Big 12: Mike Price

Chill out, Isaac. Please.

Big 12 internal affairs: Buffs changing to more athletic secondary

September, 30, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Here's a look at some of the under-the-radar topics that people are talking about across the Big 12:
  • Colorado coaches are hopeful the insertion of cornerback Ben Burney into the lineup at strong safety with cornerbacks Cha'pelle Brown and Jimmy Smith will provide the Buffaloes with a more athletic secondary that will be more productive as it prepares for the Big 12’s high-powered passing attacks. The retooled group will get its first big test Thursday night when it challenges West Virginia’s talented pitch-and-catch tandem of quarterback Jarrett Brown and receiver Jock Sanders.
  • The versatility of Texas’ offense was shown against UTEP when the Longhorns produced 300 rushing and passing yards for only the second time in school history. The only other time came against Houston in 1990. It showed the versatility and depth of Texas’ running and passing offense. The Longhorns’ ability to effectively do both was what UTEP coach Mike Price was raving about after the game -- shortly after he called Texas the best team in the country.
  • It might be time for Harris Interactive Poll voters to take a sobriety test after their first poll results were released this week. Is it my imagination, or could you think of a less-likely team to receive votes in a national poll than Kansas State, which is tied for 42nd in the most recent Harris poll with two points? Yes, that would be the same Kansas State that has yet to beat an FBS opponent this season with its only victories over FCS teams Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech.
  • Concern for Kansas’ offensive line remains the Jayhawks’ most worrisome problem during their week off. The Jayhawks allowed five sacks of Todd Reesing against Southern Mississippi. Considering Reesing’s slight size, his health could be in risk unless the Jayhawks improve their pass-blocking tendencies pronto. But the return of Jake Sharp to the starting lineup could improve some of the blitz pickups by Kansas’ running backs.
  • Nebraska’s pass-rushing packages are rounding into shape after they notched two sacks against Louisiana-Lafayette -- the first sacks against quarterback Chris Masson this season. After being shut out in the season opener, the Cornhuskers have rebounded to notch 10 sacks over the last three weeks. Most impressively, nine different players have shared in that largesse of sacks.
  • The loss of top Iowa State pass rusher Rashawn Parker with a season-ending knee injury could have some serious consequences for the Cyclones. Parker had provided the most consistent pass-rushing threat and will be missed during the rest of the season. His replacement will be sophomore Patrick Neal, a converted tight end who snagged a touchdown grab last season against Missouri.
  • Oklahoma State’s offensive line showed some continuity against Grambling, playing with the same group as it had last week. It marked the first time this season that the Cowboys have started the same five players along the offensive front in back-to-back weeks.
  • One underrated impressive trend for Texas A&M in their blowout victory over UAB was that the Aggies were penalized only three times. That effort came after the Aggies came into the game leading the nation with 30 penalties in their first two games. A&M coaches made a special efforts in game preparations last week to limit mental mistakes. The results were seen in the Aggies’ clean performance over the Blazers.

How about Texas-USC in the future?

September, 24, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

All of the snide comments about Texas' weak non-conference schedule have hit a nerve with the powers that be in Austin.

The Longhorns apparently are in the midst of serious negotiations with USC for a future home-and-home series that could be held in 2019-20.

The Austin American-Stateman reports that the Longhorns aren't merely satisfied with recent series with California and Minnesota. A chance to play the Trojans for the first time since the classic 2006 BCS title game that culminated the 2005 season would be something both schools would be interested in.

"USC is talking to a lot of schools — including Texas — about future football scheduling,” USC spokesman Tim Tessalone told the Statesman. “Nothing has been decided or finalized.”

The Trojans have shown more of a willingness to play top schools in home-and-home series than any other major national power in recent seasons. A potential game against the Longhorns would be a classic.

And as the Longhorns prepare for UTEP and the Trojans will meet Washington State this weekend, it's too bad the teams couldn't trade their opponents and meet other. How cool would it be for USC and Texas to be playing on Saturday and the chance to watch Mike Price and UTEP meet up with his old school at Washington State would be pretty neat, too.

Fanciful dreaming, I guess.

Why the coaches' poll votes must be made public

May, 28, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

The realization came a few years ago, early one morning in the Lubbock airport, when I thought nobody could have cared what I was doing.

