Big 12: Tanner Brock

Kickoff Show (1 ET)

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
10:15
AM ET
Join ESPN.com reporters Edward Aschoff, Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg and host Chantel Jennings as the discuss who should be in the top four when the College Football Playoff committee's first rankings come out next week. They will also preview Week 9's best games and take your questions.

Season report card: TCU Horned Frogs

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
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We're grading each Big 12 team's season right now, and we'll move on to the next team on the list: The TCU Horned Frogs.

OFFENSE: You have to wonder what could have been for TCU in Year 1 in the Big 12 if Casey Pachall had stayed on the team, Ed Wesley hadn't left in May and Waymon James' knee had remained healthy more than a couple games into the season. Ifs and buts, candy and nuts, etc., but that wasn't the case. The early season was plagued by turnovers and missed opportunities in the red zone even with Pachall, and that's factored into this grade. The toughest thing for this offense to swallow was how strong its receivers were, but Pachall's replacement, Trevone Boykin, couldn't get Josh Boyce and Brandon Carter the ball consistently enough to make this an offense good enough to hang in the upper half of the Big 12. Boykin played gutsy ball and used his legs well, and had an ability to hit the big play when TCU often needed it, and clearly grew throughout the season. After TCU got blasted at home by Iowa State, I all but eulogized TCU's season. A bowl game was out. And then it wasn't. Against K-State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the offense looked really, really rough, and let winnable games slip out of reach. The Frogs had a really impressive season, but the post-Pachall offense wasn't the reason why it happened. GRADE: C

DEFENSE: The Frogs got my vote as the Big 12's best defense. Stansly Maponga was a bit underwhelming on the defensive line, but Devonte Fields was better than anyone could have ever thought, winning the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors as a true freshman who only started to begin the season because DE Ross Forrest missed the season with a shoulder injury. Jason Verrett emerged as the league's best shutdown corner, a far cry from his awful outing to begin 2011 when RG3 torched Verrett and the Frogs. Elisha Olabode and Sam Carter filled out a strong secondary that forced 32 turnovers, tied for the most in the Big 12. Joel Hasley and Kenny Cain played well for an underrated linebacking corps that was gutted by the loss of Tanner Brock before the season and rising star Deryck Gildon being ruled ineligible and leaving for junior college. Nobody dealt with losses as heavy as TCU, and they happened on both sides of the ball. Gary Patterson strung together an amazing defense, despite it all, and led the league in total defense and yards per play. The Frogs gave up just 4.92 yards per play, nearly half a yard per play fewer than any other team in the Big 12. GRADE: A+

OVERALL: It's tough to grade the Frogs, whose seven-win season felt like a 10-win season, considering the circumstances. The offense had to play with one hand tied behind its back at times, without basically its entire offensive backfield. The defense lost almost as much, but filled in the holes at linebacker and Fields was a breakout star. Every win down the stretch was emotional, but you can't ignore there were only two of them in the final seven games of the year. TCU's impact on the Big 12 in Year 1 was bigger than its number in the win total. It showed a lot of toughness and to some degree, answered the "depth" question. Still, 7-6 is 7-6. GRADE: B-

More Big 12 report cards:
Hasn't TCU suffered enough attrition since the end of last season?

Apparently not. Add the team's leading rusher in 2011 and 2012 to the list. Waymon James won't be on the field for the Horned Frogs for the rest of 2012 after suffering a knee injury in last week's 20-6 win over Kansas.

From our news story:
TCU junior running back Waymon James will miss the rest of the season, a TCU official confirmed to ESPN.com Wednesday afternoon.

James suffered an apparent knee injury in the fourth quarter of last week's 20-6 win over Kansas, and coach Gary Patterson told reporters this week he believed James would be a game-time decision for Saturday's game against Virginia.

James' injury, which TCU declined to go into detail on, will keep him off the field for the rest of TCU's first season in the Big 12.

For now, that means the TCU running back spot belongs to Matthew Tucker. That's a pretty big surprise, but Tucker will be capable.

Even still, expect more of the offense to fall on junior quarterback Casey Pachall's shoulders. With less depth at running back and plenty at receiver with a capable passer in Pachall, it may be time for TCU to depend a little more on the passing game.

TCU's team is a prime example of how quickly depth can disappear. Tucker entered spring camp as the team's third running back in carries and rushing yards a year ago, despite the Frogs triple threat of running backs that each turned 120 carries into at least 700 yards in 2011.

In late May, Ed Wesley left the team because of family reasons and entered the NFL's supplemental draft. After James' injury, the Frogs are down to just one proven commodity in the backfield.

Tucker will get help from senior Aundre Dean and freshman B.J. Catalon, but TCU entered the season with arguably the best backfield in its new league, the Big 12.

