Last week when Mel Kiper released his first mock draft of the season, he had Texas A&M’s Von Miller going number eight to the Tennessee Titans. Based on what the reactions have been coming out of Mobile during the Senior Bowl practices, Miller is doing little to hurt his draft stock. Here are a few excerpts from comments about Miller this week.
Texas A&M defensive end/outside linebacker Von Miller has had a great week of practice, and is one of the best natural pass rushers I have ever seen. Mike Mayock – NFL Network
“Two words. Defies. Gravity. Bends parallel to the ground. This guy comes off the edge and it’s scary how quick he gets to the quarterback. In my notes from the season, I had the word ‘wow’ written (about Miller) more than any other player.” - again, Mike Mayock.
He was unstoppable against players who are expected to go in the first two days of the draft. On the first play, he did an outside-in double move to beat Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, and it wasn't even close. The move was so quick and so natural, Sherrod had no chance. - Todd McShay, ESPN.
The top linebacker on the field today was Texas A&M star Von Miller--and that's not even considering his work as a pass rusher in one-on-one drills. - Rob Rang NFLDraftscout.com
Any Big 12 fan knows that had the chance to watch Miller more than a few times knows what these guys are talking about. There aren't many guys that can get after it like Miller and change the flow of a game by themselves. Miller is one of those dudes. And everyone knows how valuable guys are that can rush the passer in the NFL.
When draft day finally rolls around, Miller likely won't be the last guy sitting in the green room. In fact, he might be one of the first that gets to leave.
The Big 12 didn't have as much success on the field in 2010 as it has had recent seasons (meaning they weren't in the national title hunt), but that doesn't change the fact the league is filled with some solid coaches who have had a ton of success in their careers. Here's a look at where I'd rank them after this season. The success in 2010 was indeed a factor, but I looked at their career track record and longevity as much as anything.
1. Bob Stoops- Oklahoma (Career record 129-31, all at OU): Stoops came to Norman in 1999 after Oklahoma had gone 12-22 during their first three years in the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma went 7-5 in his first season and then followed that up by going 13-0 and winning OU’s 7th National Championship. Since then, he hasn’t looked back and has added six more Big 12 titles while playing in three more national title games. His 78-12 record in Big 12 games and 7-1 record in Big 12 Championship games leave little doubt he’s the top coach in the conference.
Stoops might not have the program in auto-pilot although you wouldn’t know it from the outside. There have been a few tough losses, but overall, it’s been a model of consistency. Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, Kevin Wilson, left to take the top job at Indiana, but Stoops just promoted from within an OU keeps right on rolling as they showed in the Fiesta Bowl . And don’t expect the Sooners to slow down anytime soon.
2. Mack Brown - Texas (Career record 219-108-1, 133-34 at Texas): Brown and the Longhorns didn’t have the type of season anyone expected in 2010, but it doesn’t change the fact he has had a pretty impressive run during his time in Austin. Before the 5-7 season Texas just endured, the Longhorns had never won less than nine game in any season with Mack Brown at the helm. He has brought a national title to Austin as well as two more Big 12 Championship trophies.
Next season will be an interesting one in Austin with Brown having to replace six coaches off his staff. But with the recruiting machine Brown has helped build at Texas, it won’t be long before the Horns are back battling the rest of the Big 12 for the top spot.
3. Bill Snyder – Kansas State (Career record 149-80-1, all at KSU): Snyder has been back on the sidelines at Kansas State for two seasons after returning from retirement following the Ron Prince debacle. All he did in his first year back was to get the Wildcats within one win from playing for the Big 12 title. In year number two, he took Kansas State back to a bowl game. Who knows what year number three holds, but if Snyder’s track record is any indication, it’ll be better than the last.
What Snyder has done the second time around pales in comparison to what he did during his first. In the three years prior to Snyder taking over the top spot, K-State went 2-30-1. Snyder came in before the 1989 and by the time the Big 12 started play in 1996, all Snyder did was lead the Wildcats to 11 win seasons in three of their first four years in the league. He won the Big 12 title by beating an undefeated Oklahoma team in 2003. And the fact that he continues to win at a place that isn’t the easiest place to recruit to speaks volume to his coaching ability. He doesn’t get recognized nearly enough for what he’s accomplished during his 19 seasons on the sidelines.
