Big 12: Urban Meyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The rumors, conversation and speculation might ultimately include his name, but Urban Meyer has preemptively doused the flame.

The Ohio State coach is happy where he is, and if Texas comes calling, he doesn't appear to have any interest.

Surrounded by the media after practice on Wednesday for the Discover Orange Bowl, Meyer quickly dismissed any potential link between him and the job his friend Mack Brown just stepped down from with the Longhorns, making it clear his focus is on the elite job he already has with the No. 7 Buckeyes and not the one that just came open.

"There’s no take," Meyer said. "I’m here. I’m the coach at Ohio State."

That simple, strong message still might not be enough to silence whispers that Meyer could be a target for the Longhorns given how high they are likely to be aiming to replace Brown. Their sights were obviously on guys already at the top of the profession to begin with based on the reported pursuit of Alabama's Nick Saban, which is barely in the rearview mirror now and started well before the gig was even officially available.

If Texas does wind up chasing decorated coaches with experience at marquee programs, Meyer would clearly fit the bill and would almost certainly appear on a short-list of candidates for a school with deep pockets and sky-high expectations given his reputation as a motivator and proven winner with a pair of national titles on his resume.

But Ohio State has a strong recruiting base and Meyer is already having success expanding it nationally. The Big Ten might have been relatively down the last couple years, but the competition is still strong enough to keep the Buckeyes in position to qualify for the upcoming College Football Playoff. And, perhaps most important, Meyer has relished the opportunity to return to his home state and build the Buckeyes back into annual contenders for the national title, and he's also already quite well compensated for that work.

Those factors are likely enough on their own to keep Meyer from having much interest in any potential opening, even one that comes with as much prestige as Texas. But like Saban, he also considers Brown a close friend, and that might provide yet another discouragement from even thinking about leaving Ohio State after two seasons.

"Really good friends -- [but] we don’t talk much about jobs," Meyer said. "I’m very close with his wife, Sally, and they’re great friends with Shelley, so it’s more about our children, lives, wives -- we don’t talk much about [jobs]. ... I care about Mack. I don’t look at Mack as a football coach, I look at him as a friend."

"I really love the guy, he’s a great friend of mine and we’ll talk in the offseason a little bit."

That conversation won't be between the former coach at Texas and the next one. Meyer already had a cold bucket of water ready to pour out on that flame even before there was smoke.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer join Twitter, demonstrating the power the social media vehicle has on recruits; Cameron Robinson’s decision is pushed back to next week, and one team is feeling better about its chances; and former four-star athlete Chase Abbington is making a big splash in the junior college ranks.

Welcome to Twitter Bob Stoops, Urban Meyer
Twitter has become one of the biggest recruiting tools for college football coaches. Not only do they use it for communication with prospects, since the rules on electronic communication are more lax than phone calls. Tweets are also a great way to share recruiting propaganda and are more likely to be read compared to letters that pile up in a recruit’s mailbox. The latest coaches to embrace the new recruiting world order are Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. “My good friend Bob Stoops talked me into this Twitter stuff -- let’s see how it goes,” Meyer tweeted Tuesday after opening an account and quickly gaining 30,000 followers. Stoops has had his own Twitter account for about a year but it had always been set to private -- until Wednesday. One of his first tweets was about going after national championship No. 9. It was recruiting through social media at its finest.

Robinson pushes back announcement date

Snyder up for another coaching award

January, 7, 2013
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Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is one of five finalists for the Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year, the award announced today.

The award's voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and Ohio State's Urban Meyer, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Alabama's Nick Saban join him as finalists for the award.

Snyder already won the Big 12 Coach of the Year and was also honored as the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year during this year's Chick-Fil-A Bowl. He's been up for a few other national coaching awards, too. If further voting has to take place, I can't imagine the Wildcats' bowl loss to Oregon helped, but there's no taking away K-State's big accomplishments yet this season. Picked to finish sixth in the Big 12, the Wildcats won their first 10 games and reached No. 1 in the BCS, eventually winning the Big 12 and clinching a BCS berth for the first time since 2003.

 

Ohio State to play TCU in 2018, '19

October, 2, 2012
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Last week, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Associated Press that the Buckeyes planned to scale back their games against MAC opponents and beef up nonconference schedules to get ready for the four-team playoff.

The first possible evidence of that arrived today, as the Ohio State announced it would play a home-and-home series with TCU in 2018 and 2019. While we can't know how good the Horned Frogs will be in six years, Gary Patterson has turned them into a program with staying power, as TCU ranks fifth among FBS teams with 97 wins the past 10 years. TCU's recent climb paved the way for the school to be accepted into the Big 12.

