Tag:Kansas State
Posted on: January 8, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2010 3:24 pm
 

The end of Jim Leavitt at South Florida

There was something very Nixonian to the end of Jim Leavitt.

It wasn’t the act itself of the South Florida coach allegedly grabbing the throat of a player and hitting him. It was the denials and interference with an investigation that got Leavitt fired on Friday. There was a hint of Watergate cover-up to the whole thing.

It was an unfortunate end to a brilliant career at South Florida and a troubling continuation of a coaching trend. Leavitt has been the only coach the school has known. Thirteen years ago he bought the first footballs, worked out of a trailer for years, coaching the Bulls to the brink of a Big East title.

Now this, a sordid termination letter where athletic director Doug Woolard is very specific about Leavitt’s misdeeds.

He was fired with cause. The school said his conduct was “not compatible with USF’s educational mission and the health and welfare of USF student athletes.”

Health and welfare? Where is the coaching profession headed? This is the third such incident in slightly more than a month. Kansas’ Mark Mangino resigned under pressure after allegations surfaced of mistreatment of players. Texas Tech’s Mike Leach was fired after doing whatever he did to Adam James. Mangino and Leavitt coached together under Bill Snyder at Kansas State. All three coaching with or for Bob Stoops at some point.

Other than, there are few connections except the alleged mistreatment of athletes. Leach is aggressively fighting his firing, alleging that his former employers made “slanderous and libelous” statements about him.  The situation at Texas Tech quickly degenerated into a he said/he said argument as both sides argued over the semantics of “electrical closet” and “shed”.

At this point, Mangino looks the most sane. Allegations of his mistreatment of players went back at least eight years.  In the end, he settled on a buyout with the university. The whole affair was wrapped up in less than a month.

Maybe all three should take something from Woolard’s letter: “The disparity in authority and power between you as the head coach and the student athlete makes your conduct more serious.”

Maybe this will signal the end of the coach-as-bully syndrome. Maybe it’s just the beginning as more parents and players become empowered by recent events.

One player said that Leavitt “flat-out lied” when he denied going after walk on Joel Miller. Another player told an investigator that he “knew he has witnessed a crime.” The most troubling accusation is that Leavitt tried to intimidate walk-on Joel Miller by telling him “choose his words wisely” because the coach was “the most powerful man in the building.”


Of the three recent coaching situations, Friday’s might have been the weirdest yet.  At the time Leavitt was fired, Miller had actually recanted his original accusation that the coach had grabbed him by the throat at halftime of a Nov. 21

“I’m very disappointed,” Leavitt told CBSSports.com.  “I’ll respond at the appropriate time. “

Oh, he’ll respond all right, probably with some “inspiration” provided by Leach’s lawyers.

The next coach could walk into a gold mine. In the fluid Big East, South Florida could win the league as soon as next year. I’d love to see Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney get another shot. He got shafted after 12 years at Iowa State and has rebuilt his rep with a national championship with the Gators.

You can bet agent Jimmy Sexton will be trying to get his client Tommy Tuberville an interview. You even hear the name of Steve Spurrier. South Florida could be his retirement job.

Home runs, all three.

Just like Leach and Mangino, though, you wonder if Leavitt will coach on the BCS level again.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: November 19, 2009 6:00 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2009 10:48 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

It's that insane time of year when we have been asked to pick the best players in the country -- before all the games are played.

Some awards are narrowing their lists of semifinalists to finalists after Saturday's games. That would be with two weeks left in the regular season. Those kinds of deadlines are particularly unfair especially at  quarterback and running back where there are multiple candidates.

(I never understood the whole semifinalist-finalist thing anyway. It’s just a way to string out and hype the award.)

The Heisman has always been a pet peeve for me. So much can happen in bowls that sometimes the winner is diminished (see Oklahoma’s Jason White in the 2004 Sugar Bowl) or the person who should be the real winner emerges (see Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl).

But at least the Heisman gives voters enough time to wait until after all the regular-season games are played. Not so for most of the other awards, of which there are way too many.

A couple of pieces of information came across SOWWL's desk this week. The list of three finalists for the Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback) are expected by 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. How, on Sunday, are we supposed to pick between Colt McCoy, Tim Tebow, Case Keenum, Kellen Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Andy Dalton and Bill Stull? Those are seven names that come to mind at the moment . There might be more.

