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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. 

 

December 2008

Friday, Dec. 26

Post-Christmas links
Texas Tech, which finished 11-1 in the regular season and will face Ole Miss in the Cotton Bowl, had a remarkable season. But perhaps the best story in Lubbock this season season was The Accidental Kicker - Matt "Lynwood" Williams.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World says that's it's not a given that Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford will enter the NFL Draft.

Oklahoma is heading to South Florida knowing their mission is to play well in the national championship game, not enjoy a mid-winter vacation.

Until proven otherwise in bowl games like the Oklahoma-Florida matchup, Southeastern Conference teams and their fans will question Big 12 defenses.

Nebraska's offense is second in the nation in time of possession and that ball-control ability has helped the Cornhuskers reach the Gator Bowl.

Great story on Texas junior forward Damion James by Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com. 

Feldman's bowl picks
ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman is predicting bowl games. Here's his predictions for upcoming games involving Big 12 teams:

Valero Alamo Bowl, Missouri 51, Northwestern 28: Pat Fitzgerald has done an outstanding job with the Cats, but they're going up against a dynamic offense led by QB Chase Daniel. NU might be able to stay in this game for a while because it can put some heat on the quarterback, but I don't think the Wildcats throw the ball well enough to take advantage of the suspect Mizzou defense.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, Oregon 52, Oklahoma State 35: A ton of points almost always are scored in the Holiday Bowl, and both these teams have the firepower to light up the scoreboard. Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly has the Ducks' offense sizzling now that QB Jeremiah Masoli has settled into the system. Oregon has a few more solid players on defense than Oklahoma State who should slow down the Cowboys at least a little.

Insight Bowl, Kansas 34, Minnesota 20: Coach Mark Mangino's Kansas team isn't very good against the pass, but I doubt Minnesota, which fizzled in the last month of the season, will take much advantage. My hunch is that KU QB Todd Reesing will take control of this game and carve up an athletic but sometimes shaky Minnesota defense that is 88th against the pass and has surrendered 90 points in its past two games.

Big 12 basketball assessment
Here's how ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil breaks down Big 12 men's basketball with the start of conference season just over two weeks away:

Favorite: The Red River Rivalry extends into the winter. Like football, Texas and Oklahoma are clearly the class of the conference. The good news in hoops? Whoever plays for the Big 12 crown will be determined on the court, not in the computers.

Most surprising team: Missouri. The pasting at the hands of Illinois was something of a disturbing eye-opener but there's still no arguing the Tigers, rid of the drama and off-court issues, are better. They're 9-2 with a great tandem in Leo Lyons and DeMarre Carroll. To be NCAA good, however, the swarming defense that bills itself as part of the fastest 40 minutes in college basketball, needs to be about 300 percent better than it was against the Illini.

Most disappointing team: Kansas State. OK, so the Wildcats lost Michael Beasley and Bill Walker, but c'mon. The schedule reads like a "Who's that?" instead of a who's who. K-State played one Division II team (Emporia State), two Summit League schools (Oakland and Centenary), and one each from the MEAC (Florida A&M), Ohio Valley (Southeast Missouri State) and Big South (Gardner-Webb). In all, the less-than-wild Cats have faced three teams from the BCS conferences -- Kentucky, Oregon and Iowa -- and lost to all three of them.

Mystery team: Oklahoma State. With a coaching and philosophy change, the Cowboys are going to be something of an enigma. They haven't taken any bad losses -- Gonzaga, Michigan State and Washington -- but haven't grabbed that headline-making win yet, either. Travis Ford's guard-heavy, up-tempo offense could give people fits in the league, but will need to keep the turnovers down.

Best player: Following in the footsteps of Beasley and Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin isn't just the most dominant player in his league; he might be the best in the country. Griffin leads the nation in rebounding (14.1 boards per game) and is on pace to top the OU single-season mark of 13.3 held by Alvin Adams. He's also No. 12 nationally in scoring (23 points per game) and fourth in field-goal percentage (68.3).

Top performance: Blake Griffin vs. Gardner-Webb (35 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block).

Strangest score: Texas Tech 167, East Central 115. Apparently Bob Stoops and Gary Pinkel were calling the defenses.

What you might not have realized: Texas A&M has quietly rolled to a 10-1 record, including wins against Arizona, Alabama and LSU. The Aggies have just one senior (Josh Carter) but have been buoyed by more steady play from point guard Donald Sloan. A year after struggling to replace Acie Law, Sloan's assists are up and his turnovers are down.

Reason to brag: The hoops teams have followed the leads of their pigskin peers. Five of the 12 league teams are ranked among the top 30 nationally in scoring offenses. Making Mike Leach proud, Texas Tech is the highest-ranked (fifth in the country), and sure to put a smile on Chase Daniel's face, Missouri is close behind in eighth, tied with Oklahoma State.

Reason to worry: The hoops teams have followed the leads of their pigskin peers. Not much defense going on in this league. Only Nebraska, ranked fourth in the nation, is among the top 40 schools in scoring defense. Making Leach blanch, Texas Tech is 312th.

Who's going dancing: Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor are in. Kansas should be, but it's inconsistency (losing to a sub-par UMass team plus Arizona) could send the defending champs to the bubble. Off-radar A&M is quietly building a strong case. Missouri will need strong conference play to erase the mess against Illinois after finally cracking the Top 25.

Thursday, Dec. 25

Condolences to the Pelini family
Anthony Pelini, father of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, died Tuesday night in Akron, Ohio. The Big 12 sends its condolences and sympathies to the Pelini family. Here's the link to the story in the Lincoln Journal-Star.
http://www.huskerextra.com/articles/2008/12/24/football/doc49526986621e4146861866.txt

Tuesday, Dec. 23

Bilas on the Longhorns
Here's an item about Texas from the blog of ESPN analyst Jay Bilas:

"Texas is a great defensive team and has the toughest man-to-man defense I have seen this season. The Longhorns can shut you down, but they cannot score right now. Texas relies too much upon A.J. Abrams, and players such as Connor Atchley, Justin Mason and Gary Johnson need to provide more scoring output while not forcing the issue. Atchley, in particular, needs to get untracked offensively. This is a team that can get to Detroit, but offensive output is the key. The defense will be there all season long."

Santa Fran's Christmas gifts
ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla handed out some college basketball Christmas wishes in his ESPN.com blog.

For Blake Griffin, Oklahoma: A whirlpool
The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Griffin is only 19 years old, and I haven't seen a college player in a while who can dominate the way he does with his incredible combination of size, speed, power and agility. So while his physical attributes are a blessing, they can be a curse, as well. He's constantly double- and triple-teamed and, as evidenced by two recent intentional fouls against him, roughed up as well. Enjoy the hot tub, Blake. It will be a long season in the Big 12.

For Texas coach Rick Barnes: A point guard
The A.J. Abrams experiment at point guard appears dead. He's too valuable a scorer for Rick Barnes' Longhorns. Although he's a willing passer with great basketball acumen, he needs to be on the receiving end of passes. Justin Mason is a valuable jack-of-all trades performer, but playmaking is not one of his skills. Fortunately, one of Barnes' strengths is that he has won in a variety of ways during his career. This season, he'll be winning ugly -- with rebounding and defense.

