Big 12: Ruffin McNeill
Leach gave Texas Tech an identity, a national presence that people couldn't seem to get enough of, from the TV show "Friday Night Lights" to a segment on"60 Minutes."
Though Mike Wallace might not be paying Jones AT&T Stadium a visit anytime soon, plenty of Texas Tech fans will. The university has sold 27,570 season tickets three months before the season begins, only a few shy of the record-high 30,000 set in 2008, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Texas Tech has a pretty good home schedule in 2010, hosting Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Houston, which might help that number, but it doesn't explain a record.
“Coach (Tommy) Tuberville has done an excellent job of getting out and talking about their new program,” Craig Wells, Tech’s associate athletic director told the Avalanche-Journal.
Tuberville is the reason why the sales are up, but him getting on the road and talking about it isn't going to make 30,000 people shell out their money for his product.
Wells says a new 6,000 seat addition with "affordable" seats helped. No argument here.
But the overwhelming reason is simple: People are excited. Getting people excited isn't simple, but Tech seems to have done it. While the excitement for the team's success probably isn't at the level it was in 2008, it's still high. Getting a coach with a big name like Tuberville, whether he gets out and meets people, was a move that's going to fatten the university's wallet. It's also one that saved them from a post-Leach disaster. The university has already won, even if Tuberville's team doesn't. While the hire may not have been a home run in the eyes of the media, these ticket sales suggest Red Raider fans disagree.
All other credentials aside, a coach like Ruffin McNeill, Sonny Dykes, Art Briles or Kevin Sumlin could have done that. Tuberville, even after his ouster at Auburn, still has an air of legitimacy and an undefeated season in the SEC, even if his style didn't mesh with what the folks in Lubbock were used to seeing for the past decade.There's hope that Tuberville could take Tech where they've never been before, just as he did at Auburn in a jam-packed, competitive SEC West that's similar to the Big 12 South.
They want to see what Tuberville is capable putting on the field. Now, it's up to him to make them happy and keep that ticket number high -- or perhaps higher -- in his second season.
2009 conference record: 5-3
Returning starters: Offense (7), Defense (6) P/K (2)
Top returners: QB Steven Sheffield, WR Detron Lewis, QB Taylor Potts, RB Baron Batch, WR Alex Torres, CB LaRon Moore, DT Colby Whitlock, LB Brian Duncan, LB Bront Bird
Key losses: DE Brandon Sharpe, OL Brandon Carter, CB Jamar Wall, OL Marlon Winn, LB Marlon Williams, DE Daniel Howard
2009 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Baron Batch* (884 yards)
Passing: Taylor Potts* (3,440 yards)
Receiving: Detron Lewis* (844 yards)
Tackles: Brian Duncan* (87)
Sacks: Brandon Sharpe (15)
Interceptions: Franklin Mitchem*, LaRon Moore*, Jamar Wall (2)
Three spring answers
1. Business as usual. The offense will remain the same under new coordinator Neal Brown, like he said it would. Other than differences in terminology and how plays are relayed to the quarterback, the offense will be similar to former coach Mike Leach’s. One big difference is that quarterbacks will have the green light to tuck the ball and run if the opportunity arises.
2. Let's run this town. Brown says the Red Raiders will run more next season. The main reason is his offense’s depth at running back. Texas Tech has three running backs who could be factors in leading rusher Baron Batch, as well as sophomores Harrison Jeffers and Eric Stephens. The pass will still be king in Lubbock, but the running game will likely be featured more than it ever was under Leach.
3. Taking out their aggression. Former defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill is gone to East Carolina. He took with him his bend-but-don’t-break defensive approach. Now, Texas Tech will be dictating the action with former Alabama linebackers coach James Willis coordinating the defense. He helped the Crimson Tide win a national title in 2009 with his blitz-happy schemes that force defenses to make difficult throws instead of preventing the big play at the cost of giving up underneath passes.
Three fall questions
1. What happens once the QBs become healthy again? Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts’ battle for the QB job ended early this spring when Sheffied re-broke his foot and Taylor Potts suffered a serious laceration to his throwing hand. Both underwent surgery midway through the team’s 15 practices and did little to settle the quarterback debate. Sheffield likely had a slight edge when the two were injured, but they’ll pick up where they left off—this time with more urgency—in the fall.