Now? The Frogs are pretty average at the position.

And after all, that's the last thing TCU needed. The biggest question about the Frogs entering the Big 12 was if they had enough depth to win on a weekly basis in a major conference, rather than spending a whole season preparing for one big game to start the season or a big midseason showdown with Utah or Boise State, and then a bowl game.

Now, it looks like TCU won't even get a chance to prove whether or not that's the case. Here's who TCU won't have now in 2012 that at the end of 2011, it believed it would have:
  • The team's best linebacker and probable best overall defender, Tanner Brock (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • The team's second-best linebacker, Deryck Gildon (academics)
  • The team's second-best running back, Wesley (left team) and best running back, James (injury).
  • Starting defensive end Ross Forrest (knee injury)
  • Probable starting safety Devin Johnson (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • Probable starting offensive lineman Ty Horn (drug arrest, removed from team)
  • Probable starting defensive lineman D.J. Yendrey (drug arrest, removed from team)

That's a huge, huge deficit that Patterson's team has to try and make up when conference play heats up this fall. The result: TCU is playing 15 true freshmen already this season, as many as any team in the country and far more than any team in the Big 12.

Through two games, that lack of depth and experience hasn't shown up. It may not for awhile. TCU will likely favored to win its first seven games before a brutal finish to 2012.

TCU's final five games are on the road at Oklahoma State, at No. 8 West Virginia, home vs. No. 15 Kansas State, at No. 12 Texas and home vs. No. 6 Oklahoma.

TCU can hold court until then, barring an upset.

But once it gets to that stretch, will the Frogs have enough to make their first season in the Big 12 one to remember?

Assessing the contenders: TCU

August, 15, 2012
8/15/12
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To begin the season, I see six teams with a legitimate chance to win the Big 12. Today we'll continue our series looking at why each team will or will not win the league. Next up: The other new guys -- TCU

More contenders:
Why TCU will win the Big 12

1. Experience on offense. TCU is throwing out two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore on the offensive line, including one of the league's best in Blaize Foltz at right guard, with James Dunbar helping form another solid piece on the right side of the line at tackle. Quarterback Casey Pachall grew up a lot on the field as a sophomore first-year starter and has what should be four great targets, if you count LaDarius Brown. We know Josh Boyce will be an elite talent at receiver. Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter might join him. And at running back? Forget any questions there, even with the loss of Ed Wesley. Waymon James and Matthew Tucker are more than capable of handling the load.

2. They're well-equipped to handle the transition. The framework that Gary Patterson built his program upon is still very much in place. The players know what's expected of them in this program, even if they don't know what to expect in the fall. Never underestimate that. Patterson's studied up on Big 12 teams and recruited many of the same players he'll be facing. That's a big deal, too. There's plenty of familiarity for TCU and the rest of the league, and that's got to inspire confidence.

3. Big games? Who cares? That's nothing new. So TCU's been in the Mountain West? News flash: The Mountain West has been better than the Big East the past few years, where West Virginia's coming from. The bottom of the league is nothing short of awful, but at the top? Boise State and TCU played a classic last year, and BYU and Utah are solid teams, too. TCU also took down a very good Wisconsin team to win the Rose Bowl. TCU hasn't played quite as many Top 25 teams as the rest of the Big 12, but they've played 11 since 2008. And which Big 12 team has the best record against Top 25 teams over that period? That would be the Horned Frogs.

Why TCU won't win the Big 12

1. The defensive losses are just too much. TCU played without Tanner Brock last season, but he probably would have been the best player on this defense. He's gone after the drug scandal in the offseason. Grades took down Deryck Gildon, one of the players on the defense with the biggest upside who could have broken out this year. Likely starter Devin Johnson is gone, too. The Horned Frogs are replacing two more safeties. Defensive end Stansly Maponga is a load, but one impact player on the entire defense won't be enough.

2. It can handle big games, but can it handle them (literally) every week? Scoff if you want, but it's going to be an issue late in the season for the Frogs. They may be favored in their first seven games of the season, but TCU closes its season with five games against the other five teams on my list of Big 12 contenders in six weeks -- who could all be in the Top 25. Three of those games (Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State) are on the road. That's just absolutely brutal. The Frogs close with Oklahoma at home. Anybody believe TCU can get through that stretch 4-1? That's what it will take to win the Big 12.

3. It doesn't have enough high-level Big 12 talent. TCU's first team is definitely good enough to win this league. No doubt in my mind. However, injuries happen and guys get banged up, especially in a stretch like I described in my last point. TCU's recruiting hasn't been strong enough to the point where freshmen and sophomores are going to be serviceable replacements in the Big 12 that will allow the Frogs to keep winning. Ask Texas Tech. A handful of injuries can turn you from a truly great team into a very mortal one.

