NCF Nation: Turner Gill

Hey, I see you Big 12 fans with your recency bias.

"Kansas! Turner Gill's team last season was the worst in the history of the Big 12!"

Yes, those Jayhawks were one of only six teams in Big 12 history to go winless in conference play, and this year's Jayhawks have a chance to make it seven if they don't beat West Virginia on Saturday.

The 2011 team lost six games by at least 30 points and the historically bad defense gave up at least 59 points on four separate occasions. However, those same Jayhawks led a 10-win Baylor team led by Heisman winner Robert Griffin III by 21 points early in the fourth quarter and ran up a 20-point lead on Texas Tech early in the season. They also lost to Iowa State by only three points and beat the MAC champion, Northern Illinois.

Still, I hate to break it to you. Do the research, and you'll find that KU team was probably the best winless team in Big 12 history. Not exactly an accomplishment that will do much except get the coach fired, but on ESPN.com today, we're taking a look at some of the worst teams in the history of the game. Here's how I'd rank the worst teams in the history of the Big 12:

1. 1999 Baylor (1-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Kevin Steele
Win: 23-10 vs. North Texas
Lowlights: The Bears were in Year 1 of Steele's four-year tenure that peaked with a three-win campaign in 2002. I give these Bears my seal of approval as the worst team in Big 12 history. They lost to Boston College and UNLV in nonconference, and the closest they got to any Big 12 team all season was 20 points, and even that game was in the season finale against Oklahoma State. Along the way, they suffered losses of 62-0 (Texas), 37-0 (Colorado) and 48-7 (Nebraska).

2. 2003 Iowa State (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Dan McCarney
Wins: Northern Iowa, Ohio
Lowlights: This was an oddly awful season sandwiched between four seven-win seasons for McCarney, the best coach in Iowa State history before Paul Rhoads arrived in 2009. ISU lost to Northern Illinois out of conference and had by far the worst finish of any team on this list. In its final five games, it scored seven points twice in blowout losses to KU and Mizzou, and was shut out by Nebraska and K-State. It did score 10 points in a 34-point loss to Colorado, though! ISU came within 21 points of only one Big 12 team that season, losing 40-19 to Texas.

3. 1997 Iowa State (1-10, 1-7 Big 12)
Coach: Dan McCarney
Win: 24-17 vs. Baylor
Lowlights: These Cyclones are the only team on this list with a conference win, but they're a team that deserved special consideration. They went winless in nonconference play with losses to Wyoming (46 points!!), Minnesota (34 points) and Iowa (43 points). They came within seven points in the season opener against Oklahoma State, but suffered a handful of humiliating losses, including a 77-14 beatdown against Nebraska. Missouri (24 points), Texas A&M (39 points) and Kansas State (25 points) all continued the parade.

4. 2002 Kansas (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Mark Mangino
Wins: Southwest Missouri State, Tulsa
Lowlights: This was the first season on the road to an eventual BCS bowl for Mangino. The former OU offensive coordinator had a tough start, getting blasted by Iowa State by 42 points to kick off the season. They also suffered losses to UNLV and Bowling Green. The Jayhawks came within three points of Baylor, but no other Big 12 game was decided by fewer than 24 points. They also suffered a 64-0 loss to K-State and a 45-7 loss to Nebraska.

5. 2007 Baylor (3-9, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Guy Morriss
Wins: Rice, Texas State, Buffalo
Lowlights: This was the final season for Morriss at Baylor, and the Bears didn't come within 20 points of winning a Big 12 game. BU kicked off the season with a 27-0 loss to TCU but suffered 31-point losses to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma to close the year and the Morriss era, ushering in the Art Briles era in Waco. The Bears lost to BCS-bound KU by 48 points that year and suffered a 38-point loss to a Ron Prince-coached Kansas State team.

6. 2008 Iowa State (2-10, 0-8 Big 12)
Coach: Gene Chizik
Wins: South Dakota State, Kent State
Lowlights: Chizik parlayed his 5-19 career record into a head job at Auburn and a national title before being fired earlier this week after a winless season in SEC play. The Cyclones were bad, but far from hopeless. ISU lost its final 10 games, including a loss to UNLV, but also had three Big 12 losses decided by a single possession. It did lose games by 42 (Oklahoma State), 32 (Mizzou) and 28 (Nebraska and Baylor).

Friday Q&A: Kansas DE/LB Toben Opurum

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
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Toben Opurum is one of the bright spots for a Kansas team that's struggled to a 1-5 start under new head coach Charlie Weis this season. The former running back led the Jayhawks in rushing in 2009 before becoming a force at the line of scrimmage for KU under Turner Gill and again this season.

He's got four tackles for loss this season and 29 total tackles. He's also forced two fumbles, broken up three passes and has a sack.

This week, he took some time out to talk to ESPN.com.

How would you describe your play so far this season?

Toben Opurum: I feel like I've improved drastically from last year. I'd like to continue to improve and make a couple more plays on the quarterback, but I think I've been distruptive a lot in the run game and passing game in different ways without the sack number being up there.

What are you most proud of from this season?

TO: I think from me and the defense overall, we've done a really good job of tightening up as teams get closer to our end zone and kind of protecting our home as we call it, and not letting people get in. That's one thing we've improved on. For myself, I think I've done a much better job just understanding the whole defense that we're running and understanding my role, from bouncing around multiple positions to kind of finally understanding what's expected.

This season obviously hasn't started like you guys had hoped, but how would you describe the attitude of this team right now?

[+] EnlargeToben Opurum
AP Photo/ David DurochikToben Opurum said he's finally getting comfortable on defense after starting his Kansas career at running back.
TO: You would think that with our record we'd be down in the tank and dreading coming to practice, but guys are still coming in every day and enjoying practice and just doing everything we can to make sure we can turn this program around. Obviously, we're not in the position we want to be in right now, but I've got to play for these last couple games and also for the players who are coming after me.

You talked a little bit about it earlier, but where do you think this defense has improved the most from last year?

TO: I would definitely say in the red zone again. I feel like we've done a good job of tightening up there. Teams have been able to move the ball a little better than we'd want them to between the 20-yard lines, but as soon as they get in there, the whole mentality changes and guys step up to the challenge of keeping people out of the end zone.

What's the biggest difference between the staff that was coaching you last year versus the staff you've got this year?

