Chat with Tim Griffin
Griffin joined ESPN.com in February 2008. He has covered the Big 12 since its inception, among a variety of beats during a 24-year career at the San Antonio Express-News. Griffin, a Memphis State University graduate, lives in San Antonio with his wife and son.
Send your questions now and join Griffin in The Show at 3 p.m. ET on Monday!
Cecil (Plano Texas)
What lessons about sportsmanship do you think Coach Brown will be taking into this season? Will we see Texas continue to score long after the game is out of reach?
Tim Griffin (3:03 PM)
Cecil: It will be interesting to see if last year's controversy chages how Brown coaches. I don't think we can deny that margin of victory is an element considered at least in the human element. And it's probably a factor in the computer polls, as well. So it will be interesting if last season's controversial finish has any effect for all coaches across the country and not just those battling for a national championship.
Phoenix (Denver, CO)
If you had to pick one freshman (true or redshirt) to have a breakout season for Nebraska, who would it be and why?
Tim Griffin (3:04 PM)
Phoenix: I'll go with Cody Green because of his position and his talent. If he shows any kind of flash during the spring, I could easily see him starting for the Cornhuskers by the end of the season.
Will J (Portland, OR)
Tim, with a good majority of the Big XII QB's returning, do you expect the offenses to be as explosive as they were last year?
Tim Griffin (3:04 PM)
Will J: They should be. It's another year to watch the yards pile up and the defensive coordinators age quickly around the Big 12.
Considering physical skills and tools, is/will Taylor Potts be a better QB than Graham Harrell or any other QB in the Mike Leach system? Especially with all of 4 star WR's that Leach has been bringing in the past couple years. (no offense to the previous 2 and 3 stars that gave it their all, but now TTU has size and speed at the position)
Tim Griffin (3:06 PM)
Travis: It will be interesting to see, as Harrell will remain the gold standard for Leach's quarterbacks, in my opinion. I don't know if Potts is as talented as Harrell. But you are right when he should have some surrounding talent that should help him. Although I don't know if he'll ever have a receiver as talented as Michael Crabtree.
James (Austin, Texas)
How will freshman RB Chris Whaley do for the longhorns this season? Will he step up and take the starting role?
Tim Griffin (3:08 PM)
James: I hear good early reports about Whaley, who some scouts have told me reminds them of Eric Dickerson because of his height and the stand-up way he runs the ball. That being said, I think the Longhorns will have a deep backfield full of situational players. If they need to run the ball between the tackles they'll call on Cody Johnson. Vondrell McGee will play if he can learn to pick up the blitz better. Fozzy Whittaker might be the breakaway threat. Tre' Newton could be the third-down back. That covers almost every gamut, although I do expect Whaley to play. Key for him will be in blitz coverages - something that few high-school players are comfortable with at the beginning of their college careers.
You have mentioned before that you believe the Big 12 has some catching up to do with the SEC in terms of defenisive tenacity (this much is clear), but how exactly? What does the Big 12 lack? Speed, quality coaching, recruiting, athleticism?
Tim Griffin (3:11 PM)
Mo: Great question. The one thing that impressed me about watching the Florida defense was the across-the-board speed and physical nature of the Gators. The early hit on Manny Johnson really set the tone for the Florida defense. And the quickness their defensive line showed when stopping the OU offense deep in the red zone on several occasions showed the kind of athletes that the Big 12 is missing. I think players like Gerald McCoy and Sergio Kindle can become those kinds of players, but the Big 12 doesn't have a lot of them on one team. If they did, they might have a national championship contender this season.
Chad (Las Vegas)
They play D in the Big 12? Really?
Tim Griffin (3:12 PM)
Chad; Surprise, occasionally they do. Maybe not to where the game is 3-2. That would be too boring for us in the center of the country. Give us 61-41 any day.
Will Sam Bradford's extra year of college pay off? He looked to be lacking in arm strength (as evidenced by his poor passer rating on long attempts)? Can the coaches fix that?