Opening camp: TCU Horned Frogs

August, 9, 2012
8/09/12
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Camp is open up over in Fort Worth. Before we get too deep in sweltering hot practices, I'll offer up a quick preview of what you need to know heading into the season.

See more fall camp previews.

Next up: TCU.

Media's predicted finish: Fourth (received one first-place vote).

Biggest story line: TCU always wanted to be in the Big 12, and now, the Horned Frogs legitimately won their way into rejoining their former Southwest Conference rivals in Texas. But after a steady diet of schedules with only a few featured opponents, can TCU handle a tougher week-to-week schedule in the Big 12? Depth could be an issue, but so could preparing for a brutal line of great opponents in the Big 12.

Biggest question mark: Linebacker. Depth questions were going to come all season long, but the Horned Frogs are now razor thin in the middle of the defense. Tanner Brock was kicked off the team before spring after being arrested in a campus drug sting, and promising linebacker Deryck Gildon is off the team because of academic issues. Kenny Cain is back in the middle of TCU's 4-2-5 defense, but look for Joel Hasley to grab the other spot. It was a disappointing offseason for the Frogs.

Who needs to step up: The safeties. Sam Carter, Elisha Olabode and Jonathan Anderson will likely start the season as the three safeties, but this unit struggled last season in spots. Safeties coach Chad Glasgow is back in Fort Worth after a disastrous season coordinating the defense for Texas Tech, but we'll see if he's able to step right back into his old gig.

Possible distractions: None were bigger than the recent news that quarterback Casey Pachall failed a Feb. 1 drug test and admitted to police he had used cocaine and ecstasy. Gary Patterson earned some criticism for not coming down harder on Pachall considering the recent drug issues on TCU's team, but he did what was required of him in the school's student handbook. Pachall apologized and pledged he'd do better. We'll find out if that's the case.

Don't forget about: DE Stansly Maponga. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor get all the accolades down in Austin, but don't be too surprised if Maponga blows up in his first year in the Big 12 and outshines either one of them or both. He's got plenty of experience and made nine sacks while also forcing five fumbles. That earned him first-team All-Mountain West honors, but he's a preseason All-Big 12 honoree, too. Expect him to validate it.

Breaking out: WR LaDarius Brown. You know about the trio of Josh Boyce, Brandon Carter and Skye Dawson. They're outstanding. Brown might end up being better than all of them. Maybe not this year, but expect the freshman to show flashes. He's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and coming off a redshirt year. Beware.
TCU has done its part to distance itself from an offseason drug scandal, which resulted in four players being removed from the team. They were among 15 TCU students who were arrested in a campus-wide drug bust, including damning police affidavits that featured hand-to-hand deals with undercover police.

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall wasn't one of the players arrested in the sting, but his roommate, Tanner Brock, was. During the sting, Pachall told police he had used drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, but never witnessed any transactions involving Brock.

TCU360 first reported the comments, which were acquired via an open records request.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU quarterback Casey Pachall says he has learned from a failed drug test on Feb. 1.
In the wake of the original report, TCU coach Gary Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Pachall had indeed failed a drug test, but did so only once. He would not be disciplined for the failed test, which came on Feb. 1, and Patterson noted that Pachall passed 24 other drug tests that had been administered, including six since the failed test in February.

From the Star-Telegram:
"We followed every proper procedure the university has in place with a failed drug test," (Patterson said).

By definition, Gary is absolutely, 100 percent correct. Both he and the school did act within the pre-established guidelines in regards to Pachall's off-the-field behavior.

One failed drug test, by TCU standards, means, according to the TCU Student Handbook, section 3.2.10 Drugs, "a. failing a non-incident motivated drug screen one time will result in mandatory drug education counseling and/or required drug treatment."

On Sunday, Pachall took to the podium to address the media, apologizing for "mistakes" but not taking any questions from the media.

That transparency, or something close to it anyway, is appreciated, and ultimately, the right move.

It's one drug test from one player -- at least that we know of. Ultimately, Pachall's far from the first, last or only college quarterback who would have failed a drug test since the end of the season.

Pachall sounded like he had moved past the drug use in an interview with the Star-Telegram during Big 12 Media Days.
"I regret a lot of that stuff, but I have learned from it. I know what is a stupid decision, and to not go around or attempt to be around [stupid decisions]," Pachall told the paper. "The scrutiny and the crap that comes along with that, that is the part I do regret."

Ultimately, Pachall's future drug tests will show whether or not he's serious. What we already know for sure? When it comes to drug use, TCU is playing by different, much more strict rules in the wake of the offseason scandal.

