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Tag:Nebraska
Posted on: June 29, 2009 3:01 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2009 12:09 pm
 

Picking the Big 12


The Big 12 South Division race, the Big 12 title game, the Heisman race and the national championship hinged on the conference's three-way tiebreaker. We found out about the 11-year-old rule when Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech each tied at 7-1 in the South Division.

Oklahoma "won" the tiebreaker because it finished the regular season as the highest-ranked team in the division  -- by .0128 of a point in the BCS standings. Instead of reliving the Austin angst, let's just say that one Longhorn suggested that if the tiebreaker rule wasn't changed in the offseason his school ought to pull out of the Big 12.

What's changed? Not much. The rule wasn't changed and Texas is still in the league. At the spring meetings, the Big 12 ADs accepted the coaches' vote that the tiebreaker remain the same. Why?

 One theory is that Texas probably doesn't get much sympathy from the other coaches because ... it's Texas. The school is perceived to have the best of everything so it didn't get much sympathy from schools that don't. Yeah, jealousy sucks.

 There is nothing to be gained for schools like Missouri, Iowa State, Colorado, Baylor, etc., so why change? Hey, the league got two teams in the BCS. To the other schools it doesn't matter who plays in those games as long as the money keeps rolling in.

 The tiebreaker makes sense. Why wouldn't you want your highest rated BCS team to win the tiebreaker? There was some feeling that the SEC tiebreaker is fairer.

In a three-way tie, the SEC drops the lowest-ranked team and decides things head-to-head. But since you're chasing a BCS title, the SEC tiebreaker potentially keeps the highest-ranked team out of a title shot.

The tiebreaker would have been a footnote on the national scene had not Texas and Oklahoma been involved. The rivalry was bitter enough without having to explain why the Horns lost out when they beat the Sooners on the field. Yeah, Oklahoma's fortune might cause a bit of consternation in Austin.

"They got a huge break," Texas' Colt McCoy said.

Like I said, nothing has changed. Texas and OU still hate each other. There is a good chance we could have another tiebreaker train wreck at the end of this season. Only the teams will change.


Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could all start the season in the top 10. The Red River Shootout on Oct. 17 shapes up as one of the most intense in the history of the rivalry. Just for controversy's sake let's assume the Horns win in Dallas, they still have to play in Stillwater on Halloween. If the Cowboys win they could win out until a Nov. 28 date in Norman. If the Sooners win that one, we're looking at another three-way 7-1 finish.

Who wins it in the BCS tiebreaker? In that scenario, you'd have to like Oklahoma again. The Texas loss would be six weeks old by then and beating Oklahoma State impressively would be the emphatic final statement for the computers the pollsters. That same thing happened last year when OU blew out Texas Tech.

Closer to the field, for the second consecutive year the Large Dozen remains the conference of quarterbacks. It sports a Heisman winner (Sam Bradford), a runner-up (Colt McCoy) and well as 2009 Heisman candidate Todd Reesing of Kansas. You can add Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson, Baylor's Robert Griffin and Texas Tech quarterback du jour Taylor Potts as difference makers.

Just giving you a fair warning, Texas fans. Grow your hair out now. You might be pulling it out in December.

Picking the Big 12 ...


North Division

1. Kansas -- If this were Miami, Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier and Reesing would be on the cover of every preseason mag in the country. Meier is the leading returning receiver in catches per game (10.8). Briscoe is second in receiving yards per game (108.2). Reesing already has led the Jayhawks to an Orange Bowl and is in line to become the school's best quarterback ever. Mark Mangino already has proven he can coach. If a new set of starting linebackers can tackle and if KU can beat either Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech (he is a combined 0-9 against the three) this could be a special season. The Jayhawks get the slight edge in the North because the Nebraska game is at home.