The Christmas spirit
Baylor fans donated more than 200 toys at Monday’s men’s basketball game against Hartford. The donations helped make up for a Grinch who stole toys that had been donated to the Waco Eagles Motorcycle Club. The club collects toys each December for Compassion Ministries of Waco. A week ago, thieves stole about 80 percent of the toys that had been stockpiled. The toys donated by fans before Baylor's 74-59 victory helped compensate for the stolen gifts.
 
Triple-double for Jerrells
Baylor guard Curtis Jerrells booked the fourth triple-double in school history in Monday night's 74-59 defeat of Hartford. The senior had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the ninth triple-double in Big 12 history and the first since Curtis Stinson recorded one against Colorado on February 5, 2006. Over his last three games, Jerrells is averaging averaging 19.7 points, 7.3 boards and 8.3 assists.

Basketball rankings news
* Missouri broke in to The Associated Press men's basketball poll at No. 25. The Tigers were last ranked during the 2003-04 season. Missouri is the fifth Big 12 team to be ranked this season.

The Big East Conference has 12 teams ranked in The Associated Press men's (seven) and women's (five) top 25 polls. The Big 12 is second with 10 teams ranked in both polls. The Big 12 has six teams ranked in the top 10 in the polls while the Big East has five.

* Six schools have teams ranked in the AP top 25 in both men's basketball and football. The list:

School  Conference  Bkb rank  FB rank
Oklahoma  Big 12    4    2
Texas   Big 12    9    3
Missouri  Big 12  25  25
Michigan State   Big Ten  11  19
Ohio State  Big Ten  15  10
Pittsburgh  Big East    3  18

Thursday, Dec. 18

Nebraska comeback falls short
On a night that saw Stanford make history with a comeback, Nebraska almost wrote its own historic chapter.

The Cornhuskers, playing before the largest crowd to witness an indoor volleyball match in United States history, pushed top-seeded, defending champion Penn State to a fifth set Thursday night in the semifinals of the the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship in Omaha's Qwest Center.

But in the end, the Nittany Lions closed out the match with a 7-1 run to record a 25-17, 25-18, 15-25, 22-25, 15-11 victory.

Stanford became the first team in Division I volleyball history to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a final four semifinal when it rallied to end Texas' season. Nebraska (31-3) appeared poised to gain revenge for the Big 12 in the second semifinal.

Penn State (37-0) entered the match having not lost a set. The Nittany Lions extended that stunning streak to 111 by going up 2-0.

The Cornhuskers, though, came out of intermission and got the crowd of 17,430 roaring by winning the third set 25-15 and the fourth set 25-22. Nebraska went up 10-8 in the fifth set and it appeared that another remarkable rally was about to unfold.

Penn State crushed those hopes by taking control and closing out the match. The Nittany Lions will face the Cardinal in Saturday's night's championship - a rematch of last year's title teams.

Stanford rallies past Texas
Stanford became the first team in 27 years of the Division I women's volleyball championship to rally from two sets down to win in the semifinals. The Cardinal overcame Texas' 2-0 lead for a 3-2 victory Thursday night in the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.

Stanford won the fifth set 15-13 to advance to the championship game for the third consecutive year. The Cardinal will face the winner of the second semifinal between Nebraska and top-seeded and undefeated Penn State.

Nine Big 12 players named consensus All-Americans
The Big 12 has a conference-record nine consensus All-Americans this season. Last season, the Big 12 had eight consensus All-Americans.

The players honored as consensus selections: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech) and Brian Orakpo (Texas) were unanimous first team selections. Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), Chase Coffman (Missouri), Duke Robinson (Oklahoma), Brandon Carter (Texas Tech), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Colt McCoy (Texas), and Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) also earned recognition.

Crabtree, Robinson and Maclin were repeat selections from last season.

To determine consensus All-Americans, the NCAA recognizes the following five All-America teams – American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation.  

A total of 14 Big 12 players garnered first team All-America honors from at least one of the five organizations used in the consensus chart. Joining the nine players listed above were Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Jason Smith (Baylor), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Jermaine Greshman (Oklahoma) and Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma).

Some friendly advice
As Christmas nears, Your Big 12 Insider is feeling generous. And as writers often do, he wishes to dispense unsolicited advice. This advice, though, doesn't concern play calling or when to go for the two-point conversion.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Florida coach Urban Meyer each have communicated their displeasure over the Heisman Trophy that was awarded to Oklahoma's Sam Bradford last Saturday. They're not angry that Bradford won but they're miffed over how their players were treated.

Here's where The Insider's advice comes in.

To Meyer: You're incredulous that your quarterback, Tim Tebow, was not listed on 154 ballots (even though you're quoted as saying the number was "around 190.") Tebow finished second despite earning the most first-place votes. Heisman ballots allow for first-place, second-place and third-place votes.

Tebow likely missed out on some ballots because voters might have included Texas Tech's Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree or Iowa's Shonn Greene along with Bradford and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy. Voters had to choose their top three. Some apparently didn't consider Tebow worthy of the top three. (And, as John Rohde of the Oklahoman points out, 93 voters left Bradford off their ballots while 120 voters didn't include McCoy.)

To Leach: You say you don't have respect for the Heisman Trophy and that it's a "popularity contest." Basically, you're correct. All of college football's awards are based on subjective voting. The last two years, Michael Crabtree has been considered the best - and the most popular - wide receiver among those who vote for the Biletnikoff Award.

You were upset that neither Graham Harrell nor Crabtree were invited to the Heisman ceremony. Heisman officials decide to spend their travel money wisely. Considering that the early voting tabulations indicated neither Texas Tech player had a chance of even finishing in the top three, the Heisman folks decided to save their money.

To win popularity contests, you need to try and be popular. Neither Harrell nor Crabtree attended the Big 12 Football Media gathering in Kansas City last July (it should also be pointed out that Oklahoma chose not to bring Sam Bradford to Big 12 media day either). During the season, Harrell was unavailable for several national media requests after the Texas victory and before the Oklahoma game. Perhaps limiting media access to Harrell and Crabtree helped contribute to a team-first-attitude and an 11-1 record. Perhaps those limitations hurt their Heisman profiles.

The Sporting News honors three Big 12 QBs
Their teams finished tied for the Big 12 South lead. Wednesday The Sporting News named Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell and Texas' Colt McCoy as co-national players of the year.

Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree also was named as the repeat winner of the Paul Warfield Trophy presented by The Touchdown Club of Columbus, which also named Tech's Mike Leach as the Woody Hayes Trophy winner honoring the nation's top collegiate coach. Crabtree and Leach will receive their awards at a Feb. 7 banquet in Columbus, Ohio.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Talking points
As the first half of the 2008-09 season winds down, here are some Big 12 highlights - courtesy of commissioner Dan Beebe's sports report.

