Posted on: October 8, 2011 3:39 pm

Texas DBs pay as OU needs to score style points

DALLAS -- They were visibly hanging their heads, the young, embarrassed members of the Texas secondary. They weren't just beaten time after time Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, they became unwilling witnesses to the phenomenon known as style points.

That's what it's down to now, right? Alabama is getting magazine covers. LSU is getting compared to Alabama. All Oklahoma has done since debuting at No. 1 in both polls is drop to No. 3 in AP and lose the media war.

So why not take advantage of a secondary that isn't ready for prime time, much less an 11 a.m. start in the Red River Shootout. Oklahoma's Landry Jones made sure the two sophomores and one true freshman who populate the regular defensive back rotation had their self-confidence sawed in half.

Then the third quarter started.

Yes, it was that bad in an Oklahoma victory that should at least keep it in the running for the national championship (sarcasm added). It should also have those Longhorns questioning how much real progress they've made this season. After a gutty one-point win over BYU and a fulfilling win at UCLA, found itself in the top 10.

Oklahoma punched more holes in the comeback attempt than it forced turnovers. And there were more than a few of them.

Last year at this time Quandre Diggs was at Angleton (Texas) High School. On the game's first play, OU's Ryan Broyles caught a sideline pass, turned and breezed past Diggs, now a Texas freshman corner, for a 40-yard gain.

With 31 seconds left in the first half, Oklahoma's Kenny Stills caught his second touchdown after bewildering Texas sophomore Adrian Phillips.

This secondary may be good someday. It wasn't Saturday. Perhaps there is consultant work in its future for LSU or Alabama on how to beat Oklahoma. Paid or unpaid, ask Ohio State.

Even in the second week of October, the season seems to be coming down to that. Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma have separated themselves from the college football pack. You better believe Sooners veteran coordinator Brent Venables wanted to make a statement with his defense. It took apart Texas' two-headed quarterback (David Ash and Case McCoy) enough to make you wonder if the Longhorns have made that much progress at all from last season's 5-7 debacle.

At least you could catch all the highlights on the Longhorn Network.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 9:31 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 9:32 pm

Son of Weekend Watch List: Coaches' poll attacks?

The love-child addendum to Friday's Weekend Watch List ...

What SWWL wouldn't give to get a weekly look at the coaches' poll ballots. It just so happens this week that the coaches of the top six teams in the poll all have votes -- 1. Oklahoma (Bob Stoops), 2. LSU ( Les Miles), 3. Nick Saban (Alabama), 4. David Shaw (Stanford), 5. Bret Bielema (Wisconsin) and 6. Boise State (Chris Petersen).

In some small (or large) way they -- or any coach in the process -- could manipulate who plays in the national championship game. College football continues to stage the only championship literally controlled by the coaches competing for it.  


--Add Mike Stoops to the hot seat list. Arizona (1-4) goes to Oregon State having lost so many conference games in a row (seven) that the streak began in the Pac-10 and continues in the Pac-12.

--You think your life is rough? Here's a look inside Mack Brown's Longhorn Network commitments during the week.

Monday: Texas Rewind, a one-hour replay show that requires a two-hour commitment.

Wednesday: Longhorn Sportsline with Mack Brown. One-hour show that requires a slightly more than a two-hour commitment; Also 10-15-minute segment on Texas All Access.

Thursday: Game Plan with Mack Brown. One-hour show that requires a 90-minute commitment.

An interview to open coverage of live practice Tuesday and Wednesday. (5 or 10 minutes).

Home games: Texas GameDay on set, 10-15 minutes. Road: one-on-one sideline.

One-hour show every Wednesday: All-access recordes interview 10-15 minutes.


--Finally, SWWL can't get enough of Texas safety Blake Gideon who has been a friend of The List for three years since he dropped the potential game-clinching interception against Texas Tech in 2008.

"In reality, we're not playing for anybody in the stands," he said of Saturday's Oklahoma game. "We're playing for the brotherhood we've developed."  

Q: You're a senior what's it like to go out there in Red River Shootout for the first time?

Gideon:  "It was tough for me as a true freshman to go out there and really being overwhelmed by it for the that first series. It's hard not to get caught up. I just tell the young guys, 'It's the same game you've been playing."

Q: You've been on both sides, winning and losing this game. What's it like?

Gideon: "It's heartbreaking to lose, last year obviously. The first two years we played we came away with victories. It doesn’t matter how you played individually. You won, you beat Oklahoma. It's the game everybody grew up watching, at least everyone in Texas.


