Dallas Colleges: Derek Dooley

Oklahoma State Cowboys spring wrap

May, 1, 2013
2012 record: 8-5
2012 Big 12 record: 5-4
Returning starters: Offense: 7; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners: QB Clint Chelf, WR Josh Stewart, CB Justin Gilbert, LB Shaun Lewis, LB Caleb Lavey, WR Blake Jackson, DT Calvin Barnett, S Daytawion Lowe, DE Tyler Johnson

Key losses: RB Joseph Randle, LB Alex Elkins, K/P/KOS Quinn Sharp, CB Brodrick Brown, DE Nigel Nicholas, WR Isaiah Anderson

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Passing: Clint Chelf* (1,588 yards)
Rushing: Joseph Randle (1,417 yards)
Receiving: Josh Stewart* (1,210 yards)
Tackles: Alex Elkins, Daytawion Lowe* (75)
Sacks: Tyler Johnson* (4)
Interceptions: Lyndell Johnson*, Daytawion Lowe*, Shamiel Gary* (2)

Spring answers

1. The defense's intentions are clear. Bill Young is out. Glenn Spencer is in, and he's all about playing aggressive. Tight coverage and blitzes are the name of the game, and we'll see if it pays off in a Big 12 lacking in quarterback experience. Last season, OSU's parade of turnovers came to an end, but Spencer seems intent on bringing it back. Nobody's stopping Big 12 offenses, but forcing turnover and holding teams to three in the red zone are how you succeed on defense in this league.

2. The offensive line is set ... for now. Center Evan Epstein and guard Lane Taylor are gone, but the Pokes are going with youth at left tackle in sophomore Devin Davis, moving last year's left tackle, Parker Graham, to left guard. Meanwhile, junior Jake Jenkins is sliding up to take Epstein's spot at center. That's how it ended in the spring, but OL coach Joe Wickline is kind of unpredictable, so those guys better continue to bring it in fall camp.

3. Athletic director Mike Holder is still running the show. Gundy and Holder had a disagreement on scheduling that nearly ended with Gundy packing his bags to succeed Derek Dooley in Knoxville. But Gundy's displeasure with Holder helping schedule Mississippi State this year and Florida State next year -- both on neutral fields -- hasn't changed much. OSU just announced a future home-and-home with Boise State. Who knows what Boise will look like then, but the intent is clear: Holder wants attention-grabbing, money-making games to start the season, not home games against patsies to help OSU run up an easy 3-0 mark before conference play begins.

Fall questions

1. Seriously, what's the deal at quarterback? Chelf is the safe bet at quarterback, but Gundy reneged on a statement midway through spring that he would hold onto his starting spot in Week 1 ahead of J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt. Now, Gundy says the starter for Game 1 hasn't been decided, and quarterbacks are off limits to the media with no updates being given until after the season opener. We'll see if Gundy sticks to it, and if Chelf hangs onto the starting job he earned with strong play to close 2012.

2. Is Oklahoma State a new Big 12 power? The Pokes broke through and won a title in 2011, but one title doesn't mean anything in the big picture. OSU is in position to win another and just may be the league favorite to start the season. They are in my book for sure. Two Big 12 titles in three seasons? That's serious, and the Pokes have a chance to do some special things this season.

3. Is Mike Yurcich the next super coordinator at OSU? Mike Gundy's been a head coach less than a decade, but his coaching tree is already way underrated. He's churning out head coaches year after year, highlighted by guys like Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia, Larry Fedora at North Carolina and Tim Beckman at Illinois. Todd Monken just left for Southern Miss, and if Yurcich, who stepped into the new role from a Division II school, keeps the pace for this offense, I'm betting he may attract interest before too long, too. Watching how he handles Year 1 will be interesting. Monken came from being an NFL position coach and made parlaying that into a head coaching job look easy.

