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Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 23 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference. 

January 2011

Monday, Jan. 31

Big 12 well represented in Super Bowl
Super Bowl XVL will be held in Big 12 Conference country (Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas) and the Conference has plenty of former players on the rosters of the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. (This includes players on injured reserve.)

Pittsburgh Steelers:
Casey Hampton, Texas
Tony Hills, Texas
Ziggy Hood, Missouri
Jonathan Scott, Texas
Dan Sepulveda, Baylor
Limas Sweed, Texas

Green Bay Packers:
Mason Crosby, Colorado
Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
Brandon Jackson, Nebraska
Jordy Nelson, Kansas State
Josh Bell, Baylor
Jermichael Finley, Texas
Brad Jones, Colorado

Saturday, Jan. 29

Oklahoma State wrestling records 1,000th victory
Oklahoma State left little doubt on its way to a history victory. The Cowboys overwhelmed Northern Colorado, 44-0, Friday night in Stillwater. It was the program's 1000th victory in a dual match.

Oklahoma State is just the second Division I wrestling program to reach the 1,000 dual victory milestone. Iowa State won its 1,000th dual in 2010 and the the Cyclones have 1,008 dual victories. Oklahoma State's 1,000 victories have come in 1,136 duals for an .890 win percentage,

The fifth-ranked Cowboys, 9-2-1 overall, host North Carolina State Sunday.

Friday, Jan. 28

A letter from Kansas' Thomas Robinson
Kansas sophomore Thomas Robinson, whose mother died a week ago Friday, wrote this letter and asked the school's sports information department to distribute it.

Dear All,

I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that has been shown to me and my family over the past few weeks and especially this past week. I don't know if I could have made it through the week without the support of my teammates, coaches, administration, KU and all the fans. As much as I would like to thank everyone individually, there have been so many cards, emails, texts, Tweets and people on Facebook that it would be impossible. Trust me, knowing that people care so much for me and my family is helping us get through these tough times.

Though Washington, D.C., and Lawrence are many miles apart, the outreach from all across the nation has been incredible. I appreciate all the offers of support and cannot express how much it means to me to be a Jayhawk and part of this family.

My main concern is for my sister. Jayla is currently with her father in Washington, D.C. It would be comforting for my mother to know Jayla went to college and that is why we set up mom's scholarship fund. Information on how to contribute to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund is below.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for the thoughts, prayers and support you have shown me, Jamah and Jayla. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

God Bless!

Thomas Robinson

Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund information: Contributions can be made to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund, for the benefit Jayla, c/o SNR Denton, 1301 K Street NW, Suite 600, East Tower, Washington, DC 20005-3364. The Scholarship Fund will be administered by Christopher "Kit" Smith of SNR Denton US LLP and other fiduciaries selected by SNR Denton. Contributions to the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund are nondeductible for tax purposes. At a later date, a web site will be made available for contributions as well.

Thursday, Jan. 27

Four stories to help us Remember The Ten
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes that Texas' defense kept Oklahoma State from giving the fans what they wanted on an emotional night.

Wonderful column by Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News about the father of one of the Oklahoma State plane crash victims. A must read.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram matches Sherrington with another must read about how fate played a role the night of the plane crash.

And this might be the best story of all. Brett McMurphy of Fanhouse touches all the right notes with this story about the 10th anniversary.

Wednesday, Jan. 26

UPDATED: Helping The Robinson Family
After burying his mother Lisa - his third funeral in three weeks - Thomas Robinson will return to Kansas and to his extended family - the KU basketball team.

Nine-year-old Jayla, Robinson's little sister, needs somewhere to go, too. After the recent deaths of her mother, grandfather and grandmother, the adults in her life are gone. Her big brother is the only family she has and soon he'll be 1,700 miles away.

It will be up to the NCAA to do the right thing and make sure the brother and the sister are together now that all they have is each other. (Gary Parrish of has more details in this story.)

The NCAA has a hardship fund that is available to student-athletes. Also, it has allowed Kansas to make arrangements and pay for Friday's funeral of Lisa Robinson and allowed the school to charter a flight so that Robinson's teammates can attend the services.

