Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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Tuesday, 02 August 2011 02:45

Longhorn Network Will Have to Wait

The Big 12 athletic directors had their much anticipated meeting in Dallas on Monday.  The results?  A postponement  by the conference for a year on the decision as to whether or not to allow high school games on the Longhorn Network.

From the Big 12's press release:

Today, the ADs of the Big 12 Conference unanimously agreed to establish a minimum one-year moratorium on the broadcast of any high school content (or any other content involving prospective student-athletes) via any medium branded as a Conference or member institution platform.

What's interesting is that  I don't remember anyone from the other nine schools, at least publicly, wanting to ban high school games for one season.  But the quick and easy way for now was to table it for a year and let the NCAA try and decide who's problem it's going to be.  So be it.

Will that appease the other nine schools?  For now, sure, but it's anyone's guess as to what happens should the NCAA say it's within the rules to televise games of potential recruits on a school's network.  It's likely the Big 12 implosion that some fans were hoping for today would begin in earnest.

The fact of the matter is it gives everyone a chance to catch their breath before another potential Armageddon was about to ensue.  The entire school owned network idea is new for everyone and the moratorium will allow everyone to see just how the whole network deal plays out in year one.

It also allows all the other schools (there are nine other schools, right?) ample time to form Plan B should that ruling ever actually come down allowing high school games to be televised.  After last year's near collapse, it's hard to imagine that each and every school hasn't already had those wheels in motion for some time.

It also lets the Big 12 slide on having to make a decision against its biggest member and puts the onus on the NCAA.  If the NCAA agrees with Texas A&M that the network is an athletic representative of the institution and bans the showing of high school games, the NCAA is the bad guy and not the Big 12.

That might seem way off base and yes, it's only my opinion, but all the Big 12 needs to do is stand up and say there will never be any high school events on any school controlled networks.  (Seems easy enough, although I realize implementing new rules in the league isn't simply done by making them up as you go).   Of course, that again, might make one rather important member of your conference not very happy if the Big 12 stood its ground independent of any NCAA ruling.

So the soap opera that has become of the Big 12 and the Longhorn Network, along with the rumors swirling around realignment will continue, albeit likely at a slower pace than we've seen the last few weeks.  And at the rate the NCAA makes decisions, the Big 12 may be safe for while simply because the NCAA has been known to have trouble making up its mind.

The other nugget of information to come out of Monday's meeting had to do with a second game being aired on the Longhorn Network.  As long as that game is a Big 12 conference game, both schools and the Big 12 will now have to give the OK for it to be aired on the LHN.  And the other eight schools would also receive some sort of financial compensation when and if it happens.

This is a solid move, at least looking at it on paper.  If Texas and ESPN can convince another school and the Big 12 to air one of its game on Bevo's Network and everyone gives it the thumbs up, then why not?

It does raise the question about why another school would be willing to agree to it, however.  After the 2011 season, every Big 12 game is going to be televised so from an exposure standpoint, there would really be no reason to ever do it.  Granted, ESPN has some pretty deep pockets, but it's hard to imagine them forking over a truckload of coin to the rest of the league so they can televise just one additional game (I take that back, it's probably not that hard to imagine).

All told, it looks like the fire drill of the last two weeks is over  for the time being.  Now we can finally start focusing entirely on football with most camps around the country opening this weekend.  At least let's hope so.

Tuesday, 02 August 2011 00:50

Green Dropping Hints on NU's Offense?

There has been a lot of talk among Husker fans this offseason about what to expect from Nebraska's  offense now that former running backs coach, Tim Beck, is the new offensive coordinator.

It's been said to be an attacking style offense, there's been rumors of a no huddle attack, plays coming in via hand signals, and controlling the tempo.  How Nebraska goes about all that remains a mystery and likely will stay that way until the sometime into the first few weeks of the season.

Cody_Green2That doesn't stop anyone from continuing to look for clues, however, as to what to expect from the Huskers in 2011.  Former Husker quarterback, Cody Green, may have helped the cause by dropping a little nugget of knowledge in his interview with the Tulsa World over the weekend after signing his paperwork to officially become a member of the Hurricanes .

"The new offensive coordinator switched up the offense from what I was recruited to do," Green said. "It started changing at the beginning of last year and it fully changed in the spring. They're going to be predominantly more of a run team, even more than they were last year."

Even more than last year?  Wow, that might be hard to do.  The Huskers ran 916 plays last season, 634 of those played qualified as a rush (includes 29 sacks).  I'm no math major but that's 69.2% of their plays.

Just for comparison sakes, those 634 rushing attempts by the Huskers were more than any team in the Big Ten, predominantly known for some of its power rushing attacks.  Illinois and Wisconsin led the Big Ten in attempts with 619 and 584, respectively.  The Huskers also outgained Illinois by 267 yards who happened to lead the B1G in rushing.

Another stat worth pointing out is the number of plays ran during the season between the teams in the Big Ten and the Big 12.  In the B1G, three teams ran more than 900 plays on the year.  In the Big 12, there were seven teams above that mark and three of those were above 1000 plays led by Oklahoma's astonishing 1211 snaps from scrimmage.