TO: There's multiple differences. I really feel like the biggest change is the players more so than the coaches, though. Obviously, they've got coach Weis and coach (defensive coordinator Dave) Campo, who have got a lot of history in the NFL and coaching in the NFL and in college, so they bring a lot of experience and a big variety in their playbooks and they're able to adapt to multiple things, and that's not something we've always had available to us.

So, I think they've done a good job of being able to adjust to different offenses and defenses that we see in the Big 12.

That NFL experience you mentioned, for you as players, where does it come into play the most? Where do you see it?

TO: They recognize talent when they see it. A lot of coaches get stuck on kind of putting players in based just off your reputation of what you can and can't do, and I think they did a good job of evaluating talent for themselves and putting players where they believe can have an impact and help us in the best way.

What has to happen for you guys to end this Big 12 losing streak?

TO: For us to end this streak, it's going to have to start with us winning a game that no one believes we have a chance in. We've been in position to end it multiple times, against teams like TCU and even just last week against Oklahoma State. We've had opportunities to do so, but it's just something that we're not over that hump yet because we weren't able to finish.

I feel like if we were able to capitalize and do so, people would be talking about us in a different light than they are now, but it just shows that we've got a little further to go. I don't think the gap is as big as our record would indicate.

So how close is it, and what has to happen to get this team over that hump?

TO: Hopefully, it's just a matter of days. Like I said, it's going to take us winning a game that no one believes we can win and obviously people have us losing to Oklahoma by 1,000 points, so this will be a good opportunity for us to get over that hump and it's going to take everything in our power to do so.

What has coach Weis done to change the attitude of this team and the mindset going into the season?

TO: Well, you know he doesn't have a magic wand. He's still searching for the right way to change the attitude of every player. It's worked on a majority, but it takes everybody and you've got to have everyone with a winning attitude and guys trying to learn how to win, and not waiting for bad things to happen because that's what they're used to. You've got to get past it and be ready to step up and make the plays, rather than the guys sitting back and waiting for somebody else to do it.

Big 12 game predictions: Week 6

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
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Time to pick this week's games across the Big 12. It's a small slate -- only four games -- but it should be interesting. Outside of Kansas State-Kansas, I'd say anything could happen in the other three games. Could be a very upset-filled Saturday.

I'll be in Austin, Texas, on Saturday to see the Longhorns host West Virginia in the Mountaineers' first Big 12 road game. I'm pretty excited about it.

Oklahoma State and Baylor are off this week.

On to the predictions!

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 29-5 (.853)

No. 7 Kansas State 44, Kansas 17: Nobody is taking this game more seriously than Bill Snyder. The man gets his teams ready for Kansas. Ron Prince never beat the Jayhawks. Snyder, meanwhile, is 16-4 against his in-state rival, including two of the most complete beatdowns the Turner Gill-coached Jayhawks ever received. Snyder gets his guys up for this game, and Collin Klein takes care of business against an improving KU defense.

Texas Tech 28, No. 17 Oklahoma 27: Give me the upset. Texas Tech's revamped defense harasses Landry Jones and proves it's here to stay. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's struggles in Lubbock continue. Seth Doege has a big game against the Sooners secondary and Texas Tech propels itself into the top 25. Art Kaufman might be something of a miracle worker with this defense.

No. 15 TCU 17, Iowa State 16: This will be a rare defensive struggle in the Big 12. Iowa State has an underrated defense and its linebackers are well-equipped to shut down TCU's running game. TCU's defense will force Steele Jantz into more mistakes, too. The Horned Frogs have major problems, but make the necessary plays in the fourth quarter to get a clutch win.

No. 8 West Virginia 41, No. 11 Texas 38: I'm taking the upset here, too. West Virginia's offense is too much in Austin and though Geno Smith throws his first interception of the season, his four touchdown passes are just enough to get one of the biggest wins in WVU history. The Mountaineers negate a Texas pass rush with a healthy diet of screens, and Texas' tackling issues are a major problem against a slippery Tavon Austin, who all too often looks like he's covered in some sort of grease. More on this game later today in my Game of the Week video.

The Big 12 Primer: Week 1

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
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Here's your weekly look at where you can find this weekend's games. My predictions will be up bright and early tomorrow morning, but let's hear yours in the comments. I'll also be revealing which one of these nine games I'll be attending this week.

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team to open its season on the road or even away from home, and it wins the award for weirdest opening game, too.

TCU is idle in Week 1. If you're wondering where Texas A&M and Missouri went, go check the SEC blog.

SATURDAY (all times ET)

No. 11 West Virginia vs. Marshall (noon, FX): West Virginia takes on its in-state rival to kick off its first season in the Big 12. There's been plenty of hype about what Dana Holgorsen's offense will look like in Year 2. Time to stop talking and start producing. Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin just might put on a show in this one.

Iowa State vs. Tulsa (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads isn't hiding from the fact that his team is the underdog in this one. Despite hosting the Conference USA member Golden Hurricane, oddsmakers have Rhoads' squad as a 1.5-point underdog. Here's guessing Rhoads is a little insulted at that, but using it to motivate his team. Will it work?

No. 21 Kansas State vs. Missouri State (7 p.m., K-StateHD.TV): Kansas State's campaign to validate last season's narrow successes kicks off with what should be simple: an FCS opponent. Don't take it for granted, though. Even last year's 10-win team needed a touchdown in the final minutes to beat FCS member Eastern Kentucky 10-7. This one shouldn't be close, but you never know.

Texas Tech vs. Northwestern State (7 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest Plus): It's been nine years since Texas Tech played a nonconference game against a BCS conference opponent, and that won't change in 2012. This time around, though, it's needed. Tech is trying to win its way back after going 5-7 last year, but the main attraction on Saturday will be Eric Stephens, who will be making his return from a terrible knee injury suffered against Texas A&M last year.

No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State (7 p.m., Fox College Sports): Savannah State's won just one game in the FCS in each of the past two seasons. Oklahoma State won 12 and the Big 12 last season. The post-Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon era might have its bumpy nights, but this shouldn't be one of them. The only thing that could go wrong here is if the Cowboys unleash their hideous gray jerseys again like they did in last year's opener. True freshman QB Wes Lunt's debut has been long-awaited since he won the starting job this spring.

Kansas vs. South Dakota State (7 p.m., Jayhawk All-Access/Jayhawk Television Network): The Jayhawks have undergone a transformation unlike any other team in the Big 12 this offseason. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is in charge and he brought with him an avalanche of transfers, headlined by QB Dayne Crist. Keep an eye on defensive end Josh Williams, who transferred from Nebraska. Wins have been scarce the past two years at KU, so don't expect the Jayhawks to take anyone lightly, even an FCS opponent. Coach Turner Gill's tenure got off to a rough start back in 2010 when he lost to FCS North Dakota State.