That's fair. TCU put itself in that position. What would barely register on the Richter scale at another school is going to be a much bigger deal at TCU, perceived as evidence that the cleanup from an ugly scandal is still incomplete.

That's life when four players on your team are arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs.

TCU is still going to have to deal with it, and fact is, it's going to be some time before TCU doesn't have to continually prove its program has truly moved past the drug issues that surfaced this spring.

Former TCU players sentenced to probation

July, 25, 2012
7/25/12
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Three former TCU football players who were among more than a dozen students arrested during a drug sting have been sentenced to probation on marijuana delivery charges.

Melody McDonald, a spokeswoman for Tarrant County prosecutors, says 21-year-old D.J. Yendrey pleaded guilty last week and was sentenced to three years of probation. Yendrey, who is listed as David Yendry in court records, was fined $300 on each charge.

Tanner Brock and Tyler Horn, both 21, pleaded guilty to the same charges last month. Brock received four years' probation and was fined $1,200. Horn was sentenced to three years' probation and was fined $300.

For more on this story, go here.

Mailbag: TCU loss, All-Big 12 NFL gripes

June, 1, 2012
6/01/12
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Thanks for all your e-mails this week. Here's where you can reach me. Let's get to it.

Dan in Fort Worth, Texas, writes: Hey David, I know losing Ed Wesley and Deryck Gildon were big for the Frogs, but I think Tucker and James and our various players at LB can pick up the slack there. My biggest concern is the losses on the O-line. By my count we've lost three this offseason for various, non-graduation-related reasons. We could be fairly shallow at that position. I know Casey will have a good season but how limited will he be by an inexperienced offensive line? And if you had to take the over or under on 9 wins for the Frogs now, which way would you go?

David Ubben: Yeah, depth will be an issue on the offensive line, but I like TCU's chances to have a really solid starting five alongside James Fry and Blaine Foltz, the two returning starters. It's definitely a question mark, but I tend to lean toward the positive side of things when that question comes up. Running back will be fine, and even without Ed Wesley, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker will be capable of producing even if the line isn't great.

I totally disagree with you on the linebackers, though. That's huge. I've really got no faith now in TCU at that position. Tanner Brock was a stud. Deryck Gildon could have become one. That's plenty to build around. Now?

The Big 12 is known as a passing league, but teams are more than willing to take advantage of defenses that can't stop the run. Just ask Texas Tech from last season. Its linebackers were awful, and the Red Raiders finished dead last in rush defense. If TCU doesn't have it shored up, it can't count on having a great secondary to get by. Texas Tech's safeties were pretty good, and the defense was still awful.

I've got no real questions about TCU's offense, even without Wesley. However, if the Horned Frogs are indeed falling away from title-contender status, it's because of all the offseason attrition on defense for various reasons. Very troublesome.


Jon in Davis, Calif., writes: Really, the drug scandals are what mars the season? What about Penn State?

DU: Clearly, Penn State was the most tragic incident of the past year, but it's been a rough year everywhere for college football. I was just focusing on the drug issues. The coaching scandals (Tressel, Petrino), a stinker of a national title game and the Penn State issues all marred the season, but our series in the past week tried to look at a different facet on each day.


Luke in Oskaloosa, Kansas, writes: I can somewhat understand why you put Bradford ahead of Freeman (although I think most would disagree) on the All-Big 12 Offensive Team. But in no way can you convince me, or anybody else for that matter, that Jordy Nelson does not beat out Dez Bryant. Are you serious? Honestly, what has Dez done that is in any way impressive? What has he accomplished that make you go, "Wow"? Jordy was one amazing, diving touchdown catch away from becoming a Super Bowl MVP two years ago (which would have totaled 3 for the game). He also has to compete with a way more talented receiving core than Bryant. 1,263 receiving yards and was the second in touchdowns for recievers in 2011 with 15 (only behind "Megatron"). Poor Jordy gets nowhere near the credit he deserves! Please, do your worst, and convince me.

DU: Numbers-wise, I'd probably agree with you. Nelson has been more productive. But really, if you're picking between those two receivers, you're taking Nelson. ... Really? No way. He's a great receiver, but consider who's throwing him the ball. Aaron Rodgers is the game's best quarterback. Also, consider that Nelson is probably his team's second or possibly third-best receiver. The Super Bowl MVP doesn't really mean anything. It's one game.

Bryant was his team's best receiver, and had to play without Miles Austin for much of the year. How often is Nelson seeing double coverage? That's Greg Jennings' job. Meanwhile, Bryant's got to fight for everything he gets, and has a less-talented quarterback throwing him the ball. The numbers aren't the only factor.

If you went around and asked NFL coaches who they'd rather have, you're crazy if you think they'd say Nelson. Productive, yes. Talented, yes. Better than Dez Bryant?

Uh, no.