Relations between the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs have come a long way in a short time, too. The schools had tentative plans to open the 2009 season in Columbus, but Ohio State refused to give TCU a return game. In 2010, Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee lumped then-undefeated TCU and Boise State into his infamous "Little Sisters of the Poor" comment, saying they didn't play a hard enough schedule to deserve a shot at the title.

Now, Ohio State will go to TCU first in this home-and-home deal and views the Horned Frogs as a way to upgrade its schedule. In this week's Associated Press Top 25, the No. 12 Buckeyes are ranked three spots ahead of TCU.

Ohio State is also scheduled to play Cincinnati in 2018 in what has the makings of a pretty good nonconference slate, especially if another major-conference opponent is added. TCU is the only opponent booked so far for the 2019 nonconference schedule. Remember that Ohio State, like other Big Ten schools, was told to reserve some space for the Big Ten/Pac-12 series that fell apart this summer.

Going to Texas for a game also can't hurt Urban Meyer's future recruiting efforts, as he has made it known that he will hunt nationally for players. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is full of big-time prospects every year, and Meyer will be able to promise Texas prospects a game in their home state.

We'll wait to see how the rest of Ohio State's future schedules shape up. But this looks like a good start, and an improvement on the very bland nonconference slate the Buckeyes played last month.
Colleague Brad Edwards had an interesting ESPN Insider post looking at the top coaching trees around the nation Insider, and two from the Big 12 made his list of the top five, with plenty more mentioned.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops grabbed the top spot in the league at No. 2, behind only Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

No arguing that spot, in theory. Stoops has four former assistants who jumped from OU to become head coaches: Kevin Sumlin (Houston, now at Texas A&M), Mike Leach (Texas Tech, now Washington State) and Kevin Wilson (Indiana).

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini spent 2004 as the co-defensive coordinator before eventually getting the Huskers job in 2008 after three years coordinating LSU's defense.

Not bad, and that's without even mentioning other guys from Stoops' tree who have been fired since becoming head coaches. Mark Mangino is out at Kansas now, and brother Mike Stoops is back as defensive coordinator after nearly a decade as the head man at Arizona.

Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach even gets credit for his own tree. He checked in at No. 4 on the list for spawning Art Briles (Baylor), Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech) and West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.

Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy just missed the list, but may join it soon with former coordinators Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Holgorsen and Tim Beckman (Illinois) in charge of big-time programs.

Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Kansas State's Bill Snyder just missed the list. Snyder's tree begat Stoops and Wisconsin's Brett Bielema, which is impressive enough on its own. Without Snyder, plenty of the guys mentioned in this post wouldn't be the coaches they are today.

What other coaches' trees impress you?

Breaking down spring camp: Iowa State

March, 20, 2012
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Iowa State kicks off spring practice Tuesday. Let's take a closer look.

Schedule: The first of 15 spring practices allowed by the NCAA begins and they'll conclude with the spring game on April 14. Practices are closed to fans and media.

What's new: Offensive coordinator Tom Herman helped Paul Rhoads build his program and take the Cyclones to two bowl games in three years, but he left to take the offensive coordinator job on Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State. In his place is receivers coach Courtney Messingham, who has lots of experience at lower levels of football, but will be calling plays at the FBS level for the first time.

Key position battle: Kelechi Osemele has been an All-Big 12 stalwart at left tackle for the last three season, but the inevitable happened this offseason: He graduated and moved on to the NFL. Now, Iowa State needs a replacement. Converted tight end Carter Bykowski -- now up to 6-foot-8 and 303 pounds -- could be the man protecting the blind side, but 6-foot-6, 294-pound Kyle Lichtenberg could try to win the job this spring, too. The line also lost right guard Hayworth Hicks, a two-year starter. Jacob Gannon, a 6-foot-7, 286-pound sophomore gets the first crack at replacing him.

On the mend: The front seven. Linebacker Jake Knott will miss the spring after undergoing shoulder surgery. He'll be missed, but replaced by Jevohn Miller. Junior Willie Scott steps in for defensive end Roosevelt Maggitt, who will miss the spring with a knee injury. Cornerback Jeremy Reeves will also miss be limited this spring after undergoing wrist surgery. Look for sophomore Matt Thomas to jump in when Reeves doesn't participate.

Question marks: Cornerbacks. Reeves should be OK, but he's the only returning starter at corner for the Cyclones, and as noted, he'll be in and out during the spring. Junior Jansen Watson draws the tough task of trying to replace NFL-bound Leonard Johnson, one of the most underrated corners in the league last season. You need lots of good corners in this league, and Iowa State still has a lot to prove at the position.