2. What happens if Brown’s offense stalls? The offense, even directed by two inexperienced quarterbacks, flourished late in the spring. But if Sheffield or Potts are unable to complete a high enough percentage of their passes or move the ball, will the Red Raiders depend even more on the run? If the offense doesn’t continue its run of piling up gawdy numbers against Big 12 defenses, will the spread return in 2011?
3. Will Tech fans embrace Tommy Tuberville? Mike Leach was perhaps the most beloved figure in the history of the program. Among the fans, at least. Will the fans cozy up to his less colorful, less quotable replacement? If he wins, it’ll be easy. Tuberville’s been historically more successful than Leach, but the bar in Lubbock has been set by Leach, who won more games than any coach in Texas Tech history.
Willis' more aggressive defense focuses on pressuring the quarterback, forcing runs to the flats and making passers complete difficult, deeper throws. Texas Tech is missing its two senior quarterbacks, but in a scrimmage on Saturday, sophomore Seth Doege and redshirt freshman Jacob Karam had success.
Both threw five touchdown passes each -- seven longer than 15 yards and three longer than 25 yards. But Willis, in his first spring at Texas Tech, says he's "not at all" concerned with his cornerbacks allowing the high number of scores and big plays. Some of that stems from the situational work during the scrimmage that clearly favored the offense. Only two of the 15 scoring drives for the offense began behind midfield.
"We try to [put] them in spots like that in practice, so when the time comes in game situations they know how to handle it. We don’t want the first time they see those type of things to be on game day," Willis said. "The finishing part, we have to get better at."
New coach Tommy Tuberville has to be impressed by the progress of the offense, keyed by big performances from running back Harrison Jeffers and Alex Torres alongside the quarterbacks.
Jeffers ran for 139 yards on nine carries, scoring on runs of 40 and 29 yards. Torres caught eight passes for 116 yards and four touchdowns. Two came over first-team corner Will Ford.
"It's what the defense gives you," Doege said. "The defense pressed today, so we took a lot of shots down field and it worked for us.’’
Doege and Karam were forced into action by injuries to seniors Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts. Both underwent surgery and will be out until well into summer. Sheffield's surgery repaired a broken foot, while Potts had ligaments repaired. Potts suffered a deep cut to his hand after hitting a teammate's helmet on the follow-through of a pass midway through spring. Both were on hand at Saturday's scrimmage.
They'll be gone after next season, but the 2011 quarterback race is already shaping up to be another great one in Lubbock.
In between all of the signing announcements and the analysis throughout the day, how about some stories from across the Big 12 to keep you occupied throughout your lunch hour and before the news conferences later this afternoon?
- ESPN.com retells some memorable stories from previous National Signing Days, including how Missouri lost Mount San Jacinto Junior College recruit Mike Anderson to Utah.
- Ruffin McNeill has added former Texas Tech coaching staff members Brandon Jones, Clay McGuire and Dennis Simmons to his staff at East Carolina.
- The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Tully Corcoran relates how Turner Gill recruited Keeston Terry and Brandon Bourbon out of the state of Missouri. And the St. Louis Globe-Democrat’s Alvin Reed wonders why Brandon Bourbon turned down Stanford to attend Kansas.
- Defensive backs Lavaughn Whigham and Phillip Warren from Miami Southridge High School, appear ready to commit to Texas Tech, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams reports.
- The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Wiilliam Wilkerson details the story lines of the final day of recruiting.
- Dallas-Fort Worth-area receivers Mike Davis, John Harris, Darius Terrell and Darius White are determined for success once they hit college at Texas, Mark Dent of the Dallas Morning News reports.
- New Kansas State recruits say that the stability fostered by Bill Snyder is a major reason for choosing the Wildcats, Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
- The Denver Post’s Tom Kensler talks with Colorado quarterback recruit Nick Hirschman about arriving early at college and his tutorial work with quarterback guru Bob Johnson. And Hirschman tells the San Jose Mercury-News’ Dennis Knight that he's arrived at Colorado intent on contending for early playing time with the Buffaloes.
