Big 12: Toledo Rockets

Final 2009 Big 12 power rankings

January, 13, 2010
1/13/10
10:00
AM ET
Here's my final look at the Big 12 power rankings for this season.

1. Texas: Longhorn fans will always remember Colt McCoy’s injury in the national championship game and what could have been. Texas overcame every challenge during the regular season, but came up lacking without its leader in the biggest game of the year. The way the Alabama game played out will always haunt Texas fans. If they could have ever grabbed a touchdown lead or more over Alabama, was there any real indication that Alabama could have won with Greg McElroy and the Crimson Tide’s leaky offensive line? But it went the other way and the Longhorns were ground into submission by Alabama’s potent rushing attack to put a disappointing capper on an otherwise memorable season.

2. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers finished 10-4 and were only five or six plays removed from winning three of those games -- losses to Texas, Iowa State and Virginia Tech. If that had happened, it’s not out of the realm of possibility the Cornhuskers could have finished in the top five or six teams nationally. But the convincing victory over Arizona, especially with the unexpected offensive firepower, should build confidence and embolden Bo Pelini and his team for bigger and better things next season.

3. Texas Tech: A roller-coaster season finished with Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeill looking for work despite an impressive 9-4 record where the Red Raiders overachieved to a Top 25 finish. Tommy Tuberville’s arrival will bring changes, but Tech returns with a strong nucleus starting of quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield and running back Baron Batch. If Tuberville can get the Red Raiders up and running quickly, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that his new team could challenge Texas and Oklahoma next season. But it will be tough as he tries to change the culture of the most memorable era of Tech football.

4. Oklahoma: A fast finish took some of the sting out of Bob Stoops’ most disappointing recent season. The Sooners’ hopes of a Big 12 four-peat were doomed as soon as Sam Bradford was lost for the season. And Jermaine Gresham’s injury before the season changed the way Kevin Wilson’s offense could operate. But at the end of the season, Landry Jones showed enough promise to give him a foothold for the starting position next season. The defense developed some young playmakers like David King and Demontre Hurst who showed promise in the bowl game for future growth. The Sooners will be back challenging for the Big 12 title next season if those players build on their late-season efforts.

5. Oklahoma State: All of the promise at the start of the season unraveled with a disappointing string of injuries and suspensions. And even with all of those struggles, the Cowboys still had a chance to play in a Bowl Championship Series game if they had beaten Oklahoma. Losses in the last two games of the season left a bad taste for what could have been Mike Gundy’s breakout season. The defense played much better than expected under new coordinator Bill Young, but the offense didn’t live up to the promise -- especially when Zac Robinson was hurt and his offensive weapons were stripped away. All things considered, a 9-4 record with everything the Cowboys overcame this season was better than could be expected.

6. Missouri: As well as the Tigers played at times during the season, their season was marked by their fourth-quarter home collapse against Nebraska and their confounding Texas Bowl upset loss to Navy. Truthfully, it was expected to be a rebuilding year after losing Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Co., but some of that was lost after a four-game winning streak to start the season. Blaine Gabbert surpassed expectations and is in line to become the conference’s best quarterback over the next couple of years. And Danario Alexander was the best receiver in the nation over the second half of the season. Defensive woes hurt them, but Gabbert’s return and some young defensive talent should have the Tigers pointed to improvement next season and maybe a challenge at the North title.

7. Iowa State: Was there a better moment in the 2009 Big 12 season than Paul Rhoads’ emotional response to his team’s upset victory over Nebraska which became a YouTube staple? Rhoads’ first season far surpassed expectations with a 7-6 record, the Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota and all of the other surprising accomplishments. Alexander Robinson was the most underrated player in the Big 12 and the gritty Iowa State defense played just like you would expect from a Rhoads-coached team. It won’t be easy for them to duplicate next year as they switch to the Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma gauntlet of South Division opponents. But it was a nice first step for Rhoads in building his program.

8. Kansas State: The Wildcats missed out on a bowl trip because of playing too many creampuffs during the nonconference season, but Bill Snyder’s first season was better than expected. The Wildcats received huge contributions from Grant Gregory and Daniel Thomas, who both arrived before summer practice with no real expectations coming into the season. Thomas developed into one of the conference’s best backs and should return for more next season. If Oregon transfer Chris Harper can develop into a playmaker at either quarterback or wide receiver and the defense comes together, the Wildcats might be a threat to make a bowl appearance in 2010.

9. Texas A&M: For all of their offensive weapons, the Aggies’ defense and special teams were the primary culprits in a 6-7 season capped by a disappointing Independence Bowl loss to Georgia. Jerrod Johnson posted the top statistical numbers ever produced by an A&M quarterback and he’s surrounded by a bevy of strong offensive weapons. But Mike Sherman’s new coordinator is going to need to produce more improvement from a young defense if the Aggies have any hopes of contending in the South Division next season and beyond.

