Big 12: Tommie Frazier

Three players from Big 12 programs are the newest members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Texas defensive back Jerry Gray, now the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, can add Hall of Famer to his resume after today.

So can the late Rod Shoate, who led Oklahoma in tackles for three seasons from 1972-74 and won the national title in 1974.

Baylor quarterback Don Trull finished his career as the all-time Southwest Conference leader in touchdowns, with 42, and joins Shoate and Gray as Hall of Famers.

Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier also finally joined the Hall of Fame, but Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth didn't get the necessary votes to do the same.

To qualify for the Hall of Fame, a player must have been a first-team All-American, have played within the last 50 years (afterward, he may be nominated by the Veterans Committee) and be retired from professional football.

Chat: FSU/Big 12, Snyder, top coaches

May, 15, 2012
Thanks for coming to this week's chat. Here's the full transcript.

Got more to say? Here's where you can reach me.
Justin (Stillwater, OK): Any Big 12 coaches on the hot seat heading into next season? What about any assistant coaches who are due a head coaching gig?

David Ubben: No, not really. Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville is the closest thing, but Tech should be better, and he's not legitimately on the hot seat yet. As for assistants, both of Texas' coordinators could have some opportunities at season's end. Those are the two most likely guys to move up in the near future. Josh Heupel at OU could get some attention, too.

Nemo Cowbell (Pasture, TX): The chatter about FSU coming to the Big 12 certain has picked up a lot of momentum lately, do you think there is any merit to it or is it a bunch of smoke?

David Ubben: No official talks yet, but it's pretty clear there's at least some interest on both sides. Only a matter of time before they at least discuss the possibility. Absolutely idiotic for both not to at some point. Then see where it goes.

Ken (Elkhorn, NE): David, it has been a long time since I have asked you a question, due to Nebraska heading off to the Big Ten. I definitely miss Nebraska being included in the blog. Anyway, why does the best quarterback in the history of the Big 12 (Tommie Frazier, for those unfortunate enough not to know who I'm talking about) keep getting snubbed by the HOF? What gives?

David Ubben: No idea. It's stupid. Frazier was a stud, and with apologies to one Timothy Tebow, maybe the best option quarterback ever.

TCU Fan (Lubbock, TX): Why do you think FSU is responding so publicly to this potential conference realigment, instead of playing it close to the vest the way we have seen A&M, Mizzou, TCU, the SEC, and the BE do it?It is strange to see so many high level admins at FSU (Board of Regent, President, Head Coach) carry on this public debate about a rumor that started on a internet message board.

David Ubben: Good points, TCU fan. This saga's played out quite a bit differently than the others. Mizzou had some folks comment, but nothing to this scale, especially this early in the process. It may speak to the illegitimacy of the whole deal.

Poke (Columbia): How much do the OU suspensions hurt them. Given OU's success post-Broyles, that has to hurt pretty badly. I think the top of the league just got more even, no?

David Ubben: It's not a death blow, but yeah, it evens things up a lot. The new receivers heading to Norman have a lot of pressure now. Bob Stoops has to be pretty frustrated. Jaz Reynolds can't seem to stay out of trouble.

Ike (PA): If FSU goes to Big 12, how do you rate the expansion scorecard:WVU, FSU, TCU vs. Neb, Colorado, A&M, Mizzou. Pretty tight

David Ubben: On the field, it's pretty close, Ike. I'd probably give the edge to the Big 12. FSU would help with the tradition and large fan base area, but the Big 12 still probably lost out on that one. A&M and Nebraska have enormous followings.

Max (Jacksonville, Fl): Im an FSU guy that is frustrated with the ACC. Started with the lame conference schedule and biased (in my opinion) officiating. So now Im excited with the possibility of joining the Big 12. I hear Texas controls the shots in the question: Take money from the equation, is it any better in the Big12?

David Ubben: First off, chill with the officiating. Spoiler alert: Every conference thinks their officiating is the worst. And I don't know a ton about the ACC dynamics, but if you feel the ACC is too NC-centric, I doubt you'd find the Big 12 any less Texas-centric.

Mean Green (Denton): With all the controversies this off season and all the suspensions taking place, do you think TCU acted too quickly in immediately expelling the four players involved in the scandal from the team? Should they have followed the path as everyone else and indefinitely suspend them and give em shot later in the fall?

David Ubben: No. Everyone else doesn't matter. TCU had players on its team with lots of evidence supporting the notion that they were drug dealers. That can't be tolerated or given a second chance. Good bye. TCU did what it had to do.

Jesse (Americaaa!) [via mobile]: Is Bill Sny the Football Guy the best coach in Big12 history, if not the NCAA? Some will argue titles make the coach, but if he had half the talent these other perrenial powers had... well, you catch my drift. Your thoughts?

David Ubben: That case is to be made. If you put any of the coaches some consider to be better than Snyder in his situation at K-State, how many of them could do what he did? Any of them? One of them?

Steven (H ): Been saying it all along, Tuberville needed two years. heck, Leach needed two years also before he got relevant w/TTU. This is Tub's breakout season, no doubt in my mind, and when it happens, all hail will break loose to you Mr Ub's

David Ubben: Probably, but Texas Tech fans already let loose a whole bunch on me when I picked them to finish sixth in the Big 12 South in 2010. Then they finished fifth. Whoops.

Josh (San Antonio): Best coach in the history of the Big 12?