2. Nebraska -- Bo Pelini is slowly building Huskerville back to its usual standards. Slowly is the key word because defense is Pelini's thing and the D showed astounding lapses last year. Slowly, because Nebraska has not had a first-team All-American on the defensive line in 12 years. Tackle Ndamukong Suh could break the streak. Some draft boards already have him in the top five. There is little room for error where Pelini is a turned ankle away from having real problems at quarterback. Zac Lee is the guy after Patrick Witt, who was being counted on, left before the spring. A lot of folks think Nebraska has the advantage in the North because of its schedule. I see road trips to Missouri, Baylor, Kansas and Colorado, plus a home game against Oklahoma. Please tell me how that is favorable?

3. Missouri -- The Tigers will take a dip after back-to-back Big 12 North titles. Missouri knows it. The fans know it. The league knows it. The key is trying to make an 8-4 season seem like a success. Six-foot-five Blaine Gabbert takes over for Chase Daniel, only the greatest qb in Missouri history. He would be wise to spread the ball out to 1,000-yard rusher Derrick Washington and receivers Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The Tigers will score, just not as often. If the defense is shored up at all this team could be on the fringes of contending in the North. At times, the secondary looked like a fire drill. Linebacker All-American linebacker candidate Sean Weatherspoon passed up the draft and will chase the school's career tackles record as a senior.

4. Colorado -- Has Hawk Love turned into Hawk Doubt? Entering his fourth season in Boulder, Dan Hawkins has won only 13 games. The pressure is on to produce (hint: Big 12 North contention and a bowl game). Hawkins isn't backing down, saying this at the senior banquet: "Ten wins, no excuses." The quarterback situation is unsettled with son Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen maybe sharing the job again. Freshman tailback sensation Darrell Scott was upstaged by fellow freshman Rodney Stewart who led the team in rushing. Here's the scary thing: In a league with unrelenting offenses, CU has lost six of its top 10 tacklers.

5. Kansas State -- This isn't the old Big Eight for Bill Snyder. Back in 1989, he was taking over Kansas State from a zero position. This time he is chasing his own legacy. Not to diminish what Snyder accomplished, but back in the early 1990s, Missouri and Kansas were jokes and Oklahoma was sliding. There was no Texas to play two out of every four years. The Big 12 has more depth and strength than the Big Eight as Snyder tries for Miracle In Manhattan II. Snyder got K-State from dregs to the brink of a national championship game in nine years. Will the 69-year-old have that much time this time around?

6. Iowa State -- Iowa State swapped coaches with Auburn. Gene Chizik went. Paul Rhoads came. Rhoads, from nearby Ankeny, seems like he wants to stay awhile. He'll be looking up at the rest of the Big 12 North for a while. Ripping Wally Burham from South Florida to be his defensive coordinator was a huge get for Rhoads. The offense will have a chance with dual-threat Austen Arnaud at quarterback


South Division

1. Texas -- Mack Brown smiled when I told I had his pregame speech ready for the OU game. "We beat the Sooners last year, boys. Now let's go out and get some revenge!" Yeah, it's about that and a lot of things for Brown and the Horns. Except for perhaps some suspect running backs, Texas is loaded. Brown has his best team since the 2005 national championship crew. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle should be this season's Brian Orakpo. McCoy is driven not only by the tiebreaker but also his second-place finish in the Heisman. Still, it all boils down to Oct. 17 in Dallas.

2. Oklahoma -- Sam Bradford won the Heisman, became the first quarterback to win back-to-back Big 12 titles and got the Sooners to the national championship game. What is there left to accomplish? Plenty for Bradford who listened to family and advisors and put off the NFL. His body can fill out a bit and it doesn't look like there will be a Matthew Stafford to compete with in the draft this year. Oklahoma's questions are at offensive line and receiver. If this were anywhere else but the Big 12 South, the Sooners would be prohibitive favorites to repeat. With a break here or there, they still might end back up in the national championship game.

3. Oklahoma State -- With apologies to Texas and Oklahoma, this could be the best offense in the Big 12, if not the country. Returning are a 1,500-yard rusher (Kendall Hunter), an All-American receiver (Dez Bryant), and a 65 percent passer with 25 touchdowns (Robinson). The problem remains defense. New defensive coordinator Bill Young is the Cadillac of his profession. Okie State will be better just because of his presence. Perrish Cox is developing into an NFL talent at corner and is one of the nation's best returners.