But Robinson being a scholarship student-athlete complicates the issue of what can be done to help his sister. There are plenty of Kansas fans in Lawrence with the money and the compassion who would be willing to become Jayla's legal guardian. Someone stepping forward to help Robinson's sister could technically be in violation of the NCAA's extra benefits rule.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it would grant a number of waivers that will help Robinson deal with his family situation.

"Thomas is receiving legal advice from representatives of estate planning and custody," Kansas coach Bill Self told "There are good people involved and everybody wants to do what is best for Jayla. ...

"The NCAA's concern for student-athlete welfare in this situation has not only been great but quick and responsive. We understand there are rules and they've been very good about doing the right thing."

The NCAA faced a similar case five years ago. Clemson football player Ray Ray McElrathbey became the legal guardian of his 11-year-old brother because their mother had drug problems and their family had a gambling addiction. An NCAA waiver allowed McElrathbey to receive donations that were placed in a trust fund that helped the brothers with normal living expenses.

Also, the Lisa Robinson Scholarship Fund - which will benefit Jayla - has been established. The address for those interested in donating is SNR Denton, 1301 K Street NW, Suite 600, East Tower, Washington, DC 20005-3364.

Monday, Jan. 24

Remembering Jan. 27, 2001
No. 7 Texas will play at Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The next day will be the 10th anniversary of the plance crash that killed 10 men connected with the Cowboys basketball team. Oklahoma State was returning from a game at Colorado.

During Wednesday's game, Oklahoma State will pay tribute to the 10 who lost their lives. It figures to be an emotional night and Texas coach Rick Barnes says he'll make sure his players know what happened 10 years ago.

"Thinking back to that, personally it's hard to believe it was 10 years ago," Barnes said Monday. "It was a very emotional time, I remember the memorial serivce and you don't want to ever forget what happened. For those who lost loved ones, there's always going to be that void there.

"Some of our players probably didn't know about it but we've talked to them and I want them to understand what happened and why Oklahoma State is honoring that memory. But we also have to play a game and we have to be prepared to do that."

Links about the Oklahoma State anniversary
ESPN's Outside The Lines reported on the anniversary in this video feature.

The Oklahoma State players on the team 10 years ago recall their memories of the crash and those who perished.

Oklahoma State has followed through on its pledge to "never forget."

Former coach Eddie Sutton participated in a question and answer session with the Tulsa World.

Renowned Oklahoma sculptor Harold Holden recalls the process he followed to create the sculpture that honors the victims of the plane crash.

Welcome to the world, Durant Springman
The wife of Texas assistant coach Russell Springman gave birth to their first child a week ago. Springman was one of the key recruiters who convinced Kevin Durant to spend his one year of college at UT. Durant became the first freshman to sweep player-of-the-year honors.

So when it came time to name their son, Springman had something in mind and ran the idea past his wife Neissa.

''I said I really like the name Durant," Springmann said. ''And she jumped on board and never got off."

With mom on board, Springman made sure that Durant and his family approved. So, it's Durant Springman, who came into the world at seven pounds and 19 inches when his wife delivered him last Sunday.

''My guess is Kevin was a lot longer when he was born," Spirngmann told Jeff Goodman of ''We figured we couldn't name our son after anyone better. Kevin's everything we'd want our son to be."

Saturday, Jan. 22

Bill Self on the Texas Network news
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was quoted by the Lawrence Journal-World about the news this week that Texas has agreed to a 20-year, $30 million deal with ESPN to start a Longhorns sports cable network.

"I don't know all the details except if you divide 300 by 20, it comes out to 15, which is a huge deal," Self said. "It forces other schools' hands to be as aggressive as they can to lessen that gap.

"Instead of all our schools sitting around and complaining, 'Well, that's not fair. They're getting 21 million plus 15 million. That's 36 (million dollars), and we're only getting 18 (million dollars).' Hey, that's not the way you look at it. The way you look at it is, 'What can we do to get more money ourselves?'