Consider that McCoy and Tebow still have to play conference championship games. Moore is the nation’s most efficient passer working on an undefeated season. Dalton and Stull are among the most improved quarterbacks in the country.

I'm considering waiting at least another week to vote. If the O'Brien folks don't approve, tough spit.

The  Doak Walker Award’s list of the 10 semifinalists was released this week. The list did not include the nation’s fourth-leading rusher Bernard Pierce (Temple), the SEC's second-leading rusher Anthony Dixon (of Mississippi State, eighth in the country) or the Pac-10’s second-leading rusher (LaMichael James of Oregon).

It did include the nation’s No. 46 rusher, C.J. Spiller of Clemson who should be considered the best all-purpose runner in the country, not the best running back. 

Missouri’s Danario Alexader is fifth in catches per game and third in receiving yards per game after catching 10 balls for 200 yards against Kansas State. You won’t find him on the list of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award (best receiver). Three of the 10 players have been injured or left their team.

There is a safety net. Candidates can be written in, however voters are a group are traditionally lazy. They tend to vote for what is in front of them. One exception was 2007 when the Biletnikoff process was so off the mark in 2007 that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree won as a write-in candidate.

The main reason for these incredibly early lists is college football’s awards show. It airs the Thursday after the end of the regular season. If the awards committees want to be seen on national TV, then they have to cow tow to ESPN deadlines.

Here’s another idea: How about setting yourself apart and waiting until after the bowl season? Somehow I think some network or another would still televise the Heisman ceremony.

Etc: Cincinnati is one of the few teams that could afford having a quarterback in jail. No biggie, there’s always Tony Pike …  A loss to Ohio State would doom Michigan to its worst Big Ten finish since 1962 … Iowa (vs. Minnesota) and Penn State (at Michigan State) both need to win to stay in BCS consideration … Connecticut’s Zach Frazer has a chance this week to become one of the few players in history to play both for and against Notre Dame. Frazer transferred from ND in 2007 … Receiver Jordan Shipley will replace the suspended D.J. Monroe for Texas on kick returns this week against Kansas … Texas has scored 10 non-offensive touchdowns this season (defense and special teams). That leads the nation and is a school record … Miami’s Jacory Harris (at home vs. Duke) has thrown 16 interceptions, the most of the top 100 passers rated by the NCAA.

Posted on: November 8, 2009 4:07 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2009 12:14 pm
 

Thoughts on a football Saturday

After watching that replay again from Alabama, how can a reasonable person rule that wasn’t an interception? I’m expecting something out of the SEC office in the next couple of days.

Why I like Alabama on game day … “Sweet Home Alabama” comes on and immediately everyone on University Ave. starts jukin’ and yellin’. Ever see 10,000 folks do the Bama version of the River Dance?

Why I like Alabama on game day II … The houndstooth 1) skirts and 2) beer coozies.

Why I like Alabama on game day III … Yes, they were taking pictures of me as I was in makeup prior to my appearance on CBS College Sports’ SEC Tailgate. You people must find some meaning in your lives.

Get ready for a noisy Boise: The way things are sorting out, an undefeated Boise State is going to be beaten out for a BCS bowl by a two-loss team from one of the power conferences, p.r. firm or not.

The BCS bowl matchups began to get into sharper focus when Iowa lost and Alabama won. Here’s out it works:

The automatic qualifiers are down these teams …

Big Ten: Iowa/Ohio State. The teams plays this week in Columbus so that will sort itself out. Both teams have lost once. Saturday's winner most likely goes to the Rose Bowl.

Big 12: Texas will play either Kansas State or Nebraska from the North Division. K-State controls its own destiny after beating Kansas. Texas might be cruising but could get some blowback at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving or from Nebraska or K-State in the Big 12 title game.

SEC: Alabama vs. Florida in the SEC title game. If they teams stay undefeated before Dec. 5, the winner plays for the national championship. The loser most likely goes to the Sugar Bowl.

ACC: Still a mess but Georgia Tech is the conference’s only one loss team and leads the Coastal Division. Clemson controls its fate in the Atlantic Division. The ACC winner most likely goes to the Orange Bowl.

Big East: Cincinnati is undefeated but still has tough games left against West Virginia and Pittsburgh. With no conference championship game to hinder it, the Bearcats could be headed to the Sugar Bowl to face the Alabama-Florida loser.