What we learned in the SEC: Week 11

November, 11, 2012
After a wild Saturday in the SEC, here’s a look at what we learned in Week 11:

1. SEC’s streak in jeopardy: The SEC’s national championship streak is in serious jeopardy. Texas A&M’s 29-24 victory over Alabama means the league’s going to need some help to even make it to the Discover BCS National Championship Game this season. With everybody in the SEC now saddled with at least one loss, the only way for Alabama to climb back into one of those top two spots in the final BCS standings is for two of the three unbeaten teams (Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon) to lose. It will be interesting to see how far Alabama falls in the polls and whether Georgia passes the Crimson Tide. Alabama’s loss Saturday didn’t help the Bulldogs’ chances of playing their way into the BCS National Championship Game, either. Georgia, with an ugly 35-7 loss to South Carolina earlier this season, needed to have Alabama unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the SEC championship game, and then a win over the Tide would have carried more weight with the voters. The other ironic thing to consider is that the SEC’s chances of making it seven straight national championships could now rest in the hands of Lane Kiffin, who made a few enemies in the SEC during 14 turbulent months at Tennessee before bolting to USC. Kiffin’s Trojans face Notre Dame in the regular-season finale and could also get a second shot at Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game.

[+] EnlargeTexas A&M's Kevin Sumlin
John David Mercer/US PRESSWIREKevin Sumlin has had an impressive first year at Texas A&M, which is in its first year in the SEC.
2. Props to the Aggies: There’s sure to be a lot of people around the country trumpeting how overrated Alabama was in the aftermath of the Crimson Tide’s home loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. And no, Alabama’s not ready to line up and beat any NFL teams anytime soon, as Steve Spurrier suggested a few weeks ago. But the real story here is Texas A&M and what a fabulous job Kevin Sumlin has done in his first season as coach and the Aggies’ first season in the SEC. Everybody wondered how they would hold up in the SEC. It’s safe to say that they’re going to hold up just fine, and a better question might be: Once Sumlin gets a few more recruiting classes under his belt, especially in that talent-laden state, how is the rest of the SEC going to hold up against the Aggies? Johnny Manziel is absolutely worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration, and he’s playing behind an offensive line that made a pretty convincing statement Saturday that it’s in a league of its own. And finally, that same Texas A&M defense that was shredded last month in a 59-57 win against Louisiana Tech made one key stop after another Saturday and has improved by leaps and bounds.

3. Muddled bowl picture: Good luck in figuring out the SEC bowl picture. It’s a given that the SEC will still get two teams into BCS bowls even if the league is shut out of the Discover BCS National Championship Game. The intrigue will revolve around which two teams. As many as six SEC teams could stake a claim. If nobody makes it into the national title game, the winner of the SEC championship game would go to the Sugar Bowl. So right now, that looks like it will be the Alabama-Georgia winner. The loser of that game would still be in play, but so would an 11-1 Florida team as well as LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M if they all win out and finish 10-2. Florida still has to go to Florida State in the regular-season finale, while South Carolina plays at Clemson to close the regular season. Both the Gators and Gamecocks could help their cases with wins over top-10 teams. The AT&T Cotton Bowl would love to get its hands on the Aggies, but they could also get snatched up by a BCS bowl, especially with Manziel putting up Heisman Trophy numbers.

4. Don’t sleep on the Dawgs: Granted, Auburn is terrible. But it looks like Georgia is starting to play its best football at just the right time. The Bulldogs are closing in on the eighth 10-win season in Mark Richt’s 12 years at the school and clinched their second consecutive trip to the SEC championship game with their 38-0 rout of the Tigers. Richt has had his share of critics, and he’ll continue to have them. But he’s done an excellent job each of the past two seasons of keeping his team focused despite bad early-season losses. The schedule has been a factor, no question. But Richt didn’t make it out, nor did any of his players. Florida had its shot against Georgia and lost, and the Bulldogs have proved that they don’t roll over and play dead just because they lose a game early.

5. Dooley’s days are numbered: It’s not a matter of “if,” but rather “when” for Tennessee coach Derek Dooley. The Vols’ 51-48 loss to Missouri in four overtimes Saturday was almost certainly the knockout blow for Dooley, who’s now lost 13 of his past 14 SEC games. The Vols blew a 14-point lead in the third quarter at home, and Dooley made some questionable decisions down the stretch. But over and above what happened in Saturday’s game, it’s a Tennessee program that is hemorrhaging on several different fronts. If fan apathy hadn’t already set in, it has now, and there’s just not a lot of hope on Rocky Top that Dooley will ever be able to stop the bleeding. He walked into a mess in 2010 when he took the job and has done an admirable job of strengthening the roster. But Tennessee has gone from a top-tier program that had obviously dipped toward the end of Phillip Fulmer’s tenure to a program now that’s totally irrelevant. There really is no decision now for Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. The only question is if he’ll announce that he’s making a coaching change this week or the next.

