Big 12: Tim Brown
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy Friday afternoon.
As usual here are some of the best questions I received this week from readers.
D.J. from San Diego, Calif., writes: Hey, Tim. Can you explain to me why Tommie Frazier is not in the College Football Hall of Fame? Do you believe he belongs there and how long does it usually take for a super quarterback like him to get in?
Tim Griffin: D.J., I'm similarly mystified why Frazier hasn't made the Hall. When I see lesser quarterbacks like Don McPherson and Major Harris get into the Hall before him, I wonder what the electors are thinking.
Remember, Frazier came within a missed field goal at the end of the 1994 Orange Bowl of leading his team to three-straight national championships. His play really defined those great Nebraska teams of the mid-1990s. And he was the focal point of the 1995 Nebraska team - which in my opinion is one of the three or four greatest teams in college football history.
Frazier didn't pile up the statistics that a lot of his contemporaries did. But he won games and championships. And I think that should be one of the primary determiners for Hall of Fame inclusion.
It sometimes takes too much time for players to get inducted. Tim Brown just made it this season and he even had the appeal of a Heisman Trophy and the fact he played for Notre Dame working for him.
But there are several players who merit inclusion out there. We can only hope that the Hall's selectors can find some room for Frazier and Pat Tillman in the near future.
Because both definitely deserve inclusion.
James Coulter from Corpus Christi, Texas, writes: I'm surprised after seeing your chart earlier this week that you don't have Baylor finishing in a bowl game. They were only one win away last year, and had three losses that could have gone either way. This year their luck in those games should change, so why don't you think Baylor will be bowl-eligible?
Tim Griffin: Actually, James, the Bears were two games away from bowl eligibility last season with a 4-8 record. But I don't like a couple of factors for the Bears that I think will keep them away from a bowl this season.
First is their non-conference schedule. A building program shouldn't be playing teams like Connecticut and Wake Forest in their formative stages. With all of the challenges that the Bears will face in the Big 12 South, it would be understandable if they cut back on the ambitiousness of their non-conference scheduling a bit.
I think Robert Griffin is one of the top young players in college football, but remember the Bears lost two veteran tackles in NFL No. 2 pick Jason Smith and Dan Gay. I think those personnel losses are going to be huge -- both literally and figuratively -- in pass protection, leadership and in run-blocking.
The Bears also didn't do themselves any favors in their Big 12 scheduling. Their three home games will be against Oklahoma State, Texas and Nebraska. I think it would be an upset if the Bears can win any of those games.
And their other designated Big 12 home game will be the Texas Tech game that will be moved to Arlington, Texas. I would like Baylor's chances of beating the Red Raiders a lot more in Waco than there.
I think an absolutely pivotal game for their bowl hopes will be the road game at Texas A&M. The Aggies appear to be struggling and are picked by most to finish last in the Big 12 South. But Baylor hasn't won at Kyle Field since 1984 and it will be a long streak of bad karma in one place to overcome.
It wouldn't surprise me if the Bears were significantly better than last season, but only have a 5-7 record to show for it.
Bob from Sioux Falls, S.D. writes: Tim, great blog. I enjoy reading it every day. You provide some of the best mainstream coverage of the conference that I can find anywhere.
Quick question for you. Do the NFL scouts have something against the Big 12 quarterbacks? If anybody had seen last season in the Big 12 and determined that the best draft-eligible quarterbacks were Josh Freeman and Stephen McGee, somebody would have laughed them out of their "scouting rooms."
Tim Griffin: I agree with some points that you make. I think NFL scouts and teams get caught up on a "profile" of a quarterback that if he isn't the right size or has the necessary they won't consider them.
But I think the biggest quality that NFL scouts sometimes don't consider is previous production. Guys like Graham Harrell and Chase Daniel aren't the biggest or fastest quarterbacks, but I think it says something that both were wildly productive players in winning programs.
If you had ranked Big 12 quarterback last season, Freeman and McGee both would have been behind Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Todd Reesing, Harrell, Daniel and Zac Robinson. I think Robert Griffin's playmaking ability makes him a better college player than Freeman or McGee. And Joe Ganz, despite his NFL detractors, was a capable leader who turned Nebraska into a solid bowl team last season.
