Tag:Tom Fornelli
Posted on: August 16, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:54 pm
 

PODCAST: Big 12 Season Preview

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of CBSSports.com's Big 12 preview I took some time off from the realignment madness to sit down with Adam Aizer and talk about what we can actually expect to see on the field in the Big 12 this season. We talked about whether or not Oklahoma has what it takes to hold on to its current spot atop the polls, whether or not Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will live up to expectations, and about potential sleepers in the conference (good news for you Missouri and Kansas State fans).

So take some time out of your day to give it a listen, won't you?

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Baylor's Josh Gordon leaves the program

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Tuesday Baylor head coach Art Briles announced that wide receiver Josh Gordon has left the Baylor program.

"Circumstances have unfolded for Josh that require him to pursue his collegiate degree and athletic career at a different university," Briles said in a statement. "I'm appreciative of the efforts he has made the past two seasons for this football program." 

Gordon had been arrested last October for marijuana possession after being found with it inside a car at a Taco Bell near the Baylor campus. He had been suspended indefinitely since July for violating team rules.

Gordon finished the 2010 season as Baylor's second leading receiver, finishing the year with 42 receptions for 714 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also led the Big 12 in yards per reception at 17.0 yards. Which leaves Baylor with one less big-play threat on offense this season.

He's reportedly considering a transfer to Utah.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 12:10 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big 12 Team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Landry Jones, Junior, Oklahoma

This is the rather obvious choice, as while there are some good quarterbacks in the Big 12, there's only one who plays for the team many see as a favorite to win the national title, and one whose name comes up in the Heisman Trophy discussion. That would be Landry Jones, and he deserves the hype. In his first two seasons with the Sooners, Jones has thrown for 7,916 yards, 64 touchdowns and only 26 interceptions. 

Also watch for: Though he didn't claim the starting job until half the season had passed, Ryan Tannehill was a big part of Texas A&M's strong finish in 2010. There's also the supremely talented Robert Griffin III at Baylor, and you can't forget about Brandon Weeden at Oklahoma State.

RUNNING BACK

Cyrus Gray, Senior, Texas A&M

While the Aggies deployed a two-headed monster at running back last season, Cyrus Gray was the most productive of the bunch. Gray rushed for 1,133 yards in 2010 and had 12 touchdowns. I wouldn't count on seeing Gray's production drop off at all as he enters his final season in College Station.

Roy Finch, Sophomore, Oklahoma

Finch didn't get a lot of playing time last season, but now that DeMarco Murray has moved on, the speedy back is going to see a lot of action this season, and in an offense as potent as Oklahoma's, that means we're likely to see some big numbers from the little man.

Also watch for: Christine Michael was part of Texas A&M's dynamic duo with Cyrus Gray last season, and he's going to have a big role in 2011 as well. There's also Eric Stephens at Texas Tech who could open some eyes with Tommy Tuberville implementing a more balanced attack and five returning starters on the offensive line. There's also Bryce Brown at Kansas State, and if Brown can live up to all the hype he had coming out of high school, then he may end up being the best back in the entire conference. Texas will be hoping that Malcolm Brown can be the feature back it's been looking for as well.

WIDE RECEIVER

Justin Blackmon, Junior, Oklahoma State

It's going to be hard for Justin Blackmon to match his 2010 numbers in 2011, but the fact is that his production was so insane last year, that he won't have to. Take away 500 yards and 5 touchdowns from his total last year and Blackmon still finishes with 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. The craziest thing of all, however, is if he surpasses last year's numbers, nobody will be all that surprised either.

Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Broyles could have left for the NFL last year, but he decided to return for another season in Norman and Landry Jones couldn't be happier about it. Broyles is coming off his second consecutive 1,000-yard season with at least 14 touchdowns, and a third straight year with those numbers is likely on its way.

Also watch for: The Big 12 is not hurting for strong wide receivers. While Broyles and Blackmon will get the most attention, Kenny Stills and Josh Cooper are excellent second options for their respective squads. Then there's Kendall Wright at Baylor, Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller at Texas A&M, T.J. Moe at Missouri, and don't forget about Mike Davis at Texas.

TIGHT END

Michael Egnew, Senior, Missouri

Egnew is listed as a tight end, but realistically, he plays more like a wide receiver. Egnew caught 90 passes for 762 yards last year with five touchdowns, and he should see plenty of balls coming his way again this year as James Franklin looks to fill Blaine Gabbert's shoes.