- The Lincoln Journal Star breaks down Nebraska’s recruiting class commitments.
- The Boulder Camera’s Kyle Ringo reports that Colorado will learn Wednesday if it can seal a recruiting commitment from quarterback Munchie Legaux of New Orleans. Legaux gave the Buffaloes an early commitment last fall, but is still considering the Buffaloes and Cincinnati.
- Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News has some sobering information about recruiting success that might stop some of the excitement about the top classes that schools will announce today.
- The Dallas Morning News’ Laken Litman analyzes Case McCoy’s chances for playing time at Texas -- as he follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Colt.
- The Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson reports that Iowa State will have its best recruiting class since 2002 with 26 commitments expected.
Here are some lunchtime links to nibble on before we get there.
- Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star relates how Bo Pelini insists on meeting the parents of each of his recruits.
- Zac Robinson tells the Sporting News’ Clifton Brown he’s getting more comfortable taking direct snaps from center at quarterback.
- Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville has added Robert Prunty, the head coach of Hargrave Military Academy, as a defensive assistant, Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
- The Sporting News’ Dave Curtis picks Ruffin McNeill as his man of the month – for leading Texas Tech to a Valero Alamo Bowl victory as interim coach and for being hired as East Carolina’s coach after being passed over by the Red Raiders.
- The Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon analyzes all of the conferences and their Pro Bowl picks. He thinks the Big 12 is a little thin along the offensive line and lacks a downfield receiving threat.
- The Heisman Pundit ranks Oklahoma second, Texas sixth and Nebraska 10th among schools providing an advantage in winning the Heisman.
- Barry Switzer tells some great old recruiting stories in a video interview with the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel.
- The Lincoln Journal Star’s Brian Christopherson reports that Jamal Turner, a junior quarterback from Sam Houston High School in Arlington, Texas, has accepted a Nebraska scholarship offer for the Class of 2011.
- Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder was given the chance by the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten to end speculation that he forced Mike Gundy to hire Dana Holgorsen as his offensive coordinator. Holder had no comment.
- Three-star prospect Dexter McDonald of Rockhurst, Mo., switched his commitment from Missouri to Kansas, the Kansas City Star reports.
- Bob Stoops and his family are protesting the development of 350 acres near their dream home that’s under construction in far northwest Norman, Andrew Knittle of the Norman Transcript reports.
- The Columbia Tribune’s Dave Matter analyzes Missouri’s receiving class of recruits, ranked as high as eighth nationally by one national service.
But here's an idea better than tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich for some warming noontime satisfaction.
Why, of course -- a piping hot selection of Big 12 lunchtime links for your edification.
- The Lawrence Journal-World’s Chuck Woodling pronounces Kansas’ idea of a Gridiron Club as a massive flop.
- The Sporting News’ Matt Hayes ranks East Carolina's hiring of former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill as the best made by a non-BCS school this season.
- It might be January, but football talk dominated the weekly chat by Austin American-Statesman pundits Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden.
- ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel likes the idea of the Hornung Trophy, believing it can honor all-around players who dominated their games like former Missouri player Jeremy Maclin.
- Rising Lakewood (Colo.) linebacker Joe Hemschoot will choose today between Colorado, Oregon and Stanford, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Camera reports.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that documents filed by Texas Tech’s attorneys with the state attorney general’s office indicate that Craig James threatened to sue the school if it didn’t investigate his claims that Mike Leach mistreated an injured student-athlete.
- Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox is listed among five rising players at the Senior Bowl by the Sporting News’ Clifton Brown.
- Running back Lucky Hadley of Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., will visit Texas Tech this weekend, Gerry Gittelson of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Hadley’s other finalists include Clemson, North Carolina and Utah.
- The Lincoln Journal Star's Brian Christopherson writes about some of Nebraska's most notable recruiting losses over the last several years.
- Turner Gill’s $2 million yearly contract makes him the fifth highest-paid coach in the Big 12, according to J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star.
- UTEP athletic director Rob Stull told Zahira Torres of the El Paso Times that the Miners will pocket $1 million for their 2012 game against Texas in Austin.