4. Texas Tech -- The Red Raiders slip back to the 8-4 level this season. You know the drill: Potts will throw for eight million yards. There will be a 1,000-yard receiver or two. Mike Leach will be his usual quote-machine self. However, last season was a once-in-10-year event. There is payback waiting at Texas, at Oklahoma State and at Nebraska.

5. Baylor -- Does any Big 12 school have more upside? Joe Pawelek is an All-Big 12 linebacker. Center J.D. Walton anchors the offensive line now that Jason Smith is gone. But let's be honest, the moment quarterback Robert Griffin followed coach Art Briles to Baylor (from his commitment to Houston), things took off. A sprinter with Olympic aspirations, Griffin gave up the Big 12 track season to concentrate on what should be his breakout season in Waco. If there is a one-man team in the league, this is it. Griffin also was the team's No. 2 rusher. With more weight and more knowledge, Griffin should become the most elusive dual-threat in the Big 12 since Vince Young. At stake is a 14-year bowl drought. That ties for the longest active streak among BCS schools.

6. Texas A&M -- One former Big Eight coach said it during the offseason: This is A&M. It should be able to go over to the Houston high schools and scrounge up a couple of defensive linemen. In Mike Sherman's second season, d-line is a good place to start. The one-time Wrecking Crew was Charmin soft as one of the worst defensive units in the country. After the non-conference games, the Aggies gave up less than 35 once. Once! Nineteen players had surgery in the offseason. The Aggies better get fat early. The season ends with Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas.
 

Posted on: May 11, 2009 12:19 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2009 12:32 pm
 

We'll miss you Mim

In 1993, I covered the first home game in Colorado Rockies history. Really, it was a chance to drive out to Colorado Springs and see my friend Tim Mimick.

OK, Mim was offering a couch for free so that had something to do with too. That was Mim. He was the funniest guy I ever knew. That will never change. He was smart like that. He didn't like hack comics. He liked guys who made you think, like Bill Hicks.

He was also the smartest guy I ever knew. It was his goal, with his investments, to be able to retire at age 50. In 2003, at 49, Mim told the Colorado Springs Gazette that their paycheck was no longer needed. Somewhere, Warren Buffett blushed. Mim eventually moved back to native Columbus, Neb. to be with his mother who eventually died of cancer.

Mim was diagnosed himself last April. On Sunday, he died. Hug those close to you today and tell them you love them. Squeeze them tight. I never got that chance in the end with my buddy. Because of it, there will always be a small hole of guilt in my heart.
 
There will never be a person like him. Those of us who knew the Mim Dog will always have that laugh gene that he passed on. Can't wait to see you again someday, Tim. Hope the couches are more comfortable up there.

Here is the obit of the great Timothy L. Mimick ...

Tim Mimick, a Scotus Central Catholic High School and University of Nebraska graduate who became sports editor of the Columbus (Neb.) Telegram and later a longtime, award-winning sports writer at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., died Sunday at Genoa Community Hospital of complications from cancer. He was 55.
   
"I had the greatest respect in the world for Tim," former Air Force Academy football coach Fisher DeBerry told The Denver Post from his home in Isle of Palms, S.C. "He loved doing what he did for a living. To me, he was more than a great sports writer. He was a great friend as well. He was a pleasure to work with. He always looked for the positive in everything he did. I know my players loved being covered by him because they knew Tim had great admiration for them and for the academy.
   
"He will be greatly missed."
   
Mimick graduated from Scotus in 1971 and from Nebraska in 1975. He was a Gazette sports writer from 1979 to 2003 and covered most of the newspaper's major Front Range beats, including the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the football and basketball teams at the University of Colorado, Air Force and Colorado State, and numerous events at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He retired from journalism after covering the NCAA basketball tournament in 2003 and returned to Columbus, his hometown, to be closer to his family.