Granted, there are a lot of variables that can affect that.  You could probably make the argument that the defenses in the Big Ten are better, therefore the offenses run fewer plays.

Fair enough, but the fact of the matter is, if Nebraska truly runs the ball more than last year, it would be mildly surprising if for no other reasons than they might not get enough plays from scrimmage to get there.

Bo Pelini and Tim Beck may very well laugh at the comment, however.  It's no secret Pelini and OU coach, Bob Stoops, have been known to put their heads together from time to time. And given Beck's background helping Mark Mangino run Kansas's offense in 2007, maybe they plan going as fast as they can while running as many plays as they can.

But knowing Pelini's penchant for good defense, that's doubtful to be the case.  A good ball control offense that can put points on the board sounds more like it.  Combine that philosophy with the fact Taylor Martinez happens to be pretty good with his feet while maybe struggling slightly finding receivers, and maybe Green's assessment isn't that far off.  It won't be long before we get to see for ourselves.

(H/T to the guys at Big Red Network for spotting the Green interview).

Monday, 01 August 2011 07:23

Games of the Year

Over the past week, sportsbooks around the country have been releasing a few of their early season odds (total number of wins, and odds to win conference and national titles).  Now comes one of my favorites, Game of the Year betting lines (as it’s referred to by sportsbook.com).

Without any of the teams even having started fall camp, the odds makers have released the point spreads on a select few games, many of which are expected to be among a handful of best games played this season.

Twelve games within the Big 12 were included among the 115 or so that were listed..

Date Game Line
9/10/2011 Iowa @ Iowa State ISU +7
9/10/2011 BYU @ Texas Tex -6
9/17/2011 Oklahoma @ Florida State OU -1
9/24/2011 Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M A&M -3
10/1/2011 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (in Arlington) A&M +1
10/8/2011 Oklahoma vs. Texas (at Cotton Bowl) OU -8
10/15/2011 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tex -2
11/5/2011 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma OU -10.5
11/12/2011 Texas @ Missouri Pick 'em
11/24/2011 Texas @ Texas A&M A&M -4
12/3/2011 Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State OU -4
12/3/2011 Texas @ Baylor Tex -4.5

 

Ask yourself one question, what will be the game of the year in the Big 12?  Two games come to mind for me:  1) Texas A&M at Oklahoma and 2) Oklahoma at Oklahoma State.  It’s interesting to see what I think should be the game of the year, A&M and Oklahoma, is the only game among the twelve listed with a double digit point spread with the Sooners being 10.5 point favorites over the Aggies.

fireworksOf course, based on that logic, the actual game of the year will be Texas at Missouri which is currently listed as even on the point spread.  So as much as you have to take these lines with a grain a salt, it is interesting to try and read the tea leaves about what the odds makers think heading into the year.

If you ask me, the so called experts love Oklahoma, like Texas, and aren't as high on Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys are listed three times and are the so called underdogs in all three games, two of which are away from home.  In one of those road contests, the Pokes are two point underdogs to Texas who we all know is trying to rebound from last year's 5-7 season.

The Sooners are included five times and are the favorites all in five games including the road contests at Florida State and Oklahoma State.  And then there is the aforementioned double digit spread against the Aggies.

As for Texas, the Longhorns are listed in six different games and are the favorites in three, underdogs in two, and are even in another.  The Longhorns line at Missouri is listed at zero even though the Tigers are returning 18 starters and are tough to be at The Zou in Columbia.  The Longhorns are four point underdogs in College Station and eight point underdogs in the Red River Rivalry.  Even with all the questions surrounding Texas heading into 2011, it appears in the wagering world at least, the Longhorns are still getting a decent amount of respect.

As for games they missed, it would have been cool to see a couple more Missouri and Oklahoma State games, including the Cowboys trip to Columbia.  What about Oklahoma State at Texas Tech on November 12th? You'd have to guess Oklahoma State would the the favorite at this point, but getting out out Lubbock with a win two years in a row won't be easy.  For the rest, I guess we'll have to wait until the season gets going which by the way, is just over five weeks away.

So what do you think?  Are there any surprises above?

 

Friday, 29 July 2011 10:06

Five Names to Know on Defense

The Big 12's media contingent has released their preseason All-Big 12 team.  These are the guys you already know because after all, they've made their mark in the conference and are back for more.  But they aren't the only ones you should be paying attention to.

Here are five names that you may or may not already know, and if not, you likely will by the end of the season.  Their opportunities have been limited to this point, but that is going to change come the first week in September.

Ahmad Dixon, sophomore – nickelback – Baylor

As a true freshman last year, Baylor defensive back finished with only 16 tackles on the year.  Expect that number to go up, a lot, in 2011.  Dixon is described on Baylor’s website as “Highest-rated signee at Baylor in recent memory (No. 15 national recruit by ESPNU 150).”  Now, we all know being a highly-rated recruit doesn’t guarantee a thing, but it’s not every day a guy with his potential decides Baylor will be his school of choice.

The former Texas Longhorn commitment expects to be a very big piece of Phil Bennett’s new defense he implemented over the course of the spring.  At Big 12 media days on Monday, Art Briles described Dixon as a dynamic player that will make a lot of plays for the Bears.  A little over a month from now, we’ll be able to see for ourselves.

