NCF Nation: Marlon Lucky
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Some interesting topics popped up across the conference this morning. Feel free to digest them with your lunches this afternoon.
- Austin Meek and Kevin Haskin of the Topeka Capital Journal report that outgoing Kansas State president Jon Wefald said he would be willing to provide the university's next president a head start at picking the school's new athletic director.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told the Tulsa World's Dave Sittler he "likes the quarterbacks we have," in regards to reports linking the Sooners with former Miami quarterback Robert Marve.
- Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports on the tumultuous year of Kansas State athletic director Bob Krause, who was re-assigned Tuesday to a new role at the school's Olathe campus.
- Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple reports that six former Nebraska players -- Matt Slauson, Nate Swift, Lydon Murtha, Marlon Lucky, Zach Potter and Cody Green -- have received invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine next month in Indianapolis.
- Boulder Camera beat writer Kyle Ringo remembers the playing career of former Colorado quarterback Bernard Jackson, who was sentenced to more than five years in prison last week along with former teammate Lionel Harris last week.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Try reading these links wearing a tuxedo. It will almost make you feel like you're present at the inaugural ball tonight.
- Sam Bradford's dad, Kent, tells the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff that his son was never close to leaving college football for the NFL.
- Incoming freshmen wide receiver recruits Erick McGriff and Chris Omigie provide much-needed size to Kansas' wide receiving corps, the Daily Kansan's Stephen Montemayor writes.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple caught up with former Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky to talk about his big performance in Saturday's East-West Shrine game.
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that Miami defensive coordinator Bill Young could double his salary if he accepts the reported $700,000 per year deal that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is offering him to join the Cowboys as defensive coordinator. And the Daily Oklahoman's Scott Wright reports that Young "is torn" by the Oklahoma State offer, considering his wife is from Oklahoma and he is a graduate of the school.
- Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News imagines what could have been if Texas and USC had met in a championship game to cap a meaningful college football playoff system.
- Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com lists former Kansas State head coach Ron Prince and former San Diego State coach and one-time Oklahoma offensive coordinator Chuck Long in the mix for Miami's vacant offensive coordinator position.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Joe Ganz and Nebraska showed a lot of grit and determination Thursday, storming back from early misfortune to cap the season with triumph.
|Marvin Gentry/US Presswire|
|Joe Ganz overcame injuries to direct Nebraska's final scoring drive.|
Ganz overcame a shaky start to direct Nebraska to a 26-21 victory over Clemson in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.
The biggest reason was Ganz, who shook off a gimpy knee in the first half to throw two touchdowns and help Nebraska reclaim the lead in the third quarter. Earlier, Ganz's botched option pitch was returned for a Clemson touchdown and his interception late in first half led to another Tigers score.
But Ganz saved his biggest comeback for last after he appeared to be dazed by another hit early in the fourth quarter.
After sitting on the bench for several minutes, Ganz coolly returned to the game and directed Nebraska's final scoring drive, culminated by Alex Henery's fourth field goal.
Nebraska's defenders did the rest, playing like they deserved the Blackshirts that coach Bo Pelini gave them midway through the season to signify their emergence as a unit.
A punishing Nebraska defensive front dominated the game throughout, notching four sacks and harassing Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper from the opening snap. Nose tackle Ndamukong Suh produced two sacks and blocked a field goal and defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler produced another sack.
The Tigers were presumed to have the advantage in speed and athleticism, but Nebraska limited them to 90 total yards in the second half and shackled Clemson's vaunted running combo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The Tigers also converted only 3 of 16 third-down plays, misfiring on nine straight third-down conversions at one point in the second half.
The biggest series came after Clemson had marched to the Nebraska 10-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining. Nebraska twice gambled on cornerback blitzes by sophomore Eric Hagg, leading to an incompletion and a pivotal 16-yard sack on second down.
Two incompletions later, the Cornhuskers were jubilant and dancing after Pelini had wrapped up his second bowl victory in two tries.
The late defensive stand was clearly the shining moment for the Big 12 so far in the bowl season. It might not change many attitudes about the conference's overall defensive prowess, but was still good enough to lead to the Nebraska triumph.
The Cornhuskers (9-4) finished the season with a four-game winning streak and won six of their final seven games. They should finish the season ranked in the Top 25 and will likely enter the 2009 season as a preseason favorite in the Big 12 North.
After Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu Jr. struggled early, backup I-back Quentin Castille stepped up to provide rushing consistency that helped wrap up the victory. Castille finished with a game-high 125 rushing yards, including a key 58-yard rumble early in the third quarter.
In the process the Cornhuskers continued a tradition of comebacks in bowl games. It was the seventh time Nebraska has overcome a halftime deficit to win a bowl game. The Cornhuskers' 11-point halftime deficit was the largest the team has ever overcome in the school's 45-game bowl history.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
1. Kicking problems for the power elite. I'm baffled at the kicking woes that have befallen the Big 12's top three teams. Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma all have struggled in recent weeks with reliable field-goal kicking. Usually sure Texas kicker Hunter Lawrence shanked kicks of 44 and 20 yards before he was removed for Ryan Bailey. Oklahoma kicker Jimmy Stevens missed from 30 yards and was involved in a sideline argument with 297-pound defensive tackle Cordero Moore. Despite his size disadvantage television replays showed the kicker grab the bigger player's facemask. And Texas Tech's prolonged slump with Donnie Carona makes that facet perhaps the Red Raiders' biggest question mark.
Of course, the three teams rank second (Oklahoma), third (Texas Tech) and fifth (Texas) in scoring in the national statistics through games of this week. What it's meant are that coaches for those three power squads have been more than willing to go for touchdowns rather than settle for field goals most of the season. But somewhere down the line, all will likely have to depend on a clutch kick. And I'm not sure that any of the coaches would feel certain about their chances today if they had to line up for a game-winning 45-yard kick to decide a BCS bowl trip.
2. Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson might be the conference's most underrated play caller. Watson cooked up a little bit of everything for Kansas on Saturday. Direct snaps to Marlon Lucky in the "Joker" package resulted in a touchdown pass thrown by the senior I-back. A pass to 300-pound defensive tackle-turned-fullback Ndamukong Suh produced another score. Another strong effort by Joe Ganz, the conference's most consistently underrated quarterback. It's not your father's Cornhuskers, but they looked pretty impressive on Saturday in stretching their home winning streak to 20 games against Kansas. It's likely pushed the Cornhuskers into a likely trip to the Sun Bowl and invaluable extra practice with the upcoming bowl trip.