    "Tim not only was the best of the best among sports writers, he was the nicest person I've ever met," said Mike Burrows, a 1975 graduate of Columbus High School who worked with Mimick in Colorado Springs and now is with The Post sports department. "He displayed extraordinary courage during the last year of his life. Not once did he complain about being seriously ill. Not once. I'll never forget that, and I'll never forget Tim. Knowing him truly was a blessing."

    Mimick's work for the Colorado Springs newspaper took him to many high-profile events, including the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament and the NFL and NBA playoffs. One of the big thrills of his journalism career in Colorado Springs was covering Air Force's stunning 23-11 upset of Ohio State in the 1990 Liberty Bowl, where a Buckeyes senior safety named Bo Pelini, now Nebraska's football coach, played the last game of his college career.

    "Talent alone didn't make Tim a special sports writer," said DeBerry, the winningest coach in the history of military academy football. "Tim was a special sports writer also because he was a special person. And it showed in his work. Every time Tim walked into my office, I knew my day would be better because of him being there. He was a great man. His family had every reason to be proud of him.

    "Please keep Tim and his family in your prayers," DeBerry said.

 

 

Posted on: May 8, 2009 9:25 am
 

Didn't you used to be Sam Keller?

The former Nebraska quarterback is assuming anyone knew who he was in the EA Sports NCAA football games.

Good luck with the lawsuit, Sam. First, you have to prove you existed.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Nebraska
 
Posted on: March 24, 2009 6:19 pm
 

Terry Bowden's first quarterback

Former Nebraska and North Carolina State quarterback Harrison Beck will transfer to Division II North Alabama, becoming Terry Bowden's first quarterback in his new job.

Beck, once a highly touted prospect, started a handful of games at N.C. State the past two seasons after he had transferred from Nebraska following the 2005 season.
 
With one year of eligibility remaining, Beck is limited by an NCAA rule that allows such players to transfer only below the Division I-AA level, or to NAIA. Beck said he preferred to stay in Raleigh to graduate before moving to North Alabama in the spring.

Bowden was looking for a difference-making quarterback in his first season in Florence, Ala. The Lions finished 12-2 last season, losing in the semifinals of the Division II playoffs. Outgoing quarterback A.J. Milwee, a three-year starter, finished second in the Harlan Hill Trophy voting as a senior.
 
"I do want to get into coaching," Beck said. "I know a lot of his former guys have gone on to become offensive coordinators, that type of thing. The thing that's most appealing about Coach Bowden is there's only one other coach I felt 100 percent comfortable with. It was him and (former Nebraska offensive coordinator) Jay Norvell.

"I feel like it's the first time since then I can be myself."

Norvell is now an assistant at Oklahoma.

Bowden, out of coaching for 10 years, is determined to make a big and quick splash in Division II. Bobby Bowden's son is best known for leading Auburn to 20 consecutive victories before an acrimonious split in 1998. Former Terry Bowden quarterbacks Jimbo Fisher, Pat Nix and Dameyune Craig have all gone on to become offensive coordinators.

"I want to coach football, and the opportunity to learn from coach Bowden is something I couldn't pass up," Beck said.

Other random thoughts from Beck:

D&E: It's been a while, obviously you are among those who remember Coach Bowden as a coach?

HB: "I'm kind of weird. I remember. My world is kind of consumed by what's going on in the sport.

"It was nice to have the feeling against with Coach Bowden. He's got that personality where he's talking a mile a minute.

"It was kind of like, 'Am I ever going to get the chance to play again?' I'm calling every coach in the book I know, trying to get a GA spot. Just through the grapevine I hear Coach Bowden was looking for a quarterback.

D&E: Where else did you look?

HB: "To be honest I didn't have that many options. I'm not trying to be one of those kids who graduates and lives with Mommy and Daddy. I wanted to get this thing going. I'm going to get to play football again. I'll able to be a GA afterwards. I'm killing two birds with one stone.