Pac-10: It looks as if Oregon, Arizona or Stanford will go to the Rose. The Wildcats and Ducks meet Nov. 21 in Tucson. Despite the letdown loss at Stanford, Oregon still seems to have the advantage. Arizona still has its toughest games to play (Cal, USC, Arizona State). Stanford has to get past USC and Cal before meeting Notre Dame in the regular-season finale,

That leaves four at-large berths. Notre Dame is out after losing to Navy. If TCU stays undefeated and ahead of Boise State in the BCS, it will go, most likely, to the Fiesta Bowl. As mentioned, the Florida-Alabama loser should gobble up a Sugar Bowl spot.  If USC wins out it could get the other Fiesta Berth at 10-2.

That leaves an undefeated Boise having to fight off a two-loss team from a major conference in order to get to the BCS. Things being what they are, which is the same for the past 50 years in this situation, the Orange Bowl most likely would pick a 10-2 Penn State to play the ACC champion.

Sorry Broncos.

Name this team: Its last conference championship came in 2003. Since then it has been a mixed bag. This program has changed coaches twice, beaten Texas twice and produced a quarterback drafted in the first round. This year alone it has given up 66 points to Texas Tech, lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and, amazingly,  is in first place in its division.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce you to Kansas State, 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the Big 12 North after beating Kansas 17-10. In Bill Snyder’s second term as coach, the Wildcats need only beat Nebraska in its final two games to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game.

Snyder is getting some run for Big 12 coach of the year. We’re fairly sure no COY has lost to Texas Tech by 54 and lost to a fourth-place Sun Belt team in the same season.


USC decline: Before Saturday’s 14-9 victory over Arizona State, USC had allowed 110 points in its last three games. That’s the most in a three-game stretch ever. The Trojans had allowed 113 points combined in the previous 14 games.


Breaking down the big boys: Now that a Florida-Alabama rematch is assured, here’s the three-minute eval of the SEC title game slightly less than a month away.

Advantage Alabama: A better running game (I think) and the revenge motive for last year’s classic loss in Atlanta.

Advantage Florida: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow. As long as he’s taking snaps, Florida has a chance.

Advantage Florida: Defense. By a hair. This is going to be another matchup of the ages. Charlie Strong vs. Nick Saban/Kirby Smart. At this point Florida’s unit seems a bit more active.

Advantage Alabama: Special teams. With Javier Arenas returning kicks and Terrence Cody blocking them, give the Crimson Tide the edge. Kicker Leigh Tiffin is more than reliable. If you’re looking for an edge, this is it. Games like this tend to turn on special teams.

Stuff: SMU needed three blocked kicks to beat Rice and move to within one win of bowl eligibility. The Ponies last went bowling pre-death penalty in 1984 … Alabama hasn’t been 9-0 in consecutive seasons since 1973-74 … In its last 39 home games, Cal is 0-7 against Oregon State and USC, 32-0 against everyone else … My God, did you see Cal’s Jahvid Best suffer that concussion while diving into the end zone? Coach Jeff Tedford actually said his guy was “OK.” No, coach, he’s not OK. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Best’s season is over … Who knew UCLA had lost seven conference games in a row before beating  Washington?

The right now, no B.S., up to the moment Heisman Watch

1. Case Keenum, Houston. Another last-second win, this time over Tulsa. In his last two games Keenum has thrown for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns. Any questions? My goal in life is to get this kid a trip to New York. He’s earned it. In a perfect world, he’d win the Stiff Arm but because he plays at a Conference USA school it probably isn’t going to happen.

2. Mark Ingram, Alabama. It’s the KIIS system – Keep It Ingram, Stupid. After throwing 25 passes in the first half, Nick Saban changed tactics and had Ingram carry it 16 games in the second half against LSU. The result was 144 yards.

3. Colt McCoy, Texas. It was only Central Florida but McCoy continued a recent uptick with 469 passing yards. McCoy was removed from the game with nine minutes left four yards shy of the school passing record (Major Applewhite, 473 yards in the 2001 Holiday Bowl).

Funny thing, Applewhite might have the school record but because the NCAA didn’t recognize bowl stats back then it officially doesn’t exist. What makes things more annoying is that a few years ago the NCAA started counting bowl stats. I still contend that an intern at each school in the country could go back and add in all the bowl numbers.

