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August 2008

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.

Sunday, Aug. 31

The opinion makers
Here are links to columnists' reports on Saturday's games from around the Big 12:
Tom Shatel of the Omaha World Herald says that Nebraska's opening entrance provided chills while the Huskers provided thrills.
Richard Croome of the Eagle says that Texas A&M's season-opening loss in Mike Sherman's first game was a significant setback.
Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star says Missouri fans should be concerned about the Tigers' defense.
Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman says that the Longhorns' young secondary showed promise in the season opener.
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman wrote that the Oklahoma game with Tennessee-Chattanooga should have ended at halftime after a weather delay of over an hour.

The national view
Saturday's Missouri-Illinois game in St. Louis brought out several national writers to cover the biggest game of the opening weekend. Here are tastes of and links to their stories:
Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports.com: They haven't done anything yet. That's not your average sportswriter waxing objective about his journalism school's football team. That was Missouri's own coach for much of the offseason. Apparently, a school-record 12 victories and a Cotton Bowl victory followed by the highest preseason ranking in school history were enough to impress everyone else except the guy who drew it all up. In other news, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thinks gas is cheap, Tiger Woods is faking it and Dr. Phil hands out sound, rational advice.
Pat Forde, ESPN.com: The football world is officially and completely off its axis when the Missouri Tigers beat a ranked opponent and major rival by 10 points - yet are mad afterward. That's what happened here Saturday night. After America's most entertaining team outdazzled Illinois in a 52-42 track meet, coach Gary Pinkel went into his locker room and was greeted with widespread disappointment.
Tom Dienhart, Rivals.com: Good grief, Missouri is going to be difficult to be beat. It's true: College football's Charlie Brown is fighting back. And the Tigers just may go unbeaten. No, Missouri's 52-42 victory over Illinois didn't earn the Tigers anything tangible, save for some bogus "Arch Rivalry" trophy handed over by an insurance guy whose company sponsored the event. ... But this night was all about the Tigers, a season-opening salvo that was the proverbial first step for Missouri in a season that could end up in the BCS Championship Game.
Stewart Mandel, SI.com: ... An Illinois touchdown on the game's final play made it 52-42. So why, then, was the victorious Tigers' locker room littered with disappointed players afterward? "It just comes from the expectation level around here," said Missouri QB Chase Daniel. "We feel we should have and could have played better than we did."

Saturday, Aug. 30

Missouri 45, Illinois 35
Well, after saying the Tigers had put this one in the freezer, Illinois has thawed out. The Juice is flowing. Quarterback Juice Williams, who is 20-of-29 for 336 yards and four TDs, has led the Illini to 15 consecutive points to pull his team to within 10 points with 12:21 to play.

Oklahoma wins, 57-2
The Sooners built a 50-0 halftime lead then waited out a weather delay of nearly 90 minutes before finishing an easy season-opening victory over Division I-AA Chattanooga. Oklahoma quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Joey Halzle combined to complete 31 of 38 passes for 306 yards and three TDs. Sophomore running back DeMarco Murray had 124 yards and two TDs on 15 carries.

Missouri 45, Illinois 20
The Tigers scored two touchdowns in less than two minutes to put this one in the deep freeze. After the Illini pulled to within 31-20 with 9:33 remaining in the third quarter, Missouri answered with a 67-yard scoring drive. Chase Daniel found Tommy Saunders for a four-yard scoring pass to make it 38-20 with 4:41 remaining. The Illinois answered with a three-and-out. Jeremy Maclin, who earlier had a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD, returned the punt 46 yards to the Illinois 21. On the next play, Daniel found Saunders open at the goal line. That made it 45-20 with 2:50 remaining.

Texas Tech 49, Eastern Washington 24
The Red Raiders' offense had little trouble moving the ball against Eastern Washington but Texas Tech's defense might be on the spot afer giving up 341 passing yards. Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was 43-of-58 for 536 yards with two TDs. He also scored on a run. Three Red Raiders receivers had nine catches - Eric Morris for 164 yards, Detron Lewis for 163 and Michael Crabtree for 73 yards.

Texas 52, Florida Atlantic 10
Junior quarterback Colt McCoy had quite a season opener. He finished 24-of-29 for 221 yards and three TDs. He also finished as the Longhorns' leading rusher, gaining 103 yards on 12 carries and scoring once. Texas had seven different players carry the ball and the Longhorns totaled 234 yards on the ground. Texas' defense held the Owls to 292 total yards and just 36 yards rushing.

Nebraska 47, Western Michigan 24
Bo Pelini was the only first-year Big 12 coach to debut with a victory. The Huskers' defense allowed 342 yards passing (maybe the Black Shirts will stay in the closet for awhile) but the offense more than compensated. Quarterback Joe Ganz was 20-of-36 for 345 yards, four TDs and two interceptions. Receiver Nate Swift had five catches for 121 yards and two TDs. Nebraska finished with 483 yards in total offense.

Oklahoma game restarts
The severe weather and lightning have moved on. Bad news for Chattanooga. After a delay turned halftime into a break of over one hour and 20 minutes, the game has been resumed. Oklahoma leads 50-2 early in the third quarter.

Kansas 40, Florida International 10
The Jayhawks started with a victory but there will be questions about the running game. Kansas finished with just 71 yards on the ground against a team that has lost 24 of its last 25 games. Quarterback Todd Reesing completed 29-of-38 for 197 yards and three touchowns to spark the Kansas offense.

Missouri 31, Illinois 13 at the half
The Tigers might have put this one away with an impressive drive just before intermission. Missouri went 87 yards in 10 plays and 2:26 in clock time. Chase Daniel's 18-yard completion to Chase Coffman converted a third down to get the drive going. That same combo closed it out as Daniel lobbed a perfect pass to Coffman into the endzone. That 17-yard strike gave the Tigers an 18-point lead. Jimmy Jackson had a 26-yard run on a third and 10 and Daniel ran for 13 on third and one during the scoring drive.

Kansas State 45, North Texas 6
The Wildcats had little trouble dispatching the Mean Green, who started last season with a 79-10 loss at Oklahoma. Kansas State had 471 yards in total offense while holding North Texas to just 205 yards. Quarterback Josh Freeman was an efficient 18-of-24 for 232 yards and three touchdowns for the Wildcats.

Missouri 24, Illinois 13
More big plays for the Tigers. Chase Daniel connected with Jared Perry (three receptions for 69 yards) on a 38-yard pass to the Illinois 40. On the next play, a zone read, Daniel handed to sophomore Derrick Washington. He busted up the middle, stepped through a tackle at the 20 and scored with 5:52 remaining before halftime.

Missouri 17, Illinois 13
When you're blogging from a sports event, as soon as you post something that seems to be news, it's old before it goes flying through the Internet.
After Illinois took the lead on Derek Walker's 34-yard interception return, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin countered with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Maclin burst through a hole at about the 25 and was untouched. Matt Eller, a redshirt freshman who kicked off, was the last player with a chance to stop Maclin. It was no chance as the Tigers' sophomore easily swerved past him.

Illinois 13, Missouri 10
Defensive end Derek Walker intercepted a Chase Daniel pass _ it was a short flip on an inside screen looking for Jeremy Maclin _ and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown. That gives the Illini a 13-10 lead with 9:25 remaining before halftime.

Oklahoma game delayed by lightning
This from the Oklahoman: Halftime has been extended by 20 minutes at the Oklahoma vs. Chattanooga game because of lightning. Several of the lights have also gone out at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Officials are awaiting to see how the weather develops before restarting the game. The Sooners lead Chattanooga, 50-0.

Missouri 10, Illnois 6
The Tigers lead the Illini 10-6 with 14:16 remaining in the second quarter. Missouri scored on its first drive when sophomore Derrick Washington ran it in from the seven. The Tigers had a chance to tack on another score but receiver Tommy Saunders lost a fumble after making a catch.
After Missouri failed on a fourth-and-four from the Illinois 36, the Illini scored in four plays. Quarterack Juice Williams found Aurrelious Benn on a turn in for 26 yards and on the next play tossed a 31-yard scoring strike to Will Judson. The extra point was blocked.
Jeff Wolfert's 51-yard field goal gave Missouri a cushion. Quarterback Chase Daniel hit tight end Chase Coffman for a 23-yard gain on the drive which was kept alive by a roughing the passer penalty against Illinois' Doug Pilcher.

Halftime numbers
Checking the halftime stat sheets from around the Big 12.
Texas A&M: Quarterback Stephen McGee 8-of-13 for 76 yards. Running back Mike Goodson, 13 carries for 89 yards and two TDs.
Oklahoma: The Sooners lead Tennessee-Chattanooga 50-0. OU has 347 yards total offense, the Mocs have 10.
Kansas: Quarterback Todd Reesing 22-of-29 for 163 yards and two TDs.
Kansas State: Quarterback Josh Freeman 14-of-18 for 189 yards and three TDs. Receiver Brandon Banks three catches for 88 yards and two TDs.
Nebraska: Quarterback Joe Ganz 16-of-23 for 230 yards and three TDs. Receiver Nate Swift four catches for 91 yards and two TDs.
Texas: Quarterback Colt McCoy 18-of-19 for 161 yards and two TDs, four rushing attempts for 40 yards.
Texas Tech: Quarterback Graham Harrell, 23-of-33 for 237 yards, one TD, one interception. Receiver Michael Crabtree six catches for 47 yards and one TD.

Second quarter score updates
It's the second quarter in the 6 p.m. starts. Big 12 teams are rolling offensively and dominating defensively. The scores:
Nebraska 17, Western Michigan 0
Oklahoma 27, Tennessee-Chattanooga 0
Texas 14, Florida Atlantic 0
Texas Tech 20, Eastern Washington 0
Texas A&M 7, Arkansas State 3
Kansas State 21, North Texas 0
Kansas 17, Florida International 0

Score update: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys countered Washington State's TD with a 90-yard kickoff return by junior Perrish Cox. He took it to the house untouched to give Oklahoma State a 25-6 lead. The Cougars were thinking come back but the TD return delayed those thoughts.

Score update: Oklahoma State
After missing another opportunity in the red zone and kicking a field goal to take an 18-0 lead, the Cowboys' defense started missing tackles and Washington State's run game sparked a scoring drive to make it 18-6 (the extra point was missed) with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Briles says Griffin will start
Baylor coach Art Briles said that freshman Robert Griffin will start at quarterback when the Bears play host to Northwestern State Saturday.
“Right now, Robert’s our starter,” Briles told the Waco Tribune Herald on Friday. “He just gives us a few more options. His poise at quarterback is a given because he’s played the position all his life and is comfortable with it and handles it well.”
Griffin came off the bench to replace starter Kirby Freeman and provided a spark. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 125 yards and led Baylor to its two touchdowns in its season-opening 41-13 loss to Wake Forest.
Briles said that depending on situations, Freeman and junior Blake Szymanski (last year's starter) will play.

Score update: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have a 15-0 lead at halftime against Washington State at Qwest Field in Seattle. Oklahoma State Mike Gundy's offense totaled 225 yards in the first half but the Cowboys only punched in one touchdown. The defense has been impressive. Washington State has 52 yards in total offense, is 0-for-6 on third downs. The Cowboys also recorded a safety.

Friday, Aug. 29

Colorado will host Colorado State in 2009
The Colorado-Colorado State rivalry game will be played at Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium Sunday. Next year, the neutral site contest will become a home game for the Buffaloes.
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn announced Friday that the school would exercise an option in the game contract and stage next year's game at Folsom Field.
“We will continue a dialogue with our colleagues at CSU on the future of this great series beyond 2010,'' Bohn said in a statement. "It is very important that we host a sixth home game next year to live up to our commitment to our fans, and to remain consistent with the standards of our Big 12 Conference.”
Most teams in BCS conferences aim for seven home games because of the revenue they produce. If Colorado played Colorado State in Denver next season, the Buffs would have just five home games at Folsom Field in 2009.
The contract between the two schools says that Colorado State, the home team in 2010, can play the game either in Denver or Fort Collins. The contract calls that Colorado pick the site of the 2009 game before this season's game was played.

