Chat with Tim Griffin
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin stops by to chat about the upcoming season.
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 Wednesday at noon ET!
Do you think Braylon Heard can be the home run hitter the Nebraska offense lacked in 2009? Thanks Tim and I really enjoy your work.
Tim Griffin (12:01 PM)
Let's talk some Big 12 football.
Tim Griffin (12:04 PM)
JDJ: I think that Heard can develop into the protypical "scatback" if given the time. I hear he's a very capable receiver, although I would have to think that Rex Burkhead will be Nebraska's featured running back for the next several seasons. Heard is an important acquisition for the Cornhuskers as Pelini beat out some of the Midwest's big hitters like Penn State, Pitt and Cincinnati to get him to come to Lincoln.I guess that shows the pull of Cardinal Mooney H.S. is strong over several states, doesn't it?
Tim, I just have to say that during this time. Your blog is number one on my list of favorites. I am always looking for more info on college football especially the Big 12. I am extremely anxious for this coming season with my Cornhuskers being talked about as a potential top 10 team. I was wondering if you think that Bo will be able to do a good job keeping his team from getting too full of themselves before the season ever starts. Also what do you think of the amount of tickets being sold to the Huskers' spring game? It's pretty impressive in my mind. In my mind it just proves to me that Nebraska fans truly are the best in the sport of college football.
Tim Griffin (12:07 PM)
Ben:I appreciate your kind words more than you'll ever know. As far as Nebraska goes, it will be interesting to see how Bo Pelini manages the expectations for the Cornhuskers coming into the season. They likely will be a top 10 team coming into the season. But he appears to have done a good job in keeping his team grounded over the last two years. I'm anxious to see how handles this challenge. And the Nebraska fans are showing something by how they are buying tickets for the Spring game. I was astounded at the numbers, particularly in the first hour the tickets were available. And the Cornhuskers' traditional support is one of the enduring traits of that program.
What are your predictions for A&M next season?
Tim Griffin (12:08 PM)
Anonymous: I think the Aggies should have seven or eight wins next season. Obviously Tim DeRuyter is going to have his work cut out in developing that defense. But A&M will have as much firepower as anybody in the Big 12. I'm expecting a lot of 45-38 games with them and I think if they get some unexpected improvement on defense, that they could be a surprise darkhorse team in the South.
Bill (Houston Texas)
Who will be the best CFB team in Texas next year?
Tim Griffin (12:10 PM)
Bill: If TCU had won its bowl game, I might have picked the Horned Frogs over Texas. But here are my Texas-centric rankings going into the season.1. Texas2. TCU3. Houston4. Texas Tech5. Texas A&M6. Baylor
Josh (Lincoln, NE)
Your list of returning starters for Nebraska is off. They only graduated one on offense (Jacob Hickman) and had four graduate on defense (Turner, Suh, O'Hanlon, and Asante).
Tim Griffin (12:10 PM)
Josh: The list I used was the compendium that Phil Steele provided on his blog that was in place a week or so ago.
Tim, I know that it's a wild and unlikely possibility, but, if Texas did leave the Big12 for the Big10, would that cripple the Big12, or do you think the conference could still continue without Texas?
Tim Griffin (12:12 PM)
Chris: I think that the Big 12 leaders should be worried about all of their defections. But the loss of Texas would cripple the conference like you said. Losing a flagship program like that would affect the conference's ability to garner national support and television ratings. Much like if it lost Nebraska or Oklahoma, the reverberations would affect the conference in everything it did. Obviously, it could survive the loss of a big power program, but at what cost for the support of the conference?
Tim, based upon your pre-spring rankings you have OK State as #9 based upon number of returning starters. With the number of backups that received minutes last year (due to injuries / etc.) and a good defensive recruiting that they will definitely be better (say 5-7 range)? The biggest questions to me will be the OL, CB replacement for Cox, and how well the LBs step up.
