Big 12: Sammy Baugh
Here are some of the best ones I received over the last several days:
L. Edgar from St. Louis, Mo., writes: Many fans and almost all the media have said that the weakness in Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's program is the lack of a running game. There is evidence to support this view: when they get ahead they are unable to take time off the clock and they are not that effective in the red zone. To me, it looks as if this recruiting class ignored that need. Do you agree?
Tim Griffin: While it might have looked like Pinkel didn’t put a lot of importance in attracting backs, I really like the signing of Greg White of DeQueen, Ark. He’s a different kind of back than the Tigers have had in recent seasons. In fact, the 215-pounder might be considered Missouri’s first true power back since Zack Abron left school. I think he can emerge into a key contributor for the Tigers if he can stay healthy.
And I also think that the addition of two mammoth bookend offensive tackles like Nick Demien and Mitch Morse bodes well for the future of Missouri’s interior line play. It’s been lacking in the last couple of seasons and might be as big a reason for the Tigers’ red-zone problems as anything else. I think these additions will help address the problems that have been there for the Tigers in recent seasons.
Jason Lewis from Kansas City, Mo., writes: Tim, I know recruiting is subjective but I'm wondering why you ranked Nebraska as the seventh-best class in the Big 12. You ranked them behind Baylor, when Nebraska's class was ranked 23rd overall and Baylor's was ranked 39th overall by Rivals. Can you explain your ranking for the Huskers? Thanks.
Tim Griffin: Jason, those were not my rankings but those of ESPNU’s talent evaluators. But I think I can speak for them that the biggest question is the lack of offensive skill players and the inability to land Owamagbe Odighizuwa, who instead accepted the offer at UCLA.
Nebraska desperately needs those big-time receivers to consistently challenge Texas and Oklahoma.
And I know I’ve heard from many Nebraska fans who claim they don’t need Odighizuwa because Bo and Carl Pelini will develop a lesser recruit into as good a player as Odighizuwa would have been.
But remember, he’s a special five-star talent. It always hurts when you lose a chance to get those difference makers. And for anybody to say that the Cornhuskers couldn't have used him don't understand the reality of how the big defensive end could have developed after working with the Pelinis.
Mike Wehling from Lincoln, Neb., writes: Tim, great job with the blog. It remains the main reason why I go to ESPN.com. What teams do you think will win the Big 12 North and South for next season?
Tim Griffin: Mike, I’ll have my definitive early answers sometime next week, but for now I’ve got Nebraska winning the Big 12 North and either Oklahoma or Texas winning the South. I’m leaning to the Sooners now, but could change my mind between now and Wednesday when the pick will be released.
The major reason I give Nebraska the edge is all of the weapons returning from this season’s team, along with the framework of a strong defense. I know that Nebraska will miss Ndamukong Suh, starting safeties Matt O'Hanlon and Larry Asante and linebacker Phillip Dillard, but I’m thinking another year of work with the Pelinis could turn Jared Crick into a monster. And I also like some of the Cornhuskers' returning defensive talent.
And I’m leaning to Oklahoma because they will have an experienced quarterback in Landry Jones with multiple starts. Texas loses Colt McCoy, but will have the inexperienced Garrett Gilbert back. I’m still working over who I think will be the best heading into spring practice and I’ll have an answer next week.
Bear Brown from Denton, Texas, writes: What do you think the Texas Tech fans should do about this whole post-Leach thing? I believe since he's not coming back we should just try to move on. Thanks!
Tim Griffin: That’s why new coach Tommy Tuberville wasted little time connecting with Tech alumni across the state of Texas as soon as the recruiting period was over. The day after National Signing Day, Tuberville was pressing the flesh in both Dallas and Houston to reassure Tech fans that drastic change won’t be resulting in the Red Raiders' program after the controversial firing of Mike Leach.
It will be interesting to see how Tech fans handle the switch. The fact is that both Oklahoma and Texas probably will be down a little next season in the Big 12 South. Tuberville has some nice offensive weapons and I’m convinced he’ll have a strong defense with the Red Raiders some day. But whether that comes next year or not will likely determine if they can challenge for the South Division title.
Tuberville has his work cut out to make Tech fans forget about Leach, the most important figure in Tech football in the last 40 years. But Tuberville is an outstanding coach who had an Auburn team on the brink of a national championship. He was able to consistently compete in the SEC. I'm thinking he'll be able to duplicate that success at Tech, too.