David Ubben: Gotta be Stoops or Snyder. Stoops revived a floundering national power and has sustained it for more than a decade. Snyder did the impossible. Two different tasks. Two amazing feats.

Yards to Glory: Frazier drags Gators

August, 2, 2011
Monday we began a week-long project looking at the most famous touchdowns from 100+ yards down to one yard, and we'll be taking a look at each of the Big 12 entrants on the blog throughout the week.

You can see the full project here.

You'll surely remember this run, Nebraska fan or not.

Jan. 2, 1996: Tommie Frazier's stampede through Florida epitomized Nebraska's physical mauling of the Gators in a Fiesta Bowl matchup that doubled as a de facto title game. It was a simple option right at the end of the third quarter, with Frazier keeping and cutting upfield. He encountered roughly half the Florida defense, but the Cornhuskers quarterback kept his legs driving and broke free for 75 yards. On TV, Jim Nantz sounded as though he'd given up on the play until Frazier suddenly and incomprehensibly was in the clear. "How many tackles can one man break?" Nantz shouted.

-- Pat Forde

Nostalgia plentiful as old Big 12's end nears

November, 30, 2010
Bob Stoops remembers it well. The Oklahoma coach grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, alongside the Pelini family, far outside the proverbial footprint of the Big Eight.

It didn't matter. This time of year brought one of college football's premier rivalries, and Stoops was watching. He wasn't alone.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma coach Bob Stoops
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiGrowing up as a kid Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was a fan of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry. "Couldn't wait for this game," Stoops said.
"Couldn’t wait for this game," Stoops said of the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry. "Just watching the two teams in red and white go at it was really special, because it was always a great game, great players, great coaches.

"You have to admit, everybody was watching it around the country."

They saw the "Game of the Century" in 1971, when No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma, 35-31. From 1971-82, neither team entered the game ranked lower than No. 11. In the 1980s, the two teams met four consecutive times with both carrying top 5 rankings. That stretch birthed Oklahoma's "Sooner Magic."

Heisman winners like Johnny Rogers and Mike Rozier, among other legends like Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier and Roger Craig all helped build the rivalry across from Sooner legends like Steve Owens, Billy Sims, and Greg Pruitt, all Heisman-winning running backs.

The coaches littered throughout the series, including Nebraska's Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne and Oklahoma's Barry Switzer and Bud Wilkinson, are some of the best ever.

"I was always kind of an OU fan, their style of play, coach Switzer. And look at all the backs they had," Stoops said. "As a young kid, of course everybody’s watching those flashy guys, how fast they were. Couldn’t wait to watch the game."

The annual series died with the Big Eight and birth of divisions in the Big 12, but with Nebraska prepared to leave for the Big Ten in 2011, there's plenty of nostalgia for everyone building up to the last game ever in a 12-team Big 12.

Fittingly, Stoops said, between the Sooners and Huskers one more time.

"I feel fortunate to be a part of it. It’s exciting and it’s earned," he said. "Both of us have earned it through tough division fights."

Mailbag: 12 vs. Ten, OSU woes, and UT offense

May, 28, 2010
David in Austin, Texas, writes: Given the "regime change" down in Austin this offseason (GG for Colt) and Mack Brown's professed desire to bring GG help in the form of a tried and true running game, how long would you give it until they revert back into the "forget strategy, let's just give it to our best player"-strategy?

David Ubben: Technically, that's what they're doing now. For all the talk about Garrett Gilbert, they've got two experienced running backs in Tre' Newton and Fozzy Whittaker, so even though they've got to find three new offensive linemen, Brown's giving those guys a chance to carry the team. But you've got a point. If Gilbert's completion percentage starts floating toward 70 percent and he's taking care of the ball, you might see the Longhorns start to spread it out a little more.

Ben in Atlanta asks: David, last week I asked if the Big 10's public jockeying for expansion was nothing but circus publicity and you didn't agree, then curiously every one of your fellow ESPN bloggers inexplicably voted the Big 10 the second best conference behind the SEC. Coincidence? I think not, pure expansion hype has been good for business for the Big 10... agree?

DU: Sorry, Ben. Still not biting. And, for the record, my boy Ted Miller out West put the Big 12 as his second-best conference. I think the perception of the conference comes down to the amount of talent that left. While having nine first-round draft picks looks good in April, it doesn't bode well for the preseason prognostication in the following months. It doesn't help that the Big 12 doesn't have a player you could even come close to arguing as the best in the country, a major departure from last season. Texas and Oklahoma in apparent "down" years (i.e. 10 wins, rather than 11+) has more to do with people putting the Big Ten ahead of the Big 12 than any of the expansion talk.

Luke Hood asks: Whats up?

DU: Not much, man. Just bloggin'.

John in Denver asks: Do you think Dan Beebe will give a deadline next week during the Big 12 conference meetings for members to commit to the conference? If so, when do you think that deadline will be established and can he provide a solution to encourage Nebraska to stay?

DU: I'd be surprised if we hear a firm deadline to make a commitment, but the conference definitely wants to move in that direction. Beebe clarified his comments last week, so don't expect to hear an ultimatum to Nebraska, Missouri or Colorado. He says he has some ideas to rectify the instability -- perceived or real -- within the conference, and we might hear some of those in Kansas City next week. But my guess is we're more likely to see them enforce some sort of negative consequence for leaving, rather than a positive consequence for staying. I could be wrong, though. Either way, I'll be there next week and let you guys know what's up when we know.

