Big 12: Tommy Bowden
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Credit former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione for not languishing during his time away from football.
Franchione will join the Web site BusterSports.com to provide a weekly column about the Big 12. (Hat tip to Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News.)
"I'm looking forward to diving deep into the Big 12 and sharing my experience and opinion with fans of the conference," Franchione said. "There's nothing like football Saturday in the Midwest and I can't wait to build up Big 12 football excitement each and every show we do."
He will join a set of former coaches who will provide insight about conferences they used to coach in.
Jim Donnan will handle the national reporting scene, Terry Donahue the Pac-10, Tommy Tuberville the SEC, Tommy Bowden the ACC, Glen Mason the Big 10 and Mike Gottfried the Big East.
"Having been in the heart of the beast as a college football coach in the state of Texas, we can't wait for coach Fran to offer all of his insight to our audience," said Dan Ballard, CEO of Buster Sports Communications. "His college football knowledge is respected not just around the Big 12, but throughout the entire country."
Franchione worked as an analyst for ESPN radio last season. And his interest and knowledge of college football remains keen.
It's a good way for him to stay involved in the game. Because it's not quite the same without him roaming the sidelines.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The potential that the Big 12's South Division representative will be picked by the Bowl Championship Series standings is bad enough.
The idea that the coaches' final vote that makes up that final regular-season poll won't be released is even worse.
John Rohde of the Oklahoman makes a compelling case why these votes must be released in a column today that reminds us of some of the more notable BCS votes by coaches last season.
For a point, look at the voting after last season's Big 12 championship, a day after the Sooners had dismantled Missouri and were on their way to the Bowl Championship Series. But we had these notable votes last season, according to Rohde.
- Florida State's Bobby Bowden: Missouri at No. 6, Kansas at No. 7 and Oklahoma at No. 10.
- Clemson's Tommy Bowden: Missouri at No. 5, Kansas at No. 6 and Oklahoma at No. 7.
- Florida Atlantic's Howard Schnellenberger: Kansas at No. 2, Missouri at No. 4 and Oklahoma at No. 7.
- Oregon's Mike Bellotti: Missouri at No. 5, Kansas at No. 6 and Oklahoma at No. 8.
- Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe: Kansas at No. 5, Oklahoma at No. 8 and Missouri at No. 9.
- Texas Tech's Mike Leach: Kansas at No. 3, Oklahoma at No. 4, Missouri at No 6.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops saw the fallacy of that vote and decided to drop out. But now, he doesn't have a vote and Leach and Texas coach Mack Brown do.
The worries are generated by a potential three-way tie for the South Division lead, which is a likely scenario if Oklahoma finishes the season with victories over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, Texas Tech finishes by beating Baylor at home and Texas defeats Texas A&M in its season finale.
And do we really think that coaches, when bonuses are generated by Big 12 title game appearances and potential championships, aren't going to vote for their pocketbook? Particularly when the votes might be shielded from public scrutiny?
I don't know, but it doesn't seem to me to be a good situation.
As I self-righteously fulminate for a change in the Big 12's tiebreaking rules -- as I think most other clear thinkers would do, too -- let's take a look at some of today's Big 12 links.
- Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News does a nice job in a story about Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, an underrated element in the Red Raiders' recent transformation into a national power.
- Josh Freeman said he's waiting until he finds out who will be Kansas State's new coach until he decides on declaring for the NFL Draft, the Topeka Capital-Journal's Austin Meek reports.
- Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World Herald explains why a 7-5 Notre Dame team is more likely to end up in the Gator Bowl than an 8-4 Nebraska team, even with the Cornhuskers finishing stronger with a better record.
- In the wake of president-elect Barack Obama's call for a college football playoff, Texas coach Mack Brown threw his support behind an eight-team playoff model, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Big 12 columnist Jimmy Burch writes.
- Even struggling through a disappointing 4-7 season, Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman appeared for the Houston Touchdown Club's annual Texas-Texas A&M luncheon, the Houston Chronicle's David Barron reports. And the Chronicle's Jerome Solomon writes that Aggie fans are upset and Sherman knows it.