Arthur Brown, junior - linebacker – Kansas State

uspw_5441104There’s a good chance you know this guy’s name even though he has never played a Big 12 game.  The Miami transfer is a Kansas native that tore up KSU’s scout team last year and now gets to do it for real against the Big 12.

Kansas State didn’t have the speed or depth to compete consistently in the Big 12 last season and gave up over 230 yards rushing per game as a result.  Expect that number to go down significantly in 2011 and Brown will likely be a big reason why.

Toben Opurum, junior – defensive end - Kansas

You may remember Opurum leading the Jayhawks in rushing during his freshman season in 2009.  In 2011, you’re likely to hear Opurum’s name after sacking the quarterback.  After switching to linebacker last season, he looks to finally have found a home at defensive end.

Turner Gill has been looking to get more speed on the field and moving a running back to rush the quarterback is one way to accomplish it.  Gill said after spring practice, I think Toben (Opurum) is going to be a guy to be reckoned with in the Big 12. I think he's going to be a guy people are going to be talking about as time goes along."

Aaron Colvin, sophomore – safety – Oklahoma

Colvin played in all 14 games as a freshman finishing with 34 tackles on the year.  The cornerback has moved back to fill one of the vacated safety positions left in the Sooner backfield, however, and by all accounts the transition has been a smooth one. "But right now we feel comfortable and he feels comfortable. It’s really amazing how he’s caught on, a very instinctive player. He’s a playmaker. We’re excited right now about him at the strong safety position," said defensive coordinator, Brent Veneables.

Oklahoma has a, you could say solid, history of dominant players at the safety position.  Colvin is still experienced, but looks to be on the right path.  “He's as talented a guy as we've ever recruited (at cornerback),” Stoops said last fall. “He runs (well). He's strong. He's smart. He has a feel for it. Plays the ball well. Whoever was ranking stars on that guy missed it. Missed it by a long shot.”

Jackson Jeffcoat – sophomore – defensive end – Texas

Jeffcoat played in eight games as a true freshman finishing with 15 tackles.  He showed flashes of his potential, however, with 6.5 of those tackles coming behind the line of scrimmage including 2.5 sacks.

Jeffcoat’s production was limited after missing four games with an ankle injury.  He’s speed rusher that will likely give left tackles around the Big 12 nightmares when Texas comes to town.  If you check the Big 12’s sack leaders throughout the year, here’s guessing Jeffcoat’s name will be somewhere on the list.

Also looking to make their mark:

These guys could very well have been included in the top five, but either way, they should be making a strong impact in 2011, as well.

Caleb Lavey, sophomore – linebacker – Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys leader on defense last season, Orie Lemon, is gone to graduation.  Someone has to replace his 133 tackles.  Levey should be that guy.

E.J. Gaines, sophomore – cornerback – Missouri. The Tigers need to replace both of last year’s starters at cornerback and they love the playmaking ability Gaines displayed througout spring practice. He saw limited duty in 2010 finishing the year with 26 tackles.

Justin Gilbert, sophomore – cornerback – Oklahoma State.  The last time you saw Gilbert he was taking a kick off to the house in the Bedlam game versus Oklahoma.  Now he’ll have the ability to show his talents on defense full-time and should be a key piece to an improving Pokes defense.

Kony Ealy, RS freshman – defensive end – Missouri.  The Tigers are loaded at the end position and Ealy only adds to the depth.  He’s second team now, but expect Missouri coaches to find some way, any way, to get this guy on the field.

Jordan Hicks, sophomore – linebacker – Texas.  Hicks started to show what he’s capable of during his freshman season making 23 tackles.  He missed spring practice with a foot injury but expect the sophomore to be a shining star in Manny Diaz’s defense in Austin.

Also, Five Names to Know on Offense.

It's that time of the year.  Media days are now in the rear view mirror and this time next week, fall camps will be officially underway and there will be some actual football news to talk about.  Here is a quick spin around the web at some of what was happening in the Big 12 and elsewhere this week.

There was a whole lot of talk about the Longhorn Network this week.  Here's a good read from Richard Justice, columnist for the Houston Chronicle.

Texas could use a few offensive lineman and this true freshman might help matters.  Bevo's Corner looks at Garrett Greanlea.

Sportsbizmiss has a good interview with Texas A&M athletic director, Bill Byrne.

Crimson and Cream Machine has some interesting thoughts on what could become of the Longhorn Network.

The Heroes Game? What is that you say?  Oh, just the Nebraska-Iowa game otherwise known from here on out as the Nebraska-Iowa game.

Husker Corner has a look at the Huskers quarterback situation.

The Big 12 has a new slogan, "This is how we play."  Clone Chronicles has some commentary as it relates to Iowa State.

Kansas landed not one, but two, quarterback recruits this week.  Nice work by Turner Gill and his staff.

Cowboys Ride for Free discuss the new taunting penalty.  The rule will for sure create some controversy this season, which is probably one good indication there's no need for the rule.

Holy Turf has a look at where the Big 12's undrafted free agents ended up now that the NFL lockout is over.

And to finish off the week, always be on the look out for the attacking praying mantis.