3. Where were the Aggies? Texas A&M former students like to talk about the tradition and honor that the school has. But where were all the fans when two senior players who had played huge roles in the program in their career -- quarterback Stephen McGee and tailback Jorvorskie Lane - when Lane scored a late touchdown in garbage time against Oklahoma. Watching on television, I saw a lot of Aggies disguised as empty seats at Kyle Field at the end of the game.
4. Texas Tech's offensive line is the most underrated strength of the team. I stirred up a hornet's nest in my hot and not section Friday afternoon when I mentioned that the Red Raiders' line was not hot because it had allowed four sacks in the last two weeks. Relatively speaking, they were struggling because they had only allowed one sack all season before those two games against Kansas and Texas.
Maybe that inspired them, but the Red Raiders were in prime form in the trenches Saturday night against Oklahoma State as the major reason why Tech erupted for 629 yards -- Tech's fourth 600-yard performance of the season. Graham Harrell was barely touched en route to a 456-yard, six-TD pass performance. And Tech also rushed for 113 yards, its 10th straight 100-yard rushing performance.
5. Sunday dinner at the Hawkins' household in Boulder likely will be more pleasant today, I bet. The dramatic comeback orchestrated by Cody Hawkins took a lot of heat off his dad. The Buffaloes showed offensive flashes in their best half of the season against Iowa State. The big comeback likely will have the younger Hawkins in the starting lineup for the Buffaloes' final two games, making Misti Hawkins' meat loaf and broccoli casserole taste much better for all of those who are partaking at their table today.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's hard to believe the glare of the national television spotlight that will be fixed to Lubbock this weekend.
"The Hub City" has never received this much national attention -- even back in the days when Buddy Holly was streaking across the firmament during his short-lived, star-crossed career as a rock icon.
Today, it's Mike Leach and Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy and Mack Brown who are commanding most of the attention. It's continuing a season-long tradition that has enabled Texas to become even more of a national darling than before in terms of television appeal, according to the Austin American-Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton.
Texas Tech fans are aiming to beat the record crowd to attend "College GameDay" before Saturday's game against Texas. The previous record crowd of 17,000, was set earlier at Nebraska, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
Lack of available flights are sending some fans and reporters flying into Amarillo or Midland -- both about a two-hour drive away -- to arrive for the game. The Avalanche-Journal reported that tickets on eBay are going for as much as $1,000 apiece.
Restaurants are stocking up with extra cold beverages and trimming beef to get ready for the crowds expected to flock before and after the game. It could be the biggest single weekend of tourism-related spending in Lubbock history.
And it should be quite a sight to experience. We can only hope the game lives up to its hype.
Until then, here are some stories from across the Big 12 for your perusal this lunchtime.
- Texas quarterback Colt McCoy grew up in nearby Tuscola, played his last high school game in Lubbock and still finds many of his high school friends now are attending Texas Tech. McCoy says he can't wait to get back to his home area to play Saturday night, according to Adam Zuvanich of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
- Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes about the North Division's wide-open title race.
- Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky finally is living up to the preseason promise that had him considered among the Big 12's best backs, Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald writes.
- Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell are the Big 12's two finalists for the Draddy Award. Both are among 15 National Football Foundation 2008 Scholar-Athlete Award winners, which comes with an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship.
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman has come full-circle by returning back to college coaching, according to the Denver Post's Tom Kensler.
- Guerin Emig of The Tulsa World reports that Oklahoma wide receiver Quentin Chaney is one of the best utility players produced during the Bob Stoops coaching era.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some trends I'm looking forward to watching across the Big 12 on Saturday.
1. Chase Daniel's return to Texas: The record-breaking Missouri quarterback always dreamed as a boy of playing at Memorial Stadium in Austin. After he was spurned in his recruiting by the Longhorns, Daniel finally has a chance to play against his old favorites in a must-win game for his team after its loss last week to Oklahoma State. The Tigers desperately need a victory in order to keep their flickering national title hopes alive. And Daniel needs a big outing to resuscitate his Heisman hopes.
2. How Oklahoma reacts after the Texas loss: The Sooners twice blew double-digit leads before wilting in the second half last week in a loss to Texas. Coach Bob Stoops is 9-0 in weeks after Texas games, but will be facing a big challenge against Kansas. The Jayhawks have quietly crept into first place in the North Division after two straight victories and control their own destiny for their first division title after Missouri's loss. And Mark Mangino is 17-2 in his last 19 games.
3. Texas Tech rekindles its bitter rivalry with Texas A&M: There's a reason why the statue of Will Rogers and his horse Soapsuds on the Tech campus is situated with its rear pointed to College Station. Fans from these two schools don't like each other and Saturday's game should again be a spirited one, despite the Aggies' early struggles. The Red Raiders are ranked fifth nationally in the coaches poll and have their national title aspirations clearly ahead as they travel to College Station. Mike Leach has dominated the A&M series, winning six of the last seven games. The Aggies are reeling through their worst start in the Big 12 history, but will undoubtedly have a special effort waiting for their old foes.
4. Oklahoma State facing a potential trap game: The Cowboys have soared to No. 7 nationally after six wins to open the season. With memories of the Cowboys' huge upset at Missouri still fresh and a huge game looming next week in Austin against Texas, it could be understandable that they could overlook Saturday's game against Baylor. The Cowboys have dominated the series with 11 victories in the 12 games since the Big 12 was formed. Will that result in overconfidence with so much clearly still left for the Cowboys to play for? Or will the opportunity for the OSU's first 7-0 start since 1945 keep the Cowboys grounded?
5. Robert Griffin's increasing command of the Baylor offense: After Griffin carried the ball an average of 22 times in his previous two games, Baylor coaches worked on getting other players involved last week. The results were dramatic as Griffin completed 21 of 24 passes to set a school single-game completion-percentage record in a victory against Iowa State. He ran the ball only nine times. It will be interesting to see if Baylor coaches opt for similar usage against an Oklahoma State team that has struggled pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
6. Back to the basics at Nebraska: The Cornhuskers employed a simplified offensive game plan last week that almost enabled them to escape with an upset victory at Texas Tech. The return was keyed by Marlon Lucky, who provided his best all-around game of the season with 66 rushing yards and a season-best seven receptions. Having similar success Saturday against Iowa State will be critical as the Cornhuskers hope to avoid their first 0-3 conference start since 1945.