Tim Griffin (12:14 PM)
Gary: As I mentioned in my blog, I think that the Cowboys are the mystery team in the conference. As you mentioned, a bunch of their backups got a lot of playing time, but they still lose Robinson, Tosten, Dez Bryant, Okung and six of seven in the secondary and linebackers. Those are some huge losses. I think it's entirely justified to wonder if Mike Gundy can match the success he's had the last couple of years.
Scott (Fort Worth)
Tubberville came out and said that there wouldn't be a dual qb system at Tech this year, who do you see winning that battle this spring?
Tim Griffin (12:16 PM)
Scott: Potentially, the battle between Sheffield and Potts will be the most interesting one in college football. Both had success last season for Tech. That was best seen in the Alamo Bowl when Potts was the game MVP and Sheffield came off the bench to lead the Red Raiders to the victory. With Tuberville saying he won't have a dual system, I think it will be very interesting to see who wins the job. And making it even more interesting is that both quarterbacks are seniors, meaning their transfer opportunities are limited. It will be intriguing to see who wins the job. And I have no idea who will emerge.
Gary (Olathe, KS)
The SEC is leading the surge of Asst Coach salaries (many over $675,000). Is there any positive that can come from this arms race or will schools be forced to either cut athletic programs or expect their fans to foot the bill to remain competitive? Last time I checked, raising ticket prices hasn't worked out too well for pro teams struggling to remain competitive (i.e. KC, St Louis, etc)
Tim Griffin (12:18 PM)
Gary: It's a brutal "Catch 22" that some programs face as they try to keep pace with college football's big boys. And it's getting worse like you mentioned in assistant coach salaries. But as long as the Big Six conferences are in some form operational, I don't think that programs will cut back in their football spending. It might affect other parts of their programming, but I don't see football taking the hit. The sport is too popular.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
is colt mccoy a bust?
Tim Griffin (12:20 PM)
Hayden: Don't know you can say that. McCoy is one of the greatest players in Texas history. He came close to becoming the first quarterback in school history to win the Heisman Trophy. But it's unfortunate for McCoy, one of the really good kids that I've ever covered, that his career will forever be marked by his injury in the BCS title game against Alabama. But the success of Drew Brees in the NFL might bode well for McCoy. The NFL scouts I talk to say that McCoy reminds them of a bigger, faster Brees with a better arm. If McCoy lands in the right situation and is healthy, he might have a chance to have similar success at the next level.
Doug (Papillion, NE)
What are your feelings on Zach Lee? Husker Nation has a hard time BOlieving that he can take us to the PromiseLand. We would like to see someone at the helm who is more athletic.
Tim Griffin (12:21 PM)
Doug: I know there are some doubts in Lee in many quarters, but that should be tempered by the revelation that he was hurt for much of the latter part of the season -- and his strong performance in the Holiday Bowl. He'll go in as the favorite to start the 2010 season, but I expect he'll be pushed by Cody Green and Kody Spano during the spring and summer.
CHAD OCHOMOFFITT (Denver,CO)
Tim, what is the problem with CU's offense?? I am shocked that I have not seen any improvement throughout Hawkins career at CU... Very dissapointing and do you believe it is the coaching and if so don't you think they should try to bring in Mike Leach to coach teh QB's?
Tim Griffin (12:24 PM)
Chad: I really had some big hopes for Darrell Scott if he was as good as advertised coming into the program. It turned out that his first game was his best as he struggled with injuries. Tyler Hansen needs to have a big season. I think he'll be helped by the arrival of Toney Clemens in the program from Michigan. And I liked what I saw from Markques Simas late in the season. And Scotty McKnight will be back again. So they could have some punch in the wide receiver position that's been missing in previous years.
What will Nebraska's biggest road test be next year? OKST, WASH, or A&M?