Volleyball
Big 12 co-champions Nebraska and Texas advanced to the NCAA Volleyball Championship semifinals.  For the first time in league history, the Conference will have two representatives in the event, which will be played in Omaha on Dec. 18 and 20. Also, with Iowa State and Texas meeting in the regional final, it marked the first time in Conference history the Big 12 had three teams advance to the final eight. Four Big 12 teams participated in the NCAA tournament with Kansas State also making the field.

Big 12 teams finished the regular season ranked in the Top 25 as follows: Texas-3, Nebraska-4, and Kansas State-16.

Football
The Big 12 led all conferences with five teams ranked in the final BCS poll (Oklahoma-1, Texas-3, Texas Tech-7, Oklahoma State-13, and Missouri-21), including three in the Top 7.  The Big 12 finished the 2007 season with four teams ranked in the Top 10, twice as many as any other conference.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford was named the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, marking the fourth time in the 13-year history of the Conference the award has been given to a player from the Big 12.  Texas QB Colt McCoy, finished second, 122 points behind Bradford, while Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree finished fourth and fifth, respectively, marking the first time in the award’s 74-year history four of the top five finishers hailed from the same conference.

Big 12 teams played in six of the nine highest rated football games this season on ABC, including the highest rated game of 2008 (Texas at Texas Tech).  With over 8.5 million viewers, the Texas at Texas Tech game ranks fifth all-time for ABC regular-season telecasts.

Cross Country
For the third straight year Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego was named the Honda Award winner - given to the nation's top runner in cross country. The senior capped her final season by becoming the first runner, either male or female, in NCAA Division I history to win three consecutive NCAA cross country titles.

Individually, the Big 12 had four men’s runners finish in the Top 25 – OSU’s John Kosgei (7), CU’s Jordan Kyle (12), OSU’s Ryan Vail (18) and TAMU’s Shadrack Songok (19).  In addition to Kipyego (1), Tech’s Lillian Badaru (18) rounded out the women’s Top 25.

In the team standings on the women’s side Texas Tech placed seventh, followed by Baylor (19), and Nebraska (25); while men’s teams Oklahoma State (8), Colorado (12), Iowa State (17) and Texas A&M (30) rounded out the Big 12 field.

Soccer
Six conference teams represented the Big 12 in the 64-team NCAA field (Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M), and Texas A&M advanced to the Elite Eight for the fourth time in school history,.

Women’s Basketball
The Big 12 leads all conferences with six women’s basketball teams ranked in the Top 25, including four in the Top 10.

Men’s Basketball
The Big 12 is one of two conferences with two teams (Oklahoma, Texas) in the Top Five of the latest national polls.  Six conference squads are ranked or receiving votes in this week’s Top 25.

More football honors
* Sports Illustrated's All-American first team features 26 players and 10 are from the Big 12: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Duke Robinson, Texas Tech offensive lineman Ryland Reed, Oklahoma defensive lineman Gerald McCoy, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and Missouri wide receiver/returner Jeremy Maclin.

* The Sporting News' All-Freshman team has four Big 12 players: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin, Missouri offensive tackle Elvis Fisher, Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis and Texas safety Earl Thomas. TSN also named Griffin Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Linked up
"Would someone please muzzle Billy Sims?" That's how an editorial in the Oklahoman begins. Sims' yelling of "Boomer" during the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday was, according to the article, an embarrassment.
In New York City Monday night at the Heisman Trophy dinner, Billy Sims apologized if he offended anyone but doesn't plan to stop saying "Boomer Sooner."
Give credit to Colorado coach Dan Hawkins - the man doesn't straddle fences. At the team's end-of-season banquet, he predicted the Buffaloes will win 10 games in 2009.
Texas senior forward/center Connor Atchley has yet to play as well as he did last season.
John Maher of the Austin American-Statesman reports from Columbus, Ohio, that there isn't much excitement at The Ohio State University about the upcoming Fiesta Bowl matchup with Texas. 

Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray will miss title game
Sophomore running back DeMarco Murray will miss the BCS National Champinship game. Oklahoma announced Tuesday that Murray will undergo surgery on Dec. 22 for a partial rupture of a hamstring tendon in his left leg.

Murray was injured on the opening kickoff against Missouri in the Dr Pepper Football Championship game. The injury was originally diagnosed as a bruise but an MRI revealed the tendon damage. It will be approximately five months before Murray will be cleared to resume training.

"Obviously we're very disappointed for DeMarco," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said in a school-issued news release. "He has been an important part of our success this year and we will miss his contributions. DeMarco has had an incredible year.

"With Chris Brown and Mossis Madu, we still have two very fine backs. Our team has a lot of confidence in their abilities."

Monday, Dec. 15

Monday morning links
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman tagged along with Sooners quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford during a series of television interviews Sunday.
- Iowa State players feel betrayed after coach Gene Chizik departs for Auburn after spending two seasons (and winning five games) in Ames.
- Denied a history-making second Heisman Trophy, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow figures to have extra motivation when the Gators play Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series national title game.
- With Oklahoma leading the nation in scoring and a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, USA Today takes a look at the no huddle offense and its impact on football.
- Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel isn't thrilled with the Sooners' opponent in the All-College Classic Saturday - Virginia Commonwealth, his former employer.
- Freshman Yvonne Anderson, the daughter of Missouri men's coach Mike Anderson, is happy and confident that she made the right decision in playing basketball at Texas.

Sunday, Dec. 14

Leach, Harrell and Mr. President
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and quarterback Graham Harrell weren't in New York City Saturday for the Heisman Trophy ceremony but they spent some of the day at another special place - the White House. They received a 20-minute tour and a chat with President George Bush.

Saturday, Dec. 13

It's official: Chizik to Auburn
Auburn has released a statement that it has hired Gene Chizik as its next football coach. Chizik was the coach at Iowa State the previous two years.

Iowa State says Gene Chizik leaving for Auburn
After two seasons that produced a 5-19 record, Iowa State coach Gene Chizik is leaving the Cyclones to become Auburn's next coach.

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard issued a statement confirming Chizik's decision:

"Gene confirmed for me today (Saturday) that he is accepting the head coaching position at Auburn, Pollard said "I'm disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons.

"I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person."

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs would neither confirm nor deny the story.

Chizik was Auburn's defensive coordinator before taking a similar job at Texas. In 2004, Auburn led the nation in scoring defense (11 points per game) and the Tigers were undefeated. He left after that season to become Texas' defensive coordinator in 2005; the Longhorns won the national championship. After the 2006 season, Chizik was hired by Iowa State.

Here's the quick take from Tim Griffin, who covers all things Big 12 football for ESPN.com. 

Sam Bradford wins Heisman Trophy
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford Saturday night became the second sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. Bradford finished ahead of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow - who last season became the first sophomore to win the award and was trying to become the second player to win two Heismans.

Bradford is the fifth Sooner to win the award. He follows Billy Vessels (1952), Steve Owens (1969), Billy Sims (1978) and Jason White (2003) as OU's Heisman winners.