"To me, there's a window. I don't know if there's a nine-school network that can somehow be put together. I don't know if it puts pressure on individual schools to do some things, but there's money out there to be had. Instead of whining about them doing their job, we (each) should be very aggressive in helping our respective school do theirs.

"I think it's a challenge to the presidents. I think it's a challenge to the athletic directors, but it's one that I think will raise the level for everybody else. It's amazing to me when one school does really well, other schools have to work their butts off to narrow that gap. You see that happen across America all the time. I think it will happen with our league, too."

Friday, Jan. 21

Click and read all about it
Oklahoma women's coach Sherri Coale puts an emphasis on community service for herself and her players.

Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman wonders if Texas' impressive start is merely a prelude to a replay of last year's collapse.

ESPN's Outside The Lines commemorates the 10-year anniversary of the Oklahoma State plane crash with a report and panel discussion Sunday morning.

Texas swimming coach Eddie Reese will coach the U.S. team in this summer's world championships in China.

Oklahoma State redshirt freshman Chris Perry talks about his first season wrestling for the Cowboys in the 184-pound class.

Missouri's Laurence Bowers is adapting to coming off the bench instead of starting.

Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes that if Nebraska can make some offensive improvements, the Huskers have a shot at an NCAA Tournament bid.

Thursday, Jan. 20

Hot links
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Texas' deal with ESPN to start a network is an example of the richer getting richest.

Oklahoma's goal is to have its own television channel by the end of this year.

Jason King of Yahoo!Sports reports from Texas' victory over Texas A&M Wednesday night and previews Saturday's game in Lawrence between the No. 11 Longhorns and No. 2 Kansas.

Jerry Gray says his decision to leave the NFL and return to Texas as the Longhorns' secondary coach was a "no brainer."

New Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has snagged his dream job at the age of 44.

Missouri freshman point guard Phil Pressey, who goes by the nickname of "Flip," is starting to live up to his reputation and pedigree.

Wednesday, Jan. 19

Texas partners with ESPN to launch cable network
Texas has become the first university with its own full-time cable network. The school announced Tuesday that is has signed a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN, which will develop, launch and operate the network. The debut is scheduled for September.

"This network will provide unmatched exposure for our sports programs and campus academic community," Texas Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said in a statement. "ESPN is the global sports leader, and having this relationship on our campus will be special for all associated with the university.

"Our commitment to the Big 12 Conference allowed us to pursue this. We want to be as strong as we can be for us and the Big 12."

Big 12 Conference commissioner Dan Beebe said that UT's deal for its own cable network will not impact the future of the Conference nor its upcoming cable and over-the-air television negotiations for football telecasts.

"Through its 15-year history the Big 12 has positioned itself as a top flight Conference, providing a terrific platform for its programs and student-athletes," Beebe said. "The ability for member institutions to exploit their own media rights to the pioneering extent of launching an institutional network, coupled with the Conference's media agreements, allows institutions opportunities to capitalize on that success by maximizing exposure and revenue potential. 

"All of our members have acknowledged that no institutional distribution system will be allowed to diminish the value of the Conference's media agreements, and all indications are that the Big 12 is in a great position to enhance its future collective media arrangements while allowing institutions to distribute content that is not used by our television partners." 

The new network likely will carry one football game, a larger but unspecified number of men's basketball games and a variety of other men's and women's sports, including volleyball and swimming. Pre-game and post-game shows, coaches shows and a daily studio show is planned.

There also will be approximately three hours of non-athletic programming each day - musical performances, plays, and documentaries by faculty members and students.

For more information on UT's announcement, click here and/or here.

Monday, Jan. 17

Basketball variety
The weekend in Big 12 basketball certainly was an all-you-watch buffet/smorgasbord.

Four of the six women's games played Saturday and Sunday went overtime (one of those games took two overtimes to determine the winner). The other two women's games wound up in the blowout category, with one decided by 45 and another by 31.