7. Bo's big plays on defense: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini once was known as an architect for opportunistic defenses that thrived on generating turnovers. But the Cornhuskers have struggled recently, producing one recovered fumble since last season's Iowa State game, a span of 13 games. Nebraska's defense has got to do a better job of producing big plays in the second half of the season if they have any bowl hopes.
8. The battle of the special teams when Colorado and Kansas State meet: No Big 12 team does as good a job blocking punts as Kansas State, which has generated four blocked punts -- all returned for touchdowns -- among its nation-leading six blocked kicks this season. The Wildcats will need big plays to counteract the big returns from Colorado return specialist Josh Smith, who has scored four of the Buffaloes' 18 touchdowns and set up five more with his long returns.
9. Can Colorado's sputtering offense get well against Kansas State's defense? The Buffaloes' patchwork offensive line figures to have some success this week against Kansas State. But the Buffaloes might find a tonic against a Kansas State team that has struggled defensively, allowing more than 500 yards in each of its last four games.
10. Kansas finally proves itself against the South Division's power elite: The Jayhawks get their first chance to play against one of the big boys from the South Division when they visit Oklahoma on Saturday. Later in the season, the Jayhawks will host Texas Tech and Texas. Kansas avoided all three teams in a school-record 12-1 season last year that was capped by an Orange Bowl victory. We'll start seeing how the Jayhawks match up with the traditional powers from the other division in Saturday's game.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The remnants and reminders of Hurricane Ike can be found scattered across the Texas A&M campus.
Parking will be at a premium for the Aggies' game Saturday against Miami because many surface lots have been taken over by the arrival of refugees from the storm. Nearby Reed Arena is a government-designated emergency site. About 300 special-needs patients are being treated on the floor of the arena after being transported there from throughout the hurricane-ravaged area.
Aggies officials took down banners, goal posts and wind screens with the approach of the storm. The campus was largely untouched.
Not as fortunate was the nearby campus of Texas A&M at Galveston, which suffered some significant damage. It has led to the relocation of about 1,000 Galveston-campus students to College Station, where they could remain for the rest of the semester.
Hotel rooms, already tough to come by on a football game day, are at even more of a premium this weekend in the Bryan-College Station area because evacuees have been using them since the storm blew through. It's led the 12th Man Foundation at Texas A&M to start anorganized drive of releasing additional rooms in the area that might have been reserved for Saturday's game.
Some might wonder why the game should be played this weekend after the recent catastrophe. But in a way, having a game on Saturday will be good for the Southeast Texas area. It will give everyone a chance to forget about their recent troubles, at least for a few hours.
Here are some links from around the Big 12 this morning.
- Who's counting? Colorado claimed a 17-14 overtime victory after West Virginia K Pat McAfee bounced his kick off the left upright before Aric Goodman's game-winning kick. The victory came despite 10 straight possessions without Colorado scoring before the late rally.
- Scintillating Baylor freshman QB Robert Griffin will be on display during the Bears' nationally televised game tonight at Connecticut.
- San Antonio Express-News columnist Mike Finger places Griffin's quick debut into perspective, comparing his strong start with others produced by Big 12 freshman quarterbacks.
- Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson's rushing production is down this season, yet the Cowboys' offense is humming.
- Austin American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden wonder in their weekly video report if Texas really deserves mention among the nation's elite.
- Returning Big 12 rushing leader Marlon Lucky is adapting well to the Cornhuskers' increased depth at I-back.
- Only a handful of Iowa cable customers will be able to watch Iowa State's game at UNLV on Saturday night.
- Kansas TB Angus Quigley calls himself "the most inexperienced, experienced back" on the Jayhawks' team.
- Missouri already has 10 freshmen receiving significant playing time so far this season.
- Kansas City Star columnist Blair Kerkhoff wonders if Oklahoma DT DeMarcus Granger's recent injury was college football's version of a purpose pitch.
- Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson writes about Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford as an emerging Heisman candidate.
- Texas A&M and Miami both are eyeing a return to the football elite after recent struggles in both programs.
- A developing ground game is providing -- at least for Texas Tech -- an unconventional way to boost its offense.
- Undersized WR Brandon Banks came up big for Kansas State against Louisville, producing seven catches for a game-high 153 yards.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 season will unfold with many things I can't wait to watch. Here are 25 of the most special to me.
1. Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin streaking into the secondary moments after returning a punt.
2. Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray getting loose on a sweep.
3. Listening to one of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's postgame news conferences.
4. Watching the young Texas secondary grow up before my eyes, starting Saturday night against Florida Atlantic.
5. Experiencing the crunch of Kansas' linebackers swarming style from the sidelines.
6. Watching Colorado TB Darrell Scott likely earn a starting position over the course of the first few weeks of the season.
7. Rooting for a good kid like Oklahoma State WR Artrell Woods to make a complete return from an injury last year that nearly ended his career.
8. Watching Nebraska and Bo Pelini make their first steps onto the field at Memorial Stadium during the Cornhuskers' "Tunnel Walk."
9. Judging how much better suited Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee is to run Mike Sherman's offense than Dennis Franchione's. I bet McGee is, too.
10. Maybe having a chance to see Kansas State QB Josh Freeman uncork a ball 70 or 80 yards -- on the fly.
11. Waiting to see Iowa State coach Gene Chizik's decision on who is better -- Austen Arnaud or Phillip Bates.
12. Waiting for a chance to see Baylor QB Robert Griffin and Texas QB John Chiles play a position other than quarterback.
13. Seeing the Sooner Schooner march up and down the field. Something tells me a good night would be Saturday against Chattanooga.
14. Waiting to see the records that Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree can set this season.
15. Chase Daniel chewing out an offensive lineman who might have missed a block -- or maybe a coach he doesn't agree with.
16. Catching a few replays of Texas' mammoth Godzillatron scoreboard and wishing I had one just like it in my living room.
