Big 12: Reggie White

Heisman choice will be most difficult in recent memory

December, 7, 2009
12/07/09
12:16
PM ET
Heisman Trophy ballots are due today. I know because I got a call during the middle of the BCS selection show at my home last night reminding me.

Talk about the perfect time to catch a sportswriter at home. The Heisman Trust must be taking clues from the best telemarketers around.

My Heisman ballot is still sitting in front of me. I have until 5 p.m. this afternoon to make a vote which might be the most difficult in my 12 years as a voter.

After last week’s game at Texas A&M, I was ready to vote Colt McCoy by acclimation. Watching him pass and run through that weak Aggie defense convinced me he was the most worthy candidate.

Even after watching big games by Toby Gerhart, C.J. Spiller and the rest, I was ready to vote for McCoy.

But after watching the games on Saturday, I was glad I held off.

After watching McCoy struggle through his worst game of the season it gave me pause on whether to vote for him. After throwing three interceptions and being sacked nine times, it wasn’t the most robust of all Heisman statements.

Some of the sacks were cheap ones when he was stopped a yard or two behind the line after scrambling. His first interception was tipped and the third interception came after Dejon Gomes wrestled the ball away from the Texas receiver on the play.

Obviously, if there was something that awarded lifetime achievement in college football, McCoy would be an easy choice. He’s the Peyton Manning of this era, a player who has accomplished alot. But the Heisman rewards just this season, and that’s where the rub is.

Ndamukong Suh was a one-man demolition crew in the Big 12 title game, racking up 4.5 sacks and a team-high 12 tackles. He’s been the best defensive player I’ve seen over the course of any Big 12 season. He reminds me of when Reggie White is at the highest of levels.

Gerhart has brought the run back at Stanford in a traditionally pass-heavy conference. I wish I could vote after watching him play Oklahoma’s solid run defense to give me an idea of what he could do against a known commodity in my mind. But he’s had a spectacularly strong season.

Spiller makes me gasp with his talents as a runner, receiver and returner. He makes the Atlantic Coast football games must-see television to me.

And Mark Ingram had a huge game for Alabama in the SEC championship game, helping power the Crimson Tide to the title with his running and catching abilities.

I’ve never waited until the last day like this to make my final pick on the Heisman. But this is undoubtedly the most difficult choice I’ve had.

I’ve got until 5 p.m. ET to make my final decision. I’ll probably use every minute I can.

Whatever happened to the Big 12's workhorse backs?

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
5:29
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It might be the most endangered species this side of the American bison.

True workhorse running backs are disappearing across the nation, but particularly in the Big 12.

It's a marked contrast from the past where many Big 12 teams would rely on one major back to account for much of its running production.

Even the expansion of spread offenses can't be blamed entirely for this predicament. If anything, the overabundance of passing attacks should make it easier for one back to dominate carries because most teams are utilizing fewer running plays than ever before.

Here's an indication of how skewed the statistics were last season in the Big 12. Only four backs accounted for at least 40 percent of their team's rushing totals.

Texas Tech's Shannon Woods led all Big 12 backs last season with 44.5 percent of his team's carries -- 141 totes among Texas Tech's 317 rushing attempts.That total is the smallest for a leader in the Big 12 in the conference's history.

Consider only four years ago that nine Big 12 backs accounted for 40 percent of their team's carries in 2004 and seven backs that season topped 50 percent of their team's running plays.

But in today's Big 12, coaches are opting to predominantly use a rotation of backs. Teams like Nebraska (Quentin Castille and Roy Helu Jr.), Oklahoma (DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown) and Texas (Vondrell McGee, Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and freshman Chris Whaley) all are expected to rotate carries in 2009.

Here's a look at how those numbers have changed during the Big 12's history.

(Read full post)

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