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.
|Friday, July 30|
Three Big 12 towns make a "favorites" list
Msnbc.com, along with IndependentTraveler.com, listed its nine favorite college towns. Three from the Big 12 Conference made this list. Here's what the web site had to say about the trio.
Austin: Visit the capital of Texas and it won't be long before you see a T-shirt or bumper sticker bearing the slogan "Keep Austin weird." That sums up the celebration of all things independent, progressive and quirky in this city of 757,000, home to the University of Texas.
Austin is justifiably famous for its local music scene, and there are nearly 200 live music venues where you can tap your foot to everything from indie rock and country to Tejano and gospel. Don't miss a stroll through the SoCo (South Congress) neighborhood, one of the best spots in town for shopping and dining.
Also worth a visit are the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and the Harry Ransom Center (home to the Gutenberg Bible and the world's first photograph). For outdoor adventures like water skiing and sailing, get out of town to the nearby Highland Lakes.
Lawrence: Home to the Jayhawks of the University of Kansas, Lawrence enjoys a riverfront location and a downtown core that harks back to a time gone by.
Don't miss a walking tour through Old West Lawrence, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city is also a thriving arts community, with dozens of museums and galleries as well as some 30 sculptures and murals around town.
Massachusetts Street is worth a visit for shopping and dining - or, if you're a more outdoorsy type, head to Clinton Lake for swimming, boating, hiking, biking or fishing.
Boulder: Home to the University of Colorado, Boulder enjoys one of the most breathtaking locations of any college town, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Locals embrace the great outdoors, and you can too; hiking, skiing and mountain biking are all popular pursuits to try here.
Downtown, start your explorations with a wander down Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall. Here you'll find yourself shoulder to shoulder with the whole range of Boulder's population, from families and college kids to street performers and older folks out for a stroll.
Don't miss a stop at Boulder Book Store, a local institution. Take a break from your shopping at one of many sidewalk cafes lining the street. If you're visiting in the summer, catch an evening concert at Chautauqua Park - which is also a great place to hike.
Quotes to note
If these are leftovers, then they're delicious morsels. Here are some overlooked comments gathered from three sessions at Big 12 Football Media Days earlier this week:
* Missouri senior running back Derrick Washington, whose 865 yards rushing last season was a drop from his sophomore season, was one of 12 Tigers required to lose weight. Washington is at 215 pounds after dropping about 10 "lbs." Washington said his fellow dieters bonded. "The dirty dozen. I think all of us made it. We all had to be a certain weight by a certain date, and if we were a pound over, we'd have to get on the elliptical and do the work."
* Kansas senior offensive lineman Brad Thorson on new coach Turner Gill's "no cussing" policy: "It's not a problem. It's a little bit weird when you first get out on the field, but you just find that if people around you aren't cursing then you don't. It's just not part of your lexicon. It's a little different, but we take to change pretty quickly."
* Colorado players believe the media got it right in selecting Buffs wide receiver Toney Clemons, a transfer from Michigan, as the Big 12 preseason newcomer of the year. Colorado wide receiver Scott McKnight: "Toney could very well be in position to be a first-day, first-round draft pick. He's got all the intangibles scouts are going to go crazy about. And he's got the mental side and leadership, too. ... When you've got a guy, who if you call a 9 route and he's singled up can just go up and he's going to get it, that makes it a lot easier."
* Texas coach Mack Brown on the Longhorns re-emphasizing the running game: "We will go back and work harder to get the ball downhill from the tailback spot. We'll have the quarterback under the center more. We did a lot of self study and found out that we had more explosive plays when the quarterback was under the center in the running game as well as the tailback being right behind the quarterback."
* Brown on when and how he'll stop coaching at Texas: "I think I'll pull a Bobby Johnson (the Vanderbilt coach who resigned two weeks ago). I'll coach until I wake up and don't feel like I'm having any fun. I'll go in and tell (Texas athletic director DeLoss (Dodds), (school president) Bill Powers and (defensive coordinator/head coach in waiting Will (Muschamp) on the same day. I'm not near that close (to retiring). I'm happy, and things are working. ... When it's not going well, you want to fix it. When it is going well, you don't want it to end. ... Nothing changes at our place until I decide to quit,"
* Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on how the Sooners plan to use senior running back DeMarco Murray, whose previous three seasons have been hampered by injuries: "We're hoping in the line similar to a guy like Adrian Peterson. He needs support, but I really believe our offensive line has a chance to be better than what people think. If that happens, DeMarco has a chance to have a really good year, and I believe he will. ... He's had some unfortunate luck with some odd, different injuries. I really believe coming into this year, with his experience, his ability to not only run but to catch the ball out of the backfield, we really anticipate him having a really big year for us."