17. Seeing the "Waving of the Wheat" after a Kansas victory. This never gets old.
18. Ralphie the Buffalo leading Colorado on the field. Simply the best mascot in all of college sports.
19. The Texas A&M Marching Band in one of their stirring, patented halftime shows.
20. Watching how much playing time Marlon Lucky will receive with Nebraska this year. Bet he still is among the conference's rushing leaders.
21. Seeing how Texas Tech's young defense reacts to excitable coach Ruffin McNeill.
22. Standing next to Kansas State TB Keithen Valentine and judging if I'm really taller than he is.
23. Watching the pads pop when Oklahoma running backs run behind the mammoth left side of their offensive line keyed by T Phil Loadholt and G Duke Robinson.
24. Standing close -- but not too close -- to the Baylor bear mascot and Bevo the Longhorn along the sidelines.
25. Waiting for another big return by Kansas State so I can see Ron Prince happily stomp down the field in jubilation.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12 featured its top collection of talent last season with eight conference players selected to consensus All-America teams. It might be even more pronounced this season with another strong cast back.
Here's my list for all-conference players before the season:
QB: Chase Daniel, Missouri
RB: Marlon Lucky, Nebraska
RB: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
WR: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
WR: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
TE: Chase Coffman, Missouri
T: Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
T: Ryan Miller, Colorado
G: Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
G: Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech
C: Jon Cooper, Oklahoma
K: Jeff Wolfert, Missouri
KR: DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
DE: Auston English, Oklahoma
DT: George Hypolite, Colorado
DT: Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
DE: Ian Campbell, Kansas State
LB: Mike Rivera, Kansas
LB: Joe Mortensen, Kansas
LB: Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
CB: Chris Harris, Kansas
CB: Jamar Wall, Texas Tech
S: William Moore, Missouri
S: Nic Harris, Oklahoma
P: Justin Brantly, Texas A&M
PR: Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Nebraska's punishing ground attack historically has been as big a part of the Cornhuskers' storied program as Herbie Husker, sellout crowds at Memorial Stadium and Academic All-Americans.
Consider that between 1977 and 2003, Nebraska ranked at least seventh or higher every season in the national rushing rankings. That's right: seventh or better. And in 13 of those seasons the Cornhuskers led the nation in rushing.
That's why the rankings during the four seasons of Bill Callahan's tenure -- 34th, 107th, 23rd and 66th -- were so disappointing. Two of the four teams even threw the ball more than it ran. How un-Nebraskalike, even in this age of spread passing offenses.
Most observers are expecting Nebraska to more effectively run the ball this season. Some are even predicting a smash-mouth running attack keyed by an experienced offensive line and four strong I-backs led by Big 12 returning rushing leader Marlon Lucky.
Running the ball would also provide a way for new coach Bo Pelini to keep his defense off the field, dominating time of possession and lessening the time his defensive unit will have to make plays.
Senior Nebraska offensive guard Matt Slauson told the Omaha World-Herald it would be noticeable compared to his previous seasons.
"We're going to line up and smash guys, and if it works, we're going to keep doing it," Slauson told the newspaper.
Which tells me one thing. Simple dives and off-tackle smashes won't be nearly as unpopular among Nebraska fans as they might be at other places across the Big 12 this season.
And speaking of traditional, hearty fare, how about this lip-smacking collection of links this morning? It's good for what ails you.
- Former Penn State DT Phil Taylor has enrolled at Baylor and begun practicing with the team. Taylor was dismissed from the Nittany Lions after his involvement in an on-campus fight last season. Freshman K Ben Parks has won the starting job for the Bears' opener Thursday night against Wake Forest.
- Boulder Daily Camera coulumnist Neill Woelk said Colorado fans are providing a form of corporate welfare to Colorado State, buying tickets this week that weren't scarfed up by the Rams' fans.
- Colorado TE Riar Geer avoided jail Monday after his friends and family members pleaded to a judge that his role in an off-campus fight was out of character. But he'll miss the first two games of the season as he recovers from knee surgery.
- Heralded Colorado freshman TB Darrell Scott is trying to keep up with the other demands than just playing.
- Iowa State will have 27 freshmen in its two-deep roster Thursday night against South Dakota State. But Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler writes that Iowa State coach Gene Chizik needs to choose a starting quarterback soon and stick with him.
- Kansas State list four newcomers on its starting lineup for Saturday's game against North Texas. Three are from junior colleges -- RB Keithen Valentine, CB Blair Irvin and LB Ulla Pomele - and LB Olu Hall is arrives from Virginia.
- Jeff Martin of the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle provides a few nuggets from Kansas State's press conference, including Coach Ron Prince uttering the word "confirmed" 14 times during a 30-minute stint at the podium.
- Kansas State officials learned that top returning receiver and punt returner Deon Murphy has an extra year of eligibility. He will be considered a junior in the upcoming season.
- Kansas has 10 freshmen and 15 sophomores in its two-deep roster, including PR Daymond Patterson as a starter.
- The Lawrence Journal-World's Matt Tait writes about Kansas rebuilding its secondary without All-American CB Aqib Talib.
- Dugan Arnett of the Lawrence Journal World wonders who would be the bigger chick magnet in downtown Lawrence -- Michael Phelps or Todd Reesing?
- Manhattan Mercury beat writer Mark Janssen breaks down the ABC's of Kansas State football.
- Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune's Big 12 notebook leads with Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger's comments about Texas.
- Kansas City Star college columnist Blair Kerkhoff has Oklahoma ranked No. 5 in his top 25 countdown. Kerkhoff also expects faster play and shorter games with the new clock rules.
- Missouri WR Jared Perry gave Dave Matter the quote of the day about how he hopes to impress the Illinois defense after struggling with injuries. "It's a big motivation," Perry said, "because people are just sleeping on me. So, I have to wake them up."
- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says he's not any more excited about Saturday's game against Western Michigan than any other. "My level of excitement really isn't any different than it was last year," said Pelini, who spent the last three seasons as defensive coordinator at Louisiana State. "I treat them all the same. I think we'll be prepared come Saturday and let it all hang out. It'll be a fun time, but at the same time I've got to keep my emotions in check, as does the team."
- Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald says that Kansas State QB Josh Freeman has provided the best quotes of the preseason -- particularly those that threw Kansas State's seniors last seasons under the bus for their lack of leadership. Barfknecht also gives his preseason Big 12 rankings.
- Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel wonders if ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit really likes Nebraska as much as he's saying - or if he's only try to throw a bone to his old Ohio State teammate and current Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star's Curt McKeever doesn't expect any suprise teams from the Big 12 because of the conference's depth at the top.
- Pelini met with the media for about two minutes Monday after an intense practice on the first day of classes. Former Nebraska coach Bill Callahan never practiced his team on the first day of classes.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy will be back calling plays for the Cowboys this season after delegating that job to assistants in recent years.
- Oklahoman columnist John Rohde is expecting Saturday's Oklahoma State-Washington State game to be fun on Saturday.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman writes that Oklahoma's non-conference schedule shouldn't be a liability to their national title hopes - even as the Sooners start the season Saturday against Chattanooga, a 2-9 team last season.
- Oklahoma State WR Damian Davis has been suspended for the Cowboys' opener against Washington State for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
- Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter has set a goal of rushing for 1,000 yards this season according to Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World.
- Tulsa World columnist John Klein said that Mike Gundy should have more talent at his disposal this season than any previous season when he was Oklahoma State's head coach.
- Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World writes about Texas A&M's water balloon fight in his weekly Big 12 notepad, also providing a quotepad and his rankings.
- Eleven positions remain up for grabs on Texas' depth chart, heading into Saturday's game against Florida Atlantic.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman writes of Texas' new slogan worn on their orange wristbands: "Consistently good to be great."
- Depth at tailback could produce Texas A&M's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2003, according to Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman.
- Freshman WR Jeff Fuller is listed as a starter for Texas A&M's opener. And QB Stephen McGee told the San Antonio Express-News that backup QBs Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill are "two of our four top guys" at receiver.
- Texas Tech CB Darcel McBath is determined that Eastern Washington won't sneak up on his team on Saturday night - particularly as Coach Mike Leach has repeatedly talked about Michigan's upset losos to Appalachian State last season. "I definitely don't want to make Sports Center for that," McBath told the Lubbock Avalanche-ournal. "We can't let that happen."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
How good will be the Big 12 be this season?
With an armada of strong quarterbacks and concentrated power at the top of both divisions, the conference could produce something really special this season. The Associated Press' preseason poll is stacked with five Big 12 teams among its top 14 teams. That respect is coming after four Big 12 teams finished in the top 10 last season and a Big 12-record eight consensus All-Americans were selected last season.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star speculates today that the Big 12 finally can come close to matching the SEC this season. Keys, he mentions, will be the performance of the Big 12 in tough nonconference games like Missouri-Illinois, Kansas at South Florida, Kansas State at Louisville and Virginia Tech at Nebraska. The Big 12 should win its only matchup this season against the SEC when Arkansas visits Texas.
The conference's true reputation will be built in bowl games. After struggles early in its history in bowls, the Big 12's 5-3 bowl record last season was its fifth above .500 in history and third in four seasons.
That trend will have to continue to help the conference's burgeoning reputation to keep growing. And it probably wouldn't hurt for Oklahoma to win a bowl game, too.
But those games are more than four months away. The season is approaching in a mere three days.
To whet your appetite for that start, here's a power-packed stack of morning links. Enjoy them.
- Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com breaks down the 10 best decisions of Mack Brown's coaching tenure at Texas.
- Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk can't believe that Mark Mangino is making $2.3 million per season -- considering he's had two winning seasons in his six-year tenure as a head coach at Kansas.
- Baylor's three quarterbacks discuss battling for their starting job as coach Art Briles' decision appears no clearer.
- Four newcomers dot Kansas State's depth chart. RB Keithen Valentine, CB Blair Irvin, OLB Olu Hall and ILB Ulla Pomele all will be in the starting lineup Saturday against North Texas.
- Missouri sports information director Chad Moller has "something big" planned in his pitch for Chase Daniel's Heisman hopes, according to the Kansas City Star's Mike DeArmond. Moller says cost of his surprise will be about $50,000.
- The Omaha World-Herald has virtually everything you'd ever want to know about the Cornhuskers in its preview edition. Among the highlights include World-Herald beat writer Jon Nyatawa's story on Bo Pelini's building plan, Tom Shatel's column on football motivation, a Husker inkblot test that shows how the Cornhuskers can finish 8-4 and Shatel's 14 predictions for the coming season.
- Not to be outdone, the Lincoln Journal-Star had a preview section with Bo Pelini as a superhero with "Bo Wonder. Villains, Beware!" shouting from the cover. Columnist Steve Sipple explains his rationale for the cover. Beat writer Brian Christopherson details the Cornhuskers' 1-2 offensive punch in QB Joe Ganz and I-back Marlon Lucky, and Curt McKeever's list of Husker villains for the 2008 season.
- The Big 12 is heavily represented on John Walter's 50 most intriguing people in college football. Included on the MSNBC.com list are Baylor QB Robert Griffin, Missouri WR/KR Jeremy Maclin, Missouri K Jeff Wolfert, Nebraska I-back Marlon Lucky, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State WR Artrell Woods and Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree .
- Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel speculates on the chances that Bob Stoops will remain at Oklahoma for 10 more years.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy still hasn't announced who'll be calling plays for the Cowboys in their season opener Saturday against Washington State.
- Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue interviews Iowa State quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates.
- Wichita Eagle columnist Bob Lutz writes that Ron Prince's junior-college laden recruiting class is nothing like Bill Snyder's recruiting strategy.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman breaks down Sam Bradford's Heisman hopes.
- Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler predicts a 12-0 regular season for Oklahoma, capped by a loss to Missouri in the Big 12 championship.
- Terrance Harris of the Houston Chronicle has an extended sit-down with new Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman considers how the Texas roster would be broken down after a 44-man NFL-style draft.
- Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News produces an interesting comparison between Dallas-area natives Chase Daniel of Missouri and Matthew Stafford of Georgia.
- Kansas QB Todd Reesing tells the Fort Worth Star
-Telegram's Mike Jones about his interest in dancing and life in the fishbowl in Lawrence, Kan.
- Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal "there's a good possibility" the Red Raiders will face Oklahoma State in Dallas in 2009.
- Texas Tech coaches still haven't decided on starters at running back and center heading into Saturday's opener against Eastern Washington. Daniel Charbonnet has won the starting job at free safety, with the right corner and kicker jobs still open.
- The Tulsa World's Guerin Emig profiles TB DeMarco Murray, a key offensive weapon for Oklahoma's success this season.
