NCF Nation: Darrell Royal
2. The Mid-American Conference might have had its best season ever, what with Northern Illinois doing some BCS busting and six other MAC teams playing in the postseason. However, the league has begun the postseason as if it’s stretched too thin. Toledo and Ball State have been routed by fellow non-AQs Utah State and Central Florida, respectively -- both underrated teams. Maybe it’s just bad matchups. In the Military Bowl on Thursday afternoon, Bowling Green (8-4) plays a San Jose State (10-2) team that nearly upset No. 6 Stanford.
3. Happy 88th birthday to Arkansas legend Frank Broyles, who retired from coaching 36 years ago with a record of 149-62-6 (.700) but served as athletic director for more than three decades. Broyles’ former assistants included former Razorbacks players Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson, who won four national championships between them. But he was best known for his friendship with Darrell Royal, the coach of his then-archrival, Texas. They retired together in 1976, played golf together often and never discussed their 1969 showdown, when the No. 1 Longhorns defeated the No. 2 Hogs, 15-14.
Best offensive performance: David Ash, QB, Texas. Ash took care of business against Iowa State, bouncing back after some struggles earlier in conference play. He completed a 47-yard pass to start the game on a trick play out of the wishbone formation. More on that in a bit. His day only got better. He completed his first 11 passes and finished with 364 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-31 passing.
Best game: Texas Tech 41, Kansas 34, 2OT. Another week, another OT thriller. This one, though, lacked the presence of TCU. All three Big 12 overtime games have gone multiple extra periods, but Tech's game-winning score came on a cheeky halfback jump pass from Eric Stephens to Darrin Moore. The Jayhawks erased a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit to send the game into overtime, but once again, the Jayhawks came up just short from ending their painful Big 12 losing streak.
Best quote: Gary Patterson, to Bill Snyder after K-State, Patterson's alma mater, knocked off TCU in Fort Worth to go 10-0. "Go win it all," he said.
Best team performance: Texas. It started with a fantastic tribute to Darrell Royal, but the Longhorns' evisceration of Iowa State was as complete a beating as you'll see in a Big 12 game not involving Kansas. Texas' defensive woes looked like a distant memory as the offense outgained the Cyclones by more than 300 yards and won the turnover battle 2-0. The Longhorns had the ball almost twice as long as ISU, ran the ball well and played amazingly efficient offense. Add it up, and you get the worst beating Iowa State's received all year. No small feat. Honorable mention: Kansas State
Worst overall performance: West Virginia's special teams. What a nightmare for this unit. Two different kicks took odd bounces, hit WVU players and were recovered by Oklahoma State to account for both of WVU's turnovers. Another play resulted in a touchback when four different WVU special-teamers got greedy and decided to let a punt bounce one more time. That's a 20-yard mistake, and eight plays later, OSU capitalized with a touchdown to go ahead 48-34. Does that happen if OSU is pinned inside its 5-yard line? It's worth asking.
Worst explanation: Tommy Tuberville. Hey, only Tuberville knows exactly what he was trying to do when he aggressively swiped the headset off a graduate assistant on the sideline in the middle of giving him an earful. His explanation, though, that he was trying to get him off the field and meant to grab his shirt simply doesn't line up with what the video clearly shows. There was no urgency on the part of Tuberville to get the assistant off the field, and he missed his shirt by a long, long way with the swipe. I don't believe Tuberville deserves any truly serious punishment for an incident that looked worse than it actually was, but his explanation was an insult to viewers' vision and intelligence.
Best play: Jaxon Shipley/David Ash/Greg Daniels, Texas. The Longhorns announced to the world what formation they would open up in, and gained 47 yards anyway. Ash pitched it to Shipley out of the wishbone, a three-back formation popularized by legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal, who died last week. The Longhorns made the move as a tribute to Royal. Shipley threw the ball back to Ash in the backfield, who found Daniels for a 47-yard gain. There was irony in doing so in honor of a coach who said that only three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of 'em are bad, but this one was very, very good for the Horns.
Most deserving of a thank-you card: Texas A&M. Kansas State looked likely to get squeezed out of the title game by Alabama and Oregon if the Tide, Ducks and Cats all went undefeated. Then the Big 12 expats knocked off the No. 1 team in the country on its home field. Snyder owes you one, Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Football.
