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

December 2009

Wednesday, December 30

Texas Tech fires Mike Leach
Two days after suspending Mike Leach, Texas Tech fired the coach Wednesday morning. School officials delivered a termination letter to Leach's attorney shortly before a court hearing was scheduled to begin in Lubbock. Leach's attorney was seeking a judge's ruling to lift the suspension.

"I'm very sad to say there's only one person to blame for this and it's Mike Leach," Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told The Associated Press.

Texas Tech released a statement that said Leach's recent actions made it impossible for him to remain coach of the Red Raiders: "In a defiant act of insubordination, Coach Leach continually refused to cooperate in a meaningful way to help resolve the complaint. He also refused to obey a suspension order and instead sued Texas Tech University."

Leach was suspended for his alleged treatment of wide receiver Adam James who suffered a concussion during a December practice. Leach supposedly told team trainers to isolate James in a storage shed and an electrical closet during two practices. James is the son of Craig James, a former star at SMU, the NFL and currently a college football analyst for ESPN.

Ted Liggett, Leach's attorney, promised that his client plans to file a lawsuit regarding his dismissal. "We can guarantee that the fight has just begun," he said.

Texas Tech, which was 8-4 this season, is scheduled to play Michigan State in the Alamo Bowl Saturday in San Antonio. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill has been appointed as the Red Raiders' interim coach.

Last season Texas Tech finished with an 11-2 record. That was followed by tumultuous contract negotiations between Leach and athletic director Gerald Myers. A last-minute agreement resulted in a five-year, $12.7 million contract. Leach was due an $800,000 bonus on Thursday if he were still the head coach at Texas Tech.

Among the papers filed for Wednesday's aborted hearing was the letter Texas Tech officials wanted Leach to sign. It included guidelines regarding who made decisions regarding players' availability due to injuries along with barring "against any student who has suffered an injury." Leach's refusal to sign the letter apparently led to his suspension Monday.

In 10 seasons as Texas Tech's coach, Leach had an 84-43 record. This season, he surpasses his predecessor Spike Dykes as the winningest coach in school history.

Monday, December 28

Banding together
The weekend snowstorm that swept through the Midwest grounded Nebraska's marching band. The plan was for the band to bus to San Diego for Wednesday's Holiday Bowl but the road conditions delayed and eventually cancelled the trip.

While the band's numbers and musicianship can't be replaced, there's an effort afoot to make sure the Cornhuskers will have some musical accompaniment when they face Arizona. Nebraska's alumni chapter in San Diego is trying to put together a group of musicians that can play the school's fight songs.

"We're trying to get the word spread," John O'Reilly, vice president of the Nebraska's San Diego alumni chapter, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "If we're lucky, we can cobble something together at the last second and get them down to San Diego."

Different Cowboys experience Cowboys Stadium
Oklahoma State held a practice at Cowboys Stadium Sunday. The new stadium, the new home of the Cotton Bowl, drew the usual raves from the players, according to the Oklahoman.

"It's unbelievable really," running back Kendall Hunter said. "When I first walked in, I didn't see anything but flat screens."

Said defensive end Richetti Jones, who played at Dallas' Lincoln High School: "It's ridiculous. It's one of the greatest things I've seen in my life, the screen is stupid. ... I played a couple times in the old Cowboys Stadium.  But the new one, it's well beyond expectation."

(Your Humble Correspondent reminds readers in his demographic that Jones' comment about the screen being "stupid" is actually a compliment.)

Cowboys punter Quinn Sharp hit the monstrous video board twice during the first 20 minutes. During warm ups for the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game, the public address announcer warned players to not attempt to hit the video board and if it was damaged their school would be charged.

Short yardage
* According to Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, six Cyclones fans who will attend Thursday's Insight Bowl are making quite the road trip to get to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Schons - mom Meg, dad Ryan and children Dani, Andrew, Emily and Jacob - are traveling to Arizona from Singapore, which is over 9,000 miles from Tempe. They're making stops in St. Louis and Iowa before traveling to Tempe. Meg and Ryan Schon are Iowa State graduates. Ryan works for Monsanto, which is based in St. Louis. The company pays for one trip home per year. The Schons are paying for the bowl game trip themselves.