After a long night of covering Texas Tech, I was scheduled on the first flight back home the following morning. But before I left, I knew I had to take care of something.

As I went to a bank of pay telephones back in those pre-cellular phone days, I mumbled off my list of 25 teams to the Associated Press desker in New York City. I usually tried to get my vote in by 9 a.m. -- always settling on them the night before but always looking at them one more time the following morning before I submitted them.

The teams tumbled out in my order for the week. After I finished, I tried to relax for a couple of minutes before my flight left until an elderly man tapped me on my shoulder.

"Excuse me, sir," the man said. "I think you had Michigan ranked too high this week. And West Virginia, they were way too low."

How the fellow passenger had determined I was a voter, I had no idea. But he -- as do most college football fans at that time of the year -- had his own idea how the polls should be voted. And fans don't hesitate to tell you about it, either, in person or by e-mail.

That idea infused me with the thought of how important some considered my vote. As such, I knew the kind of diligence the poll deserved if I was voting.

And the idea that my vote was being made public each week made me take even more care in trying to get things right in my mind. Because, I knew I would hear something if it was skewed.

This is why I think the American Football Coaches Association's decision to keep their final votes private is so wrong.

Horribly wrong, in fact.

Not making the votes public robs the poll of its greatest attribute -- its credibility. When that is stripped away, the poll loses its relevance.

AFCA executive director Grant Teaff argues differently.

"Why do you think they have voting booths," Teaff told the Tulsa World. "Why do you think they have curtains around voting booths? Experts believe that's the truest way of getting the purest vote. That's what coaches are after."

Teaff is wrong in his thinking. Horribly wrong, in fact. 

(Read full post)

USA Today Coaches' poll raises a few eyebrows

December, 8, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

One of interesting items that always comes up this time of year is the release of the ballots following the final regular-season balloting of the USA Today Coaches' poll. It provides you a good handle of what some coaches really think about other teams.

And it also could lead you to wonder if coaches might remember grudges or occasionally vote their friends or conference teams a little too highly -- or lowly.

There's nothing at all wrong with this, of course. But it does provide some interesting day-after conversation, particularly when the vote ends up being as close as Oklahoma's one-point victory over Florida for first place.

Take a look at how the coaches considered the Big 12 teams in the poll.

Oklahoma: The Sooners claimed the title at the end of the year by one vote, claiming 31 first-place ballots to 26 for second-place Florida.

Most of the Big 12's coaches held firm with the Sooners as the best team. It's no surprise that Gary Pinkel would vote them that highly less than 12 hours after his team had been thumped 62-21 by the Sooners in the Big 12 championship game. Art Briles, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach and Bo Pelini all voted for Stoops. And in the spirit of full disclosure, it should be noted that Leach and Pelini both worked as assistants under Stoops and Briles worked under Leach, making him a second-generation descendant of the Stoops coaching tree.

The Sooners were listed fourth on UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel's ballot and third on 11 others, including the ballot of Texas coach Mack Brown.

Texas: Four first-place votes helped push the Longhorns to third place. One of them didn't come from Brown, who voted with his conscience rather than giving his team the maximum number of points. He voted his team second, behind Florida and in front of Oklahoma.

Texas' four first-place votes came from Gene Chizik, Todd Dodge, Neuheisel and Mike Price of UTEP. Chizik coached under Brown before taking the Iowa State job. Dodge played for Texas. And Price played against the Longhorns earlier this season, losing 42-13 in a game that was considered the biggest home football game in the Miners' history.  

The Longhorns' lowest votes were fifth, given by four coaches -- Briles, Leach, Rutgers' Greg Schiano and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders finished in eighth place, two points behind Utah. Their highest votes were the second-place ballot cast by Leach for his own team and a third-place vote delivered by New Mexico State's Hal Mumme, whom Leach worked with at several jobs earlier in his career.

Nobody else had the Red Raiders higher than sixth. Among the 12 coaches who had Tech at sixth place were Briles, Chizik, Pelini and Pinkel. Brown had the Red Raiders eighth.