Tim Griffin (3:15 PM)
Nick: Bradford can work on his arm strength. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the Sooners go more vertical with Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney. But I still think that Bradford's bread and butter will be his proficiency with the short and intermediate routes. With a player like Jermaine Gresham, he might have a receiver who can go for 80-90 catches next season.
Where do you see Notre Dame placing this year?
Tim Griffin (3:16 PM)
Jimmy: I think the Irish will be much improved and make it to a BCS bowl game. But they still aren't to the level of the major programs across the country, and won't really be tested very often next season.
Cecil (Plano Texas)
Follow up. What do you think was the advantage of M. Brown inviting the BCS gurus to come and talk to the team?
Tim Griffin (3:17 PM)
Cecil: It couldn't hurt as it gets the team focused on what they need to do to impress the BCS. I think it was a smart move - particularly considering the bitter feelings that some Longhorns have after getting snubbed last season.
Ben (Lincoln, NE)
I'm pretty glad coach Ekeler chose to stay in Lincoln. Do you think it was the right decision for him to make?
Tim Griffin (3:19 PM)
Ben: It's always hard for assistant coaches to turn down the chance to become a coordinator. But Ekeler appears to be in a good position at Nebraska. His boss seems to like him and he's in line for a raise. And who knows? If the Cornhuskers have big seasons the next couple of years, he might have a chance to have a shot at a better coordinator job in the future. I don't know what this says, but considering four assistants have turned down the USF job tells me something.
What is the best way to get into coaching for a lawyer with no organized football experience?
Tim Griffin (3:20 PM)
Nick: How about writing Mike Leach and asking him. He started at small schools and eventually worked his way up. It ended up good for him. He might be better able to shed light than me, but I'm guessing he should be your role model.
Justin (Oakland, CA)
Tim, what redshirt freshmen from last year have the best chance of starting for Nebraska? Also, with Witt leaving, who will start as QB and serve as the second string?
Tim Griffin (3:24 PM)
How about Will Compton or Alonzo Whaley at linebacker, P.J. Smith or Courtney Osborne as defensive backs. Those are positions the Cornhuskers could use a boost. I've heard the Nebraska coaches were glad they were able to make it through the season preserving all of their redshirts.
Mack Brown (Austin Texas)
hey Tim, Love your work and knowledge on the Big XII. I was wondering what your thoughts were on my team this season and what squad I need to watch out for as a sleeper team. Thank you again for all your hard work reporting on Big XII football.
Tim Griffin (3:27 PM)
Thanks, Mack. You should know as well as anybody that your team should challenge for the national championship this season with a little luck. Your team overachieved last year and probably was one of the most fun seasons in your career. This season it will be different. People are going to be expecting you to win every game - me included. And for a sleeper team, how about Colorado? The Buffaloes struggled with injuries last season. They still don't have a quarterback to match the top teams in the conference. But I think the Buffaloes can match most teams in the trenches if they can stay healthy.
Barrett (Austin, TX)
Tim, great piece on Kindle. As an avid UT fan, I have watched Kindle since he was a freshman, making tackles on special teams. I know he says he wants to be himself and not the next Orakpo. Could he truly surpass Orakpo's success? Could he find himself going in the first half of the first round in the draft?
Tim Griffin (3:29 PM)
Barrett: Thanks for the compliment. That is a huge order for him to duplicate Orakpo's stats and his influence on last season's team. As I mentioned in the story, Orakpo had a huge advantage that Kindle doesn't have. Namely, he doesn't have a developing young player like Kindle around to take some pressure off him. Texas will be filling three starters on the defensive line. It likely means that Kindle will be facing a lot of double-team blocks. And that will make it hard for him to duplicate Orakpo's numbers.
With Derek Burton/Swanson Miller at DT and Ugo Chinasa/Richetti Jones at DE, do you think that Oklahoma State's defensive line could go into next season underrated by most?
Tim Griffin (3:30 PM)
Pete: Great observationn. I do think that the Cowboys' defensive front is one of their prime strengths. It will need to be with the green secondary that will be starting for them. I think the defense ultimately will determine how good the Cowboys can be. If Bill Young can get them to play at a high level, OSU could be in contention for its first Big 12 South title.
