Dallas Colleges: Turner Gill

The worst teams in the history of the Big 12

November, 28, 2012
Hey, I see you Big 12 fans with your recency bias.

"Kansas! Turner Gill's team last season was the worst in the history of the Big 12!"

Yes, those Jayhawks were one of only six teams in Big 12 history to go winless in conference play, and this year's Jayhawks have a chance to make it seven if they don't beat West Virginia on Saturday.

The 2011 team lost six games by at least 30 points and the historically bad defense gave up at least 59 points on four separate occasions. However, those same Jayhawks led a 10-win Baylor team led by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III by 21 points early in the fourth quarter and ran up a 20-point lead on Texas Tech early in the season. They also lost to Iowa State by only three points and beat the MAC champion, Northern Illinois.

Still, I hate to break it to you. Do the research, and you'll find that KU team was probably the best winless team in Big 12 history. Not exactly an accomplishment that will do much except get the coach fired, but on ESPN.com today, we're taking a look at some of the worst teams in the history of the game. Here's how I'd rank the worst teams in the history of the Big 12:

1. 1999 Baylor (1-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Kevin Steele
Win: 23-10 vs. North Texas
Lowlights: The Bears were in Year 1 of Steele's four-year tenure that peaked with a three-win campaign in 2002. I give these Bears my seal of approval as the worst team in Big 12 history. They lost to Boston College and UNLV in nonconference, and the closest they got to any Big 12 team all season was 20 points, and even that game was in the season finale against Oklahoma State. Along the way, they suffered losses of 62-0 (Texas), 37-0 (Colorado) and 48-7 (Nebraska).

2. 2003 Iowa State (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Dan McCarney
Wins: Northern Iowa, Ohio
Lowlights: This was an oddly awful season sandwiched between four seven-win seasons for McCarney, the best coach in Iowa State history before Paul Rhoads arrived in 2009. ISU lost to Northern Illinois out of conference and had by far the worst finish of any team on this list. In its final five games, it scored seven points twice in blowout losses to KU and Mizzou, and was shut out by Nebraska and K-State. It did score 10 points in a 34-point loss to Colorado, though! ISU came within 21 points of only one Big 12 team that season, losing 40-19 to Texas.

3. 1997 Iowa State (1-10, 1-7 Big 12)
Coach: Dan McCarney
Win: 24-17 vs. Baylor
Lowlights: These Cyclones are the only team on this list with a conference win, but they're a team that deserved special consideration. They went winless in nonconference play with losses to Wyoming (46 points!!), Minnesota (34 points) and Iowa (43 points). They came within seven points in the season opener against Oklahoma State, but suffered a handful of humiliating losses, including a 77-14 beatdown against Nebraska. Missouri (24 points), Texas A&M (39 points) and Kansas State (25 points) all continued the parade.

4. 2002 Kansas (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Mark Mangino
Wins: Southwest Missouri State, Tulsa
Lowlights: This was the first season on the road to an eventual BCS bowl for Mangino. The former OU offensive coordinator had a tough start, getting blasted by Iowa State by 42 points to kick off the season. They also suffered losses to UNLV and Bowling Green. The Jayhawks came within three points of Baylor, but no other Big 12 game was decided by fewer than 24 points. They also suffered a 64-0 loss to K-State and a 45-7 loss to Nebraska.

5. 2007 Baylor (3-9, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Guy Morriss
Wins: Rice, Texas State, Buffalo
Lowlights: This was the final season for Morriss at Baylor, and the Bears didn't come within 20 points of winning a Big 12 game. BU kicked off the season with a 27-0 loss to TCU but suffered 31-point losses to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma to close the year and the Morriss era, ushering in the Art Briles era in Waco. The Bears lost to BCS-bound KU by 48 points that year and suffered a 38-point loss to a Ron Prince-coached Kansas State team.

6. 2008 Iowa State (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Gene Chizik
Wins: South Dakota State, Kent State
Lowlights: Chizik parlayed his 5-19 career record into a head job at Auburn and a national title before being fired earlier this week after a winless season in SEC play. The Cyclones were bad, but far from hopeless. ISU lost its final 10 games, including a loss to UNLV, but also had three Big 12 losses decided by a single possession. It did lose games by 42 (Oklahoma State), 32 (Mizzou) and 28 (Nebraska and Baylor).

Big 12 game predictions: Week 6

October, 4, 2012

Time to pick this week's games across the Big 12. It's a small slate -- only four games -- but it should be interesting. Outside of Kansas State-Kansas, I'd say anything could happen in the other three games. Could be a very upset-filled Saturday.

Longhorns DE Jackson Jeffcoat talks about the challenge they are facing in Geno Smith and the West Virginia offense, David Ash's growth as a quarterback and more.

Listen Listen
I'll be in Austin, Texas, on Saturday to see the Longhorns host West Virginia in the Mountaineers' first Big 12 road game. I'm pretty excited about it.

Oklahoma State and Baylor are off this week.

On to the predictions!

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 29-5 (.853)

No. 7 Kansas State 44, Kansas 17: Nobody is taking this game more seriously than Bill Snyder. The man gets his teams ready for Kansas. Ron Prince never beat the Jayhawks. Snyder, meanwhile, is 16-4 against his in-state rival, including two of the most complete beatdowns the Turner Gill-coached Jayhawks ever received. Snyder gets his guys up for this game, and Collin Klein takes care of business against an improving KU defense.

Texas Tech 28, No. 17 Oklahoma 27: Give me the upset. Texas Tech's revamped defense harasses Landry Jones and proves it's here to stay. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's struggles in Lubbock continue. Seth Doege has a big game against the Sooners secondary and Texas Tech propels itself into the top 25. Art Kaufman might be something of a miracle worker with this defense.

No. 15 TCU 17, Iowa State 16: This will be a rare defensive struggle in the Big 12. Iowa State has an underrated defense and its linebackers are well-equipped to shut down TCU's running game. TCU's defense will force Steele Jantz into more mistakes, too. The Horned Frogs have major problems, but make the necessary plays in the fourth quarter to get a clutch win.

No. 8 West Virginia 41, No. 11 Texas 38: I'm taking the upset here, too. West Virginia's offense is too much in Austin and though Geno Smith throws his first interception of the season, his four touchdown passes are just enough to get one of the biggest wins in WVU history. The Mountaineers negate a Texas pass rush with a healthy diet of screens, and Texas' tackling issues are a major problem against a slippery Tavon Austin, who all too often looks like he's covered in some sort of grease. More on this game later today in my Game of the Week video.

The Big 12 Primer: Week 1

August, 29, 2012
Here's your weekly look at where you can find this weekend's games. My predictions will be up bright and early tomorrow morning, but let's hear yours in the comments. I'll also be revealing which one of these nine games I'll be attending this week.

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team to open its season on the road or even away from home, and it wins the award for weirdest opening game, too.

TCU is idle in Week 1. If you're wondering where Texas A&M and Missouri went, go check the SEC blog.