Thursday, 28 July 2011 23:38

Oklahoma State Shows-off New Uni's

We've been hearing about Oklahoma State getting new uniforms for the better part of the offseason. Well, for those of you uniform aficionados out there, the wait is officially over. On Thursday, the Cowboys revealed the new look(s). Not bad, not bad at all. I'm not sure if they classify as the Oregon of the Midwest, but they're probably not that far off.  I'm more a traditionalist when it comes to this stuff and would choose the old school looks over the new more times than not, but I have to say, these are sharp.

But seriously, is it necessary to have 48 different combinations? I'm not sure who the equipment manager is in Stillwater, but that man needs a raise.

Complements of the Oklahoma State athletic department, here is a slide show they put together showing some of the new looks.

 

And another question this brings up, who gets to choose what they wear on Saturday?  Do they hold a spaghetti cookout on Wednesday night where they hold a team vote?

So what's your favorite?  I have to go with the black helmets with the black jerseys.  That combo looks so good the pant color wouldn't even matter, any of the four choices would work.

But enough with the fashion updates for now.  We will be back to the regularly scheduled football updates shortly.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 10:03

Media Days, Recapping Day Two

Big 12 Media days wrapped on Tuesday with the final five teams making the rounds.  More talk about the Big 12, the Longhorn Network, and team specific details as everyone is wrapping up summer workouts in preparation of fall camp opening up next week.  Here are a few select quotes from the five coaches who took to the podium on Tuesday, along with a few of my own comments.

Tommy Tuberville

“We won eight games. Won a bowl game. It wasn't a great year, but it was a year I think that we can look back on and say, you know, that was the start of something good.” – All things considered, not a bad first year considering some of the fallout from the Mike Leach situation, not  to mention all the injuries they suffered last season.

uspw_5441070“And if you have those, you've got a chance in this league to keep somebody under 21 points, which is still a lot of points. If you don't, you've got no chance. You better outscore them.” – Tubs talking about having pass rushers and good corners to be successful on defense in the Big 12.

“That's really probably not the type of team we want to play right now. Not that we didn't want to play them. It was obvious that we had somebody had to go in that slot where they were at, you know, pretty much fit what we needed to do.” – Again, another example of a team dropping a tough game from their schedule.  I get it - it doesn't make sense to play a TCU when few other teams are doing it, but it still drives me crazy.  Without that game Tech has the easiest non conference schedule in the league.

“So it's not going to be a quarterback by committee. Seth is our number one guy, and going into two-a day’s he'll be in that situation, not to say it won't change as we go through two-a-days or even through the season.” – Hearing this and his other comments regarding the QB spot, there’s little doubt Doege is the man.

“I think the one thing we'll miss, everybody will miss, fans, not just our fans in the Big 12, but across the country, is that championship game.” – Agree, and I’m guessing most of the Big 12 will, as well, when all the other conferences are holding their championship game.

“I don't know what the future is, but I don't think there's any doubt we can sustain with ten teams and we can make the best out of it and even become a stronger conference maybe than what it was. That's a political answer, right (laughter)?” – Politically correct, is right.

Turner Gill

“The other thing, too, we have gotten faster. I think the key thing is when you get a work ethic and you get a little bit faster, particularly in this league, then it's going to get you a better opportunity to be successful and get things going in the right way.” – Turner talked about speed a lot on Tuesday.  That’s a good thing because KU needs more of it, a lot more of it.  It sounds like things are heading in the right direction.

“So, again, I had a plan being able to recruit, being able to teach and develop young men to play the game of football and also play in the game of life.” – Turner Gill in a nutshell, right there.

“So I think all that's a plus in the Big 12 Conference (playing every team), and I'm glad to be a part of it, and I think I'm excited about this situation. I think it's going to be a long-term deal, and I'm very, very excited about it.” – T. Gill, loving the new Big 12.

“We do know that our incoming freshmen and the redshirt freshmen, they are bringing some speed.” – Again, more talk about speed.  So, is it better to fast, inexperienced players, or slower experienced players?  I’ll take fast nine of out ten times.

Paul Rhoads

“All these positives will collide with one of, if not, the toughest schedules in college football, and we're just going to see where that takes us by the time December rolls around. – I don’t know, everyone’s schedule is in the Big 12 is the same as far as opponents go.  But I see what he’s saying.  Oklahoma’s schedule is probably a little easier because they don’t have to play, yep, Oklahoma.

“And the environment of Jack Trice Stadium is really going to be enhanced by this new video board as well as the audio component of it, which I think is maybe just as important.” – If you haven’t seen this thing yet, it’s cool, very cool.

“My wife likes our job, and I sort of do, too, so, no, that's not a direction I'd like to move playing 11 BCS opponents every year. And a change is in place in 2012 and beyond to get away from that challenging of a schedule”. – One of my pet peeves with college football.  I don’t blame Iowa State because everyone does it, but it kills me when teams add cupcakes to the schedule.

“Right. It's a call that I relive and a play I relive every week. There's not a week that goes by that I don't think about the play and what it could have created for our football team and our football program”. – Great call by Rhoads that should of, would of, could of worked.  There was nothing to lose there and a whole bunch to gain.