No. 15 Texas vs. Wyoming (8 p.m., Longhorn Network): This offseason, Texas has been hard at work crafting a powerful running game and a quarterback in David Ash who's better at making decisions. We'll get a preview of what's to come Saturday night. The Longhorns have looked sluggish in the past two openers against Rice, but a suffocating defense could feast on the Cowboys' spread attack.

No. 4 Oklahoma at Texas-El Paso (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Oklahoma is the Big 12's only team on the road in Week 1, but the Miners have been talking a big game all summer. Quarterback Nick Lamaison told reporters he hoped to be the best QB in the game, and the university president said she told UT-Austin the team would "do our best to ensure that Oklahoma would be not as competitive after they left El Paso, because we will have shown them a surprise." Here's guessing that talk is cheap when the ball is finally kicked off. The Sooners are 31-point favorites.

SUNDAY

Baylor vs. SMU (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): The old Southwest Conference rivalry is renewed when SMU heads fewer than 100 miles south to face the Bears in the first game since Robert Griffin III left for the NFL and won the starting job with the Washington Redskins. New QB Nick Florence is capable of putting up big numbers, too, but keep an eye on Oregon transfer RB Lache Seastrunk, and don't be surprised if he breaks a big run or two.

Big 12 power rankings: Week 1

August, 27, 2012
8/27/12
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Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

The Big 12 power rankings are heavily influenced by what each team did in the previous week, and aren't necessarily a reflection of the Big 12 standings.

Think of it this way: As of right now, this is how well each Big 12 team is playing. Here's how I slot it to begin the season:

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have an awkward opener, kicking things off on the road out in the desert against UTEP at 10:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Still, we'll get a first look at a revamped offensive line and the new, young receivers Landry Jones will be throwing to all season. Look out for a coming out party from Trey Metoyer, the Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.

2. West Virginia: West Virginia plays Saturday's first game, kicking off against in-state rival Marshall at noon. The Big 12 newcomers have all the offense they need, but what will the pass rush look like with new defensive coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson?

3. Kansas State: K-State opens with Missouri State on Saturday night, with Collin Klein's revamped arm on display after an offseason of development. Everyone's watching that. What they should be watching? How does the offensive line look after replacing three starters?

4. Texas: The Longhorns settled on David Ash at quarterback, but the season opener Saturday night against Wyoming on the Longhorn Network. The defense will be fiendishly fun to watch this year, but how much better is Ash? We'll get somewhat of a feel in this one.

5. TCU: Oh, you poor Frogs. TCU is officially a Big 12 member, but has to sit and watch all Saturday as the rest of the Big 12 opens their respective seasons. It gives Amon G. Carter Stadium one more week to prepare for the debut of its facelift, but by the time it does next week against Grambling, 13 Big 12 games will have been completed.

6. Oklahoma State: The defending Big 12 champs are the sixth team in the mix for a Big 12 title in 2012, but their hopes rest on the 18-year-old shoulders of Wes Lunt, a true freshman we haven't heard much out of all summer or fall camp. The Pokes don't know who his top target will be just yet, but the defense that supports the offense should be improved from 2011. We'll see them open up against the poor saps at Savannah State (yuck) on Saturday night.

7. Baylor: The post-RG3 era doesn't officially kick off until Sunday, when Nick Florence takes a snap against Baylor's old Southwest Conference rival, SMU. Last year's opener against TCU proved to be one of the most memorable games of the season. Florence and receivers Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese have the firepower to outgun the Mustangs in a shootout. Hyped transfer Lache Seastrunk will make his long-awaited debut after coming back home from Oregon.

8. Texas Tech: Tech opens against Northwestern State on Saturday night. That's no big challenge. Staying healthy could be after two injury-riddled years to start the Tommy Tuberville Era. Keep an eye on how running back Eric Stephens looks after returning from a catastrophic knee injury last season.

9. Iowa State: The Cyclones should be challenged in their 3:30 p.m. visit fron Tulsa. Steele Jantz quarterbacked ISU to three fourth-quarter comebacks to open last season, and he may need another one. Paul Rhoads' Cyclones are a slight underdog in this windy weather showdown.

10. Kansas: Kansas' last coach, Turner Gill, opened with a disastrous 6-3 loss against FCS outfit North Dakota State two years ago. This time, Charlie Weis takes on South Dakota State. He's got a better team. Expect a better result Saturday for the former Notre Dame coach and a former Irish quarterback, Dayne Crist.
Bob Davie and Charlie WeisAP PhotoBob Davie, left, is taking over a 1-11 New Mexico team; Charlie Weis inherited a 2-10 Kansas squad.


Bob Davie's and Charlie Weis' finales were one and the same, the broadcaster and the Florida assistant joking before the Gators' senior-night loss to Florida State last November.

Davie was barely a week into his new job, Weis was closing his first regular season in Gainesville, and here they were, chatting it up on sidelines of the Swamp, the nexus between the coaches on the verge of tightening once more.

"We were down there laughing a little bit, and all of a sudden a couple weeks later he's the head coach at Kansas," Davie, now New Mexico's head coach, said of Weis.

Act II for the former Notre Dame head coaches is underway this month, each scaling a precipice steeper than Touchdown Jesus, sans all the ballyhoo. Each has embraced his new locale, where the records that cost them their first head-coaching jobs would be cause for celebration.

The tasks, however, remain the same.

"I want to win," Weis said. "That is what I want. I want to win. I want this team to win. They haven't been winning -- that is what I want to do, win. The more wins, the happier I am.

"It puts a big damper on things, when things don't go well. I want to get this program where we are winning more than we are losing. I think when we get to that point, then we will aim even higher, but let's get to that point first."

Davie has admitted to being more comfortable in his own skin his second time around, no longer feeling the need to over-prepare or rehearse on a daily basis.

"At the end of the day, it's all the same process," Davie said. "The process for me at New Mexico is no different than it was at Notre Dame, and Notre Dame is no different than anywhere else -- coach the football team. It's all the same thing.

"Don't get so tied up in, 'Oh, we've always done it this way. We've always done it that way.' Let it rip, man."