Also watch for: While wide receiver catch most of the balls in the Big 12, there are some solid tight ends. Keep an eye on Oklahoma's James Hanna, Nehemiah Nicks with Texas A&M and Tim Biere at Kansas.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Center Ben Habern, Junior, Oklahoma

After redshirting in 2008, Habern has started 24 games at center for the Sooners over the last two seasons. He led Oklahoma with 123 knockdowns in 2010, including 16 against Colorado and was an honorable mention on the All-Big 12 team last season.

Guard, Lonnie Edwards, Senior, Texas Tech

Edwards is a key part of the Texas Tech offensive line that returns every starter this season. He'll play an even larger role this season as Texas Tech will likely run more than we've seen in the past. The 6-foot-4 320 pounder has started 23 games in Lubbock and was an All-Big 12 second team selection in 2010.

Guard, Lane Taylor, Junior, Oklahoma State

Taylor is the most experience member of the Oklahoma State offensive line, as he was the only returning starter in 2010. He's made 24 consecutive starts for the Cowboys, and aside from keeping Brandon Weeden off his back, Taylor was an first team academic Big 12 selection as well.

Tackle, Levy Adcock, Senior, Oklahoma State

They don't come much bigger than Adcock, and the 6-foot-6 322-pound tackle used his size awfully well in 2010. Adcock was a first-team All-Big 12 selection by both the coaches and the AP last season (a unanimous selection by the AP) after winning the starting job in August last year and never letting it go.

Tackle, Kelechi Osemele, Senior, Iowa State

Oh wait, they do come bigger than Adcock. Osemele checks in at 6-foot-6 and 347 pounds. Osemele got his start playing both guard and tackle in 2008 but moved to left tackle full time in 2009 and hasn't moved since, starting 30 straight games. This will be a name you hear called early in the NFL draft next spring.

Also watch for: Offensive lineman may spend most of their time living in anonymity and working as a unit, but Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Oklahoma State's Grant Garner are a couple other names you should get familiar with. Missouri's Elvis Fisher definitely would have made the list if not for his season-ending knee injury.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Frank Alexander, Senior, Oklahoma

Alexander only started in nine games for the Sooners last season, but still managed to finish second on the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (7). In other words, he spends a lot of his time in backfields disrupting plays before they even get a chance to start.

DE Brad Madison, Junior, Missouri

Madison had a break out season in 2010 and proved to be one of the top playmakers on Missouri's defensive line. Madison ended the season leading the Tigers defense in sacks (7.5) and tackles for loss (11).  He was named to the All-Big 12 second team for his efforts, and now that he'll be replacing Aldon Smith his name is one that many opposing quarterbacks will have drilled into their brains as they prepare to face Missouri.

DT Kheeston Randall, Senior, Texas

An anchor on the defensive line for the Longhorns, Randall was an honorable mention for the All-Big 12 last season. This year I believe he'll be moving up the ladder and having an even bigger impact.  Randall finished second on the team with 13 tackles for loss in 2010, and also had a big impact on special teams, blocking two kicks.

DT Tony Jerod-Eddie, Senior, Texas A&M

In Texas A&M's 3-4 defense, Jerod-Eddie sees a lot of time at defensive end, but he's a defensive tackle in purpose. Think of Marcell Dareus at Alabama last season.  While Jerod-Eddie doesn't spend a lot of time in the backfield blowing up plays, he uses his size and strength to stuff the run at the point of attack and allow Aggie linebackers to flow freely to the ball.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Ronnell Lewis only started the final four games for the Sooners last season, but he was incredibly productive in those four games. Starting all season could see him put up some ridiculous numbers. Jacqueis Smith of Missouri combines with Madison to give the Tigers a big push on the edges.

LINEBACKERS

Jake Knott, Junior, Iowa State

There weren't many plays run against the Iowa State defense last season in which Jake Knott wasn't in on the tackle. He led the conference with 130 tackles last season and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection because of it. He'll be bringing that same nose for the football back to the Iowa State defense this season, and though he broke his arm in spring camp, he should be good to go when the season starts.

Garrick Williams, Senior, Texas A&M

Williams tallied 112 tackles in 2010, and now that Michael Hodges and Von Miller are no longer in College Station, he'll be playing an even larger role in 2011. I'm not sure Williams will be able to completely fill Von Miller's shoes in the Aggie defense, but he may end up being just as important to the defense as Miller was.

Keenan Robinson, Senior, Texas

Robinson was all over the place for the Longhorns in 2010. He finished the season with 113 tackles, 2 for a loss, and also had 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Oh, and he's also a standout on special teams. He is literally all over the field on defense, and he's poised for another big season in 2011.