- J. Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star details the changing expectations around the Jayhawks' program.
- Heralded Colorado running back Darrell Scott has lost 17 pounds since arriving at college. He's now down to a trim 210 pounds and hopes to play close at close to 205 once the season begins.
- New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is emphasizing speed in his rebuilding process, Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman writes.
- Colorado is preparing for uncertainty in its season opener against Colorado State. The Buffaloes will be facing an opponent featuring a new coach, new offensive coordinator and new starting quarterback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The breathless hype is already starting around Austin. Early Longhorns practices have shown that backup QB John Chiles can pump some excitement into a Texas offense that appeared stale at times last season.
Veteran Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls was salivating at the prospects of what formations with Colt McCoy and Chiles playing at the same time could bring, evoking memories of Tim Tebow's early use in the Florida offense or Arkansas' "Wild Hog" formation with Darren McFadden.
As Bohls correctly states, all of the talk about trick plays doesn't mean much if they are being used against teams like Rice and Florida International where Texas seemingly has a huge competitive advantage. These plays and formations need to be employed against Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri.
Chiles threw a couple of interceptions during a Thursday workout. And he told Bohls that his 1-for-9 passing struggles last season -- similar to some of Tebow's early passing missteps as a freshman with the Gators -- weren't unexpected because of his inexperience.
"It wasn't too embarrassing," Chiles told Bohls. "I might should have redshirted, looking back. Quarterback is a tough position."
The use of two quarterbacks would be a "walk on the wild side" for Texas coach Mack Brown -- and a refreshing one at that.
Much like these Big 12 links this morning. Take a deep breath and enjoy.
- It's hard for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops not to get excited this summer. He told the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel that he's seeing flashes in DeMarco Murray that makes him think he could develop into his most talented tailback ever. Didn't he coach that guy named Peterson once upon a time?
- Texas Tech DE McKinner Dixon will likely be ineligible for the upcoming season, Tech coach Mike Leach told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. But heralded junior-college transfer DE Brandon Sesay appears to have made his grades and will be able to play.
- Returning Colorado players are noticeably bigger and stronger than previous seasons, the Boulder Daily Camera's Neill Woelk says. One of the most striking transformations was QB Cody Hawkins, who showed up with noticeably bigger biceps and about five pounds heavier, the Denver Post's Tom Kensler says.
- It will take three or four players to replace the contributions of leading Colorado tackler Jordon Dizon, Buffaloes linebackers coach Brian Cabral told B.G. Brooks of the Rocky Mountain News.
- Iowa State returns all four starters in the secondary this season. Despite that experience, the group is bracing for heat as every Big 12 team it will face returns its starting quarterback.
- NFL Hall of Famer Mike McCormack will be the next former Kansas player to be included in the school's Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium. School officials better save room up there for Todd Reesing one of these days.
- Missouri wide receivers coach Andy Hill has a quaint way of describing how he teaches young players to "drink from the fire hose" in their early preparation. The Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter says that Tigers are learning to open wide, because here comes a big mouthful of football preparations.
- Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon isn't worried about a Sports Illustrated cover jinx after he, QB Chase Daniel and WR Jeremy Maclin will be pictured on one of the regional covers highlighting the upcoming season. "Nobody else from my hometown (Jasper, Texas) can say they've ever been on the cover of Sports Illustrated," Weatherspoon told Matter. "Even though it's just a regional cover ... it's a great accomplishment. It just shows what type of things are going on at Mizzou."
- Forget about all the talk about the competition between Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu Jr. Slimmer TB Quentin Castille also is in the mix for playing time at Nebraska, Brian Rosenthal of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes.
- Bo Pelini likes his team's progress after its first four days of practice this summer. But then again, I've never heard a coach speak otherwise at this time of year.
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is toying with the idea of giving backup QBs Alex Cate and Brandon Weedon most of the snaps at Saturday's scrimmage. If Gundy is as concerned about finding a backup for Zac Robinson as he has continually maintained, it's a great idea.
- Birthday candles for esteemed Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel, who writes of turning 50 today. I have a lot of admiration for Shatel in more ways than one. He's got me beat in this late dad thing. He's got three little ones and I only have one.
- Sooner practices are closed, but OU coach Bob Stoops told fans at the Sooner Caravan Thursday night that competition has been spirited at his team's early practices. "You can't believe the battles we've had at practice," Stoops said. "That's really fun for me as a coach." But with no chance to watch his team scrimmage, we'll all have to wait until the Aug. 30 opener against Chattanooga. The scrimmages sound more competitive to me.
- The San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman's "Aggie Insider" highlights Hunter Goodwin, a former Texas A&M lineman who helped roust his school's lethargic performances in other sports with some colorful comments a few years back. Zwerneman also had a couple of other A&M camp nuggets about A&M TB Mike Goodson's slight groin injury and DT Kellen Heard's dramatic weight loss over the offseason.
- The Austin American-Statesman reports that LB Sergio Kimble and DE Brian Orakpo were reversing roles at Thursday's practice. Kimble was experimenting with rush from a three-point stance and Orakpo was being used as a stand-up defender.
- Rocky Balboa in shoulder pads? The Tulsa World's Jimmie Tramel has a great story about Oklahoma junior college transfer LB Mike Balogun, who didn'
t play high school football his last two seasons and became a construction worker after high school to support his family. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Balogun could be in the mix to challenge for a starting job.
- Stoops told the Tulsa World's Dave Sittler that he has dropped out of voting in the USA Today coaches' poll this season. "I have my reasons," Stoops told Sittler. But he was guarded about his rationale as much as his scrimmage plans.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It's always struck me how different Colorado seems from the rest of the Big 12 every trip I make to Boulder.
The scenery for Folsom Field is breathtaking, making it one of the jewels of college football. And school officials and fans seem intent to keep it that way, too.
Colorado school officials announced Tuesday that they are pledging "zero waste" at home games, hoping to recycle 90 percent of the 10 tons of trash generated at each home game this season. They are even offering valet parking for those fans who arrive at games on bicycles.
Such environmental recognition is refreshing -- particularly considering some of the mounds of empty nacho cartons and liquor bottles I've had to wade through heading out of stadiums over the years. It's commendable, but I'm thinking that only in Boulder can you valet-park your bicycle close to a stadium.
