Posted on: December 3, 2008 10:31 am

National notes

Expect a lot of Big 12-SEC sniping going forward because we're assured of a national championship game between the two best conferences. Here is a heck of a place to start ...

I understand who Gary Danielson works for and where his loyalties are but he dropped quite a bomb this week when the CBS analyst ripped the Big 12:

"This year there is a distortion about how good the Big 12 is," said CBS' color analyst on SEC games. "It's illogical that there are three teams in the Big 12 that are 1, 2 and 4 (actually 3, 4 and 8). To me it means a weakness in the rest of the league."

Three in the top 10 is a weakness? What kind of logic are we supposed to apply, then, to the SEC which has Nos. 1 and 2? The league must be really weak to have two teams ... in the top two.

"The (offensive) stats in the Big 12 are like pesos to me," Danielson continued, suggesting those numbers are devalued.


The criticism, obviously, is of the Big 12 defenses. That's a valid point but let's make these things clear. 1) These are major-college athletes, several of which will play in the NFL. We're not talking the WAC here. 2) This is the best the Big 12 has been in its 13-year existence. 3) We should all agree that the SEC and Big 12 are far and away the best leagues this season.

I've already make a case for the Big 12 being slightly ahead using the third-team tiebreaker. The third-best team in the Big 12 is 11-1 Texas Tech. The third-best team in the SEC might be 8-4 Ole Miss.

If Big 12 numbers are pesos, what's the exchange rate on all those Alabama sacks against inept SEC offenses?

My point all season has been that the excellence of the Big 12 and SEC should be embraced. Defense isn't necessarily better than offense. It's just the way the conferences have developed this season.

Me: Why are all those stats piled up in the Big 12 considered "pesos" and the fact they're playing 3-2 games in the SEC different? Why is one better than the other?

Danielson: "The SEC has better defensive players. It has better defensive linemen, more NFL linebackers. Go check out the draft the last 10-15 years and find out where the NFL players (are).

The NFL doesn't draft guys because they've got nice uniforms or come from a conference that's highly rated in the BCS. There are more NFL-ready bodies in this league than any other league in this frame of time. But right now there's a deficiency of quarterbacks in this league.

You might be a pretty good quarterback. You might be able to survive in another league. If you aren't really good in this league they'll chew you up."

More Danielson on the Big 12 tiebreaker controversy: "I know it can't happen, I'm just throwing it out there: They should just ask Missouri to step aside (to be replaced by Texas). This is a once in a lifetime thing ... I wish, the commissioner of the Big 12 would have said, for the good of the conference let's let them replay this thing in the Big 12 championship."

A glimpse into how CBS is going to promote Saturday's SEC title game: "This essentially is what amounts to a BCS semifinal," said Mike Aresco, CBS vice president, programming. "I racked my brain to see whether I could remember a previous situation like this. I can't remember when the winner would almost be assured a spot."

Good call. There have been seven 1 vs. 2 games (ranked in AP) since January 2005. This is the first 1-2 game in a conference championship contest. The last three consecutive 1 vs. 2 games have involved SEC teams. However, this is the first 1 vs. 2 game in AP poll history featuring two SEC teams.

Hmm, must signify a weakness in the rest of the league.


 Say goodbye to the Big 12 championship game in Kansas City this week.


One of the unintended consequences of Kansas' defeat of Missouri on Saturday was that it probably sealed Jerry Jones argument that the Big 12 championship game should be moved permanently to Dallas.

The footing was so bad for the annual Border War game at Arrowhead Stadium that the quality of play likely will be used as ammunition against Kansas City. The game was played in a combination of snow, sleet and rain. It looked like the field had never been covered prior to the precipitation.

Missouri plays at Arrowhead for the second consecutive week Saturday, this time against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game. Looking at game tape this week, OU coach Bob Stoops called the conditions "horrible."

The Cowboys owner, building a state-of-the-art stadium in the Dallas suburbs, is on record as saying he wants to host the Big 12 game on a permanent basis. The Big 12 game will be played in the new indoor stadium in 2009 and 2010.

Moving the game permanently would be a shame. The tradition of the old Big Eight has been moved out of its Kansas City brick-by-brick over the years. First, the office was relocated to Dallas, then the Big 12 basketball tournament was taken away and shared around the region.

A fair trade-off would be Kansas City getting the basketball tournament in a permanent basis and Dallas getting football. We all know that what Jerry wants, Jerry gets.

 Here's what is wrong with the conference championship games: Missouri.


It is perhaps the most undeserving team in a league title game this weekend. The darlings of 2007 have limped to the finish line in 2008, eventually ended tied with Nebraska for the Big 12 North.