4. Bo Pelini – Nebraska (Career record, 30-12, all at Nebraska): In three seasons in Lincoln, Pelini has restored much of the stability that was lost during the Bill Callahan era. He won nine games his first season, and 10 each of the next two years. He turned a defense that was one of the worst in the nation in 2007 into one of the best defenses in the country the last two years.
His efforts haven’t resulted in a conference title yet, but Nebraska has represented the North division twice in his three years, losing both games by a combined four points. He is currently working on a top 20 recruiting class as the Huskers get set to transition to the Big Ten next season.
5. Tommy Tuberville – Texas Tech (Career record 188-65, 8-5 at Texas Tech): Tommy Tuberville is coming off an 8-5 season in his first year leading the Red Raiders. This was after leading Auburn to an 85-40 record during his tenure there including 52-30 in the rugged SEC and 7-3 against in-state rival Alabama. The highlight of his career came in 2004 when he lead Auburn to a perfect 13-0 season.
The jury is still out on what Tubs will get done in Lubbock, but based on his track record there won’t be much drop-off after a pretty successful run by Mike Leach put Texas Tech football back on the map. The Red Raiders are currently sitting on an impressive recruiting class and the outlook is bright as Tuberville continues to get his own players and systems installed in Lubbock.
6. Gary Pinkel – Missouri (Career record (150-86-3, 77-49 at Missouri): There’s little question the Tigers have improved immensely over Pinkel’s 10 years in Columbia. He took over a program that stumbled through most of the 80’s and 90’s and has turned them into one of the tougher game on their opponent’s schedules. He picked up his first win over Oklahoma this season, another sign of the improvements that’s he made. Even in his best season of 2007, the Tigers lost twice to OU and the disparity was evident between the programs. Mizzou still isn’t on the same level as the Sooners, but the gap has closed and Pinkel is a big reason.
Mizzou will be one team to keep an eye of the remaining Big 12 North teams hoping to challenge their counterparts from the Big 12 South for conference supremacy. Pinkel is only 42-38 in Big 12 games during his 10 years at Mizzou, but expectations are high and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.
7. Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State (Career record 47-29, all at Oklahoma State): Les Miles started turning things around in Stillwater and Mike Gundy has taken it even farther after taking over prior to the 2005 season. The Cowboys have put together three straight seasons with at least nine wins including 11 in 2010 which were the most in the program’s history.
Gundy got good news when Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon announced they were returning. But they’ll have to build on last season’s success with a new offensive coordinator after Dana Holgorsen worked wonders in his one season with the Cowboys. That hire will be important, no doubt, but Gundy looks to have the foundation in place for even bigger things to happen in Stillwater.
8. Mike Sherman – Texas A&M (Career record 78-62 including 59-43 in NFL, 19-19 at Texas A&M): Here is a guy who’s days look numbered half way through the 2010 season. After a two year record of 10-15 and then another mediocre start in 2010, it looked like Sherman would be just another NFL coach who fell flat in the college game. But after a mid-season quarterback switch combined with an improved defense, the Aggies turned around their season and finished winning six out of seven and an overall 9-4 record.
The Aggies return a league best 19 starters next season and will be in year two under defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter’s 3-4 scheme. The future looks good in College Station and another couple nine win seasons (or even better), and Sherman will no doubt be creeping up the pecking order of Big 12 coaches.
9. Paul Rhoads (Career Record 12-13, all at Iowa State): We’re getting to the point of the rankings where it might look like these guys aren’t good coaches because they fall into the bottom half of standings . That is definitely not the case with Rhoads. He took over a team that had been 5-19 the previous two seasons before his arrival and all he did was take the Cyclones to a bowl game in his first season. He nearly accomplished the same thing in year two, despite ISU having one of the toughest schedules in the country.
Rhoads has made the Cyclones into a team that no one will take lightly going forward. In two seasons, he’s already beat Texas and Nebraska (and lost in OT the second time against the Huskers). Assuming he can continue to recruit to Ames, ISU looks to be in good hands with a coach who wants to be there, and is committed to a level of success that hasn’t often be seen at ISU.
10. Art Briles (Career record 49-50, 15-22 at Baylor): As was said about Rhoads being ranked in the bottom half, the same can be said for Art Briles. This guy is a great coach. Baylor hasn’t looked like the same Baylor since Briles stepped onto the campus in Waco. Last season he took the Bears to their first bowl game since 1994, beat Texas, and won the most conference games for the school since the Big 12 was formed.