One step over the line
Nice little item from John Bridges of the Austin American-Statesman:
With two fiery defensive coaches on his staff, Texas coach Mack Brown said he's not sure how he's going to keep Will Muschamp and Duane Akina from violating the NCAA's new sideline rules.
This season, teams will no longer be given warnings by the sideline referees. Teams that crowd the field or spill out onto the playing surface will incur five-yard penalties; a third violation will bring a 15-yard penalty.
It's been called the "Chris Jessee rule" after Brown's stepson, who infamously touched a live ball during last year's Holiday Bowl. Jessee was on Brown's staff at the time but has since moved on.
"I talked to Chris this morning," Brown said Thursday, "and he said, 'Is everybody happy I'm gone? ... He did wish us good luck and said to tell everyone to stay back."

Linking up
Fans were leaving Iowa State's opener in the third quarter. But it wasn't because they were unhappy with the Cyclones.
Kansas senior linebacker Mike Rivera has fondness for the variety of nicknames he has collected during his career.
Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune describes how Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel and his teammates handle the glare of the spotlight.
Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World recounts the comeback of Oklahoma State receiver Artrell Woods, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a weight room accident in the summer of 2007 and missed all of last season.
The speculation in this report is that sophomore receiver Michael Crabtree was the "unidentified" Texas Tech player cleared by the NCAA of a possible rules violation.
No need to play the season. Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls offers his predictions for the Longhorns' season, from total victories to how Colt McCoy's passing stats.
Andrew DeWitt of the Columbia Missourian checks in with Missouri's Derrick Washington, the running back who should get the bulk of carries replacing Tony Temple, last season's leading rusher.

Thursday, Aug. 28

Wake Forest 41, Baylor 13, late in the fourth
Baylor fans got a glimpse of the future as freshman quarterback Robert Griffin scored the first of what should be many touchdowns. His scamper out of the shotgun made it 34-13. But Baylor muffed a punt - an addition to the litany of errors in the second half - and Wake Forest converted a short scoring drive to make it 41-13 with 4:38 remaining.

Iowa State 44, South Dakota State 17
The Cyclones started 2008 on the right foot with a dominating victory over the Division I-AA Jackrabbits.
Sophomore quarterbacks Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates combined for 13 of 19 passes for 158 yards. They each had a touchdown pass. Iowa State finished with 230 yards rushing. The Cyclones' defense had five interceptions. Last season they had 10 interceptions for the season.

Wake Forest 27, Baylor 6 in the third
Baylor caught Fumble-itis after halftime. Wake Forest fumbled on its first play from scirmmage and the Bears recovered at the Deacons' 32. Trailing 20-6, the turnover could have fueled a rally if Baylor had turned it into points. But after converting a third down and moving to the Wake Forest 18, freshman Robert Griffin and running back Jay Finley botched a hand off. Wake Forest recovered.
The Deacons moved to a 21-point lead after Griffin fumbled in the shadow of his goal line. Wake Forest recovered at the Bears' 11 and scored to make it 27-6 with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter.

At the half: Wake Forest 20, Baylor 6
The 23rd-ranked Demon Deacons were efficient in scoring 10 points in each quarter. Quarterback Riley Skinner completed 17 of his first 19 passes and finished the first half 18 of 24 for 129 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears failed to make several big plays. Freshman quarterback Robert Griffin made his debut in the second quarter with Baylor trailing 17-0. He sparked the Bears' only scoring drive with a 22-yard gain in which he tight-roped down the sideline. On the next play, Jacoby Jones scored on a 12-yard burst up the middle. Freshman kicker Ben Parks was wide right with the extra point.

In the third: Iowa State 20, South Dakota State 3
The Cyclones got touchdown drives from each of its sophomore quarterbacks (Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates) to take a 20-0 halftime lead over Division I-AA South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits scored their only points on a third-quarter field goal.

Freeman starts
Wake Forest won the toss and deferred. That meant Baylor received.
And the Bears quarterback to take the first snap of the Art Briles Era was Kirby Freeman. He completed a two-yard pass to David Gettis on the first play.
Freeman, a fifth-year senior, transferred from Miami (Fla.) and was eligible to play this season. On third and eight, Freeman's deep pass for Gettis fell incomplete.

Toe meets leather ...
In about five minutes, the college football season gets underway in Big 12 Country. South Dakota State is at Iowa State and No. 23 Wake Forest is at Baylor. Yours truly is in Waco. We'll soon report on who takes the first snap at quarterback for the Bears.
Early note: A few thousand Baylor students, all in yellow shirts, streamed in from one end of the stadium onto the field and formed a human tunnel for the Bears to take the field. In this case, a late arriving crowd was a good thing.

Projecting the Heisman
Heismanpundit.com, a web site devoted to tracking all things Heisman Trophy, is conducting a weekly poll along with the Orlando Sentinel. The web site, owned by former USC sports information staffer Chris Huston, is polling 10 Heisman voters each week. They vote for their top five Heisman favorites. A first-place vote is worth five points, second place four, etc.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, last year's winner as a sophomore, finished first in a pre-season vote. He earned five first-place votes and 40 points. Ohio State junior running back Chris Wells finished second with 36 points and four first-place votes.
Missouri's Chase Daniel finished third and earned one first-place vote. Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree was sixth while Graham Harrell, his quarterback and teammate, was seventh. Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford was ninth.

Projecting the bowls
ESPN.com's Mark Schalbach's Big 12 bowl projections: Fiesta, Missouri vs. BYU; Sugar, Florida vs. Oklahoma; Cotton, Texas vs. LSU; Insight, Texas A&M vs. Michigan State; Holiday, Texas Tech vs. Arizona State; Texas, Nebraska vs. Southern Miss; Alamo, Michigan vs. Kansas; Independence, Kentucky vs. Oklahoma State.
ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman's Big 12 bowl projections: BCS title game, Missouri vs. USC; Orange, Oklahoma vs. Clemson; Cotton, Texas Tech vs. Georgia; Insight, Nebraska vs. Michigan; Holiday, Texas Tech vs. Cal; Texas, Kansas vs. East Carolina; Alamo, Oklahoma State vs. Michigan State; Independence, Mississippi State vs. Kansas State.
Rivals.com's Big 12 bowl projections: Fiesta, Oklahoma vs. Wisconsin; Sugar, Missouri vs. Florida; Cotton, Texas Tech vs. Tennessee; Insight, Nebraska vs. Michigan State; Sun, Colorado vs. California; Texas, Kansas State vs. UT-El Paso; Holiday, Kansas vs. Oregon; Alamo, Michigan vs. Texas; Independence, Oklahoma State vs. Kentucky.

Tuesday, Aug. 26

Prayers and best wishes
Wayman Tisdale, a Tulsa native who became a three-time All-American at Oklahoma, had the lower part of his right leg amputated Monday. He was diagnosed with cancer in the leg in February of 2007. The amputation is expected to remove the threat of the disease spreading. Click here for the story in the Oklahoman.

Football notes and quotes
Opening variety

Season openers come in all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of difficulty.
Oklahoma and Missouri are favored to win the Big 12's South and North Divisions. The Sooners open the season Saturday against Tennessee-Chattanooga, a Division I-AA team that was 2-9 last season. The Tigers open Saturday against Illinois _ a team that went 9-4 last season and played in the Rose Bowl.
The coaches of the Sooners and the Tigers are looking for the same things in Game One, regardless of the level of competition.
"I want to see us be a solid team, play good, clean football," Oklahoma's Bob Stoops said. "I want to see us play hard, be physical, take care of the football. I know what to expect for the most part. I want to see how we react. You're always a little uneasy about what your team's personality is. You have to see it during a game."
"You want to play a good, solid game," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "No turnovers, few penalties. As coach, you always have that's the kind of game you have in the back of your mind.
"(Saturday) is a great, great bowl-game type of atmosphere against one of our rivals. We've got to be good fast. There are no warmups. We're playing a high-level team early."
After capping last season's 10-2 season by smacking Arknasas in the Cotton Bowl, Missouri started prepping for this season. The 2008 schedule was discussed at team meetings in February and the schedule is posted in the locker room, the weight room, the meetings rooms.
"We want the players to know exactly what we're working for," Pinkel said.
Coaching staffs and players have been training, practicing since the end of last season. With the start of pre-season practice, the excitement and anticipation of starting a new season builds.
"I haven't slept the last three or four nights. I'm very anxious," said second-year Iowa State coach Gene Chizik, whose team opens against Division I-AA South Dakota State. "A year ago at this time, I didn't know my team, the players, didn't know how they'd respond. I have a lot better knoweldge and grip on my team. I want to see who are team has become in the last year. I hope we're a better team than last year."
A head coach can't get too excited. Even one who is making his debut.
"Honestly, I'm not really approaching this game differently than any in the past,'' said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, whose team plays host to Western Michigan. "I have a job to do and all I'm concentrating on now is the preparation. My level of excitement really isn't any different than it was last year.
"It'll be a fun time, but at the same time I've got to keep my emotions in check, as does the team."

Short yardage
Fans who want to attend Thursday night's Wake Forest-Baylor game in Waco can get a half-price deal on tickets - $20 instead of $40. “We want to fill the stands for this televised game and show our support for the new seasons,” said Steve Smith, senior vice president of sports and special events for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce.
Kansas spent about $35 million for a new football practice complex on campus. The problem is that the two new practice fields are visible from public property. The bottom line: Using the fields meant that Jayhawks coach Mark Mangino couldn't conduct practices in privacy. The solution? At the cost of $90,000 Kansas will plant 100 pine trees, ranging in height from 10 to 20 feet, to inhibit prying eyes.
Freshman Ben Parks will be Baylor's kicker when the Bears open the season Thursday against Wake Forest. An all-state kicker at Argyle (Texas) High School, Parks made 11 of 17 field goals as a senior.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has decided to take over offensive play calling this season. Gundy called the shots in the Cowboys' Insight Bowl victory after offensive coordinator Larry Fedora left to become the head coach at Southern Miss. Gundy was Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator before moving up to head coach.
Texas' motto this season is "Consistently good to be great." Those words are inscribed on orange wrist bands worn by the players and coaches. Last season's motto was "Take dead aim."

They said it
"I think it's definitely the best it's been, top to bottom. Oklahoma has been consistent. We've been consistent. A lot of the other guys have gone up and down. Right now, in this league, you better play (well) every week.”
- Texas coach Mack Brown on the strength of the Big 12 this season.
"Guys on the team look to the seniors as role models and for a lot of leadership. We just didn't have that in the way we needed it last year. This year, we have a strong backbone to the team. We have a sense that if you're not rowing with us, you need to get out of the boat. And if you're unable to row, we'll pull you along with us."
- Kansas State junior quarterback Josh Freeman on this year's leadership.
“I definitely don’t want to make Sports Center for that. We can’t let that happen.”
- Texas Tech safety Darcel McBath referring to his team's season opener and last season's Appalachian State upset of Michigan.