* Stoops, asked if a 10-team Big 12 would make it easier for Oklahoma and Texas to win the league championship, disagreed: "I wouldn't be one to say that. In the end, I don't take it for granted like the media does. We have to play. So, we've got nine teams to beat. Just beating (Texas) doesn't do it. You've got to beat them all to have a chance to be champs. We've done that a fair amount of times. It's not just that game, and it's not just on us two."
* Missouri junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert, despite an outstanding sophomore season, still believes he has lots to prove: "When people doubt you, you've got to have a chip on your shoulder and prove them wrong. That's kind of how it's been my whole life. No one ever really gave me a chance after Brad" Smith "and Chase" Daniel. " 'You're never going to throw for 4,000 yards or play in the Cotton Bowl.' Well, we'll see. It's just all about proving people wrong."
* Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy on hiring offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and switching to a four-wide receivers offense: "I felt like the number of players we could recruit to fit this system was greater than for the system we had competed with in years before. For the (geographic) areas we recruit, most of the offenses have a number of wide receivers who can make plays and running backs. There's not as many tight ends, (and) there's not as many fullbacks to recruit."
Deep (?) thoughts
Big 12 football media days have come and gone. Your Humble Correspondent managed to get through three days of anchoring coverage on Big12Sports.com without cussing on the air. I think that also qualifies me as a Kansas football recruit because new coach Turner Gill has a policy of no curse words.
While doing a cell phone interview with a Houston radio station, the host made the point that Your Humble Correspondent could be interpreted as being the correspondent for Humble, Texas. YHC had never thought of that.
Speaking of interpretations, YHC was shocked early in the conversation with Baylor offensive tackle Danny Watkins. A native of British Columbia and a former hockey player, Watkins pointed out that YHC looked like Don Cherry, host of the iconic Hockey Night in Canada.
Don Cherry is famous for his loud sports coats and louder opinions.
Last year in Lubbock, YHC discovered Texas Tech offensive lineman Brandon Carter said that YHC resembled actor Harvey Keitel.
OK, so pictures are provided for your perusal and assessment. YHC's mug along with pictures of Cherry and Keitel.
And YHC wonders why nobody ever says he looks like this guy.
Links for a Friday
Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World admits it's a long shot but he thinks that Oklahoma receiver/returner Ryan Broyles should be on the list of Heisman Trophy candidates.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops answers questions about having a "Texas problem" by pointing out how many Big 12 championships the Sooners have won.
Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star writes that new Kansas coach and former Nebraska quarterback Turner Gill is a throwback.
ESPN.com's Summer Buzz series, which takes a detailed look at the top teams for the upcoming college basketball season, focuses on Baylor.
|Monday, July 26|
Monday morning links
Monday is the first of the three-day Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas. Your Humble Correspondent will be anchoring comprehensive coverage on www.Big12Sports.com. If you want to keep up with what's happening as football starts to take center stage, it's the place to be. And to whet your appetite, here's a serving of links:
If you're interested in knowing more about Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and the role he played during the recent conference realignment issue, here's the story for you.
Great move, great news: The United States Basketball Writers Association will co-sponsor a freshman of the year award that is named in honor of former Oklahoma All-American Wayman Tisdale. He died of cancer in May of 2009.
In his Big 12 Summer Countdown, Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune predicts the top story lines for the upcoming season.
Nebraska fans are pointing to one game this season - the Texas game Oct. 16 in Lincoln.
In this Q and A with the Kansas City Star, new Kansas football coach Turner Gill says that one the things that matters most to him is character.
Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald writes that Nebraska coach Bo Pelini figures to field as many questions about the Huskers' move to the Big Ten as he does about this year's top 10 team.
Nebraska senior Alex Henery is one of the nation's best kickers but you'd never know it by talking to the shy, unassuming student-athlete.
Courtney Linehan of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal takes a look at how Texas Tech could boost attendance at men's basketball games this three-part series.
Going into his 12th season as Oklahoma's coach, Bob Stoops offered his thoughts on the 2010 season in this Q and A with the Tulsa World.
Taylor Manning has transferred to play volleyball at Kansas, the school where her father Danny became one of the school's greatest basketball players and is currently an asssistant coach for the Jayhawks.
|Wednesday, July 21|
Baylor voice John Morris OK after bike accident
Your Humble Correspondent has been doing a number of radio talk show interviews this week to talk about next week's Big 12 Football Media Days. Wednesday afternoon, YHC was a guest on John Morris' radio show in Waco and YHC was thoroughly pleased and happy to do so.