Any chance of the Irish vs Big 12 this year? Texas Vs irish?????
Tim Griffin (3:33 PM)
Paul: I don't think the Irish will be playing in the ultimate BCS game. With them not challenging other Big 12 teams until the upcoming game against Baylor in 2012. They might be able to catch the BCS runner-up for the Big 12. I would say that team likely would be Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or the North winner
Where would you rate Vince Young in the pantheon of great Big XII QBs?
Tim Griffin (3:35 PM)
Mo: Great word. You added something to my vocabulary today. Young's statistics don't match some quarterbacks before or after him. But he accomplished something that only one other Big 12 quarterback was able to when he won the national championship. That being said, I guess you would have to rank Young and Josh Heupel at the very top of any Big 12 list for the title they led their teams to.
What's the deal w/ Darrell Scott at CU? For a guy so highly touted he showed nothing when given the chance. What are you hearing?
Tim Griffin (3:36 PM)
CC: I'm hearing Scott is healthy and ready to emerge this season. But he also struggled with his conditioning and injuries most of last season. That kept him from approaching his peak form. I bet he will be closer to that next year.
Dave (Tampa FL)
It seemed the Aggies improved in some ways as the season went on last year. Can you say anything optimistic about next season?
Tim Griffin (3:37 PM)
Dave: How about Jeff Fuller, Jerrod Johnson, Ryan Tannehill and Von Miller. I'm thinking the Aggies will be better this season, but will be stretching things if they finish above fifth in the Big 12 South.
Gary (Stillwater, OK)
Do you think OSU will be able to pull off the win in the opener next season against Georgia? And what other non-conference games next year are you circling on the calendar?
Tim Griffin (3:40 PM)
Gary: That will be a great test for OSU. The fact it will be at home and Georgia will be breaking in a new starting QB should give them a great chance to win. As far as other big games, how about OU-BYU, OU-Miami, Nebraska-Virginia Tech, Texas A&M-Arkansas and Colorado-West Virginia. And how about these three non-conference road games that some might overlook, but I think will be very interesting to see how good the teams are at an early stage. I'm thinking that Missouri @ Nevada, Kansas @ UTEP and Texas Tech @ Houston will tell us a lot about those three teams.
Bud (Austin, TX
We know about McCoy, Bradford, Griffin, and whomever Tech puts under center, but what team is going to have the other star QB? Big 12 has a rep now for that.
Tim Griffin (3:41 PM)
Bud: How about a kid from your hometown by the name of Todd Reesing. He could do down as the greatest quarterback in his school's history with a big season. And he's entirely capable of doing that.
Ha, glad my English literature degree was good for something! Do you foresee the conference amending its antiquated tiebreaker system before next season?
Tim Griffin (3:42 PM)
Mo: Props to your teachers. And I do think the tiebreaker system will be a big topic of conversation when the Big 12 meetings take place this May in Colorado Springs.
Why don't you just turn this chat into a Longhorn chat since you are so in love with them.
Tim Griffin (3:42 PM)
Rick: Like I've always said, the Big 12 schools are like my children. I try to show them all equal amounts of my love. But it's hard with 12.
Travis (Midland, TX)
What are the chances that okst wins the south based on their schedule this year? I would say if it happens, 2009 is there best shot, and maybe for a while. Like Tech's was last year.
Tim Griffin (3:44 PM)
Travis: You make a great point. OSU reminds me a lot of Texas Tech heading into the season. The schedule is stacked for them by having Texas and Tech at home, although they do have to go to Oklahoma. OSU reminds me of Tech last year because of all the offensive weapons it has returning. And defense - much like it did for Tech last season - ultimately will determine how good OSU will be next season.
Brad (Denver, CO)
Tim, Love the blog. I agree that Colorado is the sleeper team in the Big XII this year. Who on Colorado's road schedule do you think they have the best chance of upsetting (@ West Virginia, @ Texas, @ Oklahoma State)?