Scott in Lubbock, Texas, asks: Here's a hypothetical. Its the Big 12 coaches meeting, and the coaches are kind of bored. The Big 12 South coaches challenge the Big 12 North coaches to a game of pick up basketball. How do you see this game play out?

DU: Lots of plays being called. Few being executed. Gary Pinkel and Mike Gundy keep trying to spread everyone out and go play hoops on the grass outside. Bo Pelini keeps packing everyone inside the paint and ordering them not to shoot. In short, it would be a mess. In the end, they all decide to stick to football.

Dan in Hanover, N.H., writes: Just a heads up on your college HoF article. Barry Alvarez, while he'll go for what he's done at Wisconsin was, in fact, a linebacker at Nebraska in the 1960s under the late Bob Devaney.

David Ubben: Ten or so folks wrote in about this. I'm aware, but Alvarez was inducted as a coach, and though Gene Stallings was better known at Alabama, his induction explicitly mentions his work at Texas A&M. So, sorry Nebraska fans, Alvarez doesn't count as another in the Hall of Fame. And here's a little more on Tommie Frazier, whose exclusion prompted a few e-mails as well.

Jeff in Shakopee, Minn., asks: Every five years a Big 12 team wins a National Title. 2005- Texas 2000 Oklahoma 1995- Nebraska 1990- Colorado 1985- Oklahoma. Who from the Big 12 is going to win it this year?

DU: Interesting observation, but last year would have been the next in the five-year cycle. Might as well not even bother to play this season. But those mid-90s Nebraska teams prove it's possible for a Big 12 team to win the title in other years, so I guess we'll hold off on canceling the next three seasons. As for this year, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma wouldn't completely shock anyone by winning the title.

(3:26 p.m.) EDIT: Whoops. The January crossover keeps the confusion coming. I'm an idiot. Jeff's right.

Randy in McKinney, Texas, asks: I'm curious as to why so many people think OSU will take such a huge nosedive next year. 64th in one poll, seriously? Ranked behind Kansas and Tech, both of which had a complete coaching overhaul? I know that preseason polls aren't reliable, but still. What gives?

Chance Cole in Charleston, S.C., asks: With Dez Bryant suspended, Zac Robinson playing injured the last few games (and throwing inconsistently when healthy), and Toston bearing the load for an injured Hunter, the Ok. State Cowboys still put together a decent season. So with a mature gunslinger like Weeden, a healthy Kendall Hunter, a blossoming Hubert Anyiam, and a new O-coordinator, why so sour on the Cowboys for 2010? Can the defense be that bad?

DU: I was really surprised to see them that low in that ranking. I'm not sour at all on the Cowboys, I think they'll be solid. But the South is still going to be tough, and Texas and Oklahoma will be much better; Texas A&M will be slightly better. Oklahoma State and Tech are kind of on a similar rung, and Baylor is drawing some hope from their potential, which is very real. Replacing four linemen, including Russell Okung, doesn't help the Cowboys' case, and they have to figure out who they can count on at the skill positions. With Dana Holgorsen's quick-release scheme, they could probably manage if the offensive line plays poorly, but those guys playing well is obviously going to make it a lot simpler.

Readers discuss rule changes

April, 22, 2010
Earlier this week, I mentioned a little tidbit in Bruce Feldman's blog about the lack of uproar about celebrations in soccer, celebrations that are much more elaborate than anything we're used to seeing on the football field. Here's what you had to say about that issue, and the recent rule changes in general. Some of these explore some interesting points of discussion on the interpretation of the rule, as well as the reasoning for the rules.

Here are a few of the more interesting responses:

Ryan in New York says: Forgive the Andy Rooney impression, but when I was a kid we played neighborhood football. Let me clarify: We actually used a football and not joysticks. A Hail Mary touchdown wasn't complete without an Ickey Shuffle or a moonwalk. And love him or hate him, Ocho Cinco always brings a smile to my face. It's a game, folks. Not a funeral. These rules are getting ridiculous and turning college athletes into robots. What's next? Forfeiting a TD after a chest bump or a high five? I know that's a slippery slope, but so is this area of regulation. Keep up the good work.

Jim in Bainbridge Island, Wash., says: This rule's application is WAY too subjective... not nearly black and white enough to be enforced fairly. The change now leaves too much on the shoulders of the ref's personal interpretation. Nuff said.

Zech in Barcelona, Spain says:
i personally hate on field celebration, but what i hate more is giving more power to the refs. i think that this rule puts the outcome of the game in the refs hands to an unacceptable degree.

Joey Gilsdorf in Salina, Kansas says: I think this new rule change is absolutly rediculous. It is to much of a judgment call, it is one thing to penalize for excessive celebration but to take points of the point if the "penalty" is commited outside of the endzone is rediculous. We are going to see many situations in the upcoming season where we say why did they call that excessive celebration, and how did they not call that excessive celebration. It's just another way for officials to control the potential outcome of the game (like the 1 second put back on the clock in the Big 12 Championship game). I'll debate anyone on that all night long.

Josh in Lincoln says: I think the celebration rule is ridiculous, and here is why. Sticking with Nebraska, an interesting point was brought up in regards to this rule about a week ago by Steve Sipple here in Lincoln. He mentioned how in 1995, Tommie Frazier's fascinating 75 yard touchdown run against Florida could have been called back, because he looked behind him and kinda slowed down as he ran into the end zone. Not only that, Frazier also had a 40 or so yard touchdown run that he strutted into the end zone on (in the same game, but earlier) and LP did a little strut dance into the end zone on his second touchdown of the game. Those runs, especially TF's 75 yard run, are a big part of Husker history and Husker lore. I can't imagine something like that being penalized. It's glory would be nullified forever. I understand excessive taunting, but this rule just seems so subjective that it is going to hurt the game, not help it.