Kevin Nowicki in Columbus, Ohio, writes: Don't mean to be disrespectful, but your article was useless. No one cares about marijuana use in NCAA football. Clearly you can smoke weed and still be good at your respective sport. You can even be pretty well conditioned and smoke weed. I know plenty of players have come through Ohio State and are able to have success on and off the field and be a marijuana smoker. Marijuana being a "bad" drug is a joke. All the negatives that can be said come from short term effects. This is sports. No more no less. This isn't the professional world where you have to manage way more things and don't have time to smoke. They make mad money. They are mad talented and can get away with it. Santonio Holmes was high while he caught the game winning Super Bowl catch. I guess lady mary jane really affected his motor skills on that play... not. Marijuana is harmless. Removing all the local bars around campuses would have more of a positive effect on the universities rather than cutting down on the most harmless drug of all time.

DU: On this issue, I don't think anyone's making the argument that marijuana affects your talent level to a noticeable degree. The NBA has been proving that for awhile.

But that's not the issue here. Above all else, it's illegal. You can't have players in your program using (or in TCU's case, selling) illegal substances. Have a problem with marijuana being illegal? This isn't the place to debate that. It's illegal. Players are getting caught using and dealing. A lot of people don't have a huge problem with kids drinking before they're 21. That doesn't make it legal.

That's breaking laws, and in the case of TCU, enough to bring about felony charges. And that's not an issue worth writing about?


Shawn in Claremore, Okla., writes: Hey Mr. Ubben I'm not sure if anyone has asked these questions but with the recent suspensions of the three Oklahoma Sooners wide receivers how do you think Landry Jones is gonna perform during this next season considering one of them was one of his top returning targets in Jaz Reynolds? Do you think it will hurt the offense enough to keep them away from a conference or national title?

DU: For OU, it's pretty simple. How ready are all these young receivers? I'm completely sold on Trey Metoyer. He's going to be a factor, and more likely a stud. But what about Sterling Shepard? Durron Neal? Juco transfer Courtney Gardner? What can those guys bring? How long will these guys be suspended? That's still not official.

The offense is going to take a hit early, but those freshmen receivers have a lot of potential. They're also needed immediately. It's going to be difficult. It's possible, but I'm not really buying OU as a national title contender. Big 12 title contender? It'll be a fistfight at the top (look for the Big 12 champ to have two losses), but OU's definitely the favorite in my book, even with the losses at receiver.


Josh in Manhattan, Kansas, writes: Would it ever be worth the time for the B12 to invite Arkansas? I know they have old ties with Texas schools and such and money wouldn't be much different. What are your thoughts?

DU: I've always thought Arkansas was a better fit in the Big 12, but it's never going to happen. As someone who grew up in Northwest Arkansas, the fans love the SEC and would revolt if the administration ever considered leaving. The Hogs would have a lot more geographic rivals (well, one less now that Mizzou is in the SEC), but it's hardly worth even thinking about. Arkansas fans still hate Texas more than any other program, but the school has moved on. It's hardly even worth discussing.
With the spring in the Big 12 over, it's time to hand out some awards.

Best newcomer: Brandon Moore, DT, Texas. Moore and offensive lineman Donald Hawkins were the first two juco transfers at Texas since 2002. This spring, Moore showed why, and Hawkins should start on the offensive line. Moore, a 330-pound force in the middle of the defense was reportedly "unstoppable" this spring. Conditioning may be an issue, but that could get better over the summer. If he's busting up offensive lines, Texas' defense is going to be terrifying. Honorable mention: Blake Jackson, WR/TE, Oklahoma State, Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas

Biggest shocker: Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State. OSU OC Todd Monken said himself he'd be "shocked" if Lunt came in and won the QB job. Well, consider him shocked. Junior Clint Chelf didn't distance himself from his competition, and Lunt learned enough to surpass dual-threat J.W. Walsh and win the job. Chelf and Walsh don't sound like they're itching to transfer, which is a welcome sign for OSU's coaches, but Lunt could begin a storied career in Stillwater this fall, even if there are growing pains in the immediate future.

Best quote: Todd Monken, OC, Oklahoma State. Monken got the Sooners fired up with his take on how quickly things can change for a quarterback when it comes to confidence. "It didn’t take long when ol’ (Oklahoma receiver Ryan) Broyles went down and (OU) started running the dozer to think, 'Do we have our guy?' That didn’t take long," Monken said. "Landry Jones went from like, 'I’m the man,' to all of a sudden, 'I haven’t thrown a touchdown pass, I'm fumbling it over my head at Oklahoma State. I gotta go back and see my quarterback guru." Monken later apologized, and even though he made an example of a rival player, it wasn't explicit criticism. Out of line? Maybe. Definitely not what Mike Gundy wanted to hear. Above all, though, it was fact. Even Oklahoma fans who watched the Sooners in 2011 would admit that. It's the truth. Nice move to apologize, and Oklahoma can call it disrespect if it wants. I'll call it what it is: the truth.