SATURDAY (all times ET)

No. 11 West Virginia vs. Marshall (noon, FX): West Virginia takes on its in-state rival to kick off its first season in the Big 12. There's been plenty of hype about what Dana Holgorsen's offense will look like in Year 2. Time to stop talking and start producing. Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin just might put on a show in this one.

Iowa State vs. Tulsa (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads isn't hiding from the fact that his team is the underdog in this one. Despite hosting the Conference USA member Golden Hurricane, oddsmakers have Rhoads' squad as a 1.5-point underdog. Here's guessing Rhoads is a little insulted at that, but using it to motivate his team. Will it work?

No. 21 Kansas State vs. Missouri State (7 p.m., K-StateHD.TV): Kansas State's campaign to validate last season's narrow successes kicks off with what should be simple: an FCS opponent. Don't take it for granted, though. Even last year's 10-win team needed a touchdown in the final minutes to beat FCS member Eastern Kentucky 10-7. This one shouldn't be close, but you never know.

Texas Tech vs. Northwestern State (7 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest Plus): It's been nine years since Texas Tech played a nonconference game against a BCS conference opponent, and that won't change in 2012. This time around, though, it's needed. Tech is trying to win its way back after going 5-7 last year, but the main attraction on Saturday will be Eric Stephens, who will be making his return from a terrible knee injury suffered against Texas A&M last year.

No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State (7 p.m., Fox College Sports): Savannah State's won just one game in the FCS in each of the past two seasons. Oklahoma State won 12 and the Big 12 last season. The post-Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon era might have its bumpy nights, but this shouldn't be one of them. The only thing that could go wrong here is if the Cowboys unleash their hideous gray jerseys again like they did in last year's opener. True freshman QB Wes Lunt's debut has been long-awaited since he won the starting job this spring.

Kansas vs. South Dakota State (7 p.m., Jayhawk All-Access/Jayhawk Television Network): The Jayhawks have undergone a transformation unlike any other team in the Big 12 this offseason. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is in charge and he brought with him an avalanche of transfers, headlined by QB Dayne Crist. Keep an eye on defensive end Josh Williams, who transferred from Nebraska. Wins have been scarce the past two years at KU, so don't expect the Jayhawks to take anyone lightly, even an FCS opponent. Coach Turner Gill's tenure got off to a rough start back in 2010 when he lost to FCS North Dakota State.

No. 15 Texas vs. Wyoming (8 p.m., Longhorn Network): This offseason, Texas has been hard at work crafting a powerful running game and a quarterback in David Ash who's better at making decisions. We'll get a preview of what's to come Saturday night. The Longhorns have looked sluggish in the past two openers against Rice, but a suffocating defense could feast on the Cowboys' spread attack.

No. 4 Oklahoma at Texas-El Paso (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Oklahoma is the Big 12's only team on the road in Week 1, but the Miners have been talking a big game all summer. Quarterback Nick Lamaison told reporters he hoped to be the best QB in the game, and the university president said she told UT-Austin the team would "do our best to ensure that Oklahoma would be not as competitive after they left El Paso, because we will have shown them a surprise." Here's guessing that talk is cheap when the ball is finally kicked off. The Sooners are 31-point favorites.


Baylor vs. SMU (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): The old Southwest Conference rivalry is renewed when SMU heads fewer than 100 miles south to face the Bears in the first game since Robert Griffin III left for the NFL and won the starting job with the Washington Redskins. New QB Nick Florence is capable of putting up big numbers, too, but keep an eye on Oregon transfer RB Lache Seastrunk, and don't be surprised if he breaks a big run or two.

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.
Last season, Kansas State shocked everyone by winning 10 games and reaching the Cotton Bowl after the group of unknowns was picked eighth in the preseason.


Who will be the Big 12's biggest surprise team?


Discuss (Total votes: 8,621)

Collin Klein emerged as a star and carried his team to a memorable season.

In 2010, Oklahoma State played the part of shocker. Despite losing Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys won a school-record 11 games and Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon made names for themselves along the way to becoming first-round NFL draft picks.

So who's going to be the surprise team this season?

Cast your vote in our poll.


The Jayhawks have won just one of their past 24 Big 12 games, but there are a ton of new faces these days, and ultimately, it'll be hard to predict what to expect from the Jayhawks. Coach Charlie Weis couldn't be more different than former coach Turner Gill, and the Jayhawks already got a big upgrade at quarterback with Dayne Crist. Add an avalanche of transfers and newcomers who are cracking the two-deep, and the Jayhawks could shock plenty of people this season by flirting with bowl contention.


Texas Tech dropped its final five games last season after beating No. 1 Oklahoma in Norman, the first team to beat Bob Stoops' Sooners at Owen Field since 2005. That meant the first losing season since 1992, and the end of the Big 12's longest bowl streak. The catch? The Red Raiders were already thin, and fell apart once they were racked by injuries. Tech has one of the league's most underrated players in Seth Doege at quarterback, and a great set of receivers. With some defensive improvements under coordinator Art Kaufman and the end of its bad luck with injuries, could Texas Tech surprise and come close to a nine- or 10-win season?


The Cowboys are the defending champs, but the echoes of doubt won't be silenced. How will they replace Weeden and Blackmon? Sounds pretty familiar, no? (Read the top of this post for a refresher.) The defense is going to be pretty stout and still make big plays. True freshman Wes Lunt is progressing well and should have plenty of big targets. Will the Cowboys surprise and be a serious threat in the Big 12 title race?


K-State won 10 games, finished the season ranked 15th and second in the Big 12, and return 17 starters. Yet, because of all the close and comeback wins last season, plenty of folks are chalking it up to luck. K-State begins the season ranked outside the top 20 and picked sixth in the Big 12. Will Bill Snyder prove everyone wrong once again and contend for a Big 12 title?


Paul Rhoads has a quarterback controversy on his hands to deal with first. Once that's settled, could Iowa State show it's making steps toward being a bigger player in the Big 12? The Cyclones have just barely made bowl games in two of the past three seasons, courtesy of huge upsets. ISU wants those wins to be much less shocking. Rhoads once again is saying that this is the best team he's ever had in Ames. Can he prove it and win eight games for the first time as the Cyclones' coach? (Note: Keeping the beard can only help.)

Cast your votes now.

How I voted: Big 12 preseason poll

July, 26, 2012
The Big 12 released its media preseason poll last week, as voted on by a panel of 41 media members.

You can see that here.

I had my disagreements, and here's how I voted.

1. Oklahoma: Looking at the depth chart on offense and defense, Oklahoma is the best and deepest team in the league from top to bottom. The Sooners aren't without weaknesses (defensive line, and receivers for now), but they're the best team on paper.

2. West Virginia: I've got big questions about WVU's defense, but the offense is going to pass to set up the run and it's going to work very, very well. Nobody in the Big 12 has a QB-WR trio as good as the Mountaineers have in Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Kenny Stills and Trey Metoyer might prove to be close by season's end, but they've got a lot to prove.