Steve Shoemaker of Las Cruces, N.M., writes: Tim, I loved your post earlier today about the Pro Football Hall of Fame and potential Big 12 players joining in the future. I’ve got two who I think are absolute locks. How about guard Will Shields of Nebraska and punter Shane Lechler of Texas A&M? Both of them were on the NFL’s All-Decade that was released earlier this week. I think what both players have accomplished during their pro careers should make them strong candidates.
Tim Griffin: Steve, I agree with you on both players. I think Shields will end up being one of the great offensive linemen of the NFL’s recent history. It’s hard to argue with his credentials of having made a Pro Bowl in 12 consecutive seasons and nine All-Pro teams. His work with the Kansas City Chiefs was a big reason why that franchise was so successful in the early part of this decade.
And Lechler might go down as the greatest punter in NFL history. His current career average of 47.3 yards per kick after the 2009 season is nearly a yard per kick more than the second-place NFL career punter, Glenn Dobbs. His 51.1 yard-per-kick average in 2009 was the second-highest season total in NFL history and trailed only Sammy Baugh's 51.4 average in 1940.
So it’s safe to say that Lechler’s place in Canton one day looks pretty secure if he can keep his punting average consistently high as its been during the first 10 seasons of his NFL career.
Thanks again for all of the good questions. Enjoy the Super Bowl and will check back again next week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I got a chance to watch College Football Live's recent two-day look at the traditions and greatest players and teams from Texas.
Here are the most recent results of the viewers and readers poll taken in conjunction with the visit, which is part of the program's state-by-state tour leading up to the season.
The results of the poll are up-to-date through noon ET on Wednesday. I'm also including my thoughts on the vote.
Which team is the best in state history?
- 1939 Texas A&M 41 percent
- 2005 Texas 28 percent
- 1938 TCU 27 percent
- 1982 SMU 2 percent
- 1969 Texas 2 percent
Ballots cast: 2,586 votes.
Right or wrong: Wrong.
My take: It's hard to believe there are too many teams better than the 2005 Texas team. It looks like a lot of voters have read Mickey Herskowitz's fine book about that A&M team, elevating them above the others because of the mystique of being the "greatest generation's greatest team."
Who is the best player to play college football at Texas?
- Earl Campbell 55 percent
- Vince Young 27 percent
- Ricky Williams 7 percent
- Bobby Layne 6 percent
- Tommy Nobis 5 percent
Ballots cast: 3,622 votes.
Right or wrong: Right.
My take: Hard to argue with "The Tyler Rose" as the best player in the history of the school.
Who is the best player to play college football at Texas A&M?
- John David Crow 49 percent
- Aaron Glenn 16 percent
- Lester Hayes 15 percent
- Darren Lewis 10 percent
- Johnny Holland 9 percent
Ballots cast: 3,378
Right or wrong: Right.
My take: The school's only Heisman Trophy winner always epitomized to me what an A&M player should be -- tough and determined. But I was surprised that Dat Nguyen, the greatest modern-day defensive player in school history, wasn't included on the list.
Who is the best college player at a school other than Texas or Texas A&M?
- LaDainian Tomlinson, TCU, 36 percent
- Eric Dickerson, SMU, 22 percent
- Sammy Baugh, TCU, 19 percent
- Doak Walker, SMU, 17 percent
- Davey O'Brien, TCU, 7 percent
Ballots cast: 3,742.
Right or wrong: Wrong.
My take: Even with recent familiarity from watching him, how could voters elevate Tomlinson above three iconic figures in Baugh, Walker and O'Brien who all have trophies named after them? My pick would be Walker, but you can't go wrong with either of the other players.
Which coach is the best in state history?
- Darrell Royal, Texas 33 percent
- R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M 30 percent
- Mack Brown, Texas 17 percent
- Dutch Meyer, TCU 11 percent
- Bill Yeoman, Houston 8 percent
Ballots cast: 4,055
Right or wrong: Right
My take: The homespun Royal didn't attend college in Texas, but got there as fast as he could after his playing career.
Missouri remains the last of the Big 12 states to be profiled. The show will examine "the Show-Me State" in detail on July 29.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Today is a special summer day for football fans across Texas and the Southwest.
Today is the annual release date of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, which is the unquestionable college football magazine of record in these parts every year.
This magazine is special because it's the 50th anniversary edition. The first one was laid out on the kitchen table of former Waco Tribune-Herald sports editor Dave Campbell, who started it in 1960.
It's gotten much bigger than that over the years, being read by three generations of football fans over the years. Today, there's a Texas Football classic every year at the Alamodome and even an official Texas Football song.