With Robert Griffin returning and a new defensive coordinator next season, Briles should have the Bears bowling again in 2011. Baylor hasn’t been the easiest place to win football games, but as long as Briles is calling Waco home, the old “norm” will likely be a thing of the past. The bar has officially been raised, and Briles deserves a ton of credit for that.
11. Turner Gill (Career record 23-39, 3-9 at Kansas): It would be an understatement to say things didn’t go well in Gill’s first season leading the Jayhawks. The cupboard wasn’t exactly stock full of talent despite some of KU’s recent success under Mark Mangino, however. But if he can turn around a program that was as buried in the college football dumpster as they come (Buffalo), there’s no reason to believe he can’t or won’t do the same thing at Kansas.
Next season looks again to be a bit of a rebuilding year, but Gill is quietly putting together a nice recruiting class and the Jayhawks should be a team to keep an eye on the next few seasons.
12. Jon Embree (Career record 0-0, first year at Colorado): Embree is taking over a team that failed to live up the hype that Dan Hawkins brought to Colorado. Embree is a former Buffalo player and coach and his staff is largely made up of people who have ties to the program. Colorado will enter a new era, not only with their coach, but also in a new conference. It’ll be interesting to watch the transition on both fronts but as most Buff fans would likely tell you, it’s just good to have a breath of fresh air in the program.
What do you think? Agree or disagree?
Some of us are busy looking back at the season, but count prognosticator Phil Steele among those already gearing up for 2011 Steele in his blog yesterday, listed all the FBS teams in the country and ranked each according to the number of players who started in 2010 that are coming back next season.
Vanderbilt and Michigan are two of the teams nationally that are returning the most experience and it’s interesting to note that both will have new coaches next season. Who is the team with the least amount of experience coming back? That would be defending National Champion, Auburn, with just seven players coming back off this year's title squad.
As far as the Big 12 goes, here’s a break out of where everyone stands. I heard a rumor that Nebraska and Colorado will be playing in a new conference next season, but until it’s confirmed, I’ll keep talking about them here!
As you can see, A&M is returning 19 out of a possible 23 starters (including kickers and punters) off a team that was pretty darn good the last half of the year. Oklahoma and Missouri both are looking good with 17 players coming back, but unlike the Sooners, the Tigers will have to replace their top two players who left school early for the NFL draft (Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith).
Here’s a link to the complete list over at Phil Steele.com.
Returning Starters in 2011:
With national signing day just over a week away, we're officially on the home stretch of another recruiting season. Take the rankings for what they're worth, but several Big 12 classes are shaping up among the country's best with the usual suspects, Texas and Oklahoma, occupying the top spots among the Big 12 teams.
One team to keep an eye on is Texas Tech. Tommy Tuberville is putting to bed the notion you can't recruit to Lubbock with a class that Rivals has ranked just behind Texas and Oklahoma and currently 14th in the entire country. Tech's class is loaded with Tuberville looking to fill some holes and build depth entering his second season in Lubbock.
Colorado, although sitting at the bottom of the rankings, has started to make some moves, as well. Only last week, the Buffs sat at just five verbal commitments but have since added seven more with new coach Jon Embree trying to stabalize the Colorado roster and get the Buffs ready to move to the new Pac-12 conference.
Signing day is February 2nd, and here is how the Big 12 looks heading into the final week according to Rivals.com.
|Nat'l Ranking||Team||5 Stars||4 Stars||3 Star||Total|
(Slideshow photo complements of Missourisportsblog.com)
It goes without saying, coming into the 2010 season, few saw the 5-7 season coming that Texas just stumbled through. They were ranked in the top five of the major polls in the preseason and were coming off an appearance in the BCS National Championship game. But after a season where the offense tanked, going from first in the Big 12 in scoring offense in 2009 at 39.3 points per game to 10th in the league at 23.8 points per game, changes were on the horizon.
The Longhorns were trying to replace Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley as well as implement a downhill running game, going away from the spread they used with Vince Young and McCoy. The results were, well, not good and left Texas on the hunt for a new offensive coordinator. Greg Davis, who had been Mack Brown’s offensive coordinator since arriving in Austin in 1998, conveniently resigned following the 5-7 mini-disaster in Austin. And as part of the changes, offensive line coach Mac MacWhorter and special teams’ coordinator Mike Tolleson “retired” from the Texas program, as well.