3. Kansas State: The Wildcats were picked sixth by the media, but I had them at No. 3. The defense is solid, and the offense is sneaky frustrating. Kansas State may not win the Big 12, but I'd be pretty surprised if it wasn't very involved in the conversation. Sixth place? Come on.

4. TCU: Texas and TCU are pretty interchangeable here, but I've got more faith in Gary Patterson to string together a decent defense with what he's got than I do for Texas to have a productive offense with uninspiring QB play. In this league, you win with points, too.

5. Texas: Might come to regret this one, but I'm not fully on board with the Longhorns just yet, though Texas was picked third in the league by the media. Mack Brown's boys have huge upside, but if David Ash isn't a lot better, Texas won't be a lot better. Wait and see with this group.

6. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys should be productive, but may have to defend well and outweigh mistakes that Wes Lunt makes in his first season. That's just how it is with true freshmen, unless Lunt is a prodigy. Is he?

7. Baylor: The Bears are still going to be pretty good, but the top six teams in the Big 12 will just be better. It's a deep league, but Baylor would surprise a lot of people by finishing in the top half, yours truly included.

8. Texas Tech: I feel bad sliding the Red Raiders ahead of Iowa State, which swept the last two meetings against Tech, but the injuries just can't happen every single year. Texas Tech has a lot of upside and a good chance to surprise and finish in the 4-6 range of the Big 12.

9. Iowa State: The battle for the last bowl spot or two is going to be absolutely brutal. Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech can beat anyone in the league, but I'm not sure about either team's depth to win more than seven games. Thus, it's a race to six games, but simple math means at least one of those three teams won't be making the postseason. We'll see who it is. Iowa State's got the least dangerous offense and the worst situation at quarterback. Points will get you a long way in this conference. Iowa State doesn't score enough of them.

10. Kansas: The gap between Kansas and the rest of the league has been vast the past two seasons. Can Charlie Weis change that? If nothing else, he's a whole lot more interesting than his predecessor. We'll see how much more he wins than Turner Gill.
Today begins a new series on the Big 12 Blog that we've never done before. I love predicting the standings from top to bottom, but we're going to do it week by week leading up to the season here on the Big 12 Blog. The end goal is to offer my official prediction for each Big 12 team's record heading into the bowl season.

Remember, these are preseason predictions. We'll obviously still do week-to-week picks, and they may change between now and then. There are a lot of preseason practices and a whole lot of games between now and the end of the season.

There are always teams who disappoint and teams who surprise. But heading into the season, here's how I see the Big 12 shaking out.


Baylor 41, SMU 31: Nick Florence breaks out with a big debut in this Southwest Conference showdown. Lache Seastrunk has a quiet day, but shows flashes of brilliance that warn the rest of the league.

Iowa State 28, Tulsa 24: The Cyclones defense comes up big as the offense sputters early with quarterbacks Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz rotating throughout. Jantz makes enough plays in the fourth for yet another fourth-quarter comeback.

Kansas 38, South Dakota State 14: Turner Gill's debut vs. North Dakota State ended in a 6-3 loss. I've never seen South Dakota State, but I can tell you that they are not North Dakota State. So ... that's something.

Kansas State 34, Missouri State 10: Last year's opener was a nailbiting, come-from-behind 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky that made K-State look like the worst team in the Big 12. No such work here. K-State takes care of business, and by custom, Bill Snyder reveals just two plays in his playbook (Klein Left, and Klein Right).

Oklahoma 41, UTEP 17: This one kicks off in the desert at 9:30 p.m. Oklahoma time. The last time OU played in this stadium, it rolled over Stanford in the Sun Bowl. You can go to bed early in this one, Sooners fans. Get some sleep and get to church in the morning.

Oklahoma State 172, Savannah State 4: Does this game really need to be played? The competition from high school to Savannah State is not all that different for Wes Lunt.

Texas 27, Wyoming 17: Don't get caught sleeping on Wyoming. Dave Christensen's team is pretty good. Overlook them at your own peril. Texas won't. The Longhorns have a lot to prove this year. The difference: They have the personnel to do it.

Texas Tech 55, Northwestern State 20: Tech is finally healthy, and the Demons quite simply can't hang. Time to flex for the Red Raiders.

West Virginia 47, Marshall 14: The battle for bragging rights in West Virginia was close in Bill Stewart's final year. It wasn't last year. It won't be this year. WVU rolls against one of a few familiar opponents it will face in 2012.

  • Oklahoma: 1-0
  • Kansas State: 1-0
  • West Virginia: 1-0
  • Texas: 1-0
  • Oklahoma State: 1-0
  • Baylor: 1-0
  • Texas Tech: 1-0
  • Iowa State: 1-0
  • Kansas: 1-0
  • TCU: 0-0 (Gotta hate those opening weekend byes. I feel for you, Frogs. It's no fun to wait a week longer than everyone else for the season to arrive.)

Big 12 spring football preview

February, 21, 2012

Spring football is already under way at Texas Tech, but in the coming weeks, the Big 12's other nine programs will join the Red Raiders in taking the field as a team for the first time since January, December, or November for some.

Here's a preview of what to expect:


Spring practice start date: March 19
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Nick Florence: It's not official, but the Baylor quarterback job is Florence's to lose. That means he inherits the unenviable task of replacing the school's first Heisman winner. He replaced RG3 in 2009 with mixed results, but showed some major potential in a win over Texas Tech when RG3 took a shot to the head and sat out the second half. Can he keep the bowl streak alive at Baylor? We'll get an idea this spring.
  • The defense's progression: You didn't need to see much more than the 67-56 Alamo Bowl win over Washington to know the Bears needed some work on defense. In the month of November, Baylor became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points in each of those games. The defense can't make Florence pick up the slack to that level. Year 2 under Phil Bennett must be better. Baylor has no excuses. They have the athletes on campus necessary to be at least a decent defense.
  • The team's attitude/motivation: Baylor played with a lot of purpose the past two seasons, and made history in both, cracking a 16-year bowl drought and winning 10 games this year. Is that fire still there? Baylor has to prove it is without RG3 (and Kendall Wright) carrying the team on the field, emotionally and mentally.

Spring practice start date: March 20
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: Or is it? Jared Barnett looked like the man of the future in Ames late in the season, leading the Cyclones to a historic upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State. But in the ugly Pinstripe Bowl loss to a mediocre Rutgers team, Barnett's inaccuracy posed big questions. He was benched and Steele Jantz stepped in, though he didn't play much better than Barnett. Turnovers were an issue for Jantz early on, but Barnett has to bounce back in the spring to make sure the job doesn't come open.
  • The receivers: Darius Reynolds was the big-play man for the Cyclones, but he's gone. It's going to be tough to replace him. Slot receivers Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz were productive, but did little to stretch defenses like the Reynolds did. Can ISU find someone to fill the void?
  • The new man at left tackle: Iowa State had the luxury of having a future pro at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele, for the past three seasons. He earned All-Big 12 nods in each of those seasons, but he's gone now. Junior Carter Bykowski was behind Osemele on the depth chart, but will the converted tight end be the new man at tackle for the Cyclones?