10. Kansas: The Jayhawks’ leaky defense did it with mirrors against a weak early schedule, but it all caught up with them during a seven-game losing streak to close the season that precipitated Mark Mangino’s resignation. Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe all finished careers that will go down among the top players in Kansas history. But the challenge for new coach Turner Gill and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush will be to rebuild a defense that allowed at least 31 points in seven of eight conference games.

11. Colorado: Dan Hawkins popped off about challenging for a Big 12 North title at the end of last season. Instead, his team’s struggling performance ended his hopes of “10 wins and no excuses” before conference play even began. The season started off badly with embarrassing nationally televised losses to Colorado State, Toledo and West Virginia and didn’t get much better once conference play began. The Buffaloes did start Kansas’ losing streak and beat Texas A&M, but sputtered offensively as they ranked in the bottom 10 teams in rushing, passing efficiency and sacks allowed and in the bottom 20 teams in total offense. Tyler Hansen emerged as the quarterback of the future. His development will be critical in Hawkins’ hopes at a contract extension.

12. Baylor: The Bears started the season with a confidence-building upset at Wake Forest, but their season for all intents and purposes ended as soon as Robert Griffin sustained a season-ending injury in the third game. Griffin should be back next season but key defensive players like Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake won’t be. The quarterback's return will be critical in rebuilding offensive confidence that was booming heading into the season. The Bears might have the opportunity to snap the conference's longest bowl drought next season in a more balanced Big 12 South, but the key for the season will be developing a defense that can better challenge the South Division’s powers.

Cowboys in tune with Young's relaxed attitude

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
2:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

STILLWATER, Okla. -- Veteran defensive coordinator Bill Young has brought an attitude change to Oklahoma State that seems to mesh well with his group's veteran players.

His old-school mentality and gentler approach stand in contrast to the high-intensity, frenetic attitude that former defensive coordinator Tim Beckman employed with the unit last season.

"Coach Young brings in this laid-back mentality where the players can play more freely and not be worried about making mistakes and getting yanked off the field," Oklahoma State senior linebacker Andre Sexton said. "He comes and coaches us in a nicer way than the previous coach did. I think the players have been adjusting to that well."

Sexton said that Beckman's attitude caused Oklahoma State defenders to play tentatively at times because they were worried about his reaction to the mistakes. He said Beckman's attitude was like that of a pit bull when he was coaching.

"It's kind of hard to get comfortable in game situations when you are worried too much about making mistakes and not able to play in a natural rhythm," Sexton said. "Coach Young does that to us. That's something that we as players need because everybody adjusts to different things."

Beckman has moved on to the head-coaching job at Toledo. But experience gained under Beckman, as well as the gentler coaxing from Young, should have the Cowboys better prepared this season.

Oklahoma State's defense wore down late last season, allowing an average of nearly 585 yards per game in late-season losses to Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oregon that dropped them to 9-4. The Cowboys started the season 8-1.

"Last year, we had a lot of success early in those big games, but as the season went on, I don't know if we're quite ready to tackle the rest of them," Sexton said. "This year, with that experience we gained and what we've learned going through it along with Coach Young, I think we'll be better prepared."

ISU WR Franklin kicked off team after Thursday arrest

June, 19, 2009
6/19/09
7:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Seldom-used Iowa State wide receiver Wallace Franklin has been kicked off the Cyclone team after his third incident with police in the last 15 months.

ISU associate athletic director Tom Kroeschell told the Des Moines Register that Franklin was kicked off the team after "several issues."

"Wallace Franklin is no longer a member of the Iowa State football team, and this addresses several issues," Kroeschell told the Reigster. "There were multiple issues."

The senior receiver was arrested and charged at 2:25 a.m. Thursday for public intoxication, according to the ISU Police Department's daily online log.

Franklin had been suspended for the season in 2008 by former ISU coach Gene Chizik after two interference with official acts -- one that occurred in last March and another after a May incident. He did not see action last seasonn.

ISU director of public safety Jerry Stewart told the Register that Franklin was observed slumping and leaning against a building on the ISU campus. The incident report stated that Franklin appeared to be somewhat unresponsive, exhibited signs of being intoxicated and admitted he had consumed alcohol. He refused sobriety tests at the scene of his arrest.

His dismissal shouldn't be a huge loss for ISU coach Paul Rhoads. Franklin had not cracked the Cyclones' depth chart after spring practice and wasn't expected to get much playing time this season. The Cyclones return a solid receiving corps headed by senior Marquis Hamilton and sophomores Darius Darks and Sedrick Johnson.