It will be easier said than done for the two. The Lobos are coming off three consecutive 1-11 seasons that were notable for former head coach Mike Locksley's off-field troubles, and they could be 10 scholarships short of the 85-man limit this season. The Jayhawks, Orange Bowl winners just five years ago, have gone 18-31 in the four years since, with Mark Mangino and Turner Gill losing their jobs along the way.

Each school was projected last at Mountain West and Big 12 media days, respectively.

Weis will have a familiar leader in Lawrence, having landed one of his biggest recruiting coups from Notre Dame in quarterback Dayne Crist. The transfer, who started the Irish's past two openers but was plagued by injuries and a crowded position unit, said fans on the Big 12's most basketball-centric campus will come out so long as the production is there on the field.

"There's a great deal of excitement," said Crist, who is joined by former Irish teammates and Weis recruits Mike Ragone and Anthony McDonald. "The fans are very encouraged with what they've been seeing, and you can tell that it's just a fan base that's very eager to win. It hasn't been too long ago when they were in the Orange Bowl and things like that, so fans are ready to cheer for the football team. We just have to give them a reason to."

Ten years as an ESPN analyst gave Davie access he otherwise would have never had. Shortly after playing Michigan and USC, he recalled, he was meeting with coaches Lloyd Carr and Pete Carroll, getting up-close looks at how their programs operate.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis, Dayne Crist
William Purnell/Icon SMIFor his new gig at Kansas, Charlie Weis, rear, brought along former Irish QB Dayne Crist.
"You go from, you're lucky to even share a handshake, to all of a sudden you're sitting in their office watching them practice," Davie said. "So that was a tremendous opportunity to get out and do those things. But there's nothing like actually coaching. You can analyze things and comment, [but] the great part of coaching is you're actually doing it, and there's just nothing like that.

"I can still smell the grass at Notre Dame Stadium, what it felt like on Saturdays, and that never goes away. You always have that -- the simple things that are hard to explain."

In taking over at Albuquerque, where nearly half a century has passed without a conference title, the 57-year-old Davie is hoping to replicate some of the rebuilding jobs he has seen on the road over the past decade. Bill Snyder's resurrection of Kansas State -- the losingest program in FBS history upon his arrival 23 years ago -- has particularly served as inspiration.

"Just seeing -- and I'm not saying I'm Bill Snyder or saying I can ever do a job like he's done or be the coach that he is -- but just going around the country seeing different programs, to see what Bill Snyder has brought to a Kansas State, for example, is something to me that's tremendously rewarding and tremendously fulfilling, to try to do something like that," he said. "I've been to Manhattan, Kan., done games there. To me, that's what's fun. It's fun to really take a place and put your name on it, try to build it. I'm not saying we can do that but that's kind of the mission."

In late October 2001, just more than a month before being fired by Notre Dame after a 35-25 record over five seasons, Davie and his family built a house in South Bend. They didn't move to Scottsdale, Ariz., until three years later, when the Irish made a new hire.

"I'll be forever grateful for Charlie Weis because he bought my house in South Bend, so I'm a huge Charlie Weis fan," Davie said with a laugh. "I'd still have that house sitting there."

A 35-27 record over five seasons with the Irish did Weis in in 2009, and now, like Davie, he is hoping the lessons learned from the spotlight of one of college football's biggest platforms translate to a second, smaller stage.

"I am more motivated than I have ever been to make this program successful," Weis said. "There might be more unknowns, but I have the same obligation to the administration, to the fan base and to the university. I have the same obligation to work as hard as I possibly can to get us as good as we possibly can be as quick as we possibly can.

"I mean, OK, Notre Dame has a big, national fan base down there, but what does that mean? Fans are fans; alumni is alumni. It's still the same to work as hard as we can collectively both as a coaching staff and players to try to get this right as fast as we can. That's why I'm here. Now it's time to go to work."

Big 12 spring football preview

February, 21, 2012
2/21/12
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Spring football is already under way at Texas Tech, but in the coming weeks, the Big 12's other nine programs will join the Red Raiders in taking the field as a team for the first time since January, December or November for some.

Here's a preview of what to expect:

BAYLOR BEARS

Spring practice start date: March 19
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • Nick Florence: It's not official, but the Baylor quarterback job is Florence's to lose. That means he inherits the unenviable task of replacing the school's first Heisman winner. He replaced RG3 in 2009 with mixed results, but showed some major potential in a win over Texas Tech when RG3 took a shot to the head and sat out the second half. Can he keep the bowl streak alive at Baylor? We'll get an idea this spring.
  • The defense's progression: You didn't need to see much more than the 67-56 Alamo Bowl win over Washington to know the Bears needed some work on defense. In the month of November, Baylor became the first team in FBS history to win four consecutive games in a single season while also giving up at least 30 points in each of those games. The defense can't make Florence pick up the slack to that level. Year 2 under Phil Bennett must be better. Baylor has no excuses. The Bears have the athletes on campus necessary to be at least a decent defense.
  • The team's attitude/motivation: Baylor played with a lot of purpose the past two seasons, and made history in both, cracking a 16-year bowl drought and winning 10 games this year. Is that fire still there? Baylor has to prove it is without RG3 (and Kendall Wright) carrying the team on the field, emotionally and mentally.
IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Spring practice start date: March 20
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: Or is it? Jared Barnett looked like the man of the future in Ames late in the season, leading the Cyclones to an historic upset of No. 2 Oklahoma State. But in the ugly Pinstripe Bowl loss to a mediocre Rutgers team, Barnett's inaccuracy posed big questions. He was benched and Steele Jantz stepped in, though he didn't play much better than Barnett. Turnovers were an issue for Jantz early on, but Barnett has to bounce back in the spring to make sure the job doesn't come open.
  • The receivers: Darius Reynolds was the big-play man for the Cyclones, but he's gone. It's going to be tough to replace him. Slot receivers Aaron Horne and Josh Lenz were productive, but did little to stretch defenses like Reynolds did. Can ISU find someone to fill the void?
  • The new man at left tackle: Iowa State had the luxury of having a future pro, Kelechi Osemele, at left tackle for the past three seasons. He earned All-Big 12 nods in each of those seasons, but he's gone now. Junior Carter Bykowski was behind Osemele on the depth chart, but will the converted tight end be the new man at tackle for the Cyclones?
KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Spring practice start date: March 27
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Uh, everything?: I mean, what's not to watch at KU? Charlie Weis steps in for the fired Turner Gill and tries to build KU up from nothing. The Jayhawks were one of the worst teams in Big 12 history last season, losing six games by at least 30 points. Weis will speak his mind and watching him rebuilding the Jayhawks is going to be fun. It all starts next month -- on the field, at least.
  • KU's new pass-catch combo: Dayne Crist is on campus, and so is Oklahoma transfer Justin McCay, a former blue-chip recruit who didn't quite catch on in Norman. Quarterback and receiver were arguably the two biggest positions of need for KU last year, and we'll get a preview of what could be a productive combo next season. McCay isn't officially eligible for the 2012 season yet -- he needs the NCAA to waive its mandated redshirt year after a transfer -- but the coaching staff is confident he'll have it granted.
  • The uncertainty on the depth chart: When a new staff comes in, you never know what to expect. Kansas' leading rusher in its final season under Mark Mangino, Toben Opurum, is now one of its best defensive linemen. Look for Weis to shake things up, too. Where? Who knows?
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Spring practice start date: April 4
Spring game: April 28