Spring practice start date: March 27
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Uh, everything?: I mean, what's not to watch at KU? Charlie Weis steps in for the fired Turner Gill and tries to build KU up from nothing. The Jayhawks were one of the worst teams in Big 12 history last season, losing six games by at least 30 points. Weis will speak his mind and watching him rebuilding the Jayhawks is going to be fun. It all starts next month -- on the field, at least.
  • KU's new pass-catch combo: Dayne Crist is on campus, and so is Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay, a former blue-chip recruit who didn't quite catch on in Norman. Quarterback and receiver were arguably the two biggest positions of need for KU last year, and we'll get a preview of what could be a productive combo next season. McCay isn't officially eligible for the 2012 season yet -- he needs the NCAA to waive its mandated redshirt year after a transfer -- but the coaching staff is confident he'll have it granted.
  • The uncertainty on the depth chart: When a new staff comes in, you never know what to expect. Kansas' leading rusher in its final season under Mark Mangino, Toben Opurum, is now one of its best defensive linemen. Look for Weis to shake things up, too. Where? Who knows?

Spring practice start date: April 4
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Collin Klein's maturation: Kansas State's quarterback could be fun to watch this spring and next fall. His throwing motion isn't pretty, but his accuracy improved in a big way throughout the season. If that continues at a pace anything close to what we saw last year, K-State's going to be a load for everyone. Look out.
  • Developing depth at running back: John Hubert is back, and so is seldom-used Angelo Pease. Bryce Brown is gone, though. Klein handles a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game, but it'd be some nice insurance if K-State could establish some more depth in the backfield. Making Klein carry the ball 300 times again is tempting fate.
  • Stars becoming superstars: Kansas State brings back more starters than all but seven teams in college football, so this team is going to look remarkably similar in 2012 to the way it did last year. However, it should get better. And its two transfers could look dominant this spring. Cornerback Nigel Malone and linebacker Arthur Brown emerged as stars last year, but we could see the duo emerge as true game-changers this spring. Look out, Big 12 offenses.

Spring practice start date: March 8
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • New faces on, off the field: Mike Stoops' arrival as the defensive coordinator was the biggest news this offseason in the Big 12, and Brent Venables, who had been at OU for all of Bob Stoops' tenure, left for Clemson rather than become co-defensive coordinator. Hopes are high that Stoops can revitalize Oklahoma's defense. He was in charge when the Sooners rode a dominant D to the 2000 national title, and the Sooners have the talent to win it all in 2012. Receiver Trey Metoyer joins the team this spring, and could be a major contributor immediately. Two of the team's four new tight ends are also enrolled early.
  • QB Blake Bell's role: The Belldozer is back ... but so is full-time quarterback Landry Jones. How will the balance between the duo look this spring? And what new wrinkles will we see in Oklahoma's simple, yet near-unstoppable short-yardage formation that saw 13 touchdowns in the second half of 2011?
  • The battle at defensive end: Oklahoma must fill two huge holes at defensive end. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander is gone, as is possible first-round pick Ronnell Lewis. R.J. Washington contributed late and has potential, but David King filled in for Lewis in the final three games of the season. The duo could be great, but it could also be pretty pedestrian. We'll get an idea this spring, but Lewis and Alexander set a high, high bar.

Spring practice start date: March 12
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: This will easily be the highest-profile, highest-quality quarterback battle in the Big 12. It won't be at the level of Texas Tech in 2010, but it won't be too far off. Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will go head to head. All have plenty of potential, though Lunt may have the most. The big-armed true freshman also has the least experience. Anything could happen here.
  • Which receivers rise: Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper leave huge holes behind. It's not every day a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner walks on campus. Hubert Anyiam is gone, too. Michael Harrison is unlikely to play for the 2012 season, but the school has offered no confirmation on his status. He had the most potential, but OSU is deep at the position. Who emerges as the top target? Isaiah Anderson? Tracy Moore? Josh Stewart? Anything could happen there, too.
  • Defense needs a leader: Safety Markelle Martin has been the heart of the defense the past two seasons, but his big-hitting days are over. Who becomes the new voice of the defense? It needs to find leadership this spring heading into summer voluntary workouts.

Spring practice start date: Feb. 23
Spring game: April 1

What to watch:
  • The quarterback competition: I still think having a competition at the spot, which Texas says it will, isn't the best option, but David Ash and Case McCoy will go at it alongside early-enrolling freshman Connor Brewer. If Ash secures the job, expect an announcement heading into summer officially anointing the sophomore.
  • More sophistication on both sides of the ball: The progression is natural and likely. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had good first years in Austin, but this is Year 2. The spring won't be devoted to learning the playbook. It's time to master it. Both units could look markedly different, and much more refined next fall. Deny it all you like: Texas is back on its way to the top after a rough two years.
  • Maturing offensive weapons: Last season, the Longhorns relied on two true freshman running backs (Malcolm Brown/Joe Bergeron), a freshman/sophomore rotation at quarterback and its top receiver (Jaxon Shipley) was a true freshman. No. 2 (Mike Davis) was a sophomore. I hope I don't have to tell you what freshmen and sophomores do in college football. Look. Out.

Spring practice start date: Feb. 25
Spring end date: April 5

What to watch:
  • Can TCU shut out the scandal? Four team members were arrested in a recent drug sting and kicked off the team. How much of a distraction will that be for a program undergoing the most monumental change in its history? Quantifying the effects of the scandal will be pretty impossible, and we've got no idea how they'll handle the change, but will it be on players' minds?
  • The offense tightens up: The Horned Frogs' offense is absolutely loaded and ready to go for 2012. Quarterback Casey Pachall returns and brings his top three weapons (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter) with him. Running backs Waymon James, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker each topped 700 yards rushing in 2011 and all return. The spring will be all about fine-tuning an already stellar offense, and it'll be fun to watch.
  • Replacing departed starters: All-America linebacker Tanner Brock was among the four football players arrested and booted from the team, as was all-conference defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and likely starting safety Devin Johnson. Those were unforeseen losses, but TCU can't feel sorry for itself. Gary Patterson has no choice but to find new faces to fill those holes.

Spring practice start date: Feb. 17
Spring game: March 24

What to watch:
  • Once again, a new defense: Texas Tech sounds like a broken record these days when it comes to defensive coordinators. This time, Art Kaufman will be stepping to the microphone as the fourth defensive coordinator in Lubbock in four years. He's bringing a 4-3, a shift back to what Ruffin McNeil ran in 2009. Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 and James Willis' 3-4 failed miserably in 2011 and 2010, respectively, the first two years under Tommy Tuberville.
  • The battle at running back: No one knows yet if Eric Stephens will be back next season. There's still a long way to go in his rehab from a dislocated knee he suffered last season in a loss to Texas A&M. DeAndre Washington is also out this spring after tearing his ACL against Missouri. Harrison Jeffers hung up his cleats. Who will prove to be reliable this spring? Look for the Red Raiders to try to use sophomore Bradley Marquez, freshman Javares McRoy and junior SaDale Foster in a manner similar to the way Oregon uses scatback De'Anthony Thomas, with lots of short passes and bubble screens to get them the ball in space, where they can use their speed and shiftiness to make plays.
  • Team health: Tuberville said earlier this month that the team is missing 15 players this spring. It can't afford any more injuries. It's already going to be tough to get enough done this spring, but Tech can't start getting banged up.