In his third season in Norman after sitting out his freshman season as a redshirt, Bradford has led Oklahoma to a 12-1 record and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game against Tebow and Florida. 

Bradford finished with 1,726 points, 122 points ahead of McCoy, who finished second. Bradford was a strong No. 1 or No. 2 on the 904 ballots that were submitted. Tebow finished third but he had more No. 1 votes (309) than Bradford (300).

Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was fourth and wide receiver Michael Crabtree was fifth. In Heisman Trophy history, no conference has ever had four of the top five vote getters.

Iowa State's Chizik to Auburn?
ESPN.com is quoting several sources in Alabama that Iowa State coach Gene Chizik is leaving to become Auburn's next coach. Chizik was Auburn's defensive coordinator before leading for Texas. After two years with the Longhorns, he was hired by the Cyclones. Chizik just finished his second season at Iowa State.

Seven from Big 12 on FWAA All-American team
The Football Writers Association of America announced its All-America team Saturday and seven Big 12 players were among the 25 players honored. No other conference had more; the Southeastern Conference placed six players on the team.

Quarterback Colt McCoy of Texas, running back Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State, wide receiver Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech, offensive lineman Duke Robinson of Oklahoma, offensive lineman Jason Smith of Baylor and defensive end Brian Orakpo of Texas were first-team selections.

Texas, Iowa State, Nebraska in regional finals
Three Big 12 volleyball teams have advanced to the NCAA Championship regional finals for the first time in league history. No. 3 seed Texas will host Iowa State at 5:30 p.m. CT in Austin on Saturday, while No. 4 seed Nebraska will face No. 5 seed Washington at 10:30 p.m. in Seattle. Both matches will be televised on ESPNU.

The Cyclones and Longhorns defeated the Pac-10's 11th seeded-Oregon and No. 14 seed UCLA, respectively, on Friday.  It will mark the first time two Big 12 opponents will meet in a regional final, which guarantees the conference at least one bid to the NCAA Volleyball Championship semifinals on Dec. 18 at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb.. 

The Huskers swept Michigan to advance to the round of eight for the fourth consecutive season, including their national title runs in 2000 and '06.     

The Big 12 is tied with the Pac-10 for the most teams remaining in the national championship field with three each.

Friday, Dec. 12

Muschamp says he's staying
Texas defensive coordinator and coach in waiting Will Muschamp denied Friday that he was a candidate or interested in the head coaching job at Auburn. An Alabama television station reported Thursday night that Muschamp would be named Auburn's coach Friday.

Muschamp issued a statement through the school's sports information department: "I have not interviewed for any jobs. I'm not interested in any jobs. I'm happy here, my family loves Austin and I'm going to be at Texas."  

Muschamp, who was Auburn's defensive coordinator before taking a similar job at Texas before the 2008 season, also told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was not in the mix at his former school.

"I have not talked to Auburn about this job and I have no interest in the job," he told the paper. "I really don't know what else to say. I'm going to stay at Texas until they fire me."

Another Heisman projection
The web site http://www.stiffarmtrophy.com/ has been correct in projecting the Heisman winner each of the last six years and its winning vote projection has been correct within 2.9 percent. The methodology involves chasing down as many of the actual votes as possible.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the site had surveyed 195 votes. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was first, Texas' Colt McCoy was second and Florida's Tim Tebow third. There are 926 Heisman voters.

So far on the stiffarmtrophy Web site, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell is a distant fourth with one first-place vote and just over 2.4 percent of the votes. That is no doubt a major reason why Harrell was not invited to attend Saturday night's award ceremony in New York City.

Muschamp to Auburn?
The Fox television outlet in Mobile, Ala., reported Thursday that Texas defensive coordinator - and head coach designate - Will Muschamp will be named as Auburn's head coach Friday. Muschamp was the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2007 before taking the same position with the Longhorns.

Thursday, Dec. 11

Ford's Cowboys go small
Here's what Andy Katz of ESPN.com wrote about Oklahoma State after the Cowboys dismissed their tallest player:

Since 6-foot-11 center Ibrahima Thomas has been dismissed from the team, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said the Cowboys will go with four - and often five - guards. Thomas was the only true center on the squad.

"We've done it for four or five minutes, sometimes eight to 10 minutes in a game," Ford said. "We're just trying to survive. These are the growing pains of taking over a program."

Ford said that after Thomas was dismissed, the center told him that he doesn't want to play basketball anymore; the school would not give details of the dismissal. Thomas was contributing 20.6 minutes a game, averaging 8.3 points and 3.9 rebounds.

Ford said when he needs a big man, he'll go with 6-6 Anthony Brown (15.7 mpg, 4.4 ppg, 3 rpg), 6-8 Malcoln Kirkland (8.2 mpg, 0.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg) or newly eligible 6-11 freshman Teeng Akol from the Sudan, by way of IMG Academy. The Cowboys have lost three of their last four games and play at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Sunday.

Three Big 12 coaches up for Robinson Award
Texas coach Mack Brown, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops are three of the nine finalists announced Thursday for the 2008 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The award is presented and voted on by the Football Writers Association of America. The other finalists are USC's Pete Carroll, Florida's Urban Meyer, Penn State's Joe Paterno, Boise State's Chris Petersen, Alabama's Nick Saban and Utah's Kyle Whittingham. The winner will be announced on Jan. 6. to be voted upon by the entire membership.

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Mike Leach rips Heisman for Harrell snub
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach issued a statement after the Heisman Trophy folks decided not to invited senior quarterback Graham Harrell to New York City for Saturday night's award ceremony.

“If Graham is not invited to the Heisman, they ought to quit giving out the award," Leach said in the statement. "It is a shameless example of politics ruling over performance. The other guys are deserving, but he has earned a place alongside them.”

And here's Harrell's comment, courtesy of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal.

"I thought I would be, but that’s the way it goes," he said. “I didn’t really think too much about it (beforehand). I would have been fine being there. I’ll be fine not being there. It would have been a huge honor to be there. To be mentioned and considered to possibly be a finalist is a great honor as well. We’ve had a great season. I don’t think it takes anything away from it."

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow were the players invited to the Big Apple.

Here's the Big 12 Insider's take: Leach has a good reason to be upset, but it's more about economics than politics. Despite its stature as college football's most famous award, the Heisman isn't exactly swimming in cash.

The winner will be one of the three that were invited. Inviting Harrell, while a noble gesture, would be money spent on a player with no chance to hear his name called. In recent years, the Heisman has rarely invited more than four players even though there were years when a fifth invitee might have been deserving.

Not saying it's right, just saying that's the way it is.

Texas' Orakpo claims Lombardi, Hendricks awards
Brian Orakpo continued his award-winning tour by collecting the Rotary Lombardi Award Wednesday night in his hometown of Houston. The senior defensive end was in Charlotte, N.C. Sunday night where he was presented with the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded by the Charlotte Touchdown Club to the nation's top defensive player.