The NCAA explains that current record holders would have their names expunged if records were updated. Tough! You count all the numbers, not just some of them.

4. Toby Gerhart, Stanford. Coach Jim Harbaugh is preaching physicality. Gerhart pounded Oregon for a school-record 223 yards and three touchdowns in a 51-42 win.

5. C.J. Spiller, Clemson. If the Tigers are going to win their first ACC title in 18 years, Spiller is going to be the reason. He went for a school-record 312 all-purpose yards against Florida State.

Posted on: November 6, 2009 9:43 am
 

Son of Weekend Watch List

If I’m Jimbo Fisher I’m raising holy hell.

Bobby Bowden picking the new defensive coordinator has to be a deal breaker for Jimbo. The job is going to be his in 13 months or so. No way he wants to be saddled with a d-coordinator who is hand-picked by Bobby.

Just to refresh: Bobby will be retired in January 2011. Jimbo Fisher has to live with his choice as d-coordinator.

Bobby’s legacy doesn’t include sticking his nose into Jimbo’s staff. This move could not only bring down the defense, it could bring down the program.

Dollar Bill: Kansas State’s Bill Snyder might re-retire sooner than we think. Speaking on Kansas City station WHB this week, Snyder hinted that he is a mere caretaker until the program is in good enough shape to turn over to someone else.

“This isn’t something to do for the rest of my life,” Snyder said prior to Saturday’s game with Kansas. “I want to get it back, calm the waters and [rally] the constituency. Get it in good position for a smooth transition …

“I’ve got to spend time with my children and grandchildren. There’s going to come a time when I went to do [that] again. Hopefully that is in the not-too-distant future.”

Snyder, 70, is in the first year of his second coaching career at K-State.  Originally, he was the author of the “Miracle in Manhattan” from 1989-2005. The Wildcats are currently 5-4 and in first place in the Big 12 North heading into the Sunflower Showdown against Kansas.

SEC bowls: The SEC has only five bowl-eligible teams. The league is trying to fill what looks like a potential 10 bowls spots (eight regular bowls plus a likely two BCS bowls). Nervous? There are five other teams at 4-4 or 4-5 that have some work to do.

Three of the five teams are playing winnable non-conference games this week. Mississippi State, that 4-5 team, is off. Mississippi, 5-3, still has to win two because it played two I-AAs. Arkansas, 4-4, might face a do-or-die game at home against South Carolina. Tennessee Tech is at Georgia, 4-4. Memphis is at Tennessee, 4-4. Kentucky, also 4-4, has Eastern Kentucky at home.

Boise blitz: Boise State has hired a p.r. firm to keep the Broncos in the “forefront” of the “minds” of “pollsters”.  That smells a lot like buying voters. First, let The List express its regret that it is not a Harris or coaches’ poll voter.

No, this isn’t Daley-era Chicago. Boise isn’t going to buy votes. In fact, it is fighting an uphill battle going into Friday’s game at Louisiana Tech. All TCU (at San Diego State on Saturday) has to do is keep winning. The voters <i>and</i> computers have spoken. They like Horned Frogs better than Needy Broncos.


Beaver milestone: As the 300th game at Beaver Stadium looms, let’s review the previous 299 games …

Penn State has a 241-58 record (80.6).

There have been 15 unbeaten seasons.

The Nittany Lions are 216-40 at Beaver with Joe as head coach. Fourteen of those undefeated seasons have come under Paterno.

Penn State is 32-3 in its last 35 at home. The only setbacks have come to No. 4 Michigan in 2006, No. 1 Ohio State in 2007 and Iowa on Sept. 26.


Paterno has been around for all of them.


  The North is 3-9 against the South Division. Two of those wins are against Baylor, in last place in the South.

  Kind of tells you something when Oklahoma-Nebraska gets relegated to the WWL blog. The teams now only meet twice in any four-year period.  A Husker win in Lincoln would give Nebraska a huge boost in the North.

  Does Colorado AD Mike Bohn have the $3.2 million he’ll need to buy out Dan Hawkins? Some more contributions might be added to the pot if the Buffs, 2-6, lose Texas A&M, 5-3

  Something has to give. Navy (34 minutes, 18 seconds) and Notre Dame (33:19) are 1-2 in time of possession.
 
  South Carolina is 7-10 after Nov. 1 under Steve Spurrier. USC is 27-0 in the month under Pete Carroll. 