Bill Snyder

uspw_5441098_2“Well, in all honesty, I don't know that I'm aware of any particular signs that would allow us to continue to make that improvement during -- by out of season and off season, you're probably talking about summertime. And obviously there's been this major push that it's voluntary, and some youngsters believe it's voluntary.” – I’m not sure what’s going on in Manhattan, but this is the third time I've heard Snyder mention he’s not happy with what’s been going on over the summer.  Lack of leadership by the players?  Snyder just sending a message?  I have no idea, but I’d hate to be on the practice field the first day of fall camp when Snyder starts conditioning drills.

“We're still struggling with scholarship count. We're at 69 right now. And you just can't go out and get an additional 15, 16 guys just because of the rules and limitations on 25-scholarship limit”. – That’s tough.  Hopefully nobody gets hurt.

“And I hope we continue to have good fortune. But I assure you that we don't have anybody's number, Texas or anybody else for that matter. And it's game by game, year by year, and I don't think that will change at all.” – That was a great question, are you relieved to play Texas every year now.  For some unknown reason though, K-State HAS had the Horns number the last five or six seasons.

“I just don't know. I guess I would look at it as though in the many years of the Big 12 Conference, we've played some teams we've played every single year, and there hasn't necessarily been a rivalry created with many of those ball games.” – Snyder didn’t seem all the convinced the new rivalries would develop as a result of teams in the north and south playing every year.  Certainly, most of the south teams already have their rivalries in place, but either way it’s not something that is going to happen overnight.

Bob Stoops

“And I don't see any of these guys have the physical presence at this point and maturity to play 45, 50 snaps like DeMarco could.  So we'll divide it up. But also play to -- there's a guy in there that's hot, keep him in there until he needs a break, and then get him back in there.” – Running back-by committee, anyone?

uspw_5441002_2I think at the end of the day they've won the national championship. So you've got to do that. When you say unseat them, someone else needs to win it for that to happen.” – Stoops was asked about the SEC dominance and gave really the only answer he could.  There’s not much else to say.

“And the other message, I'd make it clear, I don't really -- my job really when these guys come back is I want them educated on the whole process, and I want them to maximize their small window of opportunity to make money in the NFL to get where they're valued, to not play for a discount. That's all it is.” – Stoops obviously has a lot of guys on his team with the potential to play in the NFL.  I’m always impressed when I hear Stoops philosophy when it comes to leaving early.  I’m not sure there’s anyone that lays it out better.

Well, sure. To me the lifeblood of every program is recruiting. And so we either all recruit by the same rules or we don't.” – Short and sweet and well said.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011 07:59

Media Days, Recapping Day One

Five up and five more to go.  Day one of the Big 12 Media Days is in the books.  Here are a few of the comments from each the five coaches that had their time in front of the camera on Monday, with a few of my own thoughts mixed in.  For complete coverage, be sure and check out the Big 12's official website

Mike Sherman

“I'll be honest I've been asked that by Aggies on my coaching tour and my standard answer is I have enough on my plate getting our team ready to play.” – Fairly standard answer by the coaches on the Longhorn Network.

uspw_5439318“I think we're going to be a better team on defense, even though we lose some significant players in Von Miller and Mike Hodges and Lucas Patterson. Tremendously significant players in our defense, but I do believe that the second year in this defense will make the biggest jump.” – This will be interesting to watch.  Individually those guys were great players, but Sherman obviously feels the group as a whole will be better.

“Truthfully, I prefer playing them a little later. We have Arkansas in there as well, which is another big game for us. Certainly Oklahoma State, a team that we have not found a way to win since I've been at A&M. We've lost to them three games in a row.” - It won’t take long to find out about A&M with the Cowboys and Razorbacks early on the schedule.  Arkansas will also be trying to make it three in a row of Sherman’s crew.

“I think in the context of the way we play the game now where we're getting between 85 and 95 snaps a game, this is going to be plenty of opportunities for those guys to have opportunities with the football in their hand, whether catching it or being handed it.” – Great problem to have trying to decide how to divide touches between Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael.

“One thing about Ryan, he really only started six ball games as a quarterback. So it's not like he's had a wealth of experience.” – If Tannehill plays like he did in the six games last season, the Aggies should be in great shape.  But what if he goes down?  See next quote.

“That's going to be determined within ten days of camp. Because it's going to be an important position. In our league, we have some tough defenses, and quarterbacks are going to take some shots. So you're only as good as your backup quarterback.” – If he’s going to decide 10 days in, the odds are pretty good he knows who he expects the backup to be.

Mike Gundy

“We wanted a coordinator that would come in and be willing to run our offense. And it's not easy to find a coach that's willing to do that.” – Odd situation that’s been beat to death, but it’s still one of the biggest storylines around the Cowboys this year.  The over/under on how many times Monken gets asked about this during the season is 986.

“Oklahoma State, Missouri we get to play every year. So I think the fans will look forward to playing Missouri and Missouri fans will look forward to playing Oklahoma State. And when you did it once every two seasons or two years in a row with taking a two-year break, I don't think it worked and it wasn't effective.” This is definitely an advantage to playing every year.