Thoroughly pleased and happy.
That's because Morris, voice of Baylor athletics, was lucky to be behind the microphone. Tuesday morning while riding his bicycle, Morris was hit by a tractor-trailer rig. Those sorts of collisions typically don't turn out well for the cyclist.
Morris, though, sustained only minor injuries that required him to be treated and released at a Waco hospital.
"Man, I was blessed," Morris told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "I don't normally wear a helmet, but I sure will now. Lesson learned."
Kansas State's top JUCO recruit has back injury
Kansas State might be without its top junior-college recruit this season. Defensive end Adam Davis, rated a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, apparently is facing back surgery. Davis, in an interview with the Charlton County Herald in Georgia, told the paper that he injured his back last season playing for Hutchinson County Community College.
"I have a slipped disk and pinched nerve and it got my whole left leg numb and it shoots pain from my back to my ankle," Davis told the newspaper. "What they going to do is remove the disk and fuse it with a block or whatever they call it. I will recover but they don't think football is the best option for me because how badly damaged my back is."
Davis played two seasons at Hutchinson CC and earned second-team All-American honors last season.
Links worth clicking
Andy Katz of ESPN.com writes that Baylor's basketball team, which game within a few minutes of the Final Four, is hoping to complete the journey and make it to Houston next season. To help motivate the Bears, the school rented last year's Reliant Stadium NCAA Regional court for two months.
B.G. Brooks writes that Colorado is working on either/or scheduling scenarios - as members of the Big 12 or Pac-10 - for the 2011 season.
A former Nebraska football player, now owner of a travel agency, remembers when the Huskers used to bus to Big Eight Conference games. The school's move to the Big Ten Conference will likely mean more air travel to football games.
Kansas State senior guard Jacob Pullen isn't awe struck about competing against Team USA this week in Las Vegas.
Rankings are a mainstay in college sports. Rivals.com decided to rank the top schools based on their success in football, men's basketball and baseball during the Bowl Championship Series era. The Big 12 had four schools finish in the top 25, including the overall No. 1.
|Friday, July 16|
Conspiracy theorists: Seek another conspiracy
Your Humble Correspondent understands how the media loves a good conspiracy theory. YHC loves a good conspiracy theory. After all, part of a journalist's job is to doubt, to be cynical, to read between the lines of a press release and ask, "OK, what's the real story?"
When the Big 12 announced the schedule for its upcoming football media days July 26-28, a few media folks went into Grassy Knoll Mode and wondered if something sinister was afoot. That's because Nebraska is scheduled to appear on Monday, July 26 and Texas is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28.
A long-simmering feud/disagreement/rivalry between Nebraska and Texas boiled over last month when Nebraska announced it was leaving for the Big Ten Conference - an announcement that pushed the Big 12's existence to the brink.
With the apparent bad blood between the Huskers and the Longhorns, the speculation was that the Big 12 office made sure that Nebraska and Texas were scheduled to appear on opposite ends of the media days spectrum.
Wrong, wrong, WRONG. While part of a journalist's job is to doubt, a bigger part is to seek the facts before writing. Here are the facts about the football media days schedule:
1. Four teams appear each day. The schools request the day they wish to appear. The conference office tries to accommodate those requests.
2. The schools submitted their requests up to six months ago. Most were e-mailed to the conference office in January or early February; one school submitted its request last December.
3. The media days schedule was finalized a full three months before the events that took place in June.
The bottom line on Nebraska appearing on Day One and Texas on Day Three: No conspiracy, no last-minute change to avoid conflict ... no reason to mention it.
Hot links, served fresh
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star offers this excellent overview of the current Big 12 and its future as a 10-team conference.
Linebacker Tahrick Peak signed a letter of intent with Virginia Tech in February but when he was denied admission there, he wound up becoming eligible at Texas Tech.
Colorado senior offensive lineman Nate Solder, who is described as a "skinny 300-pounder," is primed for his best season.
Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com writes that Kansas junior forward Marcus Morris has matured and will be the focal point of next season's Jayhawks team.
Thursday, July 15
Links for your Thursday reading pleasure
Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Texas A&M basketball coach Mark Turgeon believes he can make the Aggies a nationally competitive program.
Kansas State senior guard Jacob Pullen is being recognized because of his outstanding play ... and his distinctive beard that his mother would rather disappear.