What we learned in the SEC: Week 7

October, 14, 2012
Now that Week 7 is over with, it's time to take a look at what we learned in the SEC:

1. LSU isn't going away: The Tigers limped into Saturday's showdown with South Carolina after being pushed around by Florida. By all accounts, the sky was falling in Baton Rouge and the Tigers had to face the music that they were playing for second place in the SEC West. But things feel much different on the bayou after an impressive win over the Gamecocks. The Tigers did all the pushing Saturday, outgaining South Carolina 406-211 and denying Marcus Lattimore to even touch the ball in the fourth quarter. Zach Mettenberger's performance wasn't pretty, but he didn't need to be with that running game churning out 258 rushing yards against one of the country's best defensive lines, and that kind of play can win in this league. LSU isn't out of the SEC or national race and the Alabama game just got a little more exciting.

[+] EnlargeTyler Wilson
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireTyler Wilson threw five touchdown passes in Saturday's win.
2. Hot seats are only getting hotter: Things just aren't working at Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. And that means that their respective coaches are really starting to feel the heat. Heading into the weekend, Kentucky's Joker Phillips was probably in the most hot water, and it's boiling after a 49-7 loss to Arkansas. Derek Dooley entered the season on the hottest seat and his Vols are now 0-3 in SEC play and eight wins is looking tougher and tougher by the day. And Gene Chizik has a bad offense and defense at Auburn. The Tigers gave Ole Miss its first SEC win since 2010 in a blowout in Oxford. The problem is that things just aren't getting better at any of these three schools and fans are beyond antsy and upset. None of the three schools have a conference win this season and have a combined record of 5-14.

3. Arkansas isn't done just yet: Just when we thought the Razorbacks were dead in the water, they are slowly getting back into the bowl race. After a dismal September, the Hogs have shown tremendous pride the past two weeks with wins over Auburn and Kentucky. Granted, they are beating cellar dwellers, but there was a time when not many people thought the Hogs would win both of those. Arkansas' offense looks like we expected it to and could be a threat to its November competition. Arkansas is now three wins away from being bowl eligible. With home games against Ole Miss and Tulsa coming up, the Razorbacks might need just one win in the tough month of November to make it to the postseason.

4. Johnny Manziel might be the SEC's best: Forget Johnny Football being the league's best freshman, he might be the SEC's best overall player. Through six games, the youngster has passed for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns and is completing 67 percent of his passes. He's also thrown only three interceptions. But where he's even more dangerous is in the ground game. Manziel leads the SEC with 676 rushing yards and has 10 touchdowns. He's lightning-quick and can outrun just about anyone out there. You take Manziel off of this team and the Aggies aren't close to being as good as they've been. He can change a game in a second with his feet, but also has the ability to make some quality throws. It's like he doesn't have an off button.

5. The East race will be even more interesting: With South Carolina's loss to LSU, the East race is going to be even more fun to watch from here on out. The Gamecocks now share a loss with Georgia, while Florida sits atop the division. But the Gators host South Carolina next weekend before playing Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. South Carolina certainly didn't want to lose, but with a win over Florida, the Gamecocks would own the tiebreaker over the Gators and Dawgs. So this loss won't sting as much. We could be headed to a similar situation as we saw last year in the West with Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. If these teams come out of this round-robin-style play with just one loss each, we'll officially be on "Tiebreaker Watch."

Previewing the 2012 SEC media days

July, 16, 2012

It's almost time for hundreds of media folk to pile into a swanky ballroom and kick off another year of SEC media days.

The festivities begin Tuesday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., and last until Thursday afternoon. The event serves as the unofficial kickoff to SEC football season.

So what should we be on the lookout for this year?

Well, the biggest news is all the star power that won't be making the trip. Two of the league's top rushers -- Marcus Lattimore and Christine Michael -- won't be in town. Yes, they are both coming off season-ending injuries, but so is Arkansas' Knile Davis, and he'll be in attendance.