Q: Tell me about that first series when you're so nervous.

Gideon:  "You make a tackle for a loss, half the stadium stands up and goes wild. Half the stadium is quiet. Next play they get a first down, it's completely flipped. It really hinges like that one play the entire game. The fans are on the edge of their seat, the entire game.

"From the time both teams come out of the tunnel to the whistle, it's all out emotional passion. You can't help but give everything you have and pouring everything you have into it."

Q: You cracked two vertebrae in high school. Do they ever bother you?

Gideon:  "It's sore every now and then, nothing like it was in high school. In high school, that was definitely a scary time in my life. There was numbness in my legs, excruciating pain.

"After my sophomore year [in high school], my back had been bothering me. I drove back to my house after a game. I really couldn't get out of the car because my legs were numb. I wore a back brace for nine months."

Q: What's it like being in that Cotton Bowl tunnel right before the game?

Gideon: "There's a little bit of talking going on, a lot of emotion. The past three years, the Oklahoma fans have been at that end of the stadium.. They're sending all the good lucks down to us."



Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:13 pm

Texas gets credit and a league to play in

For a brief, fleeting moment we saw a glimpse of Texas' vulnerability Thursday.

If you blinked you missed it. A gust of wind caught UT's skirt and revealed some of its unmentionables

There was a time not long ago when TCU to the Big 12 would have been a dealbreaker for the haughty 'Horns. Why give little brother a chance to recruit against and -- gasp! -- possibly beat mighty UT?

And the thought of giving up on those Longhorn Network high school games? Never!

Turns out those issues were just bargaining chips. Backed into a corner, all-powerful Texas backed down. But it got want it wanted Thursday -- the Big 12 whole and the perception that Texas once again saved it.

You didn't even have to look closely during the rat-a-tat-tat of press releases. First, TCU was invited to the Big 12. The Frogs now have a chance to turn loose those Lone Star State recruits that got them to the Rose Bowl on Texas.

Then there were glowing recommendations from the power elite: Suddenly, Texas and Oklahoma cared about TCU's academic and athletic diligence in getting to this point. It was their joint resolution. Those two schools' names will appear in every story and on every TV report in the country. Shrewd. Smart. Even industrious TCU hasn't figured out how to do that. Yet.

The league also agreed to the much-discussed all-in media rights for six years. Texas said it didn't need to show those high school highlights on LHN. Remember, that damn high school television presence that caused Texas A&M to bolt? Suddenly, not a big deal.

A day of "salvation," and none of it would have happened without Texas. That's the image we're left with. Actually, none of it would have happened without some sizable pushback from interim commissioner Chuck Neinas and Oklahoma president David Boren.

Someone stood up to Texas, finally. The school's administration figured out to get rich, you have to exist in a conference. The Big 12 might not perfect, but it's a league and it's a hell of a lot better for Bevo than independence.

Going indy means a BCS bid becomes a lot tougher to achieve. It means scheduling problems.

How many noticed that the Big 12 got worse, in stages, over the past 16 months? Did we forget where Texas A&M, Nebraska and Colorado play now? Did you forget Missouri is on the brink? This time the league essentially traded Texas' sprawling land-grant giant (A&M) for a private school with an enrollment of 9,000.

As for Missouri, Thursday's actions told me that the Big 12 is ready to move on. If Missouri is going to stay, it's going to have to agree to all the new rules. Leverage shifts quickly, and suddenly, Missouri has less of it. The SEC thing is beginning to shaky with a report that there isn't exactly unanimous approval for the Tigers among SEC presidents.

Some dumb Missouri source also said that the school's first choice is the Big Ten. That can't sit well with SEC CEOs.

But it's a happy day in the Big 12, because the Big 12 continues to exist. Thanks, Texas. Wonder if Nebraska, Colorado and A&M would have voted for this?

Of course they would. This didn't have to happen. But these are desperate times that could be upon us against soon. Those grants of rights last only six years. That's plenty of time for the landscape to shift, for Texas to have second thoughts about sharing LHN with ... the Pac-12.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, the week started with an ugly snit with SMU. It ended, for TCU, in football heaven.

One man's, well, strumpet is another man's industrious worker bee. TCU becomes the first school to leave a conference before playing a game in it. Thanks, Big East, we hardly knew you. No, really. The departure of the Frogs puts the Big East on life support.