Monday, Aug. 25

The coaches' chit chat
Notes, quotes and nuggets from Monday's Big 12 football coaches teleconference with the season starting later this week:
BAYLOR: Coach Art Briles says he's not being coy about his quarterback decision. When is he going to name a starter? "Oh, you know, we might have already," he said. "As far as announcing it, I don't know if we're ready to do that." With three quarterbacks in the mix to start and play, it makes sense to keep Wake Forest _ Thursday night's opponent in the season opner _ in the dark. ... Briles likes playing two days before the opening Saturday of the season. "It gives a chance to showcase Baylor,'' he said. "From that stand point, it's valuable to our program and beginning this journey we're on. We wouldn't be on national TV if we weren't playing a team like Wake Forest."
COLORADO: Anytime coach Dan Hawkins does an interview, he gets asked about freshman running back Darrell Scott. Instead of Scott, Demetrius Sumler will be the starter when the Buffs face Colorado State Sunday night. "Darrell's in the mix and we've got about four or five running backs," Hawkins said. "He's trying to soak it all in, understand the offense. He's doing a nice job fitting in." ... The 6-2 Scott has lost 17 pounds since arriving in Boulder and weighs 210. He might be down to 205 pounds for most of the season.
IOWA STATE: Sophomore Austen Arnaud was named the starter for the season opener. Fellow sophomore Phillip Bates is the backup but both are expected to play. "We have a plan for the game but things change as the game goes on," coach Gene Chizik said. "We're prepared to make adjustments as we go. Both know they're going to play. The coaches feel and the team feels like we've got two starters." ... The Cyclones start Year Two of the Chizik Era by playing host to Division I-AA South Dakota State. ... Chizik said that Iowa State will play from six to nine freshmen or redshirt freshmen.
KANSAS: Coming off a 12-1 season, Kansas coach Mark Mangino said that the Jayhawks have confidence but that last year is last year. "We've always played with a lot of confidence here," Mangino said. ... Mangino is confident that his team has enough running backs to get through the season. Three left the team during preseason practices. "It's quality, not quantity," he said. "We feel very good about our running backs."
KANSAS STATE: Coach Ron Prince says that junior quarterback Josh Freeman is the Wildcats' most improved offensive player. Kansas State hired quarterbacks coach Warren Ruggiero in the off-season and Freeman has benefitted from the more personal attention and coaching he's receiving. "We all know it's result oriented," Prince said. "Quarterbacks are judged by how many pelts they bring home." ... Running back Keithen Valentine, a product of Mississippi Delta Community College, will start at running back. "We could see in the spring that he could run in a way that's pretty fluid and elusive," Prince said of the 5-8, 197-pounder. "I didn't know he was capable of power running and I hadn't seen that like I have in training camp. Keithen ran with toughness and power and extra yards at the end of runs. And because of that, we were very impressed."
MISSOURI: Coach Gary Pinkel said he's never had a player with the game-changing ability of sophomore receiver/returner Jeremy Maclin. "Time will tell if can take it to another level and thtat would involve being consistent and doing it game after game after game,'' Pinkel said. ... Two players projected as starters are still recovering from ACL knee surgery. Linebacker Van Alexander is doubtful for the season opener against Illinois. Wide receiver Danario Alexander is definitely out for Illinois. It hasn't been decided if he will sit out this season as a redshirt.
NEBRASKA: Coach Bo Pelini is excited about how the team's secondary has performed. "I think they've come a long way," he said. "We were new together, obviously, and introduced a lot of new concepts to them as far as what they were exposed to. But they've come along. I think we're a better secondary than when we started, and they're getting a better understanding of what we're asking. We'll find out on Saturday night how far along we've come." ... Nebraska opens the season against Western Michigan. Last season, Ball State, another Mid-American Conference team, nearly won in Lincoln. "It'll be a good challenge," Pelini said. "They're a good football team that's kind of on the rise."
OKLAHOMA: Sooners coach Bob Stoops said that linebacker Austin Box is doubtful for the season opener against Chattanooga but should be ready for the Cincinnati game on Sept. 6. Defensive end Auston English has recovered from his appendectomy and has looked "fantastic" in practices, according to the OU coach. ... Nose tackle DeMarcus Granger has looked strong at recent practices, according to the OU coach. "He had minor spasm with his back early, but he's made a really good improvement and has looked good," Stoops said.
OKLAHOMA STATE: The Cowboys open the season in Seattle playing Washington State. "It's a challenge for us," coach Mike Gundy said. "We've made an effort to play one non-conference game every year that would attract attention. Some schools bring in a team and it's like a dress rehearsal scrimmage. Most coaches could prefer it to be that way.'' ... Washington State is under first-year coach Paul Wulff, who last year coached at Eastern Washington. "We don't have any idea what they're gonna do," Gundy said. "The only thing we can do is be prepared to execute our offense and our defense.''
TEXAS: Coach Mack Brown released his depth chart for Saturday's opener with Florida Atlantic. At running back and wide receiver, it's still muddled. Sophomore Vondrell McGree and senior Chris Ogbonnaya are listed as starters with the word "or." Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson are listed as "or" as the backup running back. Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley are the starters at receiver with Malcolm Williams and Brandon Collins listed as "or" at the backups. ... Howard Schnellenberger, the coach of Texas' season opening opponent Florida Atlantic, has provided the Longhorns with bulletin board material. Brown won't take the bait. "We're not concerned about what others say," he said. "We've learned is that it doesn't matter after kickoff. Howard will do anything he can to stir up his team. He's the master."
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies held a water balloon fight last week. "We had had a long, grueling camp,'' coach Mike Sherman said. "When you can relax and have fun together, it's great for team chemistry." The head coach was supposed to be off limits but a couple of the players fired away anyway. Sherman said one was a near miss and the other was a hit that didn't explode. "Those two guys are transferring as we speak," Sherman joked. ... Fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who suffered a stinger and head injury Aug. 13, hasn't returned to contact drills. He could miss the season opener against Arkansas State. "He'll do some conditioning today, and we'll play it by ear," Sherman said. "He hasn't been cleared to do a whole lot, so I have some concern there."
TEXAS TECH: Cornerback L.A. Reed was carried off the field last week with ice on his knee and ankle. Coach Mike Leach was asked if Reed would be ready to play in the season opener. "Interesting thing ... since the rule that we aren't allowed to comment on injuries, the most amazing thing is we haven't any injuries," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "To the best of my knowledge, L.A. is full speed and will play like gang busters." ... Eastern Washington, Texas Tech's season-opening opponent, is ranked No. 7 in Division I-AA. After Appalachian State's victory at Michigan last season, Leach said it's not difficult for his players to be on alert. "It's what we've always beleived," Leach said. "Respect everyone and fear no one. We know every team on our schedule can beat us and we can beat every team on our schedule."

Links to the write stuff
Catching up with Javan Snead, who started his career at Texas but transferred to Ole Miss. He'll be the Rebels' starting quarterback this season.
Another former Big 12 quarterback who changed schools will be a starter. Allan Evridge, a fifth-year senior who started his career at Kansas State before transferring to Wisconsin, will start at quarterback when the Badgers open the season against Akron.
Missouri's Jeremy Maclin just turned 20 so he's not exactly an expert on Mizzou's football history. But the sophomore receiver/returner has the chance to become on of the Tigers' greatest players.
Missouri sports information director Chad Moller says he has something special planned to promote quarterback Chase Daniel for the Hesiman Trophy. The secret should be revealed later this week.
A look at the "Arch Rivalry," the series between Missouri and Illinois that will be played Saturday night in St. Louis. As rivalries go, this one is just starting to boil.
The three quarterbacks competing to become Baylor's starter in Thursday's season opener discuss how the race is being run. (Easy registration required.)


Writers' block
The Omaha World-Herald's Lee Barfknecht does a fine job writing about Ed Stewart, the Big 12's assistant commissioner for football and student services. Cornhuskers fans remember Stewart as a 1994 consensus All-American on Nebraska's national championship team.
Tom Shatel, Barfknecht's co-worker at the Omaha paper, offers his predictions for the upcoming season.
Boulder Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk says to expect the unexpected in the Big 12 this season.
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes that the Big 12 is gaining ground on the Southeastern Conference.

Sunday, Aug. 24

Observations from the Skywriters Tour
A dozen schools and as many practices in 16 days proved to be an eye-opening and exhausting experience. Here's a collection of sights and sounds from The Big
12 Conference Skywriters Tour.

Tick tock
Practices are organized to the minute. Dozens of student managers keep the coaches and players on task and on time. At Texas A&M, a whistle sounded for a one-minute warning followed by an announcement made on a bullhorn of the next drill. A minute later, an airhorn sounded followed by a repeat of the bullhorn directions. At Colorado, a basketball-like scoreboard counts down the minutes and seconds for each practice segment. A loud buzzer sounds when it's time to change.

Call security: Missouri and Texas Tech have open practices. Anyone can walk in and watch.
In Lubbock one night, about 500 people showed up to watch practice. The coaches had to bump and run just to move around and coach.
Access to practices at other schools is closed down so tight it would be easier to get into the Oval Office.

Listen up
Here are some of the things you hear (mostly with the volume up around 10):
"Hold 'em ... hold 'em ... great zone."
"Thirty, thirty, thirty. Here we go. Thirty."
"I'm not gonna tell you again."
"We're not driving on the ball. Drive on the ball."
"That's a nice job on the coverage. Who's got the check down?"
"There ya go, there ya go."
"C'mon, intercept that ball."
"You gotta pop that tight end."
"Game reps. Game reps. Not practice reps."
"C'mon Nate, make a play."
"Don't sink more than 10."
"Third down; get off the field, 'D.'"
"Reroute him inside out. Don't let him get in there."
"I got three two ... I got three two."
"34 Falcon Sting 99."
"Cowboys, Cowboys."
"Dammit. C'mon, Scotty, make a damn play."

Music men
Music sometimes blares from speakers as the players' stretch and warm up. But it appears that the coaches are making the play lists.
At Oklahoma, "Louie, Louie" "Sweet Home Alabama" and "I'm A Believer" could be heard. At Colorado, "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix was one of the selections.

Slice the loaf
In the defensive meeting room at Oklahoma, there's a sign that asks the quesstion, "What is a loaf?" It doesn't refer to bread. Here are the answers:
Change of speed.
Not turning and going to the ball.
Getting passed up by a teammate.
Laying on the ground ... get up.
Turning down a hit.

Shirting the issue
Missouri coaches are walking billboards of inspiration. They wear the words on their t-shirts.
Winning Attitude.
No Excuses.
Play Tough And Physical.
It's All About The Ball.
Win The Kicking Game. Great Special Forces.

Ranking writings
Gannett columnist Mike Lopresti compiled his preseason BDS rankings _ as teams that Better Do Something. Oklahoma checked in at No. 6. Lopresti wrote: "Bob Stoops owns a fine record, but the Sooners have lost four of their last five bowls. Norman is one of those places where each season they remember longest what you did last." Nebraska was in the "also receiving votes" category. Lopresti: "Bo Pelini need not perform acts of human levitation this first season. But in the name of Tom Osborne, don't give up 76 points to Kansas anymore."

Rivals.com ranked the top 25 head coaches in Division I-A. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops at No. 5 was the highest-ranked Big 12 coach. Texas' Mack Brown was No. 11,

Kansas' Mark Mangino No. 14, Missouri's Gary Pinkel 16 and Texas Tech's Mike Leach was No. 23. USC's Pete Carroll topped the list and the Southeastern Conference had seven coaches listed including five in the top 10.

Richard Cirminiello of Scout.com ranked all 119 Division I-A head coaches. Here's how the Big 12 coaches fared: No. 4, Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; No. 13, Mack Brown, Texas; No. 23, Mike Leach, Texas Tech; No. 24, Mark Mangino, Kansas; No. 30, Dan Hawkins, Colorado; No. 36, Gary Pinkel, Missouri; No. 57, Art Briles, Baylor; No. 62, Mike Sherman, Texas A&M; No. 64, Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State; No. 68, Bo Pelini, Nebraska; No. 77, Gene Chizik, Iowa State; No. 80, Ron Prince, Kansas State. Florida's Urban Meyer was No. 1 while Florida International's Mario Cristobal was No. 119.

Sunday reading
John Rohde of the Oklahoman writes how the stadium renovations at Oklahoma State place added pressure on Cowboys coach Mike Gundy and his staff.

Thayer Evans of the New York Times describes the relationship between new Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and athletic director Tom Osborne.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star explains how Kansas and Missouri have moved from mediocrity to contending for championships.

Did Kansas State coach Ron Prince gamble by signing so many junior-college players last February?

The Kansas City Star looks at the best and worst head coaching hirings/firings in the Big 12's dozen seasons.

Rivals.com ranks the top 25 offensive coordinators. An OC from the Big 12 is No. 1.

Saturday, Aug. 23

Cyclones choose Arnaud at QB
The battle to become Iowa State's starting quarterback has been won by Austen Arnaud, who was last year's backup.
A 6-3, 212-pound sophomore, Austen will start Thursday's season opener against South Dakota State. Phillip Bates, a 6-1, 215-pound sophomore will also see some action at quarterback.
“Some people will say that when you have two quarterbacks, you have none,” coach Gene Chizik told the Des Moines Register. “That’s not our case.”
Arnaud's experience was the determining factor in his battle with Bates. Last season as a freshman backup to four-year starter Bret Meyer, Arnaud completed 20-of-37 passes for 267 yards.
Bates played some as a receiver last season but he'll remain at quarterback.