Tim Griffin (3:45 PM)
Brad: All three games will be difficult and I expect the Buffs to whiff on all three. But this is how I'd rank them as far as chances 15 percent - Oklahoma State 10 percent - West Virginia 3 percent - Texas
TTU wins 9 games in 2009....over / under?
Tim Griffin (3:46 PM)
Travis: They will be breaking in a new quarterback. I'd say under - likely 7 or 8 wins.
Not that it matters now, but in your opinion, who was the best team in the Big 12 last year?
Tim Griffin (3:46 PM)
Mo: I'll say Texas, followed by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Nebraska.
Michael (Atlanta, GA)
Sorry pple keep hating on you for talking about Texas. Jealousy is a dangerous thing. I think it's pretty clear that you're not a Longhorn apologist, they're just the most relevant team, considering OU shames us every BCS chance they get.
Tim Griffin (3:47 PM)
Michael: I wouldn't say that, considering how tough it is to make the BCS in the first place. And OU's three-peat of Big 12 championships is the closest thing we've had to a dynasty in the conference's brief history.
Rob (Omaha, NE)
Show the Big 12 some love Tim! What does the future look like for Nerbaska?
Tim Griffin (3:50 PM)
Rob: Looks very good for the Cornhuskers. I'm thinking they definitely challenge for the Big 12 title this season and might be there for several more seasons if Green and Burkholt are as good as advertised.
Sean (Orange County, CA)
Who takes over for Quan Cosby as the "X" receiver for Texas, Malcolm Williams or James Kirkendoll?
Tim Griffin (3:53 PM)
Sean: The Texas coaches like big, tall rangy receivers at the X. Look for Williams or Dan Buckner or Montre Webber to get the shot there. Kirkendoll likely will Texas' Sub B receiver and will be challenged for playing time for players like Phillip Payne and Brock Fitzhenry, who is making the transition to receiver from high school option quarterback.
Chris Watkins (Lawrence, KS)
Tim, whats with all the coaches in and out of Manhattan? Do you like Bill Snyder's staff now? And what are you expectations for the Wildcats in '09? Im thinking they could be a dark horse but who knows
Tim Griffin (3:57 PM)
Chris: It's not a good sign when coaches desert a program only a few weeks in like Andy Ludwig did. I was really impressed with that hire. But Dana Dimel is familiar with what Snyder wants to run and will be a good hire. I also think that Vic Koenning is a big hire for the Wildcats as their co-defensive coordiantor. Expectations might be a little understated for the Wildcats. Other than not having a quarterback, I like a lot of their pieces. I really like Jeffrey Fitzgerald coming into the program at defensive end. They have games like Missouri and Kansas at home. They have to win both of those games to be a factor in the North race and have a shot at a bowl berth.
Michael (Atlanta, GA)
Before you moved to and started covering Big 12 country, were there any particular players or personalities that you particularly admired from teams that comprise the Big 12 now?
Tim Griffin (3:59 PM)
Michael: I've been covering the Big 12 since it started, so I've seen them grow in the conference. But I grew up in the South, I remember watching Colorado in a Liberty Bowl in 1969 and being impressed with the mascot (animal, I might add). I also was intrigued with Nebraska's dynasty in the early 1970s and the way Barry Switzer's team played offense at Oklahoma later in that decade and beyond.
Tech beat Ok state and Nebraska last year!
Tim Griffin (3:59 PM)
Jack: They might go 0-2 against this year, however. That's why I'm saying 7-5 might be a possibility. No Harrell. No Crabtree. No Brandon Williams.
Eric (Walnut, CA)
What is your early prediction for the national championship game?
Tim Griffin (4:01 PM)
Eric: How about Texas-Florida?
Sean (Orange County, CA)
Thanks for answering my previous question! How tall is Colt McCoy, really? There's no way he's 6'3" as UT lists him.
Tim Griffin (4:02 PM)
Sean: I'm not going to make any judgments, but did you notice how Texas players like Quan Cosby, Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo all shrank after they hit the combine
Tim Griffin (4:03 PM)
Thanks everybody for all of the good questions. We'll chat again in a few weeks after practice starts across the conference. Enjoy the start of spring practice!