Spring practice start date: March 11
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • Dana Holgorsen's offense in Year 2: Holgorsen didn't get a chance to coach his talented offense at Oklahoma State in its second year. The results could have been crazy. They might be at West Virginia in 2012, and the beginning steps will be taken this spring as Geno Smith & Co. get more and more comfortable with the system and Holgorsen adds more wrinkles.
  • The battle at running back: Sophomore Dustin Garrison hurt his knee in practices leading up to the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson, and won't be there for the spring. What does senior Shawne Alston have in store for the spring? Garrison was the featured back last season, but a big spring could help Alston earn a few carries next year.
  • Defense needs help: Najee Goode leaves a big hole at linebacker, and defensive back Eain Smith's exit means the Mountaineers enter the season without two of their top three tacklers from a year ago. Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller's talents on the defensive line will be tough to replace, and in a league that requires a great pass rush, Irvin, Goode and Miller's 19 combined sacks must be replaced somehow.

The best Big 12 games of 2011

January, 18, 2012
We took a look at the best atmospheres on Tuesday, and today, it's time to rank the top 10 games involving Big 12 teams of 2011.

1. Kansas State 53, Texas A&M 50 (4 OT): Kansas State erased a double-digit lead in the final half of the fourth quarter to force overtime. Collin Klein burrowed into the end zone on a quarterback sneak to earn a huge win and a memorable night in Manhattan.

2. Baylor 50, TCU 48: The first game of the entire season for the Big 12 began in style. Robert Griffin III began his Heisman campaign with five touchdown passes, but the Bears blew a 47-23 lead in just over 11 minutes, giving up 25 fourth-quarter points. Griffin, though, hauled in his only catch of the season to extend a game-winning drive on third down, and Aaron Jones booted a 37-yard game winner with just over a minute left, cueing the Baylor fans to storm the field after a game-clinching interception.

3. Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT): This was what we thought it was. Neither defense could stop the opposing offense, and Oklahoma State converted a fourth down from Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon to extend the game and take the lead, but Stanford drove back down the field and missed a 35-yard field goal as time expired. It missed another kick in overtime, and OSU kicked a game-winning field goal after Colton Chelf's game-winning touchdown was overturned to just a 24-yard gain.

4. Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38: This gave way to the signature moment of Robert Griffin III's Heisman campaign, and it wasn't the 87-yard touchdown pass to Kendall Wright off Tevin Reese's helmet. The teams traded second-half leads and Oklahoma erased a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead before Griffin extended a play and hit Terrance Williams for a 34-yard, game-winning touchdown pass with eight seconds left.

5. Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 (2 OT): This game made our top 10 moments of 2011, too. The Cowboys lost a 24-7 second-half lead and missed a game-winning field goal. Brandon Weeden threw an interception in the second overtime and Jeff Woody set off the biggest party in Ames in a long while with his game-winning, four-yard touchdown run in the second overtime.

6. Texas 27, Texas A&M 25: The Aggies led 10-0 and 16-7, but once again, it didn't matter. Jeff Fuller gave the Aggies back the lead with a big 16-yard touchdown with 1:48 to play. The two-point conversion failed, though, and Case McCoy got free for a 25-yard scramble that set up a 40-yard, game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker as time expired to give the Longhorns bragging rights in the heated rivalry for as long as they want, perhaps forever. The two teams aren't scheduled to meet again after A&M leaves for the SEC.

7. Oklahoma State 52, Kansas State 45: OSU fell behind 24-14 early after a pick six by Weeden, putting the undefeated season in doubt. The teams traded three touchdowns in just under two minutes, and Joseph Randle's 23-yard run gave OSU the lead for good with 3:16 to play, making it four touchdowns in three minutes. Kansas State drove to tie the game and possibly win it with a two-point conversion, but two Collin Klein passes fell incomplete, and OSU survived to move to 9-0.

8. Baylor 31, Kansas 30 (OT): This game wasn't televised, but it was quietly a classic. Baylor struggled to stop the run, and trailed 24-3 in the fourth quarter before RG3 broke a 49-yard run and hit on two long touchdown passes to tie the game. The two teams traded touchdowns in overtime, but Kansas failed to convert a game-winning two-point conversion, and Turner Gill's guts went unrewarded. Kansas also went without a win in conference play. Baylor loses this game, and RG3 doesn't win the Heisman.

9. Missouri 31, Texas Tech 27: This is a sneaky pick for our top 10 list. Texas Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and Missouri trailed by 10 in the fourth quarter, but James Franklin threw one touchdown pass and ran for another to take the lead. Texas Tech drove inside the Missouri 10-yard line in the final minute, but a tipped Seth Doege pass was intercepted to give Mizzou a dramatic win.

10. Missouri 38, Texas A&M 31 (OT): The SEC bowl helped bury Texas A&M's season and spark Missouri's. The Tigers trailed by 14 early and 11 points at half before taking the lead in the fourth quarter. Randy Bullock tied the game with a field goal in the final minutes to force overtime. James Franklin hit Marcus Lucas for an 11-yard score and Ryan Tannehill's final pass was batted down as Missouri stormed the field and celebrated the end of their three-game losing streak. The Tigers would win four of their final five games, and that bounced Mizzou to 4-4 instead of 3-5. That loss for then-No. 16 Texas A&M keyed off four in the final five regular-season games, including two in overtime (K-State, Mizzou) and another as time expired (Texas).

Honorable mention: Kansas State 28, Miami 24; Baylor 67, Washington 56; Iowa State 44, Iowa 41 (3 OT); Texas 17, BYU 16; Arkansas 42, Texas A&M 38; Oklahoma State 30, Texas A&M 29.

Final Big 12 Power Rankings

January, 10, 2012
Welp, this is it. The college football season is over, and two teams have closed up shop in the Big 12. This will be Texas A&M's and Missouri's last time to make an appearance in the Big 12 Power Rankings.

After 14 weeks of the regular season and eight bowl games (the Big 12 went 6-2), here's how the league sits.

1. Oklahoma State (12-1, beat Stanford, 41-38 in overtime): The Cowboys needed some help from Stanford's kicker to get their BCS win, but their spot atop the Big 12 was never at stake. The Cowboys proved themselves as the Big 12's best team throughout the season and beat Stanford to make history. Stillwater's never seen a season like this, and Mike Gundy was rewarded with a $1.6 million raise after the season for his efforts.