The Tigers played like a team that had clinched a division title Saturday in losing to rival Kansas 40-37. One of the best games in the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi also pointed up how far the Tigers had fallen emotionally.

They mailed in an effort early on falling behind Kansas 26-10. By the time they woke up, the Jayhawks had confidence and a porous Missouri defense of which to take advantage.

The shame is that if Missouri somehow rallies and beats No. 4 Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, a BCS bowl would be a false reward.

The Tigers, 9-3, have no signature wins, have beaten one, long-ago ranked team (Illinois) and are coming off perhaps their worst effort of the season . Kansas coach Mark Mangino stated afterward he had 10 players who couldn't walk at the beginning of the week.  The Jayhawks willed themselves onto the field.

The Tigers mailed it in. But, they are in the Big 12 game and if by some miracle they are able to defeat the Sooners, they will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

Danielson might be right on that one. Missouri should step aside. Texas is waiting.

Posted on: November 29, 2008 1:44 pm

Croom resigns ? at Mississippi State

It's obvious Sylvester Croom was forced out at Mississippi State after an embarrassing 45-0 loss to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl.

It is being announced as a resignation but this has been the season of knee jerk reactions. I'm sure if Miss State had been more competitive on Friday, Croom would still be employed. Charlie Weis went from Gator Bowl contention to the hot seat last Friday. There is absolutely no patience out there. I don't know what Mississippi State expects but it's not going to do much better than Croom.

AD Greg Byrne is now in that revolving door of changing coaches which could run the program into the ground. That makes another minority coach getting canned (three so far). I'm shocked the Black Coaches Association hasn't ripped into Kansas State for hiring Bill Snyder without so much as interviewing a minority candidate.

Washington has shown some progress, at least, in interviewing Notre Dame's Mike Haywood.

Within hours of the biggest games of the year, this is the most attention Miss State has gotten all season. It did it by getting rid of its coach.


Posted on: October 8, 2008 10:39 am
Edited on: October 8, 2008 11:11 pm

National notes

One day closer to the ultimate comeback by Mitch Mustain.

If you've forgotten him, get in line. Mustain was the uber-recruit from Springdale, Ark. who signed with the 
hometown Hogs, went 8-0 as a freshman starter then transferred to USC amid the Houston Nutt shenanigans. The 
transfer to USC looked curious from the start. Mark Sanchez was there. So was highly regarded Aaron Corp.

At one point this season, Mustain dropped to fourth on the depth chart. Now with Sanchez nursing an injured knee 
Mustain might get his first start with the Trojans. I have no idea the amount of rust on Mustain but it says 
something that he rose up the depth chart to be in position to take over when Sanchez got hurt against Oregon.

The latest from Tuesday's practice: Sanchez threw lightly but did not practice. With three days to go before the 
Arizona State game, that's a positive sign for Mustain.

 It looks like Joe Paterno is going to be around for a while.

This is news because 1) the Penn State coach broke his leg two years at Wisconsin, the same place Penn State will 
play on Saturday 2) the reports coming out of State College lately have painted a bleak picture of his current 
health. Paterno was noticeably limping Saturday at Purdue and had to coach again from the press box. The 81-year-old 
has been seen at practices getting around in a golf cart.

The story, often repeated, is that Paterno injured his knee attempting an onside kick during a drill. However, after 
the Purdue game he was seen wearing two different shoes and was steadying himself at the podium while speaking to 
reporters. JoePa has taken to doing his weekly coach's show from his home.

"We're a little worried," quarterback Daryll Clark said after the 20-6 victory. "His leg's been bothering him for a 
little while now. But he's still there at practices doing what he can."

Joe being Joe, he shot down speculation that he is anywhere near the end of his career.

"I can't walk like I used to walk all the time," he said. "I used to love to get up and walk five, six miles. But I 
can't do that and still go out and go to practice for a couple hours. It just wears down on me. But what I have can 
be fixed, so we'll work on it.

"I'm going to have to live with it for a couple of weeks, maybe more. But hey, that's why I get the big money."

There is an increasing vibe that when Penn State eventually makes a change that the new coach might now come from 
the current staff. Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley and defensive line coach Larry Johnson are the most likely 

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Joe is going anywhere. A Big Ten title or national championship run will give him 
more reason to stick around.

 Ole Miss continues its up and down season. A week after winning at The Swamp, the Rebels lost an emotional game to 
South Carolina, 31-24. That leaves them 1-2 in the SEC West with a bye week before going to Alabama on Oct. 18.

I spoke to Houston Nutt recently.

Was there any temptation to shove it in Arkansas' face after that Florida win?