Hopefully, these morning links won't prove to be quite as disposable to my readers. Sorry the links are a little light today. The hamsters powering the wireless at the beautiful Fairfield Inn in Topeka, Kan., must have been tired this morning. Some of the more involved Web sites -- yeah, I'm talking about you guys at the Oklahoman -- were difficult to access.
- Only three Big 12 coaches grace the cover of their team's media guides this season, according to Steve Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star. They are Kansas' Mark Mangino, Baylor's Art Briles and Iowa State's Gene Chizik. It's particularly hard to believe that Nebraska's Bo Pelini isn't found on the cover of the Cornhuskers' guide. At least until he plays his first game, Bo is bigger than the program there.
- This isn't a misprint. Baylor's offensive line might be a team strength this season for a change, the Waco Tribune-Herald reports.
- Take a number and wait your turn. Colorado offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is sorting through reps for six quarterbacks this summer.
- Like most college freshmen, TB Darrell Scott's introduction to college football is coming with some growing pains, the Denver Post's Tom Kensler writes. Superman has to learn to crawl before he can fly, I guess.
- Converted WR L.A. Reed is working with Texas Tech's first-team defense at cornerback. Reed has been a tackling machine on special teams for the Red Raiders. If he can bring that same desire to covering wide receivers, Big 12 wide receivers better beware.
- New Texas defensive coordinator Will "Mr. Boom" Muschamp wants to turn up the defensive pressure this season -- even if he doesn't always see many sacks against the Big 12's spread offenses.
- The Oklahoman's Scott Wright says in a video chat that Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew might be the state's top NFL prospect this season.
- Oklahoma backup QB Landry Jones isn't flinching, despite the likelihood that he'll be watching a lot of Sam Bradford for the immediate future.
- Texas coach Mack Brown talked about why playing two quarterbacks will be important this season on "Jim Rome Is Burning." The neatest part of the interview could be seen in the background with the new additions at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium highlighted.
- Bo Pelini's early emphasis has been on producing turnovers. His Cornhuskers have a long way to go, however, considering they had one forced turnover over the final seven games in 2007. "It's embarrassing," CB Armando Murillo told the Lincoln Journal-Star's Brian Rosenthal. "I'm not going to lie. It is."
- Maybe those national title expectations are a pretty good inspiration. Missouri LB Van Alexander returned to practice several weeks ahead of schedule after off-season knee surgery.
- New Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen is a tried and true Jayhawk, according to the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff. Bowen used to sell soft drinks at Memorial Stadium as a kid, hustling to get rid of his first tray and then knocking off to watch the game. Bowen told me an even better story yesterday about how he and his brothers "know every crack" in the stadium from sneaking into the facility at other games.
- Kansas RB Jocques Crawford admitted to some mixed feelings watching Kansas beat Memphis, his father's old alma mater, for the national basketball championship earlier this year.
- Anybody in the Sunflower State with a little extra room in their attic? The city of Wichita is threatening to evict the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame from its city-owned home within 30 days, the Wichita Eagle reports. Who knows, you might get a Wilt Chamberlain warm-up suit or a jersey worn by Veryl Switzer in the deal?
- Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has backtracked a little, saying that Marlon Lucky is still his team's No. 1 I-back. But Watson added that Roy Helu Jr. will also get reps with the No. 1 offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Daily Oklahoman columnist John Rohde might have found the secret for Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy's vigor. And it doesn't come from his excitement about being around his players.
Rohde details Gundy's three Red Bull energy drink-a-day habit in his column Tuesday. I know that Gundy has long enjoyed the drink, stocking a refrigerator in his office with the product. He even offered me one during a visit to Stillwater earlier this year.
The combination of taurine, caffeine, glucose and B12 appears to get Gundy's juices flowing -- almost as much as a negative newspaper column.
He could joke about his habit in Rohde's column. After showing up at a recent press conference, he wondered what soft drink that Oklahoma State had a sponsorship deal with.
When somebody answered "Red Bull," Gundy had a quick answer.
"You've got that right," he said.
And he later joked that he wasn't showing the signs of a Red Bull addict, despite playfully twitching his head several times in quick succession after the question.
I hope all of the Big 12 readers out there are similarly charged with the early-morning lift that these morning links are meant to provide as Gundy is with his favorite drink.
If so, maybe I should bottle them.
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman provided the scoop that former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione will be doing color for ESPN Radio broadcasts this season. His first game will be Alabama-Clemson from Atlanta on Aug. 30. Let's hope the Tide fans don't taunt the former coach with those once-popular cutouts that were defacing as he left for the A&M job.
- Blast-furnace conditions greeted Missouri on its first day of practice. But even with the heat index climbing to 110 degrees, 56-year-old coach Gary Pinkel joined the Tigers in a run before starting practice.
- Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee will be pushed by backups Jarrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill for the starting job in fall camp. "These three could all be starters in the Big 12, in my opinion," A&M quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley told Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman.
- Texas coach Mack Brown said that the school will be seeking a sixth season of eligibility for injury-plagued WR Jordan Shipley.
- Biletnikoff winner Michael Crabtree will be featured more in Texas Tech's return game. Interesting that Tech coach Mike Leach would willingly risk potential injury for his All-American by playing him in those situations.
- The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Don Williams says it's been a long time between truly memorable seasons for Texas Tech. Williams, the little brother of a Tech Saddle Tramp, said he turned 12 in 1976 -- the year the Red Raiders were ranked in the top 5 in early November. Now, he says he's sometimes mistaken for a grandfather.
- Colorado will begin fall camp without designated captains. Coach Dan Hawkins wants to see how the leadership will develop for his team without them in training camp.
- Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steve Sipple said that selflessness should keep the close competition for the starting I-back from becoming a distraction. I'm still surprised that coach Bo Pelini listed Marlon Lucky, the conference's only returning 1,000-yard back, as co-No. 1 with Roy Helu Jr. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz thinks it won't hurt the team. "Marlon and Roy are really good friends," Ganz told Sipple. "Marlon knows he's not going to get every carry in the fall anyway. In the Big 12, you need at least two running backs."
- Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel says that "Bo Law" doesn't leave much gray area for interpretation after the Nebraska coach's decision to dismiss DT Kevin Dixon. Of course, it's easier to make those kind of calls when a coach is new and expectations for his team aren't at title levels -- yet.