2. Kansas State (10-3, lost to Arkansas, 29-16): The Wildcats' Cotton Bowl experience wasn't a fun one after early mistakes, but K-State earned its first double-digit-win season since 2003 and earned the tiebreaker against Baylor on the field. Arkansas, too, is a whole lot better than Washington. This was a disappointing end for the purple folks from the Little Apple, but they bring back almost the entire core of the 2011 team. The Wildcats look like 2012 Big 12 title contenders.

3. Baylor (10-3, beat Washington, 67-56): The Bears put on a show and Terrance Ganaway's 200 yards, along with two other 100-yard rushers, iced the win over the Huskies. That gave Baylor the third 10-win season in school history and the first bowl win since 1992. Now, the big question awaits: Is RG3 gone, or is the allure of one more year in college for the Heisman winner enough to convince him to provide one more memorable season in Waco?

4. Oklahoma (10-3, beat Iowa, 31-14): The Sooners stumbled at the end of the season, but closed it in fine fashion, not playing their best game but soundly beating Iowa. Landry Jones will return. Will former DC and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops? Oklahoma's secondary was a liability this year, and Sooners fans would love to see Bob Stoops' brother put in charge to change it.

5. Missouri (8-5, beat North Carolina, 41-24): Missouri's season wasn't too memorable, but the Tigers rebounded from a 3-4 start to win eight games, including the best offensive performance of the season against the Tar Heels. That gave Mizzou eight wins for a sixth consecutive year. Only a handful of programs have duplicated that feat.

6. Texas (8-5, beat California, 21-10): The Longhorns' defense shut down the Bears and David Ash made a few big throws to make Texas' return to the postseason a good one. Ash has to show he's the guy for Texas moving forward. He'll get more offseason work than he did last year, which may show up in the fall. Freshman Connor Brewer will be joining, but it looks like a juco quarterback won't.

7. Texas A&M (7-6, beat Northwestern, 33-22): The Aggies head to the SEC after the most disappointing season in recent history. A team stocked full of NFL talent and toting a top-10 ranking lost four of its final five Big 12 games, with the only win coming at home over 2-10 Kansas. Now, new coach Kevin Sumlin returns to lead A&M into its new conference after coaching four years at Houston and winning 10 games in two seasons.

8. Iowa State (6-7, lost to Rutgers, 27-13): Paul Rhoads is already only the second coach to win a bowl game at Iowa State, but he couldn't win his second bowl in three years in Ames. Either way, the Cyclones have a good shot to be even better in 2012. Redshirt freshman Jared Barnett showed a lot of promise, and he'll progress during the offseason, even though he was benched in the bowl game for Steele Jantz, who started the season's first half.

9. Texas Tech (5-7, idle): A disappointing season gave way to a tumultuous offseason in Lubbock, with a handful of new assistant coaches and defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow heading back to TCU, who joins the Big 12 next season. The Red Raiders have to be better. Offensively, they were good enough, despite injuries, in 2011. They weren't great, though, like Texas Tech has been. Defensively, they've been awful for both seasons under Tommy Tuberville. Injuries have played a role in that, but improvement starts there.

10. Kansas (2-10, idle): Get ready to see much-needed new blood in Kansas. Turner Gill is out after two terrible seasons and a 2-10 record in 2011 that included six losses by at least 30 points. Now, it's time for Charlie Weis to take over, and he's brought two big quarterbacks and a receiver with him.

Surveying the Big 12 coaching hot seats

November, 28, 2011
Today's the day commonly known in the coaching profession as Black Monday, the first weekday after most regular seasons are finished. One Big 12 coach, Kansas' Turner Gill, already got his plug pulled.

What about the Big 12's other two coaches on the hot seat?

Let's take a look.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech (13-12, 5-12 Big 12)

What should happen: Stay

What will happen: Stay

Why: Breaking a streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons is a good way to maximize fan frustration, and that happened at Texas Tech this season. That said, it would be wrong not to factor in injuries. Texas Tech dealt with injuries the past two seasons unlike any other team in the Big 12. This season, it got so bad the Red Raiders ended up moving receivers to starters at defensive back.

The team also lost its leading rusher, Eric Stephens, in midseason and played most of its final two games without Alex Torres. Darrin Moore is the team's most talented receiver, but he battled injuries all season after racking up 221 receiving yards in the season opener.

Additionally, Tuberville reeled in the best recruiting class in school history last February, but this year's might be even better. The Red Raiders have three ESPNU 150 commits. Only Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M have more in the 2012 class. The defense struggled for most of the season, but it was forced to switch from a 3-4 under James Willis last year to a 4-2-5 under Chad Glasgow this year, and injuries made the transition even more difficult.

The frustration is warranted, but a change at head coach is not.

Mike Sherman, Texas A&M (25-25, 15-18 Big 12)

What should happen: Stay

What will happen: Stay

Why: There's no question Mike Sherman has resuscitated this program, loading it with big-time assistant coaches and upgrading the talent every single season. The Aggies, in Sherman's third year, had as much talent as any team in the Big 12. That means a lot. Texas A&M was favored in 11 games this season and led 11 of those games by double digits.

The second-half failures, however, have produced understandable frustration. Texas A&M, though, is headed to the SEC next season and will lose a lot of major contributors from this season's team like quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Cyrus Gray, wide receiver Jeff Fuller, safety Trent Hunter, linebacker Garrick Williams and defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie. That's a lot.

The transition to the SEC could be significantly smoother if the Aggies aren't dealing with a complete system overhaul, too. The A&M recruiting class in 2012 is likely to rank in the national top 10, but 6-6 is 6-6. Next season is going to be difficult, and it's not very likely that Texas A&M would be in position to win more than 7-8 games with a young roster and a new, more difficult conference home.

All the negatives for Sherman showed up on the record this year, but you can't ignore the biggest positive: This team got a whole lot better very fast under Sherman. The Aggies lost three games by a combined seven points and lost two more in overtime this year. The 6-6 record could have easily have been 11-1. Do the Aggies believe a new coach could continue that growth and get A&M over the hump? Seems like a big risk from my perspective, and despite the frustrations of this season, Sherman deserves another chance to prove he can get the program over the hump.

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 14

November, 28, 2011
Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

It's "Championship Week" in the Big 12 with Bedlam set to go down Saturday night in Stillwater. This one's for all the flavors — all 23 of 'em.

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1, last week: 1) The Cowboys didn't get any national title help from Auburn, and had to stare at the loss to Iowa State during the bye week, but there's no time to feel sorry for themselves. OSU's never been to the BCS and never won the Big 12. It can do both with a victory over Oklahoma, even if the national title is off the table.

2. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2, LW: 2) The offense isn't its usual self without Ryan Broyles and Dominique Whaley, and the Sooners will need more than five catches for 70 yards from new No. 1 target Kenny Stills to beat Oklahoma State. Oklahoma will get an opportunity for its eighth Big 12 title since 2000 in Stillwater — and a chance to ruin rival OSU's dream season.