And then was the change few saw coming, defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting, Will Muschamp, bolted Austin to become the head coach of the Florida Gators following another retirement from Urban Meyer. What was already going to be a rebuilding project with a new offense coming to town was now a complete overhaul on both sides of the ball.
With last week’s hire of Stacey Searels as offensive line coach, the Texas staff is finally complete. So who are these guys?
As you would expect from a place like Texas, it starts with a couple potential home-run hires as coordinators:
Defensive Coordinator, Manny Diaz: Diaz, who played at Florida State, comes to Austin after spending one year as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. Diaz led a Bulldogs unit that finished 22nd in the nation in scoring defense (19.9 ppg). Diaz comes to Texas from the SEC just as Brown’s previous coordinator hires had, as well; Gene Chizik and Muschamp. After only one season at MSU, and four seasons as the coordinator at Middle Tennessee, you could say Diaz is a bit on the inexperienced side but most believe Diaz was a huge get for a program that is no doubt looking for a boost of energy. He's not doubt a rising star in the coaching business and will now be front-and-center for the country to see at Texas.
Defensive line coach, Bo Davis: Brown wasn’t shy about hitting up the SEC schools for some help on his coaching staff. Just a day before Diaz was announced as the D-coordinator, Bo Davis was hired to coach the Texas defensive front. Davis had spent the last four seasons as the line coach at Alabama and the last eight of nine seasons on Saban’s staff as LSU, the Miami Dolphins, and Alabama. "It's tremendous to be able to come to a place like The University of Texas, which, like Alabama, has such a rich history," Davis said. "I owe all of the credit for this opportunity to Nick Saban. I've been with him for eight years and he's a phenomenal man. I've learned so much from him and really appreciate the opportunity I had to work with him." Some have said they don’t play defense in the Big 12, but with Diaz and Davis on the staff, they’ll no doubt continue to be an SEC flavor to the Longhorns’ unit next season.
Secondary coach, Jerry Gray: One position Brown didn’t figure to replace this season was that of Duane Akina as their defensive backs coach. But Akina bolted for the same position at Arizona where he had been a coach from 1987-2000. But Texas shouldn’t miss a beat with former Longhorn Jerry Gray stepping in to take his spot. Gray had been coaching in the NFL for the past 14 seasons after finishing a nine year career as a player. His last stop was in Seattle as the defensive backs coach for the Seahawks. Gray will fit right in on the UT staff as he is one of the all-time greats at Texas and one of only seven Texas players to be two-time consensus All-Americans.
(Update: Gray lasted all of about three weeks on the Longhorns' staff before leaving to become the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. But Texas fans need not worry, former DB coach, Duane Akina, is returning to his old position on Brown's staff).
Offensive Coordinator, Bryan Harsin: anyone that has watched Boise State play the last several seasons knows of their offensive prowess. The main calling the plays in Boise was none other than Texas' new offensive coordinator, who was on Chris Peterson’s Boise staff the last ten seasons including the last five as offensive coordinator. In that time, Boise average over 40 points a game and last season the Broncos finished second in the country averaging over 520 yards a game. It’s going to be fun to watch what Harsin can do implementing what Boise was doing on offense with the athletes that Texas has on its roster. Harsin will share the coordinator duties with former Longhorn Major Applewhite, although Harsin will be calling the plays for Texas in 2011.
Offensive Line Coach, Stacey Searels: Mack Brown not only knows they know how to play defense in the SEC, but they also know how to run the ball, something Texas struggled at mightily this past season as they aimed to switch to a more power running game. Enter Georgia Bulldogs O-line coach Stacey Searels. He played his ball at Auburn and had been on Mark Richt’s staff the past four seasons. Prior to his stint at Georgia, he was the O-line coach at LSU for four seasons and helped the Tigers win the National Championship.
Wide Receiver Coach, Darrell Wyatt: Not that Texas had any trouble recruiting before, but adding Wyatt to the staff won’t hurt their efforts. Wyatt is considered among many to be one of the better recruiters in the country. He spent that past season at Kansas helping Turner Gill try and rebuild the program at Kansas. Wyatt is a native of Texas but played his college ball at Kansas State. “I've been recruiting Texas for a long time and have developed a great rapport with the high school coaches,” Wyatt said. “I'm really looking forward to continuing to build on that. My wife's family lives in San Antonio, my sister lives nearby, so it's a great to be coming home to Texas.”
