Big 12: Steve Pederson
From colleague Brett McMurphy:
While Pitt is seeking an annual series with Penn State, the Panthers will not be able to reinstate the Backyard Brawl with West Virginia on an annual basis, Pederson said. The schools have played 104 times, but the series ended in 2012 when West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12. Pederson said he spoke recently with West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck about scheduling some future games between the Panthers and Mountaineers.
"We're both trying to figure out when we can do it," Pederson said. "We're both in favor if it's in the best interest of both schools."
Big 12 fans haven't gotten a chance to really pay attention to the intensity of the Backyard Brawl, which lived in the Big East before the Mountaineers' move to the Big 12 and Pitt's exit to the ACC.
For West Virginia, it doesn't make sense to play the Panthers. Pittsburgh is no juggernaut, but has a solid program. With the schedule getting tougher in the Big 12, signing up for a heated rivalry game that might as well be a conference game is a tough assignment for Dana Holgorsen or any coach.
Still, the loss of rivalries like the Backyard Brawl, the Border Showdown and Lone Star Showdown are the greatest cost of realignment. Seeing them lie dormant makes me nothing but sad. College football is worse off without these games, and here's hoping they return soon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
I always got the idea that Tom Osborne was always kind of miscast as a politician.
That's why his announcement today that he'll remain as Nebraska's athletic director isn't a surprise.
Because he has thrived in that job just like most thought he always would.
Osborne and Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman announced today that the legendary former football coach will stay past his original targeted departure of June 2010. It means that Osborne will now review the position on an annual basis.
When Osborne left as Nebraska's head coach after the 1997 season, Bill Byrne was the athletic director at Nebraska -- and a very powerful one, to boot.
So there wasn't a real way that Osborne could have bumped Byrne from his job. In fact, insiders say their relationship was rocky at times and it would have been difficult to have imagined Osborne working for him.
But before Byrne decided to leave for Texas A&M, Osborne embarked on his career as a politician. If the opportunity to slide into the athletic director's job had been in place when he left football, I don't necessarily think Osborne would have decided to go into politics.
Osborne was elected for three terms to the U.S. House of Representatives, but was upset in the 2006 Republican primary when he ran against Gov. Dave Heineman. The election turned on two gubernatorial vetoes that Heineman espoused that boosted him to a comeback victory.
Athletics, rather than the political world where he was a novice, appealed to Osborne.
After that, friends say that Osborne pined for the opportunity to return to athletic administration. And as the Nebraska program's public support crumbled under Bill Callahan and former athletic director Steve Pederson, Osborne was viewed as a "white knight" who could help bring the program back to its exalted former status.
And when he returned, he helped to boost the Cornhuskers program quickly back towards the top in football. His hiring of Bo Pelini -- which he negotiated for a below-market salary -- has been a master stroke. Pelini might be one of the best young coaches in the country.
The way he smoothly negotiated a contract extension with Pelini earlier this season was a marked contrast from the way many of those negotiations have been handled.
I was amazed at how invigorated Osborne appeared when I last saw him. I think he clearly likes to be around Pelini and his coaching staff. On several occasions last season, Pelini told of conferring with Osborne before he made a big coaching decision.
The association seems to have benefited Osborne and Nebraska. He'll turn 72 next February, meaning I'll expect to see him working for the school for several more years.
The key will be when Osborne knows when it's time to walk away. But the way he transitioned himself from coaching makes me think he'll know exactly when to leave the athletic director's job, too.
And I expect that the Nebraska program will be at a better place when that day comes when compared to when he originally took the job.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
St. Patrick's Day is as good as any other day to determine which decisions qualify as money well spent -- as well as those that do not.
Here's a list of three appropriations I think help Big 12 schools and three that aren't as smart.
- Bob Stoops' contract: Sure, he's making more money than almost any coach in the nation. But he's been able to lead a renaissance in the sport's athletic department that harkens back to the Bud Wilkinson era. And he's been the Big 12's most consistent winner with six conference championships in his tenure. To me, he's a bargain -- even while making more than $6 million per year after bonuses in 2008.
- Bo Pelini's contract: It's hard to think of any coach as being underpaid. But in the grand scheme of things, Pelini's current $1.1 million yearly contract would seem to do so. He's steered the Cornhuskers back into relevance in the Big 12 North and appears to have them pointed that way for many years. For that matter, he might be a good bargain even with a sizable contract hike.
