Big 12: Yale Bulldogs
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Happy Friday afternoon. Here are some of the more interesting letters I received during the past week.
Adam: Would you care to make any comparisons between Oklahoma State's ultra-talented trio of Zac Robinson/Dez Bryant/Kendall Hunter to other OSU trio greats of Mike Gundy/Barry Sanders/Hart Lee Dykes and Josh Fields/Rashaun Woods/Tatum Bell?
Tim Griffin: Adam, I think it terms of total firepower, the Gundy/Sanders/Dykes grouping was the best, followed by the current group of Robinson/Bryant/Hunter with Fields/Bell/Woods ranking last.
The reason I give the 80s group the edge is because of Sanders. Earlier this week, a national web site said that Sanders was the second-greatest living Heisman winner behind only two-time winner Archie Griffin. His rushing numbers are still mind-boggling.
And it would be interesting to see how much better Hart Lee Dykes would have done if he played in today's era where passing is such an important part. Dykes was by far the second offensive option on those teams and he still had 60, 61 and 74 catches in his three seasons as a starter.
That being said, I think that Zac Robinson could go down in history as the greatest quarterback in OSU history and Dez Bryant's numbers will end up being as good as anybody. But as good as Hunter is, he's still no Sanders.
Chance from Memphis, Tenn., writes: Thanks for the heads up regarding the possible Minnesota home-and-home addition for Texas. Didn't Texas have Utah and Arkansas on the 2009 schedule at one time, and both opted out?
TG: Chance, yes they did. Texas had a planned series with Utah for 2008 and 2009 called off fby the Utes. And after beating the Razorbacks in 2008, Arkansas officials decided they didn't want to play Texas in 2009. Instead, the Razorbacks have asked that game to be pushed back until 2014 as they start a 10-year contract for games against Texas A&M at the new Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas.
All of this doesn't do Mack Brown much good for this season. He might have to answer for his non-conference schedule which is packed with gooey treats like Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP and Central Florida.
If there's a close race in the BCS standings, something tells me that Brown will be doing a lot of spinning about his schedule during November.
Adam Nettina from Baltimore writes: Tim, Why the heck is Logan Dold moving the safety when he showed such promise as a running back? He was the second all-time leading rusher in Kansas high school history, was K-state's leading rusher in terms of yards per carry among regulars a year and runs the 100 in 10.9 seconds.
Yet, he's being replaced a senior who only ran for 3.8 yards per carry in limited duty a year ago and a redshirt freshmen with basically no on-field experience. So why make the move with Dold and not somebody else?
TG: Adam, I agree that I was a little surprised by the move of Dold, particularly considering his production last season. But I also know that Bill Snyder traditionally has favored small, quick backs like Darren Sproles. I'm wondering if he thinks that Keithen Valentine better suits his philosophy. And I also know that Jarell Childs has been a big surprise during spring practice.
Seth from New Haven, Conn., writes: Hey Tim, I'm a Yale student who just saw that Nebraska's Patrick Witt intends to transfer to New Haven. What should we expect to see from him?
TG: I get the feeling that Witt transferred to Yale more for academic reasons that for a chance to play. He had the opportunity to play at places like Duke and South Carolina and also considered UCLA. But I think his style will suit him at Yale, playing for Coach Jack Siedlecki.
Witt is a big, strong quarterback who has a strong arm for deep throws. Remember, he was the player who Bo Pelini turned to when Joe Ganz was injured for a few plays against Clemson in the Gator Bowl.
I'm not thinking that Witt will be heading to the Bulldogs with any sense of entitlement. And I'm also expecting he will be excited about continuing his career. So I wouldn't be surprised if he really thrived with his opportunity.
Preston Nix from Austin, Texas, writes: Tim, what keeps the Big 12 from trading Iowa State, Colorado, and/or Baylor for Utah, Boise State or other schools that could broaden the Big 12 market and make it a national powerhouse like the SEC seems to be?
TG: Mainly, it's tradition and the relationships that all of the schools have made with the others over the years. Iowa State was in the Big Eight with many of those other schools since 1928. Colorado was a member of the Big Eight from 1948. That's a lot of years for relationships.
And if Baylor hadn't come along with the other three schools from Texas when the Big 12 was formed, it's likely that none of them would because of the Bears' strong political power in the state legislature in Austin. Also, the complete sports programs of those schools - both in men's and women's sports - will be a factor in keeping them together.
I don't look for the Big 12 to break up any time soon. From everything I'm hearing, I think there's greater cohesiveness among the 12 partners who make up the league than ever before.