All eyes on: The quarterbacks. Jared Barnett looked like the future in midseason after leading the Cyclones to wins over Texas Tech, Kansas and Oklahoma State, but he faltered down the stretch and was benched for Steele Jantz, who opened the season with three fourth-quarter comeback wins over Northern Iowa, UConn and Iowa. The guess here is it's Barnett's job to lose, but there's no guarantee he won't do exactly that: lose it. The sophomore was streaky last season.

For now, however, the pair are officially listed as co-starters to begin the spring. Looks like we've got a legitimate quarterback battle on our hands for the second consecutive season in Ames.

Offseason to-do list: Iowa State

February, 16, 2012
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We're taking a look at what each program in the Big 12 needs to deal with during the offseason, whether it be in the spring, summer or fall preseason camp. Maybe all three! Who knows?

Next up: The Iowa State Cyclones.

1. Make the decision: Is there a quarterback controversy? Heading into the bowl game, Jared Barnett looked like Iowa State's man of the future. The freshman took over in the middle of the season and orchestrated three consecutive wins, including the biggest win in school history, an upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State. But in the bowl game loss to Rutgers, Barnett was off-target and benched for Steele Jantz early on. He didn't return. Coach Paul Rhoads was noncommital after the game, but this spring could be interesting.

2. Plug the holes in the secondary. Leonard Johnson was one of the most underrated players in the league and had a big role in that OSU upset, and Ter'Ran Benton was another versatile talent in the Cyclones secondary. Johnson will leave behind the biggest hole in trying to defend a crazy talented group of Big 12 receivers, and fellow corner Anthony Young is gone, too.

3. Adjust the offense to a new man in charge. Tom Herman didn't have a high profile, but Urban Meyer knew about him and asked him to make the no-brainer move to offensive coordinator at Ohio State. In his place is receivers coach Courtney Messingham. You don't quite know what to expect from Messingham, who has experience at lower levels as a head coach and a coordinator. It helps that the 22-year coaching veteran is hardly new at this, but he'll have big shoes to fill. This spring, we'll get a look at how the players respond. The system, best run by a dual-threat quarterback, won't be all that different, but Messingham will be tested this year.

More offseason to-do lists.
Kevin SumlinCal Sport Media/AP ImagesBetween a young team and a tough new conference, coach Kevin Sumlin has his work cut out for him.
It's Moving Day No. 2 on the blog network today, and the Aggies are following Missouri out the door into the SEC blog today. We introduced the Aggies to the SEC earlier, but now it's time to debate.

The Aggies' move to the SEC was more about having the program grow in brand-new soil, whereas Missouri's move was more about conference stability.

Will the Aggies thrive? SEC blogger Chris Low and Big 12 blogger David Ubben go head to head to find out.

Chris Low: OK, David, let's not tiptoe around. This is a big-boy conference in the SEC with big-boy stakes. I know everything is supposedly bigger in the state of Texas, but do the Aggies really know what they're getting themselves into? For one, they tend to play all four quarters in the SEC. Judging by what I saw from the Aggies last season, somebody might want to remind them that there is a second half. Come to think of it, that's not very hospitable of me. I take that back. But, honestly, how do you think the Aggies will handle the grind of this league?

David Ubben: Now, now, Chris, that's not very nice. The Aggies are ...

As one final tribute to Texas A&M, I elected to forfeit the second half of that sentence.

In the early running, Texas A&M's going to have a lot of issues. Losing the volume and quality of talent they did in 2011 will hurt, especially on offense, as the program moves into a league -- and, particularly, a division -- known for defense. Ryan Tannehill wasn't great last year, but his experience helped, and Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray are a pair of NFL players that don't roll around every year.

I like the talent on campus at A&M a lot, though. They're just going to be young for now. With what they have now, they'll get better and better, as long as Kevin Sumlin does well. Based on what we've seen from his career, I think he will.

[+] EnlargeSean Porter
Troy Taormina/US PresswireLinebacker Sean Porter tallied 9 sacks for A&M last season, but the Aggies will need more from their defensive line.
Beyond these first three to four years, how well they progress will depend on recruiting. The Aggies think the SEC will be a big draw for Texas recruits who want to play in the best conference in college football. Being able to offer that could help them surpass Texas on the recruiting trail and on the field.

Are you buying that? I strongly lean toward no, but I could see it happening. What do you think? Is playing in the SEC going to be a draw for Texas kids? Why or why not?

CL: I absolutely think the SEC will be a draw for some Texas recruits who see it as a chance to stay in the state and still play their college football and also be able to do it against SEC competition. That's a pretty sweet proposition: Stay close to home in the football-crazed state of Texas and compete in the football-crazed SEC, which has a standing order with the sculptor who designs that crystal trophy every year for the BCS national champion.