Do you care? Texas doesn't. Neinas doesn't. TCU sure as hell doesn't. But the Frogs deserve the Big 12 if for no other reason than they didn't quit trying to get there. Left out of the original Big Eight/Southwest Conference expansion, the school then charted a course to make itself as marketable as possible.

"I think the best thing is, we won our way back," said author Dan Jenkins, a TCU alum and college football historian. "We made them take us. It's a good deal all around, including the time zone. Now people will know whether we won or lost on Saturday nights." 

Little did Jenkins or anyone know it would take 16 years and five conferences for TCU to get back to this point. The conclusion: The school didn't give up. The reality in this contentious climate: TCU is a warm body at the right time. And the Big 12 might actually be 12 soon again.

Boren: "There could be other additions in the future."

Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 10:22 am

Living in the Big Doughnut Hole

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Welcome to the Big Doughnut Hole.

This used to be the center of the college universe. At least one of them. This city still has hosted more Final Fours (10) than any other. It's a Chiefs town first and a Jayhawks town second. Most of all, it's a melting pot with a sizable amount of Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri alums here as well.

We have the NFL and Major League baseball (barely) but it's a college town more than anything. A better college town than New York or L.A. We are connected by our teams and events. They give us our sense of self.

The annual Big 12 basketball tournament is a gathering place to drink, gossip and people watch. The Missouri-Kansas football game at Arrowhead is an event that traces its roots back to the Civil War. Kansas, and all its basketball history, is 40 miles away. Bill Snyder is still working miracles down the road at Kansas State.

But with Missouri declaring its intentions to look around on Monday night, suddenly there is no center here. Just a big hole where that gathering place used to be. You can feel it. To the right of us, probably soon, will be the SEC (Missouri);  a short three-hour drive to the north of us is the Big Ten (Nebraska). To our left will be what's left of the Big 12 (Kansas and Kansas State).

Kansas City could become a great staging area for GameDay's equipment semis in the Midwest, but for the actual college experience, it's slipping away. The Big 12 tournament is now in danger. It will continue, somewhere. But it has to be hard to anchor a conference tournament in a state where the league has no teams.

The Kansas-Missouri rivalry is now in danger too. That's another shame. After the Iron Bowl and the Red River Rivalry, it is the best.

A few years ago, they moved MU-KU football to Arrowhead Stadium and it became a spectacle. In 2007, No. 2 Kansas lost to No. 3 Missouri and the Tigers became No. 1. ABC/ESPN still counts the game among its most highly-rated in history.

But like that Wicked Witch, it's all melting away. I know this because Bill Self didn't hold back Tuesday when Missouri declared its intentions

Kansas' basketball coach told the Lawrence Journal-World that the MU-KU series may be over.

" ... I don't think I would be interested in having a once-a-year game like I did when I was at Illinois, playing Missouri," Self said. "I could probably change my mind (but) trust me, we would have no trouble finding a non-league game to play.

"I love the rivalry .. but I can't imagine why would we continue playing?"

Which is sad because the basketball series goes back to 1907. The football series goes back to the 1890s. Kansas, like a lot of folks in Kansas City and the Big 12, are upset at Missouri. By taking its ball to the SEC, it would be impacting that Big 12 tournament. It would damage the Kansas rivalry.

Point being: Why put money in Missouri's pocket by playing a non-conference game?

"I have no ill will toward Missouri at all," Self said, "but to do something at a time that could be so damaging and hurtful to a group, I can't see us just taking it and forgetting ."

If this is truly the end , then someone may want to hire extra security for what could be the final regular-season Border War game in history -- Feb. 25 in Lawrence. Forget the fans for a moment, there are scores of sportswriters who would shed tears over the end of this epic rivalry.

We are losing that sense of self here in Cowtown. Clearly, Missouri administrators don't care. The SEC doesn't care. The networks will continue to televise games. They don't care.

Conference realignment goes on unabated. Traditional rivalries are being cut down like rainforests. Our natural habitat is being destroyed. Is this a good thing for college athletics? No, that's not really the point.

Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas called modern conferences "scheduling opportunities" and "amalgamations". I called them "content farms."

Now it's hitting home. It would suck to be a doughnut hole.


Posted on: October 5, 2011 9:50 am
Edited on: October 5, 2011 10:26 am

MU Deaton's possible conflict of interest

The Big 12 is determining whether Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton is still a member of the conference's expansion committee despite now being the point man for the school's conference exploration.