It’s often thought that one of the keys to success in college football is continuity of the coaching staff. The Longhorns won’t have that heading into next season, but they’ll likely have a new energy after the recent shake-ups. Despite the upheaval, Texas has still managed to hang onto one of, if not the best, recruiting classes in the country. Combine that with the talent already on the Texas roster and it could be a rather fast turnaround for the Horns. Just how far they are from returning to the nation's elite will be one of the more intriguing stories of the 2011 season.
NFL personnel will descend on Mobile, Alabama this week for the annual Senior Bowl which pits many of the top seniors across the country. It's a huge week for many players attempting to show potential NFL teams they have what it takes to play at the next level.
The Big 12 is slated to have 17 players participating in the week’s festivities, nine on offense and eight on defense.
The defensive players will be led by Sam Acho of Texas and Jeremy Beal from Oklahoma. Both are defensive ends that spent a fare amount of time in their opponent’s backfields this season. Acho recorded 17 tackles for a loss, while Beal had 19. They also combined for 17.5 sacks.
Texas A&M linebacker Von Miler is another player to keep an eye on. After recording 17 sacks as a junior, he followed that up with another solid season recording 10.5 sacks with 17.5 tackles for a loss. Miller is currently projected as a surefire first-round selection in the draft.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Big 12 will be well presented in the offensive backfield with four running backs expected to play in the game. Daniel Thomas (Kansas State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), and Kendal Hunter (Oklahoma State) all are coming off impressive senior seasons. Thomas led the group with 1585 yards but Hunter wasn’t far behind with 1548 yards. Helu led the group with a 6.6 per carry average. It’s safe to say, that whoever carries the ball Saturday in Mobile, there’s a good chance they’ll be from the Big 12.
Here’s a complete list of Big 12 players slated to play. The game will kick off at 3:00 (CST) on Saturday, January 29th and will be televised by the NFL Network. The North team will be coached by Marvin Lewis and the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals’ staff. The south will be coached by Chan Gailey and his staff from the Buffalo Bills.
|Jeremy Beal||Oklahoma||DE||72 tackles, 19TFL, 8.5 sacks.|
|Quinton Carter||Oklahoma||S||96 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 Int, 7 pass BU's|
|DeMarco Murray||Oklahoma||RB||1214 yards, 4.3 avg, 15 TD's, 63 Yd lg run|
|Sam Acho||Texas||DE||59 tackles, 17 TFL, 9 sacks, 5 FF|
|Curtis Brown||Texas||DB||26 tackles, 6 pass BU's, 1 int|
|Danny Watkins||Baylor||OL||6'4" 310 lbs, will be 26 year old rookie|
|Phil Taylor||Baylor||DL||62 tackles, 7 TFL, 2 sacks|
|Pierre Allen||Nebraska||DE||65 tackles, 11 TFL, 3.5 sacks|
|Roy Helu Jr.||Nebraska||RB||1245 yards, 6.6 avg, 11 TD, 73 yd lg run|
|Alex Henery||Nebraska||K||18-19 FG's, 54-54 PAT's, 53 yd long|
|Mike McNeil||Nebraska||TE||21 catches, 346 yards, 1 TD|
|Eric Haag||Nebraska||DB||49 tackles, 3 TFL, 5 INT, 4 pass BU's|
|Niles Paul||Nebraska||WR||39 catches, 516 yards, 1 TD|
|Nate Solder||Colorado||OL||Played 2540 out of 2542 snaps, soph-sr. year|
|Jalil Brown||Colorado||CB||46 tackles, 5 pass BU's, 3 int's|
|Daniel Thomas||Kansas State||RB||1585 yards, 5.3 avg, 19 TD's|
|Kendal Hunter||Oklahoma State||RB||1548 yards, 5.7 avg, 16 TD's, 66 yd lg run|
|Von Miller||Texas A&M||LB||68 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks|
Here is a list of the complete rosters.