On the men's side, one game went overtime, one was decided by three points and another by four. The other three games had margins of 34, 20 and 15 points.

Sticking around
Apparently, the student-athletes who play football in the Big 12 are channeling Sally Field's Oscar acceptance speech. They like it, they really like it.

The deadline for underclassmen declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft has came and went. A number of Big 12 players who could have submitted their names declined. Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Travis Lewis, Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller all decided to spend 2011 on campus.

Of the Bowl Championship Series conferences, the Big 12 had only three declare for early entry - Aaron Williams of Texas and Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith of Missouri.

The Southeastern Conference had 14 players submit their names for the draft while the Atlantic Coast Conference had nine.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that new officiating coordinator Curtis Shaw is helping improve the game.

Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman writes that Oklahoma's Sherri Coale has a winning coaching style that's always in fashion.

Woody Paige of the Denver Post says that first-year coach Tad Boyle is making Colorado basketball relevant again.

More praise for a surprise Big 12 team, this time from Sean Keeler of the Des Moines Register who writes that Iowa State is a patchwork team that denies explanation but is fun to watch.

Friday, Jan. 14

Texas A&M hosts Conference Challenge Saturday
The Texas A&M Conference Challenge will be held at noon Saturday at Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium in College Station.

The meet will be scored by conference with three schools each from the Big 12, Southland, Sun Belt and Southwestern conferences competing. Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma are the Big 12 teams competing.

 "It's a great competitive situation this weekend with a dozen schools representing four conferences," said A&M coach Pat Henry, who's led both the A&M men and women to outdoor team national titles the past two years. "This format allows for a meet that is scored, which is good for the sport."

Assessing two Big 12 freshmen
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla analyzed the impact of some of the top freshmen in men's basketball this season. Here's what he had two say about two Big 12 rookies.

Josh Selby, Kansas, Meeting expectations: Ironically, because Selby had to watch from the sideline as the Jayhawks won their first nine games, it has made it easier for him to step into the lineup. And, so far, he has not disappointed.

Selby, with the help of coach Bill Self, has slid right into the Kansas lineup and is quickly adopting an important role on this team. In his first two games, against USC and California, he easily shook the rust and took over each game at critical times. Because there's an acceptance on the part of his Jayhawks teammates that Selby is a special player, they have made his transition very easy.

While Kansas was a top-five team without him, Selby's strengths fit what this team was lacking. He is impossible to keep out of the lane off the dribble. While he is a scoring point guard, he has excellent passing instincts and creates easy scoring opportunities for teammates.

Perry Jones, Baylor, Meeting expectations: At 6-11, Jones is an enormous talent who prior to his season year in high school was a relative unknown outside of the state of Texas. However, upon arriving at Baylor, after skyrocketing up the recruiting rankings as a senior, the expectations have been very high.

Jones is averaging 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds on fewer than 10 shots a game. In Saturday's win at Texas Tech, he was a very efficient 8 of 9 from the field en route a 20-point, six-rebound and five-steal day. With LaceDarius Dunn returning from a three-game early season suspension, Jones will certainly be in a secondary scoring role for the Bears. The only major criticism of the multi-talented freshman is that he is not aggressive enough in looking for his offense.

Baylor has struggled to care of the ball this season, turning it over at a 24 percent rate. That won't affect Dunn's ability to create his own shot. But for a young post player like Jones, there will be nights where he doesn't see the ball a lot.

Thursday, Jan. 13

College football look ahead
Mark Schalbach of put together a way-early preseason top 25 for the 2011 college football season. He listed five Big 12 teams and here's what he said about their prospects in '11.