After transferring from Butler (Kan.) Community College, Franklin produced two receptions for five yards in 2007, including a 5-yard TD grab against Toledo. He also gained 2 yards on one carry in 2007.

Ranking the best and worst of Big 12 nonconference schedules

June, 10, 2009
6/10/09
12:01
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Big 12 teams should be seldom tested before conference play begins as most teams again are opting to compete with a pillow-soft slate of opponents.

Here's the toughest and weakest of the Big 12 nonconference schedules:

1. Oklahoma: BYU (at Arlington, Texas), Idaho State, Tulsa, at Miami

The Sooners deserve props for adding the BYU game late. The nationally televised game should showcase Oklahoma's defense as it thwarts Max Hall and Harvey Unga for the Cougars. Idaho State is a bad Division I-AA team that went 1-11 last season. Tulsa and Miami both went to bowl games last season. The Golden Hurricane will be breaking in a new quarterback and a new coordinator -- not a good recipe for success for a road team at Owen Field. And although the game against Miami brings back memories of Jimmy Johnson vs. Barry Switzer, the fact is that the Hurricanes could be worn out by the time Oklahoma visits. Miami starts the season with a meat-grinder schedule of Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before the Sooners visit.

2. Colorado: Colorado State, at Toledo, Wyoming, at West Virginia

Coach Dan Hawkins has this team pegged for good things in the conference. The Buffaloes will be tested by four FBS opponents, including two on the road. The rivalry game against Colorado State should be decided in the trenches and the Buffaloes' offensive line will be a load for the Rams. The Toledo game might be trickier than expected considering the Buffaloes will be playing this one only five days after the Colorado State game. But Colorado still should have the talent to prevail. Something tells me that Hawkins will remember that new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen's offense hung 113 points against his defense the last two seasons when he was at Missouri. And the West Virginia trip will be a challenge, although new Mountaineers quarterback Jarrett Brown is largely untested.

3. Missouri: Illinois (at St. Louis), Bowling Green, Furman, at Nevada

The Tigers' inexperienced defense will get a huge challenge in the opener against Illinois' pass-and-catch tandem of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. They'll be facing another experienced quarterback in three-year Bowling Green starter Tyler Sheehan, but the Falcons' defense will be breaking in two new cornerbacks. Furman has a talented quarterback in Jordan Sorrells, but the Paladin's defense shouldn't be able to match Missouri. The trip to Nevada might be a hornet's nest. The Wolf Pack have made four straight bowl trips, multi-purpose quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Western Athletic Conference's last two leading rushers. And, oh, yeah, the Wolf Pack probably still remember that 69-17 beatdown to the Tigers last season in Columbia.

4. Nebraska: Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, at Virginia Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette

No truth to the rumor that the Cornhuskers are gunning for the September version of the Sun Belt championship. Their road game at Virginia Tech is the toughest game that any Big 12 team will play this season. But Bo Pelini will have two games to get his defense ready for Tyrod Taylor and Co. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger made his career name by beating the Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl while at Miami. He won't be nearly as successful this time around. Arkansas State stunned Texas A&M last season, but the Red Wolves will be utilizing a new offensive line this season. And Louisiana-Lafayette's offense is very young and the Cornhuskers will be catching them the week after they have met up with LSU.

5. Oklahoma State: Georgia, Houston, Rice, Grambling

Four home games make for an ideal schedule for the Cowboys to make some national noise. The Georgia game will be arguably the biggest home nonconference game in school history. But the Cowboys grab a break as the Bulldogs try to break in new quarterback Joe Cox. Houston will have Case Keenum and a high-powered offensive attack, but the Cowboys blistered the Cougars for 56 points last year and could score more this season. Rice won't be as good this season after losing most of its offensive firepower. And Grambling has a great football history and an even better band.

6. Baylor: at Wake Forest, Connecticut, Northwestern State, Kent State

The nonconference schedule could determine whether the Bears can snap that long bowl drought. And it won't be an easy one considering that Baylor is the only Big 12 team with two opponents from "Big Six" conferences. The Wake Forest opener will be a huge test, but Robert Griffin might be able to feast on a depleted Demon Deacon defense that lost four starters to the NFL draft. The Bears nearly beat Connecticut last season on the road and the Huskies lose their starting quarterback and top rusher from that team. New coach Bradley Dale Peveto will bring new ideas for Northwestern State, but the Bears have a big edge. And Kent State will be breaking in a new quarterback for a team that has won only 19 games in the last five seasons under Doug Martin.