Jeff in Quechee, Vt., says: I need clarification on the new ban on writing messages on eye black.It is illegal to write messages on eye black with a marker now, but what if you just write directly on the skin below your eyes? Is that legal?If not, what about marking messages on your arms with a marker? If that's not legal, why is it legal to have tattoos showing on your arms?And if the arm tattoos are legal, could you get a tattoo on your face with your eye-black message, making that legal?
With National Signing Day 36 hours away and counting, you can understand that news is flying around pretty heavily during the final stages of the recruiting process.

That's why Tom Luginbill's daily updates are so vital to all of us.

Here are some late afternoon Big 12-related recruiting nuggets provided by the esteemed the national recruiting director for ESPN Scouts Inc.

And for up-to-the-minute recruiting information, always look at's On the Trail, which legitimately is one of the highlights of our Insider benefits.

Especially this time of year.

QB Brion Carnes

Bradenton, FL

Manatee H.S.

Scouts Grade: 77

Position Rank: 39

Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) three-star quarterback Brion Carnes, who had his Class of 2010 offer withdrawn on Friday by South Florida, and has now committed to Western Kentucky, according to a report in his hometown newspaper.

But the Omaha World-Herald reported late Sunday that Carnes is saying he is not committed to the Hilltoppers and will announce his decision on National Signing Day.

Carnes had taken an official trip to Nebraska last week and reportedly pledged to the Hilltoppers during a visit this weekend -- a decision that Carnes disputed late Sunday.

Carnes, who committed to USF last summer, is a cousin with former Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier and WKU head coach Willie Taggart was a standout player at Manatee. The late visits didn't sit well with new head coach Skip Holtz of the Bulls..

Manatee coach Joe Kinnan called USF's actions "classless" in the Bradenton Herald, and added "USF is no longer welcome at our school."

Carnes threw for 2,245 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior in helping of the Hurricanes go 13-2.

The Bulls are now recruiting LaGrange, Ga., athlete/quarterback Jamius Gunsby, who has offers from Florida and Kentucky. The three-star 6-foot-5, 220-pound Gunsby may commit to USF during his visit this weekend.

DE Mike Jones

Sugar Land, TX

Kempner H.S.

Scouts Grade: 40

Texas Tech has added a defensive lineman to its recruiting Class of 2010 with the offer to Mike Jones of Kempner (Sugar Land, Texas).

Jones (6-foot-3, 255-pounds) also considered Boise State and Louisiana-Lafayette.

RB Justin Torres

La Mirada, CA

La Mirada H.S.

Scouts Grade: 40

Justin Torres, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound running back from La Mirada, Calif., has pledged to Colorado for the Class of 2010.

Torres rushed for 827 yards and 16 touchdowns on 104 carries, and also caught 23 passes for 318 yards and two scores as a senior. He was named CIF Co-Offensive Player of the Year and the Suburban League Most Valuable Player in 2009.

CB Tony Grimes

Hollywood, FL

Hollywood Hills H.S.

Scouts Grade: 80

Position Rank: 16

Highly-coveted senior Tony Grimes (Hollywood, Fla./Hills) has committed to Mississippi over Michigan and Maryland, ESPN affiliate reports.

"I had two good trips to Michigan and Maryland there's just something about Ole Miss that stuck with me. I like the other schools but I think Ole Miss beats them out and that's where I belong," he said.

West Virginia, Oregon, Ohio State, South Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Texas Tech, Iowa, Miami-FL, Purdue and Wisconsin among others also recruited the 6-foot, 170-pound player.

Mailbag: Pelini is my post-bowl Big 12 Coach of Year

January, 29, 2010
Happy Friday afternoon.

I wouldn’t think of jumping into the weekend without answering some of my better letters from this past week.

So here I go.

Steve Russell of Loveland, Colo., writes: Tim, quick question for you. If you were picking a conference coach of the year including the bowl games, who would you select?

Tim Griffin: After the regular season and conference championship game, I picked Mack Brown because of his 13-0 record. But including the bowl results, I would lean to Bo Pelini, with Brown closely followed by Paul Rhoads of Iowa State.

I think Pelini was able to get a lot out of a team that struggled offensively for much of the season. The Cornhuskers had one of the most imposing defenses in recent Big 12 history with Ndamukong Suh, Jared Crick, Prince Amukamara, Larry Asante, Phillip Dillard and Co. They had a 10-4 record, but the Cornhuskers were very close to a couple of more wins. With a fortunate break or two, the Cornhuskers could have ended up winning the Iowa State and Virginia Tech games during the regular season and the Big 12 championship game. They came legitimately close to a 13-1 record this season. Pelini deserves much of the credit for getting them into the championship game and for their victory over Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.

And as far as Rhoads, I think he did a masterful job with his team. The fact he was able to go to Nebraska and beat the Cornhuskers while starting a backup quarterback and running back while Austen Arnaud and Alexander Robinson were out of the lineup was one of the biggest upsets in the nation this past season. Capping the season with an Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota and finishing with a winning record completed a strong first season for the Cyclones.