No. 1, Oklahoma: After struggling in 2009 because of myriad injuries, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops seems to have his program back on track. The Sooners finished the 2010 season with a 12-2 record, won a Big 12 title for the seventh time in 11 seasons and ended their five-game losing streak in BCS games by blasting Connecticut 48-20 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners might be the team to beat in 2011, with 14 players coming back who have starting experience on offense and 15 on defense. Quarterback Landry Jones gets back his favorite target, Ryan Broyles, who passed on entering the NFL draft to return to school, and all but one offensive lineman is expected back. The Sooners will have to replace leading rusher DeMarco Murray, along with a few key parts on defense -- end Jeremy Beal and safeties Jonathan Nelson and Quinton Carter. Two of OU's toughest Big 12 games (Texas A&M and Missouri) will be played at home and the Sooners will have to make difficult trips to Oklahoma State for the Bedlam Game and Florida State for a key nonconference contest.

No. 6, Oklahoma State: Fresh off its first 11-win season in school history, Oklahoma State seems poised for even more in 2011, as long as the Cowboys learn to keep their poise in big games. The key pieces from the Pokes' record-setting offense, which set school records for points scored (575) and total offense (6,763 yards) in 2010, are coming back, including quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon. Tailback Kendall Hunter is a big loss on offense, along with offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who left to become West Virginia's coach-in-waiting. Six defensive starters will have to be replaced, including leading tacklers Orie Lemon and Justin Gent. The Pokes play nonconference games against Arizona (home) and Tulsa (road) and play Big 12 road games at Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri.

No. 13, Texas A&M: The Aggies' November to remember didn't extend into the postseason, as they were routed by LSU 41-24 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl. But coach Mike Sherman's third season certainly ended better than his first two; the Aggies went 9-4 and defeated Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas during a six-game winning streak to end the regular season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's performance down the stretch - he was 5-1 as a starter - gives the Aggies plenty of hope for 2011. The Aggies should have back 10 starters on offense, including receiver Jeff Fuller and tailback Cyrus Gray. The offensive line should be better after the Aggies started two freshmen and two sophomores up front this past season. Nine starters are expected back on defense, but linebacker Von Miller is leaving. The Aggies should be better in their second season in defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter's 3-4 scheme. The Aggies play only three games outside the state of Texas in 2011 (at Iowa State, Oklahoma and Kansas State) and they play Oklahoma State and Texas at home.

No. 16, Missouri: The Tigers went only 3-3 in their last six games, including a 27-24 loss to Iowa in the Insight Bowl. Worse, Blaine Gabbert left Missouri a year early and might be the first quarterback selected in next spring's NFL draft. But the Tigers might still bring back 10 starters on offense and seven on defense. The Tigers are really excited about quarterback James Franklin, who is more mobile. He'll battle Gabbert's younger brother, Tyler Gabbert, and Ashton Glaser for the starting job. The Tigers will play at least three difficult road games: at Arizona State, at Oklahoma and at Texas A&M.

No. 22, Texas: After the Longhorns' string of nine consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories ended with a 5-7 record in 2010, coach Mack Brown revamped his coaching staff. After letting three assistant coaches go, defensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp also left to become Florida's coach. Brown hired Mississippi State's Manny Diaz to replace Muschamp, and Boise State's Bryan Harsin and running backs coach Major Applewhite were named co-offensive coordinators. Texas is expected to bring back six starters on offense and eight on defense. With so many changes, the Longhorns' fortunes won't change overnight. But Texas won't be as bad again as it was this past season, either.

Links to click
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that Kansas' streak of Big 12 Conference titles is remarkable.

Hard to believe, but the baseball season is fast approaching. Here's a preview of the Big 12 by Kendall Rogers of!Sports.

Iowa State first-year coach Fred Hoiberg continues to draw a lot of national attention. Here's a story from the Wall Street Journal.

Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman gives his approval to Mack Brown's decision to have co-offensive coordinators.

Monday, Jan. 10

Frank Martin: Mr. Accountability
Your Humble Correspondent won't go so far as classifying it as a man crush, but YHC is enamored with Frank Martin's style. YHC likes the way the Kansas State coach handles his team and runs his program.

Case in point: The Wildcats lost their Big 12 Conference opener Saturday at Stillwater. There were 57 fouls called in the 40-minute game and four Kansas State players - basically, all of its post players - fouled out. The Cowboys were 32-of-43 from the line while the Wildcats were 24-of-31.