There's also another side to this story. The boys in the SEC think their chances of going deep into the heart of Texas and landing elite prospects are better than ever with Texas A&M joining the league. Rival coaches can tell mamas and daddies (that's the way the Bear used to say it) that they'll be able to keep up with their sons just like they were in the Big 12 with the Aggies now part of the SEC family, although the recruiting atmosphere in this league isn't very family-oriented. Just ask Urban Meyer. He got so tired of the recruiting shenanigans in the SEC that he's now pulling his own in the Big Ten, according to some of his new brethren there.

That leads me to my next question: Has anybody informed the Aggies that the rules are a little different in the SEC? Unlike the Big 12, it's not the first team to 40 points that wins.

DU: For the record, the league changed those rules for Baylor-Washington in the Alamo Bowl. First to 60 wins now, but that's irrelevant news for the Aggies.

A&M's front seven's actually been really good these past two years, but this year, it was the secondary that let the team down. The Aggies led the nation with 51 sacks, but the team wasn't happy that it took a lot of risky blitzes to get those sacks. The defensive line wasn't the unit applying the pressure most often — it was linebackers and defensive backs. That meant a lot of big plays in the passing game; the Aggies ranked 109th nationally in pass defense, giving up more than 275 yards a game. Now, they won't see the same caliber of quarterbacks in the SEC, but we will see if the front seven can handle the power of teams in the SEC West, which, to their credit, do have a handful of quarterbacks with a lot of potential. Tyler Wilson's great now. AJ McCarron and Kiehl Frazier could be elite soon.

We'll see what new defensive coordinator Mark Snyder can fix.

On the flip side of the recruiting debate, how much do you think SEC teams will try and slide into Texas? Could we see some collateral damage in the Big 12? Will the SEC one day take over the world? I heard Nicolas Sarkozy already has a special security detail in place in case Mike Slive comes after him.

CL: I'm not sure about taking over the world. It's just college football that the SEC one day would like to own. Some might suggest it already does.

Arkansas and LSU will probably be helped the most in terms of going into Texas and getting players. Other schools in the SEC might be more apt to target players in the state of Texas and make a push for those select players, but I don't think you're going to suddenly see a mass of teams in the SEC setting up camp in Texas on the recruiting trail. There's no need to when you look at how bountiful the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina are in most years.

You mention some of the quarterbacks in the Western Division. It's fair to say that this wasn't a quarterback's league this season, and I also realize that the Big 12 has produced some quarterbacks over the last few years who've put up Xbox-type numbers.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M
Thomas Campbell/US PresswireThere's little doubt that the state of Texas and the SEC share a deep passion for football.
But my question for you: Is Texas A&M capable of playing the kind of defense it takes to win big in the SEC?

DU: I think so, eventually. They know they have to, which is huge. They've seen how teams succeed in the SEC, and it's with defense.

If you invest in something, especially with the resources A&M has, good things will happen. Don't forget, the Aggies defense was really, really good last year. The athletes are there. For A&M, it's about putting it together.

CL: With all due respect, "really, really good" on defense in the Big 12 is entirely different than being "really, really good" in the SEC on defense. The more I watch this conference, the more it's ingrained in me that you're never going to win at a high level unless you can run the ball, stop the run and consistently win the turnover battle. Everything else is window dressing. I understand that's not exactly rocket science, but being able to run the ball creates a mindset that positively impacts your entire team. The same goes for playing good run defense.

So if I were offering any advice to the Aggies as they make the big jump, it would be to fortify their offensive backfield and recruit like crazy in the offensive and defensive lines. There's no such thing as too much depth in the SEC.

Having a little Texas flavor in the SEC is exciting. I know you're on record as saying the Aggies might struggle next season. But over time, I think they have what it takes to be an upper-echelon team in the SEC. Of course, that's the beauty of the SEC. So does everybody else in the league.

DU: Oh, there's no respect due when we're talking Big 12 defenses. The best in the SEC are on another stratosphere from the best in the Big 12.

Your game plan sounds like what I'd recommend, but it's easier said than done. Like Mizzou, A&M will have to start mining some of those junior colleges down south like the rest of the SEC West.

Generally, I'd agree with you on A&M's long-term prospects. The Aggies will win less than they did in the Big 12 ... which is to say not much. But they could put it together and have a huge year every now and then. I don't see them surpassing Texas as a program, but they're on their own now.

For some Aggies, that's enough. Next year, the Aggies will struggle, but watching them grow and try to build a new program will be fascinating.

Cyclones find their new man on offense

January, 5, 2012
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Iowa State didn't have to look far to find its new offensive coordinator.

Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads tabbed receivers coach Courtney Messingham as the team's new playcaller.

"Courtney has coached at every level of college football and has head coach and coordinator experience," Rhoads said in a release. "He has earned this opportunity through hard work and positive results as a coach and as a recruiter. We have the right man."