* Nebraska announced that freshman quarterback Cody Green will play against Arizona in Wednesday's Holiday Bowl. Junior Zac Lee will start at quarterback. Green's playing time likely will depend on Lee's production. "We'll find a place to put him in there. We want him to have an opportunity, especially in a bowl game against an opponent like Arizona," Cornhuskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson told the Lincoln Journal-Star. "We're looking into our future, and setting up the competition for down the road."

* Nebraska's Blackshirt tradition includes giving the black practice jerseys to all seniors for a bowl game. So this week, senior defensive end David Harvey and senior linebacker Colton Koehler received Blackshirts this week. But junior punter/kicker Alex Henery, a 175-pounder also was given a Blackshirt by defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. "Alex Henery was quite a weapon for us defensively, how he's punted and how he's kicked," Pelini said. "So that was very deserved too. ... We went with the triple-extra small. It was still a little big on him."

Linked up
Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com has a good story about the
intertwined backgrounds of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and Arizona coach Mike Stoops heading into their teams' meeting in the Holiday Bowl Wednesday.

Iowa State senior linebacker Jesse Smith, who'll play his final game for the Cyclones in the Insight Bowl, recounts the romantic manner in which he proposed to this wife.

Even with the loss of senior All-American defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska's defense in 2010 might be even better than this season's unit. That's the opinion of Lincoln Journal-Star columnist Steven M. Sipple.

Wednesday, December 23

Texas A&M loses senior Derrick Roland
Your Humble Correspondent asks you to stop and think about this:

You're a basketball player playing for a ranked team. Your best friend since childhood is a fellow senior and together you form the heart and soul of the team. Then imagine you're playing against another ranked team, you go up under the basket and when you land two of the major bones in your lower right leg shatter.

Texas A&M senior guard Derrick Roland is in a hospital in Seattle, 2,000 miles from his teammates in College Station. Senior Donald Sloan, his boyhood buddy, is with him in Seattle as is coach Mark Turgeon. Roland's mother is in the process of trying to fly to the Northwest to be with her son, who probably will be hospitalized through Christmas.

The game was televised by Fox Sports Northwest and there is sure to be replay after replay of Roland's injury. Watch only if you enjoy slowing down for serious highway accidents. If you remember the video of Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theisman breaking his leg on Monday Night Football, Roland suffered a similar gruesome fate.

Reports from the game say the sound of Roland's bones snapping could be heard over the crowd noise. Those close to the scene turned their backs to avoid seeing the fractured bones protruding through skin.

"D-Roll is our leader, on and off the floor," said Texas A&M assistant coach Scott Spinnelli, who answered questions while coach Mark Turgeon rushed to the hospital. "It was tough for our kids to see that. It think it affected, obviously, our team. I thought our guys did a good job trying to finish the game the best as they possibly can.

"It was a very, very gruesome sight. I don't know how the Joe Theismann injury was any different, but that has to be as close as you can get to it."

As doctors attended to Roland on the court, Sloan pulled his jersey over his face to hide his sobbing. During the 10-minute delay in the game, the Aggies gathered at their bench. Through tears, they prayed. After the 73-64 loss - an outcome that seemed irrelevant - most of the A&M players were still crying.

"It's really sad. I went out there and looked at (Roland's) eyes, and they said a lot," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Like something really, really bad just happened in his life.

"It was beyond scared."

Terrific Tuesday
Texas A&M's loss at Washington and the injury to senior guard Derrick Roland marred a big night for the Big 12.

Second-ranked Texas got its second consecutive victory over a top 10 team as the Longhorns out-toughed No. 9 Michigan State, 79-68, in Austin. Senior forward Damion James continued his outstanding play with 23 points and 13 rebounds. In the process, he became UT's career rebounding leader.

Top-ranked Kansas shot 73.1 percent in the second half to overcome Cal, which trailed just 40-39 at halftime. The Jayhawks and the Longhorns are both off to 11-0 starts.