"When you sit there and think about the logistics of it, the Bowdens are pretty much the football family of the South. I can go down there and play, have success and win for them, maybe become a coach. Maybe hop on that train and hang on for a while."

D&E: What about your experience since high school? You were a five-star recruit coming out.

HB: "It's not what I set out to have happen when I left high school. People will say, 'Oh, he keeps going to different places.' I 'm going to where I have a chance to play. I don't think it's because of my ability.
"The thing about the quarterback position people don't understand is the common denominator is they're (successful ones) in the places where it's the perfect storm for them ... Maybe I didn't hit mine right out of the gate. I'm still looking to find that. I hope I found it."

"I'm as confident as ever. I don't care what some chemistry student on PackPride.com is going to say about me. People romanticize football. It has a bigger meaning to them than it actually is. I put in hard work and I'm dedicated to it. I'm not concerned with how other people (perceive me). I'm all about gripping and ripping it. I enjoy playing. I like playing the game. I don't care about statistics."

 

Posted on: March 13, 2009 12:01 am
Edited on: March 13, 2009 12:11 am
 

The Big 12 Tournament blows up

No one was counting much on Dexter Pittman -- including his teammates.

"Dexter Pittman," Texas guard Varez Ward pondered Thursday afternoon,  "If he had played like that all season, no telling what our record would be."

It's hard to put much stock in a 6-foot-10, 300-pound foul-prone quasi-tight end who gets winded easily. But there was Pittman becoming the most outstanding player midway through the Big 12 Tournament.

Like most tournaments, the Big 12's was expected to be mostly chalk. Kansas and Oklahoma were the favorites. Going into Friday's semis, though, it might be the wildest postseason tournament in the country.

 Only one of the top four seeds (Missouri) advanced to the semis for the first time in tournament history.

 Kansas became only the second No. 1 seed in tournament history to lose in the first round. Ninth-seeded Baylor did the deed. No. 2 seed Oklahoma also slept in its own bed Thursday night, the victim of an upset to Oklahoma State.

 A kid named after a former Chicago Bears linebacker (Texas Tech's Mike Singletary) set the scoring record with 43 points against Texas A&M on Wednesday.

 No. 7 seed Oklahoma State finally broke through against Oklahoma this season with a last-second 71-70 victory.

Pittman, though, resembles King Kong in more than stature to this point. The Longhorns find themselves meeting Baylor -- Baylor? -- in one semifinal after Pittman went off against Kansas State on Thursday. A day after scoring a career-high 26 against Colorado, Pittman erupted for 19 points and a career-high 20 rebounds against the Wildcats. That's 45 points and 30 rebounds in two games for a guy who averages 10 points and five rebounds.

“There’s no question he played his best overall game,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said afterward. “It’s really neat, because he’s just getting started.”

Problem is, no one knew if Pittman would ever get started. He came to Austin three years ago 70 pounds overweight. Not only was food a problem, so was stamina. Until lately. Pittman has asserted himself late averaging 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in the last five games. His go-ahead layup with 74 seconds left was eventually the winning basket.

The big fella dominated in a grinder that featured almost as many fouls (41) as field goals (42). Texas will take on Baylor in one semi with a hint of desperation. While the Horns are safely in the tournament, the Bears are trying to make a miracle run to an NCAA berth.

Why not? Baylor is across the street from the building where coach Scott Drew's brother Bryce made his miracle shot to beat Ole Miss in 1998. This year's difference maker for the Bears is the coach's 2-3 zone which bothered both Nebraska and Kansas.

The other semi matches Missouri against the Cowboys. Okie State had lost the previous two Bedlam games to Oklahoma this season. It held on this time when the timekeeper didn't start the clock with 2.3 seconds left on Oklahoma's last possession. National player of the year Blake Griffin looked like he was fouled going up for a desperation last-second pass. Officials ruled that time had expired after OU scrambled to get a last shot.