2. The SEC and the Big 12 agreed to stage the game that will match their champions at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans beginning in two years. It’s the solution that checked off the boxes of tradition, fan convenience and the celebratory atmosphere that separates bowls from every other postseason competition, college or pro. That said, given the four-team playoff, how many times will the Sugar and the Rose actually match two champions? Logic dictates it won’t be often.
3. It’s great that Nebraska and Oklahoma are discussing a home-and-home contract for next decade. Kudos to Penn State and Pittsburgh for agreeing to a home-and-home in 2016 and 2017. But don’t mistake the trips down memory lane for rekindling rivalries that never should have died. The schools may be richer in their new conferences but the sport is poorer for the demise of these annual grudge matches. Harrumph...
Today, a simple question: What would a program look like without the winningest coach in program history? Which coaches had the biggest impact?
Here's how it breaks down for each program in the Big 12 (all-time record in parentheses):
- Winningest coach: Grant Teaff: 128-105-6
- Wins without winningest coach: 396
- Winningest coach: Dan McCarney: 56-85
- Wins without winningest coach: 444
- Winningest coach: A.R. Kennedy: 52-9-4
- Wins without winningest coach: 520
- Winningest coach: Bill Snyder: 159-83-1
- Wins without winningest coach: 316
- Winningest coach: Barry Switzer: 157-29-4
- Wins without winningest coach: 664
- Winningest coach: Pat Jones: 62-60-3 (Mike Gundy needs three wins to tie Jones)
- Wins without winningest coach: 468
- Winningest coach: Darrell Royal: 167-47-5
- Wins without winningest coach: 691
- Winningest coach: Dutch Meyer: 109-79-13 (Gary Patterson is tied at 109-30.)
- Wins without winningest coach: 484
- Winningest coach: Mike Leach: 84-43
- Wins without winningest coach: 440
- Winningest coach: Don Nehlen: 149-93-4
- Wins without winningest coach: 552
That's a wide variance of wins. It's clear that no man means more to his school than Bill Snyder does to Kansas State. The program has a rather depressing .358 winning percentage if you remove Snyder's win from the equation. He took two seasons to get Kansas State from a perennial doormat to a team above .500. Snyder then went on a historic run that included a Big 12 title in 2003 and two BCS bowl bids.
Don't ever doubt why some consider what Snyder has done in Manhattan as the single greatest coaching job in the history of the game. Snyder's career win percentage at Kansas State is .656, almost double what the program's overall win percentage is. No other coach comes close to those numbers. There's a reason why many of the nation's coaches are often in awe of Snyder and why he is so respected.
The biggest surprise for me was the relative dominance of West Virginia compared to the rest of the Big 12. That .601 win percentage is behind only Texas and Oklahoma over the course of the program's history. And you wonder why folks are so excited about their entrance into the league?
Looking elsewhere, Texas Tech's decision to fire Mike Leach looks worse and worse while the Mike Gundy hire at Oklahoma State looks better and better. Gundy is three wins from passing Pat Jones as the school's biggest all-time winner. He did so in just 89 games while Jones needed 125 matches to reach 62 victories.
Conversely, how about the job Gary Patterson has done at TCU? Sure, the schedule is different, but he's suffered the same amount of losses as Gundy with 50 more wins. He's also reached 109 wins in 62 fewer games than Dutch Meyer.
We're living in the age of some great, great coaches in this league. History shows us that.
2. Stanford tailback Ty Gaffney is foregoing his senior season to play pro baseball, which could mean more renown for teammate Stepfan Taylor, the most prolific rusher on the Cardinal’s running-back-by-committee. The senior quietly rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. Taylor is out of All-American quarterback Andrew Luck’s shadow, and now Gaffney is gone. But given that junior Anthony Wilkerson and sophomore Ricky Seale are still available, the committee may keep Taylor quiet after all.
3. Darrell Royal turns 88 on Friday. The former Texas coach has been out of the game for 36 years, which means that, aside from the Orangebloods who still revere him, only history buffs have any idea how dominant his Longhorn teams were. In 20 seasons in Austin (1957-76), Royal coached Texas to three national championships, an astounding 12 Southwest Conference titles -- including eight in a row (1968-75) -- and 167 victories. That’s anyone’s definition of a Hall of Fame coach.