- John Mackovic of the Palm Springs (Calif.) Desert Sun writes about the nervousness for coaches associated with national signing day.
My doctor tells me that these nuggets are better than orange juice or hot chicken soup to keep away the common cold.
So here's to your health by reading these.
- The Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel reports that Texas turned down the opportunity for a Thursday night game at Nebraska on Oct. 14 that would have been nationally televised by ESPN.
- Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are Matt Hayes’ top four teams in his final installment of his weekly Big 12 rankings.
- Top Nebraska recruit Corey Cooper tells the Lincoln Journal Star’s Brian Christopherson that he will decide on signing day among scholarship offers from the Cornhuskers, Notre Dame, Arizona and Illinois.
- Baylor added strength in the trenches with the addition of recruits Dominque Jones from Midwest City, Okla., and Beau Yap from Honolulu, the Waco Tribune-Herald’s John Werner reports.
- The Boulder Daily Camera’s Neill Woelk opines that the proposed $50 million infusion from boosters could change the face of Colorado’s athletic department.
- Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter tells the San Antonio Express-News’ Brent Zwerneman that his family is excited about moving to College Station for his new job.
- Bob Stoops was torn in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game by the number of his former players playing for both teams, the Tulsa World’s David Sittler reports.
- Former Texas Tech and Memphis assistant Brian Mitchell has joined Ruffin McNeill’s staff at East Carolina, the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector reports.
- Denton (Texas) quarterback and Texas Tech recruit Scotty Young headlines the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s “Fabulous 44” team of top recruits.
- CollegeFootballNews.com analyzes why Colorado’s recruiting efforts appear to be stuck in neutral.
- Former Texas Tech quarterback and broadcaster Sonny Cumbie has been promoted from a graduate assistant to a full-time position as inside receivers coach on coach Tommy Tuberville's staff, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
- The Oklahoman’s Brandon Chatmon analyzes Oklahoma State’s incoming recruiting class.
Look on the bright side. It means a healthy dose of Big 12 lunch links to help you get through the drag of the first day of the work week.
Here's what I've got.
- The Kansas City Star’s Blair Kerkhoff does a nice job of tying up all the details about Missouri's possible move into the Big Ten Conference.
- Todd Reesing and Reggie Stephens didn’t help themselves with their performances at the East-West Shrine Game, the Sporting News’ Russ Lande reports. Lande also notes that Danario Alexander will be in the crosshairs for NFL scouts during practices this week at the Senior Bowl.
- The Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls is surprised that Texas Tech agreed to such a small contract buyout for Tommy Tuberville, among his delightful “nine things and one crazy prediction” for this week.
- Five incoming freshmen have joined Oklahoma’s team with a goal of immediately joining the Sooners’ playing rotation, the Tulsa World’s John Hoover reports.
- The Denver Post’s Woody Paige writes about a booster-initiated plan to raise $50 million for the Colorado football program.
- Colorado’s early struggles in attracting top recruits are detailed by the Denver Post’s Natalie Meisler.
- The Columbia Daily Tribune’s Dave Matter analyzes staff changes across the Big 12 North.
- Nebraska’s strength and conditioning program with James Dobson in charge is analyzed by the Omaha World-Herald’s Rich Kaipust.
- Tim DeRuyter tells the Bryan Eagle’s Richard Croome that he’s confident in his ability to turn around Texas A&M’s defense.
- Sam McKewon of the Nebraska State Paper.com opines that Bo Pelini has to do a better job of recruiting Nebraska's border states.
- Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier tells Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman that the Broncos’ proposed game with Nebraska for 2011 is off, although he is open to playing the Cornhuskers in the future.
- Denny O’Brien of Bonesville.net expects Ruffin McNeill to be a hit at East Carolina.
They happen for a variety of reasons. We'll see them happening across the Big 12 and the nation during the next two weeks.
But two were notable that involved Texas Tech over the weekend.
New Tech coach Tommy Tuberville got his first "true" commitment at his new school when underrated Arkansas quarterback/linebacker Joe Carmical of Monticello, Ark., hooked up with the Red Raiders.