What to watch:
  • Collin Klein's maturation: Kansas State's quarterback could be fun to watch this spring and next fall. His throwing motion isn't pretty, but his accuracy improved in a big way throughout the season. If that continues at a pace anything close to what we saw last year, K-State's going to be a load for everyone. Look out.
  • Developing depth at running back: John Hubert is back, and so is seldom-used Angelo Pease. Bryce Brown is gone, though. Klein handles a lot of the heavy lifting in the running game, but it'd be some nice insurance if K-State could establish some more depth in the backfield. Making Klein carry the ball 300 times again is tempting fate.
  • Stars becoming superstars: Kansas State brings back more starters than all but seven teams in college football, so this team is going to look remarkably similar in 2012 to the way it did last year. However, it should get better. And its two transfers could look dominant this spring. Cornerback Nigel Malone and linebacker Arthur Brown emerged as stars last year, but we could see the duo emerge as true game-changers this spring. Look out, Big 12 offenses.
OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Spring practice start date: March 8
Spring game: April 14

What to watch:
  • New faces on, off the field: Mike Stoops' arrival as the defensive coordinator was the biggest news this offseason in the Big 12, and Brent Venables, who had been at OU for all of Bob Stoops' tenure, left for Clemson rather than become co-defensive coordinator. Hopes are high that Stoops can revitalize Oklahoma's defense. He was in charge when the Sooners rode a dominant D to the 2000 national title, and the Sooners have the talent to win it all in 2012. Receiver Trey Metoyer joins the team this spring, and could be a major contributor immediately. Two of the team's four new tight ends are also enrolled early.
  • QB Blake Bell's role: The Belldozer is back … but so is full-time quarterback Landry Jones. How will the balance between the duo look this spring? And what new wrinkles will we see in Oklahoma's simple, yet near-unstoppable short-yardage formation that scored 13 touchdowns in the second half of 2011?
  • The battle at defensive end: Oklahoma must fill two huge holes at defensive end. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander is gone, as is possible first-round pick Ronnell Lewis. R.J. Washington contributed late and has potential, but David King filled in for Lewis in the final three games of the season. The duo could be great, but it could also be pretty pedestrian. We'll get an idea this spring, but Lewis and Alexander set a high, high bar.
OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Spring practice start date: March 12
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • The quarterback battle: This will easily be the highest-profile, highest-quality quarterback battle in the Big 12. It won't be at the level of Texas Tech in 2010, but it won't be too far off. Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt will go head to head. All have plenty of potential, though Lunt may have the most. The big-armed true freshman also has the least experience. Anything could happen here.
  • Which receivers rise: Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper leave huge holes behind. It's not every day a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner walks on campus. Hubert Anyiam is gone, too. Michael Harrison is unlikely to play for the 2012 season, but the school has offered no confirmation on his status. He had the most potential, but OSU is deep at the position. Who emerges as the top target? Isaiah Anderson? Tracy Moore? Josh Stewart? Anything could happen there, too.
  • Defense needs a leader: Safety Markelle Martin has been the heart of the defense the past two seasons, but his big-hitting days are over. Who becomes the new voice of the defense? It needs to find leadership this spring heading into summer voluntary workouts.
TEXAS LONGHORNS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 23
Spring game: April 1

What to watch:
  • The quarterback competition: I still think having a competition at the spot, which Texas says it will, isn't the best option, but David Ash and Case McCoy will go at it alongside early-enrolling freshman Connor Brewer. If Ash secures the job, expect an announcement heading into summer officially anointing the sophomore.
  • More sophistication on both sides of the ball: The progression is natural and likely. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had good first years in Austin, but this is Year 2. The spring won't be devoted to learning the playbook. It's time to master it. Both units could look markedly different, and much more refined next fall. Deny it all you like: Texas is back on its way to the top after a rough two years.
  • Maturing offensive weapons: Last season, the Longhorns relied on two true freshman running backs (Malcolm Brown/Joe Bergeron), a freshman/sophomore rotation at quarterback and its top receiver (Jaxon Shipley) was a true freshman. No. 2 (Mike Davis) was a sophomore. I hope I don't have to tell you what freshmen and sophomores do in college football. Look. Out.
TCU HORNED FROGS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 25
Spring end date: April 5

What to watch:
  • Can TCU shut out the scandal? Four team members were arrested in a recent drug sting and kicked off the team. How much of a distraction will that be for a program undergoing the most monumental change in its history? Quantifying the effects of the scandal will be pretty impossible, and we've got no idea how they'll handle the change, but will it be on players' minds?
  • The offense tightens up: The Horned Frogs' offense is absolutely loaded and ready to go for 2012. Quarterback Casey Pachall returns and brings his top three weapons (Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter) with him. Running backs Waymon James, Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker each topped 700 yards rushing in 2011 and all return. The spring will be all about fine-tuning an already stellar offense, and it'll be fun to watch.
  • Replacing departed starters: All-America linebacker Tanner Brock was among the four football players arrested and booted from the team, as was all-conference defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and likely starting safety Devin Johnson. Those were unforeseen losses, but TCU can't feel sorry for itself. Gary Patterson has no choice but to find new faces to fill those holes.
TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Spring practice start date: Feb. 17
Spring game: March 24

