Posted on: June 16, 2009 12:06 am

Colt McCoy's (non-)broken leg

AUSTIN, Texas -- John Bianco's phone blew up at dinner. That was the first sign -- of a Texas football apocalypse.

You should know that Bianco is the football SID at Texas. One of the best. Sometimes it seems he knows something has happened at with the football program before it actually happens. Not this time. Silly him for thinking that he could have a nice, quiet dinner with friends at a trendy Austin fish place on Monday night.  

His cellie began buzzing with cryptic texts as we were looking over the menu. Something about Colt McCoy's compound leg fracture. TV and radio guys were calling. If it was true ... well, no one around here wanted to think that it was true. Texas' promising fall would have turned into a nuclear winter. Still, when you're the SID at a big dog like Texas you don't ignore even the flimsiest of rumors.

Believe me, this one was flimsy. I might not have this right but apparently a radio production assistant in San Antonio had heard from a guy who had it on good authority that Texas' quarterback had broken his leg. That was news to Bianco and other three of us gathering around our fish. But in this instant information age, a message board post can become like a wildfire. You have to put it out.

By the time the check came, Bianco had it under control. No one of substance was going with the news that proved to be false the moment we stopped by Monday's seven-on-seven drills. There was McCoy, Heisman hopeful and Texas' leading career passer, zipping passes to his mates.

As he came off the field, we kidded him about how good his leg looked -- considering.

"Iced it up," McCoy said. "Shot me up, I'm good."

What was troubling was that five of McCoy's teammates had come up to him inquiring about his busted leg. This literally could have been something someone made up. For a couple of hours, it had Texas Nation trembling. That's what scares me. Wherever this came from, someone is likely to blame "the media."

This was not a media creation. As Dave Simon said last week at the National Press Club, "I don't believe in unprofessional journalism. I don't believe in bloggers." Simon is the former Baltimore Sun reporter who created the HBO series "The Wire". You should read and listen to him. 

Simon rails against the idea that Joe Six Pack sitting in his underwear can post his thoughts on the internet and be considered credible. His point is that real journalists take years trying to perfect their craft. Ours is more of a vocation than a job.

I blog. A lot of us at CBSSports.com blog. The difference is our names are on our work. There is someone, somewhere in the company who thinks what  we write is worth paying for. That's professional.

Persons with no formal training in how to communicate -- or how to write -- can become celebrities because they are able to spew a blog. My point is, that's essentially what happend Monday night at Texas. There is a lot to like about what the web has become. Example: A post on a Texas A&M message board led to the breaking of the Big Red Motors scandal at Oklahoma.

There is a lot to hate too. We Twitter, we blog, we gossip, we report facts. There needs to be a separation. You need to know where the line is drawn. Take the time to know and believe in Simon's professional journalism. Newspapers have cut staff, shrunk news hole and increased the price of the product. We're supposed to believe newspapers are better? They won't be until someone figures how to re-invent an entire industry. 

That saddens me because there are fewer watchdogs these days. That's why the media exists, to have an adversarial relationship with those in power. That will never change. This website has spent 14 years establishing itself. It is part of the CBS empire. It is accountable. Whoever vomited that rubbish about McCoy deserves a punch in the face from Dave Simon. He (they) diminished all of our lives a little on Monday.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Texas, Texas A&M
Posted on: June 5, 2009 3:36 pm

Predicting the bling ...

We're all Heisman candidates in June. Mom, dad, the plumber, the cat. Well, maybe not the cat.

This is the time of year to salute every swinging hick who dares to dream of a trip to New York. With that in mind, here are my Heisman rankings.

1. Colt McCoy, Texas -- It's his time. Among the Three Amigos, it's his turn.
2. Tim Tebow, Florida -- Voters will be wary of making Superman a two-time winner. There has only been one.
3. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma -- Back-to-back ain't happenin' either.
4. Jevan Snead. Ole Miss -- This year's Matt Stafford.
5. Jahvid Best, Cal -- No. 3 rusher last season, should be the nation's leading rusher in 2009.
6. Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech -- The hoss in Paul Johson's option offense.
7. Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 1
8. Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State -- Cowboy No. 2
9. Zac Robinson, Oklahoma State --  Cowboy No. 3
10. Case Keenum, Houston -- 5,000-yard passer.