Second-best quote: Glenn Gronkowski, FB, Kansas State. On the light-hearted side of things, the youngest of the Gronkowski boys explained his family slogan, "Get Gronk'd" on his bracelet ("It basically just means beasting as much as possible. It's about beasting and going as hard as possible at all times and in everything you do.") and what it was like growing up with his older brothers, notably New England Patriots' TE Rob Gronkowski. "We'd just break stuff, man. We were into WWE when we were little. One time, we got an old table and pulled it out into the living room. We got Rob and choke-slammed him through it. That thing broke right in half." Mrs. Gronkowski, you are a saint.

Biggest black eye: TCU drug scandal. TCU had a squeaky-clean image before this spring, but there's no doubt the newcomers picked a bad time to have it end. Not the best first impression. Four players were arrested in a campus drug sting, including former All-American linebacker Tanner Brock, who would have been the team's top defender. There's some debate about how widespread the problem was, but the impact, scope and attention of the scandal were a bigger problem for the schools than players at Baylor and Iowa State being under investigation for sexual assault. Isn't that a problem in itself?

Best spring-game performance: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State. Klein was going up against second-teamers, sure. Other K-State quarterbacks have put up crazy numbers in this game, but Klein bested them all with an eye-popping stat line. He completed 47-of-56 passes for 480 yards and six touchdowns, though he threw an interception on the final drive with the game tied at 42. Most impressive? He called all the plays, as K-State QBs traditionally do in the spring game. Honorable mention: Charlie Moore, WR, Oklahoma State

Best viral video: Charlie Weis, Kansas. Weis allowed media access to one open practice, and at the end, ripped into his team for not being enthusiastic enough while celebrating what was supposed to be a game-winning field goal to beat TCU and go 3-0, he told them. "I can tell you guys aren’t used to winning. ... Winning a football game is not supposed to be an uncommon occurrence. I know that’s a novel concept around here," Weis yelled. "When you win a football game, there’s supposed to be a celebration that looks like a celebration. And that was a pile of crap." Was it legitimate? Was it a media stunt? I don't care. It was compelling.

TCU spring wrap

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
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2011 overall record: 11-2
2011 conference record: 7-0
Returning starters: offense: 6; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
QB Casey Pachall, RB Waymon James, DL Stansly Maponga, RB Ed Wesley, RB Matthew Tucker, WR Josh Boyce, LB Kenny Cain, DB Jason Verrett

Key losses
LB Tank Carder, LB Tanner Brock, S Tekerrein Cuba, S Johnny Fobbs, WR Antoine Hicks, S Devin Johnson

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Waymon James* (875 yards)
Passing: Casey Pachall* (2,921 yards)
Receiving: Josh Boyce* (998 yards)
Tackles: Kenny Cain*(72)
Sacks: Stansly Maponga* (9)
Interceptions: Tank Carder, Kris Gardner, Greg McCoy (2, none return)

Spring answers

1. Filling a hole at linebacker: TCU was ready to lose Tank Carder, but the loss of Tanner Brock was unexpected. Thus, TCU entered spring with big questions at linebacker. Danny Heiss and Joel Hasley have stepped in to help fortify a position with a lot to prove in 2012. TCU has a feel for who its guys will be, but are those guys good enough?

2. Beware of the TCU receivers: TCU already felt good about Josh Boyce and Skye Dawson after 2011, but sophomore Brandon Carter is bigger and better this spring. LaDarius Brown may join the fold as a big factor, though. It's not impossible for him to become one of the team's best targets. Casey Pachall has to love adding a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder to his targets, and freshman Kolby Listenbee proved he can contribute right away after enrolling early this spring. He'll play.

3. A change in identity: There's no doubt TCU has big questions on defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary. But offensively? The Horned Frogs have to shore up the offensive line, but its skill-position players are as deep and as talented as any in the Big 12. It's not often that offense has to carry the load for a Gary Patterson team, but it looks like that'll be the case this year.

Fall questions

1. How will TCU handle the jump? Complain about the question all you want, Frogs. It's not that anyone's beating it into the ground, it's that TCU hasn't had a chance to answer it. Fact: The Big 12 will be much more difficult than the Mountain West Conference. TCU brings back a good amount of talent that's built to have success in the Big 12 immediately. Can they do it, though? I'm betting yes, that TCU will flirt with double-digit wins.