Caleb from the Foothills of Colorado writes: Tim, I saw in your last mailbag that you weren't certain Colorado was nailed down as a conference member. Can you please elaborate on where you think they might be going and why? I can't see them in any other conference that makes geographical sense except the Mountain West and while the Buffs have been (sometimes painfully) bad for a few years now I don't think they deserve being relegated to the MWC.

Tim Griffin: Caleb, I was speaking from a gut feeling I have about Colorado in comparison with the rest of the conference. The Buffaloes program is nowhere near its level in football in the 1990s or even in the early stages of the Big 12. They obviously need a shot of enthusiasm. The report of the $50 million donation from boosters might produce that, but they clearly need a boost of some kind to jump into competition with schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

I’ve always wondered if Colorado might be a better fit in the Pac-10 if that conference ever chose to expand. New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is said to be considering that. Maybe the Buffaloes might be a team he would look at.

And I’ve often thought that if the Mountain West ever got an automatic berth into the BCS if Colorado would be more competitive in that conference. Playing against schools like Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and BYU would make geographic sense. But I don’t know if it would be palatable to Colorado fans after playing Big Eight and Big 12 opponents for all of these seasons.

My point was that if the Big 12 becomes serious about making the jump into Utah by adding either BYU or Utah at some point, they need to be sure that Colorado is on board for the duration. The move that direction doesn’t make much sense if the Buffaloes aren't committed.

Roger Stringfellow of Katy, Texas, writes: Tim, I read your post earlier today about Dat Nguyen returning to Texas A&M. What do you are his legitimate chances of returning to Aggieland? And do you think that Mike Sherman is smart enough to make this hire?

Tim Griffin: I think that Dat Nguyen would bring cache to Sherman’s coaching staff unlike many hires he could make. Nguyen legitimately is the most decorated Aggie football player of the last 40 years.

But you have to remember that Sherman is facing huge pressure after going 10-15 in his first two seasons at A&M. Hiring Tim DeRuyter from Air Force was a bold, popular move among most A&M fans. But I’m wondering if DeRuyter and Sherman believe they can gamble on a new coach with little true coaching experience and none in college football by hiring Nguyen.

To me, the hiring is a no-brainer. Getting Nguyen back in the program would be huge for Sherman and his staff. But if they believe they only have a one- or two-season window to turn things around, I can understand why they might opt for a new defensive coach with more experience.

Michael Hengel of Pine Bluff, Ark., writes: Hey, Tim, thank you for the nice column on Freddie Steinmark. Seeing his name in the headline of your piece brought back a flood of memories -- even before reading the feature, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I confess that I had not thought about his great story in years. What an inspiration.

Tim Griffin: Michael, thanks to you and everybody else who wrote to me to comment on my piece on what would have been Steinmark’s 61st birthday earlier this week. He’s still an iconic figure in Texas football history. But his story needs to be shared with more people who might have forgotten about him, or never heard of his inspiring life.

David Macrander of Omaha, Neb., writes: Tim, What do you think the chances are of all three of the major recruits Nebraska is after end up signing with them on signing day? If not all of them, how many (if any) do you think will sign with the Huskers?

Tim Griffin: Out of the three players remaining, I’ll rank the chances of them coming like this. I think the Cornhuskers’ best hopes come with attracting Owamagbe Odighizuwa because of their success with Ndamukong Suh. Odighizuwa saw what Bo Pelini’s staff did with another raw but talented defensive line prospect from Oregon in Suh. I’ve heard that really resonates with him. After that, I think their chances are next best with Corey Cooper, who likely sees that the Cornhuskers need immediate help at safety and likely could use him in the 2010 season if he develops quickly.

Quarterback Brion Carnes obviously has some family history with the Cornhuskers, considering he’s the cousin of legendary Nebraska quarterback Tommie Frazier. But I’m wondering if Jamal Turner’s announcement last night that he’s coming in the Class of 2011 will have any effect. Also, I know that Carnes is close with Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggert, who is a former quarterback at Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., where Carnes played.

So I’d rank Odighizuwa first, Cooper second and Carnes third in terms of their chances at arriving at Nebraska. Getting one player from that group would be a big late surge for Pelini. Two would be huge and a hat trick of all three players might be beyond even his most optimistic hopes. It will be interesting to see how many late recruiting commitments the Cornhuskers will get.

Thanks again for all of the good questions this week. Enjoy the Senior Bowl and I’ll check back with you again next week with another batch.

Big 12 links: Is Mack Brown really 'Capt. Clutch?'

December, 10, 2009
No games tonight, but the annual Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards show will provide some entertainment.

It's always a lot of fun seeing college football's best dressed in their finest.

Here are a few stories from across the conference to get you ready.

McCoy named winner of Unitas Award

December, 3, 2009
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has been named the winner of the 2009 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award presented to the nation's top senior quarterback.

The award is presented by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc., and Transamerica.

McCoy has led the Longhorns to their first 12-0 regular season in school history as they head into Saturday's Big 12 championship game against Nebraska. He is also the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history with 44 victories and the only quarterback in NCAA history to lead his team to four 10-win seasons.

"Wow, what a great honor it is to receive an award named after Johnny Unitas, one of the greatest football players ever,” McCoy said. “I had a chance to talk to John, Jr. and Raymond Berry last night when they told me I was this year's winner and I was pretty speechless.