7. Kansas: Northern Colorado, at UTEP, Duke, Southern Mississippi

The Jayhawks should be able to name their margin against Northern Colorado in the opener. The trip to the Sun Bowl against UTEP the following week might be a different matter. UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe could be a challenge, although the Jayhawks should have enough firepower to outscore them. A Kansas-Duke game would be a made-for-national television delight in basketball. Football, however, is a different story. And Southern Mississippi might be poised to challenge for the Conference USA title and might be a chore with leading conference rusher Damion Fletcher and all of its starting secondary back to challenge Todd Reesing and Dezmon Briscoe.

8. Texas A&M: New Mexico, Utah State, UAB, Arkansas (at Arlington, Texas)

The Aggies desperately need to build confidence and collect a few victories before the South Division gauntlet begins. After last season's opening-game loss against Arkansas State, expect coach Mike Sherman to have the Aggies focused for all of the games. They catch new New Mexico coach Mike Locksley with an uncertain quarterback in the Lobos' opener. Utah State is universally picked to finish last in the Western Athletic Conference. UAB will be rebuilding its defense and likely won't pose many problems for Jerrod Johnson. But the game against Arkansas at
the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium will be a challenge for A&M's defense. The Razorbacks should be much improved in Bobby Petrino's second season. Fans are paying premium prices and expect big things from both teams. The Aggies may catch a break considering the Razorbacks will play SEC contenders Georgia and Alabama in their previous two weeks.

9. Texas Tech: North Dakota, Rice, at Houston, New Mexico

Mike Leach's nonconference schedule won't be as bad as last season's trip to the pastry wagon, but not by much. North Dakota is transitioning into FCS status this season after ranking 137th among the 148 Division II passing teams last season. Sounds like target practice for Taylor Potts, doesn't it? Rice won't be nearly as tough as last season without James Casey, Jarrett Dillard and Chase Clement gone. The trip to Houston will be Tech's biggest challenge and Case Keenum will test Tech's rebuilt secondary in the first battle between the old Southwest Conference rivals since 1995. And New Mexico will have had several weeks to work under Locksley's system, making them a tougher challenge for the Red Raiders in early October.

10. Texas: Louisiana-Monroe, at Wyoming, UTEP, Central Florida

The Longhorns had a couple of game against Utah and Arkansas fall through in their planning. But don't expect the Longhorns to get that much sympathy for a group of opponents that won't give them much BCS bounce. Louisiana-Monroe will be breaking in a retooled offense with a new quarterback. The road trip to Wyoming doesn't resonate like some the Longhorns have made to places like Ohio State and Arkansas in recent seasons. The Cowboys will be breaking in a new quarterback, too. UTEP could contend for the Conference USA West title, but the Miners are a different team on the road. And the Nov. 7 game against Central Florida will bring the nation's worst offensive team from last season into Austin.

11. Iowa State: North Dakota State, Iowa, at Kent State, Army

Paul Rhoads doesn't want any surprises early in his first season and his nonconference schedule. North Dakota State has posed problems to FBS teams like Minnesota in the past. Iowa doesn't have Shonn Greene back, but has almost everybody else back on a stout defense that will challenge the Cyclones. Mighty mite 5-foot-5, 170-pound tailback Eugene Jarvis will test ISU's defense and the trip to Kent State won't be a gimme. And new Army coach Rich Ellerson will bring 6-10, 283-pound wide receiver Ali Villanueva along with starting quarterback Chip Bowden from a team that won three games last season.

12. Kansas State: Massachusetts, at Louisiana-Lafayette, at UCLA, Tennessee Tech

The schedule doesn't provide as many gooey treats as some that Bill Snyder's teams have feasted on in the past, but it's still nothing to write home about. Massachusetts is a contender in the CAA, which is the toughest top-to-bottom FCS conference in the nation. Louisiana-Lafayette will have to replace a lot of offensive talent, but can be troublesome at Cajun Field. UCLA struggled offensively last year and will be breaking in a new quarterback with four new offensive linemen. KSU might be able to compete in that one better than most might think. And Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown, older brother of Texas coach Mack Brown, returns a talented pass-and-catch combination of Lee Sweeney and Tim Benford. KSU still should roll, however.