The NCAA has released the attendance numbers for college football. Texas, as you might expect, led the Big 12 in total attendance in 2010. And they did it despite a 5-7 season, although for those of you that saw pictures of Darrell K. Royal Stadium for the Florida Atlantic game might question the actual attendance, but either way, it’s still a ticket sold. Here’s a look at the numbers for the Big 12 with the national rank and number of home games also included.
||Total Attendance||Nat'l Rank||No. of Games|
It’s not hard to see why Texas has a leg up on a good portion of the conference when it comes to revenue. Just compare Texas to second ranked Nebraska. The Longhorns drew 104,932 more fans Nebraska in 2010. Let’s just use $50 as a round number for the cost of a ticket and that’s $5.24 million in additional revenue just from ticket sales. And not to mention 100,000 more fans buy a lot more hot dogs, popcorn, and athletic gear which also helps line the pockets of the athletic department.
An even more eye popping number is if you compare that to the bottom schools in the Big 12. Using Kansas as an example (they also had seven home games). Texas drew 390,625 more people than the Jayhawks. Using $50 a ticket again equates to $19.5 million more from ticket sales. For those of you wondering how the new Longhorn Network will affect the league, it will no doubt widen the gap, but the gap was already like the Grand Canyon compared to all the teams not named Oklahoma, Nebraska, or Texas A&M and it's also significant with those three.
On a per game basis, the rankings look nearly the same. Texas again was ranked 5th in the country behind Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and and Alabama. Here's also a link to the complete list of attendance figures. Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska were three of the 18 schools in the country that sold out their seasons in 2010.
|Rank||Team||Avg Per Game|
What has long been rumored finally became official yesterday with Texas announcing it has signed a deal with ESPN to create a network that will broadcast everything Texas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Without getting to buried in the details, Texas stands to make a sizeable chunk of change. After IMG (their marketing and licensing partner) gets paid, Texas stands to gross somewhere in the range of $10-15 million in revenue annually in addition to what they are making from the Big 12 TV contracts. The deal runs for 20 years which means Texas, from their perspective at least, hit a grand slam out of the park.
Again, you can find the details here, here, and here, but the gist of the programming will be approximately one football game per year, eight men’s basketball games, and a whole slew of Olympic sports. There will also be non-athletic programming from around the UT campus, as well. Now on the surface, you can probably make the argument that who, outside of the Texas fan base, cares about anything Texas and would be willing to pay for such a channel? Or why would ESPN essentially “overpay” it seems, to carry the All-Everything Texas network? Great questions that deserve their own dedicated post. But I’m going to take this in a different direction, what does Texas’ new deal mean for the rest of the Big 12.
First, don’t fault Texas in this whole thing. They did what was in their best interest and how can you fault them for that? Anyone else given the opportunity would do the same thing. But, how does this affect the Big 12? In my opinion, it really doesn’t. Texas got richer, it’s as simple as that. Texas already had the number one revenue generating athletic department in the country and a huge advantage over most of the schools in the conference. This doesn’t change that. The revenue gap gets wider, but in some form, isn't there a point of diminishing returns?
Texas has said it will help recruiting. Will it? I don’t know, probably, I guess. I just looked at the most recent recruiting rankings from Rivals.com and see Texas’s 2011 class is currently #1 in the country. And they did that without any help from the Longhorn Network. In the four classes before that, every class was ranked in the top five with the exception of the 2008 class that was ranked 14th. And no TV network was needed for any of those classes. And not to mention, new TV network or not, you can only recruit 20-25 football players a year. The rest HAVE to go somewhere else. Texas still has to pick the right recruits and then coach them, which based on their 5-7 record, they didn’t do a very good job of last season. The University of Texas happens to sit in a beautiful part of the country where top-level high school football recruits grow on trees. Recruits like that don’t grow on the trees in Lawrence or Ames and the Longhorn Network does nothing to change that. And nothing against Ames, it doesn’t exactly match up to Austin, climate, scenery, or otherwise.
The fact of the matter is, Texas has never been short on money, ever. They already have some of the nicest facilities. What are they going to do, build a space station and take recruits to the moon on their recruiting visits?
There’s a reason Mack Brown didn’t throw his hat into the ring at Iowa State when they got rid of Dan McCarney four years ago, or again when Gene Chizik went to Auburn two years ago. Texas is the crème de la crème of college football jobs. It was before the network and will be after the network. And that’s not to say Iowa State can’t have a winning football program. They just have to work harder every year to get 20 of the other 2000 or so recruits that don’t go to Texas, just like they did before. But don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason Iowa State has a .460 all-time winning percentage (not to pick on the Cyclones. Could easily be K-State, Okie State, etc.) and Texas is one of the winningest programs in the country and it doesn’t have anything to do with TV Networks.