Nebraska chalked up its best victory of the season with a 74-70 defeat of Tulsa in the Las Vegas Classic. Tulsa is expected to be one of the top teams in Conference USA and has an 86-65 victory over Oklahoma State.

Texas Tech bounced back from its only loss of the season with a 100-87 victory over Stanford in Lubbock. Mike Singletary scored 28 to lead five Red Raiders in double figures.

Iowa State improved to 9-3 with an 83-52 victory over North Dakota. Marquis Gilstrap had his second consecutive strong game with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Colorado also had five players in double figures as the Buffaloes improved to 7-4 with a 92-58 victory over Cal State Northridge.

In women's basketball Tuesday night, the Big 12 was 3-0. Oklahoma State, Kansas and Colorado won their games by the average margin of 27 points. The Cowgirls' Andrea Riley scored 28 and became the school's career scoring leader while the Jayhawks' Danielle McCray scored 37, her second consecutive game of 30 or more.

Texas-North Carolina telecast a ratings winner
ESPN's telecast of last Saturday's North Carolina-Texas game at Cowboys Stadium averaged 2,362,000 households, based on a 2.4 rating, making it the network's most-viewed men's college basketball game in the fourth quarter (October to December) since Dec. 18, 2001. On that date, Kentucky vs. Duke in the Jimmy V Classic averaged 2,536,000 households.

With 2,949,000 total viewers, the game between the second-ranked Longhorns and the 10th-ranked Tar Heels was the most-viewed fourth quarter men's college basketball telecast among total viewers (adults 21 and older) since Ohio State at North Carolina on Nov. 29, 2006 (3,024,000 viewers).

The telecast was the highest-rated and most-viewed men's college basketball telecast this season across all networks, cable and broadcast.

Tuesday, December 22

Making the grade
Before Kansas played Michigan last Saturday, Kansas junior center Cole Aldrich told the Lawrence Journal World that he had two things on his mind: Finals and Michigan.

Last week he made public his goal for this season. He wants to be an Academic All-American. Before the top-ranked Jayhawks played the Wolverines, Aldrich had three final exams. He's majoring in communications with a 3.2 grade-point average. To become eligible for Academic All-American consideration, he needs a 3.3 GPA.

The College Sports Information Directors of America appoints a panel of voters to select the Academic All-Americans. The panel considers a player's on-court performance along with class performance.

The last time Kansas had basketball players honored with Academic All-American status was 1999 when guards Jacque Vaughn and Ryan Robertson were selected.

"Just for the fact in my immediate family we've never had anybody graduate from college or even attend a university," said Aldrich, who had 16 hours on his class schedule during the just-completed semester. "So one huge goal of mine is to graduate, also to do really well in the classroom, to show people the stereotype that basketball players or athletes are just in it for the sport is not true. There are a lot of guys in it for academics, too."

Varied opinions
Jay Bilas of ESPN.com on Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen:
"The Wildcats won another big one away from home against a good opponent, and Pullen was the biggest reason why. He had 30 points, 4 assists and 3 steals against Alabama. Over the past two weekends - in double-digits wins over UNLV and Alabama - Pullen averaged 29 points on 20-of-31 shooting, including 13-of-19 from 3-point range.

Bilas on Texas senior forward Damion James: "James now has 41 career double-doubles, which is remarkable. The versatile and voracious rebounder is simply relentless, and he scored 25 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had four steals against North Carolina. He was the toughest dude in Cowboys Stadium this weekend, and would have been even if the Cowboys had been playing at home."

Bilas on the most impressive conference: "Hands down, the Big 12. Whatever questions there were about the top and middle of the league have been answered in the affirmative. Kansas is the best team, although the Jayhawks' schedule has let them down. Who would have thought a road game against UCLA and a matchup with Michigan would have provided as much resistance as a Chihuahua pulling on its leash? KU played poorly against both and was never threatened. Texas got its first test against North Carolina and got an A-plus, while Kansas State proved it is for real by beating UNLV and Alabama away from home. I thought the Big Ten would have shown better, but the Big 12 has proven to be the best league."

