Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Five things I love about the Big 12
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The theme of the day is things that we all enjoy and detest about our particular conferences and college football in general.
I'm no different than most as I have some rather specific likes and dislikes across the conference. Here are five things I love about the Big 12.
- Big offenses: Sure, some people might think that watching Big 12 football is a little bit like observing Arena Football every week. But I enjoy the way spread offenses have dominated defenses over the last few seasons. I love 500-yard offensive games by teams. I even enjoy four-hour games. If fans travel long distances to watch games, I think they should be entertained. And they certainly have been in the Big 12. I can't think of a better brand of football than what has emerged with all of the conference's spread offenses the last few years. Who wouldn't want a 61-41 game over one that finishes 3-2 like my friends in the Southeastern Conference are sometimes subjected to? Not me.
- Mike Leach's personality: The program that Leach has developed at Texas Tech is one of the most entertaining and intriguing anywhere across the country. His offensive philosophy has made him arguably the most significant figure in conference history because of how he has helped popularize the spread offense. But even more intriguing to me than all of that remains his quirky behavior. It always makes going to one of his news conferences something you look forward to -- mainly because you never know what you are going to get.
- Crisp fall afternoons at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium: I can't think of a better atmosphere to watch a game than at the "Sea of Red" at Memorial Stadium for a Cornhuskers game. There's a palpable buzz that you can feel getting out of your car when you arrive to the stadium. And it only seems to get better the closer you get to the stadium. Shoot, I can almost smell the grilling sausages as I write this. The Cornhuskers' Tunnel Walk still is one of the most spectacular entrances in all of sports. And it still gives me goosebumps when I see how Nebraska fans applaud for both teams as they leave the field of play after a game.
- Early-afternoon games at Kyle Field: The tradition of Texas A&M's setting and stadium are unmatched. I love how the student body stands during the game as a show of support. And the way those fans sway after the third quarter still almost gives me vertigo as I witness it from the press box. But I also enjoy getting done with my work in the early evening for the three-hour drive back home to San Antonio. Armed with a satellite radio in my car, I can think of nothing better than spending the evening listening to games from around the country to cap an enjoyable day of football. And the best part? It's getting to sleep in my own bed that night rather than staying in a hotel somewhere waiting for a pre-dawn flight back home the following morning.
- Animal mascots: There's something neat about seeing tradition-steeped shows of support by animals across the Big 12. Whether it's Ralphie the Buffalo's headlong charge before Colorado games, Bevo watching placidly from the end zone at Texas' Memorial Stadium (watch where you step, though), the Baylor Bear prowling along the sidelines in Waco, the two ponies that power the Sooner Schooner or even Reveille the collie at Texas A&M games, there are a lot of cool symbols across the conference. Watching the Big 12 games would make Dr. Dolittle proud.