Personal rant: The decision on player suspensions needs to be taken away from the school, the athletic director, maybe even the school president. SEC commissioner Mike Slive stepped in a week ago to issue his edict about critical coaches. Then Urban Meyer criticized officials and wasn’t punished. Yet. It seems like commissioners basically exist these days to pursue the best television contracts and shake hands with bowl reps.

The call here is for leagues to put in their constitutions (or whatever they’re called) language that gives the commissioner (or some league panel) the sole power to hand out discipline. Then the commissioners need to have the you know what to follow through.
.

 

Posted on: October 24, 2009 8:01 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2009 12:11 pm
 

Would you rather be Lincoln or in Lincoln?

Who do you want to be Saturday night?

Niles Paul or Daniel Lincoln?

Neither guy will be able to get a date, or much sympathy. Goats? With horns.

If you haven’t seen the two most compelling plays of the day, pull up a screen. Lincoln is the Tennessee kicker who kicked .250 against Alabama in a 12-10 loss. That’s another way of saying he went one for four, the last miss was a 44-yard attempt that was blocked by Alabama’s Terrence Cody as time ran out.

Perhaps you’ve already seen Mt. Cody ripping off his helmet and going nuts after Bama’s victory. If it wasn’t for Nebraska’s loss to Iowa State – more on that below – Cody would have been upstaged by Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who blocked two field goals.

Either way it was a bad day to be Lincoln or in Lincoln.

Paul is the Nebraska receiver who was part of the Huskers’ epic snowman against Iowa State. That would be eight – count ‘em eight – eight turnovers in a 9-7 loss to the Cyclones.

More turnovers than points. More embarrassment than Pee Wee Herman when he got caught in that theater.

Ahem, yes, well, let’s move on.

 Paul contributed probably the most spectacular of the turnovers in the first half. Sailing free for a long catch and run for a touchdown, Paul inexplicably dropped the ball at about Iowa State’s 5 without being hit. The ball then bounced right to him. Good luck, right? Paul stumbled, on his own, and went down about the 2.

The ball came loose again (the ground can cause a fumble when you don’t have control of it). The Iowa State defender practically trotted up to the ball in the end zone and snagged it for a touchback.

Eight turnovers tied the school record and were the most in 37 years since, amazingly, 1972 when Nebraska was pretty good. Remember?

Remember this: Iowa State was an 18 ½-point underdog and hadn’t won in Lincoln in 32 years. It’s starting quarterback and tailback were out with injuries. The team itself was wracked with a stomach bug that, according to the wire story, affected the team at halftime.

Eeeewww!

If they weren’t wearing those famous uniforms and selling out every game there are times when the ‘Skers could be mistaken for a Conference USA team this season. Nebraska has now played one serviceable quarter in the last three games (12 quarters). That would be the 27-point fourth-quarter against Missouri on October 8.

In the remaining 11 quarters against Missouri, Texas Tech and Iowa State, the Huskers have scored 17 points. In the last 14 quarters against BCS conference competition, No-Point Nebraska has scored 20 points.

The result contributed to an increasingly ugly Big 12 North situation. Halfway through the conference schedule, Kansas State is 3-1 after a 20-6 victory over Colorado. The Wildcats are the team in the division above an above-.500 conference record.

 

Posted on: October 17, 2009 11:37 pm
 

Early BCS projection

Best guess on the early BCS standings: 1. Florida; 2. Alabama; 3. Texas;  4. USC; 5. Cincinnati; 6. Iowa.

1. Florida – Barely survived a supreme effort by Arkansas. Won’t lose the top spot for playing it close.
2. Alabama – Impressive, head-knocking 20-6 win over South Carolina.
3. Texas – Still lots of questions about this offense.
4. USC – Why can’t USC schedule Notre Dame ever year? Wait, it does.
5. Cincinnati – Most impressive win of the weekend among the contenders over South Florida on the road.
6. Iowa – Annoyingly good.

  Alabama has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. It might be developing one with tailback Mark Ingram. Bear would have been proud of Ingram’s Bryant-Denny Stadium record 246 yards.

  Line of the night (not from me): Notre Dame wins, 27-34!

  Kansas State became the first team I can remember that gave up 60 points one week (66-14 loss to Texas Tech) then followed it by scoring 60 points (62-14 over Texas A&M).