ESPN.com's basketball blog: "Baylor's Ekpe Udoh finally appears to be living up to the promise that he flashed in his two years at Michigan. In Sunday's 94-63 win over Texas-Arlington, Udoh fell a block shy of a triple-double. He set career-highs in points (22) and rebounds (16), while tying his best single-game block total (9). It was the first 20-point, 15-rebound game for a Baylor player since Lawrence Roberts in 2003. After recording only one double-double in two full seasons as a Wolverine, Udoh has six this season for the 9-1 Bears.

ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan on Texas' victory: "Texas is really, really good. This is not a surprise, nor should it serve as any sort of newsflash. But after the Longhorns' 102-90 demolition of North Carolina at Jerry Jones' wonder palace Saturday, it's officially time to declare the Longhorns legit. I mean, like, national championship-favorite legit. Before the 2009-10 season began, there was some uncertainty on this matter. Would Dexter Pittman dominate down low? (He has.) Would Damion James harness his talent and run roughshod over smaller, less athletic defenders? (He is.) Would Texas' world-beating recruiting class -- not to mention Florida transfer Jai Lucas - give Texas an immediate boost? (It has.) Texas is so talented, it made North Carolina look downright normal and nobody but nobody makes North Carolina look normal."

Jason King of Rivals.com on Texas beating North Carolina: "I knew Texas was going to be good. I just didn't think it'd happen quite this fast. Saturday's 103-90 win over North Carolina was evidence. Usually teams that feature three freshmen among their top six players take awhile to gel. At Texas, though, J'Covan Brown, Avery Bradley and Jordan Hamilton seem to have adjusted more quickly than most. Brown scored 21 points against North Carolina and Bradley added 20 in a win so impressive that the opinion of some folks after the game was that Texas - and not conference rival Kansas - was the No. 1 team in America.

"The Longhorns' starting lineup has all the pieces of a championship-caliber team. The frontcourt of Dexter Pittman and Damion James is arguably the best in the country. Mix in Bradley and Brown in the backcourt and Hamilton at the three, and Texas has stars at every position. The biggest difference-maker for the Longhorns, though, is their depth. Eleven Texas players logged seven or more minutes Saturday. Senior Justin Mason, a three-year starter before this season, played just seven minutes against the Tar Heels. Jai Lucas, who started at Florida two years ago before transferring, only saw six minutes of action. When you throw in the senior leadership provided by James, Pittman and Mason, this is the best team Rick Barnes has had in his seven seasons in Austin. And as Barnes said, it's just December. The Longhorns are only going to get better."

Tuesday, December 15

Links on a variety of topics
A lot of people in Youngstown, Ohio, will be interested in watching the Holiday Bowl between Nebraska and Arizona.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com writes that Kansas State coach Frank Martin is proving that critics of his hiring were off base.

This story in the Oklahoman helps explain why the Cotton Bowl moved its game to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Junior Neil Erisman is captain of Oklahoma State's wrestling team and he wants each of his teammates to take this season seriously.

In the first competition since winning the men's and women's outdoor track and field championships last spring, Texas A&M competed in the Reveille Invitational Saturday.

Seth Davis of SI.com heaps praise on Kansas freshman Xavier Henry.

Gary Wade is celebrating his 30th season as the public address announcer at Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum.

 

Sunday, December 13

Kansas hires Turner Gill as football coach
Four weeks after reports surfaced that Kansas was investigating the behavior of coach Mark Mangino, the Jayhawks will announce Mangino's replacement. The school will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday to announce it has hired Turner Gill.

Your Humble Correspondent believes that Kansas made the best of a bad situation. Mangino lifted the Jayhawks to unparalleled heights but apparently his methods were a bit too rough. His dismissal after the season ended led athletic director Lew Perkins to Gill, who is a close-to-perfect fit.

Gill knows the Big 12 North territory. He was 28-2 as a quarterback at Nebraska from 1981-83. He served as an assistant coach with the Cornhuskers from ---- and helped Tommie Frazier develop into a championship-level quarterback. Gill's first coaching gig was at Buffalo, a school that started playing Division I-A football in 1999.