He replaces Tom Herman, who left to be Urban Meyer's offensive coordinator at Ohio State.

For more, see our news story.

The Big East ended the Big 12's perfect record in bowls by way of the 27-13 Rutgers win over Iowa State in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, played Friday inside Yankee Stadium.

Iowa State fought late, but it's a solid win for the Scarlet Knights, playing only about an hour away from their campus.

How the game was won: Rutgers climbed out of an early 6-0 hole with a 17-point second quarter to take control of the game. The Scarlet Knights used a powerful running game to dominate Iowa State's front seven, while Iowa State's offense sputtered for much of the final three quarters.

Turning point: Iowa State made it interesting with a 20-yard touchdown run by Jeff Woody to cut the lead to 20-13, and the Cyclones got the ball back. But after a punt, Chas Dodd hit 6-foot-6 Brandon Coleman for an 86-yard touchdown with 5:47 to play. That basically wrapped this one up. Matching up 5-foot-7 Jeremy Reeves against Coleman? Not a great idea.

The Cyclones had a drive reach the red zone, but a fourth-down pass to Darius Reynolds in the end zone fell incomplete.

Stat of the game: This one was the antithesis of a thrilling nightcap Thursday, won by Baylor over Washington, 67-56. These two teams combined to convert just four of 26 third downs. So many punts. So few first downs.

Stat of the game 2: Rutgers won the turnover battle 3-0.

Player of the game: Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights averaged just 91.5 yards per game on the ground entering today's game. Only five teams in college football were worse, but Jamison's diminutive size (5-foot-8, 198 pounds) didn't prevent him from bruising the ISU defense and running hard for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He had topped that production only once all season, with a 200-yard game in a win over Cincinnati. He and the Rutgers' running game took control in the second half.

Best call: Iowa State got off to a nice start with a gutsy move from coach Paul Rhoads. He faked a field goal on fourth-and-2 from Rutgers' 31-yard line on his second possession of the game. Holder Brett Bueker narrowly got the first down, and extended the drive by taking the snap and running straight ahead. It swung momentum, but after a sack, Iowa State had to settle for a field goal just 3 yards closer, which gave it a 6-0 lead. The Cyclones didn't score again until Woody's touchdown.

Second guessing: Rhoads' reluctance/refusal to put Jared Barnett back in the game after benching him for Steele Jantz. Jantz had a few nice runs to spark the offense when he came in, but he didn't help the offense convert very many third downs and wasn't much of an improvement over Barnett, who struggled early, completing just two of seven passes for 23 yards. Jantz's passes sailed on him for much of the night, while Barnett most often threw passes at receivers' shoelaces. Not a sharp day for the ISU quarterbacks. Barnett was a bit gimpy when he left the game in the first half, but if he was capable of playing, why not give him another shot in the second half?

Jantz finished 15-of-31 for 197 yards and two interceptions.

Well wishes: Big East defensive player of the year Khaseem Greene announced his plans to stay at Rutgers another year, rather than enter the NFL draft. The junior linebacker went down with an ugly right leg injury late in the fourth quarter, though, after a hit on Jantz. It didn't look good, and he was attended to by trainers on the field for several minutes, while in obvious pain. His teammates came on the field to encourage Greene before he left on a cart with his right leg in an air cast.

What it means: This wasn't the way Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Herman wanted to go out. He'll leave Iowa State to join Urban Meyer's staff as his offensive coordinator and playcaller at Ohio State next season. Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads was denied his second bowl win in three years, but Rutgers coach Greg Schiano won his fifth consecutive bowl game.

Jantz also failed to recapture his fourth-quarter magic from early in the season. He quarterbacked the Cyclones to three fourth-quarter comebacks against Northern Iowa, Iowa and UConn, but the effort wasn't enough in this one.

Record performance: In the first half, Rutgers junior receiver Mohamed Sanu snatched the school record for receptions. He finished his season with 210 career catches, breaking running back Brian Leonard's record.

Projecting Sumlin's future at Texas A&M

December, 13, 2011
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How will Kevin Sumlin do at Texas A&M?

The stat gurus and recruitniks weighed in, and things are looking up for Sumlin in College Station.

Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders looked at three coaches that may have an immediate impact, and Sumlin made the list, alongside Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Larry Fedora at North Carolina.

The biggest need for growth is rather obvious: third-quarter failures. The Aggies famously lost five games this year despite holding a double-digit halftime lead and another with a nine-point lead at halftime.

There's reason for encouragement, though.
One thing Sumlin can build from is the Aggies' overall game efficiency, a combination measure of raw offensive, defensive and special teams success. Texas A&M ranked 20th nationally in game efficiency this season, much better than its record would indicate. The top-25 teams in game efficiency averaged 10 wins apiece this year.