Tags:

Barry Switzer, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mike Locksley, Miami Hurricanes, Illinois Fighting Illini, Jarrett Brown, Max Hull, BYU Cougars, Toledo Rockets, Harvey Unga, Colorado State Rams, Iowa Hawkeyes, Arrelious Benn, James Casey, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Tim Benford, Bill Snyder, Jordan Sorrells, Kent State Golden Flashes, Bradley Dale Peveto, Ali Villanueva, Baylor Bears, Wyoming Cowboys, Massachusetts Minutemen, Texas Longhorns, Doug Martin, Joe Cox, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, Connecticut Huskies, Juice Williams, Central Florida Knights, Utah Utes, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Missouri Tigers, Rich Ellerson, Colorado Buffaloes, Bowling Green Falcons, Todd Reesing, Dave Christensen, Oklahoma Sooners, Georgia Bulldogs, Utah State Aggies, Chip Bowden, Dan Hawkins, Mike Leach, Robert Griffin, Duke Blue Demons, Kansas State Wildcats, Grambling Tigers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Florida State Seminoles, Rice Owls, Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, Furman Paladins, Northwestern State Demons, LSU Tigers, Watson Brown, Colin Kaepernick, Paul Rhoads, Kansas Jayhawks, Damion Fletcher, Idaho State Vandals, Florida Atlantic Owls, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, West Virginia Mountaineers, Tyrod Taylor, Army Black Knights, North Dakota State Bison, Jerrod Johnson, Shonn Greene, Case Keenum, Lee Sweeney, Alabama Crimson Tide, Taylor Potts, Iowa State Cyclones, Trevor Vittatoe, Mack Brown, Schedule rank 061009, UCLA Bruins, Dezmon Briscoe, UTEP Miners, Bo Pelini, Bobby Petrino, Northern Colorado Bears, Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, Houston Cougars, Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, Jimmy Johnson, Eugene Jarvis, Virginia Tech Hokies, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Ohio State Buckeyes, Jarrett Dillard, Tyler Sheehan, UAB Blazers, Arkansas Razorbacks, Howard Schnellenberger, Chase Clement, Mike Sherman, Texas A&M Aggies

KSU-UCLA game set for national TV broadcast

June, 3, 2009
6/03/09
10:55
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Kansas State's Sept. 19 game at UCLA will be broadcast nationally as part of the Pac-10's television package.

Kickoff has been set for 10:15 p.m. ET from the Rose Bowl. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net.

It is the 21st Big 12 game set for a national television broadcast that has been announced so far.

Here is the Big 12's current television schedule to this point.

All times Eastern

Saturday, September 5

  • Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC, 3:30 p.m.
  • Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis) ESPN, 3:40 p.m.
  • BYU vs. Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas), ESPN, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 6

  • Colorado State at Colorado, FSN, 7 p.m.

Friday, September 11

  • Colorado at Toledo, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 12

  • Iowa at Iowa State, FSN, noon.
  • Houston at Oklahoma State, FSN, 3:30 p.m.
  • Kansas at UTEP, CBS College Sports, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 19

  • Duke at Kansas, Versus, noon.
  • Tulsa at Oklahoma, FSN, 3:30 p.m.
  • Texas Tech at Texas, ABC, 8 p.m.
  • Kansas State at UCLA, FSN, 10:15 p.m.

Friday, September 25

  • Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 26

  • Texas Tech at Houston ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.

Thursday, October 1

  • Colorado at West Virginia, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 8

  • Nebraska at Missouri, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 17

  • Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), ABC, noon.

Thursday, November 19

  • Colorado at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 26

Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Friday, November 27

  • Nebraska at Colorado, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5

  • Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (Arlington, Texas), ABC, 8 p.m.

Big 12 announces early television schedule

June, 1, 2009
6/01/09
1:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12 has announced the first set of games for its 2009 season with television partners ABC, ESPN, Fox Sports Net and Versus.

Fourteen contests have currently been chosen by ABC and ESPN, nine of those as part of the Big 12's television package along with five nonconference road games. FSN has announced four of its initial selections and one game that will be televised by VERSUS.

ABC and FSN will select additional games throughout the season. The majority of the televised games will be announced on a 12-day notice. ABC has rights to exercise a six-day option three times during the season.

The Big 12 will begin its 14th year with ABC as its national network television partner and with FSN for its cable rights.

Here's a list of the games that have been chosen so far and the network that will carry them.

All times Eastern

Saturday, September 5

Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis) ESPN, 3:40 p.m.

BYU vs. Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas), ESPN, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 6

Colorado State at Colorado, FSN 7 p.m.

Friday, September 11

Colorado at Toledo, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 12

Iowa at Iowa State, FSN, noon.

Houston at Oklahoma State, FSN, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 19

Duke at Kansas, Versus, noon.

Tulsa at Oklahoma, FSN, 3:30 p.m.

Texas Tech at Texas, ABC, 8 p.m.

Friday, September 25

Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Saturday, September 26

Texas Tech at Houston ESPN2, 9:15 p.m.

Thursday, October 1

Colorado at West Virginia, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 8

Nebraska at Missouri, ESPN 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 17

Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), ABC, noon.

Thursday, November 19

Colorado at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, November 26

Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Friday, November 27

Nebraska at Colorado, ABC, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5

Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (Arlington, Texas), ABC, 8 p.m.

