Big 12: Nolan Crowell
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
As we continue our trip through the North Division, I figured today would be a good time to catch up with some of the correspondence that's piled up between preview stories and traveling across the highways of the Midwest, looking for the Big 12's next great player and a Runza Restaurant between stops.
Here a look at a few of the most recent missives directed my way.
Juan from Austin writes: Puhleeze! I've said it before and I'll say it again. How can you even think about mentioning Colt McCoy in the same breath as the others for Heisman consideration?
Tim Griffin: I still see what McCoy was able to do two seasons ago when he tied the NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes (which was broken last season by Oklahoma's Sam Bradford). McCoy showed me a new maturity when I talked to him in Kansas City last month at the Big 12's Media Days. He'll be asked to do more with an inexperienced group of skill-position players.
But remember something about how the Texas program shapes national perceptions. If McCoy has a big season and the Longhorns are in South Division contention, he'll get most of the credit for it. And as such, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he's a Heisman contender. Admittedly he's fifth of the "Big Five" Big 12 quarterbacks, but he still has a shot.
Willis from Overland Park, KS writes: The complete and ongoing lack of mention of Kansas State QB Josh Freeman is absurd. What kind of stats does a true sophomore like him have to put up to be considers as good as "cough, cough" Todd Reesing.
Tim Griffin: Willis, how about 12-1, which is the record that Reesing led the Jayhawks to last season, compared to KSU's 5-7 mark. That would be a start. And also how about Reesing's 33-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio last season, compared to Freeman's 18-11 ratio.
Dakota from San Antonio writes: Will Art Briles do the unthinkable and turn around a miserable Baylor program? And if so, when can we expect it to happen?
Tim Griffin: This is going to be the biggest challenge of Briles' coaching career -- one that obviously isn't for the faint-hearted. For Baylor to emerge as a bowl threat, they are going to have to schedule down a little. While playing games against Wake Forest and Connecticut will be good for the program's exposure, they are going to have do something in those games. Like Briles said earlier this summer, his team needs to provide a victory or two that makes people stop for a minute the following day as they are looking at their sports page or reading the computer.
For Baylor to ever become a consistent power, somebody in the South Division is going to have to step back. I just don't see it at this time with strong coaching and facility growth across the conference. If Briles can turn around the Bears, it will make what Grant Teaff did in the old Southwest Conference appear rather small.
The Chief from Savannah, Ga., writes - Tim, I love your blog. I really believe Texas A&M will beat Miami this season? Am I wrong?
Tim Griffin: I think that the Aggies have a great shot. Particularly with A&M president Elsa Murano telling new A&M coach Mike Sherman how much she'd love to see him beat her old hometown team. Nothing like a little pressure from your boss to keep you up late at night, working on diagramming some new plays or blocking schemes.
And it also won't hurt that the game is at Kyle Field and that Miami is a shell of the national contender it used to be.
Tony from Kansas writes: Tommie Frazier from Nebraska absolutely wouldn't lose. Why didn't you include him on your clutch list?
Tim Griffin: It's a good choice, but I was limited to players who had seen action in the Big 12. Or else, I could have included Ed Hargett, Bobby Layne or even Darrell Royal -- as a player or as a coach.
Steve from Duncanville writes: Hey Tim, I loved your story about how the Big 12 recruits so heavily in Texas. Is there any way you can break those figures down to show all of the different states that are included. Many thanks.
Tim Griffin: Steve, I'll be glad to do that. Thanks for the idea. Although it sounds vaguely like something a recruiting service would do, doesn't it?
Mr. Unknown writes: Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill didn't charge anything, his stats weren't that good, that is a myth started by Mike Leach. And how can Nolan Cromwell, the wide receiver coach for Mike Holmgren the last 8 or 9 years and Tom Rossley, Brett Favre's quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for seven years at Green Bay. How can those guys not be in the top five? Your list was ridiculous.
Tim Griffin: I think you're wrong on this. The Tech defense was noticeable better down the stretch, peaking in impressive victories over Oklahoma and Virginia in the Gator Bowl. And you have a point about Rossley, although Cromwell has never been a college coach before. I'll withhold my opinion about his work until he coaches a few games at this level. That's why I didn't include him on my list.
Shadowman from Kansas City writes: Now I know everyone in the Big 12 (especially the North) hates the Huskers. Does this mean that every site has to claim we will be horrible (losing season) for Pelini's first season? Marlon Lucky is returning for his senior year and some are mentioning him as a possible preseason Heisman candidate, Joe Ganz coming in with a bit of experience from the last season, a solid defensive line, and Pelini who has a tendency to work with kids to shut down the pass, how do we not have the chance to succeed and maybe challenge for the Big 12 North?
Tim Griffin: Lucky is going to be pushed to start this year by Roy Helu Jr. And that defensive line took a hit when top back Kevin Dixon was kicked off the team Monday for a violation of team rules.
I think Bo Pelini will have the Cornhuskers flying around the ball this season. But the talent he inherited leads me to believe he should be up for Coach of the Year honors if he can win eight or nine games with this team.
Roger from Sulphur, La., writes: Tim, if you're going to cover college sports in this manner, you should've stayed covering the Big 12. Please, what kind of BS is this? Granted, the Big 12 has some quality teams, but top to bottom - no comparison with the SEC.
Tim Griffin: Roger, I appreciate your sentiments, but I couldn't help but detect your hometown and wonder if it was tinged just a bit with a touch of hometown jambalaya. And I wonder if you noticed the Big 12 had five teams ranked in the top 14 in the USA Today coaches' poll last week.
But I agree with your sentiments about the SEC's up-and-down strength. I think the Big 12 is stronger at the top, but the SEC might have the nod when you include all 12 teams.
And please tell me that my colleague Chris Low didn't put you up to that.
That's all for this time. Keep the letters coming.