“With all of the great quarterbacks around the country it’s definitely humbling to be picked as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. But, like I told them last night, this is an honor I can't wait to share with my teammates and coaches. Without them I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything, so this is an award that reflects the success we've had as a team and is a tribute to all of them."

McCoy becomes the first Longhorn to win the award, which has been presented since 1987. A ceremony will be held in Baltimore on Dec. 11. Presenters at the awards ceremony will include NFL Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Raymond Berry, along with many other former Baltimore Colts teammates of Johnny Unitas.

“We're so happy for Colt and this team that the Johnny Unitas Gold Arm Award has selected him this year's winner,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He certainly has had another great year and is deserving of all of the recognition he receives. When you look at the 44 career wins and all of his records, he has been one of the greatest to ever play at Texas and in college football, but he's also a kid that is graduating this semester and is a national scholar-athlete who constantly is giving back in the community. With all of his success on the field, you really have to appreciate what a special person he is off of it to."

McCoy is the fourth player from a Big 12 school to win the Unitas Award. Previous winners include Graham Harrell of Texas Tech last season, Nebraska's Tommie Frazier (1995) and Oklahoma's Jason White (2004).

Green's learning experience emboldens him for possible start

November, 4, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

Cody Green couldn’t have asked for a better setting for his college debut as a starting quarterback.

Friends and family from his hometown of nearby Dayton, Texas, turned out in droves at Baylor’s Floyd Casey Stadium -- already one of the least imposing locales in the Big 12.

But that familiarity came with a cost, after Green received a strong rebuke from his old high school coach Jerry Stewart for some of his late struggles in an uneven debut.
 Karl Anderson/Icon SMI
 Cody Green had a successful debut as the Cornhuskers’ starting quarterback.

“My head coach back at home, he’s straight-laced, not going to tell me anything that I want to hear,” Green said. “I called him after the game and he goes, ‘You know what? You choked that second half.’ I go, ‘Golly, c’mon coach. It’s just my first game.’”

After driving the three hours back home after the game, Stewart had a little softer recollection the following day for his former player when they hooked up.

“He called me and said, ‘You know what? I watched the film. I analyzed it. It wasn’t that bad,'" Green said. “'But you can still do better.'”

Green shares those sentiments after his first start last week directed the Cornhuskers to a crucial 20-10 victory over Baylor. His numbers were pedestrian, as he completed 12 of 21 passes for 128 yards and added 43 yards rushing. But they were still enough to lead the Cornhuskers to a huge victory that snapped a two-game losing streak while keeping their North Division title hopes alive.

Sure, Green’s second-half interception and fumble detracted a little. But he still guided the Cornhuskers on scoring drives on his first three possessions and had an extra zip that seemed to have been missing from the Cornhuskers’ attack in recent weeks when Zac Lee was starting.

It was a marked contrast from the previous two weeks when the Cornhuskers combined to score 17 points in home losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State. The misery bottomed out when they had eight turnovers in the ISU game.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Green made history in the game by becoming the first Nebraska quarterback since Tommie Frazier to start a game as a true freshman. And he impressed teammates and coaches with the moxie he showed during that game.

“He’s a confident young man with a lot of poise. Things are going to happen and you’re going to make mistakes,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “But at the end of the day, I thought he handled it well. It’s not like he lacks confidence. I don’t think he’ll crawl into a shell. Cody’s not that kind of kid.”

But Pelini and Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson have stopped short of naming Green the starter for Saturday’s crucial game against Oklahoma.

“He still has a lot to learn,” Watson told reporters earlier this week. “The first time you walk out onto the field is obviously different than practice. You can’t simulate a game, the emotions of the game and the highs and lows. He had a valuable learning experience in that game.”

That first start should especially help against Oklahoma, which will arrive at Memorial Stadium with one of the nation’s top defenses. Along with Nebraska, the Sooners are the only Big 12 team to rank among the top-20 teams nationally in rush defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense, scoring defense, sacks and tackles for losses.

Wily Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is well known for his intricate blitz packages. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was knocked to the ground 14 times in the first half by the Sooners. After the game, he said that he had never seen most of the blitzes that Oklahoma employed.

“I expect they’ll bring the house on me, try to change things up and show me things I hadn’t seen on tape before,” Green said.

McCoy is a senior who was making his 45th career start in that game. Asking Green to combat that stout Oklahoma defense will be a tall order in his second career start.

But Green is confident in his abilities to run the offense, despite his lack of experience.

“I just really have to rely on my instincts,” Green said. “Lean on the offense and the coaches to explain to me things on the field and off the field that will really help me out.''

Big 12 power rankings

November, 2, 2009
Posted by's Tim Griffin

1. Texas (8-0, 5-0 in South): The Longhorns’ movement in the BCS standings and the national polls Sunday was largely superficial. All they have to do is keep winning and they’ll be playing in the BCS title game. The Longhorns’ secondary is playing at levels reminiscent of the 2005 title team with Earl Thomas developing into a legitimate Thorpe Award candidate. The running game is a concern, but the Longhorns have a few weeks to work on that before it will really become a worry.

2. Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1 in South): We saw how much Dez Bryant and a healthy Kendall Hunter really were needed against Texas. The Cowboys had a strong defensive plan and shut down the Longhorns for much of the game, but struggled offensively with mistakes that were returned for touchdowns and a bad case of the dropsies by Hubert Anyiam. The loss assuredly dims their divisional hopes. But the Cowboys can play in a New Year’s Day bowl game and still have a slim hope at a BCS bowl if there’s a lot of implosion in front of them during November.