3. Kansas State (9-2, 6-2, LW: 3) Kansas State is a victory over Iowa State from a 10-win season in Bill Snyder's third year of his second tenure as head coach. How crazy is that? That's what happens when you play great team defense and have a running, throwing, bleeding stone pillar for a quarterback in Collin Klein.

4. Baylor (8-3, 5-3, LW: 4) Baylor experienced life without Robert Griffin III for the second half on Saturday night, but the Bears responded well, outscoring Texas Tech 35-14 over the final 30 minutes. If RG3 leaves after this season, Nick Florence and Terrance Ganaway showed they're ready to be playmakers.

5. Missouri (7-5, 5-4, LW: 5) A nice finish for Missouri on Saturday after a tough start. The Tigers won four of their final five games to finish at 7-5 and get a winning record in conference play. It wasn't the kind of season Mizzou would have liked on its way to the SEC, but it's still solid and something to build on as the offense matures.

6. Texas (7-4, 4-4, LW: 8) The Longhorns are a big reason why teams like Nebraska and Texas A&M left the Big 12, but you've gotta give it up for the Longhorns' defending Big 12 turf against both teams. The Huskers and Aggies didn't get the last laugh against the Horns, and Texas's rebuilding project continues with seven wins this year after last year's five-win disaster. They'll have a chance for No. 8 Saturday against Baylor.

7. Texas A&M (6-6, 4-5, LW: 6) Oh, Aggies. So much talent. So many blown leads. We've never seen anything like this. In 11 of Texas A&M's 12 games this year, it led by double digits. And yet, the preseason top-10 squad won six games this year. If this had happened last year, would Texas A&M have had the gumption to leave for the SEC? It's certainly up for debate, but coach Mike Sherman's status apparently is not.

8. Iowa State (6-5, 3-5, LW: 7) The Cyclones couldn't get the victory against Oklahoma, but the biggest mission's been accomplished in Ames: bowl eligibility. Iowa State beating Kansas State in Farmageddon on Saturday could be a delicious finish, dessert at the end of a tasty three months.

9. Texas Tech (5-7, 2-7, LW: 9) Injuries aren't the only reason, but it's clear that they've cost Texas Tech a lot in the past two seasons. The Red Raiders lost six of their final seven games and suffered through their first losing season since 1992, but who could have ever thought that Tech's one win over that stretch would be Oklahoma? How badly would the Sooners like a mulligan on that stormy Norman night back in October?

10. Kansas (2-10, 0-9, LW: 10) The Jayhawks' offense was awful for most of the season and the defense was one of the worst in college football history. The Big 12's offenses helped worsen those numbers, but Kansas held leads of at least 20 points against Texas Tech and Baylor but still went winless in Big 12 play and lost its final 10 games. Turner Gill is 1-16 in Big 12 play and the coach he beat (Dan Hawkins) was fired before he could coach another game.

Saying goodbye to two great Big 12 rivalries

November, 23, 2011
Jerrod JohnsonAaron M. Sprecher/Getty ImagesAfter their 118th meeting, Texas A&M is running away from Texas to the SEC.

Texas says, "Sorry, our schedule's booked up."

Turner Gill says the rivalry belongs in the Big 12.

Thursday night, Texas and Texas A&M will play for the 118th time. Only two rivalries have been played more.

It might be the last time. It will be the last time for the foreseeable future.

On Saturday, Missouri and Kansas will meet for the 119th time. Minnesota and Wisconsin are the only teams that have met on more occasions.

Realignment will claim two more victims upon Missouri and Texas A&M's exits to the SEC: Two of the nation's best rivalries.

"It’ll be difficult to ignore. Everybody knows what’s out there," Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "It’s all part of it. I think there’s enough things on the table to motivate them. It’s certainly something everybody’s aware of."

That includes players. Here's thoughts from a few that grew up around the rivalry think about the rivalries' existence and ending.

Additional reporting by Carter Strickland of HornsNation.

What's your best memory in this rivalry, whether you played in the game or watched it?

Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M: Growing up as a Longhorn, I just remember how intense these games were. It didn't matter, the rankings didn't play a factor. Every game was just a battle. It was hard-nosed football. So much tradition involved in the game, and that's the main thing.

Tanner Hawkinson, OT, Kansas: Most recently, the one in '08 when Todd Reesing hit Kerry Meier at the end to win the game. I was redshirting, but I was at the game and it was just a crazy, crazy game. One of the better games I've witnessed.

There's quite a bit of hatred between the two schools going back to the Civil War and the battles between the Jayhawkers and Missouri. There's just a lot of hatred between the two schools.

T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: The one in '07, the big one, was when I started watching because (former MU corner) Carl Gettis was playing and he was my high school teammate. Everybody knows what kind of game that was. That was kind of the start of, when both teams had great seasons, they started calling it the Border Showdown. That was a big game and a fight for No. 1. We got that safety in the end zone on Todd Reesing, and in 2008 they came back and got us, and thats how rivalry's supposed to be, back and forth like that. The '09 game was great, too. We had to win on a last-second field goal.

Are you for or against Texas A&M leaving for the SEC?

Blake Gideon, S, Texas: Against.

Does it matter that they're leaving?

Gideon: It doesn’t matter to me. This is my last year playing them anyway. It’s definitely one of those deals kind of like Nebraska last year that we want to send them off the right way. At Missouri we failed to do that this year.

What did you think when you heard it was probably ending?

Hawkinson: It's something that's gone on for a ton of years now, I'm not even sure how many. Obviously, it's disappointing. I wish it could go on, but we wish them well. It's something I feel like should stay in the Big 12, and they're going to the SEC, so, it's something they're going to just have to deal with if they're not in the Big 12 anymore.

Moe: I don't have any control over that. As far as players go, I think both sides would love to play each other. I can't speak for the administration. I think the administration over there keeps saying it's done if you're not going to be in the Big 12 anymore, but I'm sure players on both sides would love to continue the rivalry and we hope to do that.

Swope: There's so much tradition and history involved, it's going to be tough not to see Texas on the schedule, but it's a fun game. We're going to enjoy this one and we want to go out the right way.

Where you're from [Gilmer, Texas], are there a lot of Aggies?

David Snow, OL, Texas: Let’s just be honest — I’m the only one in my top 10 percent that came here. Everybody else is at A&M. Once they went to the dark side, I haven’t really stayed in that much contact with them. Changing my phone number and stuff.

Is there more pressure to win because it is the last one?

Snow: We have a lot of pressure every week to win, hell we’re Texas. You don’t expect to lose and you don’t want to lose.

Would you call it a nasty rivalry?

Snow: Yeah. I mean certain things happen there. When you hate two people certain cheap shots go on, especially on the other side. Never by us.

What's this rivalry mean to you?

Swope: It's a very personal game for me. I've got a lot of friends that are graduated from Texas or at Texas right now. Growing up in Austin, growing up a Longhorns fan, it's going to be real personal. My dad graduated from Texas. I have friends that go to school there and friends that are players for the other team.

Hawkinson: It's a great sense of pride for not only the university, but for the state of Kansas. It'd be a huge win not only for the university, but for the people that live in Kansas.