It was also announced Wednesday that Orakpo was the winner of this year's Ted Hendricks Award, which goes to college football's top defensive end.

The Lombardi Award goes to the nation's top lineman or linebacker. He is the third Longhorn to win the award. Texas defensive tackle Kenneth Sims won in 1981 and offensive tackle Tony Degrate in 1984.

Oklahoma's Bradford to explore NFL Draft
Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford said Wednesday he intends to file the necessary paperwork that will allow him to assess is NFL Draft status. Bradford is a third-year sophomore, which makes him eligible for the 2009 draft.

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford said Wednesday he plans to file paperwork with the NFL so he can be evaluated by scouts about where he might be drafted. The deadline for college underclassmen to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.

“It’s something me and my dad talked about — in order to make a decision, in order to make the best decision, you need as much information as possible,” Bradford told The Oklahoman. “So whether it’s to stay or to go, we’ll see.”

A variety of links
Here are some stories written on Texas' victory over Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic. Dana O'Neil, ESPN.com; Kevin Armstrong of SI.com; John Temple of the New York Times' Quad Blog; Mike Kern, Philadelphia Daily News.

Jere Longman of the New York Times writes about how Oklahoma's women's basketball team has famous family ties.

Steve Weiberg of USA Today explains how Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Sam Bradford is bringing pride to the Cherokee nation.

The Tulsa World's Dave Sittler writes that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' nickname should change from "Big Game Bob" to "Bob The Heisman Builder."

Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines how Missouri went from 12-2 last season to 9-4 in 2008.

Three Heisman finalists named
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow are the finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy. They have been invited to New York City for Saturday night's award ceremony.

The invited finalists are typically based on voting results so it's safe to assume these three are the top vote getters. Based on straw polls conducted by various media organizations, it appears that this year's Heisman vote might one of the closest in the award's 74 years.

ESPN's telecast of the Heisman ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. CT. The winner will be announced at approximately 7:50 p.m. CT.

The last time the finalists were all quarterbacks was 2001 when Nebraska's Eric Crouch was named the winner.

Three Red Raiders AFCA all-Americans
(THIS CORRECTS AND UPDATES A PREVIOUSLY POSTED ITEM.) Texas Tech placed three players on the first-team offense on the 2008 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team announced Thursday by the American Football Coaches Association. Quarterback Graham Harrell, wide receiver Michael Crabtree (a 2007 AFCA All-American) and offensive lineman Brandon Carter were the Red Raiders selected. Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman and Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo also were selected to the first team.

Now, that's a teammate
Here's a great story, courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune's Dave Matter, who covers Missouri like the dew covers Dixie.

Tigers receiver Jeremy Maclin is a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award which will be presented Thursday night in Orlando, Fla., during the Home Depot/ESPNU College Football Awards Show. As a finalist, Maclin can invite six guests of his choice to make the trip.

Missouri senior Chase Coffman is a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. However, the Mackey winner is only mentioned during the awards show; the finalists aren't invited to attend.

OK, so you probably see where this is going. Coffman is one of the six guests Maclin invited to make the trip. Even if Maclin doesn't end up with the Biletnikoff Award, he's a winner as far as the Big 12 Insider is concerned.

Heisman Trophy talk
The finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy award will be named Wednesday night. The bet here is that Colt McCoy of Texas, Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Tim Tebow of Florida will be invited to fly to New York City for Saturday night's award ceremony.

This year's vote could be one of the closest ever. Straw polls of Heisman voters don't provide any clarity.

* The Rocky Mountain News’ Heisman Trophy poll of 10 voters from around the country has Colt McCoy on top with five first-place votes and 42 points. He was one point ahead of Sam Bradford, who had three first-place votes and 41 points. Tim Tebow was third with two first-place votes and 34 points. The paper's poll has correctly picked the Heisman winner in 18 of the previous 21 seasons when the final poll is released. 

* The Final Heismanpundit.com/Orlando Sentinel Heisman Poll has Sam Bradford in first with six first-place votes and 44 points. Tim Tebow was second (three first-place votes, 38 points) while Colt McCoy was third (one, 36 points).

* Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com polled nearly three dozen Heisman voters. He came up with Tebow as the favorite.

* Rivals.com polled its seven writers who have Heisman votes. Sam Bradford was on top with 15 points, Tim Tebow was second with 13 and Colt McCoy was third with 11. Bradford and Tebow each had three first-place votes while McCoy had the other first-place vote.

* Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy last season, an honor that also gives him a lifetime vote for the award. Tebow said he hasn't decided how his top three will look on this year's ballot but he needs to make a quick decision; the voting deadline is Wednesday.

Oklahoma's Kevin Wilson wins Broyles Award
Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was presented with Broyles Award Tuesday night. The award, named for former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles, is presented annually to college football's  top assistant coach. Wilson is the second Oklahoma offensive coordinator to win the Broyles Award, which was first presented in 1996.

The other finalists were Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, Utah defensive coordinator Gary Andersen, TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas and Ball State offensive coordinator Stan Parrish.

Monday, Dec. 8

Most intriguing bowl matchups
ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman selected his 10 most intriguing bowl matchups. Four of his top seven involved bowls with Big 12 teams. Here they are, with the order he ranked them:

1. FedEx BCS National Championship Game, No. 2 Florida vs. No. 1 Oklahoma, Jan. 8: Maybe Texas should be in this game. Maybe not, but both of these teams have been playing phenomenally well over the second half of the season. OU's offense has been awesome over the past five games, while Florida's Tim Tebow has put the Gators program on his broad back. For all of the Gators' speed, it's hard to not give Oklahoma a bit of an edge on offense since they've been executing so well. UF gets the edge on D and a big edge in special teams. So can Bob Stoops regain the Big Game Bob rep? This will be the true test this year.

2. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Texas, Jan. 5: The Longhorns come to Arizona ticked - and rightly so - that they were bypassed in the BCS title game for a team they'd beaten by 10 at a neutral site. Then again, if anyone has reason to come into a bowl game in a bad mood, it's the Buckeyes, who have been mocked endlessly for their performance in big games over the past few years. Win here and a little of that venom will fade. If OSU wins, it'll be because the Buckeyes' offensive linemen have managed to do something they haven't in any of their big matchups: contain opposing edge rushers, and in this case, Brian Orakpo & Co.

5. The Cotton Bowl, No. 25 Ole Miss. vs. No. 7 Texas Tech, Jan. 2: Let's not tout this as a precursor to the BCS title game, although there is some nice symmetry with SEC toughness vs. Big 12 offensive precision. The Rebels have the best D-line in the SEC, but can they get heat on Graham Harrell and can the undermanned Rebels DBs keep up with Michael Crabtree and that group of receivers when the Red Raiders' star comes home to Dallas? Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead, a one-time Texas Longhorn, also will be playing a game very close to his home town.

7. Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon, Dec. 30: There are almost always fireworks in the Holiday Bowl and this year you get two explosive offenses who combine to average over 40 points per game. Five times this season the Ducks have scored at least 54 points, while OSU has also done it five times.