Missouri junior forward Kim English is making an impact in the Twitter world thanks to his wit and writing skills.
In his Big 12 Summer Countdown series, Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune ranks the Conference's top 12 assistant football coaches.
|Tuesday, July 6|
Links to start a short work week
The Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff crunches the revenue numbers to show how and why the revamped Big 12 can be successful.
Interesting and informative Q and A with Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, the new chairman of the Big 12's board of directors.
New Kansas coach Turner Gill and Chuck Long, his offensive coordinator, were star college quarterbacks and are imparting that experience to the Jayhawks' QBs.
With help from his mother and Sooners fans, former Oklahoma wide receiver Corey Wilson continues to battle back from being paralyzed in a car accident.
In the wake of the recent conference realignment crisis, Baylor wants to get more fans to attend its football games.
|Thursday, July 1|
Self likes Kansas' chances
Kansas loses three starters _ Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry - from last year's Big 12 champions. All three were key contributors. Coach Bill Self, though, believes that juniors Tyshawn Taylor and Marcus Morris along with freshman point guard Josh Selby should be three of the top players in the Big 12.
"The team two years ago that performed at a pretty high level - Sherron was the only kid back in the top seven," Self said of the 27-8 Big 12 champion and Sweet 16 team. "There were question marks about that team as well. You knew you had Sherron. You knew you had Cole that had a chance to be good anchors. This team is a little more of an unknown, although I do believe that Tyshawn (Taylor) and Marcus Morris and Josh Selby will be three of our best performers in our league.
"I like our talent level. We're just young and won't know what we're doing for a while. Hopefully we'll figure it out. This is going to be a very athletic, quick ballclub, probably quite a bit more athletic than last year's team."
Basketball injury updates
Josh Selby, Kansas: The incoming freshman point guard broke the little finger on his left (non-shooting) hand during a pick-up game on June 7. "He's got about another week and a half probably in the splint," KU coach Bill Self said. "And if everything looks good, which we anticipate it will, he'll be able to do noncontact stuff. He's just three to four weeks away from being full speed, full contact."
Ray Penn, Oklahoma State: The point guard missed the second half of his freshman season when he suffered a stress reaction in his right knee. Coach Travis Ford said that Penn has fully recovered. "He's 100 percent," Ford said. "His conditioning is looking great. With the time off, he was able to concentrate on weight training to improve his strength."
Justin Safford, Missouri: The forward, who will be a senior, suffered an ACL injury near the end of last season and his injury hampered the Tigers' front court in the postseason. "His progress has been very good," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "He's doing a little jogging and lifting weights. We think by the time we get going in the fall that he'll be ready to go."
Shawn Williams, Texas: The forward missed his freshman season with an ankle injury. He was cleared to start playing pick-up games with the rest of the team.
Varez Ward, Texas: The guard tore a thigh muscle three games into the season and is still rehabbing. He'll be a sophomore this upcoming season but coach Rick Barnes doesn't think that Ward will be going full speed until practice starts in the fall.
Dogus Balbay, Texas: He suffered an ACL injury late in his junior season. Like Ward, Balbay's rehab has been progressing well but he's not expected to be 100 percent until preseason practice starts.
Again, let's emphasize that nothing has been decided regarding future basketball scheduling in the new-look, 10-team Big 12. But during Monday's summer teleconference with the conference's coaches, a popular topic was the possible move to an 18-game, round-robin league schedule.
The Kansas City Star researched recent national champions and found that the last school to win it all after playing an 18-game conference schedule was Connecticut in 1999. The Huskies went 16-2 in the Big East Conference. Interestingly, Syracuse and Connecticut won titles in 2003 and 2004 in seasons where the Big East played a 16-game schedule. Each champion since 2000 has played in a conference that played 16 league games.
Hot links, served fresh
The United States team, coached by Oklahoma's Jeff Capel, won the gold medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship Wednesday night in San Antonio.
According to Bloomberg News, schools (like Texas and Texas A&M) that invested money in their football programs are making money while the economy continues to sputter.
Texas football players Sam and Emmanuel Acho have spent time this summer doing mission work in Nigeria.
Courtney Linehan of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal writes that Texas Tech's Mike Singletary is still losing sleep thinking about the Red Raiders' loss at Ole Miss in the NIT quarterfinals.
Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew was roasted Tuesday night in Waco to benefit the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Iowa State defensive end Rashawn Parker has returned from his season-ending knee injury and is excited about closing out his Cyclones' career.