Thursday, Aug. 21

Mini rant

No, not Mini Me. Mini rant.

OK, so the NCAA held a teleconference Wednesday to go over the rules changes for the upcoming season. It was an appropriate primer to get reporters up to date and educated about what will be different in college football.

The story filed out of Indianapolis by the Associated Press started with this sentence: "The NCAA banned the horse-collar tackle from college football."

OK, nothing innacurate. But stating it like that leads most readers to believe the NCAA met this week and decided to change the rules a week before the season starts.

The rule changes - including the horse collar tackle - for 2008 were approved and announced five months ago. It's not exactly "news." Plus, most in college football believe the change involving the play clock (a 40-second clock replacing the 25-second clock) could have a huge impact on this season's games.

The AP story, which was distributed to hundreds of newspapers and across the Internet, was misleading.

End of rant.

Quick clicks
Attention, Baylor fans. Read about up-and-coming Wake Forest, the Bears' opponent in the season opener.

Here's what former Texas football coach turned part-time journalist John Mackovic thinks about the upcoming season.

Former Nebraska defensive back Marvin Sanders is back with the Cornhuskers as the team's secondary coach. Overcoming several challenges during the last four seasons has given him a different perspective when dealing with his players.

Fullbacks will be utilized more in the Nebraska offense under new coach Bo Polini.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel is please with how the team's freshmen receivers have progressed.

Argh, matey; can ye catch?

Noted pirate fan Mike Leach might start sailing through the Carribean looking for wide receivers.

The Texas Tech coach was on Fox Sports Radio's GameTime Live on Wednesday. The topic of Olympic 100-meter and 200-meter champion Usain Bolt came up and Leach was asked how his offense might use that sort of sprinter speed.

"I got to be honest, I've been thinking about recruiting Jamaica since I saw that stuff," Leach said. "I've been to Jamaica and let me tell you something ... here's the extent that I've thought about that subject, there's approximately 2.8 million people in Jamaica, which is approximately the size of the state of Iowa or Kansas, or the city of Houston.

"It's almost like the country of Jamaica is sitting there saying, 'If you would have just told us that this was important we could have won a lot of this stuff a long time ago.'"

Is Leach joking? Is he serious? Only Leach knows for sure.

Breaking news

A news conference is scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium to announced that Kansas State and Iowa State will play in K.C. in 2009 and 2010.

The Kansas City Star reports that the games are scheduled in October both seasons but there's a chance one or both could be moved to the end of the regular season around Thanksgiving.

Check back for updates after the official announcement.

Wednesday, Aug. 20

Hot links

A five-point look at how and why Baylor could improve under first-year coach Art Briles.

Missouri's linebackers are comfortable with the Tigers' defensive scheme.

Texas A&M has had quarterbacks Stephen McGee (a senior who has been named the starter), Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill running pass routes in practice. Johnson also lined up at tight end.

Des Moines Register beat writer Andrew Logue breaks down Iowa State issues in his weekly chat with readers on his Cyclone Insider blog. The quarterback battle and the North Division race are among the topics.

Texas defensive back Deon Beasley said the Longhorns need to play with more passion this season. Passion was something lacking in 2007, according to Beasley.

Monday, Aug. 18

Big 12 fares well in Playboy
For those of us who just read the articles, there was some interesting Big 12 fodder in the current issue of Playboy. The men's magazine does an annual ranking of top teams and selects All-America teams. Really. I'm not kidding.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino was selected as the 2008 coach of the year. (Seems like that's a year late, but the magazine likes the Jayhawks' chances in 2008, also.)

Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 followed by Missouri (No. 4), Kansas (No. 10), Texas Tech (No. 11) and Texas (No. 13). Kansas State was a bit of a surprise, checking in at No. 22.

The Big 12 placed six players on the offensive and defensive units. Five of those were on offense - Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, Missouri wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Maclin and Oklahoma linemen Duke Robinson and Phil Loadholt. Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo was selected on the defensive side.

Your morning serving of links
Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman explains the high cost of luring non-conference opponents.

Missouri must replace two offensive linemen from last year's group. So far, the five-man unit has faced a lot of shuffling and changes.

Oklahoma State opens the season at Washington State. The Cowboys' coaching staff is having a difficult time preparing a game plan because the Cougars' have a new coaching staff. Oklahoma State is studying Eastern Washington from last season; that's where new Washington State coach Paul Wulff coached last season.

Iowa State's inablity to defend the spread offense was one of biggest reason the team finished 3-9.

The Oklahoman looks into the man behind the visor - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who is entering his 10th season in Norman.

Replacing Brandon McAnderson's leadership will be as difficult as replacing his production in Kansas' backfield.

Kansas State coach Ron Prince isn't shy about his team's mission in 2008: winning the Big 12 North Division.

Saturday, Aug. 16

Hot links, weekend edition
Kansas coach Mark Mangino says that redshirt freshman Jeff Spikes will be the starter at left tackle on the offensive line. He'll replace Anthony Collins, a finalist for the Outland Trophy last season. If Spikes is as talented at playing the offensive line as he says he is at playing the saxaphone, Jayhawks fans should have no worries.

One of the players that new tackle Jeff Spikes probably will be blocking for is junior-college transfer Jocques Crawford. Kansas needs to replace its top rusher (Brandon McAnderson) and Crawford is showing that he's more than capable.

Texas coach Mack Brown credits Ken Rucker with helping reduce off-field incidents. Rucker moved from running backs to the newly created position of high school relations and player development.

Say the word "elf" and football doesn't exactly spring to mind. But Texas Tech's Eric Morris, a 5-8, 169-pound wide receiver, is nicknamed Elf. In the Red Raiders' "Elf Formation," Morris lines up in the backfield, takes a direct snap and either hands off, runs or passes.

Quarterback Chase Daniel considered passing on his final season at Missouri but he declined to enter the NFL Draft because he believed the Tigers have unfinished business.

Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini, the brother of the Huskers' new head coach, has made rushing the passer a top priority.

Clip and save (after clicking, of course): Oklahoma junior tight end Jermaine Gresham told the Tulsa World that he'll be back for his senior year in Norman.

Baylor freshman Kendall Wright has been impressive as he makes the transition from high school quarterback to college wide receiver. “Kendall is a gifted player who is only going to get better,” Baylor coach Art Briles said.

Troy Appling lives in Norman, Okla. He does a spot on imitation of Sooners coach Bob Stoops. The imitator and the real thing attended the same event recently and the audience was fooled. (This link includes a link to a video showing Appling's imitation fo Stoops.)

Texas A&M's defense will count on sophomore tackle Lucas Patterson, a quiet sort who is finally starting to assert himself on the field.

Five from Big 12 in AP Top 25
The Associated Press top 25 preseason poll was announced Saturday. And here's a shocker - the media agrees with the coaches. Well, kinda, sorta.

Five Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 14 - Oklahoma at No. 4, Missouri at No. 6, Texas at No. 11, Texas Tech No. 12 and Kansas at No. 14.

Here's how the coaches' preseason poll ranked those five Big 12 teams: Oklahoma, 4; Missouri, 7; Texas, 10; Kansas, 13; Texas Tech, 14.

So, the media and the coaches agree the Big 12 has five of the best 14 teams. No other conference has that many teams ranked that high.

The AP poll is older than the coaches' poll, but it really doesn't mean anything. It's not part of the Bowl Championship Series rankings formula. Even so, it's better to be ranked than unranked, no matter the poll's importance.

Friday, Aug. 15

Click and read
Bruce Feldman does a nice job of profiling Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Feldman, who knows the game, explains how and why Crabtree is so productive.

Oklahoma's starting secondary is in flux, with players gaining starting spots and other shifting positions.

Trae Thompson, who replaced Yours Truly as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's national college football writer, lists Missouri wide receiver/returner Jeremy Maclin among his 10 "can't miss" players for the upcoming season.

If you would rather watch/listen than read, then here's a video interview of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy conducted by Big 12 beat writer Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle.

Colorado coach Dan "This Ain't Intramurals" Hawkins says that he won't change his team's practice routine despite the fact three players have been lost to knee injuries over the last 10 days.

Keithen Valentine walked on at Kansas State after a successful two-year career at a Mississippi junior-college. It appears he'll be the Wildcats' starting running back.

Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger has turned to Page One of the coach's playbook and claims he was misquoted. Earlier this week the student paper quoted Schnellenberger saying Texas' defense was "soft." FAU plays at Texas in the season opener.

Basketball buzz
Other than the Redeem Team's quest for gold, there isn't a lot of basketball talk at this time of the year. But if you're seeking a comprehensive off-season look at Big 12 men's hoops, check this out on ESPN.com.

Thursday, Aug. 14

McGee named Texas A&M's starter
The suspense is over in College Station. First-year Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman announced Thursday that senior Stephen McGee will be the starting quarterback in the Aggies' season opener against Arkansas State on Aug. 30.
McGee started the last two seasons in coach Dennis Franchione's option-heavy offense. Sherman is installing a pro-style offense.
McGee was battling sophomore Jerrod Johnson for the starting job. Sherman said that McGee had performed the best during the opening competition so far in training camp.

ESPN.com on the Big 12
National college football expert extraordinaire Ivan Maisel discusses and breaks down the Big 12's quarterback riches and also offers five predictions for the upcoming season. Tim Griffin, ESPN.com's Big 12 expert, writes about the disappearing running back and the rise of the Big 12 North.

Sad news
The original bowl business, when bowls got their teams through back slapping and deal making, was epitomized by the Cotton Bowl's Jim "Hoss" Brock. The longtime executive director of the Cotton Bowl, Brock passed away Thursday morning at age 74. He had been hospitalized since Feb. 14 after sustaining a series of strokes.
Brock played a key role in luring Notre Dame to the Cotton Bowl in 1970 to play Texas. The Irish had not played in a bowl game in decades.
And Brock's nickname? Well, he called everybody "Hoss." And if you were female, you were a "Hoss-ette."
Our thoughts and condolences go out to the Cotton Bowl family.

Money, power and college football
Forbes magazine's cover story involves college football. (No, I don't read Forbes; if I did, I'd probably be doing this as a hobby and not a job.)
Alabama coach Nick Saban is on the cover as the "most powerful coach in coach in sports." (Yes, sports, not just college sports.)
As part of the package, the magazine ranked the 20 most valuable football programs. Notre Dame was No. 1 and Texas was No. 2. Oklahoma ranked No. 11, Texas A&M No. 16 and Nebraska No. 18.

Worth the click
Here are some links to good reads from around the Big 12.
Texas receiver Quan Cosby is not only the team's most reliable receiver, he's also in position to set school records in kickoff returns but also is lobbying to be used as the Longhorns' punt returner.
Jeremy Sanders is a junior-college transfer who came to Baylor this season as a quarterback. With a logjam at that position, Sanders was moved to running back. So far, so good.
Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell was sharp during the team's scrimmage Wednesday. The new 40-second play clock was in use and the Red Raiders barely noticed.
Oklahoma's defense should be strong up front, but there are plenty of questions at linebacker and in the secondary. Asked about the Sooners' inexperienced group of linebackers, defensive coordinator Brent Venables gave this "ringing" endorsement: "I'm not ready to puke yet."
Colorado might have the most impressive trio of rookie running backs in the country. While most college football fans know about Darrell Scott, Ray Polk and Rodney Stewart have been impressive during pre-season practices. All three are expected to play this season.
Based on what a team like Kansas did last season _ an unexpected 12-1 season _ Oklahoma State players say the Jayhawks provide a path for the Cowboys to follow in 2008.
At the age of 64 and having sat out the 2007 season, Joe Kines wasn't sure he wanted to get back into coaching. But when new Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman called to ask him to become the Aggies' defensive coordinator, Kines surprised himself by saying yes.