The others -- Arrelious Benn, Illinois; Eric Berry, Tennessee; Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas; Daryll Clark, Penn State; Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Aaron Corp, USC; Noel Devine, West Virginia; A.J. Green, Georgia; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Max Hall, BYU; Greg Hardy, Ole Miss; Tim Hiller, Western Michigan; Jerry Hughes, TCU; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada; Julio Jones, Alabama; Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan; MiQuale Lewis, Ball State; Jake Locker, Washington; Taylor Mays, USC; Kellen Moore, Boise State; DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma; Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State; Todd Reesing, Kansas; Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State;  Charles Scott, LSU; Brandon Spikes, Florida; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; The Kobe and LeBron puppets; Zach Galifianakis; Conan O'Brien; Lassie; David Letterman; Iron Man; Alex Trebek, Tina Fey, shall I go on?


Bednarik/Nagurski Award (best defensive player): Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biletnikoff Award (best receiver): Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State

Broyles Award (best assistant coach):  John Chavis, LSU defensive coordinator

Groza Award (best kicker): Kai Forbath, UCLA

Ray Guy Award (best punter): Derek Epperson, Baylor

Lombardi Award (best lineman): Greg Hardy, Ole Miss

Mackey Award (best tight end): Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma

Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback): Colt McCoy, Texas.

Butkus Award (best linebacker):  Brandon Spikes, Florida

Outland Trophy (best interior lineman):  Ciron Black, LSU

Rimington Trophy (best center): Kristofer O'Dowd, USC

Eddie Robinson Award (coach of the year):  Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Eric Berry, Tennessee

Doak Walker Award (best running back):  Jahvid Best, Cal



Posted on: May 29, 2009 3:16 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2009 3:18 pm

Nuggets from the SEC spring meetings

The sideshow known as the SEC spring meetings concluded Friday morning in Destin, Fla. Here are some highlights I've plucked out of the digital recorder:

Sporting News scribe Matt Hayes boiled the Lane Kiffin issue down to its essence when he asked Florida's Urban Meyer: "Why is it everyone is so obsessed with everyone being friends? Somebody needs to apologize. Why? Why can't you just be rivals and not talk to each other and not like each other, what's wrong with that?

Meyer: "Nothing. I don't know if those are stories though. That's not a prerequisite is to be friends."

 Meyer has stated that backup quarterback John Brantley will get playing time in the first half of games, at least, if he continues to progress. Brantley, in his third year in the program, might be the most patient quarterback in the country.

"It's not charity if he [Brantley] earns it. Based on spring evaluation he's earned playing time. He's got another phase to go through.  That's summer and [then] he's got training camp.

"We won't change the offense [for him], we'll change play calls."

 Auburn's Gene Chizik on defending his 5-19 record at Iowa State:

"It was more or less the perfect storm. The league got great quick. We fought a lot of those great football teams, We were in a bunch of games with a bunch of young guys. We played 11 true freshmen last year.

"I knew that it was tough when I took it. Is it tougher than what I thought when I took it? Probably not. I love challenges and I accept challenges. If I didn't I would have stayed at Texas [as defensive coordinator]. I could have stayed there until I decided until not to."

 Georgia coach Mark Richt on Matt Stafford:

"If he can survive the first year or two and he can grow, and Detroit can grow with him, he can be a real fine quarterback."

 Ole Miss' Houston Nutt on the hype surrounding his team which is favored to win the SEC West by several outlets:

"There is a lot of hype right now. Big anticipation. A lot of expectations. All of that is good, but bottom line it comes back to coaches and players.

On quarterback Jevan Snead

"If you take the last five as compared to the first five games, Jevan is a different quarterback. Those decisions he was making so much better. In the Texas Tech game, he throws an interception that is returned for a touchdown and he doesn't flinch."

Is Jevan is this year's Matt Stafford in a way?

"I hope. Matt Stafford was a heck of a guy, first guy taken. Physically what I love about Jevan is tall, strong, smart, humble, work ethic. First one in the weight room when I left at 7 a.m."

On star defensive end Greg Hardy:
"It probably doesn't hurt when he sees (NFL draftees) Peria Jerry and Michael Oher driving different cars. That's a real motivator."