Also watch for: It was hard to pick just three linebackers in this conference, as there are plenty of other good options. Names like A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Arthur Brown (Kansas State), Caleb Lavey (Oklahoma State), Emmanuel Acho (Texas), Sean Porter (Texas A&M), Zaviar Gooden (Missouri) and Huldon Tharp (Kansas) are some of those options. Also, if it weren't for an injury that is going to keep him out for eight weeks, Oklahoma's Travis Lewis would have been an easy selection to the team. However, due to that injury, Lewis' replacement Corey Nelson is another name to watch out for.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Jamell Fleming, Senior, Oklahoma

Big 12 quarterbacks will test Jamell Fleming at their own risk in 2011. In his first full season as a starter last year Fleming had 5 interceptions, and proved himself quite the playmaker in the Oklahoma secondary. He's also not afraid to create some contact, tallying 71 tackles with 8.5 for a loss.  He's a very good player in what may be the best secondary the Big 12 has.

CB Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

Judie finished second in the Big 12 in interceptions last season behind Fleming with 4.  He also broke up 4 passes and made 57 tackles for the Aggies. His impact is also felt on special teams, as he proved to be one of the most explosive kick returners in the conference last season, averaging over 30 yards a return with 2 touchdowns.

S Markelle Martin, Senior, Oklahoma State

This is not a man that wide receivers want to have a rendevous with over the middle of the football field, as Martin can bring the wood with the best of them.  What makes Martin more dangerous, though, is that he improved his coverage skills in 2010 and picked off three passes. He's the type of safety that can separate you from the ball physically, or just take it away from you in the air.

S Tony Jefferson, Sophomore, Oklahoma

2010 may have been Jefferson's first season of college ball, but you couldn't tell by watching him play. The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year started 9 games for the Sooners in 2010 and finished the season with 65 tackles (7 for a loss) with 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 7 passes broken up. I expect those numbers to improve in 2011 as this kid is only beginning to tap into his potential.

Also watch for: Oklahoma's Demontre Hurst could have been on my first team and given the Sooners secondary three of the four spots, but just because he didn't doesn't mean he's somebody quarterbacks should test too often. Keep your eyes on Blake Gideon (Texas), Trent Hunter (Texas A&M), Leonard Johnson (Iowa State) and Prince Kent (Baylor) too.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Grant Ressel, Senior, Missouri

P Quinn Sharp, Junior, Oklahoma State

KR Coryell Judie, Senior, Texas A&M

PR Ryan Broyles, Senior, Oklahoma

Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:53 am
 

Longhorn Network still looking for a carrier

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's a bit of irony for you: the Longhorn Network, which may end up being the straw that broke the Big 12's back, is two weeks away from launching and it still hasn't even been picked up by any cable providers. So at this point it wouldn't matter how many high school games or conference games the network decided it wanted to televise, nobody could see them anyway.

According to the report in The Dallas Morning News, the Longhorn Network and its partner ESPN are "still in active discussions" with cable providers like Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast and Direct TV.

Of course, as the report also points out, this isn't exactly an uncommon practice when it comes to these types of negotiations. It wouldn't be the first time that a deal was struck at the last minute to get a network on the air, but it is still somewhat worrisome for the Longhorn Network that it hasn't reached an agreement with anybody just yet.

I can't help but believe that when the network does launch on August 26th somebody in the state of Texas will be able to watch it.
Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:41 pm
 

Jim Delany is here to crush your dreams

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Lost in the madness that is conference realignment talk was a report on Friday night that the athletic directors of the Pac-12 and Big Ten took a straw poll and were in favor of the BCS adopting a plus one system. The proposed system would add a fifth BCS bowl, and the top four teams in the BCS rankings would partake in a mini-playoff to determine the national champion.

Well, before you playoff supporters go about throwing a party in the streets, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wanted to make sure he showed up at your little shindig to dump a bucket of cold water over your heads. Delany told the Chicago Tribune on Saturday morning that any reports of the Big Ten being in favor of a plus one system is "erroneus."

“To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous,” Delany told the Chicago Tribune.

“I’m not going to go into the guts of the meeting and where our ADs are or are not. I can just tell you they are happy with the Rose Bowl and happy with the status quo.”

What this means for the report, I'm not entirely sure. I have a hard time believing that it came from no where, but it should be pointed out that there were no Big Ten athletic directors quoted in the original story. Still, there's also a quote from Bill Hancock, the executive director of the BCS, in the story where he says that the topic was discussed.