We run a metric called "mean wins" to calculate the likely record of a team with a given rating against its schedule, a way to roughly account for "luck". Texas A&M fell 1.7 wins below expected this year. There's no reason to assume they'll recover that luck and those wins immediately, but several teams last year with similar bad luck included the Georgia Bulldogs, Clemson Tigers and Houston, three teams that improved dramatically on their win totals from 2010 to 2011.

And what do recruits say? There was some natural uneasiness after Mike Sherman's firing. With Sumlin officially in charge, though, they're encouraged, writes colleague Damon Sayles.

Quarterback Matt Davis, one of the top commits in the Aggies' top-flight 2012 class, is particularly excited.

"I've been a little biased with this whole situation. With him being the Houston coach and me being in Houston, I know little bit about him," said Davis, No. 108 in the ESPNU 150. "It's great to know you're getting a great, young coach with some swagger who can come in and help us win football games."

"Terrific hire," said four-star Houston Westside offensive tackle Germain Ifedi. "He'll keep the program headed in a good direction."

Ifedi waivered on his commitment, according to Sayles, but reaffirmed after Sumlin got the job.
Over the weekend, Houston Dekaney four-star running back Trey Williams talked to reporters after leading his team to the Texas Class 5A Division II state championship game wearing an A&M hat. Aledo (Texas) High School four-star offensive tackle Michael Wilson, who has helped his team advance to the Class 4A Division II state championship game, said he likes the coaching hire but still wants to speak with Sumlin.

In his introductory news conference on Monday, Sumlin emphasized the need to hold together the 2012 class, and it looks like there's some momentum for him to be able to do it.

Ranking the Big 12 bowl games

December, 12, 2011
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Bowl season approacheth. Two games featuring Big 12 teams will be as good as any this postseason, especially with the impending rugby match that we'll tentatively call the BCS National Championship.

Here's how the Big 12 games rank from top to bottom.

[+] EnlargeWeeden
Richard Rowe/US PresswireOklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden could be a second-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.
1. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2: No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 4 Stanford - Just imagine if the opponents were switched and these two took on SEC opponents in national semifinals as part of the college football Final Four. Oh, what could have been. Either way, Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck assure us that this will be a tight, cleanly played game with two of college football's best passers. Outside of the SEC rematch for the title, this is the best bowl game of them all.

2. AT&T Cotton Bowl, Jan. 6: No. 8 Kansas State vs. No. 6 Arkansas - The Wildcats have played heart-stoppers in what seems like every week. They're 8-1 in games decided by fewer than seven points. Why change now? This will be just the second Big 12 vs. SEC matchup this year, and both games have been in Cowboys Stadium. Texas A&M allowed a Hogs comeback, but Arkansas' potent offense will be nothing new for Kansas State, which has been compensating for them all year. The Wildcats nearly beat OSU and beat Baylor this year. Expect a wild finish.

3. Valero Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29: No. 12 Baylor vs. Washington - Beware of fireworks. Baylor's first Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, will take the field for perhaps the final time, and expect tons of points in this one. The Huskies and Bears combine to average 75 points and give up an average of 69 points. QB Keith Price keys a good Washington attack with running back Chris Polk, who burned Nebraska for 177 yards in the Holiday Bowl last season.

4. Insight Bowl, Dec. 30: No. 14 Oklahoma vs. Iowa - The storylines are rich in this rare Big Ten meeting for the Sooners. Last year, Stoops cheered on the Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl against Mizzou. Oklahoma will take on Stoops' alma mater this year in the warmup game for the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. The Sooners will be without receivers Jaz Reynolds and Ryan Broyles, but Landry Jones will try and bounce back from a Bedlam blowout.

5. Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern - The Aggies will take on QB Dan Persa and the Wildcats in nearby Houston, where the crowd should be heavily maroon. Running back Cyrus Gray is questionable, but it'll be interesting to see how A&M looks without coach Mike Sherman and a new man running the offense. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter will serve as interim coach, and this will be the last time Ryan Tannehill throws to receivers Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope.

6. Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28: No. 24 Texas vs. California - Texas should be mostly healthy by the time this one kicks off, and running back Malcolm Brown could carry some nice momentum into his sophomore season with a big day. After numerous bowl practices leading into this one, it'll be interesting to see what Texas does at quarterback, too.

7. New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 30: Iowa State vs. Rutgers - Last year's Bronx Salute was an ugly end to a classic, but the picturesque setting in Yankee Stadium still has a big novelty factor for fans watching and in attendance for this one. The 8-4 Scarlet Knights are fourth in the Big East and should offer an interesting contrast to the eighth-place team in the Big 12. We'll see how Iowa State's offense is impacted by a maturing freshman quarterback in Jared Barnett. But it will be an offense playing for the final time with offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who will join Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State after the season.

8. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, Dec. 26: Missouri vs. North Carolina - The 7-5 Tigers, like 6-6 Texas A&M, didn't go to the SEC in the fashion they would have liked. But even if it's a middling bowl game, don't underestimate the momentum that can be established by a win. Ask Oklahoma, which grew up a lot in a win over Stanford in the 2009 Sun Bowl before winning the Big 12 in 2010. That's especially true for a team returning a lot next year like Mizzou, even if it will take on a whole new schedule.

How would you rank the bowls?

Mailbag: Aggie curse, politics, Stoops-OSU

April, 29, 2011
4/29/11
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Thanks for all the questions, all. Enjoy the rest of the draft this weekend.

Jared in College Station, Texas asks: What do you make of Texas A&M's "Senior QB Curse?" Reggie McNeil, Stephen McGee, and Jerrod Johnson were all ineffective and benched their senior season. Very odd, no? How can Ryan Tannehill escape the same fate?

David Ubben: Well, I have problems buying into any curse, of course. The bottom line about McNeal and McGee is neither one was as good as Jerrod Johnson or Ryan Tannehill. Johnson, at his best, was better than Tannehill, but the shoulder injury was such a rough deal last season.

This week, coach Mike Sherman opined that Johnson tried too hard to make up for lost time in the spring and worked too hard during the summer. Whatever the cause, it was a shame. Johnson was a guy who did everything right, and despite that, it wasn't meant to pay off for him. That said, it's in the past.

Tannehill didn't take a ton of big hits last season, and with Texas A&M's solid offensive line featuring sophomore bookends loaded with potential, he doesn't figure to take many more in 2011. In the event he does run, though? I'm sure Sherman will be in his ear to make sure he gets down or out of bounds.

Curse or otherwise, you still have to take care of your passer. Last season, the Aggies had a pretty good backup plan for Johnson. This season, they don't. Being extra careful is the prudent approach.

Jamiell Showers and/or Matt Joeckel aren't winning Texas A&M a Big 12 title next season.


Brett in Kansas City asks: Hey David, is there any chance that Bob Stoops, or any other Big 12 coaches for that matter, will be looking at homes in Columbus, Ohio anytime soon?

DU: No, I don't buy that. Urban Meyer is obviously at the top of the list if Jim Tressel leaves, but if Stoops turned down Florida (twice), I'd be surprised if he left for Ohio State. There's some appeal in going "home," yes, but Stoops said himself this spring that Oklahoma is as much his home as anywhere these days. He's got three school-aged kids who have lived in Oklahoma since 1999. That's 12 years.

Besides that, how often do you see a coach of a major program leave to become coach at another major program? It's very, very rare.

I generally think Meyer will eventually end up at Ohio State, but if anything, Bo Pelini is much more likely to leave than Stoops, following a short tenure at Nebraska. I wouldn't bet on it, but Pelini is pretty high on the prospective list.


Michael in Long Beach, Calif. asks: David, if Jamell Fleming enrolls for the fall semester is he good to go, or does he face academic or other types of suspensions? Would he be eligible academically? Thanks.

DU: He should be good to go, as I understand it. It sounds like his status is in limbo, and ultimately, he's the only guy who can decide if he'll be back or not. He'll have to work to show it, though. He could miss out on something special at Oklahoma next year if he's not on the team. You'd think that alone would be enough motivation.


Frederico in Paris asks: David,Who would you pick as the big 12 teams you're most likely to be over-rating and under-rating for the 2011 season at this point in time?

DU: Interesting question. Overrating? We'll see about Oklahoma State. The defense got a lot better toward the end of last season, but will that continue into next season, especially without one of its leaders, Orie Lemon?

And then there's the whole playcalling deal, replacing one of college football's best, Dana Holgorsen, with an inexperienced Todd Monken.

Between the trio of teams at the top of the league, I'd say they're the most likely to have a disappointing season. Not saying it'll happen, but Texas A&M and Oklahoma have a lot fewer questions.

Underrating? Probably the same three teams I pegged as sleepers awhile back. Texas, Missouri and Kansas State. All have big question marks, but perhaps even bigger potential.


Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. asks: I'm sure Tuberville's going on Hannity and bashing me plays well with the fans in west Texas but seems like a fairly stupid move overall. Tubs stated that as coach he represents all of Tech's players but I doubt if many of his African American players feel like those comments represent them. Do you think this could impact recruiting for Tech?

DU: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's strip this letter of all the fighting words. I'd expect a president to be more diplomatic, no? First off, I'd hardly call what Tuberville said about Obama "bashing." Questioning? Sure. As it ends up, he was wrong, but again, Tuberville is little more than a victim of poor timing when it comes to Obama and his birth certificate. No one would bat an eye at this if Tuberville hadn't gone on the air and commented the night before Obama released the document.