One of the league's best, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray won't be in Hoover, either. Nor will Bulldogs wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.

Some other big names not on the list include Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Missouri quarterback James Franklin.

There are a lot of interesting storylines revolving around all those players, who serve as faces for their respective programs, and it's disappointing that they won't be around this week.

However, some quality names are on this year's roster, including Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, Texas A&M linebacker Sean Porter, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.

I'm sure they'll all have plenty to say and should keep us all entertained.

Here are some other things to keep an eye on this week:
  • If you're coming into town, make sure you bring your protective gear for Thursday. That's when Alabama's up, and you'd better believe the lobby will be jam-packed with Tide fans. They come out in full force and expect things to be even tighter this year after that championship.
  • Arkansas players will have to answer a lot of questions surrounding their former coach, Bobby Petrino. How much of a distraction will his exit be this fall?
  • Also, what will new Arkansas coach John L. Smith say? He sure knows how to make a news conference exciting, so don't expect anything to be different in front of all those SEC scribes.
  • One coach not afraid to put on a show while at the podium is South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. The Head Ball Coach has been chirping this year, and he probably won't stop in Hoover.
  • Last year, there were a lot of questions about the quarterback talent in this league. This year, that isn't the case, as the league is as plentiful at the position as it has been in years.
  • Although only Davis will be in town, expect a lot of talk about three of the league's best running backs all coming off major, season-ending injuries.
  • Georgia has had an eventful offseason away from the field, and it's time to see how players and coach Mark Richt are feeling about all of the silly distractions. Also, what's in store for the Bulldogs' running game now that Isaiah Crowell is gone?
  • I wonder how many times Nick Saban and his players will be asked questions about comparisons to the 2010 team. You know how much Saban loves comparison talk. ...
  • Tennessee coach Derek Dooley should field a lot of questions about his job security this week. Regardless of how you feel about the time he's had and all the issues he's had to deal with, his seat is hotter than ever.
  • Texas A&M and Missouri are now officially members of the SEC. How will their players and coaches react to being surrounded by all those SEC writers? And how many more questions will they get about adjusting to their new conference?
  • LSU was on top of the college football world until last year's national championship. The Tigers bring back a boatload of talent, but can they finish things this year?
  • The good news for Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee is their coaches won't have to deal with NCAA questions, unlike last year.

Dooley, Witten dedicate learning center

June, 22, 2012
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is making an impact away from the football field in Knoxville.

Though his priorities lie in guiding the Vols' football program, Dooley has taken some time away from the football grind to give back to his local community.

As part of his ongoing work with Variety -- The Children's Charity of East Tennessee -- Dooley joined former Tennessee tight end Jason Witten and his SCORE Foundation to help fund the renovation and development of the Dooley-Witten Learning Center, which was dedicated Thursday.

"There are people that create problems, there are people that talk about problems and there are people that solve problems," Dooley said. "The Boys & Girls Club has been a problem solver ever since its inception. I've always felt like if everybody just put their energy on their local communities to solve the problems together, then we wouldn't have as many problems as we have all over the world.

"We have so much right here locally that we can do. That's where we have put our energy on trying to help solve problems at a local level. I've always felt like there's no greater resource in this country than our young people because they are the future problem solvers."

Witten, who is entering his 10th season with the Dallas Cowboys, was once a member of the Boys & Girls Club as a child growing up in East Tennessee.

"I'm a living example of being a part of the club and having good examples in front of me every day," Witten said. "Amongst the challenges that took place in my own life, people believed in me and they showed me a way to allow me to have a chance."

For more on Dooley and Witten working with the Halls/Powell Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, check out the Vols' official website.

Speaking of giving back, this year's Iron Bowl won't just be about football when Alabama and Auburn get together. Mike Herdon of The Mobile Press-Register wrote on Thursday about an Iron Bowl giveaway to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Those who purchase a $50 ticket for an educational event for LLS held by Jeb Shell of Mobile, a candidate for the 2012 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Man of the Year, on June 27 in Mobile, Ala., will be entered into a drawing for a package that includes six tickets to the Iron Bowl, transportation by private jet and private shuttle service from the airport to Bryant-Denny Stadium and back.

All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the LLS.