- Sean Keeler of the Des Moines Register muses about Texas' proposed all-sports network, the possible return of Bill Snyder to the sidelines at Kansas State and reveals his Heisman Trophy ballot packed with Big 12 quarterbacks.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The prime topic of conversation this morning across the Big 12 was the abrupt dismissal of Kansas State coach Ron Prince after a coaching tenure of less than three seasons.
Jeffrey Martin of the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle broke the story Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats' 52-21 loss to Kansas last week, he writes, played a significant role in his ouster.
Another factor was Prince's inability to be a factor in a North Division that is perceived to be at its weakest level ever. Two different North teams -- Nebraska and Missouri -- represented the division in the championship game in Prince's tenure. Cross-state rival Kansas is tied for the lead with Missouri heading into the this week's games.
"The reality is, if you coach in this business long enough, you understand this is a business where you're hired to win championships and to graduate your players," Prince said. "We had moments where we were very good and showed promise.
"We just were unable to win the North. That's ultimately what the expectations are for us and our ambition was coming here, and we were unable to achieve that."
And juicy rumors about the potential return of Bill Snyder after three seasons away from football held for the most speculation.
Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star writes that the return of Snyder to the sidelines of Bill Snyder Family Stadium makes sense. He says that Snyder, 69, is rejuvenated after his three-season sabbatical. He's 13 years younger that Joe Paterno and 10 years younger than Bobby Bowden and could be itching for a return to the spotlight, Whitlock wrote.
Veteran Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz wrote that the strange timing of the dismissal by Kansas State athletic director Bob Krause made him dubious about the move, even if it was the right one.
"Bob Krause has a plan. My immediate reaction, upon hearing that news, was to hide and cover myself with pillows and blankets," Lutz wrote.
Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman told Martin earlier this week that he would like to play all four seasons for the Wildcats and not turn pro early. That dismissal, Martin wrote, could change Freeman's mind about returning.
The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff breaks down the likely list of replacements for Prince, whose two-plus year tenure is second-shortest in Big 12 history behind only Dave Roberts of Baylor.
Kerkhoff mentions potential replacements like Tommy Bowden, Phil Fulmer, Dennis Franchione, Tom Amstutz and Tyrone Willingham as potential hires, considering Krause's stated intention of hiring a head coach with experience to the job before the end of the season.
Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital Journal writes that Prince's legacy will include higher graduation rates, a bowl trip in his first season and two victories over top-10 Texas teams in his first two seasons.
"We're proud of going to a bowl game in our first season, which only four coaches have done in Big 12 history, inheriting a team with a losing record," said Prince, who is 16-18 at K-State. "That 7-5 record occurred despite being predicted preseason last place in the North.
"And finally, we understand how our 34-game record fits into the greater K-State history and how it matches up among our closest Big 12 peers in their early years."
But Meek also wrote about how pressure from fans and Kansas State boosters have complicated fund-raising efforts for the school's $70 million facilities expansion.
Omaha World-Herald Big 12 beat writer Lee Barfknecht wrote of how Prince's arrogance turned off many high-school and junior-college coaches in the area. He also said that Prince struggled with in-game transitions as evidenced by his 0-17 record in games when his team was trailing at the half.
Prince brought lofty expectations to the program and keeps them in place even as he's leaving the Kansas State program.
"Our objective is to go out, with the few days remaining, continue our preparation toward Missouri, go 6-6 and become bowl eligible," Prince said.
Whether the Wildcats would take that bowl trip and whether Prince would be coaching the team remains to be seen. But he's still focused on that goal as he finishes his tenure with the school.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
DALLAS -- Tomorrow amongst the ferris wheels and corn dogs, we'll celebrate the kind of coaching rivalry that used to mark college football.
In the Big Ten, the legendary "Ten-Year War" involved Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler. Barry Switzer vs. Tom Osborne was almost as big as the Big Eight Conference itself. The SEC had Bear Bryant against Shug Jordan. And the Southwest Conference celebrated the annual grudge game between good friends Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles.
But after surveying the landscape of college football today, those matchups look about as quaint as dollar-a-gallon gasoline. We likely won't see many like those again.
That's what makes tomorrow's game at the Cotton Bowl so special and intriguing.
Mack Brown and Bob Stoops are that rare breed today of rock stars with coaching whistles, arguably bigger than their respective programs. Both have won national championships and are headed towards induction one day in the College Football Hall of Fame.