Moe: I didn't watch a whole lot of college football growing up, but when I did, it was Missouri-Kansas. It's a pretty special thing. It's been so close. It's almost tied up for the 100-something years we've been playing. It's just fun and something you look forward to. It doesn't matter if either team is bowl-eligible. We might have both gone winless and this game would still be special. It goes back to the Civil War days when it was a lot more serious than it is now.

What will you miss most about it?

Hawkinson: Getting prepared. The week leading up to it, this week, guys come in to practice and they're already excited. It's kind of an easy week to get pumped up for and practice hard for. Especially going up and playing at Arrowhead, it's a great environment, especially with two teams playing against each other with all the hatred toward each other. All that leading up to the game and one you get to the game, just playing in that atmosphere.

Swope: All the tradition and the history in this game. It goes back to the Bonfire and how big this game is and how much history it holds. It's one of those things. Everyone pulls tickets for this game. It's on Thanksgiving. It's a very traditional game being played and they've been doing it for so long, I think I'm just going to miss almost everything about the game.

Moe: If I miss a year of it, that's pretty sad. It's your rival. We had Nebraska, we lost them and we had Kansas. Those were our two big rivals. Now, of course, we'll move to the SEC and we'll kind of have A&M maybe as our new rival or whatever, but I don't know if it's ever going to be the same without Kansas because it has such deep roots, especially the guys on the team from Kansas City. They live in the war zone over there and it's pretty special to them.

I did my best to answer your questions. I've been more or less banned from speaking about Kansas this year, so I couldn't have a whole lot of fun.

Fun with Big 12 coaching salaries!

November, 17, 2011
USA Today has released its annual survey of college coaching salaries. It's always fascinating stuff. You can see the breakdown of where the money comes from there. Here, we'll just deal with the total numbers.

And as always, it's time to have our own survey of their survey. First things first, here are the raw numbers, according to USA Today.

Each coach's national rank is in parentheses next to his conference rank.

1. Mack Brown, Texas - $5,193,500 (1)

2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma - $4,075,000 (3)

3. Gary Pinkel, Missouri - $2,700,000 (16)

4. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M - $2,201,000 (27)

5. Turner Gill, Kansas - $2,101,200 (28)

6. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State - $2,100,00 (29)

7. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech - $2,059,000 (30)

8. Bill Snyder, Kansas State - $1,925,000 (33)

9. Art Briles, Baylor - $1,549,346 (45)

10. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State - $1,150,000 (60)

So, there you have the raw numbers. Time to have a little fun. Who's getting the most bang for their buck this year? Here's how much the coaches have been paid per victory this season:

1. Gundy - $210,000
2. Rhoads - $230,000
3. Snyder - $240,625
4. Briles - $258,234
5. Tuberville - $411,800
6. Sherman - $440,200
7. Stoops - $509,375
8. Pinkel - $540,000
9. Brown - $865,583
10. Gill - $1,050,600

Always fascinating. Time for a few notes, courtesy of the USA Today database.
  • As you saw above, Pinkel and Sherman are Nos. 3 and 4 in the Big 12 coaching salaries. Next year in the SEC, barring raises, Pinkel will rank No. 9. Sherman will rank No. 12, ahead of only Joker Phillips at Kentucky. (Note: Vanderbilt's data was not provided, because it is a private school.)
  • Conversely, Gary Patterson at TCU ($2,018,362) will rank No. 8 and Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia ($1,490,000) will rank No. 11. I'd be surprised if Patterson doesn't see a significant raise very soon.
  • Briles made $930,000 in 2007 at Houston. In 2009 at Baylor, he made just under $944,000. He made $550,000 in his first season at Houston in 2006. Lesson, (most) coaches: Win and the money will come.
  • Brown's salary jumped from just over $3 million to over $5 million after reaching the national title game in 2009.
  • Gill made $401,300 in his final season at Buffalo. Kansas gave him his current salary ($2.1 million) when it hired him.

A&M, Kansas try to shove frustration aside

November, 15, 2011
Saturday's Big 12 action featured a pair of overtime thrillers.

The byproduct of any thriller though, is a team practicing through a frustrated heartbreak the following week.

Next Saturday, both teams -- Texas A&M and Kansas -- will meet at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

"I’ve never, as an assistant or a head coach been through a situation like this," Aggies coach Mike Sherman said of his team, which has lost four games by 14 points. "It’s certainly been unique to my career, and something I don’t wish on anybody. It’s been difficult."

Saturday's 53-50 loss in four overtimes to Kansas State was the fourth this season in which Texas A&M held a double-digit lead.

The Aggies' held a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the Wildcats.

"Every coach will go back and say we could have, should have, would have done this, but not with the frequency I’m going to have to at the end of the season," Sherman said.

Kansas, though, saw Saturday's 31-30 loss as the next step in trying to move forward and capture the first conference win of the season.

The Jayhawks surrendered a 24-3 fourth-quarter lead over an always-dangerous Baylor offense. While A&M's Sherman may be criticized for being too conservative -- he elected to kick a 20-yard field-goal on 4th-and-1 in the fourth overtime -- Gill will hear nothing of the sort.

One play stood between the Jayhawks and snapping its seven-game losing streak. A Jordan Webb pass to Tim Biere fell incomplete, and the streak continued.

"We’ve made great strides and I think the biggest stride has been on the defensive side of the ball," Gill said. "Guys are understanding what we’re trying to do defensively and they’re playing pretty well at this point in time."

The Jayhawks gave up just 10 points a week ago to Iowa State after giving up at least 40 in the previous seven games. Baylor, the nation's No. 2 offense, had just three points before the furious fourth-quarter comeback.

The biggest reason has been forcing turnovers. Kansas had just two forced turnovers in its first five games. In its last three, the Jayhawks have forced nine turnovers.

The losses are done, though, and both teams have to devise ways to move forward mentally.

"Our guys are believing in what we’re doing and how we go about each and every day," Gill said. "As coaches, we continue to move forward and keep our heads up and keep on working. That’s what we talk about. Keep on choppin’ wood and keep on working, because that’s the only way that I know how you continue to get better and find yourself a better chance to be successful."

For Sherman, the difficulty lies in correcting the negative while not further bruising a team struggling with confidence.

"There’s so much of the game that’s mental, that mindset to have the confidence to win a game like we did had the other day in a critical situation," Sherman said. "That carries over into this week, have the confidence to be able to make plays and try to as a coach, hold them accountable for what we didn’t do, but at the same time, remind them we have the ability to be able to make those plays. We’ve just got to make them."

Kansas feels the win coming. The growth the past two weeks has been undeniable. Texas A&M, though, is charged with denying the Jayhawks a chance to end an eight-game skid.

"We continue to be close, we’re getting close to some things here," Gill said. "Earlier in the year, we were not close, and now as we continue to close that gap, which we have, and be competitive in the ball game, now we’re hoping this is the week we’ll be able to finish a ball game and get a W."