Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oklahoma is going to have one of the interesting teams in the country this season. The Sooners' national reputation has been besmirched over the last couple of years with upset losses to Boise State and West Virginia in the last two Fiesta Bowls.
And while those defeats might have tempered some expectations for this coming team, Oklahoma S Nic Harris had an interesting quote for the Tulsa World's Dave Sittler about how the Sooners are reacting.
"In the face of adversity," Harris told Sittler, "some men break and others break records."
The Sooners will have the opportunity to do both. Another disappointing finish would continue their recent slide. Or they could turn things around and claim their eighth national championship since 1950.
That's why the Sooners will be one of the key stories to follow this season in the Big 12.
There will be a lot of morning links to follow along the way and we'll be right there with them. Here's a start with some of the stories that have got people talking across the Big 12.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops explains in an Oklahoman video clip why he's decided to close off all preseason scrimmages. I think the biggest reason is because he doesn't want those nasty Internet spies to know that QB Sam Bradford's learning of the team's new no-huddle offense is still a work in progress.
New Texas A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines has shaken up his secondary, with Jordan Pugh moving to cornerback and Jordan Peterson to safety. The Aggies have five different defensive backs who have combined for 91 career starts. That experience better translate to increased production, or it could be a long season for the Aggies.
Texas Tech RB Shannon Woods appears to have climbed out of coach Mike Leach's doghouse after missing his final four games last season, including a suspension in the Gator Bowl. "He's worked ridiculously hard in the offseason, then had a good spring," Leach told reporters earlier this week. "My suspicion is he's going to be pretty good, if I were to guess right now, based on the material of several months." Woods' return would make Tech's ridiculously talented offense that much better.
Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky isn't buying that former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione is suited for a new radio gig, as has been rumored for the last week or so. "With his flat Midwestern accent and nasal whine, Franchione sounds like Ferris Bueller's teacher on helium," Scarbinsky wrote. Ouch!
Kansas State coach Ron Prince can start honing in on his plans for the opener. North Texas coach Todd Dodge announced Wednesday that sophomore QB Giovanni Vizza will be starting in the Aug. 30 game in Manhattan.
Houston Chronicle Texas A&M beat writer Terrance Harris had an interesting Q&A with A&M starting QB Stephen McGee. Among other topics, McGee talks about coach Mike Sherman's new offense, his competition with backup QB Jerrod Johnson and his lingering feelings about Franchione's dismissal.
Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation had a detailed report and list of items he noticed at Texas' open practice last night. Of particular note was how the Texas offense looked when backup QBs John Chiles and Sherrod Harris were at controls. Aren't open practices wonderful to provide a glimpse of how players have progressed over the summer? Even if the practices are more vanilla than something that Dreyer's would churn out.
Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com had an interesting column earlier this week about why Leach deserves a contract extension as Texas Tech struggles to balance its athletic books. Seth Jungmann of Double T Nation retorts, saying that veteran former head basketball coaches Bob Knight and former baseball coach Larry Hays both raise more money for the school than their salaries. Keep an eye on Leach's contract talks. It will be interesting to see if it festers over the upcoming season.
Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles Missouri TE Chase Coffman, who is ready to emerge as the Tigers' top player at his position after sharing time with Martin Rucker throughout his career. If there was such a thing as a Big 12 fantasy football league, I'd put Coffman among my top receivers. I think he's ready to develop into a 75-reception player this season.
Want to feel like you're actually at Missouri's practices? Check out Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune's Behind the Stripes blog. His reports almost make you feel the heat and hear the crash of the pads. Of particular note are his daily podcasts with Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins is ahead in Time Magazine's list of Best and Worst Sports Executives of 2008. Signing Mark Mangino and Bill Self to contract extensions apparently have Jayhawk fans repeatedly willing to click their mouses in his support.
The Waco Tribune-Herald's Brice Cherry didn't have a favorable report on Baylor's experimentation with wearing yellow Day-Glo uniform pants. Cherry said it looks like something Brett Favre wore in another life. Myself, I can't imagine the Bears decked out in anything but their traditional green-and-gold color scheme in anything.
Colorado's roster is taking a hit in the early days of practice. Senior G Erick Faatagi's college career is over before it started because of academic ineligibility and redshirt freshman G Mike Iltis suffered a knee injury that will keep him idled for eight weeks.
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins notices everything at practice. The Boulder Camera's Kyle Ringo reports that junior college transfer LB Shaun Mohler walked through the gates to the Buffaloes' practice field with his helmet off. Hawkins made him leave and return by walking through the gate with his helmet on.
Iowa State coach Gene Chizik has indefinitely suspended freshman WR Wallace Franklin from the team after two earlier arrests this spring. Franklin's loss shouldn't be huge as he produced only two catches last season.
Kansas City Star Big 12 reporter Blair Kerkhoff is breaking down his top 25 with a different team released each day on the Star's Vlog. Oklahoma State was his No. 25 pick. I love the idea, although I'm getting a "Truman Show" kind of feeling following Kerkhoff around to different places in his house and office as he makes his reports.
Massive 300-pound Nebraska NT Ndamukong Suh doesn't mind if his team is flying under the radar in most preseason polls.
Nebraska S Larry Asante tells Omaha World-Herald reporter Rich Kapuist that he's aiming to break the NCAA single-season interception record of 14. And Asante also says the Cornhuskers can deliver 40-plus turnovers this season, after producing a Big 12-low 11 last year. Ah, the confidence of August.
John Hoover of the Tulsa World delved into Oklahoma DE Auston English's background. He learned that English is the son of Church of Christ missionaries who lived for a time in Ireland and Gainesville, Fla., before settling in tiny Canadian, Texas.