Oklahoma State also survived with guard Byron Eaton scoring 16 points before he moves on to ... football. Eaton is a senior in basketball but has a year of athletic eligibility left. Don't be surprised to see the guard transform into a fullback in the fall.

Meanwhile, the league's top two seeds go into the NCAA Tournament somnambulant. Oklahoma has won two of its last six. Kansas has lost two of its last three.

"We're not very tough," Kansas guard Sherron Collins said, "if we can't come back from this."

We'll see. The Big 12 upsets could have all kinds of repercussions.  Oklahoma's shot at a No. 1 seed is all but gone. Kansas was hoping at least to get placed in Kansas City for the first and second rounds. That virtual home-court advantage could be in danger as well.

 

 

Posted on: January 5, 2009 7:14 pm
 

BCS title game media day!

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Just when you thought fingernails against a chalkboard were tolerable, a couple of hundred men and women gathered to talk to Gators and Sooners. Yes, there were more than a few stupid questions. Hopefully, none by me ...

Day 2 of the Dom Bomb brought the requisite reaction from Florida.

Oklahoma's Dominique Franks made trash talk news on Sunday when he said Tim Tebow would only be the fourth-best quarterback in the Big 12. Florida receiver Louis Murphy said it would provide more motivation for Tebow. The quarterback himself gave a non-answer. "I'll just try to have fun out there Thursday night."

"I don't have a reaction," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "I've done this for a long time, and I'm sure that someone jammed a microphone in his face and he was having fun."

Not so much Urban. The kid brought it up on his own. Take my word for it. I was there.

 Bo Pelini didn't seem to be one of the central figures in this championship but he is, having helped both Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen.

Venables flew to Lincoln in mid-December to break down film and discuss how to beat Florida. Pelini, Nebraska's head coach, offered his help after getting a feel for the Gators during his time at LSU. Venables seemed surprised that I knew the two had met when I talked to him on Monday. He didn't admit to the skull session, saying the two are just "good friends."

Mullen talked to Pelini about juggling two jobs prior to a national championship game. Mullen is balancing his last days at Florida while taking over as head coach at Mississippi State. Pelini did a similar thing last year when he stayed for the BCS title game as defensive coordinator after taking the Nebraska job.

 Redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley will be taking over for Tebow if the Heisman-winning quarterback leaves for the NFL after this season. Brantley is a five-star prospect from nearby Ocala. If Tebow does stay, Brantley wouldn't see the field as a starter until his fourth season as a redshirt junior in 2010.

 "It doesn't bother me," Brantley said. "Me and Tim are such good friends. I don't have hate against him at all. It would be another year of learning, I guess."

 Meyer was short with a reporter Monday who asked him about his controversial Notre Dame comment last month. Meyer said that Notre Dame remains his "dream job."

 Why, the reporter asked, is Notre Dame so special?

"Next question," Meyer said.

Florida AD Jeremy Foley said that Meyer's ND comment didn't bother him. Meyer seems to be a long-timer at Florida, or least until his nine-year-old son Nate is in college. That would be 10 years. Would you take another decade, Gators?

"I don't think he'll leave," linebacker Brandon Spikes said. "If he goes, I'm pretty sure he'll turn the program around. He did it here at Florida."

  One of the few connections between the two teams is Oklahoma defensive back Brett Bowers and Tebow.

 Bowers was a junior at Trinity Catholic Academy in Jacksonville, Fla. when Tebow was a freshman. Bowers played with Tebow's older brothers at Trinity.

 The redshirt junior "really didn't know who Oklahoma was" until seeing them play on TV against his favorite, Florida State, in 2000.

"I kind of followed Coach Stoops and his career, he beat my favorite team," Bowers said. "At the time, the Florida schools started rebuilding. Oklahoma was one of my offers. My mom is from Oklahoma City. I committed early."
Bowers has played mostly on special teams.

 Murphy recently graduated with his degree in Sports Recreation and Event Management. He will fondly look back at one of his internships on a butterfly farm.

 "I learned the state butterfly is the Zebra Longwing," Murphy said.

So at least there's that.