Joseph Hauss from College Station writes: Tim, I love your blog and read it every day. The 2009 season can't get here quickly enough. I just was wondering what your thoughts were about Mike Leach's comments about Stephen McGee? An A&M student I should be all against Tech. Unlike, many of my colleagues I find Mike Leach to be my kind of guy because he speaks his mind and isn't scared to. That being said, I believe he was actually complimenting McGee on his accomplishment but was inferring that he would have been using McGee's skills in the passing game since he stepped foot on campus in 2005.
TG: I think that Leach's compliment was a backhanded swipe at McGee's previous and current coaching staff. And I've got to think there's a tad of envy for Leach in the fact that McGee, who started two games last season, was drafted in the fourth round.
Meanwhile, Graham Harrell, the prototypical quarterback for Leach's offense went undrafted despite setting a FBS career record for most career touchdown passes.
I've got to wonder if there might be a fear for Leach and the Red Raiders that Harrell's failure to be drafted might hurt the school in returning at a later time. But it seems like top quarterbacks always end up playing for the Red Raiders. It's just that the elite ones might have been more willing to make that move if Harrell had been a higher draft selection.
R.W. Dobbins of Oklahoma City writes: Jermaine Gresham as the best tight end in Oklahoma history? Well considering Keith Jackson was the best tight end in the history of any school, you might be a little off.
TG: I appreciate your response, but remember, I said that if Gresham had a huge year he could be remembered as Oklahoma's greatest tight end. I still think that is the case.
Jackson was a great athlete who averaged 23.7 yards per reception. But he also benefited from defenses which were stacked to stop the Sooners' wishbone offense when he was playing. And also remember that Jackson had 62 catches in his career. Gresham had 66 catches and 14 touchdowns last season.
I realize that football is different today than when Jackson was playing. But Gresham can be just as valuable and could earn All-America status with a big season this year. And he probably deserved it last season.
Benson from Washington, D.C., writes: Tim, I loved following the draft and I noticed that Missouri had more players picked than any team from the Big 12. Has that ever happened before? Also, was their total the most ever picked in one draft for a Big 12 team and was it the most ever for Missouri in one draft?
TG: Benson, you're right. Missouri had the most players picked in the Big 12 with six draftees. But it wasn't the most in school history. That came in 1981 and 1943 when the Tigers had seven players selected. And both of those drafts were significantly bigger than today's current seven-round draft. The NFL went 12 rounds deep in 1981 and 32 rounds in 1943.
The Tigers' haul last weekend still didn't match Oklahoma's Big 12 record of 11 players that were picked in 2005.
Thanks again for all of the letters. Enjoy your weekend and I'll be checking back again next week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Former Nebraska backup quarterback Patrick Witt has announced he will be leaving his former school to attend Yale.
Witt told the Omaha World-Herald that by leaving for the FCS school, he will be eligible to play next fall as a third-year sophomore.
Witt said he decided on Yale after earlier visiting Duke and South Carolina and considering UCLA.
He said his transfer had more to do with academics than football. Witt is carrying a 4.0 grade point average.
"It was something that I had started to think about a while ago," Witt told the World-Herald. "To be fair to (Pelini) and fair to the team, I didn't want this to happen after we finished spring practice."
Witt played in five games last season for the Cornhuskers. He completed 6 of 8 passes for 48 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Witt replaced injured starting quarterback Joe Ganz in the Gator Bowl for one play and appeared to commit a key turnover, but a replay overturned his fumble in the fourth quarter of Nebraska's 26-21 triumph over Clemson.
Witt praised Nebraska coach Bo Pelini after making his decision.
"Obviously, he wanted me to stay and tried to talk me out of it," Witt said, "but at the same time he understood. I can't say enough about him. He's been great through the whole thing."
Witt denied some reports that he made demands to Pelini about playing time or requested that the coaching staff name a starting quarterback in the spring.
"It was hard for me to sit by and listen to things that were made up," Witt said. "It was all conspiracy theories, things that just were not true."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Spring practice has sparked an outpouring of letters and e-mails about the events taking place across the Big 12. Here are some of the more notable missives I received this week.
Jonny from Chicago writes: Hey, Tim. Are any Big 12 schools known for the type of NFL positions prospects they have produced over the years. For instance, Penn State is commonly referred to as "Linebacker U" and USC has the nickname of "Tailback U". Any in the Big 12 you can think of?
Tim Griffin: Good question. There aren't any as notable as the ones you mentioned, but here are a few of the most notable trends I could find when I thought about the Big 12 and the NFL draft.
Colorado: Wide receivers. The Buffaloes have had four first-round selections since 1991, although none since 1997. Included in the list are Rae Carruth, Charles Johnson, Michael Westbrook and Mike Pritchard.