Nutt: I really deep down inside haven't thought about that (like) 'Look at us now.' "

OK, so how sweet was it?

Nutt: It was very sweet. We played Florida in the championship game in Atlanta (while with Arkansas). I thought we 
had 'em there. You beat Texas, you beat Tennessee, you beat Alabama, but this one ranks so high. It was 629 days 
since this team had won an SEC game."

After beating Georgia, Nick Saban mentioned the day-by-day grind that it takes to win at this level. You have to 

Nutt: "The constant grind, that's why you need three weeks of the summer to get totally away from it"

How close are you guys to turning it around?

Nutt: "The disappointing thing is, we're still sitting at 73 scholarships. A lot of names you heard the last three 
years aren't here. You're good at defensive line, you're good at receiver. There are some holes. The biggest hole 
was the mindset."

 More on the greatest stat of the season so far ...

D&E told you earlier this week that No. 3 Missouri had not had a three-and-out this season with Chase Daniel at 
quarterback. In those 48 possessions, Mizzou has scored 33 times (28 touchdowns, five field goals). The 15 "misses" 
include five punts, four lost fumbles, three series turned over on downs, two missed field goals and one 

 Brouce Mompremier has been cleared to do conditioning a couple of weeks after he was one of three players involved 
in Black Saturday. The South Florida linebacker was among the three who each suffered serious spinal or back 

 As mentioned in today's main story, Ball State's Dante Love will never play football again after being injured against 
Indiana. He is rehabbing and is expected to make a full recovery. Washington State quarterback suffered a 
non-surgical spine fracture.

Mompremier's got back on the practice field on a limited basis on Tuesday. His injury has been defined as 
nueroproxia, which is temporary failure of nerve conduction in the absence of structural changes, due to blunt 
injury or compression.

 Cincinnati (vs. Rutgers) and New Mexico State (at Nevada) will be the last two teams to open conference play this 

 Georgia Tech freshman Jaybo Shaw completed nine of 13 passes in his first career start against Duke, all to  
Demaryius Thomas for 230 yards. That's the second-highest receiving total in school history.

 Big week for punt blocks involving guys named Carter: North Carolina's Bruce Carter blocked three punts against 
Connecticut. Navy blocked two punts resulting in touchdowns against Air Force. Navy's Blake Carter blocked a punt in 
the first half that was returned for a touchdown. In the second half, he picked up a punt blocked by teammate Bobby 
Doyle. Navy had not blocked a punt in nine years.

  Rutgers has dropped to 1-4 leading coach Greg Schiano to say he might have overestimated his talent. Maybe his 
schedule has been overrated. The Scarlet Knights have beaten two ranked opponents since Schiano took over in 2000. 
That's as many ranked teams as Vanderbilt has beaten this season.

  Texas' Mack Brown on the Big (Scoring) 12: "Every time we look up, the most phenomenal thing is to see 50 points 
in this league. Nobody is surprised. At one time, you said, 'God they scored 58.' Now people are pulling them out  
to keep it to 58.' "

  Seeing the scoring explosion a different way: The nation's top scoring team is Tulsa. Factor in time of possession and  
the Golden Hurricane are averaging a point every 28.7 seconds. No. 2 Missouri is averaging one every 28 seconds.

 How important is Oklahoma-Texas this week? Eight times in the previous 12 games during the existence of the Big 12 
the winner has gone on to win the South Division. Two other times, the loser has played for the conference title. 
The other two South Division titles have been won by Texas A&M.

 Oklahoma is the only team in the country not to lose a fumble this season.

  Washington is 0-5 for the first time in 39 years and one of only two winless teams in I-A. North Texas is the other.

  Name the 12 teams averaging both 200 yards passing and rushing and you win a sucker. Answer below.

  More about Ball State:

 It is located in Muncie, Ind. where basketball is king. The 1990 Ball State team went to the Sweet 16 before losing 
to UNLV. Muncie Central High School has won eight state championships.

When radio voice Morry Mannies went to school there in the 1950s tuition was $150 and enrollment was 4,000. Today 
there are 18,000 students

The last MAC team to be ranked was Bowling Green in November 2004.

The school was shut down three times before 1917. At that point it was bought out of foreclosure by the Ball family. 
It was originally known as Eastern Indiana Normal School. 

The famous "Boom, goes the dynamite" guy, Brian Collins, is from Ball State.

 The 12 incredibly balanced teams referred to above: Oklahoma State, Nevada, Oregon, Penn State, Tulsa, Arkansas 
State, Louisville, Illinois, Indiana, Fresno State, LSU and Southern Miss.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com