Tim Griffin (12:25 PM)
Brian: Considering the timing and everything, I would think it will be Texas A&M. The Cornhuskers likely could be in the hunt for a BCS bowl berth late in the season. It will be a huge challenge for them to win at Kyle Field against a Texas A
If the Blackshirt D dominates again this year even without Big Suh, do you see teams showing interest in Carl Pelini as a head coach?
Tim Griffin (12:26 PM)
Ryan: I would have to think so. Carl Pelini's football reputation will continue to soar as long as the Blackshirts keep playing well.
Do u think this new texas qb lead them to the national championship?
Tim Griffin (12:27 PM)
Dallas: Don't know if it will happen in 2010, but it wouldn't surprise me if Garrett Gilbert has the Longhorns in position to win a national championship sometime during the course of his college career. Considering the receivers that the Longhorns attracted in the recruiting class of 2010, I look for the Longhorns to be extremely potent in the future. It just won't come all at once.
Who is more likely to have a coaching job one year from now: Mike Leach or Dan Hawkins?
Tim Griffin (12:28 PM)
Ryan: I'll say Mike Leach. I think that some school will be willing to gamble on Leach. Hawkins is going to struggle taking the Buffaloes to a bowl game next year.
Jeff (Quechee, VT)
Is there anything that can be done to make the recruiting process less seedy disgusting? It seems like the more I pay attention to it, the more revolted I am...
Tim Griffin (12:29 PM)
Jeff: It's an age-old problem where recruiting has been that way ever since I started following college football. Some coaches have told me that an early signing period might eliminate some of the inherent problems that go with waiting for athletes.But I don't know what could be done, truthfully.
Marie R. (D.C.)
If Darrell Scott isnt returning to CU - then where will will he end up ?
Tim Griffin (12:29 PM)
Marie: He wanted to go to UCLA, but apparently found he wasn't that welcome there. But I expect he'll end up somewhere. His talent is to great to expect that his football career will end.
Miles (Omaha, NE)
Cant you already feel the hype of the showdown on October 16th Nebraska vs. Texas?!
Tim Griffin (12:30 PM)
Miles: Yes I can. The Texas-Nebraska game will be the biggest cross-division game in the Big 12 until the championship game. Hope I'm there watching it.
Love the column, but it seems to me like you are very Texas bias. When your preseason column you listed Texas better than nebraska when you state that they will have to recover from the loss of McCoy and Nebraska defense could be better next year. When Texas had Mccoy they had to put a second back on the clock to beat last years defense(right or wrong). Then you listed that Nebraska returns a lot of its offensive starters and its not like the offense could get any worse. I don't understand your reasoning.
Tim Griffin (12:32 PM)
Scott: Remember all the troubles the Cornhuskers had offensively late last season. They had four field goals against Texas. I don't think we can automatically expect massive improvement in the Cornhuskers' offense just because of the Holiday Bowl victory. And I don't know if I'm buy the reasoning of the Nebraska coaches that the Blackshirts will be better next season. I think Suh, Dillar, O'Hanlon and Asante all could play a little bit and will be sorely missed.
Jeff (Quechee, VT)
Tim, as a fan in general or Nebraska fan in particular, what can I learn from spring football?The local press coverage is always so unbelievably optimistic and many times even the players who "star" in the spring game don't turn out to be stars in the fall.What are the hidden details I should be scouring for?
Tim Griffin (12:35 PM)
Jeff: It is hard to find much gloom and doom in spring practice. But I would look at the performance of Terrence Moore as he tries to fill in for Suh. Look at if the Cornhuskers can get some productive play at safety after the graduation of Asante and O'Hanlon. And also look to see if Cody Green makes any improvement with the chance he'll get as Zac Lee recovers from his surgery early in spring ball. All of these will be important questions for the Cornhuskers.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
will TCU and Texas ever play? why not? seems logical
Tim Griffin (12:39 PM)
The two teams have played 79 times before, although only once since the Southwest Conference disbanded. That 2007 game was interesting. I know that Mack Brown and Gary Patterson are pretty close. I also know that Patterson's wife used to work in Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds' office earlier in her career. But that being said, if the two teams play, I would expect it to be on Texas' terms. Like a two-for-one or three-for-one contract with most of the games being played in Austin.