He thanked her for her work, and told her he appreciated her.
"Who in the world knows how somebody feels?" Brown said.
It came from a conversation with legendary Longhorns coach Darrell Royal back in 2003, when Brown felt similar to Goestenkors.
"I asked him, 'Why did you quit?'" Brown said. "And there were reasons. But he said that when the losses became devastating and the wins became relief and it wasn't fun to even win, because you were supposed to, then I needed to get out."
Brown, then in his sixth season and third of what would be nine consecutive 10-win seasons, said he just needed to "wake up."
Two years later, he won a national championship and his second consecutive Rose Bowl.
That feeling crept back in during the Longhorns' trying 5-7 season in 2010. Even Texas' signature victory of that campaign didn't offer the same kind of pleasure such a win used to, Brown said.
"I remember beating Nebraska, walking off the field and I was worried about [Brown's wife] Sally because she lost her brother," Brown said. "I didn't have any joy in that win and that was stupid because it was a huge win for Texas and these kids. I didn't feel it walking off the field because of her loss and I felt a little guilty I was there without her and her brother being buried."
He saw the same in Goestenkors, Brown said. He needed another wakeup call after 2010, and may have got it in a new staff with two new, young coordinators, Manny Diaz (defense) and Bryan Harsin (offense). Bouncing back for eight wins may have helped, too, but Texas has bigger things in mind for 2012 and beyond: Namely, a return to the excellence Brown established in his first decade at the helm in Austin.
"If you're going to walk around and pout when you lose, act like a baby, and when you win act arrogant, not feel good about a win because Texas is supposed to win -- we don't anoint ourselves supposed to win -- then you're in some trouble and you need to have fun," Brown said. "You need to have joy."
The surroundings struck Texas coach Mack Brown the first time he brought his team to a Rose Bowl game here and the venue remains special to this day.
"When we came here in '04 for the '05 Michigan game, I thought it was the coolest thing, and I didn't know what to do, because a young guy from Cookville, Tennessee, would never be able to coach or play in the Rose Bowl," Brown said. "Same thing for Alabama. I grew up an Alabama fan. I watched [former Alabama] Coach [Bear] Bryant. But you didn't come west. You played in the Cotton Bowl and you played in the Orange Bowl and you played in the Sugar Bowl, but this was taboo for us."
Brown contacted former USC coach John Robinson for pointers on playing at the Rose Bowl.
"He said it was very unique. Coach Robinson said, 'It's very, very hard to get to the Rose Bowl as a player or coach; very few people get to do it. What you need to do is be really proud, and when you stand out on the field before the game, make sure you go out there by yourself, stand in a corner, look up in those beautiful [San Gabriel Mountains], see the sun setting and say this is pretty cool, and then go back and do what you always do.' But take a moment to appreciate it."
As special as that first game was, Brown's second Rose Bowl game was even more memorable. Vince Young's 8-yard touchdown run with 19 seconds left won the national championship.
"When we looked at the Michigan win, we thought it couldn't get any better than that," Brown said. "The next year we beat SC, and we said, 'Ooh, this is better than that.' So now you're back to the now.
"This game is very important to both teams. They're historic programs, very proud fan bases in both cases. The history of the game is so important to both. [Former Texas] coach [Darrell] Royal is still alive and has things named after him. I think Coach Brown still walks the halls at Tuscaloosa, and he has things named after him. But everybody that sees the "A" and sees the Longhorn on the helmet and knows the programs, and that's what makes this game so special."
Sure, there have been a slew of individual accomplishments over the years and enough personal records to keep the Texas quarterback satisfied long after his playing career is over.
But McCoy has to revert to his days at tiny Jim Ned High School when his Class 2A team was beating up on the likes of the Bangs Dragons, Ballinger Bearcats, San Saba Armadillos and Coleman Bluecats for District 3 supremacy to remember his last true on-the-field team championship.
“It’s right there in front of us,” McCoy said. “It’s a goal we’ve worked for all year long and it’s finally here. This is the most important game. We know there are big things after the game if we go out and handle our business. But right now, Nebraska is our focus.”
