NCF Nation: Tom Kivisto
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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin:
Who says you can't find something interesting in cyberspace if you dig hard enough?
Fanblogs.com lists the top 15 most lopsided rivalries in Division I-A college football. And their research has a definite Big 12 feel as it ranks Oklahoma's historic domination of Iowa State at the top of the list and three other Big 12 series among the 15 most one-sided series in college football history.
The Sooners have beaten the Cyclones like rag dolls throughout their history, claiming a 67-5-2 edge in the series. Included in that run was a 17-7 victory last season that extended Oklahoma's winning streak in Ames to 20 games. Oklahoma has won the last 11 games in the series and is an incredible 38-1-1 against the Cyclones in the last 40 games. These bloggers are pretty sharp with their statistics, aren't they?
Nebraska's 73-31 victory over Kansas State extended the Cornhuskers' historical command over Kansas State and pushed the Cornhuskers' advantage in the series to 75-15-2. Although the Cornhuskers have a modest 6-5 edge in the last 11 games in the series, their 29-game winning streak over the Wildcats from 1969-98 remains one of the bedrocks of the Cornhuskers' strong football history. At one point, Nebraska had won 37 of 38 games against the Wildcats.
Although Kansas has returned the favor with two blowout home victories over Nebraska in the last three seasons, including a 76-39 thumping last season over the Cornhuskers, fanblogs.com ranks the Kansas-Nebraska series as No. 13. The Cornhuskers lead the series 88-23-3 and have won 37 of the last 39 games in the series. Kansas' only two losses during that time have come last season and in 2005. During Nebraska's 36-game winning streak over the Jayhawks from 1968 through 2004, Kansas played the Cornhuskers within a touchdown only five times.
Just another reason I'm not necessarily saying that Mark Mangino will have a cakewalk in Lincoln this season.
Oklahoma-Oklahoma State is ranked as the 10th most lopsided rivalry on the list. The Sooners' 49-17 blowout last season in Norman extended their advantage over their state rivals to 79-16-7, the widest margin nationally between intrastate rivals. Oklahoma holds a 38-8-2 advantage in Norman and has won five straight against the Cowboys.
Interestingly, all of the listed rivalries came from old Big Eight schools and every school from that late, great grouping was included but Missouri and Colorado. It might just be another reason why the arrival of four expatriates from the Southwest Conference was a good thing for the competitive levels in the new Big 12.
Onto the links this morning on a getaway day from Kansas City. Enjoy them while I'll likely be flying home to a yard that has been soaked by Tropical Storm Dolly. Get out the lawnmower!
- Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman says that Texas has become the "Atlantis of college football. More myth than substance," because of lack of expectations among many national observers for the upcoming season.
My take --That's why Mack Brown had a big Cheshire-cat grin yesterday.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops kept hearing the same questions about his team's bowl game struggles yesterday at the Big 12 media days.
My take -- Stoops wasn't smiling as much as Brown yesterday -- probably for good reason.
- The Des Moines Register's Andrew Logue attempts to determine which Big 12 team will become the next Kansas.
My take -- Forget about doing much statistical research for Logue's premise. The best determiner might be to look at schedules. The Jayhawks clearly benefitted from an easier one than most Big 12 teams last season.
- Baylor coach Art Briles denied message-board reports that heralded freshman quarterback Robert Griffin has been ticketed to redshirt for the upcoming season. "If you look at 'Football Coaching Philosophy,' on page 2, that's what they're going to say. You've got to have a guy," the first-year Baylor coach told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "But that book was written in 1958. I'm not sure that it still applies in 2008."
My take -- I bet that Briles has likely prompted a lot more message-board discussion with his lack of a definitive answer about the starting job, saying that two quarterbacks could see action at the same time this season.
- Oklahoma coaches and players aren't laughing about the recent Internet hoax, where a Nebraska fan wrote a false story that Oklahoma quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Landry Jones had been arrested for drug possession. "That was a great joke ..." Sooners defensive back Nic Harris told the Rocky Mountain News. "I hope the guy goes to jail."
My take -- Me, too Nic.
- The money man who wrote the big check that helped to pay for much of Kansas' recent move into a palatial new $31 million football facility was ousted in a recent company purge. The Kansas City Star reported that former Kansas basketball player Tom Kivisto was removed from his job as CEO of SemGroup LP in Tulsa, Okla. And the Tulsa World said the private energy group that Kivisto founded in 2000 has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
My take -- Kansas has to play Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the Jayhawks' cross-division football schedule this season. But Kivisto's apparent financial demise is much worse news to his old school -- trust me.
- Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins is the only college sports figure considered in Time Magazine's poll of the world's top 35 sports executives.
My take -- Perkins deserves all the kudos coming his way after his school won a national men's basketball championship and after an unexpected climb to a BCS bowl game victory. To the winners go the spoils and the hype.
- Iowa State coach
Gene Chizik was an author during his first season, keeping a detailed journal of his first season as a head coach.
My take -- Something tells me that Chizik hopes he won't be facing many of those same first-year challenges as his career ripens.