In four seasons coaching the Bulls, Gill had a 20-30 record that included a Mid-American Conference championship in 2008. Hiring a coach with a losing record sometimes requires an explanation. Here's the one Kansas can use: In seven seasons as a Division I-A team before Gill's arrival, Buffalo had a 10-69 record.

Gill is a native of Fort Worth, Texas. While at Nebraska, Texas was one of his recruiting responsibilities. Gill understands the importance of continuing to be successful recruiting players from the Lone Star state.

There will be those that will point out that Gill is African-American. Good for Perkins and the KU administration for being color blind. Gill was the right coach and the best coach for the Jayhawks, regardless of skin color.

Heisman Trophy, the day after
Reports from the Heisman Trophy ceremony Saturday night: Austin American-Statesman, Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal-Star,
ESPN.com, CBSSports.com, SI.com. And here's a nice read by Andy Staples of SI.com on what players like Texas' Colt McCoy and Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh went through during "awards week."

Friday, December 11

Heisman Trophy talk
For good old-fashioned drama, the Heisman Trophy presentation Saturday night might rival the "Who Shot J.R." episode of "Dallas" or maybe the finale of "Lost" when we find out just what the heck the explanation is for what's taken place on that island.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Nebraska defensive tackle ---- Suh are two of the five finalists invited to the Heisman ceremonies. ESPN's hour-long show starts at 7 p.m. CT Saturday; tune in around 7:50 p.m. if all you want is to find out who wins.

Your Humble Correspondent knows this much: Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who in 2007 became the first sophomore to win the Heisman and finished third last season, is not going to become the second two-time winner. YHC believes that Tebow was invited because of his Q rating and at ESPN's behest.

Here are some newsy tidbits regarding the Heisman and Thursday night's awards show:

* StiffArmTrophy.com is a web site devoted to projecting the Heisman winner correctly (think election night exit polls). The web site contacts over 600 Heisman voters and asks how they voted. As of Friday, the web site had received 277 responses from voters. Here's the tally: Alabama's Mark Ingram is first, Stanford's Toby Gerhart is second and Suh is third. They're separated by 110 points. McCoy is fourth. Suh has received the most first-place votes.

* McCoy won both the Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Trophy Thursday night. Those are presented annually to the nation's most outstanding player. Only twice has a player one both trophies and not won the Heisman - Penn State's Larry Johnson in 2002 and Pitt's Hugh Green in 1980.

* The Maxwell was first awarded in 1937. Over the previous 73 years, it has agreed with the Heisman selection 35 times. The Walter Camp was first awarded in 1967 and has mirrored the Heisman voting 33 times in 42 previous years. One player has won the Maxwell, Camp and Heisman on 19 occasions.

* Four times the Heisman winner has won neither the Maxwell nor the Camp - Texas running back Earl Campbell in 1977, Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke in 2000, USC quarterback Carson Palmer in 2002 and Oklahoma quarterback Jason White in 2003.

* Suh has won the Nagruski (top defensive player), Bednarik (top defensive player), Outland (top interior) and Lombardi (top lineman or linebacker). The Bednarik was first awarded in 1995, the Nagurski in 1993, the Lombardi in 1970 and the Outland in 1946. Suh is the first player to win all four in a single season. LSU's Glenn Dorsey won the Outland, Lombardi and Nagurski in 2007.

* Suh is the 11th player to win the Outland and Lombardi in the same season and the fouth Nebraska player to win both. Previous Cornhuskers to win the Outland and Lombardi in one season are Rich Glover (1970), Dave Rimington (1982) and Dean Steinkuhler (1983).

* Here are links to reports from Thursday night's awards show: Austin American-Statesman, Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel.

Curiosity factor
One thing Your Humble Correspondent doesn't understand - and this is not about making excuses or being a shill - but why is Colt McCoy being dissed in the Heisman Trophy race because of his performance in the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game? True, he had three interceptions. One was tipped at the line of scrimmage, another was a reception stolen by Nebraska defensive back Dejon Gomes.