Deaton stepped down as chairman of the Big 12 board of directors Monday during an announcement that the school's board of curators had given him permission to explore "all actions necessary to fully explore options for conference affiliation ". Deaton made a point to say he had relinquished his chairman position to remove the appearance of a conflict.

Deaton either is or was chairman of the conference's four-person expansion committee that recently reformed. There seems to be some confusion within the league whether that position is held by Deaton or Kansas State president Kirk Schulz. The league is in the process of deciding how to expand with or without Missouri, which looks like it is headed to the SEC.

It would definitely be a conflict if Deaton was on a committee finding new members for the Big 12 while exploring his school's conference options. A league spokesman said the issue would be clarified later Wednesday.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, Missouri, SEC
Posted on: October 4, 2011 8:12 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 9:02 pm

Missouri officially looking (unofficially at SEC)

Since it started it, maybe Missouri figures it can finish it.

Or as finished as conference realignment can ever be.

Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton got permission Tuesday night from the school's board of curators to seek new conference membership. Nothing surprising there. In case you haven't been following, this would the first move toward Missouri becoming the SEC's 14th team. One problem. No one is sure if the SEC even wants a 14th team at the moment, much less Missouri being that school.

The hand-wringing, then, will continue from BYU to the Big East. Missouri's decision controls the fate of several teams and conferences, including their current one, the Big 12. The fractured league cannot move on with expansion, or even a future, without knowing if Missouri is going to be a participant.

And all indications are Missouri is going to take its good, old time. That was evident when Missouri AD Mike Alden met with the curators for four hours on Tuesday. Perhaps Missouri was contemplating the fact  it kicked off this latest round of realignment. Reacting to Dec. 9, 2009 statement that the Big Ten was considering expansion, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon quickly added:

"I want to look at what options the Big Ten may have to offer. This is not something that should be kept on the sports page and treated with the back of the hand. We have an obligation to make our schools as excellent as they can be."

Big 12 nervousness followed. In the next month, Nebraska began talking with the Big Ten. In June, issues came to a head at the 2010 Big 12 spring meetings. Shortly thereafter, Nebraska left for the Big Ten. Colorado went to the Pac-10.

"The [Missouri] governor's remarks got me going. We had to do something, and fast," CU AD Mike Bohn said at the time.

Turns out Missouri wasn't near the top of the Big Ten's list. Now things have come full circle. Everyone can blame Texas for throwing its weight around, but how is Missouri different at this point? It suddenly has leverage. It is holding a league hostage. It is making a perceived money grab.

It could be the fourth school to leave the Big 12 in 16 months -- and it doesn't care. Expect the next few weeks -- if not months -- to be a period of introspection for Brad Pitt's school. Missouri has to decide if it wants to leave its ancestral home. The Big 12 has roots that go back 104 years for Missouri.

It has to decide if it wants to change its culture from a Midwestern school to one with its base in the heart of Dixie. Does it want to be Bubba or Brad? Does it want to be at the center the Big 12 or a western outpost in the SEC?

There is no right answer. The difference in revenue is negligible. Missouri could stay in the Big 12 and be secure at least the next six years. But the SEC would provide long-lasting security. Missouri football is an above middle-of-the-road program in the Big 12. It would be a middle-of-the-road program in the SEC.

But this isn't about football. This is about emotion, which can be a dangerous thing. That's why Deaton merely has permission at this point. The last two presidents to get similar permission from their boards of regents, came to different conclusions. Texas A&M went to the SEC. Oklahoma, eventually, stayed in the Big 12.

For now. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, Missouri, SEC
Posted on: October 3, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 1:33 pm

Big 12 moves closer to unity, or does it?

The Big 12 sent out an encouraging press release Monday morning.

But that’s all it was: encouraging.

The league said the conference board of directors “announced adoption of a position” to share revenue from primary football and basketball television deals. Without getting into the details, this is exactly what Oklahoma president David Boren said had occured 10 days ago. It’s also what Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton put in doubt a few minutes later when he said only that the matter was being “discussed.”

Essentially, nothing has changed. None of this is formal until each individual school adopts the policy. It seems that Texas is on board, although sharing of Longhorn Network revenue continues to be non-negotiable. How each school goes about addressing the issue differs. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas indicated it was something other than a rubber stamp.

When asked if each school would formally adopt the all-in rights plan, he said: "I hope so" 

It seems that Missouri is on board, at least philosophically -- for now. But there is one, giant, pregnant question still out there. What good is an “adoption of a position” if Missouri doesn’t actually stay in the conference? The SEC remains an option, a big one. Missouri fans are reportedly lobbying administrators heavily via email to leave the contentious Big 12.