3. Oklahoma (5-3, 3-1 in South): The Sooners have won two straight since the Texas loss and are heading into Nebraska with some momentum. Landry Jones appears to have found another productive receiver with the emergence of Dejuan Miller, who adds another weapon for the Sooners. The Sooners showed some uncharacteristic struggles against Kansas State in the second half, but still had enough offense left to enable them to claim the victory. It will be more of a challenge this week in Lincoln -- even with the Cornhuskers’ recent struggles.

4. Texas Tech (6-3, 3-2 in South): Mike Leach’s trip to the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., Monday and his team’s bye week will be much happier after the Red Raiders’ comeback against Kansas on Saturday. The victory enabled Leach to tie Spike Dykes as the winningest coach in school history with 82 triumphs. Taylor Potts’ heroics off the bench throw the quarterback situation back into a quandary. But the biggest story was the comeback of the Tech defense, which bounced back from its struggles against Texas A&M to limit Kansas to 258 yards while recording six sacks and recovering four fumbles.

5. Kansas State (5-4, 3-2 in North): The gutsy Wildcats might have shown more in their loss to Oklahoma than in any of their previous victories. Despite spotting the Sooners an early 21-0 lead, they came storming back to make it a competitive game in the second half. That game should provide Bill Snyder’s team with a shot of momentum heading into the Kansas game that will be pivotal in their improbable trip to the Big 12 North title. The biggest reason for their recent success has been Brandon Banks, who had a career game with 351 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma, equaling the school single-game record set by Darren Sproles.

6. Texas A&M (5-3, 2-2 in South): The Aggies took another step to a bowl berth by manhandling Iowa State. The developing running game keyed by Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael has helped them soar to No. 23 in rushing offense. A&M now is the nation’s only team to rank in the top 25 in the four major offensive categories of rushing offense, scoring offense, passing offense and total offense. Jerrod Johnson’s offensive statistics are as good as any quarterback in the league. The Aggies’ recent surge has enabled them to win back-to-back Big 12 victories by more than 20 points for the first time since beating Baylor and Kansas in 2002.

7. Nebraska (5-3, 2-2 in North): Cody Green was the first freshman quarterback to start for Nebraska since Tommie Frazier in 1992, and his magic worked in the first half to spark the Cornhuskers’ victory at Baylor. Whether it will pass muster against Oklahoma is an entirely different story. The Cornhuskers’ inconsistency in the second half won’t give Bo Pelini much confidence as he prepares for the Sooners. But the defense, which has held the last seven opponents to 280 yards or less, will give them a chance to be competitive.

8. Kansas (5-4, 1-3 in North): Are the Jayhawks heading into meltdown mode? With the stunning benching of Todd Reesing, it appears that coach Mark Mangino is looking for some kind of spark to get them back on track. And it won’t be easy Saturday at Kansas State, in a stadium where Bill Snyder has defeated the Jayhawks the last eight times he coached against his archrivals. With the recent slump in production and all of the offensive turnovers, it will be a big change to turn that around.

9. Iowa State (5-4, 2-3 in North): Even after the loss at Texas A&M, the Cyclones' bowl hopes look pretty good. All they need to do is win one of their last three games of the season in a gauntlet that starts Saturday against Oklahoma State. Alexander Robinson was back against the Aggies, although Austen Arnaud was missing. His return will be vital for any upset bowl hopes they might have, even with Jerome Tiller’s strong recent play.

10. Missouri (5-3, 1-3 in North): The Tigers still have a shot at the North championship if they can run the table. Their offense perked up with the use of a two-back alignment that boosted their running game against Colorado. And Blaine Gabbert didn’t look like his ankle was bothering him nearly as bad against the Buffaloes. Dave Steckel’s defense produced eight sacks against Tyler Hansen, the most since 2006 and a good sign heading into the Baylor game on Saturday.

11. Colorado (2-6, 1-3 in North): There’s no doubt that Colorado doesn’t like to play Missouri. After the Buffaloes fell into an early 33-0 hole against the Tigers, it marked a streak of 139 consecutive points scored by the Tigers against Colorado’s defense over two-plus seasons. And it won’t get any easier against Texas A&M. Colorado fans are becoming more vocal about a coaching change after the end of the season. And it won’t be a picnic for the struggling Colorado offensive line, which will try to contain the nation's sack leader, Von Miller, a week after allowing eight sacks against Missouri -- the most by a Colorado team since 1984.

12. Baylor (3-5, 0-4 in South): Bowl hopes aren’t officially dead, but they have been on life support since Robert Griffin’s injury. The Bears’ woes on offense continue as the conference losses in the tough South Division keep mounting. Baylor’s only TD against Nebraska came on an interception return. In four conference games, the Bears have averaged 8.5 points per game and have scored no more than 10 points in any single game. Missouri’s improving defense will provide a huge challenge to surpass those numbers.

Frazier, McCoy, Young listed among 10 most beloved players in history

October, 12, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Here's an interesting question posed by one of my favorite college football websites, Lost Lettermen.

Who is the most beloved player in the history of college football?

The Big 12 is solidly represented on the list with Tommie Frazier of Nebraska listed at sixth, Colt McCoy of Texas at No. 7 and Vince Young of Texas at No. 10.

Surprisingly, the winner of the balloting was a player who never won a Heisman Trophy and whose career ended 39 years ago.

It was Archie Manning of Mississippi, who was so popular to me that I named our family dog after him when I was 11 years old.