My Big 12 dream schedule for 2009

May, 8, 2009
5/08/09
2:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It's never too early to start thinking about the upcoming season and the games that the Big 12 will provide.

During a flight of fancy last night, I sat down and plotted my ultimate dream schedule if I could watch what I now consider the best game every week.

Here's my list, including a running total of the miles I would travel from my San Antonio home:

Week 1: Georgia at Oklahoma State, Sept. 5 -- This might be the best nonconference game of the season for a Big 12 team as Mike Gundy's Cowboys face the Bulldogs. It should be a clash of two top 20 teams in the season opener. We'll get an early opportunity to see whether the Cowboys are as legitimate as their preseason publicity might suggest.

  • Other games I considered: Oklahoma vs. Brigham Young (at Arlington), Illinois-Missouri (at St. Louis), Colorado State at Colorado.
  • Round-trip mileage from San Antonio to Stillwater: 934 miles

(Read full post)

Blog ranks Christensen's hiring by Wyoming as best in nation

April, 30, 2009
4/30/09
6:59
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Web site Coacheshotseat.com is one of my must reads every day. They always have an interesting spin on various college football topics and a lot of original content.

One post this afternoon was particularly interesting. The Web site ranks the 22 hirings of new FBS head coaches since the end of last season.

Here's a list of hirings of all new Division I head coaches. The ones that are highlighted have Big 12 connections. 

1. Dave Christensen, Wyoming

2. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

3. Rich Ellerson, Army

4. Dabo Swinney, Clemson

5. Brady Hoke, San Diego State

6. Steve Sarkisian, Washington

7. Doug Marrone, Syracuse

8. Danny Hope, Purdue

9. Mike Locksley, New Mexico

10. Ron English, Eastern Michigan

11. Mike Haywood, Miami (OH)

12. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State

13. Chip Kelly, Oregon

14. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State

15. Gene Chizik, Auburn

16. Gary Anderson, Utah State

17. Frank Spaziani, Boston College

18. Tim Beckman, Toledo

19. Stan Parrish, Ball State

20. Dave Clawson, Bowling Green

21. Bill Snyder, Kansas State

22. Lane Kiffin, Tennessee

It's particularly interesting to look at the difference between former Missouri coordinator Dave Christensen and former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman.

They believe that Christensen's success bringing his version of the spread to Wyoming will pump new life into the Mountain West Conference. And they compare that to the largely unknown Beckman, who will be challenged to succeed in the balanced Mid-American Conference.

The switch from Gene Chizik to Paul Rhoads appears to be a wash, as Rhoads' hiring is ranked No. 14 while Chizik checks in at No. 15.  

But the most interesting comments to me were how the Web site viewed Bill Snyder replacing Ron Prince at Kansas State.

21. Bill Snyder for Ron Prince at Kansas State

"We could have gone either way on the firing of Ron Prince, but bringing Bill Snyder back to Kansas State? No, we cannot understand that move by KSU. OK...Bill Snyder was a great football coach, but that was in another time and another place. Snyder put up some great seasons at K-State, but in his last two years, which happened to correspond to the rise of Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Missouri in the Big 12, Snyder went 4-7 in 2004 and 5-6 in 2005. There is a reason that Bill Snyder was fired after the 2005 season and that reason has not changed and we believe K-State will regret hiring Snyder because he will not move the football program forward in what has become a much tougher Big 12. Instead of Bill Snyder, we would have hired Buffalo's Turner Gill, Oklahoma's Brent Venables, Illinois Mike Locksley, Missouri's Dave Christensen or even Dennis Franchione over bringing back Bill Snyder and we believe Kansas State will regret this coaching move."

I would criticique Coacheshotseat.com for saying that Snyder was fired after the 2005 season. He actually resigned. But I'm still intrigued by their comments.

It will be interesting to see how Snyder's return to KSU plays out. Either it will be a home run or a colossal flop.

I'm betting that Snyder's work ethic and his return of a veteran group of coaches familiar with the KSU program will work and work to ensure the program's success.

But even that might not be enough, considering the Big 12's strength.

Big 12 lunch links: Tech's Hunter changes positions

April, 1, 2009
4/01/09
12:40
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. -- No need for any April's Fool jokes today.

These are just solid Big 12 stories about spring practice taking place almost everywhere around the conference.

Here are some of the most notable ones from this morning.

  • Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill has made a couple of unusual position switches early in spring practice. Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal details how Victor Hunter has moved from middle linebacker to nose tackle after adding 20 pounds and Julius Howard has switched from outside linebacker to safety after dropping 20 pounds.
  • Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman ranks head football coaching jobs at Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas among his 10 toughest jobs in college sports.
  • Colorado defensive line coach Romeo Bandison tells the Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo that intense competition will mark battles to replace three senior defensive line starters from last season.
  • With contract extensions in place for football coach Gary Pinkel and basketball coach Mike Anderson, the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock proclaims the "Dark era" finally is over for Missouri.
  • Nebraska coach Bo Pelini pocketed an extra $50,000 for sharing the Big 12 North title with Missouri last season and his assistants earned a collective $68,750 for that achievement, Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
  • Pete Fiutak of College Football News ranks Texas' Colt McCoy and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford among his top three 2009 Heisman contenders and also lists Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant and Kansas' Todd Reesing as dark-horse candidates for the award.
  • Iowa State and Toledo have announced a two-game, home-and-home series in 2013 and 2014, the Toledo Blade reported.
  • The Tulsa World's John Hoover profiles Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis, who says he is feeling more comfortable with Oklahoma's defense heading into his second season as a starter. 

Big 12 lunch links: Bracing for a Kansas blizzard

March, 27, 2009
3/27/09
1:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Welcome to the heartland, where a blizzard is expected to blow through with 8 to 10 inches of snow Saturday morning.

Luckily, I was warned to bring a lot of warm clothes.

I'm ready, but here are some links before I brave the elements.

  • Mike Finger of the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News wants to know whether anybody wants to start for Texas at running back.
  • Senior wide receiver Deon Murphy and senior offensive lineman Edward Prince have left the Kansas State program, Manhattan Mercury senior writer Mark Janssen reports.
  • Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman reports that top Oklahoma recruit Justin Chiasson has been arrested and charged with multiple criminal acts.
  • Texas Tech running back Ryan Hale might not look much like Michael Crabtree, but he still wants to wear the Biletnikoff Award winner's old uniform number, Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes.
  • Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk writes that 10 teams made scheduling allowances to enable the Colorado-Toledo game on Sept. 11 to be set.
  • Baby-faced Texas quarterback Colt McCoy grew a beard and gained much perspective last week during his missionary trip to the Amazon Basin, Dallas Morning News Big 12 columnist Chuck Carlton writes.
  • Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has made a conscious effort to pare down his offensive terminology to one-syllable words to make it easier for his quarterbacks, according to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News.
  • Oklahoma State safety Lucien Antoine told the Oklahoman's Scott Wright that the mental aspect of his rehabilitation from knee surgery was more challenging than the physical part.

Colorado-Toledo set for Sept. 11 ESPN broadcast

March, 26, 2009
3/26/09
2:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Colorado filled the final hole in its 2009 schedule with the announcement of a game Sept. 11 at Toledo.

The Friday night game will be nationally televised by ESPN and set for a 9 p.m. ET kickoff.

The announcement is significant because it fills a hole that originally was created when Miami backed out of a game with the Buffaloes in order to play a game against Kentucky at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on the same weekend.

And it provides another nationally televised game for Colorado against a Toledo team that will be breaking in a new coach with the arrival of former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman.

"Any time you have late changes to your schedule, it's a challenge and creates angst associated with your fans and your coaches," CU athletic director Mike Bohn told the Boulder Camera. "However, ESPN and many others were diligent, professional and committed to ensuring that all the pieces fit in the right place and for all the right reasons."

The Camera reported that the contract between Colorado and Miami originally called for damages of $750,000 to be paid if one school canceled on the other. But because a suitable replacement was found and the game still will be nationally televised, there will be no damages paid.

The Buffaloes do get one consideration as Miami will play a men's basketball game at Colorado without receiving any compensation, the Camera reported. With some road opponents commanding up to $80,000 for a basketball guarantee, it will represent a sizable savings for the Buffaloes.

It looks like a winnable game for the Buffaloes, but past history might be considered before they chalk anything up before their trip to the venerable Glass Bowl in Toledo.

The Rockets are 2-0 at home against Big 12 schools in the past three seasons, beating Kansas there in 2006 and Iowa State in 2007. They have also beaten BCS teams like Pittsburgh (2003), Minnesota (2001) and Purdue (1997), dating to the era when Gary Pinkel turned them into a solid Mid-American Conference power.

And the most notable victory in the history of the Toledo program came last season with a 13-10 triumph at Michigan. It was one of the few bright spots in a disappointing 3-9 season that eventually cost former Toledo coach Tom Amstutz his job.

Thursday's announcement fills the final scheduling hole in the Big 12 heading into the 2009 season.

Big 12 lunchtime links: Toledo trip could be CU's 12th game

March, 17, 2009
3/17/09
12:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Have a green beer for me and a double helping of corned beef and cabbage while you are savoring these links. 

It will almost make you feel like you're at the Emerald Isle -- at least for a few minutes. And the green foam mustache left from the beer will put in the spirit of today, too.

Enjoy.