The Missouri board of curators meets Tuesday at noon. The board could go as far as empowering chancellor Brady Deaton to seek admission to another conference. That would make Monday's press release fairly worthless.

It's still an issue that Deaton continues to serve as Big 12 board chairman and is a member of the expansion committee. That could be a perceived a conflict with Deaton serving two masters while Missouri evaluates its options.

Neinas said Deaton recused himself from a part of a Sunday conference meeting on the advice of his legal counsel. Meanwhile, the lobbying goes on. 

"It's one thing to talk about Southeastern Conference," Neinas said, "but how many people are going to be able to afford to travel to Gainesville, Fla. or Tuscaloosa, Ala.? John Q. Fan can get in the car and drive to Big 12 games. Besides, Missouri is Midwestern school, not a Southern school."

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, Missouri
Posted on: October 2, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2011 5:32 pm

Week 5 Power Poll: Tigers, Tide a cut above

Can we just fast forward to Nov. 5? That's when LSU travels to Alabama to decide one half of the national championship game.

We think.

For now, the Tigers and Tide have separated themselves from the pack in the Week 5 Power Poll. No surprise there as the SEC has half the conference (six) in the top 25.

1. LSU -- It never rains points (defensively) in Tiger Stadium. Kentucky is third Tiger opponent this season held under double digits.

2. Alabama --  Bama and LSU defenses so dominant they're set to meet on "Dancing With The Scars."

3. Oklahoma -- Yes, OU dropped a spot after beating Ball State by 56. Deal with it.

4. Wisconsin -- The only free agent bigger than Russell Wilson in the state of Wisconsin is Prince Fielder.

5. Boise State -- Oh, so now the Broncos' kicker (Dan Goodale) makes all the kicks against Nevada.

6. Oklahoma State -- Bye week spent getting lube, oil and filter for nation's No. 3 total offense.

7. Stanford -- Andrew Luck makes his Heisman statement -- as a receiver.

8. Clemson -- First ACC team to defeat ranked teams in three consecutive weeks. Shock The World Tour continues.

9. Oregon -- Haven't been held under 56 since opening-night loss to LSU. Watch out Cal (Thursday night).

10. Michigan -- Why, yes, if you must know the Wolverines can win the Legends Division. Big Ten needs a mercy rule. Gophers gassed 58-0.

11. Texas -- Horns head into the Red River Shootout undefeated. Thank your Texas State Fair fried ice cream for that.

12. Georgia Tech -- Paul Johnson likes to distribute the ball. Just don't ask defenses who has it.

13. Michigan State -- Spoiled Buckeyes fans boo unpaid, eligible players who haven't taken extra benefits in 10-7 loss to the Spartans. "Am I surprised?" Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.  "I used to work here.

14. Illinois -- It's hard to pronounce, even harder to spell it but you will remember his name. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase passes for a career-high 391 yards vs. Northwestern.

15. Virginia Tech -- Enter Sandman for Hokies' offense.  No touchdowns at home for the first time since 1995.

16. Kansas State -- Bill Snyder turns 72 on Friday. In a conference that desperately needs one, undefeated Wildcats are turning into the Big 12's feel-good story.

17. Auburn -- Gene Chizik used the old Lutzenkirchen to beat South Carolina.  That would be tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen who caught the game winner with 98 seconds left.

18. Nebraska -- Bo must go -- back to Lincoln to figure out how his vaunted defense gave up the program's most points in three years.

19. South Carolina -- Stephen Garcia with a ball down by three against Auburn in the final two minutes? What can go wrong?

20. Florida -- Gators need a win, and a search party for their manhood. Bama drains the Swamp of fans in a convincing win.

21. Baylor -- Please keep Robert Griffin III on your Heisman list. All he did was throw eight incompletions, five touchdowns and one crippling interception against Kansas State.

22. Arkansas -- Hogs plucky enough to stay within 18 until another A&M second-half collapse.

23. West Virginia -- Mountaineers entered the Bowling Green game with 306 total rushing yards. Freshman Dustin Garrison had 291 by himself against the Falcons.

24. Arizona State --Oregon State had not allowed a punt return all season until Jamaal Miles took one 78 yards for a score Saturday.  The (suddenly) Pac-12 South favorites roll, 35-20.

25. Washington --U-Dub forces five Utah turnovers. Offense has scored at least 30 in each game.


Category: NCAAF
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