Wednesday, Aug. 13

Hot links, served fresh
Oklahoma State planned a start date of Oct. 1 for construction of an indoor practice facility for football. That probably won't happen. How come? The price of oil has dropped.
With two weeks to go before the Aug. 28 season opener with Wake Forest, Baylor coach Art Briles still hasn't picked a starter at quarterback. It's down to a three-man race; junior-college transfer Jeremy Sanders has been moved to running back.
No matter who is throwing the passes at Baylor, the Bears' coaching staff wants wide receiver David Gettis to be a primary target.
New Kansas State quarterbacks coach Warren Ruggiero was called a "genius" by a former player he coached.
Texas linebacker Sergio Kindle believes he'll be unleashed in the new defensive schemes used by coordinator Will Mushchamp. "I love rushing," Kindle said. "The quarterback is going to be my prey. I'm the predator."
Missouri sophomore tailback Derrick Washington appears primed to become the Tigers' top ground gainer. Plus, his pass-catching abilities should boost the offense.
Texas Tech's Aaron Crawford's ability to run hard and gain tough yards inside could make him part of the Red Raiders' backfield rotation.
Here's Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel's diary contribution that's running on the New York Times' web site.
As if Nike doesn't have enough products ... the company has developed a cooling vest for football players. Oklahoma is one of the schools that are using them.

This and that
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution conducted a poll on its web site about Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops' decision to dismiss wide receiver Josh Jarboe from the team. An overwhelming majority of nearly 2,000 who participated said they supported Stoops' decision.
Texas junior quarterback Colt McCoy had a 70-yard touchdown run on a busted play during a scrimmage Wednesday. McCoy joked that it took him "30 seconds" to complete the run. "They don't respect these legs, yet," McCoy told the Austin American-Statesman. "That's a joke."
If you're wondering how and why Nebraska has struggled in recent seasons, consider this nugget from Steven Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star: The Cornhuskers haven't had an all-conference offensive lineman since Toniu Fonoti in 2001 or all-conference interior defensive lineman since Steve Warren in 1999.
Texas Tech has set a single-season record for ticket sales with 41,173. The previous record was 40,430 set in 2005. Approximately 585 season-ticket packages are still available.

Jarboe transfers to Troy
Josh Jarboe, who was dismissed from Oklahoma's team last week, tranferred to Troy Wednesday. If the NCAA declares Jarboe eligible to play this season, he could be on the field Sept. 27 when the Trojans play at Oklahoma State.

Dallas a Women's Final Four finalist
Dallas is one of eight finalists in the running host the Women's Final Four in the following years: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The Big 12 Conference is the host institution while American Airlines Center is the venue.
Other finalists include Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Indianapolis; Nashville; New Orleans; San Antonio; and Tampa Bay. The NCAA Women's Basketball Committee will announce the five host cities in mid-November.
The Big 12 and Arlington's new Dallas Cowboys stadium have bid on hosting a Men's Final Four for the years 2012 through 2016.

Bulletin board material
Florida Atlantic is a three-touchdown underdog for its Aug. 30 opener at Texas. The Owls' bombastic coach, 71-year-old Howard Schnellenberger, thinks his team is being short changed.
According to a story in the school newspaper, Schnellenberger is confident his team can play with the Longhorns.
"My defense will get to a point where they will be mean, nasty and onery (expletive) and that's what you need for Texas," said Schnellenberger, who coached one season at Oklahoma. "Texas will move the ball with tit-for-tat, screens and options, but we'll make them pay a price whenever they catch one of those dinky passes. We'll put three hats on them and make them not want to get up, that's the way to beat Texas."
In the Old West, that would be construed as "fightin' words." In college football these days, that quote will be bulletin board material for the Longhorns.

Box out
Oklahoma redshirt freshman linebacker Austin Box underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Box is "doubtful" for the season opener against Chattanooga and "probable" for the Sept. 6 game against Cincinnati.
Box and junior-college transfer Mike Balogun were battling for the starter's job at weakside linebacker. Balogun, a junior-college transfer, spent time working in construction before pursuing his football dreams.

Tuesday, Aug. 12

Nebraska's Pavan makes academic history
Sarah Pavan, a senior outside hitter last season for Nebraska's women's volleyball team, made history Tuesday night. She became the first repeat ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American of the Year. The academic All-American team is selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Pavan, a biochemistry major with a 4.00 grade point average who graduated last May, also won the University Division Academic All-American of the Year award in 2007. There had never been a repeat winner in the history of the award, which was first presented in 1988.

Texas reserve tight end hurt
Sophomore Josh Marshall, a reserve tight end who is battling with Blaine Irby and Peter Ullman for the starting job, is out indefinitely after suffering a fractured left shoulder Tuesday. Marshall saw action on special teams last season and did not have a reception.

Coffman has broken finger
Missouri tight end Chase Coffman, expected to be a prime target in the Tigers' offense, will be limited in practice the next two weeks. He underwent minor surgery Monday to place three screws in the pinkie finger on his right hand.
Coffman practiced Monday, wearing a glove on his right and to try and protect the finger. After sitting out Tuesday's scrimmage, Coffman said he'd be ready to go for Missouri's opener against Illinois on Aug. 30.

Linkage
Texas A&M officials selected Tapestry Tenacious Juell, also known as Kelly, over the weekend to become the next Reveille.
There is little doubt that sophomore Cody Hawkins, son of the Colorado coach, is entrenched as the Buffs' starter this season.
Someone in Norman might be looking for a new job. A rap song that includes lyrics "....my bullets and lugers, I put 'em deep in your neck" where somehow posted on http://www.bobstoops.com/. After OU officials were alerted, the post was deleted. Last week, Stoops dismissed freshman Josh Jarboe for a rap video that mocked his gun conviction.
Speaking of Jarboe, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports he is "shocked" that he was dismissed from the team. The paper also quotes a lawyer in Norman, a former NCAA enforcement officer who is an author of a book about Sooner football. "Five years ago, this never would've made it out of the dorm," J. Brent Clark said. "Josh Jarboe has been victimized by technology. He wasn't doing anything different than thousands of young people across the country, in terms of making up his own rap lyrics. What Josh did was normal activity for his age group, his ethnicity and his interests.''

Nebraska dismisses two wrestlers
Nebraska wrestlers Paul Donahoe (an NCAA champion in the 125-pound weight class in 2007) and Kenny Jordan have been dismissed from the team. The decision by Cornhuskers wrestling Coach Mark Manning was made after nude photos of both wrestlers were discovered on a web site.
Mark Manning's statement:
"Paul Donahoe and Kenny Jordan have been permanently dismissed from our wrestling program. The history of behavior of these men, including the current matter, does not reflect the standard of excellence we aspire to on and off the mat. We have outstanding student-athletes in our program and we will move forward in a positive manner toward our goals. I want to personally apologize for any embarrassment that may have been caused for our athletic department, the University and our fans."

Monday, Aug. 11

The write stuff
ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman lists his top 10 indispensable players. Missouri's Chase Daniel is No. 1.

Feldman also listed his best-kept secrets. The Sun Bowl, where UT-El Paso plays and where Texas visits on Sept. 6, made the list. According to Feldman, visiting coaches say the Sun Bowl is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. "You're in a hole," one coach said. "The place has really weird acoustics where everything echoes. You definitely need to have a silent count in there."

Ralph Russo, who covers college football for the Associated Press, recently listed his six teams that "seem destined to fall short of their preseason hype." He had Kansas and Texas Tech on the list.

SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel developed a ranking system for the six BCS conferences. In his formula, the Southeastern Conference is the best over the last five years while the Big Ten was superior over the first five years of the BCS.

ESPN.com's Tim Griffin crunched the numbers to settle the debate over whether Texas Tech's defense improved last season after Ruffin McNeil was named defensive coordinator.

Two key offensive players for South Division teams - Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas A&M's Jorvorskie Lane - talk about their upcoming seasons.

Court costs
Kansas basketball fans can own a piece of the floor on which the Jayhawks won the 2008 national championship.
Sections of the court are available for purchase. They are available in 11-3/4 inch squares, and come engraved with a special logo and the scores of this year’s two Final Four games. The cost of each square is $225.
For more details, click here.

Sunday, Aug. 10

Grid bits, Part 1

Practice news and notes from around the conference from the past week:

BAYLOR: The Bears held a "half scrimmage" Saturday after a 90-minute practice. ... Freshman Robert Griffin had a 56-yard touchdown run while quarterbacks Kirby Freeman and Ryan Roberts each threw TD passes. ... Coach Art Briles on the scrimmage and the first week of practice: "There still is quite a bit of energy. Honestly, I’m pretty pleased with both sides of the ball. I thought the defense really flew around and played with a lot of intelligence and intensity. You can play hard, but you have to play smart." ... On junior-college transfer quarterback Jeremy Sanders: "(He) is going to bring something to the table for us. We need to figure out exactly how to use him, but he’s definitely got some talents that we need to utilize.”
COLORADO: Secondary coach Greg Brown was a Buffs assistant coach when CU's Rashaan Salaam won the Heisman Trophy in 1994. Brown says that hyped freshman running back Darrell Scott compares favorably. "Scott's a big back (6-2, 220) like Rashaan, and their running styles look similar at this point," Brown said. "I know he hasn't played a game yet, but I like the way he runs and just the way he handles himself overall." ... The Buffs are looking for a new kicker. Sophomore Aric Goodman and freshman Jameson Davis are competing for the placement and kickoff duties. Goodman has the early edge and could end up winding doing both jobs. He has college experience. Before transferring to Colorado, Goodman kicked for Wyoming as a freshman in 2006.
IOWA STATE: The Cyclones held their second scrimmage of the preseason Saturday. There wasn't any change in the battle to be the starting quarterback. Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates each had some impressive moments. "They are really battling hard to be the best quarterbacks they can be and move our football team. We're proud of them," coach Gene Chizik said. "Reps are building up and making them better, which is what happens. I've seen a great improvement in the last three days." ... Freshmen kickers freshmen Zach Guyer and Grant Mahoney have been impressive. ... The Cyclones must replace two starters (Bryce Braaksma and Ahtyba Rubin) on the defensive line. Assistant coach Mike Pelton, who works with the defensive linemen, likes the unit's depth at defensive end. ... After the scrimmage, Chizik announced that running back J.J. Bass, the team's second-leading rusher, had been reinstated.

Grid bits, Part 2

Practice news and notes from around the conference from the past week:

KANSAS: When the school built its new $31 million practice facility, the sight lines to the practice field weren't considered. Even when coach Mark Mangino holds closed practices, the workouts can be viewed from public property overlookin the practice fields. ... The Jayhawks need to replace leading rusher Brandon McAnderson, who gained 1,125 yards and scored 16 touchdowns. While Jake Sharp was a solid and productive backup in 2007, Kansas fans are anticipating big tings from junior-college transfer Jocques Crawford. In the first week of practice he showed the ability to make tacklers miss. ... Receivers Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier and A.J. Steward displayed good timing with quarterback Todd Reesing. ... Kansas' defense is concentrating on improving its pass rush. The Jayhawks had just 26 sacks last season. ... "We have to (generate a pass rush)," first-year defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. "It's something that has to happen for us. We've put a big emphasis on that in the spring time and in the fall."
KANSAS STATE: Junior safety and co-captain Chris Carney was asked about the player that's been most impressive so far. "Oh, Brandon Harold - period," Carney said of the freshman defensive end. "Great athlete, hustles, works hard. ... You can’t coach effort, and that’s what he’s giving right now." ... The Wildcats must replace leading rusher James Johnson. Leon Patton, his top backup last season, is "suspended indefinitely" because of legal troubles. Coach Ron Prince and his staff are still looking for the top running back candidates. JUCO transfer Keithen Valentine, redshirt freshmen Dee Bell and Justin Woods along with freshmen Kwamaine Brown and Logan Dold are all in the mix. ... Prince on junior quarterback Josh Freeman's improved maturity and leadership: “For the first time if we say, ‘We need you to win the game,’ we feel like he has command of what’s happening that he can go out and do that." ... Junior linebacker Olu Hall has been impressive and could be a factor on a defense that needs improvement. Hall started his career at Virginia but hasn't played in a game since October of 2005.
MISSOURI: Quarterback Chase Daniel missed Friday's practice because he attended a cousin's funeral in Texas. Backups Chase Patton and Blaine Gabbert took advantage of moving up a rung and both had impressive moments running the offense. ... Missouri coaches have been wearing t-shirts with the words "No Excuses" while the players have worn t-shirts that say "It's All About The Ball." That motto is double-edged - force turnovers on defense, avoid turnovers on offense. ... Missouri has an excellent group of freshmen receivers. However, the coaching staff believes it got a steal when it signed Jarrell Jackson out of Houston. He's 6-2 and was lightly recruited but has been impressive during the first week of practice. Jackson has long arms, a long stride and deceptive speed.