  Cardiac Jimmy Clausen is now 3-2 in cardiac games. Feel free to weigh in. Can Notre Dame get to the BCS with a 10-2 having beaten no ranked teams? Doubtful.

  Team of the week: At 6-1, Idaho is bowl eligible. Coach Robb Akey would like to give a shout out of Tom Cable who put the Fightin’ in Fightin’ Vandals. Cable coached Idaho from 2000-2004 (11-35).

  This Bobby Petrino is coming along nicely. The Hogs did it with defense in The Swamp -- Six sacks, four forced fumbles.

  Looks like Terrelle Pryor ran into a bunch of Ndamukong Suhs: five sacks, two interceptions, two fumbles.

  After beating Colorado State 44-6, TCU is 57-1 under Gary Patterson when holding the opposition to 17 points or less. That one loss came last year in Utah, 13-10.

Posted on: July 28, 2009 4:47 pm
 

Five things I believe about the Big 12 ...

Word to your mother from the Big 12 media days in Irving, Texas.

One quarterback’s virginity is another man’s autograph book. Heisman-winner Sam Bradford admitted to hearing about the Tim Tebow virginity question last week at the SEC media days.

“To me that’s crossing the line,” Bradford said on Tuesday. “There’s a line that should be drawn.”

In an ironic twist, though, Bradford endured his own “gotcha” moment. This one involving the opposite of virginity. A couple recently asked Bradford to sign their baby.

“I never pictured that happening before,” he said. “We were having dinner one night in Norman. A couple came over with their baby and sat him down on the table, a couple of months old.”

Where, it was asked, does one sign a baby? Will Ferrell scrawled his name on an infant’s forehead in Talladega Nights.

“I signed (its outfit),” Bradford said.

Bill Snyder’s biggest opponent is himself. The 69-year-old Kansas State coach is back for his second term. Snyder obviously had been getting antsy about getting back into coaching about the moment he “retired” three years ago.

This time he is taking on his own legacy as well as the rest of the league. From 1989-2005, he created the Miracle in Manhattan leading the once moribund Wildcats to a Big 12 title and several bowl games. This season he is trying to keep K-State out of last place in the Big 12 North.

Nothing compares to how bad things were when Snyder arrived in 1989. Bob Stoops was there with Snyder during his first six seasons.

“We go into that first spring I bet we had 45 guys in the room. We had four total d-linemen, two non-scholarship. We would be practicing and we’d have to take a five-minute break to hose them off, give them some water. The rest of the team would just stand around. Seriously. That’s how bad it was.”

Meet the new triplets, same as the old triplets. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy was part of the best offense in school history. Gundy was the quarterback, handing off to Barry Sanders and throwing to Hart Lee Dykes in 1988.

The best set of “triplets” since those days will lead the Cowboys this season. Zac Robinson is a sneaky-good dual threat quarterback. Kendall Hunter is a 1,000-yard back. Receiver Dez Bryant might be the nation’s best receiver.

“It’s hard to compare anybody to Barry Sanders to be honest with you,” Gundy said. “Kendall Hunter is very good but a future hall of famer is difficult to compare to. Hart Lee Dykes … don’t know if I’ve seen anyone like him.

“The quarterback spot, I’m not sure there’s much of a comparison. If I could go back and recruit, I’d recruit Zack Robinson and I wouldn’t Mike Gundy to be honest with you.”

This just might be the biggest Texas-Oklahoma game ever. Texas won the game last season but wants “revenge” for obvious reasons. The game used to be a window on the Big 12 and national championships. Last year’s screwy tiebreaker messed with everyone’s head.

With Oklahoma State in the mix this year, there is the possibility of another three-way tie. Meanwhile, we will wait until Oct. 17 in Dallas. Stoops was asked if Texas-OU can get any bigger?

 “I don’t know how it could,” he said. “The last eight, nine years it’s been as heated as it could be.”

The North must rise again … or risk further embarrassment. The Big 12 North Division won only three of 19 games against South Division opponents in 2008. That’s the second time that’s happened in the last five years.

Only once in that span has the North had an above .500 record – 2007 when it was 10-9 against the South. That’s the year both Missouri and Kansas won 12 games.

When the league was formed in 1996, most of the strength was in the North with Nebraska and Kansas State in power. The North was a combined 24-14 against the South in 1996-97. How far have things slipped? Last year, all three North victories were against Baylor.
 

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.
 

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