Only a year ago, McCoy and the Longhorns dealt with the bitter disappointment of failing to make the Big 12 championship game. Earlier, they had defeated eventual champion Oklahoma in a dramatic comeback. But their South Division championship hopes were dashed by a last-second loss at Texas Tech that caused a three-way tie for division title. The split championship affected the computer polls and kept Texas out when the final numbers were tallied at the end of the regular season.
That snub resonated through all of the Longhorns’ offseason practices and workouts before leading to their success this season.
Texas coach Mack Brown reminded them of that past disappointment as they began work for Nebraska earlier this week.
“They were disappointed as any group of kids I’ve ever seen,” Brown said. “But [they] committed themselves to be in this game and win it. And now they have it all in front of them.”
McCoy battled through a mid-season crisis of confidence to direct the Longhorns to a 12-0 record. Only a 16-13 victory over Oklahoma has been by a margin of less than 10 points.
Throughout the season, McCoy has talked about his personal need to play in the Big 12 championship game -- the biggest of all stages in his conference. Such a goal, he said, is bigger than an individual award like winning the Heisman Trophy.
He’s never been there before, watching Paul Thompson and Sam Bradford claim titles for Oklahoma during his career at Texas.
He’ll go down in history as the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. His 44-7 record likely will never be broken -- at least until the NCAA starts mandating 13-game or 14-game regular seasons.
In order to claim his place among the pantheon of great Texas quarterbacks like Vince Young, James Street, Bobby Layne and James Brown, McCoy needs to earn a title.
Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis remembers hearing from McCoy only minutes after he learned that Vince Young was leaving school early for the NFL.
“Colt told me not to worry, that he was ready,” Davis said.
Such a pronouncement might have been construed as a tad bold coming from a redshirt freshman who had never played before. But McCoy has been proving it ever since.
There was his first wild road victory when he beat Nebraska in a raging snowstorm in 2006.
And the way he’s beaten old rivals Texas A&M and Oklahoma in back-to-back seasons. Nobody has done that since the Longhorns’ salad days of late 1960s and early 1970s when Darrell Royal was roaming the sideline.
But the Big 12 title has been elusive for McCoy.
McCoy’s quest has even infused Brown, who said Saturday’s title game will be more meaningful for him for players like his senior quarterback than any sense of personal accomplishment in claiming his second Big 12 title and qualifying for his second BCS title game.
“I would like is for Colt and these seniors to have a championship,” Brown said. “They deserve it. They have given us so much. It’s a thing that’s not on their résumé.
“And that’s what Saturday night is about for me. I want Colt to finish getting the acclaim he should for this program and for college football. He’ll have a lot more by winning Saturday.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's the player, school or coach that "done you wrong" once upon a time -- or maybe even repeatedly.
These figures resonate through the years for rival schools, providing an enemy that serves as a unifying element for hatred from fans of a rival school.
Here's a list of Big 12 villains over the years, both historic and present. Take a good look at the grouping and see if you have any recommendations of players or coaches I might have missed.
I'd be curious to see if any coaches or players spark greater antagonism than the ones I've selected.
Current villain: Texas coach Mack Brown, who's gone 11-0 against them with no signs of stopping.
All-time villain: Former Baylor coach Kevin Steele. His decision to try to ram in a statement touchdown against UNLV in 1999 blew up in his face like an exploding cigar when Darrell Bush fumbled and Kevin Thomas raced 99 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the game. That play snatched a sure victory from the Bears, making Steele and the Bears the laughingstock of college football. His program never recovered from that moment.
Current villain: Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who piled up 106 straight points against the Buffaloes in the last two seasons while offensive coordinator at Missouri, beating them by a combined 113-10 margin. The Buffaloes will have a chance for payback this season when Christensen brings a less-talented Wyoming team to Boulder.
All-time villain: Nebraska coach Tom Osborne directed the Cornhuskers to a career record of 21-3-1 against the Buffaloes during his coaching stint from 1973-97.
Iowa State Cyclones
Current villain: Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has thrown seven career TDs against the Cyclones and beaten them twice, including last season's dramatic 35-33 comeback victory.
All-time villain: Iowa coach Hayden Fry, whose homespun witticisms weren't that funny for Cyclone fans when he was winning 15 straight against them from 1983-97.