  • Colorado now appears to be headed to play at Toledo to fill its 12th game of the season. The game with the Rockets, coached by former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, would be played on Friday, Sept. 11, Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera reports.
  • Mike Gundy told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his infamous 2007 rant has helped his school's recruiting.
  • Baylor offensive lineman Jason Smith checks in at No. 2 and Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree at 10th on the most recent draft board created by the Houston Chronicle's Lance Zierlein.
  • Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com lists the development of Oklahoma's offensive line, the return of Bill Snyder and the return of Oklahoma State coordinator Bill Young to the Big 12 among his 25 story lines to follow this spring.
  • Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal notes that Kansas State earned a pyrrhic victory when the Wildcats finished second to Tennessee in the Bryce Brown recruiting sweepstakes.
  • Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp spent some of his spring break last weekend visiting with his old boss, Alabama coach Nick Saban, Austin American-Statesman beat writer Suzanne Halliburton reports.  
  • Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Zac Robinson and Todd Reesing are listed among J.S. Hett's top 10 returning quarterbacks at opensports.com.

Big 12 lunch links: OU starts spring practice

March, 3, 2009
3/03/09
12:39
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

And then there were three.

Big 12 teams, that is, who will have begun spring practice after Tuesday afternoon (Baylor and Texas are the other two). Oklahoma's practice begins today.

Bob Stoops will be busy trying to rebuild an offensive line that loses four starters and finding a few new receiving threats for Sam Bradford to throw to. It should be an interesting spring around his team over the next several weeks.

Here are some stories around the Big 12 for your lunchtime perusal this afternoon. Enjoy them.

  • The Miami Red Hawks are trying to get out of their Sept. 12 game against Colorado in order to play a potentially more lucrative game against Kentucky in Cincinnati, Boulder Daily Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo reports. If the move is made, the Mid-American Conference will work to find a suitable replacement for the Buffaloes that could be Akron, Bowling Green or Toledo.
  • The Waco Tribune-Herald's John Werner writes that converted Baylor running back Jeremy Sanders can help the Bears at his new position of safety due to his athleticism.
  • Oklahoma redshirt freshman linebacker Austin Box was cited by Norman police for urinating in public early Saturday morning, the Tulsa World's John Hoover reports.
  • The Kansas City Star reports that Illinois State athletic director Sheahon Zenger, a Kansas State graduate and a former associate athletic director for development at KSU, could emerge as a leading candidate for the vacant athletic director job at his alma mater. The school announced an eight-member search committee that will help KSU president-elect Kirk Schulz find the president, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
  • Austin American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden have video anlyzing what they've seen at Texas' first two spring practices.
  • Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's experience in developing quarterbacks in his previous coaching history should be invaluable as he attempts to find a new starter for the Cornhuskers this spring, Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple reports.
  • Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler turned down a restructured offer from South Florida coach Jim Leavitt to become a defensive co-coordinator for the Bulls, Greg Auman of the St. Petersburg Times reports. The Tampa Tribune's Brett McMurphy reported that Ekeler, who had earlier turned down a similar offer to join Leavitt's staff, was offered a co-coordinator position along with Iowa State secondary coach Chris Ash.

Miami coordinator Young offered deal to come to OSU

January, 19, 2009
1/19/09
7:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Current Miami defensive coordinator Bill Young has been offered a megabuck deal that could pay him up to $700,000 per year to become the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

The Tulsa World follows up on a report by Canesports.com that Young, a former Kansas, Oklahoma State and Tulsa defensive coordinator, could be offered a record pact for the Cowboys.

Will Muschamp of Texas makes $1 million per year, but part of that salary was earned because he is the Longhorns' designated head coach after Mack Brown retires.

The World reports that former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Tim Beckman, who left for the head coaching job at Toledo, was paid $303,000 last season. And Joe DeForest, the Cowboys' special teams coach, is the highest paid member of Coach Mike Gundy's staff makes $319,000 per season.

Young, 62, played collegiately at Oklahoma State from 1965-67. He most recently served in the Big 12 during a six-season stint as defensive coordinator at Kansas on Coach Mark Mangino's staff from 2002 through 2007.

OSU assistant Curtis Luper appears headed to Auburn

January, 2, 2009
1/02/09
8:52
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

New Auburn coach Gene Chizik has reached out to the Big 12 to help fill his staff at his new school.

The Oklahoman reports that OSU assistant head coach/running backs coach Curtis Luper will join the staff of Chizik, who served as head coach at Iowa State for two seasons before heading to Auburn.

Luper's role at his new job is undefined. Chizik has already hired former Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn for that job on his staff.

The Cowboys already are looking for a defensive coordiantor after Tim Beckman left Coach Mike Gundy's staff for the head coaching job at Toledo.

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