The number of fouls, disqualifications and free throw discrepancy in a conference opener would cause some (most?) coaches to boil over and make veiled, between-the-lines comments about how the game was officiated. Not Martin.

"I've got no problem with the officials," said Martin, who also noted that teams with six assists and 21 turnovers usually lose. "They're consistent. They've got a hard job. Like I said, that's two Big 12 teams, neither one wanting to start 0-1 in conference play.

"Both teams throw the ball in the post. Both teams attack you. They did a better job of handling the tough moments than we did. ... "Their guys drive the ball from the wing to the rim. We don't rotate. We don't take charges. We just whack guys. Those are bad fouls. That's bad defense."

Kansas State had a 10-point lead in the second half but Martin pointed to a key play where Oklahoma State's Keiton Page made three free throws after being fouled attempting a 3-pointer.

"Keiton Page shot-fakes from 37 feet and we jump and foul," Martin said. "Now they're in the game."

In a society where the blame game gets played all too often, Martin demands accountability for himself and his players. And YHC likes that.

Clarifying celebrations
With the Bowl Championship Series title game ending the bowl season, one of the hot-button topics of the postseason involved how officiating crews determine excessive celebration penalties.

Kansas State's Adrian Hilburn saluted after scoring a touchdown late in the Pinstripe Bowl and he was flagged for excessive celebration. Instead of attempting a two-point conversion to tie the game from the 3-yard line, the Wildcats snapped the ball from the 18-yard line.

In the Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon running away from the defense on a 71-yard touchdown reception, did a left turn and ran parallel with the goal line. When an Arizona defender got close, Blackmon ran into the end zone.

There was debate and discussion whether or not Blackmon could have been penalized. Next season, a rule change calls for excessive celebration or taunting that occurs before a player scores will be called at the spot of the infraction. That could result in touchdowns being negated.

Big 12 coordinator of officiating Walt Anderson told the Oklahoman that he didn't believe that Blackmon did anything that would warrant an unsportsmanlike penalty.

"There's nothing wrong with a player running horizontally, there's no rule that says you always have to be moving vertically on the field," Anderson said. "In order for it to be a foul you have to couple it with: What is he doing while he's running horizontally? Is he looking at players? Is he doing something with his hand or the ball?

"If he gets to the five and starts running horizontally, it becomes a real stretch when you start trying to get into the mind of the player. And I don't think that's the intent of the unsportsmanlike rule."

Cotton Bowl a ratings hit
Texas A&M and LSU helped the Cotton Bowl celebrate its 75th anniversary Friday and the first prime-time telecast of the bowl game on FOX was a success. The game drew an overnight rating of 5.8, up from last year's 4.5 rating for the Oklahoma State-Ole Miss Cotton Bowl game. The game was viewed in 10 million households. It was the most watched Friday night program on FOX in more than a year, since the 2010 Sugar Bowl.

Links to start your week
Baylor shared its Texas Bowl experience with 300 patients from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

Tully Corcoran of the Topeka Capital-Journal with some insight on Kansas, which he says can win the national championship despite a high "knucklehead" factor.

Now that coach John Smith has his 300th dual-meet victory, Oklahoma State's wrestling program has another milestone within reach.

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News takes an in-depth look at how Texas coach Mack Brown overhauled his staff.

Friday, Jan. 7

A Super Bowl production for the Cotton Bowl
The 75th Cotton Bowl Friday night is the bowl's first in prime-time. And the game matching Texas A&M and LSU also benefits from its venue.

The Cotton Bowl moved from Dallas to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, last year. The bowl is televised by FOX, which will televise this season's Super Bowl XLV ... which will be staged at Cowboys Stadium.

That means that Friday night's Cotton Bowl telecast was a Super Bowl dress rehearsal for FOX. That means lots of television production bells and whistles. Also, being the only college game in prime-time, FOX expects big ratings.

"We just want to provide the Cotton Bowl broadcast, as well as LSU and Texas A&M, with a production that equals or surpasses any bowl game on television," FOX Sports president Eric Shanks told the Dallas Morning News.