So what does the rest of the Big 12 do? Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne had some interesting comments yesterday in his blog.
As our league transitions to a 10-team conference next season, I see one of two things happening with the third-tier rights. Discussions have taken place in recent months regarding a 9-team Big 12 Network which would operate similar to how the Big Ten Network operates today. The other option, which is less likely to occur, is each of the other nine schools would form their own individual networks and/or continue to syndicate their third tier games like they do today.
Byrne makes a good point prior to that excerpt, that the Big 12 Conference still holds the rights to all its members’ home games. ABC/ESPN still get their contractual choice of games, followed by Fox Sports, and then the remaining games go back to the school. Unless I’m missing something, the creation of the Longhorn network shouldn’t have any affect when the TV contract negotiations start up this spring with Fox Sports on its piece of the contract. They’ll still be bidding for the same inventory of games. For those that think the remaining nine schools would be better off without Texas, don’t think for a second that a conference without Texas would bring more to the bargaining table than one that includes the Longhorns.
Now the big question that has lingered since this summer’s near implosion of the conference, can Dan Beebe deliver on the revenue numbers he threw out to the schools in an attempt to keep everyone together? Beebe went out on a limb and said that Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma would pull down in the range of $20 million annually, everyone else $14-17 million which would be an improvement for all the schools. That was the question then and I doubt the creation of the Longhorn Network changes any school’s expectations about what their piece of the pie should be. If Beebe can’t deliver on those numbers, then yes, the conference may very well go up in a cloud of smoke, but that would have been the same with or without the Longhorn Network.
Getting back to Byrne’s statement above, it’s interesting to read his comments about forming a nine-team network similar to that of the Big Ten. Oklahoma, as they talked about yesterday, is already deep in discussions about creating their own network which makes Byrne’s second option seem more feasible (although he said that option was less likely). But it appears from both sides, everyone’s unsure of what direction things will go. But then again, they knew Texas was going to create their own network when everyone agreed to stay together, so these discussions aren’t anything new.
Texas has said repeatedly since the announcement they are committed to the Big 12, and why wouldn’t they be? They have everything they want right where they are, not to mention getting to maintain all of their longstanding rivalries, something that might carry more importance than most realize. Frank the Tank makes some good points in his post today regarding the Texas legislature and Texas’s perceived independent status, a move that might not be as easy to make as some think. Texas in some ways, is tied to the other four state schools (A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor), whether they like it or not. Legislators in the state might not be so fast to approve anything that hurts the other schools and they carry a significant amount of power as they showed this past summer. And although they're not important to the primary discussion, you can’t forget about the secondary sports should Texas go independent in football. Those sports need a home, as well.
So as much as the other schools might not like it, they are better off with Texas. The schools in the north essentially begged Texas to stay this summer, even going as far as offering to give up their portion of Nebraska and Colorado’s exit fees. They knew then what they know now. They are better off having Texas in the Big 12. The Big 12 might not be a close-knit family and some could survive on their own, but I think it’s a conference that will be around for a while, whether it be with 10 teams or 12 as was originally intended. And if it indeed does break up, it won’t be because of any TV network.
Whether you watch it or not, the new Texas network should be up and humming this fall. I’m as excited as anyone to see how the Texas swim team does in the 400 medley. And yes, the rich get a little richer because I’ll have to pay in some form to see it. And yes again, the Longhorns are at an advantage. But we already knew that, the Longhorn Network or not.Now if Texas could just recruit a running back that was worth his weight, they might be onto something.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has known since the middle of December that he would need to start looking for a new offensive coordinator after Dana Holgorsen announced he was leaving for Morgantown where he’ll become the head coach following the 2011 season.
It’s now the middle of January with national signing day just two weeks away and still no word out of Stillwater who will be calling the plays next season. There had been some outside speculation Gundy was taking his time because he was going to promote within. That seems less likely with Wednesday’s announcement that wide receivers coach, Gunter Brewer, was leaving to be the passing game coordinator and receivers coach at Ole Miss. He’ll also hold the title of associate head coach.