On Tim Tebow and Florida [The Gators ran the table after Tebow's inspirational speech following the Ole Miss loss]:

"He [Tebow] put that team on his back. I've never seen a quarterback make a statement like that. A couple of those weeks, now, without Percy Harvin. That to me makes him special. We didn't know how to handle it, going to class and have everybody slapping us on the back.

"Florida gave us the confidence that we can beat anybody."


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 30, 2009 11:56 am
Edited on: April 30, 2009 12:31 pm

Bobby Rush to chair BCS hearings

Friday's BCS hearings will be chaired by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush. It's not clear if Rush has an agenda regarding this issue. It seems that everyone else gathering in D.C. certainly does.

Fellow Energy and Commerce Subcommittee member Joe Barton of Texas is a ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Barton proposed a bill late last year that would keep the BCS from calling a "national championship game" unless it was part of a playoff. Barton's agenda, obviously, is supporting Texas which lost that confusing tiebreaker in the Big 12 and essentially eliminated from the national title game.

Rush? All we (me, actually) know is that he represents Chicago and South Chicago. He has the highest percentage of African-Americans in his district than any Congressman. He was arrested in 2004 outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C. protesting genocide.

His son, Jeffrey, was fired from his job with the Illinois prison system in 2007 for allegedly having sex with female inmates. According to reports, Jeffrey Rush was hired by then-governor Rod Blagojevich's administration in 2003.

Bobby Rush supported Blagojevich's appointment of Rolad Burris to take over Barack Obama's vacated Illinois Senate seat. Here is a bunch of stuff from his past, none of it really relavant to the BCS.  

I talked to committee's press office on Thursday and was reminded that Congress is not in session. We're not sure how many subcommittee members will be in attendance. All we know for sure is that Rush and Barton will be there. One bowl source told me the hearings were for "fact finding." 

The rage against the BCS machine reached a new level on Wednesday when the subcommittee announced the Friday hearings to "examine competitive fairness ... adversely impacted by the ... Bowl Championship Series ..."

Hearings have been threatened by Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch but this comes from a different direction.

ACC commissioner John Swofford, the BCS coordinator, has been invited as a witness along with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson, Paul Hoolahan, chairman of the Football Bowl Association and Gene Bleymaier, the Boise State AD.

Only Hoolahan won't be attending. Past FBA chairman Derrick Fox, CEO of the Alamo Bowl, will take his place.

"We're prepared for this, this isn't anything that has caught us off guard," said Hoolahan who heads one of the four BCS bowls. "There is such a level naivete on how this thing oeprates. These guys want to get a sound bite and get up on the bully pulpit. More than anything we have to wage an informational campaign. When their constituents hear that they about to shoot the goose that lays the golden egg (they won't like it)."

What do I think will happen? Not much, at least for now. It's hard to imagine Congress will move on this while the country deals with a swine flu epidemic, two wars and the economy.

Thompson and a group of a Mountain West officials visited senior legislative staff earlier this year. Last week, Thompson detailed an eight-team playoff proposal by his conference to replace the BCS last week in Pasadena, Calif. during the BCS meetings.

Swofford reiterated during the meetings that he feels the BCS would stand up to any legal challenges. I detailed some of Swofford's confidence earlier this month in a story about anti-trust lawyer Tom Rhodes.


Posted on: April 8, 2009 1:13 pm


This is a room where postgame press conferences are held at Texas. Somehow, someone awarded Texas the 2008 Big 12 title.

Texas officials have moved quickly to take down the notation. I would love to know how this thing got up on the wall. Someone in authority had to sign off on it, didn't they.

Anyway, the Longhorns will try hard to remove the asterisk in 2009.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Texas
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: February 17, 2009 9:59 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2009 10:00 pm

Mike Leach's job in danger?

They're going to fire Mike Leach.

At least it sounds that way after the cryptic statement released by Texas Tech AD Gerald Myers on Tuesday. Leach let pass a 6 p.m. ET deadline set by the school to sign a lucrative extension.

So now what?

"We will enter the decision-making process and should have some announcements by next week," Myers said in the statement. "Our decisions will be based on the best interest of Texas Tech and all of its supporters."

Decision-making process? What's left to decide? Myers himself said that Leach either signed the contract or that it would be pulled off the table and the coach would serve out his current deal through 2010. The only decision left to be made, it seems, is to keep Leach as coach.

The school and coach are now backed into a corner. Texas Tech can't keep a coach who 1) doesn't want to be there and 2) can't recruit if he did somehow stay.