Secondly, painting with a broad brush there a little bit, right? His black players wouldn't feel like those comments represent them? Since when are all of his white players backing the Republicans and all his black players backing the Democrats? Slow your role, Mr. President.

And most importantly, since when does that matter? It doesn't. If you're a player, there's no reason to be overly concerned with your coach's political views. When he says he represents all his players, I'd hardly say that crosses over to political views. I'm surprised this story became an issue, considering how little it has to do with anything.


Brady Kirk in Norman, OK asks: Hey, Dubbs. I've been thinking lately about how the upcoming Sooner offense compares to its counterpart of 2008. First of all, how much of a difference do you see between their offensive lines; second, do you think this year's receiver corps is at the same level as that team's offensive line; and third, how close do you think this offense can come to that one overall?

DU: There's a big difference in the offensive lines. Oklahoma's should be good next season, but the one in 2008 had four NFL players on it. This season's probably has two. The receivers this season are better, but a great receiving corps doesn't mean dominance in the same way that an offensive line does. The Sooners did anything they wanted that season (until they played Florida) and scored more points than any offense in the history of college football.

This year's offense should be great, but I'd be shocked if it came anywhere close to that team.


Tommy B in Stillwater, OK asks: What are the chances OSU is able to get Justin Bieber to Bedlam?

DU: Who knows just yet, but I'd like to see OSU do everything it can to get Bieber to Stillwater.


David Paschall in Austin, Texas asks: I loved watching Texas' Blaine Irby play before his injury in 2008. It seems like he has a ton of potential at TE. Will we finally get to see him play again this year? He suited up for the Orange and White game, but I don't remember seeing him take the field and virtually no one has mentioned him. Will 2011 see his return?

DU: He was out there this spring, but the team took it easy and held him out of the spring game. He's not back to full strength, but he sounds like he'll be back on the field in at least some capacity next season.
It seems like Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made his bosses happy by rebounding from an 8-5 season for a Big 12 title and BCS bowl win, followed by eschewing Florida's advances in the offseason.

According to the Tulsa World, they've rewarded him with a big raise.

Stoops' paycheck is now at a plump $4.875 million per year, up from $3.875 million in 2010.

The staff's salaries are now nearly $7 million.

Stoops' raise brings him right up underneath Texas coach Mack Brown's $5.1 million salary for highest in the Big 12. The next-largest in the Big 12 is Gary Pinkel at Missouri, with $2.55 million.

Last year, the only other coaches to make more than Stoops were Nick Saban, Brown, Urban Meyer, Les Miles and Jim Tressel.

Thanks to the raise, that list now includes just Saban ($5.16 million in university compensation, without bonuses) and Brown.

Hey! Do you want to run Texas' defense?

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
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A mysterious new job posting appeared on the website of the University of Texas' human resources this week, but you might recognize why the job came open.

Under job title, "Assistant Football Coach, Defensive Coordinator" is listed, thanks to Will Muschamp's departure to Florida, where he'll be the Gators' new head coach.

Another key phrase, under the "Position open to" row: "all applicants"

That means you! But it's not all fun and games. There are ladders involved.

Under working conditions:
Uniforms and/or personal protection equipment (furnished). May work in all weather conditions. May work in extreme temperatures. May work around standard office conditions. Repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation. Use of manual dexterity. Climbing of stairs. Climbing of ladders. Lifting and moving.

Exposure to large crowds; weekend, evening and holiday work; intrastate and interstate travel; work long hours during peak periods; direct customer contact

The hours required lists "40.00 Variable," but the safe guess is that's on the low end. Though they do concede: "Additional hours will be required during peak periods to include evenings, weekends, and holidays. Interstate and intrastate travel is required to include overnight stays."

Better bring a sleeping bag.

Of course, the posting might be good for more than just a cheap laugh. A handful of names have been floating around over the weekend after Muschamp announced his intention to leave on Saturday night. Here's what's listed under "preferred qualifications."
"Minimum twelve (12) years coaching experience in a university 1-A program. Minimum 7 years experience coaching in the NFL. Experience coaching at a BCS school."

First off, fellas, we call it the "FBS" now. Otherwise, it's condescending. Expect a flood of angry calls from the Blue Hen faithful of Delaware.

But there's plenty to read into in that description.

One of the names who has drifted near that cloud has been Florida defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

Austin coached defensive backs for the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals from 2003-09 before taking over for Charlie Strong before the 2010 season at Florida under Urban Meyer. Before his NFL stint, he coached at Penn State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Michigan from 1991-2003.

Do the math.

Sound like a clue?

Could be.

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