 

Posted on: December 8, 2008 7:38 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2008 11:22 am
 

Random thoughts on a football Monday

Colt McCoy is the Heisman leader in the prestigious Rocky Mountain News poll. Yours truly voted in it this season.

 Nagurski Award (best defensive player) went to a Big 12 player? Texas' Brian Orakpo was sixth in sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. Okaaay ....

 

CBSSports.com's All-America team (including our defensive player of the year) will be released on Friday.


 Once again, one person didn't vote in the Harris poll. That made it three times this season someone was missing from the 114-person panel.


 Eighteen coaches voted for their own school in the coaches poll. The individual ballots were released  Monday in USA Today. There were some interesting results.

--Oregon's Mike Bellotti voted for Cal (No. 25) but Cal coach Mike Tedford did not.

--North Carolina finished with six points in the coaches poll. Two of them came from coach Butch Davis who voted the Tar Heels No. 24.

--Mike Leach voted Oklahoma No. 1, Texas Tech No. 2 and Texas No. 5. No. 5? That at least equaled the lowest ranking of the Longhorns among the 61 voters.

--Nebraska got all of five points in the poll. Four of them came from coach Bo Pelini who slotted his Huskers No. 21.

--Most overrated team by a coach: Missouri. Gary Pinkel had his Tigers at No. 18. They barely stayed in both polls.

--Three five-loss teams finished with votes -- Kansas, Rutgers and Buffalo.

 Here are the combined top five of the seven Big 12 coaches who voted in the coaches poll. This is an issue, of course, because Texas finished .01816 of a point out of the BCS title game.

 

1. Oklahoma (five first-place votes)
2. Texas (1)
3. Florida (1)
4. Alabama
5. USC

The seven are: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Gary Pinkel, Missouri; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Bo Pelini, Nebraska. Only Chizik and Mack Brown had Texas ahead of Oklahoma on their ballots. Briles, Hawkins, Leach, Pinkel and Pelini voted Oklahoma No. 1.

Four coaches voted Texas No. 1 in the coaches poll. Amazingly, one of them wasn't Mack Brown: Chizik, Todd Dodge, North Texas; Rick Neuhiesel, UCLA; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso.

Chizik worked for Brown. Dodge played at Texas. Price played Texas this year was grateful for the Horns coming and filling his stadium. Neuheisel is the head scratcher but a lot of stuff The Rickster does causes us to scratch our heads.

 How my BIG playoff would have looked in 2006 and 2007:

 


2007

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 LSU vs. No. 8 West Virginia
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 5 Missouri
No. 2 Virginia Tech vs. No. 7 Kansas
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 USC

2006

Regular season national champion: Ohio State
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. USC


Playoff bracket

No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Oklahoma
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Wisconsin
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Auburn
No. 3 LSU vs. No. 6 Boise State

 The old lady next to us offered us a drink, she was guzzling gin out of a thermos. That much I remember from the last time the Cardinals won a division. Back in 1975 they were the St. Louis Cardinals and I was just out of high school.

 

Friend Jack Scanlan and I somehow scored tickets in the bleachers at old Busch Stadium to what was then the biggest football game in The Loo's history.  On a cold, cold day, Jackie Smith caught a touchdown pass and the Cardinals of Jim Hart, Terry Metcalf and Mel Gray beat the Giants 14-6.

It was a bigger deal then than it was today in Arizona. The Cardinals migrated from Chicago in 1960 and spent 27 mostly-frustrating seasons in my hometown. I still follow the Cards enough to know that the Bidwells are still the Bidwells.  Cheap and clueless.

Good on ya to Arizona, though. The city deserves a team to fit that magnificent stadium.

And, no, take the old lady up on her offer. I was only 18, besides I'm a vodka man.

Posted on: December 5, 2008 6:21 pm
 

Latest from theSEC championship game

ATLANTA -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin remains questionable for Saturday's SEC championship game.

While Florida coach Urban Meyer said the Gators' biggest home-run threat would be evaluated after a Friday afternoon practice.
 