“But this league has been very difficult. And because of the ability for offenses to score, and to score fast, ultimately I think it will come down to how a team will perform on defense and special teams.” – Funny he should mention this.  Maybe he knows something about his defense the rest of us don’t.

“The good thing is I don't have to worry about that. I've got faith in our athletic director, Coach Holder, and our commissioner, Dan Beebe, and I'm sure they'll make the best decisions.” – A solid translation probably is, “I don’t like it at all, but I don’t have to worry about it.”

Art Briles

“I'm really excited about Phil Bennett. I really am. It's been, I hate to say, a breath of fresh air. But that man is a football coach. He and I coincide so much on philosophy and belief in how to treat people, how to make people accountable, that it's just -- I'm really excited about that side of the ball.” – We’ll all find out just how much difference a new coordinator can make.  Look at for Baylor if their defense is significantly better because of it.

uspw_5439132_2“Ahmad's an extremely dynamic player.  I think it's a great position for him. We're really, really pumped to see how he really grows at that position. He's going to make a lot of football plays for us. Great young man, too, by the way.” – This guy will be a household name in the Big 12 by season’s end.

“Maybe I'm different, I don't know. To answer your question, do I worry about it, not a bit. I mean, they're pretty hard to recruit against anyway, you know what I'm saying?” – Briles is so solid, see next quote.

“Let them have it. If it helps the Big 12 if we have to recruit harder against Texas, we'll do a better job, work harder and see if we can get a little better.” Love it, don’t think this kind of attitude doesn’t permeate to his team.

Gary Pinkel

“So that's what I'm concerned with, can those four offensive linemen receivers, running backs, tight ends, can all those guys play up their game to a different level. If they can do that, James Franklin is going to be fine. And that's kind of the approach I have, certainly with the transition of this quarterback.” – This is obviously huge for Franklin, especially the offensive line being so strong.  It should make for a much easier transition for Franklin having confidence in the guys up front.

“He's finishing a class. He finishes his class up this week. We expect to see him in practice reporting day.” – This is in regards to defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson who hasn’t made it to campus yet.”  If they guy lives up to the hype, he’ll be huge for the Tigers.

“First of all, I have no control over that. It's a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network can coach or have high school games on their network. To me there's no common sense there.” – It’s always cool when a coach gives his true opinion on a subject.

“I think as the league, as it's evolved to ten teams, I think the league will be as strong or stronger nationally each and every year, and the competition every week you better bring it.” – The Big 12 will definitely be helped if teams like Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M can stay consistently as strong as they should be this season.

“But finding out, first of all, what that guy does best and what you can do to highlight his skills, and then I think when you do it that way, I think you lend itself to get a consistent performance.” – More comments from Pinkel on James Franklin.  Will the Tigers use more designed quarterback runs this year?

Mack Brown

“Secondly, we want somebody that's going to take care of the ball, because we were 116th in the turnover ratio last year, and it's amazing we won as many games as we did when we didn't force turnovers and we didn't protect the ball.” – Brown talking about what he wants in QB play in addition to leadership being number one.  Gilbert definitely needs to cut down on the turnovers if he’s going to be the guy.

uspw_5439328_2“So Dave Brown called me mid-summer and said: We want to have your first scrimmage online. Everybody's going to want to see it. And I said: Yeah, Oklahoma, A&M, Kansas, Texas Tech, they're going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can't do that.” – No doubt there are a lot of advantages being the coach of Texas, but I’m not sure dealing with the Longhorn Network on a daily basis is one of them.

“We're going to sign 20 to 25 players a year, more 20 than 25, and those players will probably be committed to us before June in their junior year. So I don't think that part will have any effect on recruiting at all.” – Two points here.  He’s right, they’re going to sign the same 20-25 guys regardless of the Longhorn Network.  But to think younger kids can’t or won’t be affected by seeing Texas on TV on a daily basis is, well, seeing things through burnt orange colored glasses.

“So we're hoping by not naming a starter, by sending all four guys to the summer, that it put a tremendous amount of pressure on all four of them to become the leader, to make the players believe in them, to make the team step up, and I think we'll see the effect of who comes out of that competitive fight for two months at a very difficult time, who worked the hardest, who led the best, and I think we'll see that during preseason camp.” – Four guys competing for the starting job?   I’d like to see how the divide the reps in practice between everyone.  Obviously the faster they decide the starter, the more reps he can get in practice, otherwise you’re just hurting his practice time.

“The number one question, does it work to your advantage? I think, yes, that your expectations are lower because you all make our players mad daily. And you motivate them first. One of them told me last night: Do you know they picked us fifth in the league? I don't know that. I do now. Thank you for reminding me.” – Probably not a question Mack Brown gets asked often, i.e., lower expectations.

 

.

 

Monday, 25 July 2011 14:02

Over or Under?

Over or under?  That was the question of the day yesterday as the Las Vegas Hilton released their win totals for 35 teams across college football. (H/T to Cover Sports and also on Kegsneggs for the info).

The Big 12 has five teams listed on the initial list, the five teams generally considered to have a chance to win the Big 12 title.  These totals are only for the 12 game regular season.

