter ranks the Big 12's top 12 receivers.
- The Omaha World-Herald's Jon Nyatawa catches up with Kenny Wilson, once a heralded Nebraska I-back prospect before injuries ravaged his college career.
- Missouri quarterback Blaine Dalton paid $387 in fines on three misdemeanor charges of possessing an unopened can of beer, failure to stay on the right side of the highway at all times and failure to register his car in Boone County. The Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond reports that Dalton's suspension has been lifted and he has rejoined the Tigers' football program.
- Colorado and Colorado State are mulling a 10-year extension of their football rivalry, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Camera reports.
- The Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson lists the top 64 players in Iowa State history.
- Iliana Limon of the Orlando Sentinel ranks Oklahoma as one of the 12 teams she loves to hate.
- Standout Cahokia (Mo.) wide receiver Jimmie Hunt has committed to Missouri, Nate Latsch of the St. Louis Post-Disptach reports. Hunt caught 34 passes for 905 yards (26.6 yards per catch) and scored 18 touchdowns last season as a junior -- including one on a kick return.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Fom the outside, Texas A&M's athletic program looks strong and vibrant.
The Aggies have slumped recently at football, but still averaged 82,193 per game to rank 14th nationally in attendance. They played to 99.03 percent capacity at Kyle Field.
The men's and women's basketball teams have never been stronger, and the baseball team had a solid season. A&M is in 20th place in the most recent Learfield Sports Directors' Cup with a large infusion of points to be added from the school's men's national golf championship.
But under the seemingly tranquil surface, there are several ominous factors.
Robert Cessna of the Bryan Eagle had an interesting blog post this morning about a $16 million line of credit that former Texas A&M president Robert Gates gave to the athletic department before leaving his job to become the Secretary of Defense in 2006.
Like Cessna, I'm wondering where the money has been going. I would have thought the A&M athletic program was close to being self-sufficient considering all of the positive signs that seemingly abound around the school.
And the most intriguing fact is this: The credit was extended while Gates was the president of the school. That was obviously before the recent malaise in the economy really kicked in.
It's an item that was detailed by current A&M president Elsa Murano in her annual evaluation from A&M chancellor Mike McKinney.
That relationship between Murano and McKinney appears to have gotten rockier over the last few months, according to Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle.
McKinney has a huge vested interest in the A&M football program, considering both of his sons played there. He was also actively involved in luring Mike Sherman back to the school from the NFL. Sherman was the offensive line coach during some of the time his sons were playing for the Aggies.
It could be argued that McKinney might be Sherman's best friend in the Aggies' upper administration. And if McKinney's role expands in A&M's hierarchy, it can't hurt Sherman.
All of this is playing out, however, as the Aggies struggle on the field more than at any time in recent history.
The Big 12 South has never been more competitive in football. Oklahoma and Texas are at the highest levels in history considering their national success. Texas Tech assuredly is at its peak.
Oklahoma State could be there with the breakthrough season many are predicting for the Cowboysn. And the resurgent Baylor program under Art Briles appears to be nipping at the heels of A&M and poised to overtake them if they can make their first bowl appearance since 1994 and the Aggies are shut out again.
Various national blogs are chiming in about the demise in Aggieland.
CollegeFootballNews.com ranks the A&M program as one of the five in the nation that do the least with the most in terms of football achievement.
CFN commentator Pete Fiutak has this to say on why A&M is struggling in football:
The short answer to why not Texas A&M is simple: Texas and Oklahoma. But if Texas Tech can become a power, even though it needs a gimmick to do it, then there's no reason the Aggies shouldn't be getting their share of top Texas talent, especially from the Houston area, and be a player in the Big 12 South race once in while.
But those comments were tame compared to those of his CFN colleague, Richard Cirminiello:
Can someone kindly explain to me why Texas A&M hasn't been able to get its act together this century?
The Aggies have all kinds of built-in advantages, but haven't been able to capitalize in a long time. They reside in one of the most talent-rich areas of the country, boast a loyal fan base, and sport a rich set of traditions. Yet, the program is no longer in Texas' league, has fallen way behind Texas Tech, and is in danger of being caught by Baylor.
It just doesn't make a lot of sense. You want tangible proof? Take a look at some interesting numbers. Since 1999, Texas A&M has sent 37 players to the NFL, a very healthy number unless you're Ohio State, USC, or Florida. However, it's averaged a paltry six wins a year over that span, and has a Gallery Furniture Bowl victory as its lone postseason triumph. That's a pathetic example of how little the Aggies have milked from their talent pool.
Sherman desperately needs a bowl appearance this season after last season's 4-8 record. It will be one of the biggest challenges in college football considering the relative strength of the South Division.
Can he turn things around?
His job security may depend on it.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final North Dakota State 34 Iowa State 14 Final West Virginia 23 2 Alabama 33 Final Louisiana Tech 16 4 Oklahoma 48 Final Samford 14 TCU 48 Final Central Arkansas 35 Texas Tech 42 Final Stephen F. Austin 16 20 Kansas State 55 Final North Texas 7 Texas 38 Final 1 Florida State 37 Oklahoma State 31