Current villain: Nebraska DT/FB Ndamukong Suh who beat the Jayhawks with a memorable offensive and defensive performance last season and is back for more in 2009.
All-time villain: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder beat the Jayhawks 12 of his last 13 seasons in his first coaching run, including a nine-season streak where he rolled up 41, 38, 48, 54, 50, 52, 40, 64 and 42 points in consecutive blowout victories.
Kansas State Wildcats
Current villain: Kansas running back Jake Sharp grew up only 61 miles from Manhattan in nearby Salina, but has abused them since arriving at college. He's tormented them with five career touchdowns, including four last season.
All-time villain: Texas A&M running back Sirr Parker, whose dramatic game-winning touchdown in overtime snuffed out the Wildcats' national-title hopes in 1998.
Current villain: Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford has beaten the Tigers in the Big 12 title game each of the last two seasons, ruining their hopes for a first Big 12 title.
All-time villain: Colorado coach and former Missouri grad and assistant Bill McCartney should have been magnanimous after getting a gift victory over the Tigers en route to a shared 1990 national title. Instead, he sparked hostility among his old friends by ripping Faurot Field's "treacherous" playing field.
Current villain: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel talked a lot of smack and then backed it up by beating the Cornhuskers in each of the last two seasons. And after orchestrating a 52-17 victory in Lincoln last season, he raised the hackles of Cornhusker fans by complaining about Nebraska players spitting on him. He'll be gone this season, but definitely not forgotten among Cornhusker fans.
All-time villain: Oklahoma. Even though the rivalry was marked by immense respect on both sides -- imagine Barry Switzer doing Nebraska television commercials and endorsing Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Tom Osborne -- the Sooners' domination was a constant source of irritation for the Cornhuskers. Oklahoma claimed 16 straight from 1943-59 and beat Osborne in eight of his first nine games against them.
Current villain: Those pesky BCS bowls. The Sooners have lost five-straight BCS games, stripping coach Bob Stoops of much of his national stature that should have been gleaned from an unprecedented three-straight Big 12 titles.
All-time villain: Darrell Royal represented the ultimate turncoat to Sooner fans after starring at the school from 1946-49 as a record-setting quarterback and defensive back. His 12-7-1 career record against the Sooners included eight straight victories and 12 of his 14 games against them that made his old friends despise him.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Current villain: Texas coach Mack Brown, who has run off an 11-0 record against them. Worse, four of those victories were by four points or less, including the last two games.
All-time villain: Oklahoma. The cross-state rivals have turned the "Bedlam Series" into a one-sided affair with a 74-16-7 edge. Since Josh Fields orchestrated back-to-back upsets in 2001-02, Stoops hasn't called off the dogs in six-straight victories, exploding for 52, 38, 42, 27, 49 and 61 points.
Current villain: The Big 12's tiebreaker rules. Texas fans are still lamenting the national-title shot that got away last season, despite beating Big 12 title game participants Oklahoma and Missouri.
All-time villain: Jackie Sherrill. He beat them regularly at Texas A&M and continued his success at Mississippi State. Even worse, he fired up his team before that 1991 victory by castrating a steer and then crowed about it after his Texas-taming success. Even more than Barry Switzer, Longhorn fans hate Sherrill.
Texas A&M Aggies
Current villain: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. He's beaten them seven of nine games, including four straight. And he's gigged them by mocking their traditions, their coaching, their quarterbacks, everything but "The Dixie Chicken."
All-time villain: Texas. All things burnt orange set off Aggie fans -- with good reason. Their team has been dominated by the Longhorns in the school's longest rivalry. And how much of a Texas fixation do the Aggies have? The second verse of the Aggie War Hymn is essentially all about Texas.
Current villain: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Nobody in the conference does a better job of rolling up points or handcuffing Tech's offense than his Tigers, who have averaged 47 points and won by an average of 26.3 points per game during recent three-game winning streak in the series.
All-time villain: Texas A&M. Aggie fans chap Red Raider followers by claiming the game isn't a rivalry. Mike Leach has made it seem one-sided in recent seasons. But look closely enough and you'll find it's not unusual to see the A&M logo
adorning urinals in several bars in Lubbock. Isn't that the best sign of antipathy there is?