It’s tough to know what to read into Gunter’s decision, or whose decision it was, exactly. “Too good of an offer not to go,” Brewer said. “I’ve done about as much I could in the (receivers coach) position. I didn’t know how I was going to be in the mix there (for offensive coordinator).
To Brewer’s credit, he had done a ton with OSU’s receivers during his tenure. Adarius Bowman, Dez Bryant, and Justin Blackmon were all under Brewer’s tutelage in Stillwater. But to say you done about as much as you could in a position only to leave to take the same position at another school seems slightly unusual. “There’s potential for play-calling duties, and associate head coach kind of gets me a step towards becoming a head coach,” added Brewer. Well, that same potential existed in Stillwater, or maybe it didn’t.
It should be said, however, the Brewer’s father is Billy Brewer was the head coach at Ole Miss for 10 seasons. It could be nothing more than just wanting to be closer to family (Brewer’s mother passed away just before the Alamo Bowl). “It’s good to always be coming home,” Brewer said. “So I’m looking forward to the journey. Done some outstanding things at Oklahoma State, and I hope to carry that over to Ole Miss and just expand on that.”
The move leaves Gundy with three spots to fill on his offensive staff. When Holgorsen left, he took running backs coach, Robert Gillespie, with him to West Virginia. With quarterback Brandon Weeden and Blackmon announcing they were returning to Stillwater next season, Gundy has indicated he wanted to run a similar system to the one that was so successful under Holgorsen in 2010. Will he now go outside of the OSU football offices to find the next Holgorsen? Offensive line coach, Joe Wickline, and inside receivers coach, Doug Meacham, are still on Gundy’s staff and will no doubt ease the transition if he goes in that direction. And don’t count either one of those names out of the race for the coordinator’s position, either. Wickline had been rumored to be coveted by Mack Brown to be the offensive line coach at Texas, but he's still in Stillwater, which could mean nothing more than he's happy in Stillwater. Or is he adding some responsibilities to his offensive line duties?
Whatever Gundy decides, recruits are waiting and it’s getting down to nail-biting time with national signing day fast approaching on February 2nd. “It’s difficult,” Gundy said. “The point I continue to make with the student athletes we are recruiting and the parents is that Coach Gundy is going to be here. And I’m going to continue to hire the people we believe are best for the University, our football program and the players that are currently here.”
One recruit that is waiting is Top 100 running back, Herschel Sims. Sims is already committed to the Cowboys, but has said he would like to know who the running backs coach is before he makes his final decision. With his visit to Stillwater coming this weekend, the answers to all the above may be coming sooner than you think. There were already rumors that Gundy had targeted Southern Miss wide receiver coach, Kasey Dunn, for a spot on the staff although I’ve seen nothing definite to substantiate those rumors.
Gundy and the Cowboys are coming off three seasons in which OSU has won an impressive 29 games. With Weeden and Blackmon returning, you'd think candidates would be lining up outside Gundy's office door wanting to join in on the fun. And they probably are, he's just not ready to say quite yet.
Everyone’s favorite NFL draft analyst revealed his first of what will likely be many mock drafts this morning. If the actual draft goes anything like this first stab at reality, then there will be several Big 12 players feeling good about their decisions to leave early.
Here’s a list of the Big 12 players Mel Kiper has going in round one. (For the full list, here is a link, although I think you'll need ESPN Insider to see it in its entirety).
Gabbert, Smith, and Williams were all underclassmen that declared early for the draft. It’s been said in the space before that Gabbert and Smith could have benefited from another year in school, but if this is indeed where they get drafted, it’s tough to argue with the decision. Besides having another year of experience under their belt (always a good thing), another year in school likely wouldn’t have drastically changed their draft position.
Gabbert had an easier decision since he’s been pegged as a first round selection all along, and a likely top ten pick at that. Smith, on the other hand, was told by the NFL draft advisory board he’d likely be a second round pick. Based upon that, he had a tougher decision to make. If he ends up going near the top ten as Kiper projects, he’ll be laughing all the way to the bank, however.
For Miller, Amukamara, and Solder, their eligibility was done and now it’s just a matter of impressing the scouts during pre-draft workouts and putting themselves in the best possible position for April’s draft. If this first mock draft in any indication, they all look to be in a good positions. But as everyone knows, not everything goes as planned when draft day finally rolls around.