2. Will the secondary, especially the safeties, improve? TCU's rise under Gary Patterson has been marked by suffocating defense, but TCU slid to a finish outside the national top 30 in total defense last season after leading the nation in total defense in 2009 and 2010. The loss to Baylor personified those struggles more than any game all season. Patterson wasn't happy with his secondary this spring, either. The bad news: There are lots of Baylors in the Big 12. The good news: Safeties coach Chad Glasgow is back after serving as defensive coordinator at Texas Tech for one season.

3. Can TCU handle gut-punching defensive losses? The Horned Frogs suffered the biggest off-field scandal in the Big 12 this offseason when four players were arrested in a campus drug sting. That's a problem of its own off the field, but on the field, TCU still has to replace 2011 big contributors in Tanner Brock, Devin Johnson and D.J. Yendrey. How much will those losses hurt in the fall?

Lunch links: W.Va. reaction to Big 12 move

May, 2, 2012
5/02/12
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A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

Who has the Big 12's best defense?

April, 25, 2012
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West Virginia ran away with our poll on the Big 12's best offense, but what about the other side of the ball?

Who will have the Big 12's best defense? Let's look at the real candidates.

SportsNation

Which team will have the Big 12's best defense in 2012?

  •  
    7%
  •  
    42%
  •  
    18%
  •  
    20%
  •  
    13%

Discuss (Total votes: 7,192)

Texas

The Longhorns have led the Big 12 in total defense in each of the past four seasons, and coordinator Manny Diaz has a great unit coming back in 2012. Linebackers Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho are gone, but cornerbacks Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs might be the best and second-best in the entire Big 12. Pass-rushers Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat provide a unit well-equipped to slow the league's best offenses.

Kansas State

Bill Snyder's unit has lots of raw talent and brings back seven starters from a defense that ranked fifth in the Big 12 last season. Linebacker Arthur Brown holds it all together in the middle, but cornerback Nigel Malone could emerge as the Big 12's best by season's end. Fellow defensive back Ty Zimmerman and linebacker Tre Walker are both very underrated.

TCU

TCU had a rough 2011 season, and lost former All-American Tanner Brock before the season when he was arrested in a campus drug sting. The Horned Frogs have a tried and true defensive system, though, and safeties coach Chad Glasgow returns after a season at Texas Tech. Under coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs led the nation in total defense in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys came under fire last year under the national microscope, but OSU still forced 44 turnovers in 13 games, six more than any team in all of college football. Eight starters return, including an outstanding cornerback duo in Justin Gilbert and Brodrick Brown. Linebacker Shaun Lewis could be due for a breakout season, too. There are some questions on the defensive line, but Alex Elkins and Caleb Lavey fill out a strong set of linebackers.

Oklahoma

The Sooners' back line caught a lot of criticism last season, but Mike Stoops is back, 11 years after helping carry Oklahoma to its seventh national title, pitching a shutout of Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl. He'll help revitalize the secondary in Norman, and has plenty of talent at his disposal to do so, highlighted by Tony Jefferson, who looks like he's found a home at the traditional safety spot after spending two seasons as nickelback. Corey Nelson and Tom Wort give the Sooners one of the best sets of linebackers in the league.

So, who are you taking?

Spring superlatives: TCU Horned Frogs

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
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Time to continue our series breaking down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. TCU is up next.

More spring superlatives:
Strongest position: Running back

Simply put, this position is pretty absurd for TCU. The Horned Frogs have by far the deepest set of running backs in the league. Ed Wesley, Waymon James and Matthew Tucker all topped 700 yards rushing but each got at least 120 carries and not more than 123. That's crazy balance.

The Horned Frogs may not have a gamebreaker in the unit, and they put those numbers up in the Mountain West, but it's still impressive. Casey Pachall spearheads a great passing attack, but the Horned Frogs are more than capable of getting physical on the ground. Balance has been a benchmark of Gary Patterson's program, and it'll be especially true this year. Nobody in the Big 12 can boast anything close to three 700-yard rushers coming back, and TCU will use them all liberally.

Weakest position: Safety

TCU's safeties outpace the linebackers here, but after Tanner Brock got mixed up in the campus drug sting, there's a big question mark at both positions. Tank Carder was a stalwart at the position for the past three seasons, including the Rose Bowl win in 2010, but he's gone now. Brock missed 2011 with an injury, but the former All-American was expected back. He almost certainly will not return.

Safeties Tekerrein Cuba and Johnny Fobbs are both gone, and the position was already a trouble spot last year. You saw plenty of it in the loss to Baylor that opened the season. Devin Johnson, a likely starter this season, was also arrested in the drug sting and barring a stunning turn of events, won't be with the team this year. Now, it's up to sophomores Sam Carter, Jonathan Anderson and juniors Elisha Olabode and Trent Thomas to fill the void.