- Mega Scoreboards at Big 12 stadiums: Sure, they are garish. But Texas started a revolution among Big 12 schools with the creation of "Godzillatron," the massive high-definition scoreboard that makes watching a game at Royal Memorial Stadium almost like watching it from your living room. Texas A&M, Oklahoma and now Nebraska have soon followed with their own versions. These scoreboards keep spectators entertained and still provide revenue for their schools. Sounds like a good match to me.
- Out of state recruiting budgets for Texas schools: There's a reason why the lobbies at some Dallas and Houston high schools resemble a college coaching clinic on some days during the recruiting period. The Texas area is one of the most fertile in the nation and the backbone of all the Big 12's recruiting. It makes little to no sense for Texas Big 12 schools to even consider venturing outside the state for players. They can find nearly anything they want close to home.
- The addition of "The Zone" at Kyle Field: Sure, the extra seats are beneficial for certain big games and look nice on television. But along with the Aggies' recent downturn, all of those additional seats have served as an anchor to the school's season-ticket market.
- Bill Callahan and Steve Pederson's contract buyouts at Nebraska: Even with Bo Pelini's quick turnaround of the Cornhuskers' football program during his first season, the Cornhuskers will end up paying more than $5.325 million over the next several years to their deposed former athletic director and football coach. That's a lot of personal-seat licenses and luxury box revenue -- especially in these challenging economic times.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
My travels earlier this summer to the College World Series in Omaha provided me with an interesting concept of how big Nebraska football really is to that state.
With the season still a couple of months away, I saw a variety of T-shirts extolling the virtues of coach Bo Pelini in the parking lots at Rosenblatt Stadium.
But the most interesting shirt was worn by somebody I could tell was a devoted Cornhusker fan with a sense of the program's long-term and recent history.
The shirt listed the most important dates in Nebraska football history. Five were early January dates that represented huge bowl victories in the school's football history. The sixth was Oct. 15, 2007.
I wondered about that for a few moments as I trudged to the baseball press box. And then it hit me.
That was the day when former athletic director Steve Pederson was fired and replaced by Tom Osborne.
Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel saw the same shirt and mentioned it in his column this morning as he compared the program under Pederson with Bill Callahan in charge compared to today's Nebraska program with Osborne and Pelini in place.
As far as anniversaries go, it's hard to believe that the firing of an athletic director would be a red-letter day to many Cornhusker fans. But I guess it is, considering the program's struggles last year.
There will probably be a toast or two about the leadership change across the state -- despite the Cornhuskers' 3-3 record so far this season that is actually worse than the 4-3 record on this date last season.
Here are some other links from across the conference for your perusal.
- The Austin American-Stateman's Kirk Bohls remembers the steep fall that Texas endured the last time the Longhorns were ranked during the regular season. The 1984 Longhorn team skidded all the way to the Freedom Bowl after a two-week stint as the nation's top team.
- Oklahoman beat writer Jake Trotter breaks down Oklahoma's kick-coverage breakdowns. The Sooners rank 109th nationally in kickoff return coverage and are one of only four teams in the country to allow two kickoff return touchdowns.
- Kansas State coach Ron Prince said his team wasn't as bad as most thought after a 30-point loss to Texas Tech. But he also said his team wasn't as good as public perception after a 14-point victory at Texas A&M that appeared more dominant than the final score indicated.
- Texas can't snag all of the top recruiting prospects in the state. That's why Chase Daniel's visit to Austin this weekend is so intriguing.
- Despite an 0-2 start in conference play, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik said his team is much improved from last season.
- Weakside linebackers Mike Balogun and Austin Box and backup Brandon Crow will be counted to fill in for Ryan Reynolds at middle linebacker for Oklahoma.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Daily Nebraskan did some digging today and came up with an interesting story about how buyouts for former Nebraska football coach Bill Callahan and former Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson accounted for a whopping $7.462 million in the school's most recent fiscal year.
Callahan was at the top at $4,526,386.10 and Pederson earned $2.936,157.67 in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Nebraska athletic department officials account for six of the seven highest-paid employees of the school, according to the newspaper's list.
Needless to say that the school can use those big pay-per-view earnings that have been generated by the Cornhuskers' first three games of the season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
New Nebraska coach Bo Pelini's attitude is all about swagger. But it's hard to build that kind of confidence playing some of the weak sisters that will dot his future nonconference schedules.
It seems that Pelini isn't exactly excited about the schedule he inherited from former athletic director Steve Pederson and former coach Bill Callahan.
Nebraska assistant athletic director for football Jeff Jamrog told the Omaha World-Herald that he's actively seeking upcoming games -- and only against Division I opponents.