  • Oklahoma – 10 (even)
  • Texas A&M – 8.5 (-120 – under)
  • Oklahoma State – 8.5 (even)
  • Texas – 8 (even)
  • Missouri – 7.5 (-120 over)

 

(Note: These were the opening lines and likely have changed since they were released.  Beyond the Bets has already noted Missouri has been adjusted to -150).

As KegsnEggs pointed out in his post, the numbers on the right are very important in placing the wagers.  For example, betting the over on Missouri win total is slightly more expensive at -120 than it is at the standard -110.

But since this isn’t mean to be a wagering column (or wagering advice, for that matter), I'll put the intricacies of the wagering world aside, and just use it at a starting point for an interesting discussion.

Oklahoma

Bob_stoops2Let’s start with the Sooners at 10 wins.  If you’re one of the people who believe OU is the favorite to win the BCS title, than whether or not they’ll go over ten wins should be a foregone conclusion.  A 10-2 record would likely send them to a nice bowl – maybe the Fiesta or Cotton – but it’s very doubtful they would end up playing in the championship game.

If you’re trying to figure out where the Sooners could go wrong, it’s probably wise to check out the road schedule since Oklahoma is 72-2 at home under Bob Stoops, while they’re 35-16 on the road.  The pitfalls are the trips to Tallahassee and Stillwater while upsets happening at Kansas State and Baylor are possible, but seem much less likely.

If they stay healthy, it’s much more likely they get over 10 wins than stumble three or more times and finish with less than 10, in my opinion.

Texas A&M

Mike Sherman feels very, very, good about his A&M team this season.  The Aggies defense was much improved last year and could be even better this fall under second year coordinator, Tim DeRuyter.  And they also happen to have a few fairly solid players coming back on offense, as well.

So what’s the schedule look like?  Arkansas has been a thorn in the Aggies side the last couple seasons and will be once again as they meet in Dallas again this fall.  The trip to Norman won’t be a cakewalk, either.  If they win that, they should blow 8.5 wins out of the water.  Just for arguments sake, let's say they lose both of those games.

The one very large positive on the Aggies schedule is that Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas all have to travel to College Station.  It's reasonable to think they go 2-1 in those three games.  That would total three losses leaving them with nine wins.

8.5 wins?  You be the judge, but the over doesn’t sound like bad a deal.

Oklahoma State

Everyone knows the Cowboys can score points and that shouldn’t be any different this season.  On the other side of the coin, the defense and brutal schedule are the two biggest challenges standing in the Cowboys way.

In comparing the Cowboys with the Aggies, (both who opened with an 8.5 number), you’d have to give the edge to TAMU.  While Texas A&M gets Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas at home, Mike Gundy’s crew has to play at A&M, Texas, and Missouri before getting the Sooners at home.  Big difference there.

In my opinion, if Texas A&M’s number is truly 8.5, then Oklahoma State’s should be something lower than that.  I’m no odds making expert, but I would have been more likely to set the Aggies at nine, while slotting the Pokes in at eight wins.  (Vegas might actually agree with this, however, as the juice on TAMU is already significantly higher on the Aggies).

Texas

GilbertMost people seem to be in agreement that the Longhorns won’t repeat last year’s 5-7 disaster.  Eight wins?  That sounds about right, to be honest.  Over that?  Well, now you may be pushing your luck.  There are simply too many questions surrounding Texas entering the season.

Everyone knows about the offensive problems and shoddy quarterback play they displayed last season.  Can they get significantly better in one season under a new coordinator?  Not to mention, Will Muschamp was pretty good calling shots on the defensive side of the ball and he’s gone, as well.

Texas’s schedule won’t be easy with road trips to College Station and Columbia, plus their annual trip to Dallas to take on the Sooners.  I’ve counted up their wins several different ways and keep coming up with eight, although I’d guess seven wins is more likely than getting to nine.  How’s that for indecisive?

Missouri

The Tigers came in with a projection of 7.5 wins.  At first glance, that seems low.  The Tigers will be one of the most experienced teams in the Big 12 this season.  Of course, everything focuses on the one piece they don’t have coming back, that being quarterback Blaine Gabbert.  If his replacement, James Franklin, is respectable running the Tigers' offense, Mizzou could be in for a very solid season.

Mizzou’s schedule isn’t going to be any picnic, however.  Their trip to the desert to take on Arizona State won’t be easy, nor will visits to Norman or College Station (where Missouri worked over TAMU last season, 30-9). Let’s say they go 1-2 in those three road games.

The home schedule includes visits from Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech.  Let’s say they go 2-1 in those three home games.  By my math, that’s three losses leaving them at 9-3.  If the Tigers lost to either Kansas State, Baylor, or Iowa State, they still finish at 8-4, one-half win over their season beginning total.  What I’m getting at is after looking a little closer, 7.5 still seems to be on the low end for the Tigers.

All told, it's tough to argue much with any of the inital win totals around the league.  Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Missouri would be my favorites to get over their number.  Who do you say?

Friday, 22 July 2011 11:16

Texas A&M and Oklahoma in the SEC?

So is the Big 12 on its last leg? Depending on who you talk to, the sky is either falling or the Big 12 members are as happy as the Brady Bunch living in perfect harmony.  Where does the truth lie?  Probably somewhere on the Brady Bunch side of the line because five or six schools really don't have much say in the matter.