Grid bits, Part 3

Practice news and notes from around the conference from the past week:

NEBRASKA: Senior Joe Ganz is entrenched as the starting quarterback. There's a battle to become Ganz's backup. Zac Lee, a third-year sophomore who spent last season as the scout-team QB, is competing with redshirt freshman Patrick Witt. ... A two-letter word - "or" - is getting a lot of attention on the Huskers' depth chart at running back. Senior Marlon Lucky rushed for 1,019 yards last season and also had 75 receptions. He's listed as a co-starter on the depth chart with sophomore Roy Helu. "It's a competition. That's how it's going to be this fall," Lucky said. "I'm just going to take it as I always take it and give it my all." New coach Bo Pelini wants to emphasize the running game so both should get plenty of carries. Quentin Castille also could be in the backfield mix. ... Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Jared Crick has moved up to the first team and earned praise from defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. "Jared has had a great week of practice," Pelini said. "I’m as excited as heck about Jared Crick. He earned his way up with the (first unit)."
OKLAHOMA: The Sooners scrimmaged for over two hours, running 100 plays Saturday night. The practice was closed to the public and media. Coach Bob Stoops played it close to the vest, reporting no serious injuries and that defensive back Lendy Holmes and receiver Juaquin Iglesias made some big plays. According to other coaches and players, the defense forced several turnovers. ... Offensive line coach James Patton has a good problem. Oklahoma returns all of its starters to a unit that is among the best in the nation. Patton's challenge is developing a playing rotation that mixes in some young and talented reserves. ... The Sooners must find new starters at cornerback. Freshman Lamar Harris, a 6-2, 180-pounder from Gilmer, Texas, has caught the eye of defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Long. Explosive. Tough East Texas kid,” Venables told the Oklahoman. "He's got a good twang to him. ... He's not a high-maintenance guy. You always like low-maintenance guys, that's always good.”
OKLAHOMA STATE: The Cowboys' 120-play scrimmage Saturday was interrupted for 53 minutes because of the threat of lightning. Quarterbacks Alex Cate and Brandon Weeden, who are competing to be the backup for starter Zac Robinson, each directed scoring drives. Robinson and senior tight end Brandon Pettigrew didn't play. ... Senior cornerback Jacob Lacey broke up a pass in the end zone and had an interception in the scrimmage. "I feel good about Jacob Lacey,” coach Mike Gundy said. "He had a great summer. He's matured and we feel like he can be a good corner in this league.” ... Gundy also was pleased with the big hits produced by the Cowboys' defense. A couple of junior-college transfers - middle linebacker Donald Booker and cornerback Lucien Antoine - have infused intensity on the defensive side.

Grid bits, Part 4

Practice news and notes from around the conference from the past week:

TEXAS: The Longhorns donned the pans for the first time Friday. Coach Mack Brown said that's when the evaluating truly begins. To underscore that, the coaching staff combed over the practice video three times. ... Sophomore Michael Huey, a 6-5, 315-pound offensive guard, has been impressive. So has junior Chris Hall, who has settled in at center after playing all five line positions last season. Junior Adam Ulatoski has moved from right tackle to left tackle. ... The coaching staff has been doing some experimenting. At Thursday night's practice, linebacker Sergio Kindle lined up at defensive end in a three-point stance while defensive end Brian Orakpo played one snap as a stand-up lineman. ... Sophomore John Chiles is still working on his passing, but it's apparent that offensive coordinator Greg Davis is committed to getting Chiles on the field for more snaps. Chiles has lined up at running back and receiver.
TEXAS A&M: The Aggies had officials and a 40-second play clock for both practices Saturday. NCAA rules have changed from the 25-second to the 40-second clock this season. "We need to spend more focusing on (timing)," A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "It's such an important element of the game. The clock can either make you or break you." ... The quarterback battle between senior Stephen McGee and sophomore Jerrod Johnson is not nearing an end. First-year coach Mike Sherman is not in a rush to name a starter. "I think we're getting closer," he said Friday. "Both are competing real well. I don't see any need to do it right now. They're both neck-and-neck. It's great competition. Why close the door on competition? That's not me. I want to keep them competing." ... Tailback Mike Goodson missed two days of practice after suffering a slight groin muscle strain Wednesday. ... The Aggies need tight ends, especially in new coach Mike Sherman's offense. Hence, it was good news Friday when freshman K.J. Williams was cleared for practice after the resolution of some paper work issues involving his grades. ... Sophomore wide receiver Roger Holland will sit out the 2008 season as a redshirt. He suffered a concussion during spring practice and is still recovering.
TEXAS TECH: The Red Raiders worked out Saturday in 94-degree temperatures. Coach Mike Leach thought the team went through the motions and he chewed out the players after the practice. The team then did extra running and conditioning drills. ... Backups Mickey Okafor and Chris Olson switched positions on the offensive line. Okafor moved to right tackle and Olson to left tackle. ... Defensive end Brandon Sesay, ranked by Rivals.com as the nation's 10th-best junior-college recruit last season, is academically eligible after finishing up summer school requirements. ... Texas Tech is still waiting to find out if junior defensive end McKinner Dixon will be eligible this season. ... Texas Tech regents approved plans to expand AT&T Jones Stadium. A five-level structure on the stadium's east side will cost just over $25 million. The athletic department plans fund-raising activities this fall to raise nearly $6 million to complete the necessary funding. Construction is scheduled to begin after the 2009 season and be completed before the 2010 season.

Saturday, Aug. 9

Hot links
Brian Coulter, a 6-4, 250-pound junior defensive end, could be an "out-of-nowhere" force on Missouri's defensive line. The 22-year-old's path to Columbia has been filled with tragedies and hardship.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World always has his finger on the pulse of what's happening at Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State). He has a great background explanation as to why Sooners coach Bob Stoops is closing practices this month.

Austin American-Statesman columnist Cedric Golden writes that the Longhorns' trio of running backs might be one too many.

ESPN.com college football expert Ivan Maisel lists his top 10 teams that are best at playing at a fast pace and controlling the offensive tempo. Six are Big 12 teams.

Sports Illustrated caught up with former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who has a brief scene in the TNT original series "Saving Grace."

Neill Woelk of the Boulder Daily Camera writes that third-year coach Dan Hawkins has put his stamp on the Buffaloes' program.


Prince's contract details
According to information obtained by the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, here are some of the incentive clauses in Kansas State coach Ron Prince's new contract:
BCS title game win, $250,000; BCS title game, $200,000; No. 1 ranking in either poll, $250,000; Big 12 title game win, $150,000; Big 12 title game, $100,000; BCS bowl, $150,000; non-BCS bowl, $100,000; If Prince is fired before Dec. 31, 2009, Kansas State would pay him a buyout of $1.2 million, an amount that would be reduced by $300,000 each subsequent year.
There is no buyout clause if Prince decides to leave Kansas State for any reason.
Prince can receive a $250,000 bonus if he coaches through 2010; that was the year his original contract expired.

Basketball news
Praise and a raise:
Kansas signed Bill Self to a new 10-year, $30 million contract this week. The Jayhawks assistant coaches all received significant raises also.
Last season, Joe Dooley and Kurtis Townsend each were paid $175,000 while Danny Manning earned $134,000. All three assistants will each receive $234,000 for the 2008-09 season.
“I believe our assistant coaches deserve to be some of the highest paid assistant coaches in America because they are some of the very best in America,” Self said.
Balbay, Turkey defeated: Texas sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay and Turkey lost to Serbia, 90-69, Saturday in a semifinal game of the Under-20 European Championships in Riga, Latvia. Balbay, who missed last season with the Longhorns due to a knee injury, had eight points and three assists for Turkey. The Turkish team will play for the bronze medal Sunday.

Friday, Aug. 8

Adjustable curves

Texas A&M's new indoor track and field facility features a hydraulic track (pictured at right). The school did a successful first test of the adjustable banked curves this week.
The official name is Mondo 200m Hydraulically Banked Running Track. Or hydro track for short. Athletic director Bill Byrne describes it as "an amazing piece of machinery."
According to Texas A&M officials, the hydro track is faster than a static track. The ability to raise and lower the banked curves makes the school's new track and field facility multi-functional. The school can have a state-of-the-art track meet in the morning and later that day convert to a flat surface for another event.
The Naval Academy, Nebraska, Penn State and Indiana have similar hydro tracks.

Basketball news and notes
NBA scheduling conflicts: Oklahoma City's new NBA team could create some attendance conflicts for fans of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State basketball.
On Feb. 4, the Thunder will play host to the Denver Nuggets. On that Wednesday, Texas Tech will play Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena while Texas A&M faces Oklahoma at Lloyd Noble Center.
Oklahoma State hasn't finalized its non-conference schedule.
Oklahoma's non-conference schedule features two home games that are on the same dates as home games for the Thunder - a Nov. 17 Preseason NIT game and a Dec. 10 game with Maine.

Men's schedule adjustments: ABC/ESPN has shifted two men's conference games on March 7. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma will be televised on ABC instead of ABC while Missouri at Texas A&M will air on ESPN2 instead of ABC.

Blair gets contract extension: Texas A&M's board of regents approved a contract extension through 2012 with women's basketball coach Gary Blair.

Thursday, Aug. 7

Ron Prince: Kansas State shows him the money
Over the summer, the Oklahoman did a survey of coaches' salaries in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State coach Ron Prince was No. 12 on the money list, earning $760,000 per season in base salary.
Thursday, Kansas State confirmed that it had signed Prince to a new deal that moves him into the Million Dollar Coaches Club. The five-year contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2008 and will pay him approximately $1.1 million per season. Prince also could make an additional $950,000 per season if he meets certain performance-based goals.
"I am very appreciative of the commitment that the university has shown to our organization," Prince told ESPN.com. "The administration has proven its long-term commitment to us as a program as evident in the current facility expansion and other projects that are essential for sustained success."

Franchione wants to coach
Former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione, speaking at a high school coaches clinic in Topeka, Kans., said he would like to coach again "in the right situation." Franchione also has signed a contract to work as an analyst on ESPN Radio's college football broadcasts this season.

Final Four sites discussed
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee met in Indianapolis this week to review the bids submitted by various cities interested in hosting Final Fours from 2012 through 2016.
The Big 12 Conference is one of 10 to have submitted a bid. If awarded to the conference, the Final Four would be staged at the Dallas Cowboys new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The other cities that have submitted bids: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis.
The five host cities selected will be announced in November.

Brimming with confidence
Nebraska safety Larry Asante checked the record book and learned that the Division I-A record for interceptions in a season is 14.
Asante wants to break it.
“I think the sky’s the limit with the defensive scheme that we’re in right now," Asante told the Omaha World-Herald.
Asante also believes that Nebraska's defense, which forcued just 11 turnovers last season, will finish with 40-plus turnovers.
Maybe Asante researched some recent Nebraska history. In 2003, when current head coach Bo Pelini was the defensive coordinator, the Huskers forced 47 turnovers and safety Josh Bullocks had 10 interceptions.

Vote early, vote often
From the Lawrence Journal-World:
Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins appears to be on his way to being named Time Magazine’s “Top Sports Executive” of 2008. With fan voting continuing, Perkins on Wednesday remained No. 1 on the 35-person list.
The current Top Ten: Perkins, Sir Alex Ferguson, John Henry, Danny Ainge, Naser Shahalemi, Jerry Reese, Robert Kraft, Roger Goodell, Richard Scudamore and Randy Bernard.