"We're going to hold him until everyone leaves (practice) then we're going to make an evaluation after that," Meyer said.

Harvin suffered a high ankle sprain last week against Florida State.  Harvin's health is the No. 1 subject around the SEC championship game which will determine one of the participants in the BCS title game. The often-injured star averages only 8.7 touches per game but leads the Gators in receiving and is second in rushing.

He was named to the American Football Coaches Association All-American team this week.


 Sometimes you have to find out what you don't want to do.

That's what happened to Steve Sarkisian who will be named the new Washington coach some time after Saturday's season ender at UCLA. It was just a short time ago when USC's offensive coordinator was Al Davis' No. 1 choice to become the Raiders coach.

I was sitting in his office shortly after his marathon interview. The crotchety Davis is thorough, if you consider thorough what the team is going to eat for lunch. That was one of the questions thrown at Sarkisian. It was at that point that he knew the NFL -- at least the Raiders -- was not for him.

His friend and fellow USC coach Lane Kiffin eventually got interested in the job. We know what happened from there.

Sarkisian's departure makes it four assistants that have left Pete Carroll's side in recent years.

Norm Chow -- left for the Titans in 2005 and was fired after last season. He will go against Carroll for the first time on Saturday.

Nick Holt -- left Louisville to join Carroll's original USC staff in 2001. Holt then left to become the Idaho head coach in 2004 and 2005 before returning as defensive coordinator in 2006.

Kiffin -- The son of Monte Kiffin left the staff in 2007 to take the Raiders' job. That unfortunate dalliance that ended earlier this season probably helped him get the Tennessee job last month.

By the way, the Sarkisian deal is done. Both Washington and Sark didn't want it to get out until after Saturday's game but, hey, we have to do our jobs.

Current receivers coach John Morton is reportedly a candidate to replace Sark. Great piece here by theL.A. Times Bill Plaschke regarding the situation.


 For the second consecutive year the nation's No. 1 team is an underdog going into a conference championship. Last year it was No. 1 Missouri losing to Oklahoma. This year it's Alabama giving up 9 1/2-10 points to Florida.


 Hoping for upset in the Big 12, Texas? Congrats, you're actually a part of the four biggest upsets in the Big 12 title game history:

1996 --Texas 37, Nebraska 27. James Brown (the one without the cape) hit Derek Lewis with a 61-yard pass on fourth-and-1 to help clinch it. The game allowed Florida to slip into the Sugar Bowl for a rematch with Florida State. Steve Spurrier won his, and the school's first national championship.

1998 --Texas A&M 36, Kansas State 33 (2OT). Purple people were on pay phones (10 years ago was before cellies) calling for tickets to the Fiesta Bowl at halftime. It looked even better when K-State was up by 15 with 12 minutes left. Sirr Parker's game-winning touchdown catch that his life story was made into a movie. 

2003 -- Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7. Who needs a Big 12 championship when you're this solid in the BCS? In one of the great BCS fumbles of all time, the Sooners still played in the national championship game despite losing  by four touchdowns. USC got justice later with a split title.

2007 -- Oklahoma 38, Missouri 17 -- This one barely qualifies as an upset. Oklahoma was a three-point favorite but Missouri was No. 1 going in. The Tigers were coming off perhaps the biggest game in their history, beating rival Kansas. They had risen to the top spot but were underdogs  in a game in which Oklahoma rolled.  OU's was the first defense all season to hold Missouri to less than 31 points.

 How does this happen?  Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was named Associated Press' Big 12 player of the year. He was AP's second-team quarterback. Complicating matters further Heisman-wise: Sam Bradford was the first-team AP quarterback. Texas Tech's Graham Harrell was the AFCA first-team quarterback.

 

 The favorite at Auburn now seems to be Florida State's Jimbo Fisher.  If the school can come up with the money to fund Fisher's multi-million dollar buyout it might work. Fisher has a background at Auburn as quarterbacks coach from 1993-98.

 

 
 
 
 
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