Brady_BunchThe others?  Well, Texas A&M's president doesn't sound all that thrilled.  “Having said that, the announcement by ESPN that the Longhorn Network might carry a conference game in addition to a nonconference game was troubling — key word troubling to us — and then following right after that was ESPN’s announcement regarding high school games would be televised as well,” R. Bowen Loftin said.

“Both of those we believe provide a great deal of uncertainty right now for us and the conference.”

Neither does A&M athletic director, Bill Byrne. " “I have continued to have concerns about the Longhorn Network since the original announcement by ESPN and Texas. Since last summer, the Big 12 member institutions have committed to work together in a spirit of unity and equality. Recent news reports concerning this network; however, have created a considerable amount of uncertainty.

Hey, you can't blame the Aggies for standing up and voicing their opinion.  If you've have something to say, then say it.

At least in the near term (this season) Texas A&M, Oklahoma and the rest of the league shouldn't have much to worry about as it relates to Texas airing high school football games.

The Big 12's commish, Dan Beebe, responded by saying, "Until the members have a chance to consider all the issues and come to conclusion about how the Conference will manage the interplay between the Conference television package and institutional networks, no more than one live football game will be televised on any institutional network and no high school content will be televised on a branded member's network."

So there you have it. That is until the members actually do have a chance to consider all the issues and change their minds, then the league will be right back at the starting line.  And I have to think there's a real possibility of that happening at some point down the road.  Things like that have a funny way of being "figured out" when you have two powers like ESPN and Texas working together.

But  let's look at this for a moment, specifically the threat of Texas A&M and possibly Oklahoma considering a move to the SEC over their concerns about Bevo's TV network.  When issues like these arise, it's usually a good idea to try and apply some common sense.  Would either school REALLY leave for the SEC?  C'mon, really?  I'm going call their bluff (note, neither school has said publicly they're considering the SEC.  Actually, the opposite).

First, you have to understand some of the factors that may drive a decision such as this.  In no particular order; money, money, distance to travel, money, academic fit, ability to recruit, money, possible lost rivalries, money, and the ability to win.

Obviously money is at the top of the list, and quite honestly, heading into the new Fox TV contract in 2012, the Big 12 has it.  Every school in the league is going to make more than they ever have in the past having to divide the pie only 10 times.  Not to mention, that pie is only to get bigger when the Big 12 renegotiates is first-tier TV contract which comes up in 2015-2016.

Yes, in the meantime, Texas is going to continue reaping the benefits of the Longhorn Network.  Keep in mind though, (assuming the Big 12 stays together - key point) the other schools are also going to start monetizing their third-tier rights, as well, whether it be through a Big 12 Network or some way independently through their school.  That won't close the whole gap, but may help make it just a little smaller.

Should Oklahoma and Texas A&M switch leagues,  the SEC has the ability to renegotiate their TV contracts and it will more than likely fetch an astronomical number, something that we've never seen before.  But looking out five years, the money in the Big 12 still will be very solid (new first-tier deal + monetizing their third-tier rights).  All I'm saying is that the money will be very good in both places although the SEC would have a leg up in that scenario.

With the Big 12 likely being in the ballpark monetarily, however, would it be enough to make the move?

Now considering just football, look what each team would be jumping into.  Obviously, I'm making a lot of assumptions here, but work with me just as an example.  If you're Bob Stoops and Mike Sherman, are you thrilled about this?  Forget the fact that OU's longstanding rivalries with Texas and Oklahoma State are out the window (same with A&M and their game with the Longhorns).

SEC Eastern SEC Western
South Carolina Arkansas
Florida Miss. St.
Georgia Alabama
Tennessee LSU
Vanderbilt Ole Miss
Kentucky Auburn
Oklahoma Texas A&M

 

Oh yeah, and after you win your division in the new SEC, you get to play the champion of the other division in the conference championship game.  All before you hopefully make it to the BCS National Championship.

Common sense, I'm telling you.  Especially when you have the opportunity to make a pretty penny in the Big 12.

How about recruiting in the SEC?  Good luck with that.

How about the cultural fit (academics and the rest)?  I'm not well enough versed in the topic to offer a real explanation, but I feel safe in saying there would be a few things to get used to.

How about the other sports?   That's a lot of late nights for your student-athletes traveling to the eastern time zone.

Yes, the Longhorn Networks presents some unique challenges, some of which will likely go the Longhorn's way.  But think of the new issues created by switching leagues.  It looks to me in a simple cost-benefit analysis falls largely in favor of staying in the Big 12 and dealing with whatever issues Bevo TV presents.

And this isn't even taken into consideration what Texas would do.  They'd probably just go independent, but that creates a entirely new set of issues for them that I'm not sure they're all that interested in tackling at the moment.

Common sense.  Texas A&M's president finished his comments by adding, “The Big 12 is not a bad place to be. It’s a good place to be right now. We have a lot of good things going on here in terms of success across a number of sports, not just football. … The Big 12 has great potential to be a very successful conference in the long term if we can work through these kinds of issues.”

That's more like it.

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