Any quarterback - Montana, Elway, Marino, Staubach, Aikman, yes, even Tim Tebow - has a hard time completing passes while planted in the turf. Was McCoy at fault for the nine times he was sacked? It says here he kept his poise in the pocket and completed two clutch throws to teammate/roommate Jordan Shipley in the fourth quarter. Both completions helped the Longhorns win.

Facing the kind of pass rush Nebraska was mounting, most quarterbacks at that point of the game would have been so shell-shocked and skittish that completing a screen pass would have been a major accomplishment. McCoy was standing tall in the pocket and looking downfield even though he had no reason to believe he was in imminent danger from Ndamukong Suh and his marauding defensive line teammates.

Monday, December 7

Nebraska's Suh named Nagurski Trophy Winner
Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was named the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive player. The annual award was presented Monday night by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the Charlotte Touchdown Club at a banquet in Charlotte, N.C. Earlier in the day, Suh and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy were named finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

Suh was chosen from a field of finalists that also included Iowa linebacker Pat Angerer, Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry, Alabama defensive lineman Terrence Cody and TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes.

The 6-4, 300-pound Suh became the first Cornhusker to win the award as the nation's best defensive player and is the first Nebraska defensive player to earn a major honor since Grant Wistrom was named the Lombardi Award winner in 1997. Suh is also a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award as well as the Outland Trophy, Bednarik Award, Lott Trophy and the Walter Camp National Player of the Year Award.

Sunday, December 6

Historical marker: 5 Big 12 volleyball teams in Regionals
For the first time in Big 12 history, five teams have qualified for the NCAA Volleyball Championship Regionals. Iowa State, Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M will play in the Omaha, while Baylor advanced to the Gainesville Regional. The league also leads the nation with the most teams remaining in the 2009 field.

The Omaha Regional will feature two Big 12 matchups -- Texas/Texas A&M and Iowa State/Nebraska. The Longhorns defeated the Aggies twice during the regular season while ISU and NU split their series. BU will face No. 9 Seed California on Dec. 11.  

Big 12 champion Texas (26-1) was the first league squad to punch its ticket to the round of 16 with a sweep of TCU in Austin on Friday.  The second-ranked Longhorns, which earn their fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance, opened postseason play with a 3-0 win over Texas State. 

Texas A&M ended 15th-seeded LSU's season in Baton Rouge on Saturday evening with a five-set victory. The Aggies, which have posted a 20-10 record, earned a spot in a regional semifinal for the first time since 2003.

Seventh-seeded and fifth-ranked Iowa State (27-4) swept Wichita State to advance to its third consecutive regional, while the Huskers eliminated another Missouri Valley opponent, No. 20 Northern Iowa, 3-0. With the win, 10th-seeded Nebraska will play in its 16th consecutive NCAA Regional, a streak that more than doubles any other program in the nation. NU is 25-6 overall in 2009.

Baylor upset the No. 8 seed UCLA on the Bruins' home court to register its first-ever second-round victory in the NCAA Championship. The win also marked the first time the Bears defeated a top-10 team in program history. BU improved to 24-9 on the season.

The regional winners will advance to the national semifinals hosted by the University of South Florida and Tampa Bay Sports Commission at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., on December 17 and 19. Last season, it marked the first time two Big 12 teams, Nebraska and Texas, competed in semifinal action.

Clarifying and reviewing the rule
Instant replay and the game officials did their job and did it correctly at the end of Saturday's Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game.

To review the final seconds, here is what happened: Facing a third and 13 from the Nebraska 30, Texas snapped the ball with about nine seconds remaining. Quarterback Colt McCoy took a shotgun snap, rolled to his right under pressure and threw the ball away out of bounds.

The game clock at Cowboys Stadium clicked to zero and Nebraska's players rushed the field to celebrate an apparent 12-10 victory. However, instant replay official Jack McDonald reviewed the video supplied by ABC Sports. The video indicated that McCoy's pass was incomplete with one second remaining.

Here's the applicable rule quoted from the NCAA Football Rule Book:

Section 3 (Reviewable plays, limitations on reviewable plays), Article 6: No other plays or officiating decisions are reviewable. However, the replay official may correct egregious errors, including those involving the game clock, whether or not a play is reviewable. (Italics added here for emphasis.)