- Oklahoman beat writer Jake Trotter spells out the options for former Oklahoma WR Josh Jarboe after he was kicked off the Sooners' roster late last week. Trotter speculates that Jarboe could end up at a Football Championship Subdivision school like Savannah State or Georgia Southern, or perhaps Central Florida. I still think that coach Bob Stoops' decision to kick off Jarboe will hurt the Sooners more next year than this season. And it's placed finding a tall, rangy receiver at a priority during the Sooners' upcoming recruiting class.
- Texas' student newspaper is throwing some brickbats at Stoops on his decision to dismiss Jarboe. Daily Texan columnist David R. Henry says that Stoops showed a double-standard by purging himself of Jarboe and keeping players like DeMarcus Granger on his roster.
- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman told the San Antonio Express-News' Brent Zwerneman that FB Jorvorskie Lane needs to lose about 25-30 pounds to get where he wants him to be. Sherman said after Monday's practice that Lane weighs in the "290 category." As someone who is fighting a "battle of the bulge," I can only suggest that nagging wives serve a similarly inspirational role for sportswriters as coaches do for football players.
- The Oklahoman wonders if the stars are falling in line for Oklahoma's first national championship since 2000?
- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik said competition for the Cyclones' starting quarterback job between Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates is very close. "It's 50-50," Chizik told the Ames Tribune. "May the best man win."
- Starting Colorado TE Riar Geer has been reinstated to the team after he was suspended over the spring for his role in an off-campus scuffle. "It feels good to have this all behind me," Geer told the Boulder Daily Camera. "It was a great lesson, and hopefully everybody else can learn from my mistake."
- A pair of players converted from other positions h
ave emerged atop Baylor's depth chart as the Bears' starting cornerbacks. Former WR Krys Buerck and former starting S Dwain Crawford both are showing strong instincts at the new position. "It was a matter of need," Baylor coach Art Briles told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "One of the first meetings I had with the cornerbacks in my office, I saw we had two guys on scholarship. At any university, much less a Big 12 university, you need more players than that in the room."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
A ticking clock on the Waco Tribune-Herald's home page reminded me that football season is just around the corner. As of Monday morning, it's only 31 days and counting until the Big 12's openers on Aug. 28 when Wake Forest travels to Baylor and South Dakota State faces Iowa State.
I bet most of my readers are as excited as I am. As such, here's a few Big 12 links to feed their college football appetite on this fine Monday morning.
- The Daily Oklahoman's Berry Tramel ranks the Big 12's games this season -- 1 through 96.
My take -- I basically agree with most of Tramel's rankings, although he might lean just a tad too much to tradition. Texas-Arkansas isn't going to be as good as he thinks -- unless Bobby Petrino is the second coming of Frank Broyles to the Ozarks.
- Tom Shatel learned at Bo Pelini's Football Clinic about the inspirational power of embroidered jock straps.
My take -- An even bigger story is that Shatel's bosses at the Omaha World-Herald finally have jumped into the current century. Finally, they will allow his must-read columns about the Cornhuskers to be read for free by Internet viewers. Stop the presses!
- Austin American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls says that Bob Stoops still is the best college coach in the country not named Pete Carroll.
My take -- Stoops remains the major reason why Oklahoma is the overwhelming favorite in the Big 12 in the eyes of most observers.
- It's been a long time since last season ended for Nebraska's most devoted fans, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star.
My take -- These fans better be careful what they ask for -- particularly if Nebraska's defense is torched for pinball-type numbers again this season.
- New Dallas Morning News Big 12 columnist Chuck Carlton breaks down the six burning questions facing South Division teams.
My take -- Hey Nebraska fans. I can't wait for the season to begin, either.
- Former Texas A&M kicker Matt Szymanski has resurfaced at SMU, the Bryan/College Station Eagle reports.
My take -- Maybe the new surroundings will help Szymanski, who never seemed to recover from his ill-advised decision to enroll in college a year early. SMU sounds like a fresh start, but what does a kicker/punter really have to do around June Jones?
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy wishes that players like CB Jacob Lacey weren't rushed into the lineup too soon, according to Scott Wright of the Daily Oklahoman.
My take -- Gundy is right on this one. And maybe a slew of talented junior-college players might reduce how many freshmen have to play this season -- particularly on defense.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple writes that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson is hinting at increased competition for playing time in the Cornhuskers' backfield.
My take -- Backup Roy Helu Jr. must be a stud. Because I still think that Marlon Lucky is one of the most valuable players in the Big 12, even though he tends to mope more than my 3-year-old when things don't go his way.
- Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune scans the Nebraska media guide with a fine-toothed search engine. Bill Callahan appears mention on only two of the 208 pages.
My take -- Quite frankly, I'm surprised Callahan is even mentioned that much.
- Texas QB Colt McCoy had a few tips for Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford to avoid sophomore speed bumps. "Your freshman year, it's like you start driving a car ... you stop at every stoplight, put your blinker on, you never go above the speed limit," McCoy told Jake Trotter of the Daily Oklahoman. "In the second year, you have your driver's license, it's a little tempting, you pass on the double yellow line, you do some crazy things."
My take -- Bob Stoops better hope that Bradford didn't watch "Speed Racer."
- Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told the Denver Post that a potential Colorado-Air Force game would be a natural fit for both schools.
My take - Was Calhoun reading my blog post about dream non-conference rivalries the other day? I only hope that DeLoss Dodds of Texas and Mike Garrett of USC were doing the same.
- New Iowa State recruit Beau Blankenship broke his leg a few years ago in an ill-advised attempt to form-tackle a runaway tractor.
My take -- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik will make sure the 5-foot-8, 207-pound Blankenship's defensive forays are limited once he gets to college.
- Defrocked Kansas big hitter Tom Kivisto surfaced in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend to read a statement about his removal as CEO and president of SemGroup. Interestingly, there was no mention of his donation to his old school for construction of a new football facility.
My take -- Considering Kivisto has only paid a quarter of his $12 million gift for the football center, Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins has got to be sweating just a little.
- And finally, here's an oldie-but-goodie from the You Tube vaults back when Mike Sherman was hawking cell phones in Wisconsin.
My take -- If Sherman is successful in Aggieland, they'll do more than just post his commercials on the Internet. More like naming buildings after him.