It will be interesting to see if the so-called bias against the spread offense will affect the draftability of some of the current Big 12 quarterbacks.
I don't think it will matter with Bradford. I think Griffin's raw athleticism will make him an intriguing NFL quarterback if he can stay healthy. But I will be really curious about McCoy, who has played in a spread offense for much of his college career. Will that hurt his draft status? I guess we'll see next year.
Brad from Denver writes: Tim, Your article about APR ratings in the Big 12 left the door open for people to criticize Colorado. The Buffaloes' rating is in peril primarily because of recent attrition of players that were ineligible because of academics, an area that Colorado is more stringent on than just about any other school. Players don't study, they don't play; they don't play, they leave. All schools are created equally, and it is more difficult to achieve a 2.6 GPA at some schools than others.
Accordingly, I do not find it a coincidence that Baylor and Colorado, arguably the two Big 12 schools with the most rigorous academic standards, are at the bottom of the list.
Tim Griffin: I agree with your point about grades at some schools than others. But to steal a line from Tony Soprano, Colorado's APR score is what it is. It's close to falling below the level where punitive penalties start kicking in. If Coach Dan Hawkins is having trouble keeping players eligible and then they transfer, he might consider attracting players who would be more likely to stay.
The APR is the first piece of academic reform that actually has some teeth in it. The NCAA does a lot of things wrong. But I think this piece of legislation that is good for college athletics.
Ivan Martinez from Waco, Texas, writes: Since you talked about throwback uniforms and helmets, Baylor is actually bringing back the white helmet with the green interlocking BU for the first game against Wake Forest, along with an all white uniform like Oregon. They made some other uniform changes that are more "contemporary," according to athletic director Ian McCaw, which actually discourages me a little bit.
Tim Griffin: Ivan, like I said in my post, I love the idea of throwback uniforms on a limited basis. Texas and Oklahoma both have worn those uniforms for select games in recent seasons. I'd like to see every Big 12 team wear them on a specific weekend that could be designated by the conference office. I think that would be something really cool that would differentiate the conference from all else in college football that weekend.
And they don't have to wear single-bar facemasks, either.
Jason Lewis from Kansas City writes: Tim, I love your blog, but you missed one of the biggest surprises of spring ball in the Big XII. That was Patrick Witt transferring from Nebraska. After all, he was considered the favorite to take over at quarterback for the Huskers. How could you miss that?
Tim Griffin: I didn't consider Witt's transfer because it happened before spring practice started. And I don't know much of an edge that Witt really had over Zac Lee or Latravis Washington or Cody Green or any of Nebraska's quarterbacks after the 2008 season.
Sure, Witt was the player who Bo Pelini turned to when Ganz was dinged in the Gator Bowl. But Witt's struggling performance probably didn't do much to set him apart from the rest. It might have even brought him back to the rest of the other players. And if he was the favorite after the end of last season, it was by a very slight margin.
Rick from Boulder, Colo., writes: It stung a little that you didn't see any Buffs make your top 40 in the Big 12. Would you say a couple might have made the list if it were a top 50 instead? I think Colorado has some talent just about to have a breakout season.
Tim Griffin: I included Darrell Scott on my list of 10 players who nearly made the list. If Markques Simas plays up to his ability, I think he can develop into a solid Big 12 player. Josh Smith is a versatile player who does a lot of things well. Jimmy Smith looks like he might develop into a lockdown cornerback. And I like their offensive line collectively, although one player doesn't stand out for me.
And I think a big performance this season might enable them to have several players on the 2010 list.
Roger Smithson from Wichita, Kan., writes: Tim, who do you think is the best special teams player in the league? By that, if you could have one player to start your special teams, who would it be?
Tim Griffin: I might consider Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant or Perrish Cox or Colorado's Josh Smith. But for my money, the most valuable special-teams player in the conference might be Alex Henery of Nebraska. He was the best long-distance kicker in the conference late last season. He's working as a punter and showed some flashes in the spring of being able to do both. I'm curious to see if he can do both consistently.
Thanks for all of the great questions. I'll check back again next week.