What to watch:
  • Once again, a new defense: Texas Tech sounds like a broken record these days when it comes to defensive coordinators. This time, Art Kaufman will be stepping to the microphone as the fourth defensive coordinator in Lubbock in four years. He's bringing a 4-3, a shift back to what Ruffin McNeil ran in 2009. Chad Glasgow's 4-2-5 and James Willis' 3-4 failed miserably in 2011 and 2010, respectively, the first two years under Tommy Tuberville.
  • The battle at running back: No one knows yet if Eric Stephens will be back next season. There's still a long way to go in his rehab from a dislocated knee he suffered last season in a loss to Texas A&M. DeAndre Washington is also out this spring after tearing his ACL against Missouri. Harrison Jeffers hung up his cleats. Who will prove to be reliable this spring? Look for the Red Raiders to try to use sophomore Bradley Marquez, freshman Javares McRoy and junior SaDale Foster in a manner similar to the way Oregon uses scatback De'Anthony Thomas, with lots of short passes and bubble screens to get them the ball in space, where they can use their speed and shiftiness to make plays.
  • Team health: Tuberville said earlier this month that the team is missing 15 players this spring. It can't afford any more injuries. It's already going to be tough to get enough done this spring, but Tech can't start getting banged up.
WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Spring practice start date: March 11
Spring game: April 21

What to watch:
  • Dana Holgorsen's offense in Year 2: Holgorsen didn't get a chance to coach his talented offense at Oklahoma State in its second year. The results could have been crazy. They might be at West Virginia in 2012, and the beginning steps will be taken this spring as Geno Smith & Co. get more and more comfortable with the system and Holgorsen adds more wrinkles.
  • The battle at running back: Sophomore Dustin Garrison hurt his knee in practices leading up to the Mountaineers' 70-33 Orange Bowl win over Clemson, and won't be there for the spring. What does senior Shawne Alston have in store for the spring? Garrison was the featured back last season, but a big spring could help Alston earn a few carries next year.
  • Defense needs help: Najee Goode leaves a big hole at linebacker, and defensive back Eain Smith's exit means the Mountaineers enter the season without two of their top three tacklers from a year ago. Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller's talents on the defensive line will be tough to replace, and in a league that requires a great pass rush, Irvin, Goode and Miller's 19 combined sacks must be replaced somehow.
When he arrived, new Kansas coach Charlie Weis said to expect changes.

The biggest arrived on Monday.

Ten players will be leaving the team, but Weis introduced his three highest-profile arrivals on Monday, too.

Quarterbacks Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps transferred from Notre Dame and BYU after spending seasons there as starters. Receiver Justin McCay transferred in from Oklahoma after failing to catch on in two seasons as a Sooner.

McCay's eligibility is in flux, but the school is petitioning the NCAA to allow him to play this season. If granted, he would be a sophomore and have three years of eligibility remaining. If it’s not granted, he would have to sit out this season and could compete as a junior beginning in 2013. McCay redshirted in 2010 at Oklahoma

Kansas running back Darrian Miller's departure will have the most impact. He was arguably the team's most electrifying player on offense this season, and was second on the team with 559 rushing yards.

"I don't care if they're all starters. It doesn't make a difference," Weis told reporters of the players who left. "There's a right and wrong way of doing things, and you're going to do it the right way. That's all there is to it. It's a whole combination of things, but there's a right and wrong way of doing business. You can't make decisions, especially coming into a program, based on how good they are."

JaQwaylin Arps, Dexter McDonald, Adonis Saunders, Brock Berglund and Keeston Terry were the other five players Weis dismissed. Terry was a four-star recruit and ranked fourth on the team with 66 tackles.

Berglund, a quarterback, was one of the top players in Colorado, but returned home after enrolling early to deal with an assault charge stemming from an incident last year. He sat out the 2011 season, but it looks like he won't be back for 2012.

"In every one of the players' cases that had to be dismissed, these were clear-cut. They were gone, and I was fighting to give them opportunities to be able to stay," Weis told reporters. "Then they decided not to take advantage of the opportunities."

Jordan Webb, Tyrone Sellers and Tom Mabry left voluntarily, but will remain enrolled at KU. Webb started at quarterback in 2011, but could graduate and transfer to another school without having to sit out a year, like Crist did.

Offensive lineman Travis Bodenstein also plans to transfer.

Seeing that Weis saw fit to dismiss six players is a bit surprising, especially considering two were major contributors in 2010. Gill earned a reputation as a disciplinarian, but perhaps the difference in Weis and Gill's rules didn't sit well with leftover players. Weis declined to get into specifics in any case, but the number still seems high.

As with any coaching change, there's a natural attrition, but I never expected the number to be as high as it is, especially before players got a feel in practice for what life in the Weis Era will be like.

Even still, it's a new start, and a place to build from for Weis.

Final Big 12 Power Rankings

January, 10, 2012
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Welp, this is it. The college football season is over, and two teams have closed up shop in the Big 12. This will be Texas A&M's and Missouri's last time to make an appearance in the Big 12 Power Rankings.

After 14 weeks of the regular season and eight bowl games (the Big 12 went 6-2), here's how the league sits.

1. Oklahoma State (12-1, beat Stanford, 41-38 in overtime): The Cowboys needed some help from Stanford's kicker to get their BCS win, but their spot atop the Big 12 was never at stake. The Cowboys proved themselves as the Big 12's best team throughout the season and beat Stanford to make history. Stillwater's never seen a season like this, and Mike Gundy was rewarded with a $1.6 million raise after the season for his efforts.

2. Kansas State (10-3, lost to Arkansas, 29-16): The Wildcats' Cotton Bowl experience wasn't a fun one after early mistakes, but K-State earned its first double-digit-win season since 2003 and earned the tiebreaker against Baylor on the field. Arkansas, too, is a whole lot better than Washington. This was a disappointing end for the purple folks from the Little Apple, but they bring back almost the entire core of the 2011 team. The Wildcats look like 2012 Big 12 title contenders.

3. Baylor (10-3, beat Washington, 67-56): The Bears put on a show and Terrance Ganaway's 200 yards, along with two other 100-yard rushers, iced the win over the Huskies. That gave Baylor the third 10-win season in school history and the first bowl win since 1992. Now, the big question awaits: Is RG3 gone, or is the allure of one more year in college for the Heisman winner enough to convince him to provide one more memorable season in Waco?

4. Oklahoma (10-3, beat Iowa, 31-14): The Sooners stumbled at the end of the season, but closed it in fine fashion, not playing their best game but soundly beating Iowa. Landry Jones will return. Will former DC and former Arizona coach Mike Stoops? Oklahoma's secondary was a liability this year, and Sooners fans would love to see Bob Stoops' brother put in charge to change it.