Balbay, Turkey advance to medal round
Texas sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay had a team-high eight assists against as Turkey defeated Croatia, 63-60, Thursday in the qualifying round of the Under-20 European Championships in Riga, Latvia.
Balbay scored eight points with five rebounds and two steals. Turkey finished 5-1 and will play in the semifinals starting Saturday.

Hot links
Texas Tech has started a fund-raising drive to help fund east-side expansion at Jones AT&T Stadium.

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Joe Kines has an experienced secondary. One of the changes he has made is switching Jordan Pugh from safety to cornerback and Jordan Peterson from cornerback to safety.

Texas Tech's running game could get a needed boost if Shannon Woods has escaped from coach Mike Leach's dog house.

John Hoover of the Tulsa World profiles Oklahoma sophomore defensive end Auston English, a fan favorite because of his all-out effort.

Texas A&M senior quarterback Stephen McGee covers a range of topics in this Q and A with the Houston Chronicle.

Wednesday, Aug. 6

If I were a rich man...
And he is. Kansas signed basketball coach Bill Self to a new 10-year, $30 million contract Wednesday.

Nebraska volleyball tickets ... gone
Nebraska put its season allotment of regular-season, single-match tickets for women's volleyball on sale Tuesday.
In 10 minutes, no tickets.
A year ago, it took 45 minutes to sell the entire allotment.
The quick sale assures that Nebraska's streak of consecutive sellouts at NU Coliseum will reach 118 this season.

Texas basketball news
Texas to face Saint Joseph's: The eight-team Maui Invitational announced its first-round pairings. Texas opens against Saint Joseph's
at 2 p.m. Central Time on Nov. 24. If the Longhorns win, they'll face the winner of the Indiana-Notre Dame in the second round.
The other four teams in the eight-team event are North Carolina, Oregon, Alabama and Chaminade University, the host school.
Balbay leads Turkey to victory: Texas sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay scored a team-high 20 points as Turkey rallied to defeat Lithuania, 84-80, Wednesday during qualifying-round action at the Under-20 European Championships in Riga, Latvia.
Balbay also had seven assists and four steals. He made 9-of-13 field goals (he made his only 3-point shot) and added five rebounds in 31 minutes.
Turkey is 4-1. The Turks finish qualifying-round play against Croatia on Thursday. A victory would assure Turkey a spot in the top two teams in its qualifying pool.

Wednesday, Aug. 6

Missouri's Puerto Rico foe announced
Missour's men's basketball team will face Xavier on Nov. 20 in the first round of the 2008 O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The game between the Tigers and the Musketeers starts at 11:30 a.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.
The other teams in the eight-team field are Virginia Tech, USC, Seton Hall, Fairfield, UT-Chattanooga and Memphis. Each team will play three games.

Hot links
Click and read stories from around the Big 12:
Iowa State second-year coach Gene Chizik wants his offensive play makers to be more elusive.

Chip Brown, the former Dallas Morning News writer who covered Texas, profiles Longhorns' new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp for Rivals.com.

Colorado freshman running back Darrell Scott was in the spotlight at the Buffs' media day. And, he discussed his punting prowess.

Colorado's football program is going green. It has started a zero-waste and carbon-reduction program. It's called "Ralphie's Green Stampede.''

Kansas got little production from its punt returners last season. Coach Mark Mangino is even joking that he might be a candidate in 2008.

If Texas Tech is to be a serious challenger for the Big 12 South Division title, the Red Raiders need more production from its running backs.

Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News explains why Alabama fans will be tuning in to hear former Texas A&M (and Crimson Tide) coach Dennis Franchione analyze the Alabama-Clemson game on Aug. 30. (Assuming, of course, the Franchione signs the contract with ESPN Radio.)

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is addicted to the energy drink Red Bull. He has a three-can-a-day habit. Learn about what keeps the Cowboys coach and others in the athletic department going in this fun read by Oklahoman columnist John Rohde.

Attention, displaced Nebraska fans: If you want to revisit/relive the Cornhuskers' 44 bowl games, check out this site at the Omaha World-Herald.

Tuesday, Aug. 5

Big 12 Tour, Day Three
WACO _ Hurricane Edouardo swept assure and its remnants chased us from College Station to Waco. The afternoon forecast (rain, high winds) in College Station had the Texas A&M staff scrambling to audible on its practice plans.
By the time we arrived at Baylor, the rain was just a sprinkle. In the last three hours (this is being written just before 7 p.m.), the winds have increased, the clouds have moved in and the rain is more steady.
All in all, the weather change is welcomed. Observing Baylor's afternoon practice was pleasant, not a sweat fest (for me at least; the players would disagree).

Men's hoops note
Baylor, one of five teams in the Anaheim Classic that reached post-season play last season, will face Providence In the opening round of the eight-team Anaheim Classic on Thursday, Nov. 27.
The other teams in the eight-team tourney field include Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Charlotte, St. Mary’s, UT-El Paso and Wake Forest. The games will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPU. The championship game is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Nov. 30.

Huskers 'heart' their coach
Nebraska senior wide receiver Nate Swift says that new coach Bo Pelini has won over the players.
"There's not one guy on the team who doesn't like him," Swift told the Omaha World-Herald. "Everybody loves him. (He’s) ridiculously football smart. He just knows how to be a coach.’’

The Pelini polka
The players are not the only ones excited by the arrival of Bo Pelini as Nebraska’s coach. One Cornhuskers fan has composed the Bo Pelini polka. Seriously. This is not a hoax.

Celebrating 1998 at Kansas State
Kansas State is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the greatest season in school history. In 1998, coach Bill Snyder’s team was ranked No. 1 can came within an overtime defeat in the Big 12 Conference championship game of playing for the national championship.
As part of the celebration, the Kansas State athletic department is conducting a fan survey to determine the top 10 moments of the 1998 season. The school has come up ith a list of the 20 greatest moments. Fans can go to http://www.kstatesports.com/ to vote for their favorites.
Starting Sept. 1, Kansas State will unveil the No. 10 moment selected by the fans. Each week, the countdown will continue until the No. 1 moment is announced on Nov. 15.

It’s not 'Texas' heat
Missouri’s first practice on Monday was conducted in the afternoon. The temperature was over 100 degrees. For the Tigers’ Ziggy Hood, the heat wasn’t an issue.
“It’s not bad,” Hood, who is from Amarillo, Texas, told Dave Matter on the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Behind The Stripes blog. “Down south, where I’m from, it gets a whole lot hotter than this. It’s all right today. ... When you know it’s the first practice, you don’t really worry about the pain or the heat.”

Texas Tech announces 2009 schedule
Texas Tech will play six of its first eight football games at home in 2009, including regional non-conference matchups against former Southwest Conference foes Rice and Houston plus New Mexico. The seven-game home slate will mark the second-straight season of seven games at home.
The Red Raiders open the year at home against North Dakota (Sept. 5) and Rice the following weekend. After an open date (Sept. 19), Tech will renew acquaintances with Houston (Sept. 26) at Robertson Stadium, before hosting New Mexico in the non-conference finale (Oct. 3).
The New Mexico game is the first non-conference game scheduled in the month of October since 1995, when the Red Raiders faced Arkansas State in Lubbock.
Tech opens Big 12 play at home against Kansas State (Oct. 10) and faces Nebraska (Oct. 17) in Lincoln, before wrapping up the month of October at home against Texas A&M (Oct. 24) and Kansas (Oct. 31).
Three of the last four games of the season will come on the road at Texas (Nov. 7), Oklahoma State (Nov. 14) and Baylor (Nov. 27 or 28). Tech will host Oklahoma (Nov. 21) in the home finale.

Franchione finds work
According to Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirl Bohls, former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione has found employment. And because he's a currently out-of-work coach, it's no surprise that Franchione will be getting a paycheck from ESPN, the halfway house for unemployed coaches.
Franchione will work as an analyst for ESPN Radio. His first assignment? The Alabama-Clemson game in Atlanta on Aug. 30. Considering how much Crimson Tide fans dislike Franchione _ who left 'Bama for A&M _ Fran might want to make sure the radio booth is fully enclosed.
Bohls' sources also tell him that Franchione will be the analyst on ESPN Radio's broadcast of the Texas at UT-El Paso game on Sept. 6.

Monday, Aug. 4

Big 12 Tour, Day Two
COLLEGE STATION _ The Big 12 Tour has pivoted and driven to the east. We're in Aggieland and it's no cooler here than it is anywhere else.
The drama of the drive was a brief laptop problem that was resolved so that this update could be posted.
Texas A&M had its first practice Sunday. We're about to check out Practice No. 2. Read the full report Tuesday.

ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman on Stoops
Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com writes about Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ decision to boot freshman wide receiver Josh Jarboe from the team.
"I'll admit I was impressed by Oklahoma's decision to boot blue-chip WR Jose Jarboe after a rap video surfaced on YouTube of him talking about guns and shooting people. It was a bizarre set of circumstances that I think is emblematic of some changing times for college coaches these days thanks to the power of the Internet, both as a "marketing" tool and as a message spreader.
"New problems are surfacing all the time and, when they do, EVERYBODY finds out about them. Not like 10 years ago, where maybe only the people around town got word. Public image is scrutinized much more and because of that I think you'll see more programs trying to make sure the right message gets sent, both externally and internally.
"Jarboe's rap didn't break any laws. It was, after all, just a freestyle rap. Then again, what he was talking about was a subject that already had him in hot water since Jarboe had made headlines in May for carrying a gun to school property where he grew up in Georgia. Does that make it different from Miami's Seventh Floor Crew stuff or the Michigan rap that surfaced a few months later? I think it does.
"Initially it sounded like Bob Stoops wasn't going to dump Jarboe, and a few hours later, Jarboe was gone. If I'm an OU fan, I'm probably happy with that decision and proud of my team. Oklahoma had already told Jarboe he needed to watch his behavior, and whether you think his rap was silly or not, it embarrassed the program. I suspect if this were another player without the previous history, he'd still be in Norman.''

Sunday, Aug. 3

Big 12 Tour, Day One

AUSTIN - Greetings. Videographer Melanie Weiser and I are here for the beginning of our 12-stop program. Texas is the first stop in our pre-season tour that includes each Big 12 campus.

Sunday afternoon we attended the Longhorns' media day held on the ninth floor of Belmont Hall - air-conditioned Belmont Hall. It's no cooler in Austin than it is anywhere else in the state. It's 105, give or take a couple of scorching degrees. It's the kind of heat that makes breaking out in a cold sweat sound inviting.

It's hard to believe that high school and college players in Texas can practice football in this heat. Early morning or late evening practices mitigate the heat somewhat but it's still HOT.

Balbay update

Texas sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay managed only one points, three rebounds and an assist in 17 minutes as Turkey lost to Israel, 66-63, Sunday the Under-20 European Championships in Riga Latvia. Turkey finished 2-1 in Group B poll play and is the second seed in Group Be for the qualifying round.

Sad news

John Mark Stallings, the son of former Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings, died Saturday morning at the age of 46. John Mark was born with Down syndrome and also battled a congenital heart defect.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Stallings family.

Saturday, Aug. 2

Hoop it up

OK, it's August and it's hotter than ... well, you know, that place way, way "down South." So let's talk about basketball, the sport that makes you think of packed gyms with the cold wind whistling outside.

Overseas success: Texas sophomore point guard Dogus Balbay, who missed last season with a knee injury, has led Turkey to two victories in the Under-20 European Championships in Riga, Latvia.

Balbay had a team-high 16 points, six rebounds and five assists in his team's first victory then added a team-high nine assists and seven points to help Turkey defeat Israel Saturday. Turkey is scheduled to face Italy Sunday.

With the departure of D.J. Augustine to the NBA, Balbay could figure into the Longhorns' point guard rotation for the 2008-09 season.

Texas men's non-conference schedule: The Longhorns certainly don't take the easy way out. Coach Rick Barnes team will face at least 10 teams that participated in last season's NCAA Tournament.

The non-conference schedule includes: The Maui Classic (Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon and Saint Joseph's are also in the eight-team field; a Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series home game with UCLA; road games at Arkansas and Wisconsin; neutral site games againt Viallanova and Michigan State.

Oklahoma men's non-conference schedule: The Sooners will participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off (Davidson is in their four-team region). Oklahoma also will play host to USC in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series and will play at Arkansas.