Walt Anderson, Big 12 coordinator of football officials, met with the media after the game to further clarify the fact that the referee Tom Walker, his crew and the instant replay official properly followed the rules to determine if there needed to be one second put on the game clock.

"The ball, by rule, has to hit something. ... it hit the railing over there by one of those suites that are on the ground level," Anderson said. "It may have bounced around a little bit, too. Once we saw it hit something, that was the point at which we stopped the clock."

With the chance to run one more play, Texas' Hunter Lawrence kicked a 46-yard field goal to give the Longhorns a 13-12 victory and a chance to play Alabama in the BCS National Championship game on Jan. 7.

Wednesday, December 2

Football awards update
Colt McCoy of Texas and Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska - the Big 12's offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively - were named finalists for the Walter Camp Award. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Houston quarterback Case Keenum and Alabama running back Mark Ingram also are on the list.

McCoy was the Walter Camp Award winner last season and Suh is the only defensive player among the five finalists. The winner of this year's Camp Award will be announced on Dec. 10.

The Big 12 has three of the seven finalists for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award - Oklahoma junior Jeremy Beal, Texas A&M junior Von Miller and Texas senior Sergio Kindle. The winner will be announced on Dec. 9.

Tuesday, December 1

Polling places
It's rare for the Big 12 to send some love to the Southeastern Conference but Florida's 77-74 victory over Michigan State helped the Big 12 make history. The loss knocked the Spartans out of the No. 2 spot in the polls and allowed No. 3 Texas to move up behind top-ranked Kansas. On over 40 occasions the Big 12 has had multiple teams ranked in the top five in the polls but never the top two.

Texas A&M defeated two ranked teams in last week's 76 Classic. One of the Aggies Twittered that he thought A&M had earned the right to be ranked. Consider it done. The Aggies are No. 19 in The Associated Press and No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll after knocking off No. 19 Clemson and No. 16 Minnesota. The Aggies' only loss in Anaheim was a 73-66 decision to West Virginia, which won the eight-team event.

The Aggies are back in the polls for the first time since Feb. 18, 2008. That ranking marked the end of a school-record streak of 36 consecutive weeks in the top 25. Prior to that, A&M had been ranked for a total of 27 weeks in its history.

Colorado: Proving something in paradise
A year ago, Colorado went 1-2 in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu. This year, the Buffs were 1-2 in the EA Sports Maui Invitational that finished up last week. Same records, same vacation state but vastly different attitudes.

"Last year I was more of a tourist than a basketball player," sophomore forward Austin Dufault said.

Gonzaga won the Maui Invitational but not before having to rally from a 15-point deficit to Colorado in the opening game of the eight-game tournament. The Buffs then overcame an eight-point deficit in the final 50 seconds of regulation to force overtime against Arizona before losing, 91-87. While the two four-point losses mirrored last season when Colorado lost eight games by five or fewer points, the Buffs returned from Hawaii confident.

"It's completely different," said junior and leading scorer Cory Higgins said. "This team has flipped 180 degrees. Last year I think we would have come out hoping we could compete, hoping we could stay in the game, and just see what happens after 40 minutes. This year we stepped on the court expecting to win."

"We can compete with anyone on the national level," sophomore point guard Nate Tomlinson told the Boulder Daily Camera. "That's something we really wanted to do last year, but we weren't quite ready for it. We've proved to ourselves and everyone else here that we're ready for it. That's the one thing we take away from this tournament."

Oklahoma State: Viva, Las Vegas
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. What happened to Oklahoma State in Sin City over the weekend was an impressive victory in the Las Vegas Invitational Championship. The Cowboys moved to 6-0 with a dominating 77-55 victory over Utah in Saturday's title game. James Anderson, named the events MVP, scored 26 points against the Utes.

The Cowboys beat Bradley, 68-57, before blasting Utah.

"I'm very proud of our basketball team to be able to turn round in less than 24 hours and prepare for a good, experienced Utah team," said Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, whose team held the Utes to 33 percent shooting. "It was the best 40 minutes overall that we've played. I thought our defense was terrific. "We are by no means want to be our best right now or want to peak right now, we want to do our best to survive."