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
St. Patrick's Day is a time to celebrate all things green, including the best of college football rivalries.
It's understandable that many Big 12 teams have developed fierce enmity for their conference rivals over the years -- and even more for some than others.
Here's a look at what makes the supporters of each school green with envy all days, but especially on St. Patrick's Day.
Baylor: There have been no bowl trips for the Bears since 1994 -- the longest streak in the Big 12 and one of the longest of any school in a BCS conference. Even though they made the cut into the Big 12, it peeves Baylor fans of TCU's success in recent years. The Horned Frogs have developed into a top-10 program with 10 bowl appearances, four straight bowl victories and two straight victories over Baylor since the Big 12 was formed.
Colorado: The Buffaloes haven't been a factor in the Big 12 North since Gary Barnett was fired after the 2005 championship game loss to Texas. And it has to gall their most ardent supporters even more that Nebraska appears to have turned the corner as the North Division's likely favorite with a strong coach like Bo Pelini in place for the future.
Iowa State: The Cyclones have to look outside the conference because they have been the whipping boys for the rest of the Big 12 since Dan McCarney left. Cyclone fans can't be happy that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz appears to have weathered a recent downturn and has the Hawkeyes pointed back in the right direction.
Kansas: It can't make Jayhawk fans happy that the first time the Jayhawks have made back-to-back bowl trips in school history, arch-rival Missouri won the Big 12 North championship in both of those seasons. Even a victory over the Tigers in the muck at Arrowhead Stadium last season didn't help take the sting for Jayhawks of seeing the Tigers again play for the conference championship.
Kansas State: The Wildcats have struggled through their worst stretch since before Bill Snyder arrived for the first time in 1989. It hasn't helped that their arch-rivals across the state at Kansas has made back-to-back bowl trips and won both bowl games in the past two seasons. It's even more irksome that former Kansas State assistant coach Mark Mangino has been directing the Jayhawks' recent success.
Missouri: The Tigers have claimed back-to-back division championships, but old Big Eight rival Oklahoma has been waiting each season to deny them a chance at the Big 12 title. Even worse, the Sooners have won those games by a combined margin of 100-38. And that's 19 victories for the Sooners in the last 20 games against Missouri.
Nebraska: The old proud Big Eight power hasn't been able to duplicate that success on a continual basis in the Big 12. It seems that schools like Texas and Oklahoma have always been standing in their way. The Cornhuskers seemed to lose a little mystique in the first Big 12 championship game when Texas upset them. And they never seemed to have recovered - particularly in recent years when football championships have been rarely savored by Cornhusker fans.
Oklahoma: The recent losing streak in BCS games has taken some of the national appreciation away from the Sooners' recent unprecedented string of three straight Big 12 titles. But Boise State, West Virginia and Florida have kept the Sooners from duplicating their success on a national level. It's made those titles pyrrhic victories for Bob Stoops.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have never made a BCS bowl game or Big 12 championship during the conference's brief history. But Oklahoma has infuriated Cowboy fans by claiming six titles during the conference's 13-season history. It doesn't make for much fun in bragging rights for Bedlam when the Sooners have dominated the conference so significantly during that time.
Texas: Mack Brown has taken the Longhorns back into contention in the Big 12 title race after inheriting a program that was in shambles. But even with the top run in program history since the days of Darrell Royal, the Longhorns still have recorded only one Big 12 championship during his coaching span. Even worse, the Sooners have scoreboard, 6-1, in total football championships during the era where Brown and Bob Stoops have coached.
Texas A&M: But it could be worse. The Aggies have been rendered a non-entity in recent seasons in the Big 12. And it's even more galling that arch-rival Texas has finished ahead of A&M each of the past 10 seasons.
Texas Tech: It didn't make Texas Tech fans very happy when they were left out of much of the discussion for the championship despite forging a three-way tie with Texas and Oklahoma for the South Division crown last season. It's made the rivalry with those two South rivals even more keen than before -- if that could be possible.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Mack Brown still gets nervous, even if he doesn't show it.