Texas: Defensive backs. This is the conference's most consistent factory at any position. The Longhorns have six first-round selections at the position since 1991 -- Stanley Richard, Bryant Westbrook, Quentin Jammer, Michael Huff, Michael Griffin and Aaron Ross. It's almost like a machine turning out No. 1 picks under defensive backs coach Duane Akina.
Nebraska: Defensive ends. The Cornhuskers have had six defensive ends picked in the first two rounds of the NFL draft since 1997. That's included key producers like Grant Wistrom, Adam Carriker, Mike Rucker, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Chris Kelsay.
Oklahoma: It's more quantity for the Sooners than top-round quality, with nine defensive backs picked since Bob Stoops took over. That list has included only two first-round selections -- Roy Williams and Andre Woolfolk.
Steve from Overland Park, Kan., writes: Tim, if you were starting an NFL team and you could have your choice of any Big 12 player who is on a college roster this spring, who would you pick.
Tim Griffin: Given the choice, I think Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford would look awfully good on my team. I like his size and arm a little better than Colt McCoy, and I also think Bradford will hold up better in the NFL. Among others I would strongly consider include Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle and Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
G from Gering, Neb., writes: Will you be attending any of Nebraska's spring practices this year? And what are you specifically looking for?
Tim Griffin: G, I'm headed up there to watch on Saturday morning if I don't get snowed out along the way. I know most coaches have vanilla workouts when the media is around. But I'll be curious if Zac Lee's arm is really as good as I've heard. I'm also going to be looking at Nebraska's receivers as they replace the sizable hole created by the departure of Nate Swift and Todd Peterson. And I'll be curious to see what kind of attitude the Cornhuskers have on defense. They need to be more aggressive in terms of creating turnovers. And if I know Bo Pelini, he's probably coaching that into them from their first spring practice.
Jason from Fort Collins, Colo., writes: Tim: In an offensive conference like the Big 12, who do you see as having the top defenses for this upcoming season?
Tim Griffin: I would expect the conference's top two defenses to be Oklahoma and Texas, who I also think will have the conference's two best teams.
I like Oklahoma's just a little bit more because of the return of players like McCoy, Jeremy Beal, Travis Lewis and Dominique Franks. If the Sooners can find a couple of safeties, they'll be one of the best in the country.
And linebackers Austin Box and Ryan Reynolds and defensive end Auston English could be among the best players in the conference at their best position if they can come back from injuries. Their return will only boost the production of Brent Venables' unit.
I also like Texas if they can find some help for Kindle along the defensive front. I expect some of the younger players in the secondary to challenge existing starters for playing time.
And I think Nebraska can be very good as the Cornhuskers work for the second season under Pelini. They need for Barry Turner to come back healthy at defensive end. And it will be interesting to see if Jared Crick is as good as I'm hearing at defensive tackle next to Ndamukong Suh.
Not coincedentially, those three teams should be among the best in the Big 12 this year. I think the teams with the best defenses will have a huge advantage in a conference like the Big 12 where the offenses will be so potent.
N. Hodgin from Alpharetta, Ga., writes: Tim, Where did Patrick Witt transfer to?
Tim Griffin: It still is undetermined, although I hear he's considering UCLA, Stanford, Duke and Yale.
Obviously, the question for him will be whether he wants to play immediately, which he could do if he went to an FCS school. Recent Big 12 transfers like Rhett Bomar and Bobby Reid were able to do that.
If Witt wants to play at another FBS school, he'll have to sit out a year.
His family has hinted to several Nebraska newspapers that he might move and give up his football career.
But I frankly don't see that happening. I would look for him to end up at another FBS school, getting a year to learn the offense before playing again 2010.
Zeyad from Tulsa writes: Oklahoma has a good chance at going undefeated this year as long as they get by Texas. But with the Sooners' soft schedule and their recent letdowns in big games do you think there's a chance they will get voted out of the national championship game if they finish undefeated? Especially if it would end up being a rematch of last season?
Tim Griffin: Zeyad, I think that any team that goes undefeated in the Big 12 is going to have a great shot at playing for the national championship. And I would also argue about Oklahoma having a soft schedule. The Sooners will be playing bowl teams like BYU and Tulsa and also have a trip to Miami among their nonconference games. That's in addition to playing all of the schools in the Big 12 South along with road games at projected Big 12 North title contenders Kansas and Nebraska and a potential Big 12 championship game. The Sooners won't have to apologize for that schedule.
Thanks again for all of the e-mails and letters and please keep them coming. We'll check back again next week.