Big 12: San Diego Chargers

Tim's mailbag: Why Chizik left for greener pastures at Auburn

December, 16, 2008
12/16/08
5:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few pieces of correspondence I thought would be of interest to most readers. It starts off with the hottest topic in the conference for the last several days.

Steve from Des Moines writes: Tim, the Cyclone Nation is hurting over here after the way that Gene Chizik snuck out on us. Why did he do this and what kind of timetable does Jamie Pollard need to be working on as he tries to find a replacement?

Tim Griffin: Let's be truthful here. Iowa State is a historically challenged program no matter what conference it is in. Auburn probably ranks among the top 15-20 jobs in the nation. So it's not surprising that he willingly left like he did. I think most other coaches would have done the same thing.

Chizik probably didn't think he would have this kind of opportunity materialize so quickly when he made his celebrated remarks about wanting to remain in Iowa State for the next few years last month. And he decided he could be vilified in the Tall Corn State for his opportunity coaching at what he considers a dream job.

I've also got to think that Chizik will be much better prepared for his shot at Auburn after his two-year apprenticeship at Iowa State. He'll be a better coach after getting his on-the-job training in Ames where the scrutiny wasn't quite so intense.

And I've got to think that Pollard has to get on the business of finding a Chizik's replacement as soon as possible. I'm thinking that he really needs to have somebody in place by the end of the week to enable his new coach to be up and running around the holidays.


Korey in Midland, Texas, writes: Tim, how would Sam Bradford, or any other potential first pick, avoid getting drafted by the Detroit Lions? I know John Elway and Eli Manning have done it.

Tim Griffin: I think the secret is to hire a pushy agent who would be willing to make himself or his client look bad by demanding where they want to play. If you remember correctly, both Elway and Manning were perceived as bratty when they demanded they wouldn't play with the Baltimore Colts or San Diego Chargers -- the teams that originally drafted him.

Both of their early career decisions have been forgotten by fans after they became entrenched and successful for their new teams. But it isn't easy when a career starts off and you end up playing at a place where you don't want to play.

The scouts I'm talking to don't think that Bradford would necessarily picked that highly. Most tell me he likely will be a mid-first round draft pick if he should come out. So that likely means that he would end up on a team that would be a .500 or better squad.


Ryan from Waco writes: Hey Tim, love the blog. I just had a quick question. Why is Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek being snubbed by everyone for any kind of recognition? He was second in the Big 12 in tackles (10 behind Oklahoma's Travis Lewis, who had an extra game for the Big 12 Championship), but led the conference in tackles per game. He led the nation's linebackers in interceptions. He finished top-10 nationally in tackles and interceptions, regardless of position. Instead, he gets no consideration whatsoever for All-American, Bednarik, Butkus, or Nagurski honors, despite being the only player in the nation in 2008 to be top 10 in both tackles and interceptions. Where's the love, Tim?

Tim Griffin: I think that Pawelek suffers in national perception because of the Bears' lack of on-the-field success. If they would ever make a bowl trip or notch a big upset or two, I think the nation would start realizing how important he is to what they do. I know in our discussion on the Football Writers Association of America All-America team he received some prominent mention and just missed making the team.

If he has a big senior season next year and the Bears find some more success, it wouldn't surprise me if he starts making those All-America lists.

And as it is, Pawelek is reminding me more and more of one of my favorite players of my youth, old-school linebacker Jack Pardee. Like Pardee, Pawelek is a tough, determined defender with a knack for producing turnovers. If he keeps improving and his team wins, look for him to start getting some national exposure.


Thomas from Dallas writes: Tim, do you honestly think OU and Sam Bradford are better than Colt McCoy and Texas?

Tim Griffin: Thomas, to be truthful, no. I'd like to see the two schools play a rematch, but we weren't able to see that after Florida claimed the SEC championship.

So I guess it will just make the game in early October that much more meaningful, won't it? I can't wait for that game.


Jonathan from McKinney, Texas, writes: I'm a big fan of your blogging. Great job....except for one thing, which I will ask that you explain: You think Florida will beat OU in the championship game. How? Thanks for your insight.

Tim Griffin: I felt that Florida had an advantage when the game was first announced and today's announcement that DeMarco Murray will miss the game puts the Sooners at a little bit of a personnel disadvantage. I think that Oklahoma will miss him as much for his kick-return and receiving skills as his running, which will likely be filled by Mossis Madu.

While Florida doesn't have a featured back, I think the combination of Chris Rainey, Percy Harvin and Jeffrey Demps will pose some problems for the Sooners. And Tim Tebow's unique skills will be a difficult challenge for Brent Venables to cook up a defensive scheme to combat.

I still wonder if Oklahoma's struggles covering kickoffs will bite them in this game. And I have to give Florida senior kicker Jonathan Phillips an edge over Oklahoma freshman kicker Jimmy Stevens. The game might come down to that.

That all for today. I'll check back later this week with a few more missives.

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