Ah, the memories of youth.

Anybody think any current or past Big 12 players were missed on this list?

How about Grant Wistrom, Chase Daniel, Adrian Peterson, Dat Nguyen, Eric Crouch or Todd Reesing?

I'm interested in your submissions.

Lee's fast start not unexpected

September, 16, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It’s been the kind of early start that has Nebraska fans reminiscing about all the storied quarterbacks who have played for the Cornhuskers in the past.

Sure, there’s that Heisman Trophy winner named Eric Crouch, but he was more of a runner anyway. Tommie Frazier, all he did was run the option and win national championships.
Bruce Thorson/US Presswire
Nebraska quarterback Zac Lee is starting his Cornhuskers career well.

But as far as pure passers, there have been few to match new starter Zac Lee, whose deep arm has some pundits calling him Nebraska’s most accomplished pocket passer since Vince Ferragamo in the mid-1970s.

Lee leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency after two games and ranks seventh nationally. He’s thrown for 553 yards and six touchdowns in the kind of debut that the junior said he always expected once he received his starting opportunity.

“I’d like to say I have pretty high expectations for myself, so I feel like I’m pretty much right on track,” Lee said.

Nebraska’s new quarterback was the Cornhuskers’ biggest question coming into the season. And Lee, a junior who transferred into the Nebraska program in January 2007 from San Francisco City College, appears to have answered most of those early concerns with an unexpectedly quick start.

His early work was punctuated by a 340-yard, four-TD pass effort last week that sparked the Cornhuskers’ 38-9 triumph over Arkansas State. Most impressively, he distributed the ball to 11 different receivers while playing.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has been impressed with Lee’s early work, but not stunned.

“I think Zac is doing what we thought he was capable of doing,” Pelini said. “I’ve said all along that I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. I think if you asked anybody associated with our team they feel the same way. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

But some are wondering how he will handle his first road game against a traditional power like Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 46-7-1 against nonconference teams at Lane Stadium since 1991, winning 31 straight nonleague games.

Despite those daunting odds, Lee is excited about his team’s opportunity heading into Saturday’s game.

"This is what college football is all about,” Lee said. “Going into places like that, a great atmosphere and just competing. That’s why this is fun.”

His coaches believe that Lee won’t wilt in the heightened competitive atmosphere.

“This dude is a cool customer, man,” Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told reporters earlier this week. “He’s a ballplayer. None of that stuff is going to bother him. He’s a cool dude.”

Some of Watson’s confidence stems from Lee’s bloodlines. His father, Bob, was a quarterback in the NFL for 12 seasons and was active in developing his son’s talents.

That detail has produced a quarterback who appears impervious to some of the typical concerns that would worry coaches about many first-game starters on the road.

“He’s been raised by a professional football player and he gets it,” Watson said. “He understands it. He’s been around it his whole life. It’ll be nothing to him.”

But playing the Hokies will represent a step up after his first two games against FAU and Arkansas State.

“I’d imagine things might move a little faster,” Lee said. “You’ll probably have to be a little more precise with things overall. We need to be more precise and detailed because of the caliber of athletes and the coaching they have.”

Saturday’s game could be judged as a litmus test for the No. 19 Cornhuskers, who are still looking for a breakout victory that would grab national attention for Pelini’s program.

The Cornhuskers will bring in a six-game winning streak into Saturday’s game -- longest since winning 13 straight games in 2000-01.

A win over the Hokies would be a signal to the nation that Pelini’s team is getting closer to the levels of the Cornhuskers of old.

“This is a great opportunity for us, especially against a team like Virginia Tech that has had such long-term success,” Lee said. “I think this is something that we're really looking forward to.”

Big 12 links: Not much difference in OU, OSU defensive efforts

September, 9, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Two days and counting from what is suddenly turning out to be an interesting and meaningful game at the Glass Bowl Friday night in Toledo, Ohio.

Not many people would have thought that before the season started. But now, Colorado's game with Toledo is shaping as Dan Hawkins' biggest game in a long time.

Here are some Big 12 links to get you ready.
  • The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel relates the slim actual difference in the defensive efforts of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week.
  • Colorado running back Darrell Scott tells the Denver Post’s Tom Kensler he’s disappointed and surprised in his limited use in the Buffaloes’ season-opening loss to Colorado State.
  • Iowa State’s new spread offense should liven up the Cyclones’ traditional matchup with Iowa, the Ames Tribune’s Bobby La Gesse reports.
  • The Lawrence Journal-World’s Dugan Arnett reports about the sibling rivalry between Kansas linebacker Justin Springer and his twin brother, Jeremy, a linebacker on UTEP. The two teams meet Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
  • The Boulder Daily Camera’s Neill Woelk isn’t buying the doomsday scenario for Colorado -- yet.
  • Kansas State coach Bill Snyder tells the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Austin Meek that the Wildcats’ special-teams issues are “easily correctable.”
  • Missouri’s running game will have to do without backup RB De’Vion Moore in the Tigers’ game Saturday against Bowling Green, the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Dave Matter reports.
  • The Norman Transcript’s Clay Hornung wonders how much worse it can get for Oklahoma.
  • Tommie Frazier tells Mitch Sherman of the Omaha World-Herald he likes what he’s seen in freshman quarterback Cody Green.
  • The Austin American-Statesman’s Randy Riggs writes that Texas A&M returned to its defensive roots with a strong first-game performance against New Mexico.