That recruiting attraction was important because Tech had earlier lost defensive end Kedrick Dial of Sulphur Springs, Texas, to conference rival Baylor.
Carmical is an interesting prospect. His 6-foot-2, 231-pound size makes it unlikely he would be used at quarterback or defensive end -- his two primary positions during most of his high school career.
Despite accounting for 39 touchdowns, leading his team to a state championship and playing like a dominant player at times, Carmical didn't garner much recruiting interest. He played a little linebacker as a senior and that's where most college recruiters project him.
But he was intrigued by Tuberville and the schemes of new Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis.
“Coach James Willis came to our house on Monday and we talked for a solid three hours, and the whole time it felt like he was reading my mind,’’ Carmical told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "We agreed on everything.
“Then we got out there and it was a beautiful campus, a strong fan base, people everywhere wearing their hats and talking Tech ball. The stadium was great. That’s where I belong. It fit. It clicked. It was the place I needed to be.’’Tuberville's defensive reputation clearly helped him land Carmical in the whirlwind courtship. It will be his first recruiting product that Tuberville solely attracted to Lubbock without any groundwork from the previous coaching staff.
Earlier, Dial said he chose to attend Baylor when Ruffin McNeill didn't receive Tech's head coaching job. McNeill was one of two finalists for the vacancy after Mike Leach was fired.
That led to Dial opting for Baylor when Tuberville was hired.
“Coach McNeill was like my dad, and he left,” Dial told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “Baylor had tried to recruit me before I committed to Texas Tech last April. But when I visited Baylor this weekend, I loved it. The people here are great, and it’s closer to home.”Tuberville's reputation as a defensive genius helped him gain one prospect. But it came after he lost another player who wanted to play in more familiar surroundings, rather than with Tuberville and his new staff.
Before we head into the weekend, here are some stories that people are talking about across the Big 12.
For your edification, here they are.
- Kansas officials say that have attracted about $4.5 million of the $34 million needed to build the school’s new Gridiron Club at Memorial Stadium, the Lawrence Journal-World’s Mark Fagan reports.
- Former Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory details the various maladies he overcame during his senior season to FanHouse.com’s Brett McMurphy.
- An open records act requested by Lubbock television station KCBD indicates there were no written complaints received about Mike Leach’s treatment of players during his coaching tenure at Texas Tech.
- Former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and former offensive lineman Brandon Jones have joined Mike Gundy’s coaching staff at Oklahoma State in quality control positions, the Oklahoman’s Brandon Chatmon reports.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that former Texas Tech assistant coach and one-game offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley is headed to East Carolina to become offensive coordinator on Ruffin McNeill’s new staff there.
- Nebraska defensive end commit Walker Ashburn will be watching Sunday’s NFC Championship Game with some special interest, the Lincoln Journal Star’s Brian Christopherson reports. Ashburn’s father is the facilities manager for the New Orleans Saints.
- The Omaha World Herald’s Tom Shatel details the first of many battles between Bo Pelini and Turner Gill.
- New Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen tells the Tulsa World’s Bill Haisten he’ll be calling plays for the Cowboys in 2010. And the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel notes how much Holgorsen sounds like his old boss, Mike Leach.
- Colorado offensive lineman Gus Handler and quarterback Clark Evans are facing disciplinary action from Coach Dan Hawkins after both were ticketed by campus police in two unrelated incidents, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera reports.
- Three Big 12 teams dot the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley’s top 25 – Texas at No. 7, Nebraska at No. 9 and Oklahoma at No. 17.
- The Austin American-Statesman’s Danny Davis details how Round Rock (Texas) safety Desmond Martin remains committed to Texas Tech after the coaching change to Tommy Tuberville.
- Bryan Eagle columnist Robert Cessna writes that new Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter doubled his salary with his new job, but quadrupled the expectations associated with it.
Tech was an underrated program on the field, qualifying for a bowl game in every season under Mike Leach.
In building his program, Leach was known for his love of pirates and Sherlock Holmes and many other things that had little to do with football. He was a breath of fresh air in the coaching fraternity.
When he was fired after the 2009 regular season, it was a national story because of its abrupt nature.