Fran Fraschilla on Big 12 hoops
ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla, who works the Big 12's Big Monday telecasts, also writes for ESPN.com. Here's what wrote about about Kansas freshman Tyshawn Taylor:

When coach Tom Crean left Marquette for Indiana last spring, his top recruit, Tyshawn Taylor, decided to look elsewhere, as well, and eventually signed with the Kansas Jayhawks. So far, it looks like Taylor made a good decision.

The former St. Anthony's (Jersey City, N.J.) star averaged only 10 points per game as one of six Division I seniors who helped the Friars to a 32-0 record and the USA Today high school national championship in 2008. In fact, he might have been one of the most underrated players in the country as a senior.

Tyshawn Taylor clearly made a smart move in chosing Kansas over Marquette.
At Kansas, Taylor has already filled a role left by Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers, two players who helped Bill Self win his first national title. The 6-foot-3 guard has already contributed as a scorer, playmaker and defender.

Often, a player's adjustment to the college level can be traced by how well-coached he was in high school and how demanding his coach was with him. I call it being "hard-coached." Most high school stars are babied and spoiled, and thus their adjustment to the college game is slowed. Rest assured, Taylor was hard-coached by Hall of Famer Bob Hurley, maybe the best pure basketball coach in America. Self is reaping the benefits already.

Fraschilla also wrote about the Big 12's early non-conference success:

The Big 12 is 73-17 out of the gate so far. Baylor's win at Washington State on Saturday night was the latest feather in their cap.

It's silly the Bears did not crack this week's USA Today/ESPN Top 25. It's a reason why coaches, who have enough to do during their season, shouldn't vote in the poll.

Oklahoma State dismisses Ibrahima Thomas
Coach Travis Ford announced Monday that he dismissed starting forward Ibrahima Thomas from the Oklahoma State team. The first-year Cowboys coach said he had several conversations with the 6-11 sophomore and it was determined that Thomas lacked a commitment to help Oklahoma State succeed. Thomas was the team's main post presence and had started the team's first seven games.

This just in: McCoy says he's coming back
In a story reported on the the Austin American-Statesman Web site Monday, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said he would return for his senior season.

"I'm not going anywhere," McCoy told the newspaper. "I'm coming back because we have a solid coaching staff. And I'm coming back because I feel like I can develop the young receivers we have."

Earlier this season, McCoy said he would file the paperwork needed to receive an analysis of his draft prospects from an NFL advisory committee. He said he has decided to not file those papers.

Celebrity Sooners fan
Country star Toby Keith is a huge Oklahoma fan and he was on the sidelines Saturday night for the Sooners' victory over Missouri in the Dr Pepper Football Championship game. Felicia Michael, one of the Big 12's Will Hancock Communications Assistants, caught up with T.K. for a quick interview near the end of game.

Q: Are you going to be following the team to Florida?

A: “Oh yeah. We’ll be heading down to the National Championship and look forward to a great time. We always go down for every game.”

Q: Have you been able to follow the Sooners throughout the season?

A: "I started at Texas because my tour ended later than expected."

Q: What do you think of Oklahoma's matchup with Florida in the national championship game?

A: “Well both teams that are going to be there look like they're pretty high scoring, so it will be a pretty big game and there will be a lot of points scored. Hopefully we can just continue to hang 60 like we’ve been doing every week.”

Postseason linkage
Nebraska athletic director and former Cornhuskers coach Tom Osborne heaps the praise on first-year coach Bo Pelini.

An editorial page columnist for the Kansas City Star writes that the Big 12 should win all seven of its bowl games.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Tony Barnhart, aka Mr. College Football, writes on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution web site that Florida should have the edge on Oklahoma because of defense and that Tim Tebow should win the Heisman Trophy (again).

ESPN.com's Pat Forde does an excellent job of summing up how the season evolved.

Check out this Ryan Parker song about Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. 

Sunday, Dec. 7

Texas' Brian Orakpo wins Nagurski
Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo was named the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, awarded by the Charlotte Touchdown Club to the nation's top defensive player. The award was presented Sunday night in Charlotte, N.C.

The other finalists for the award were Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes and fellow Bronko Nagurski finalists Jerry Hughes, a defensive end from TCU, Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith and Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga.

Orakpo, despite missing one game with a sprained knee, is among the national leaders in sacks. He had 18 tackles for a loss and has forced four fumbles.

Bradford has surgery
Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford had surgery Sunday morning to repair a torn tendon on the thumb of his left (non-throwing) hand. After the 90-minute procedure, he was discharged and attended a team function Sunday night.

Bradford suffered the injury in Oklahoma's season-ending game with Oklahoma State. He played in Saturday night's Dr Pepper Football Championship game with the thumb taped.

"It was fairly routine and clean," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of the surgery. "The doctors were pleased with how it went. He can start practice in about 10 days. He can start taking snaps about three or four days before we leave for the bowl game."

Stoops also said that running back DeMarco Murray will be fine. He suffered a bruised left leg on the game's opening kickoff with Missouri and didn't play the rest of the game.

Oklahoma vs. Florida with Texas edged out
If you watched the Fox Sports Bowl Championship Series selection show, you found out that the national championship game will match Oklahoma of the Big 12 against Florida of the Southeastern Conference.

What you didn't find out from television was how close it was between Florida and Texas for the No. 2 spot in the final BCS standings.

Oklahoma was No. 1 in the BCS standings and Florida was No. 2 with an edge of .0181 over Texas. That's the second-closest margin in BCS between No. 2 and No. 3. The Gators are familiar with squeakers. In 2006, Florida edged Michigan by 0.0101 to reach the championship game.

Sunday's BCS standings had Texas with the edge in the six computer rankings. The Longhorns' BCS computer number was .940 while the Gators were at .890. Florida made up that 0.05 gap in the human polls where it had a combined 233 point edge - 160 points in the Harris Interactive, 73 points in the USA Today/Coaches poll.

When the individual ballots in those two polls are released Monday, it will be interesting to see which ones - if any - made a significant difference.

Sneak peek
The official Bowl Championship Series standings won't be announced until about 7:20 p.m. CT, but it appears that the national championship game will pit Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma against Southeastern Conference champ Florida.

The USA Today/Coaches poll has Oklahoma No. 1 - by a single point. The Sooners received 31 first-place votes and finished with 1,482 points. The Gators received 26 No. 1 votes and 1,481 points.

Texas is No. 3. The Longhorns received four No. 1 votes and 1,408 points. Texas trails Florida by 73 points in the coaches' poll. While UT probably will have an edge on the Gators in the computers used by the BCS, Florida is projected to be No. 2 in the BCS standings behind Oklahoma.

Texas' hopes of finishing No. 1 in The Associated Press poll dimmed. Florida is No. 1 in the media poll which gives out its own championship trophy and is not bound to the BCS outcome. The Gators received 50 first-place votes. Oklahoma was No. 1 on nine ballots while Texas finished with six No. 1 votes.

Florida is the sixth team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll this season. The last season in which there were six No. 1 teams was 1984.