The only resolution might be for both parties to start over.

Even if Leach decides to keep coaching going under his current deal, the school can't allow it. It can't allow the program to be run into the ground by a disgruntled coach looking for his next job. Let's not forget, in terms of staying power, Tech is closer to Big 12 South bottom feeders Baylor and Texas A&M than it is Texas and Oklahoma.

There already is a special Tech regents teleconference called for Friday, "including but not limited to the position of the football head coach." That doesn't sound like the regents are ready to discuss spring practice.

That's what is so stupid about this thing. The two sides have agreed to the money -- $12. 7 million over five years. The hang-up is basically over a buyout/termination clause. There has to be a number in the middle that both sides can agreed on. It isn't that hard, fellas.

This is a heck of a bluff to call on both sides. Leach has been unable to go elsewhere while employed at Texas Tech. It isn't because of his winning percentage. The Pirate was too crusty around the edges for Washington, Tennessee, Auburn and Miami, all jobs he coveted the past two seasons.  It may be that Lubbock is the only place in the country that tolerated Leach's shtick.

Some of that support is starting to wane. The only thing worse than being undesirable is being undesirable without a job. If he is fired, let's see how many offers Leach gets in February. All the jobs are filled. Let's say he sits out a year and comes back in 2010. He will be damaged goods and the short list of possible openings doesn't seem to fit: Notre Dame, Louisville, Virginia and Indiana.

Notre Dame: Please. The first tie Leach wears will be his first. (not counting clip-ons)

Louisville: AD Tom Jurich is about done hiring coaches with a wandering eye.

Virginia: See Notre Dame.

Indiana:  Bob Knight went to Tech for his rebound job. Leach to Indiana for his rebound job? Ain't happening.

Mike Leach will be able to get a job, just nothing on a par with Tech, a competitive program in a power conference that can afford to pay him $2.5 million per year.

Unless the sides -- Leach, his agents and the school -- can hammer out a deal soon, this situation has gone beyond the point of repair. There are too many egos, too much money at stake for everyone to walk away.

That includes Myers who will come out of this looking bad no matter what happens. He let it get to this point by not locking up Leach during the season. Even if a deal is struck, he is responsible for making Tech look like backward bumpkins.  Texas Tech has failed to realize that it is Texas Tech. Leach could be that once-in-a-lifetime coach for a program that hadn't done much before him.

There is no middle ground. Either a deal gets done, soon, or Leach is fired. Shortly after, Myers might follow him out the door.




Posted on: December 11, 2008 12:29 am
Edited on: December 11, 2008 8:13 am

Give me a Titleist and Big Bertha ...

... because Mike Leach has gone too far.

I've waited for this moment all season. I'm going to tee up the Texas Tech coach big time after he issued this statement on Wednesday. It seems he was peeved that quarterback Graham Harrell wasn't named as a Heisman finalist.

"If Graham is not invited to the Heisman, they ought to quit giving out the award. It is a shameless example of politics ruling over performance. The other guys are deserving, but he has earned a place alongside them."

Leach doesn't have a peg leg to stand on. If his guy wasn't invited to New York it was because of lack of trying by his coach. If Harrell wasn't allowed to talk to the media, we might all know more about him. Coverage = attention, Mike. It's a fairly simple formula.

It was your decision not to bring your star quarterback to Kansas City this summer for the preseason Big 12 media days. It was your decision to literally hide Harrell from the media for days at a time. In the two weeks preceding the Oklahoma game, Harrell spoke once to the media -- a conference call 12 days before the game.

Then when your Dead Raiders got smashed by OU it was someone's decision -- I suspect yours -- to leave Harrell and receiver Michael Crabtree in the lockerroom. Biggest game of the season, two best players don't talk. That's beyond bush. It's cowardly on someone's part.

Harrell can legally be married, vote, go to war and beat Texas, however, he's not to be trusted to talk to the media? It's a big, cruel world out there, pirate. Your players are going to experience it sooner or later, despite your attempts to coddle them.

Graham, if you're mad, please blame your coach. Had we known more about you, there might have been more Heisman votes.

The Heisman Trust didn't do this out of spite. It was a sound economic decision. If the race had been close enough, Harrell would have been invited.

Remember, Coverage = Attention.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Texas, Texas Tech
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com