You may want to take another look at the Sooners. No way Nebraska is better than them next year, no way. Who do you think is going to be OU?
Tim Griffin (12:40 PM)
Scott: We might remember that the Sooners didn't score a touchdown against Nebraska in the only game that's happened in Bob Stoops' coaching tenure there. The Sooners will be a player in the South Division, although I'm concerned about all of the key players missing on defense. We'll see who steps up for them next season.
Aaron (Arlington, VA)
Any hope for improvement on the Texas O-Line this coming year? We have good running backs but the blocking has been poor.
Tim Griffin (12:41 PM)
Aaron: That's been the conundrum for the Longhorns during the last couple of years -- ever since Jamaal Charles left the program. They need more consistency next season and it will be tough losing offensive linemen like Ulatoski and Hall from this season.
Tim, I'm sure you've seen plenty of games in Lincoln to have some perspective on this. Assuming Texas-Nebraska is on ABC, it won't be a night game due to NASCAR. How much of an advantage do the Huskers lose if the game is during the day?
Tim Griffin (12:43 PM)
Matt: I don't think they necessarily lose much. And remember that Texas has been very successful in Mack Brown's previous trips to Lincoln, winning all three games. And with NASCAR scheduled on ABC for that day, it wouldn't surprise me if the Texas-Nebraska game ended up on ESPN that night. It could play out like that.
Jeb (Greenwood, South Carolina)
Tim, due to an illness, playing football hasn't been an option for me for some years. Going into college next year, I've always wanted to be involved in football in some capacity, and recently I read something about Mike Leach being one of the rare successful coaches who never played in college, do you know of any other successes?
Tim Griffin (12:45 PM)
Jeb:Dennis Franchione never played college football and I believe that Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech never did either. I know that Leach attended every BYU practice he could watch to learn about LaVell Edwards and his strategy. And he took all kinds of jobs all over the world -- from Valdosta, Ga., to Pori, Finland -- learning his craft. Jeb, good luck on your endeavors.
stevlovsky (lincoln. )
Tim, Baker Steinkuhler will be starting in place of Suh, not Terrence Moore. and have you checked out film on Nebraska WR commit, Quincy Enunwa, he may be that "big time" that Nebraska "desperately" needs.
Tim Griffin (12:47 PM)
Stev: We'll see how it plays out. Keep your eye on Moore, too. And film of commits can sometimes be deceiving. Remember Andre Jones and Blake Lawrence from previous Nebraska recuriting classes?
James (Colorado )
When will KSU & TT, respectively, take lessons from the rest of the conf when it comes to sched stronger non-conf games rather than filling up on the cupcakes?
Tim Griffin (12:48 PM)
James: I think Texas Tech is making some steps forward with a game against Houston to finish the season. And Kansas State has four FBS games next season. That's a boost from last season when their non-conference schedule dotted with two non-BCS games ultimately denied them a bowl trip.
Jake (Chapel Hill, NC)
Tim, love your work. Looking to the future, what are the chances that Bo Pelini and staff redshirt some guys who played last year to give them another year at Nebraska. For example, redshirt Cody Green, Traye Robinson, and/or even Adi Kunalic. How often do you think coaches discuss this? Are there any statistics out there that show how rare this is?
Tim Griffin (12:50 PM)
I look for Pelini to redshirt some players. But I think it might be hard to do it to Green and particularly for Kunalic. Even with his struggles in the Big 12 title game, Adi is still a huge weapon in dictating field position with his kickoffs. I look for him to have a lot of use next season.
Tim- Why is someone like Sherman on the hot seat and Briles is coasting with the record he has? Is it because expectations are lower in Waco?