The Cornhuskers will be playing Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State next season, and Western Kentucky, Idaho and Football Championship Subdivision power South Dakota State in 2010.
"It looks like they wanted to schedule a bunch of wins," Jamrog said. "We can't do anything about it. We can't do anything about the guarantees that were set, unless you want to cancel the contracts. But we aren't interested in doing that."
Pelini is in favor of taking on all comers in the future.
"That's what the fans want to see," Pelini said. "That's the shame of the BCS. Fans aren't seeing the games they used to see in September. We want to play those games. I don't want to shy away from anyone."
Assuredly, this is very refreshing attitude for a new football coaching staff to have. But something tells me that Pelini will prefer his schedule of Western Michigan, New Mexico State and San Jose State this season before facing Virginia Tech than if he had switched to a tougher one.
Hope that Pelini is up to the challenge of tackling a few morning links, too.
- Versatile WR Quan Cosby has had to argue to convince Texas coach Mack Brown to use him as a punt returner in the past. But his role looks assured heading into this season.
- Converted QB Jeremy Sanders has thrived at his new position at RB, Waco Tribune-Herald reporter John Werner writes.
- Colorado LB Jon Major, one of the top two in-state recruits for Colorado last season, has been lost for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament.
- One of the real treats of covering the Big 12 each week is Kansas City Star beat writer Mike DeArmond's priceless Vlog from Missouri's camp. But how come I always think of "Sex, Lies and Videotape" when I watch his sometimes brutal weekly assessments of the Tigers?
- Kansas State DE Ian Campbell is back at his original position after an abortive stab at linebacker last season. I wonder what took KSU coaches so long to move him back, comparing his performance last season to the previous one.
- Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell showed quick dexterity with the new clock rules, running a no-huddle offense during all of his snaps in the Red Raiders' first scrimmage. Harrell needed only 14 plays to produce three 60-yard scoring drives, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
- Converted RB Cody Glenn is getting a few extra tips in his conversion to linebacker from a long-lost relative, legendary former Nebraska LB Broderick "The Sandman" Thomas.
- Joe Kines, a 64-year-old coaching veteran with 40 years of experience, is facing an ultimate challenge of trying to resuscitate Texas A&M's "Wrecking Crew" defense, Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News reports.
- It seems Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is a big fan of the Olympics. "All of them, I like watching all of it," Stoops told the Oklahoman. "What's so neat about it is you get that one moment to be at your best. That's what I love about boxing as well. You get that one shot. And if you happen to have over-trained, or you don't hit it just right..." Sounds a bit like playing in a bowl game, doesn't it?
- Oklahoma State WR Jeremy Broadway appears to be making the most of his last chance with the Cowboys after his suspension last November.
- Tulsa World reporter John Hoover wonders if Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias is the most underappreciated player in the Sooners' football history. Hoover's statistics make a good case.
- Veteran Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton told Lincoln Journal-Star that his current group might be the deepest in talent he's ever coached.
- Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News profiles Oklahoma's defense. Buried deep in the story is the quote of the day from Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who isn't exactly enthusiastic about the development of his young linebacking corps. I'm not ready to puke yet," Venables said.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler said Kansas' rapid ascension last year is providing hope to Oklahoma State players. "After what Kansas did last year, everybody realizes just how close the Big 12 [race] is and no games are given to you anymore," Oklahoma LB/S Andre Sexton said. "We're pretty much in the same situation now as they [the Jayhawks] were in last season."
- Construction-worker-turned OLB Mike Balogun has been thrust into the mix as Oklahoma scrambles for a replacement for injured Austin Box.
- If new Troy WR Josh Jarboe is declared immediately eligible at Troy, he still might play in the state of Oklahoma this season. The Trojans will face Oklahoma State Sept. 27 in Stillwater.
- Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the battle to replace Tony Temple in the Missouri backfield. Sophomore Derrick Washington from the strangely-named hometown of Peculiar, Mo., appears to have nailed down the starting job -- mainly because of his receiving skills. "
- 5-foot-6 freshman RB Rodney Stewart is t
urning heads at Colorado's practice -- despite his diminutive size and the presence of heralded RB Darrell Scott in the Buffaloes' camp. And along with fellow freshman Ray Polk, all apparently will receive playing time this season.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
6:00 PM ET Marshall Northern Illinois 9:30 PM ET Navy San Diego State
12:00 PM ET Central Michigan Western Kentucky 8:00 PM ET Fresno State Rice
1:00 PM ET Illinois Louisiana Tech 4:30 PM ET Rutgers North Carolina 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State