NCF Nation: Rod Muckelroy

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

New Baylor coach Art Briles is facing the challenge of his coaching career as he attempts to resuscitate a program that hasn't made a bowl trip since 1994.

The Big 12's South Division will never be a picnic for the Bears, who face the yearly challenge of playing schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

So it's understandable that a relatively problematic quandary like picking his starter for the Aug. 28 opener against Wake Forest isn't that big of a deal for the new Baylor coach.

Briles has a lot of ways to go in deciding whether to start record-breaking QB Blake Szymanski, transfer Kirby Freeman from Miami or heralded freshman Robert Griffin as his starter.

All have shown flashes in training camp.

Waco Tribune-Herald beat writer John Werner thinks Briles' wavering as far as choosing a quarterback is a good idea. It will make Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe prepare in a lot of different ways when he considers whether Szymanski (the better passer), Griffin (most explosive runner) and Freeman (best combination quarterback and most experienced) will get most of the snaps.

I agree with Werner on this. Indecision might be the best decision for the next couple of weeks. And maybe even up to game time against the Demon Deacons.

Hope there's no hesitancy in diving into this steaming pile of hot links. Dig in, because dithering means you miss out.

  • Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman went back to Youngstown,Ohio, to delve into Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' early football background. "He probably would be the ideal symbol of Youngstown," his old coach Don Bucci told Trotter. "I hate to say that, because I'm sure he thinks he was pretty talented. But he was someone with just very average talent, but had a competitiveness and a toughness that nothing was going to stop him from being successful. That's Bobby Stoops, and that would be Youngstown."
  • The Boulder Daily Camera's Kyle Ringo addresses the state of the Buffaloes in his weekly chat, with particular attention to uniforms, Darrell Scott and the crowded battle at cornerback.
  • Iowa State struggled mightily last season with its special teams. That's leading coach Gene Chizik to considering using leading 2007 rusher Alexander Robinson as his prime kickoff returner.
  • The Kansas City Star's J. Brady McCullough profiles Kansas WR/backup QB/P Kerry Meier, who might be the conference's most versatile player.
  • The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Stu Durando writes about the amazing stability on Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's staff. No assistants have left Pinkel's staff since he took over in 2001.
  • If it's Tuesday it's got to be time for "First downs and second guesses" from the Omaha World-Herald's Tom Shatel. Among the topics are the remembrances of how Tampa Bay All-Star OF Carl Crawford was almost a Cornhusker and the recent collective struggles of formerly dominant programs Miami, Florida State and Nebraska.
  • Missouri offensive linemen were feeling pretty good after Monday's practice. The unit held up reasonably well against the Tigers' No. 1 defensive front and they were treated to popsicles after practice.
  • Oklahoma All-Big 12 DE Auston English returned to practice Monday after missing all of the Sooners' previous work this summer while recovering from an appendectomy.
  • Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy says he won't decide until the weekend whether he or co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer end up calling plays this year. Former offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, now coach at Southern Mississippi, was the Cowboys' playcaller last season.
  • Some things never change -- like hard-nosed fullbacks populating the Nebraska program. Thomas Lawson is No. 1 at the position and sophomore Joseph Mackovicka appears ready to continue his family lineage at the position, following older brothers Jeff and Joel.
  • Healthy WR Adron Tennell could be ready to crack Oklahoma's receiving rotation, according to the Tulsa World's Guerin Emig.
  • Veteran Omaha World-Herald Big 12 reporter Lee Barfknecht picks Missouri to win the national championship.
  • Massive 250-pound converted high school quarterback Orie Lemon has emerged as Oklahoma State's likely starting middle linebacker.
  • Kansas' kicking depth has taken a hit after projected starter Stephen Hoge left the team to concentrate on academics and Jacob Brandstetter's status is iffy because of eligibility issues transferring from the Air Force Academy. That leaves Grady Fowler or P Alonso Rojas as the most likely survivor at the position.
  • Competition remains tight between Fozzy Whittaker, Vondrell "The Bulldozer" McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya for the starting tailback job at Texas.
  • Kansas State will likely use a committee of wide receivers to help replace Jordy Nelson's school-record 122 receptions.
  • The Associated Press' Eric Olson has a good story about Cody Glenn's transformation from I-back to linebacker.
  • Kansas lost to Missouri in the showdown for the North Division title last November at Arrowhead Stadium. Yet Kansas still is displaying its co-championship trophy for the division title at its football complex, according to the Kansas City Star's Jeffrey Flanagan.
  • Denver Post beat writer Tom Kensler blogs about the alleged Parade All-America jinx haunting Colorado this season. Watch out Darrell Scott.
  • The Bryan-College Station Eagle's Robert Cessna reported that QB Jerrod Johnson was getting some work as a tight en
    d
    in some formations. And third-string QB Ryan Tannehill made several nifty catches in the team's scrimmage. Sounds to me that Stephen McGee has a hammer lock on the starting QB job.
  • Left-footed K Donnie Carona, who rushed for more than 800 yards last season in high school, is looking forward to concentrating on special teams at Texas Tech. He's in a tight battle with senior Cory Fowler to replace Alex Trlica as the Red Raiders' kicker.

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