When Brown met the media this morning, the Texas head coach recalled a conversation he had with coaching legend Darrell K. Royal about managing anxiety before games.
|Joe Robbins/Getty Images|
|Mack Brown doesn't see a playoff system coming to college football anytime soon.|
"I asked coach Royal once, 'Did you have trouble sleeping the night before a big game?'" Brown said. "And at Texas they are all big. If you lose one, it gets real big. He said that unless you gag before you brush your teeth on Saturday morning, you are not ready to play.
"I gagged this morning. So I think I'm fine."
Brown will coach in a BCS bowl for the first time since guiding Texas to the national championship when his team takes the field Monday against No. 10 Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Fox, 8 p.m. ET). Despite his nerves in front of the bathroom sink, Brown showed none in front of reporters as he discussed Texas' final preparations for the game.
Here are some highlights:
- Brown doesn't see a playoff system coming to college football, but he acknowledged that the impressive wins by USC and Utah strengthen the argument for one. A Texas blowout of Ohio State certainly would add to the playoff push, which Brown certainly advocates. With many coaches supporting a playoff, Brown encouraged media members to continue the fight. And while he covets a playoff, Brown doesn't want the bowl system to suffer.
"I played at Vanderbilt for two years, and when I saw Vanderbilt kick a last-second field goal to win their first Bowl game since 1955, there will be no team or coaching staff any happier than that Vanderbilt staff was," Brown said. "We do not need to take that away from college football. It is an exciting time. I see 7-5 teams throwing Gatorade on their coach. At Texas, if we were 7-5, they'd be throwing something on me but it wouldn't be Gatorade."
- The Big 12 has been average at best during the bowl season, with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State losing, and a heavily favored Missouri team struggling mightily against Northwestern. But Brown thinks a conference and its teams shouldn't be evaluated solely on one game, especially a game that might bring lukewarm enthusiasm.
"We've had some teams that weren't as excited about their game because they didn't get the draw they wanted and they got disappointed at the end of the year," Brown said. "That's the biggest thing in the bowl games: Who has the edge? Who is motivated? Who wants to be there? ... If you look at the games and see who wants to be there and who is motivated because none of us have played for a month, I think that usually tells you the story more than anything else."
- Brown recounted the process of telling his players that they didn't reach the Big 12 championship game and likely wouldn't be heading to the national championship in Miami. His first directive was to refrain from commenting publicly about the snub and instead let him do the talking. Rather than allowing the players to learn their fate on TV, Brown and his staff sent text messages minutes before the announcement and then scheduled a team meeting several hours later. In the meeting, Brown explained why Texas was left out (the computer rankings weigh road wins more than neutral-site ones), reiterated that the system is flawed and told players not to start throwing a pity party.
"Some people like it," Brown said. "It is better than what we had 10 years ago. But in this case, it didn't work out for you. But one year it didn't work out for [USC]. One year it didn't work out for Auburn. In 2004 it worked out for you when you went to the Rose Bowl to play Michigan. Don't say 'Oh, poor me' and don't say the system was poor to you just this time. It has been poor to a lot of people. This year it was good to Oklahoma instead of us."
- Texas has tried to strike a balance between fun and serious preparation this week in Arizona. Players were given an 11 p.m. curfew most nights, and Texas hasn't had any disciplinary infractions. Director of player development Ken Rucker gave the players an added incentive not to mess up.
"[Rucker] said if he smelled any alcohol on them, he would kiss them," Brown said. "That took care of that. As far as I know, nobody has been kissed by coach Rucker before they went to bed. If you see coach Rucker, only [his wife] Nancy wants to kiss coach Rucker. It is not a group of guys."
- Like Ohio State's 28 seniors, Texas' seniors have made a unique impact on the program and the coaches. Longhorns All-American defensive end Brian Orakpo said Thursday that the team might be closer than the 2005 squad that won a national title. They built that foundation as juniors before the 2007 Holiday Bowl, when they spoke up about helping the coaches maintain the right focus.
"A lot of people say this team will be great next year, and that's not necessarily true because when you lose some ingredients, like Orakpo and his leadership and what he has meant to this program or Roy Miller," Brown said. "My experience has been you don't wave the wand and say we have a lot of good players coming back so it works again. For whatever reason it didn't work as well for 2006 and , and it's has worked this year."