Tim Griffin (12:51 PM)
Mike: I do think expectations color the job security for both Sherman and Briles. The Aggies, remember have won a Big 12 title as recently as 1998. The Bears haven't made a bowl trip since 1994. That's a pretty good indication why expectations have been lower in Baylor rather than Texas A&M the last few years.
Jimmy K (Toronto)
Tim, great job as always. And, just to clarify things for everyone...I live in Toronto but I'm a born and raised Texan and a Texas grad. I miss my ESPN and not having to watch 50 minutes of hockey highlights per hour! Anyway, your thoughts on guys like Jeffcoat and Hicks and how much you expect them to contribute on D and Mike Davis/Darius White on O? Mack's philosophy of not playing true freshman isn't what it used to be.
Tim Griffin (12:53 PM)
Jimmy: Thanks for the kind words. I look for all of the guys you mention to have a shot at playing time this fall. Both Jeffcoat and Hicks can become immediate difference makers if they learn Will Muschamp's system quickly. And considering the losses at Texas' WR position, I would expect Davis and White could challenge early. It is Texas' biggest position of weakness coming into the season as far as experience. All of those guys could help.
Jared (Kansas City)
Tim, are you hearing anything about Texas' upcoming Junior Day? Should I expect a number of early signings like in years past from Mack Brown?
Tim Griffin (12:54 PM)
Jared: As always, I would expect Mack Brown to be very active in the early signing period. The Longhorns don't have anybody yet, but that will change very quickly, trust me.
John (Lawrence, Ks)
Hey Tim, love the blog. After losing a couple recruits but getting some back in return how well do you think Turner Gill and his staff will be able to recruit? Also, how well do you see the Jayhawks doing next year with a weaker schedule?
Tim Griffin (12:55 PM)
John: I was very impressed with what Kansas was able to do with a couple of the late commits, particularly Bourbon at RB. I predicted the Jayhawks to be making a bowl trip next season, mainly because their cross-division schedule gets so much easier when they trade Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech for Oklahoma State and Baylor.
Tim, why does most of the public think that simply returning starters will equal success? If those starters were mediocre (Huskers' offense), why should we assume they will be better? Just ask Charlie Weiss about it!
Tim Griffin (12:56 PM)
Jason: I agree with that. I think a number of young players at Nebraska will challenge existing starters. The big battle will be Cody Green going against Zac Lee at QB.
Clay (Oakland, CA)
Chase Daniel's first year as a starter was very similar to Blaine Gabbert's 2009 campaign. Do Gabbert and the Tigers make Daniel-like leap in production and efficiency in Blaine's 2nd year as starter?
Tim Griffin (12:57 PM)
Clay: Actually, Gabbert's numbers were better than Daniel's first season. But I don't see a lot of Jeremy Maclins or Martin Rucker or Chase Coffman on the roster. But Gabbert really impressed me last season, particularly with his running ability.
Arlando (Norman , Ok)
Hey Tim, great Blog! I am a faithful reader, and my biggest problem is that we can't seem to squeeze enough blood out of your blogging turnip Lol! Anyhow , I am wondering - after looking at your PRE-SPRING Power Ranking, which unit (o-line, DB's, LB's,WR's ect) has the ability to change how you see how teams will fare next season . 3 quick examples from the top North and South teams would be great!
Tim Griffin (12:59 PM)
Arlando: The turnip has given up a lot of blood, trust me. As far as units to watch, lets look at Texas' wide receivers, Nebraska's quarterbacks, Oklahoma's defensive line, Oklahoma State's linebackers and Texas Tech's defensive line as a start.
Tim Griffin (1:00 PM)
Jeb: It will be interesting to see the job Gundy will have with his team this season. He'll have lesser talent, but he was able to do a good job getting the Cowboys to overcome injuries for most of last season. I'm interested to see what he can do in 2010.
Hayden (Logan, Utah)
Tim Griffin (1:01 PM)
Hayden: Thank you and all of the readers. I've really appreciated all of your help.