Which leads me to question whether or not Delany is being completely forthright in his quote. 
Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
 

SEC to discuss A&M on Sunday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you've spent any time on Twitter or message boards lately, then you've probably heard the news that the SEC has expanded to a 64-team league at this point, as schools from all over the country have been rumored to be joining the league. Realistically, though, it appears that there is only one team that is serious about joining the league, and that would be Texas A&M.

Of course, just because a team is interested in the SEC that doesn't always mean the SEC's interest is mutual, but according to a report in the New York Times, the SEC will meet in a secret location on Sunday to discuss the possibility of bringing Texas A&M into the conference.

Pete Thamel reports that a high-ranking SEC official has told him that the league presidents will meet at a secret location on Sunday to discuss the move, and that there's a "30 to 40 percent chance" that the SEC presidents will decide against A&M joining the fold. The reason for that is because the SEC has no plans to expand to just 13 teams, and it would need another school to complete any expansion.

“We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th,” the SEC official told the paper. “No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the shoot than the media and blogs have made it.” 

In other words, that report you heard on Saturday morning about Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State and Missouri all joining the SEC to form the first super conference is a bit premature. Missouri AD Mike Alden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there was "nothing" to the report and that Missouri isn't talking to anybody.

The Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to have a conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe on Saturday afternoon with every AD except Texas A&M's Bill Byrne expected to be on the call. However, before you read too far into that, remember that Byrne is currently in Europe at the moment.
Posted on: August 12, 2011 11:00 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 11:04 pm
 

Could the BCS add a "plus one?"

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Over the last few days rumblings of great change in the world of college football have spread throughout the country as we are once again on the precipice of conference-ageddon. However, the big changes that may be in store for the future aren't limited to the alignment of conferences.

A report in the Seattle Times on Friday says that the athletic directors of the schools in the Big Ten and Pac-12 took a straw poll, and they would be in favor of altering the current BCS system.

Those alterations?

Bringing in a fifth BCS bowl game -- likely the Cotton Bowl -- and then moving to a "plus one" format in which the top four teams in the BCS rankings would partake in a mini-playoff of sorts.

The semifinals would take place in two of the BCS bowl games on a rotating basis with the winners moving on to the national championship game.

"They just haven't talked about the future as a group" BCS executive director Bill Hancock told The Seattle Times. "The intent is to do that after they (conference commissioners) evaluate the feelings on campus.

"My sense is that they're going to be open to anything that will make it better, short of an NFL-style playoff, as long as they stick with their principles — maintaining the bowl system and remembering that these are college athletes." 

Now this isn't the first time that such a plan has been hatched, as both the ACC and SEC proposed a similar format in 2008 and didn't get much support from the other four BCS conferences. Still, considering that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are now on board with the idea, unless the ACC and SEC have changed their minds, this idea may have more traction this time around.

Of course, going to a plus one would not solve every problem in the college football postseason, and it would likely create new ones. Travel concerns for the teams advancing to the title game and lengthening the season are just some of the concerns that will be brought up. Still, the fact that it seems like both sides of the playoff debate seem to be working on a compromise is a good indication for all involved.

Even if it does just mean that the argument will turn from "this team deserved to be ranked in the top two" to "this team deserved to be ranked in the top four."
Posted on: August 12, 2011 3:21 pm
 

Dan Beebe doesn't seem concerned about A&M

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that if Texas A&M really is set on leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC, the Aggies better hope that the SEC's interest in them is mutual. According to our Texas A&M Rapid Reporter Brent Zwerneman, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has told Texas A&M that the Big 12 will survive without it. Which doesn't exactly sound like the words of a man who is trying to do everything he can to keep A&M in the Big 12.

Beebe also told Texas A&M that Texas is the school that holds the key to the Big 12's future, and that as long as the Longhorns don't leave, the Big 12 would survive. In fact, should Texas A&M leave then the Big 12 may just replace them with Houston

Of course, that's if Texas doesn't decide to leave the conference as well. Something that isn't exactly set in stone according to The Oklahoman. In a story about Oklahoma believing that Texas A&M is going to leave, there's also this tidbit about what the future of Texas may hold.
[Texas athletic director DeLoss] Dodds said his preference is for the Big 12 to bring in another school to replace A&M, should the Aggies leave. He also mentioned Texas and Notre Dame joining forces to create a new conference, should the Big 12 disintegrate. 
In other words, Texas doesn't really care if its in-state rival leaves the conference, but it just wants to make sure that the Big 12 remains a 10-school league, or the Longhorns will continue to cut their own path.

So if it wasn't apparent to you before, it should be now that the Aggies are merely just the first domino of what could be many to fall.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com