The Red Raiders claimed 85 victories during the decade, trailing only Oklahoma and Texas. All but one of those wins was earned by Leach, who was fired shortly before Tech’s Valero Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State.
The Red Raiders certainly were the Big 12's most entertaining program with a high-powered offense and the quirky Leach in charge. And when they were at their very best, the Red Raiders had an underrated defense directed by Ruffin McNeill that accentuated the team’s offensive firepower.
Here’s a look at my selections for the top moments and players for Tech from the last decade.
QB: Graham Harrell
RB: Taurean Henderson
RB: Baron Batch
WR: Michael Crabtree
WR: Joel Filani
WR: Wes Welker
OL: Brandon Carter
OL: Rylan Reed
OL: Luis Vasquez
OL: Daniel Loper
C: Dylan Gandy
DL: Aaron Hunt
DL: Adell Duckett
DL Brandon Sharpe
DL: Brandon Williams
LB: Lawrence Flugence
LB: Mike Smith
LB: Marlon Williams
DB: Dwayne Slay
DB: Kevin Curtis
DB: Darcel McBath
DB: Jamar Wall
P: Alex Reyes
K: Alex Trlica
Ret: Wes Welker
Offensive player of the decade: WR Michael Crabtree. Despite playing only two seasons, he became the most productive receiver in Tech’s history. He was a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award with 231 receptions and 41 TD grabs setting an NCAA record for two seasons of production.
Defensive player of the decade: S Kevin Curtis. A fiery, hard-hitting safety, Curtis was the most decorated and one of the most versatile defensive player of the decade for the Red Raiders. Curtis earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 1999 and 2000 and second-team all-conference honors in 2001. He was a second-team All-American in 2000 while playing strong safety and a second-team All-America choice in 2001 after moving to free safety.
Coach of the decade: Mike Leach. He perhaps was the most influential coaching figure in Big 12 history as he helped push the conference from a stodgy run-based attack to one where cutting-edge passing attacks predominated. He also became a national figure because of his personality and his guest appearances on television shows as diverse as “Sixty Minutes” and “Friday Night Lights.”
Moment of the decade: Michael Crabtree’s late touchdown grab beats Texas in 2008. Graham Harrell’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree was one second left helped push Tech to an area it had never been before. It not only boosted them to a 39-33 triumph over Texas but also served as a national coming-out party for Leach, Crabtree and the rest of the Tech program. In the process, the Red Raiders earned an unprecedented share of the Big 12 South title that season.
When you figure roughly 500 words per post -- give or take a few extra during the season -- that's more than 2 million words that have been churned out about the Big 12.
I feel like we should celebrate -- with a few lunch links.
So how about these?
- Texas and Texas A&M will be among 60 universities audited by the Internal Revenue Service as it focuses on executive compensation practices and income unrelated to the university’s educational mission, the Austin American Statesman’s Ralph K.M. Haurwitz reports. Something tells me that Mack Brown's and Mike Sherman’s whopping salaries could receive some close scrutiny.
- Ruffin McNeill and Kevin Wilson have emerged among the favorites as potential head coaches at East Carolina University, Nathan Summers of the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector reports.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Steve Sipple writes that Bo Pelini's equity building in the Nebraska program is a contrast to many other coaches across the country.
- Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen reports that Arizona coach Mike Stoops could be targeting Josh Heupel as his new offensive coordinator after Sonny Dykes’ departure for the Louisiana Tech head coaching job.
- Former Colorado tight end and assistant coach Jon Embree has joined Mike Shanahan’s staff with the Washington Redskins, the Boulder Camera’s Kyle Ringo reports.
- The Bryan Eagle reports that the hiring of Tim DeRuyter is expected to be approved by the Texas A&M Board of Regents during their meeting on Thursday.
- Joe Pawelek has shown strong physical work but has struggled changing directions in early East-West Shrine game practices, according to the Sporting News’ Russ Lande.
- New Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen says that Mike Gundy hired him because he wants to do a better job of managing the game, the Oklahoman’s Brandon Chatmon reports.
- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Ken Youngblood reports that Oklahoma State offensive assistant Gunter Brewer is on Tim Brewster’s short list for the vacant offensive coordinator position at Minnesota.
- The Big Red Network’s Steve Hanway wonders why Tommy Tuberville chose to employ a 3-4 defense at Texas Tech.
- SI.com’s Stewart Mandel gives the hiring of Turner Gill an A and Tuberville a B in his report card of coaching hires.
- The recent departure of top prospects like Geneo Grissom and Blake Bell signal a talent drain of top players leaving the state of Kansas, the Hutchinson News' Pat Sangimino opines.
The return of Bo Pelini to Nebraska helped the Cornhuskers close the decade strongly and claim a spot just below the Big 12's "Big Two." Texas Tech has been among the nation's most consistent teams of the decade. North teams like Colorado, Kansas State and Missouri all popped up to make at least two appearances in the Big 12 title game.
But Oklahoma and Texas have been the Big 12's behemoths during the recent decade. Here's how I rank the programs ranked based on their accomplishments in the last decade.
1. Oklahoma: The Sooners earn a slight edge over Texas despite the same number of victories in the decade because Bob Stoops took them to six Big 12 titles. The earlier teams depended more on defense, while Stoops’ more recent squads have been offensive juggernauts to reflect the overall change in the Big 12.
2. Texas: A victory in the BCS title game earlier this month might have catapulted Texas into the top slot. Mack Brown has pushed his program into parity with Oklahoma after struggling with the Sooner dynasty built by Stoops earlier in the decade.
3. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers withstood more tumult in the last decade than in any era since Bob Devaney turned the program in 1962. Even with two coaching changes, Bo Pelini has the Cornhuskers steered to the top of the North Division and poised for much more heading into the new decade.
4. Texas Tech: Mike Leach took the Red Raiders to an 84-43 record during the decade, with another victory added by Ruffin McNeill in the Valero Alamo Bowl for third place among Big 12 teams in victories. They fall behind Nebraska because they still have never advanced to the Big 12 title game or claimed a BCS bowl berth. That will be Tommy Tuberville’s task to change the culture and break that ceiling for the program.
5. Kansas State: The program was at its best during the early part of the decade when Bill Snyder took the Wildcats to the last title by a North Division team in 2003. The program dipped under Ron Prince, but could be poised to make another step forward after confounding prognosticators by remaining in the North Division title hunt until the last game in 2009.
6. Missouri: Gary Pinkel has the program humming with two title-game berths, strong incoming talent and a reputation as the conference’s foremost developers of unheralded recruiting talent. Pinkel's growth has been strong, but he still needs to take them another step where they start winning conference championships and appearing in BCS bowl games.
7. Oklahoma State: The infusion of T. Boone Pickens’ money has helped make the Cowboys’ facilities as good as most in college football. That growth has helped pick up recruiting as Mike Gundy’s program has made a bowl trip in four of his five years coaching the Cowboys.
8. Colorado: Gary Barnett had the Buffaloes as the North Division’s most consistent program with four championship game appearances in five seasons, including the 2001 Big 12 title. They haven’t been nearly as successful since Dan Hawkins took over with one bowl trip, no bowl victories or trips to the championship game.
9. Texas A&M: The Aggies still have the elements that could return them to prominence with rich tradition, strong facilities and an ideal recruiting location. But it’s tougher for them to challenge in the South Division with Oklahoma and Texas at the highest levels in recent history and growing programs at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and even Baylor.
10. Kansas: Mark Mangino has awakened football interest here, but it will be up to Turner Gill to build on that growth. The North Division looks open, but Gill will be challenged to match Mangino’s achievements early in his coaching tenure without an immediate replacement for Todd Reesing at quarterback.
11. Iowa State: Dan McCarney's turnaround of this program in the early part of the decade is one of the more underrated building projects in recent college football history after taking the Cyclones to five bowls in the first six seasons of the decade. Included in that run were two near-misses where the Cyclones legitimately could have made a championship-game appearance with more consistent kicking. Athletic director Jamie Pollard went for the sizzle when he hired Gene Chizik to replace McCarney. He now appears to have found a McCarney clone with steady Paul Rhoads in charge.