5. Missouri (8-5, beat North Carolina, 41-24): Missouri's season wasn't too memorable, but the Tigers rebounded from a 3-4 start to win eight games, including the best offensive performance of the season against the Tar Heels. That gave Mizzou eight wins for a sixth consecutive year. Only a handful of programs have duplicated that feat.

6. Texas (8-5, beat California, 21-10): The Longhorns' defense shut down the Bears and David Ash made a few big throws to make Texas' return to the postseason a good one. Ash has to show he's the guy for Texas moving forward. He'll get more offseason work than he did last year, which may show up in the fall. Freshman Connor Brewer will be joining, but it looks like a juco quarterback won't.

7. Texas A&M (7-6, beat Northwestern, 33-22): The Aggies head to the SEC after the most disappointing season in recent history. A team stocked full of NFL talent and toting a top-10 ranking lost four of its final five Big 12 games, with the only win coming at home over 2-10 Kansas. Now, new coach Kevin Sumlin returns to lead A&M into its new conference after coaching four years at Houston and winning 10 games in two seasons.

8. Iowa State (6-7, lost to Rutgers, 27-13): Paul Rhoads is already only the second coach to win a bowl game at Iowa State, but he couldn't win his second bowl in three years in Ames. Either way, the Cyclones have a good shot to be even better in 2012. Redshirt freshman Jared Barnett showed a lot of promise, and he'll progress during the offseason, even though he was benched in the bowl game for Steele Jantz, who started the season's first half.

9. Texas Tech (5-7, idle): A disappointing season gave way to a tumultuous offseason in Lubbock, with a handful of new assistant coaches and defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow heading back to TCU, who joins the Big 12 next season. The Red Raiders have to be better. Offensively, they were good enough, despite injuries, in 2011. They weren't great, though, like Texas Tech has been. Defensively, they've been awful for both seasons under Tommy Tuberville. Injuries have played a role in that, but improvement starts there.

10. Kansas (2-10, idle): Get ready to see much-needed new blood in Kansas. Turner Gill is out after two terrible seasons and a 2-10 record in 2011 that included six losses by at least 30 points. Now, it's time for Charlie Weis to take over, and he's brought two big quarterbacks and a receiver with him.

The Big 12's biggest surprises of 2011

December, 22, 2011
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This week, we'll take a look at the biggest surprises across the Big 12 this season.

1. Robert Griffin III is a lot more than just a good player on a bad team. That's mostly what you heard about Griffin before this year. The Bears got walloped by the Big 12 powers in 2010 and didn't make a bowl with Griffin in 2008. What more could Baylor really do, even if it had a transcendent quarterback? Uh, apparently, a whole lot. Griffin nabbed the school's first Heisman Trophy and the 9-3 Bears finished third in the Big 12, including the school's first win over Oklahoma.

2. Iowa State can truly play giant killer. All of Iowa State's early benchmark wins under Paul Rhoads had something in common: They mostly came to middling teams with big names and no offense. Texas in 2010 was in the top 25, but the Longhorns finished 5-7. Nebraska gifted the Cyclones eight turnovers and scored seven points in ISU's upset in 2009. But Oklahoma State? That was near impossible. The Cowboys were maybe the best offense in the nation and played well, jumping out to a 24-7 lead before the Cyclones rallied for a shocking upset and shook up the college football landscape.

3. It's possible to get fired in two years. It seems odd and perhaps unfair for a coach to only get two years, but Turner Gill came to Kansas as one of the hottest coaches in college football, fresh off an unbelievable rebuilding job at Buffalo. But Gill's Kansas teams were permanent fixtures in the Big 12 basement, losing the final 10 games of 2011 and six of them by at least 30 points.

4. Collin Klein deserves Heisman buzz and a spot on the All-Big 12 team. Klein came into the year as a former receiver with an ugly throwing motion that he'd only actually used in a game 19 times before 2011. He left the regular season with a staggering 26 rushing touchdowns. Only two players in college football had more. He carried the ball 293 times, more than anyone in the Big 12 and nearly 100 more times than the Big 12's third-most used back. He's no polished passer like Brandon Weeden, Landry Jones or RG3, but his play compelled some to create an "all-purpose" position on the All-Big 12 first team.

5. Missouri is an ... SEC school? Missouri's desire to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten was the league's worst-kept secret in the summer of 2010, but the SEC? Oklahoma dropped a bombshell back in September when it openly admitted it was shopping around for conferences. A bigger bombshell came later that month when reports indicated the SEC was interested in Mizzou. Months later, that relationship was consummated and the Big 12 had lost its fourth member in the past year and a half.

More on Friday...

Catching up on Big 12 coaching carousel

December, 16, 2011
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We're not done spinning just yet, but if you're a bit lost, here's the changes to the coaching staffs across the Big 12 thus far.

BAYLOR (9-3)
  • Out: Receivers coach Dino Babers took the head-coaching job at Eastern Illinois. No replacement named.
IOWA STATE (6-6)
  • Out: Offensive coordinator Tom Herman took the offensive coordinator job under Urban Meyer at Ohio State. No replacement named.
KANSAS (2-10)
  • Out: Head coach Turner Gill fired. Other staff positions up for discussion.
  • In: Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis hired to replace Gill. Akron QB coach Ron Powlus hired to coach quarterbacks. Bishop Miege (KS) coach Tim Grunhard hired to coach offensive line. Running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Reggie Mitchell retained from Gill's staff.
KANSAS STATE (10-2)
  • No changes.
MISSOURI (7-5)
  • Out: Safeties coach Barry Odom left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis. No replacement named.
OKLAHOMA (9-3)
  • No changes.
OKLAHOMA STATE (11-1)
  • No changes yet, but OC Todd Monken has drawn interest from several programs.
TEXAS (7-5)
  • No changes, though Texas was forced to proactively shoot down rumors of Mack Brown's retirement.
TEXAS A&M (6-6)
  • Out: Fired coach Mike Sherman. Defensive coordinator/interim coach Tim DeRuyter took head-coaching job at Fresno State but will remain on staff through the bowl game. Other staff positions up for review.
  • In: Hired Houston coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin will recruit while the other coaches prepare for the bowl game.
TEXAS TECH (5-7)
  • Out: Fired DBs coach Otis Mounds and offensive line coach Matt Moore. Moved defensive line coach Sam McElroy into a non-coaching role on staff.
  • In: Hired former Miami DC John Lovett to coach defensive backs and former Ole Miss defensive line coach Terry Price to coach the defensive line. No offensive line replacement named yet.

Turner Gill finds a new gig after Kansas

December, 15, 2011
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Turner Gill didn't go very long before finding a new job.