Men's schedule: But the Big 12 Conference has reasons to be excited about its 2008-09 men's league schedule that was released last month.

The Big 12 will have an unprecedented three telecasts per week on ESPN or ESPN2. Also, the league's regional network has been rebranded as the Big 12 Network. Nearly 90 percent of the conference games will be televised during the upcoming season.

League play begins on Saturday, Jan. 10 with five games. The first of eight Big Monday games will feature Texas at Oklahoma _ two teams that figure to be ranked in the pre-season _ on Jan. 12.

Seven Big 12 teams will appear on Big Monday. Baylor makes its first of two Big Monday appearances when it hosts defending national champion Kansas on Feb. 2. The Bears play at Texas on March 2 in the final Big Monday telecast.

Kansas opens its Big 12 schedule by hosting in-state rival Kansas State on Tuesday, Jan. 13, on a game televised by the Big 12 Network.

The Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship, which shifts to a Wednesday-Saturday format, will be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or the Big 12 Network.

Women's schedule: The Big 12's 2008-09 women's basketball league schedule starts Jan. 10 but it's the season-ending championship that is worth noting.

The 2009 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship, which will be held at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., changes to a Thursday-Sunday format. The women's tournament essentially will follow the same format and daily schedule as the men's tournament has used. The 2009 men's tournament is changing to a Wednesday-Saturday schedule.

Last season, the Big 12 placed 11 teams in post-season tournaments. It went an unprecedented 8-0 in NCAA Tournament first-round games. The Big 12 led Division I in attendance for the ninth consecutive season.

Kansas State, last season's regular-season champion, opens its conference schedule on Jan. 10 by hosting in-state rival Kansas.

Feb. 7 might be a date that Kansas State will circle in red. Last season, K-State's first conference loss came when Baylor won in Manhattan. Kansas State plays in Waco on Feb. 7.

Individual schools will release their non-conference schedules as they become available. Depending on television opportunities, the dates for some women's conference games may be changed.

Rivals.com round table: Missouri gets praise

At Rivals.com, they post a weekly round-table discussion of their top college football writers. This week's topic discussed which teams outside of the web site's pre-season top two - USC and Georgia - has the best chance of reaching the national championship game.

National writer Olin Buchanan likes Missouri's chances:

"It's easy to forget the Tigers were ranked No. 1 going into the Big 12 title game last season and finished the season ranked No. 4. The Tigers have a couple of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Chase Daniel and receiver Jeremy Maclin (while) tight end Chase Coffman has All-American potential.

"Defensively, the Tigers obviously got better as the 2007 season progressed. In fact, Mizzou held Arkansas to seven points in the Cotton Bowl. Nine starters are back on defense, led by All-American free safety William Moore.

"Missouri's schedule is also advantageous. After a season-opener against Illinois, their most challenging games figure to be at Nebraska (Oct. 4), at Texas (Oct. 18) and vs. Kansas (Nov. 29) in Kansas City. Missouri has an open date the week before the games against Nebraska and Kansas, and faces Texas the week after the Longhorns play Oklahoma. The Big 12 championship game is also scheduled for Kansas City."

Rivals' Mike Hugenin had this to say about the Tigers:

"At Mizzou, it's quarterback Chase Daniel (a Heisman finalist last season) and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin - who trumps (Florida's Percy) Harvin in a way by being dangerous as a receiver, runner and return man.

Missouri's defense got better as last season progressed, and there's no reason the Tigers can't rank in the top third of the Big 12 in defense."

Friday, Aug. 1

Bruce Feldman on the coaches' poll, Kansas State JUCOs

Regarding Friday's coaches' pre-season poll, ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman writes that "Kansas is way too high at No. 13. I wouldn't have them in the top 25 this year and I think Mizzou (No. 7) is too low."

In his Friday mailbag feature, Feldman was asked about Kansas State's recruiting class signing 19 junior-college players and if that means that Ron Prince is in a win-or-else situation heading into his third season. Here's Feldman's answer:

"I think it means he knows if he doesn't get the program cranked up by his fourth year, he won't get a fifth. And yes, signing 19 players is a huge number, though the program does have a strong history of winning with junior college talent.

"The thing that made Bill Snyder so successful at K-State was when he brought in JC players, he had a remarkably high success rate with them, much higher than the norm. Many of those standout Wildcats were JC guys. In 1997, the year Snyder brought in star QB Michael Bishop, he also took in 11 other JC players.

"The risks involved to me are twofold: First, you're bringing in a bunch of guys who haven't been developed through your system and more often than not were in junior college because they struggled academically in high school. Monitoring that will require plenty of work, and it's a potential APR (Academic Progress Rate) fiasco.

"The other part of it is that other schools will tout that you're in a "win now or else" mode to the players you target this recruiting season. Then again, if you don't win now, you probably won't need to worry about high school recruiting anyhow.

"The thing that surprised me about this is that Prince was fortunate his administration let him sign as many as JCs as he did. If you're a coach in your third season with a sub-.500 record, you know time's ticking. You might not get a fourth year if you don't get to a bowl game. You won't have time to see most of these other freshmen develop. You need guys who physically are able to help you now.

"If this experiment doesn't work, whoever replaces Prince could have quite a mess to clean up."

Tangling with the Web

Anyone conversing with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops should refrain from using certain words. "Internet." "YouTube." "Message boards." All come to mind for the Do Not Say list.

Those are just some of the terms that would send Stoops' temperature far above the boiling point.

Friday Stoops dismissed Josh Jarboe just days before pre-season practice starts. Jarboe, a highly recruited freshman wide receiver, couldn't seem to avoid trouble.

This week, a 74-second YouTube video showed Jarboe rapping, using profanity and talking about guns and shooting people.

That was slightly ill-advised considering in May Jarboe was as sentenced in May to two years' probation and 80 hours of community service for carrying a gun on the grounds of his high school in Decatur, Ga.

If not for the YouTube video, Jarboe might have been in pads for the Sooners' first practice.

And last month, an Internet hoax caused a few hours of angst for Sooner Nation. A post on a message board, made to look like it came from the Oklahoman's web site, "reported" that Oklahoma quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Landry Jones had been arrested for distribution of cocaine.

Jones' father and the newspaper have threatened to sue the poster.

"I read the guy's comments, and he said he didn't mean to harm anybody," Stoops said of the bogus story during last month's Big 12 media days. "What did you think would happen?

"(The Internet is) amazing to me, to be honest with you. And I find it just as humorous, though, that people actually read it and believe it."

Now you might understand if Bob Stoops' skin crawls when he passes a computer screen.

Oklahoma dismisses freshman wide receiver Josh Jarboe

The last item linked in the "Hot Links" item just below is a column by the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel. He questions if Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops can afford to keep prized but troubled freshman receiver Josh Jarboe on the team.

Stoops answered that question Friday afternoon when he dismissed Jarboe from the team. Read about it here.

More poll info

Here's a followup to the release of the pre-season coaches' poll. Tim Griffin, ESPN.com's Big 12 expert, conducted research of the previous coaches' pre-season polls during the Big 12 Era. In 1996 (Year One), the Big 12 had six teams ranked in the top 25. In 2001, the conference had four teams in the top 15.

The numbers in this year's pre-season poll: five teams ranked and all in the top 14.

Hot links

A sampling of some stories from around the conference.

Here's a more detailed team-by-team look at the USA Today/American Football Coaches Association pre-season poll released Friday.

New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman visited the Fort Worth/Tarrant County Texas A&M club Thursday night. Read the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Q&A with Sherman.

John Werner, Baylor beat writer for the Waco Tribune-Herald, reports on about the Bears' opening practice of the Art Briles era.

Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel writes that Oklahoma and coach Bob Stoops are taking a chance on freshman wide receiver Josh Jarboe, who can't seem to avoid stepping into trouble.

Voters in the coaches' poll

The USA Today/American Football Coaches Association pre-season poll was announced Friday. There are 61 coaches who will vote each week.

Here are the Big 12 coaches who vote: Art Briles, Baylor; Mack Brown, Texas; Gene Chizik, Iowa State; Dan Hawkins, Colorado; Mike Leach, Texas Tech; Bo Pelini, Nebraska; Gary Pinkel, Missouri;

The rest of the coaches' voting panel: Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Mike Bellotti, Oregon; Bret Bielema, Wisconsin; Bobby Bowden, Florida State; Tommy Bowden, Clemson; Neil Callaway, Alabama-Birmingham; Mario Cristobal, Florida International; Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State; Mark Dantonio, Michigan State; Butch Davis, North Carolina; Todd Dodge, North Texas; Randy Edsall, Connecticut; Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee; Jeff Genyk, Eastern Michigan; Turner Gill, Buffalo; Joe Glenn, Wyoming; Todd Graham, Tulsa; Jim Grobe, Wake Forest; Pat Hill, Fresno State; Butch Jones, Central Michigan; Steve Kragthorpe, Louisville; Jim Leavitt, South Florida; Rocky Long, New Mexico; Bill Lynch, Indiana; Doug Martin, Kent State; Urban Meyer, Florida; Les Miles, LSU; Shane Montgomery, Miami (Ohio); Hal Mumme, New Mexico State; Rick Neuheisel, UCLA; Tom O'Brien, North Carolina State; George O'Leary, Central Florida; Gary Patterson, TCU; Chris Petersen, Boise State; Mike Price, Texas-El Paso; Mark Richt, Georgia; Mike Riley, Oregon State; Rich Rodriguez, Michigan; Greg Schiano, Rutgers; Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic; Mark Snyder, Marshall; Frank Solich, Ohio; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee; Jeff Tedford, California; Joe Tiller, Purdue; Bob Toledo, Tulane; Dick Tomey, San Jose State; Jim Tressel, Ohio State; Tommy Tuberville, Auburn; Charlie Weis, Notre Dame; Kyle Whittingham, Utah; Tyrone Willingham, Washington; Ron Zook, Illinois.

Saturday, July 26

Significant instant replay change

Another tweak to college football's instant replay system will allow overturning the type of on-field call that nearly cost Ohio State a chance to play for the national championship last season.

For the 2008 season, the replay official can review if a player fumbles even if the on-field officials ruled the ball carrier down without fumbling. Also, if the officials rule a player steps out of bounds on his way to the end zone but replays show the player stayed in bounds, the officials can rule a touchdown.

Big 12 Conference supervisor of officials Walt Anderson said during an officiating clinic being held in Grapevine, Texas, that the 40-second play clock will have a bigger impact overall but that the change in the instant replay rule is also a significant that has not received much attention.

"This gives us more opportunity to make sure the correct call was made," Anderson said. "It's an important change regarding how we're using instant replay."

Basically, for many plays involving instant replay, the "one-way street" of decision making has been changed to a two-way street.

Officially, the new rules are listed under 12-3-3 in the rule book. One: Ball carrier ruled down and fumble immediately recovered prior to dead-ball signal being given. Two: Ball carrier ruled out of bounds and immediately carries ball into opponent's end zone prior to dead-ball signal being given.

"We've always had a difficulty with an instant replay that if the runner is ruled down on the field, we couldn't review that. The play is dead as soon as he's ruled down," Rogers Redding, the Southeastern Conference's officiating supervisor, said this week. "Now if the runner has been ruled down, the ball comes out, it's recovered, that can be reviewable."

Ohio State's first loss last season came against Illinois. The Buckeyes took an early 7-0 lead but Illinois countered on its first possession with an 80-yard run.

The runner appeared to fumble into the end zone and top-ranked Ohio State recovered. The officials called the runner out of bounds on the 3-yard line. The Illini then scored to tie the game which they won 28-21.

Television replays showed the Illinois runner had fumbled. However, because the officials had ruled the runner down instead of ruling a fumble, the instant replay official had no recourse to overrule the on-field decision.

A similar play occurred late in the Kansas State-Iowa State game. A Kansas State runner near the sideline was ruled to have stepped out of bounds before continuing into the end zone. A puff of chalk from the hash mark, not the sideline, influenced one of the officials to rule the runner had stepped out of bounds.

That's another example of a play that can be corrected with instant replay that couldn't have been corrected last year.