12. Baylor: The last decade will be marked by an incredible series of building projects at Baylor, but still no bowl game. The Bears appeared poised in 2009 before Robert Griffin's unfortunate season-ending knee injury. Art Briles turned down a couple of intriguing possibilities to remain at Baylor and try to stem the bowl drought, currently at 15 seasons and counting.
My doctor tells me that consuming these links every day will help prevent colds.
Call it my version of chicken soup for the Big 12 fan's soul.
- Donald Trump hasn’t forgotten about his old friend Mike Leach, KCBD-TV in Lubbock reports.
- Not a good day for Kansas players working out at the East-West Shrine practices. Todd Reesing was measured at only 5-foot-10 and Kerry Meier lacked burst coming out of his cuts, Russ Lande of The Sporting News reports.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star’s Steve Sipple and Brian Christopherson provide a video update on Nebraska’s late recruiting prospects.
- Former Baylor coach and current Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has decided to stay at his job rather than accept the job as the new defensive coordinator on Derek Dooley’s staff at Tennessee, Ed McGranahan of the Greenville News reports.
- Denton Ryan (Texas) quarterback Scotty Young tells the Denton Record-Chronicle’s Adam Boedeker that he’s solid with his commitment to Texas Tech, even after the coaching change to Tommy Tuberville.
- The Daily Kansan’s Nicolas Roesler writes about where Mark Mangino’s staff has landed after it was let go by Turner Gill in the Jayhawks’ coaching change.
- Among the coaches still in the mix for East Carolina’s vacant head coaching job include Leach, former Texas Tech defensive coordinator and ECU alum Ruffin McNeill and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, Nathan Summers of the Greenville (N.C.) Daily Reflector.
- Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter is in line to be hired as Texas A&M’s new defensive coordinator later this week, Jake Schaller of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
- Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young and new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen both will be paid $360,000 next season, Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World reports.
- The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel opines that Mike Gundy showed some maturity when he ended his work as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator and hired Dana Holgorsen to replace him.
- Paul Rhoads was listed No. 4 and Bill Snyder was ninth in Richard Cirminiello of College Football News’ ranking of 2009’s first-year head coaches.
Here are some of the conference's most notable headlines for your noontime edification.
- The Oklahoman’s Jake Trotter ponders whether Jim Jeffcoat, Ruffin McNeill or Jim Leavitt could be joining Bob Stoops’ staff.
- Top recruit Jackson Jeffcoat, the son of Jim Jeffcoat, tells KRIV-TV in Houston that he is considering Oklahoma, Houston, Texas and Arizona State.
- The Sporting News’ Russ Lande analyzes what Darrell Stuckey, Larry Asante and Keith Toston need to do to impress NFL scouts at this week’s East-West Shrine Game.
- The Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Phil Stukenborg reports that former Texas Tech assistant coach Brian Mitchell has joined Larry Porter’s staff at Memphis.
- Among the more notable assistant coaches from Nick Saban’s coaching tree include Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Texas Tech defensive coordinator James Willis, ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel writes in his three-point stance.
- Texas running backs coach Major Applewhite, Oklahoma State assistant head coach Joe DeForest and former Texas Tech defensive coordinator/interim head coach Ruffin McNeill are among the names that have surfaced for the vacant head coaching job at Louisiana Tech, Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times reports.
- The Daily Texan’s Robert Rich shares a few memories from his trip to the Citi BCS National Championship Game.
- Texas Tech has lost a recruiting commitment from linebacker Fred Harvey of Memphis, Tenn., after the coaching change to Tommy Tuberville, Adam Zuvanich of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
- The College Football News’ Pete Fiutak writes that Colt McCoy’s injury in the championship game put a capper on a disappointing 2009 college football season.
- FoxSports.com’s Pete Schrager has Nebraska and Texas making BCS bowl trips next season and Oklahoma ranked in the Top 25 among Big 12 teams.
- Sam McKeown of the Nebraska State Paper analyzes where Ndamukong Suh goes from here.
- The Omaha World-Herald’s Tom Shatel expresses some trepidation about the Nebraska-Boise State series.