- Brown, on the prospect of Ohio State using quarterbacks Terrelle Pryor and Todd Boeckman on the field together: "We hope it works as well as ours. I think ours had five plays for minus-12 yards."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- They are polar opposites in public and represent two very different regions of the country, but Texas' Mack Brown and Ohio State's Jim Tressel have forged a common bond the last few seasons.
Both men oversee big-time programs with big-time fan bases and big-time expectations. Both recruit at an extremely high level. And both coach in the shadow of legends, Texas' Darrell K. Royal and Ohio State's Woody Hayes.
Despite two impressive head-coaching résumés, both of which include national championships, Brown and Tressel, whose teams meet Monday in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, recognize they'll likely never measure up to icons like Royal and Hayes.
"These are two men that he and I idolized growing up," Brown said. "It's not like we're sitting around thinking, 'I'm going to be Darrell Royal.' Even [Royal] said one day, 'I hope you break all my records.'
"I said, 'Coach, I'm not going to be alive long enough to break all your records, so don't worry about it.'"
Brown is 114-26 in 11 seasons at Texas, a winning percentage of .814, while Tressel boasts an 83-18 mark at Ohio State (.822). Two outstanding records for sure, but not quite at the level of Royal and Hayes, who combined to win eight national championships.
"We both believe that the game is bigger than us," Tressel said of himself and Brown. "We both believe that the schools we're at filled the stands long before we came and we'll never be the Woody Hayeses of the place, but we are the people that have the responsibility to try and maintain that type of excellence."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez|
|Bob Stoops is one half of the Red River Rivalry, making it one of the most anticipated games on the college football calendar.|
DALLAS -- Tomorrow amongst the ferris wheels and corn dogs, we'll celebrate the kind of coaching rivalry that used to mark college football.
In the Big Ten, the legendary "Ten-Year War" involved Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler. Barry Switzer vs. Tom Osborne was almost as big as the Big Eight Conference itself. The SEC had Bear Bryant against Shug Jordan. And the Southwest Conference celebrated the annual grudge game between good friends Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles.
But after surveying the landscape of college football today, those matchups look about as quaint as dollar-a-gallon gasoline. We likely won't see many like those again.
That's what makes tomorrow's game at the Cotton Bowl so special and intriguing.
Mack Brown and Bob Stoops are that rare breed today of rock stars with coaching whistles, arguably bigger than their respective programs. Both have won national championships and are headed towards induction one day in the College Football Hall of Fame.
And their yearly battles in the Red River Rivalry will one day be remembered as one of the greatest coaching rivalries in college football history.
Saturday's game will be the 10th time that Stoops and Brown have hooked up. Stoops holds a 6-3 edge, including a five-game winning streak from 2000-04. But Brown has claimed two of the last three games between the two South Division rivals.
When each arrived at their respective schools, both programs were perceived to be downtrodden dinosaurs that had seen better days. Just look back to the coaching tenures of John Blake and John Mackovic and remember how far both schools have risen since their swoons a decade ago.
After their arrivals, Brown and Stoops elevated the stature of both programs, turning them into two of a handful of national powers who are national championship threats almost every season in the new millennium.
Since Stoops arrived in 1999, either Oklahoma or Texas has won the Big 12 South Division championship every year. The Sooners have accounted for five Big 12 titles and the Longhorns one during the nine-year period. During that same period, every Big 12 North team has claimed at least a share of the title.
Brown realizes how the Big 12 has changed the dynamics of their rivalry.
"I remember when we got here, everybody said the luster was gone," Brown said. "This game wasn't important anymore and nobody really cared about it and it wasn't even a national TV game and it was so sad that the Texas-OU game was unimportant.
"It was important to the players, it was important to the coaches, but it's back now to where it has national implications, and that's been fun."
The Stoops-Brown rivalry might not be as bitter as some of those other coaching matchups. But that doesn't mean that either coach doesn't want to beat the pants off his coaching rival tomorrow afternoon.
Stoops said he might run into Brown three or four times a year -- including their 3 ˝-hour yearly shindig at the Cotton Bowl.
Brown has always spoken reverently about his respect for Stoops.
"What I've gotten is a great respect for Bob and what he's done over the last 10 years," he said. "He'll be remembered like Barry Switzer and (former Oklahoma coach Bud) Wilkinson. He's done exactly for them what they've asked him to do.