I first learned about the magazine in the late 1960s when a friend of mine in fifth grade, Richard Jackson, moved to Memphis from Houston. Along with his neat Houston Astros hat that I always was envious of was his copy of Texas Football Magazine. The story and pictures of the guys from Texas, Baylor and Rice were so different than anything I came across in the Southeastern Conference. I wanted mine, too.
My dad occasionally traveled to Texas with his job and soon learned to look at the 7-Eleven on one of his trips to Dallas to see if he could score a copy of Dave Campbell for me.
Later, my family moved to Texas and I learned the excitement of visiting the newsstand in mid-June to pick up the Dave Campbell magazine, which was there to chronicle the demise of the Southwest Conference and the start of the Big 12.
The new one will officially be released today across the area. And the coverboy is Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, who becomes the first individual player to be pictured since Texas wide receiver Roy Williams in 2003.
I picked up my copy and am already deeply into it. It takes me back to my childhood.
The only problem is that I wonder why I couldn't pick up a Grape Slurpee to drink with it like I used to back in the day.
A list of the cover boys in the magazine's history exhibits a unique history of football in the southwest. Here's a list of the players who have graced the cover of the magazine over the years.
1960: Texas RB Jack Collins
1961: Baylor RB Ronnie Bull
1962: TCU QB Sonny Gibbs
1963: Texas coach Darrell Royal and DT Scott Appleton
1964: Baylor coach John Bridgers and WR Lawrence Elkins
1965: Texas Tech RB Donny Anderson
1966: SMU NG John LaGrone, Baylor DT Greg Pipes, Texas DT Diron Talbert
1967: Texas A&M T Maurice "Mo" Moorman
1968: Texas A&M QB Edd Hargett
1969: Texas QB James Street
1970: Texas RB Steve Worster
1971: Texas Tech QB Charles Napper
1972: Texas A&M LB Brad Dusek
1973: Texas LB Glen Gaspard
1974: Texas coach Darrell Royal
1975: Baylor coach Grant Teaff
1976: Houston coach Bill Yeoman
1977: Texas Tech QB Rodney Allison
1978: Texas A&M K Tony Franklin and Texas K/P Russell Erxleben
1979: Texas DT Steve McMichael
1980: Baylor LB Mike Singletary and Texas A&M QB Mike Mosley
1981: Baylor RB Walter Abercrombie and SMU RB Craig James
1982: Texas A&M QB Gary Kubiak
1983: SMU QB Lance McIlhenny
1984: Texas A&M DE Ray Childress
1985: TCU coach Jim Wacker and TCU RB Kenneth Davis
1986: Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill
1987: Texas QB Bret Stafford and Texas coach David McWilliams
1988: Texas RB Eric Metcalf and Texas A&M LB John Roper
1989: Houston coach Jack Pardee and SMU coach Forrest Gregg
1990: Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes
1991: Houston QB David Klingler
1992: Rice RB Trevor Cobb
1993: Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum
1994: Texas QB Shea Morenz
1995: A collage of Southwest Conference historical figures including Texas RB Earl Campbell, Houston coach Bill Yeoman, Baylor LB Mike Singletary, TCU QB Sammy Baugh, Texas coach Fred Akers, Texas coach Darrell Royal and SMU RB Doak Walker.
1996: Baylor coach Chuck Ready, Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, Texas coach John Mackovic and Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum
1997: Texas QB James Brown and Texas RB Ricky Williams
1998: Texas A&M LB Dat Nguyen, Texas RB Ricky Williams and Texas coach Mack Brown
1999: Texas coach Mack Brown and TCU coach Dennis Franchione. Note: Alternative cover for those magazines sold outside the state featured Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman
2000: Midland Robert E. Lee H.S. RB Cedric Benson
2001: Texas QB Chris Simms, TCU QB Casey Printers, Texas A&M QB Mark Farris and Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury
2002: Texas Tech QB Kliff Kingsbury, Celina H.S. coach G.A. Moore, Dallas Cowboys RB Emmitt Smith and Baytown Lee H.S. QB Drew Tate.
2003: Texas WR Roy Williams
2004: Texas Tech DE Adell Duckett, TCU S Marvin Godbolt, Houston QB Kevin Kolb, North Texas RB Patrick Cobb
2005: Texas QB Vince Young and Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal
2006: Former Texas RB Earl Campbell, Mansfield Summit H.S. QB John Chiles, Texarkana Texas H.S. QB Ryan Mallett and Gilmer H.S. QB G.J. Kinne
2007: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas QB Colt McCoy and TCU DE Tommy Blake
2008: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree
2009: Texas QB Colt McCoy
Source: ESPN.com research