Hot links, served fresh
Kansas State sophomore forward Wally Judge has bounced back after dealing with some personal issues.

Austin Meek, who covers Kansas State for the Topeka Capital-Journal, believes the Wildcats have turned a corner and might start living up to their preseason expectations.

Travis Releford is developing into a valuable utility player for Kansas and coach Bill Self.

Oklahoma State begins Big 12 Conference play with a certain number of league victories in mind that will assure an NCAA Tournament bid.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World writes that the 2011 football season will be special for the state of Oklahoma as Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Oklahoma are all playing each other next season (the last time that happened was 1996).

Thursday, Jan. 6

Manny being Manny
Texas hired Manny Diaz from Mississippi State as its new defensive coordinator.

Diaz spent one season as the Bulldogs D-coordinator after one season in the same job at Middle Tennessee State. Several national college football writers say the hire is a "home run" for coach Mack Brown and that Diaz is one of the rising stars in the coaching profession.

Diaz also has an interesting back story.

* Diaz graduated from Florida State in 1995 with a degree in communications and went to work at ESPN as a production assistant for NFL Live. In 1997 he asked to be part of a crew assigned to interview Bill Parcells for the Super Bowl between New England and Green Bay. Diaz said he "just wanted to meet" Parcells but that after the interview Diaz decided he wanted to become a coach. He returned to Florida State and became a graduate assistant.

* His father Manny was a two-term mayor of Miami (Fla.).

* When hired at Mississippi State, he was named co-defensive coordinator with former Oklahoma assistant Chris Wilson. To help with the bonding of his new defensive coaches, Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen had the two coaches room together because neither was going to be able to move their families to Starkville for at least six months.

A visit from Bob Knight
Former Texas Tech and current ESPN analyst Bob Knight was in Lubbock to watch his son Pat coach the Red Raiders to a 79-60 victory over Delaware State. According to the web site BallinIsAHabit, the hall of fame coach took the sting out of the Hornets' loss by visiting their locker room.

"I finished my postgame and came down and he was still in our locker room diagramming plays and talking game plan," Delaware State play-by-play announcer Scott Klatzkin texted after the game. "He loves the game, that's for sure. He praised the team for their effort and said he's never talked with an opposing team before."

Interesting linkage
Iowa State opens the Big 12 season at Nebraska Saturday and the game has special meaning for Cyclones' first-year coach Fred Hoiberg.

Andy Katz of writes about the improved play of Texas and sophomore Jordan Hamilton as the Longhorns prepare to face Connecticut Saturday in Austin.

Mechelle Voepel of weighs in on the celebration penalty issue and makes some good points regarding other NCAA sports.

Tuesday, Jan. 4

The name game
Your Humble Correspondent has spent most of his adult life repeating and spelling his name to strangers who have mangled "Wendell" into "Windle" and have heard "Barnhouse" as "Barnhart." So YHC understands what new Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger puts up with.

For the record, his first name is pronounced SHAY-un.

"If you mispronounce it, it doesn't matter," he said Monday after his welcoming/hiring news conference. "It's been getting mispronounced my whole life."

While his first name might be difficult to decipher, there is a logical reason to how Zenger was named.

"My mom's name's Sharon, my older brother's name is Sheldon, my sister's name is Shannon," he told the Lawerence-Journal World. "(My mom) wanted to give me a two-syllable, 'Sh' name and didn't want it to be Sherman, no offense to the Shermans out there. We lived in Salina and there was a long-standing family there by the name of Sheahon. She thought it was neat. It's an Irish last name, and she stuck it on me."

Sheahon is a derivative of the Irish surname, Sheehan, which means "peaceful."

Colorado's journey for a road victory
Nothing comes easy for Colorado when it hits the road. Even when the Buffaloes won a rare game away from Boulder, they had to endure travel troubles.

Colorado won at Cal State Bakersfield, 85-73, Sunday night - the program's first out-of-state non-conference road win in the continental United States since a 60-59 victory over Utah on Nov. 21, 2006.