Rock chalk, big fan
There was quite a commotion in the stands before and during Kansas' 112-75 victory over Tennessee Tech last Friday. Kansas City native Jason Sudeikis, a "Saturday Night Live" cast member attended the game and was mobbed for autographs. "Very nice," he told the Lawrence Journal-World of the attention. "I had no idea. You sometimes forget when you are working on the show people sometimes watch it."

Sudeikis didn't attend Kansas but he's been fan of the Jayhawks for a long time. If you watch "SNL," there's a good chance you've seen him do a sketch wearing KU gear. The cast and the wardrobe department are willing to indulge his fan boy status. "It's pretty well known at this point," he said. "I wear my game shorts, the ones I bought online, before every show."

Brackins, on his own case
Iowa State junior Craig Brackins was self critical after the Cyclones' 67-65 loss to Northwestern, their first defeat in seven games. Brackins scored 18 on 6-of-16 shooting. "There are some possessions I settled for whatever they give me, be it a jump shot or a fade-away," Brackins told the Ames Tribune. "I just need to get more aggressive. "When I get aggressive, good results happen," Brackins said. "It's just something I'm going to start doing."

Coach Greg McDermott, though, pointed out that Brackins attempted 10 second-half free throws - a sign that he was being aggressive. "I'm certainly not going to discourage him to shoot (a jumper) because he has proven over the test of time that he can effectively make that shot," McDermott said.

Facing a familiar foe
Iowa State will host Northern Iowa Wednesday. The Panthers return five starters from last season's 23-11 team that participated in the NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa also happens to be the alma mater of Cyclones' coach Greg McDermott, who coached the Panthers before moving to Ames. When Iowa State faces its in-state rivals the next few years, McDermott's emotions will be torn - his son Doug, a senior at Ames High, signed a letter of intent in November to play at Northern Iowa.

"This one will probably be easier than the next four," McDermott told the Des Moines Register. "I don't know that it's ever easy, coaching against them. There's a connection there that I'll have the rest of my life. It's even going to change more next year when my son goes to school there."

Men's basketball news and notes
*
Here's a link to a great story about Kansas coach Bill Self reaching out, on two occasions, to encourage a 9-year-old youth player in Austin who happens to be a fans of the Jayhawks.

* Texas freshman guard J'Covan Brown is switching numbers. He's trading No. 14 for No. 50 to honor injured teammate Varez Ward, who wears No. 50. Ward, a sophomore guard, is out for the season after rupturing his right quadriceps during warm ups before the Longhorns' victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 24. Ward was scheduled to have surgery Tuesday. Brown received permission to make the switch from Ward and UT coach Rick Barnes. "That shows you what kind of teammate J'Covan is," Barnes said.

* Missouri lost to Richmond, 59-52, in the championship game of the South Padre Island Invitational and then watched the Spiders celebrate not only their title but beating a team that won 31 games and reached the Elite Eight last season. For the 4-1 Tigers, it was further evidence that this season they'll be the hunted, not the hunters. "I always tell these guys, they're not playing this team. They're playing last year's team," Missouri Coach Mike Anderson told the Columbia Daily Tribune. "That's why you saw the celebration from Richmond."

* Rice had 11 offensive rebounds against Texas Sunday. Previous foes Iowa and Pittsburgh also were able to get to the offensive glass. Longhorns coach Rick Barnes is perplexed. "We should be a great rebounding team," he said. "We were getting spread out, and (the Owls) were running to the boards. We just kind of walked in. We have to be more physical."

* Iowa State's LaRon Dendy, the best backup the Cyclones have for All-American candidate Craig Brackins, reinjured his right knee Friday against Saint Louis. Originally, Dendy sprained his knee in practice on Nov. 16. Coach Greg McDermott said he's not sure how long Dendy will be sidelined.

* Through Nov. 30, the Big 12 was 60-11 (.845) in nonconference play. That includes a 3-1 record against top 25 opponents. Five of the 11 losses came against Big Six conferences and the average margin of defeat in the 11 losses is 7.7 points.

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