But their lowest vote was 11th, cast by TCU's Gary Patterson. The Red Raiders delivered a 70-35 whipping to the Horned Frogs in 2004. It remains the most points ever allowed by a Patterson-coached team and the worst defeat in his head-coaching career.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys finished the regular season 14th. The voting wasn't as varied on them as some others. Their highest vote was 11th, provided by Briles, Pinkel and former Oklahoma State and current LSU coach Les Miles. Their lowest was a 20th place vote from Florida International's Mario Cristobal. I have no explanation for that.

Missouri: Despite losing by 41 points in the Big 12 championship game, the Tigers fell only six spaces in the coaches' poll. They had fallen six places the previous week from 11th to 17th when they lost to Kansas.

Interesting, the highest ranking the Tigers got was an 11th-place vote from departing Washington coach Tyrone Willingham. Maybe there was a show of loyalty for Pinkel, a one-time Washington offensive coordinator under Don James. Other than that, the Tigers' highest votes were three 18th-place votes cast by Pinkel, Schiano and Patterson.

Missouri was left off the ballots of 12 coaches, including those of Brown and Leach.

It's always intriguing to look at these votes. The transparency provides some interesting fodder and a more interesting way to determine how coaches look at their opponents -- and their rival coaches.

Big 12 links: Conference should have easy week

September, 6, 2008

Posted by's Tim Griffin

RENO, Nev. -- Sorry for the delay this morning, but the sun was barely creeping over the nearby Sierra Nevadas when I started this. Also, with only four games played in the conference before this evening, most fans should be taking a similarly leisurely game-day routine.

With most Big 12 teams taking a trip to the pastry wagon this week, here are some delectable links almost tasty as the cupcakes being served at most places around the conference.

  • The multifaceted Oklahoma offense is described by the Oklahoman's Jake Trotter as college football's version of the Swiss army knife. The Sooners' offensive versatility will be tested by Cincinnati, even if many Sooners don't know which conference the Bearcats are members of.
  • Renovated Boone Pickens Stadium is officially a big house -- at least in Big 12 terms -- with 60,000 seats. The new configuration should result in increased reverberation Saturday night against Houston because of the configuration of the new seats.
  • New Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp led his team through a Sunday night walkthrough, something that hadn't been done around Austin before. That came after an impressive opening-game victory that had UTEP coach Mike Price thinking the Longhorns had 14 defenders as he watched the game film.
  • Texas A&M is seeking redemption this week at New Mexico, despite a frustrating recent history of struggling in nonconference road games.
  • Nebraska remains confident in its running game, despite producing the second-lowest rushing total in an opener in 30 years last week and netting 3 or more yards on only 13 of 31 carries. Maybe that's why San Jose State coach Dick Tomey admitted to the San Jose Mercury News this week that he dropped Tennessee and added Nebraska to the schedule because he thought it's a more winnable game.
  • Nevada's pass defense shouldn't be intimidated against Texas Tech's high-powered aerial attack, considering the Wolf Pack played four of the nation's top 11 passing offenses last season.
  • Missouri fans are excited about the Tigers' home opener against Southeast Missouri State -- to the tune of a record 40,000 season tickets sold. One of the more intriguing story lines today will be who gets the snaps behind QB Chase Daniel once the Tigers get the game under control. 
  • Baylor players know they can't overlook any opponent, especially after their first-game struggles. Their nine-game losing streak heading into Saturday's game against Northwestern State ties the school's longest since dropping 10 straight in 1998-99.
  • The Boulder Daily Camera's Neill Woelk says it's time to forget about the last time Colorado played a Football Championship Subdivision opponent -- even if ESPN the Magazine still expects a rough game for the Buffaloes today against Eastern Washington.
  • The Topeka Capital Journal's Austin Meek writes about how a Montana State kicker once converted 17 field goals in a game. I guess that's not a surprise from a school that produced NFL Hall of Fame K Jan Stenerud.
  • Times have changed at Memorial Stadium for Kansas games, where Louisiana Tech players who played there in 2005 will hardly recognize the place since the Jayhawks' recent success.
  • Iowa State CB Devin McDowell has waited a long time to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, former All-Big 12 CB DeAndre Jackson. His Cyclones are intent on gaining revenge Saturday for last year's loss to Kent State.