He'll be introduced at 1 p.m. today as the new head coach at FCS school Liberty, a Christian university in Lynchburg, Va.

"In our search for a new head football coach, almost every advisor recommended Turner Gill," chancellor and president Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a university release. "Every indication is that he is a perfect fit for Liberty University. His experience is at the level where we would like to take our football program. His Christian faith is strong and sincere and what any new recruit would expect to see in a Liberty University head football coach. I think Liberty University and Turner Gill were made for each other."

Seems right to me. Gill, 49, went just 5-19 as Kansas coach before being fired Nov. 27. Kansas replaced him with former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, who had served as offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and Florida Gators in the interim.

Jayhawks anxious to restart with new boss

December, 12, 2011
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Kansas coach Charlie Weis wasn't looking to make friends the first time he addressed his new football team.

Christmas break is approaching after a week of finals tests, and Weis warned his Jayhawks. They'd better enjoy it. When they returned to campus, the mood wouldn't be quite so jolly.

"It’s not going to be pleasant," he told them. "I can’t promise you much, but I can promise you that."

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
Peter G. Aiken/US PresswireCharlie Weis has promised the Kansas Jayhawks a tough offseason training program.
If he was going to rebuild a program, he was going to start it with a grueling offseason conditioning program, and the least he could do was offer his new team a fair warning.

"Honestly, some guys, their ears perked up when they heard him say that," said senior offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson. "But hey, I’m all for working hard. That’s what builds a team, ultimately. Knowing you’re playing with guys to your right and left that went through those grueling workouts with you in the offseason."

Hawkinson has been through coaching changes before. He signed with Mark Mangino in 2008 and stuck around for the transition to Turner Gill after earning All-Big 12 and Freshman All-American honors in 2009.

Players like Hawkinson will be charged with the oft-mentioned "senior leadership" in smoothing over the transition this time around.

"There’s just a lot of excitement and anxiousness. Some guys are ready to get other coaches in place so we can get the ball rolling. Everyone’s excited," he said. "There was quite a bit of surprise on the team when he was named head coach because, following the search this past week and a half or so, his name never really came in the conversation."

Hawkinson followed the search closely like many of his teammates, waiting to hear who would coach his final season of college football.

Weis brought with him a reputation and respect earned in the NFL and at Notre Dame and Florida, where other candidates with less experience may have had to build up.

"He’s really easy-going, really personable," Hawkinson said. "He’s cracking jokes every now and then, but he’s also getting his point across about how he’s wanting to build this program back on top."

He added: "You hear him, but never would I have thought he’d be the coach at Kansas while I was here."

The Jayhawks have a long, long way to go to reach the top after a 2-10 season that features six losses by 30 points or more. Weis' focus for now is taking down the "other program in the state" that finished the year 10-2 and worrying about the rest of college football once that score is settled.

Kansas State has beaten Kansas in all three seasons since coach Bill Snyder took over, including 52 and 38-point losses in each of the last two meetings.

"He told us as well, from what he’s seen, it all goes back to those little things, making sure you do the little things right, even making it to class on time. All that kind of starts in the weight room," Hawkinson said.

The hard part is waiting to hear who the new man would be, but the hardest part will arrive next month.

"You worry about the future and who’s coming in, but we’ve got coach Weis in place. We don’t have to worry about that anymore. We’ve just got to worry about these workouts coming up."
Kansas? Well, it's not Notre Dame.

The disadvantages of each are unique, as are the advantages. Different programs require different fits.

Kansas hopes former Notre Dame coach and Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is the right fit.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
Kim Klement/US PresswireCharlie Weis spent last season as the offensive coordinator at Florida.
Weis brings Kansas the one thing the Jayhawks have craved since a 5-0 season in 2009 crashed to earth with a seven game losing streak. Since that start, Kansas has lost 23 of 24 Big 12 games. That losing streak has brought with it paralyzing irrelevance.

Consider that problem fixed.

Who else could Kansas have hired that would have everyone buzzing (even Dick Vitale!) about the new head Jayhawk?

Maybe you want to laugh about Weis, a bizarre hire who didn't work out at Notre Dame. After two BCS bowl appearances in his first two years, he finished above .500 just once in his final three seasons in South Bend.

Maybe you want to ask, "Why the heck are they doing that?"

But you're paying attention.

For all of Turner Gill's character and good intentions, he didn't offer much in the arena of intrigue.

Weis does. And he gets a fresh start at Kansas free of the intense scrutiny from fans, boosters and media. The sky-high expectations at Notre Dame are a bit more measured in Lawrence.

Why can't that be a recipe for success?

Maybe this hire is a disaster. Maybe it's a godsend, the man that finally gets Kansas back into the BCS. (Yes, believe it or not, three years and 11 months ago, Kansas won an Orange Bowl.)

Either way, mastery or failure, people will be watching.

For Kansas, that's a step in the right direction.

The college game, where Weis has spent just six total years, is obviously different from the NFL, where Weis coached for 16 years.

Recruiting is a unique game in which it's difficult to develop proficiency. Weis has a master recruiter, Reggie Mitchell, already on his staff.

Kansas has lots of young talent, especially on offense, but it needs more.

Like Gill, that's objective No. 1 for Weis.

Objective No. 2 is fixing a defense that was among the worst in college football history this season. As an offensive mind, Weis will likely need to make a strong, calculated hire as his defensive coordinator to fix that problem, which he struggled with at Notre Dame.

Gill didn't win and didn't fill seats. There were just over 35,000 fans in 50,000-seat Memorial Stadium for the final home game.

Weis, by name alone, probably won't fill seats. Losses will peck away at that attendance number, but Weis will produce record amounts of intrigue and skepticism that with one contract signature, landed Kansas back on the college football map.

He's a smart guy. Ask Bill Belichick. Why can't Weis learn from the mistakes made at Notre Dame and win at Kansas?

Win or lose, it'll be fun to watch.

And unlike much of the Gill Era, it will be watched.

Turner Gill thanks KU, players after exit

November, 28, 2011
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Turner Gill was fired on Sunday, but released a statement on Monday.

"I would like to thank the University of Kansas for the opportunity to be its head football coach. On behalf of our staff, I want to thank the players for putting their heart and soul into this football program the past two years. I hope nothing but the best for all their future endeavors, both on and off the field."

Nice touch.

Gill's all class, and he'll land on his feet before too long. More later today from the Big 12's coaches on Gill's exit.

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