And their yearly battles in the Red River Rivalry will one day be remembered as one of the greatest coaching rivalries in college football history.
Saturday's game will be the 10th time that Stoops and Brown have hooked up. Stoops holds a 6-3 edge, including a five-game winning streak from 2000-04. But Brown has claimed two of the last three games between the two South Division rivals.
When each arrived at their respective schools, both programs were perceived to be downtrodden dinosaurs that had seen better days. Just look back to the coaching tenures of John Blake and John Mackovic and remember how far both schools have risen since their swoons a decade ago.
After their arrivals, Brown and Stoops elevated the stature of both programs, turning them into two of a handful of national powers who are national championship threats almost every season in the new millennium.
Since Stoops arrived in 1999, either Oklahoma or Texas has won the Big 12 South Division championship every year. The Sooners have accounted for five Big 12 titles and the Longhorns one during the nine-year period. During that same period, every Big 12 North team has claimed at least a share of the title.
Brown realizes how the Big 12 has changed the dynamics of their rivalry.
"I remember when we got here, everybody said the luster was gone," Brown said. "This game wasn't important anymore and nobody really cared about it and it wasn't even a national TV game and it was so sad that the Texas-OU game was unimportant.
"It was important to the players, it was important to the coaches, but it's back now to where it has national implications, and that's been fun."
The Stoops-Brown rivalry might not be as bitter as some of those other coaching matchups. But that doesn't mean that either coach doesn't want to beat the pants off his coaching rival tomorrow afternoon.
Stoops said he might run into Brown three or four times a year -- including their 3 ½-hour yearly shindig at the Cotton Bowl.
Brown has always spoken reverently about his respect for Stoops.
"What I've gotten is a great respect for Bob and what he's done over the last 10 years," he said. "He'll be remembered like Barry Switzer and (former Oklahoma coach Bud) Wilkinson. He's done exactly for them what they've asked him to do.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's always good to welcome a new recruit to the journalism field. That's why the announcement that Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel will be doing what I do -- at least on a weekly basis -- will be so interesting as he starts writing a weekly column for The Sporting News' digital edition. Chase, welcome to the club. Here's to a big season and some interesting prose, too.
And here's to some links from around the Big 12 this morning. Just don't ask me to throw a 20-yard out pattern.
- The Lawrence Journal-World says that Mark Mangino won't be hearing those jibes about his team's schedule this season.
- Pete Fiutak of collegefootballnews.com says that Texas has developed a noticeable mean streak in the last few months.
- Former Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton received some good-natured ribbing for some of his football hires at a roast for Baylor women's basketball coach, Kim Mulkey.
- Inside Texas gurus Bill Frisbie and Ross Lucksinger break down this week's news from the Forty Acres in a podcast. It's about 38 minutes, but is well worth it for displaced Longhorn fans from across the country -- and others.
- Big 12 powers Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska were disappointed Wednesday when highly regarded Rockhurst (Mo.) senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase committed to Illinois for the 2009 season. Interestingly, Scheelhaase's father and uncle both played for Iowa.
- What a concept -- riblets and pigskin. Iowa State officials are offering a $99 Applebee's Mini-Pack. The deal provides a ticket to three ISU games and a $20 restaurant gift card at the restaurant for $99. Games include either South Dakota State or Kent State, Nebraska, and either Texas A&M or Missouri.
- Clemson coach Tommy Bowden told The State that until he wins a championship, he'll be perceived like Texas coach Mack Brown and his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, before they won titles.
- Despite wet weather, the $19.5 million renovation project at Jack Trice Stadium is on schedule and should be completed by its Aug. 1 target date. Most interesting point of the story is that the construction manager for the project is Ben Bruns, a former All-American center at Iowa State.
- The Red River Rivalry isn't like it used to be, according to SI.com's Stewart Mandel.
- Quoting "golden sources," everydayshouldbesaturday.com says that the Dallas Morning News' Texas beat writer Chip Brown is headed to a national web site.
- Clay Horning of the Norman Transcript boils down the Bob Stoops era into one tidy column.
- While not technically a story on Big 12 football, this one was too good to resist. Former Missouri basketball point guard Jason Sutherland has surfaced as a football quarterback for the Kansas Kaos in the North American Football League -- 11 seasons after his college basketball career concluded.