Thursday, Dec. 4

Big 12 hoops vs. Pac-10 hoops
Forget all the football talk of the Big 12 vs. the SEC. Basketball has a conference debate that will be settled in competition.

Round Two of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series gets into full swing with three games Thursday. Last season, the Pac-10 had a 7-5 edge in Year One of the Series. However, the Big 12 had an overall 11-8 advantage over the Pac-10 in games between the two conferences last season.

Because of the uneven number of teams in the two conferences, Arizona and Stanford each play two games. Stanford defeated Colorado 76-62 on Nov. 29 while Kansas plays at Arizona on Dec. 23 and Texas Tech is at Stanford on Dec. 28.

Here's a game-by-game breakdown of the Hardwood Series schedule through Sunday:

Thursday
USC at Oklahoma, 6 p.m., ESPN2:
The sixth-ranked Sooners (6-0) are coming off their championship in the NIT Season Tip-Off. Sophomore Blake Griffin is performing like a player of the year candidate. He's averaging 25.7 points and leads Division I in rebounding with 19.2 per game. The Trojans, who start three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, are 5-2. One of their two losses came against Missouri in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

UCLA at Texas, 8 p.m., ESPN2: The No. 8 Longhorns (5-1) finished third in the Maui Classic. They suffered their only loss (81-80 against Notre Dame) there in the semifinals. Texas, which won at UCLA last year in the Hardwood Series, is using its depth to play more aggressively on defense. Justin Mason, who leads the Longhorns in assists, has averaged 16 points over his last three games. Senior point guard Darren Collison leads the 12th-ranked Bruins (4-1) in scoring with 15 per game.

Oklahoma State at Washington, 10 p.m., FSN: The Cowboys (5-2) make a long trip to the Pacific Northwest for their first true road game. Oklahoma State first-year coach Travis Ford wants to play up tempo with full-court pressure. So far, the Cowboys are adjusting well, averaging 83 points a game. Terrel Harris (17.4 points a game) leads five Oklahoma State players who are scoring in double figures. The Huskies are 3-3 with one of the losses coming to Kansas.

Friday
Arizona at Texas A&M, 8:30 p.m., ESPNU:
The Aggies are 5-1 with their only loss coming to Tulsa in the South Padre Invitational. Josh Carter leads Texas A&M in scoring with 14 per game while post Bryan Davis is second in scoring with 12 per game and leads the Aggies in rebounding with 6.7 per contest. Coach Mark Turgeon has nine players averaging more than 14 minutes per game. The Wildcats, playing their first true road game, are led by forward Chase Budinger, post Jordan Hill and point guard Nic Wise.

Saturday
Oregon State at Iowa State, 1 p.m., ESPNU:
The Cyclones (5-1) are coming off an overtime victory over in-state rival Northern Iowa Wednesday night. Sophomore post Craig Brackins has played well. He leads Iowa State in scoring (18.8 per game) and rebounding (6.2 per game). Craig Robinson, president-elect Barack Obama's brother-in-law, is Oregon State's first-year coach. The Beavers are 1-4, having played three of their five games on the road.
 
Baylor at Washington State, 10:30 p.m., FSN: The Bears, like Oklahoma State, face a long trip to the Pacific Northwest. This will be a classic clash of styles. Baylor (6-1) wants a fast-paced game with lots of possessions. Washington State coach Tony Bennett wants more of a walk-it-up pace. The Bears, who rely on their explosive backcourt, are averaging 84.6 points per game while the 6-1 Cougars average 62.9 per game.

Sunday
California at Missouri, 1 p.m., ESPNU:
The Bears will be hard-pressed (pun intended) to handle the Tigers' full-court pressure. Missouri's only loss in seven games came at No. 14 Xavier. DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons have been twin terrors for the Tigers; Carroll is averaging 18.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while Lyons is 17.9 and 6.6. Missouri is averaging 88 points and forcing 20 turnovers per game. Jerome Randle, a 5-10 sophomore guard, leads Cal (6-1) in scoring with 21 points per game. He's making 61 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Nebraska at Arizona State, 1 p.m., FSN: The 6-0 Cornhuskers face their biggest challenge of the season. The Sun Devils are considered a threat to challenge UCLA in the Pac-10 race. James Harden, a 6-4 sophomore, leads Arizona State in scoring (27 per game) and rebounds (6.8). The Sun Devils' only loss came to Baylor. Nebraska has been winning with hustle and balanced scoring. Steve Harley is the only Husker in double figures (12.8 per game).

Kansas State at Oregon, 7:30 p.m., FSN: The Wildcats are 5-2 and have won their only road game (a 69-59 triumph at Cleveland State). Jacob Pullen, a sophomore guard, tops four Kansas State players averaging double figures. He's averaging 16.6 per game. Denis Clemente, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) is averaging 11.4 per game. The Ducks (3-4) have lost three in a row. One of those defeats came against Texas in the Maui Classic.

The forecast
From weather.com, here is Saturday's weather forecast for Kansas City, the site of Saturday's Dr Pepper Football Championship game: High of 44 degrees with a low of 26. Morning show showers, 30 percent chance of precipitation.

Here's the weather history at kickoff for past games played at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium:

 

Year  Temp.  Conditions 
 2000  37  Clear
 2003  39  Clear
 2004  54   Fair
 2006  28  Fair

 

Wednesday, Dec. 3 

The forecast
From weather.com, here is Saturday's weather forecast for Kansas City, the site of Saturday's Dr Pepper Football Championship game: High of 43 degrees with a low of 20, partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Here's the weather history at kickoff for past games played at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium:

 

Year  Temp.  Conditions 
 2000  37  Clear
 2003  39  Clear
 2004  54   Fair
 2006  28  Fair

 

Leach interviews in Washington
Several media outlets, including the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, report that Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach was in Seattle Tuesday to talk about the head coaching job at Washington. A source told the Lubbock paper that Leach has not been offered the job.

Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said that Leach will be offered a raise and a contract extension. Both were promised before the season but nothing was finalized or signed. Myers said that the Red Raiders' 11-1 season a share of the Big 12 South Division title would increase the contract's value.

Four Walter Camp Award finalists from Big 12
The odds are good that a Big 12 Conference player winning the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Year award. Four of the five finalists announced Tuesday are from the Big 12. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow are the finalists for the award. The winner will be announced Dec. 11 during the ESPn College Football Awards Show.

Hot links
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told ESPN.com that the conference will assess its tiebreaker rules in the wake of the current controversy.

Gary Danielson apparently invented football. On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Danielson was critical of the Big 12 Conference, saying the league's offensive statistics are devalued by a lack of defense. Keep in mind that Danielson is the college football analyst for CBS Sports, which is the network partner of the Southeastern Conference. Money can buy opinions.

As a counterpoint to Danielson's comments, Tim Stephens of the Orlando Sentinel points out that the Southeastern Conference "stinks like an Alabama pig farm." (Stephens grew up in Alabama.)

Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes that the tiebreaker controversy is just another story in the legend of the Oklahoma-Texas rivarly.

Tuesday, Dec. 2

The forecast
From weather.com, here is Saturday's weather forecast for Kansas City, the site of Saturday's Dr Pepper Football Championship game: High of 42 degrees with a low of 24, mostly sunny with a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Here's the weather history at kickoff for past games played at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium:

 

Year  Temp.  Conditions 
 2000  37  Clear
 2003  39  Clear
 2004  54   Fair
 2006  28  Fair

 

DeLoss Dodds Q and A
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, was interviewed by The Sporting News the day after the Longhorns were jumped by Oklahoma in the BCS standings, giving the Sooners a spot in the Big 12 championship game.

Q: Have you had a chance to congratulate Joe Castiglione, your counterpart at Oklahoma?

A: "We’ve not talked. (But) it’ll be a good conversation. We tend to separate the field from the office. If you don’t do that, you don’t do any good in meetings."

Q: Speaking of meetings, will there be some Big 12 rules changes in regard to tiebreakers, and will you be at the forefront of that?

A: "I’ve got a lot of thoughts on all that. I assume there will be some changes."

Q: In other leagues with championship games, Texas would have won that tiebreaker over Oklahoma.

A: "After we lost the Tech game, on the way to the airport I called (associate commissioner) Tim Allen in the Big 12 offices and said, “What is the tiebreaker rule?” That’s the first time I thought of it, and by then it was too late. That rule was evidently made somewhere back in the past."

Q: Was that a poor decision?

A: "You can change the rule and Texas could get ripped on the new rule next year. ... My response to all that is pretty simple: I think we’ve got a flawed system, and making rules to fix a flawed system just doesn’t work. You can’t fix it; you can tweak it. They do that with the BCS; we can do that with our tiebreaker rules. But in the end, it’s a flawed system and it isn’t going to work."

Q: How would you fix it?

A: "Nationally, everybody knows that I want a playoff with eight teams, and that’s how I’d fix it. And then the argument comes between eight and nine. Who’s nine and doesn’t get into the eight? There’s always a difference of opinion. My point is, if this is such a fine way to do this, why don’t we do this with basketball and let the coaches and the polls and some computers pick two teams to go play it?"

Q: What are you telling people here to keep their heads up since BCS poll came out? And what about you - are you down? Ticked off?

A: "I’m 71 years old. My days are numbered, and I want to be happy  every day. I don’t get down. I'm most disappointed for our kids. They’re the ones that put out the effort; they’re the ones that won the (Oklahoma) game. What I put out to our public is: Let’s don’t let our kids down. If we expect them to come back and be men about this, then we’ve all got to be grownups about it, get over it and move on."

Q: What do you think of Mack Brown going on during the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State telecast and bucking for the Longhorns?

A: "I don’t like the fact that we have to do that. It’s part of the whole BCS thing, and I don’t like the politicking part of it. I thought Mack handled it as well as he could; I complimented him on how he handled it and how he’s taken the high road. If he’s politicked, he’s done it in such a way that’s very acceptable."

Q: Bob Stoops said he was asked to go on during the Texas game on Thanksgiving Day but didn’t do it  because he felt it would be wrong.  Your coach doesn’t have to go on TV like that.

A: "I think Mack has been on a lot of different games. I think he does it right; he likes to do it and people like him to do it."

Q: He does take some shots for it.  “He politicks too much.” Or, “He’s a whiner.”

A: "Let’s go back to the beginning, and that’s that the BCS is a flawed system. We have a situation where anything a coach says is considered politicking. 

"It’s just a shame that we’ve got to do that, but that’s the world we live in and we’ve chosen that world."

Q: Will it ever change? When is that playoff coming?

A: "It might be in your lifetime, but I don’t think it’ll be in mine."


The Forde Yard Dash perspective
ESPN.com's Pat Forde, in his weekly "Forde Yard Dash" feature, gives out end-of-season awards in college football. Here are some of the Big 12-oriented comments:

Player of the Year: Colt McCoy, Texas. It's close between McCoy and a quartet of other quarterbacks - Sam Bradford of Oklahoma, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, Tim Tebow of Florida and Nate Davis of Ball State. But none of the others carried the load McCoy did, leading the Longhorns in rushing, throwing for 3,445 yards and accounting for 42 touchdowns running and passing - as The Dash has been saying all season, he's out-Tebowed Tebow. And his skill-position supporting cast isn't as good as Bradford's. (The Dash will hold the Heisman Trophy ballot until next week, just in case something spectacular transpires over the weekend.)

Game of the Year: Texas Tech 39, Texas 33. Had it all: plot twists, an improbable comeback and then a jump-out-of-your-seat ending. Follow it up with a field storming and that's hard to beat.

Best Coaching Wisdom: When Texas Tech's bizarre buccaneer, Mike Leach, doled out first-date advice to a Tech student on his TV show. It's a more interesting sport when Leach's team is in the national conversation all season.

Best Crowd: Oklahoma's at home against Texas Tech. Bob Stoops challenged his entitled fan base to get feral when the undefeated Red Raiders came to Norman. They responded like 80,000 rabid hyenas.

And here is Forde's end-of-season assessment of the Big 12.

Coach of the Year: Mike Leach, Texas Tech. After years of coming close, the Red Raiders finally broke through into serious national contender status and won a share of the toughest division in college football.

Player of the Year: Colt McCoy, Texas.

Freshman of the Year: Robert Griffin, Baylor. The confident, athletic, savvy quarterback ranks in the top 30 nationally in total offense and pass efficiency. In a league overrun with quality QBs, Griffin refused to take a backseat.

Disappointment of the Year: Missouri. Nine wins has never before been a letdown at Mizzou, but the expectations were for something greater. This team was never good enough defensively, and the loss to a mediocre Kansas team cemented the letdown - but an upset of Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, however unlikely, could change everything.

Game of the Year: Texas Tech 39, Texas 33. And the second-best game was the one that no longer counts: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35.

Bragging Point: Six offenses among the top 11 in the nation.

Don't Mention: Zero defenses among the top 49 in the nation.

Dash Moment of the Year: Now-fired Kansas State coach Ron Prince making his team run wind sprints as soon as they got off the team bus after coming back from the Louisville game. The Wildcats ran 38 wind sprints - one for every point they allowed. That worked - K-State lost six of nine after that grandstand play.

Trend Indicator: Oklahoma up. Texas Tech up. Texas up. Oklahoma State up. Texas A&M down. Baylor neutral. Missouri down. Nebraska up. Kansas down. Kansas State down. Colorado down. Iowa State down.

Monday, Dec. 1

The forecast
From weather.com, here is Saturday's weather forecast for Kansas City, the site of Saturday's Dr Pepper Football Championship game: High of 53 degrees with a low of 32, partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of precipitation.

Here's the weather history at kickoff for past games played at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium:

 

Year  Temp.  Conditions 
 2000  37  Clear
 2003  39  Clear
 2004  54   Fair
 2006  28  Fair