But a freakish snowstorm closed down Southern California highways forcing the Buffs to endure a six-hour bus ride (for a 120-mile trip) back to their hotel at LAX, where they arrived at 1:45 a.m. local time. The weather also kept the team from spending their day off Monday at the beach.

"It would have been miserable," head coach Tad Boyle said when asked by the Boulder Daily Camera what the journey would have been like after a loss. "We wouldn't have had the same attitude. ... "But I do think this makes us a little tougher and appreciative of the way we normally travel in the Big 12."

"I let them sleep in (Monday). Then we went and ate at In-N-Out Burger."

As a fan of In-N-Out, YHC would say that helped make the six-hour bus ride worth it.

Short-handed Iowa State wins 13th
Iowa State's final nonconference game proved to be a grind-it-out victory. The short-handed Cyclones improved to 13-2 with a 72-63 victory over Northern Illinois. Iowa State used just six players for all but the final minute. And six scholarship players was all coach Fred Hoiberg had available.

Starting guard Scott Christopherson sat out with a right elbow injury (he's expected to play in Saturday's Big 12 opener at Nebraska). Center Jordan Railey was suspended Monday for a violation of team rules. He was involved in a one-car accident Saturday morning and he is being investigated for driving under the influence.

To help fill out the roster, Iowa State added two walk on players from the football team - Austin McBeth, a 6-foot guard who is a walk on quarterback and Andrew Mitchell a 6-3 forward who plays tight end.

"I called Paul Rhoads (Sunday) night and asked if he had anybody that could play," Hoiberg told the Des Moines Register.

The story behind 'manager games'
ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas has this neat behind-the-scenes anecdote about pickup games played by team managers:

"The night before Texas played at Michigan State, there was a heated game between the Longhorns and the Spartans just before midnight. The MSU and Texas managers gathered together on the Breslin Center practice court and played a 40-minute game, with clock and scoreboard included.

"They battled down to the last possession. In overtime, UT prevailed behind the stellar play of former Longhorn players and current assistants Kenton Paulino and Chris Ogden (I certainly hope the NCAA will step in and stop the egregious practice of former scholarship athletes dominating manager games).

"The Michigan State managers, which ran some of the same plays the current team runs, would not call out the plays they were running for fear that they might give something away.

"Manager games are common practice, and former Rutgers coach Fred Hill told me that his players asked to be allowed to go to the Smith Center and watch the manager game between the Rutgers managers and the North Carolina managers last season. Hill asked how many guys wanted to go, and the entire team raised their hands. So they got on the bus, sat in the stands and watched their "teammates" play the Tar Heels.

"Hill had to lobby his athletic department to get five managers on road trips. It was to do the job first, but also to field a team to play opposing managers. That is a pretty cool reward for what is by far the hardest-working kids in college basketball, the team managers."

Sunday, Jan. 2

Fiesta Bowl a ratings hit for ESPN
This is the first season for ESPN televising the Bowl Championship Series and Saturday's two games were a success for the network.

Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma's 48-20 victory over Connecticut in the Fiesta bowl won the night among all programs (broadcast or cable) and generated a 6.7 overnight rating. That's the fourth-highest non-NFL telecast for ESPN. The Rose Bowl, which preceded the Fiesta, generated an 11.7 overnight record, the best rating ever for a non-NFL telecast.

Links to start your week
Missouri's Shakara Jones is having an outstanding senior season under first-year coach Robin Pingeton.

Nebraska sophomore Lindsey Moore, who recorded the first triple double in school history Sunday, is adjusting from her role as a distributor last season to being more of an all-around player.

Nebraska point guard Lance Jeter, a legendary athlete as a high schooler in Pennsylvania, is making the most of his senior season.

Nice take by Tully Corcoran of the Topeka Capital-Journal on what's likely ahead for Kansas and freshman Josh Selby.

An interesting "inside basketball" story by J. Brady McCollough of the Kansas City Star about what three Big 12 coaches look for when they study box scores.


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