The good news? Coach Chad Glasgow is back to coach them after a year coordinating the defense at Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs were the nation's leader in total defense in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with Glasgow. That'll change in their new home in the Big 12, but hopes are still high.
Three more TCU football players have been charged with felony marijuana delivery after a six-month sting.

Defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, linebacker Tanner Brock and offensive tackle Ty Horn were among 14 people charged Thursday in the drug investigation at the university, bringing the total number charged to 23. All three are charged with delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana.

Cornerback Devin Johnson was charged last month with three cases of delivering a quarter-ounce to 5 pounds of marijuana.

For more on this story, go here.

Roundup: Tech trouble, TCU D, commish

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
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Here's a look at what you missed over the weekend.

Two Tech likely starters land in trouble

Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro and running back Kenny Williams were arrested and now face felony charges of unauthorized use of a credit/debit card, according to the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office.

The pair of 19-year-old sophomores were using a 22-year-old victim's card to purchase alcohol at a bar on Friday.

Adam Young of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal has more details on the case:
Late Friday, the bar’s owner told The Avalanche-Journal Amaro and Williams used a card without their name on it to buy more than $100 in drinks, offered bartenders a “big tip” to use the card and tried to use their status as Red Raider football players to avoid arrest.

Chris Bourne said the pair successfully paid for two rounds of drinks, one about $65 and the other about $40, on the card before employees became suspicious of their unusually large tips from the players as the 2 a.m. bar-closing time approached.

Bourne said Amaro and Williams included a $20 gratuity with each transaction, raising a red flag for the bartenders. Many college students leave about a $2 tip for a transaction.

“They were great tippers, considering they weren’t using their own money,” Bourne said, adding his employees did not make a transaction for the final $20 tip and charge.

Bartenders soon discovered the name on the card did not match Amaro’s or Williams’ IDs.

After the discovery, the players also tried to remind the bar staff that "we play football" and were wearing Tech Under Armour football attire, which surely earns them points in coach Tommy Tuberville's book.

We'll see how this plays out, but even if it's juvenile foolishness, they face serious charges. A state jail felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Secondary to that issue? Amaro and Williams were likely key cogs in Tech's offense next year. How much does this change that? Will suspensions be handed down? Answers to that probably depend on how the legal process plays out, but regardless, Amaro and Williams already made enough mistakes in the situation to prompt Tuberville to take measures that ensure it doesn't happen again.

Gary Patterson rips his Horned Frogs defense

TCU held a scrimmage on Saturday, and in what's become somewhat of a tradition, Gary Patterson is looking to light a fire under his underachieving defense.

"They ran around us, they ran through us, they threw it over our head," Patterson told reporters after the 30-minute scrimmage. "We'll give up about 50 points a game in the Big 12 if we play like I just saw us play today."

Sounds like a fun game to watch, and a significantly less fun game to watch. Patterson singled out just one player --cornerback Jason Verrett -- as one player who was "playing like we need him to."

Seeing these struggles, it's hard not to wonder what TCU's defense would look like with linebacker Tanner Brock, safety Devin Johnson and defensive lineman D.J. Yendrey, who were all arrested in a recent campus drug sting and are separated from the team until the legal process plays out. It's early in replacing those three, and you'll hear that from a lot of folks if the defense continues to struggle, but the problems are everywhere for TCU.

"They don't say the D-line gave up 20 points today. There's only one group. If they're throwing it that means we didn't get a pass rush. If they're throwing it over our heads... we've got a long way to go. Any [position] you want to talk about we weren't very good at it."

Big 12 getting outside help for commissioner search

The Big 12 has hired Korn/Ferry International to help find a successor for acting commissioner Chuck Neinas, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.
The hiring of Korn/Ferry points to the Big 12 exploring beyond the normal college sports environment for its next commissioner.
The league has already appointed an in-house search committee, with one representative each from the eight continuing member schools.
Neinas, who has agreed to stay through June 30, will also help the committee in an advisory capacity. Despite public speculation, sources indicated that there is no early front-runner.

Whoever the Big 12 hires, you can be sure it'll be someone with experience in negotiating television contracts. The league's new first-tier TV deal will be renegotiated in 2014, and the Big 12's future hinges on making sure the money it receives being competitive with peers like the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12.


RG3 goes to Washington (probably)

You probably saw it, but the Washington Redskins traded a whole lot to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the No. 2 pick and the right to select Heisman winner Robert Griffin III.
In a predraft blockbuster trade, the St. Louis Rams have agreed in principle to send the second overall pick in this year's draft to the Washington Redskins for three first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.
The trade, first reported by FoxSports.com, cannot be signed off on, turned in and processed until the new league year starts at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, but it is expected to become official then.

That's a whole lot. Here's more on that story.

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