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

January 2010

Sunday, January 31

Women's basketball notes from the weekend
* Nebraska is 6-0 in Big 12 play for the first time in program history.

* Nebraska's Yvonne Turner continues her torrid 3-point shooting. Over her last five games, she's made 23-of-41 3-pointers (56 percent).

* Conversely, Nebraska's opponents are struggling from 3-point range. The Cornhuskers allow just 24.5 percent from behind the arc. In four Big 12 road games, opponents are just 7-of-50 in 3-point shooting against Nebraska.

* Texas Tech was 8-of-17 on free throws in its 70-66 loss to No. 11 Oklahoma Saturday night. Over the last two games, the Lady Raiders are 13-of-35 (37 percent) from the line. The Lady Raiders are shooting 66.4 percent on free throws this season.

* Colorado lost its 16th straight game against a ranked opponent and 13th straight to a team ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls. The Buffs are 50-122 all-time against ranked teams.

* In its last two losses - at Baylor and at home to Oklahoma State - Texas A&M is 45-of-126 from the field (35.7 percent) with a total of 34 turnovers.

* Iowa State is 9-24 overall at Kansas State.

* Baylor's lack of outside shooting is becoming a major problem. The Lady Bears were 2-of-14 against Texas Sunday and in six Big 12 games Baylor is 8-of-39 from behind the arc.

* Baylor had two significant scoring droughts against Texas' zone defense. The Lady Bears went the first 4:52 without a field goal and then had another span of 7:29 without a field goal late in the first half.

* Texas has held 10 teams to 10 or more points below their season scoring average.

* Texas sophomore Ashley Gayle needs four blocked shots to set the school record for a sophomore.

Men's basketball notes from Saturday
* Baylor won at Texas for the first time since Jan. 3, 1998. After losing 24 consecutive games to the Longhorns, the Bears have won two in a row; they also defeated UT in last season's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.

* Baylor's Epke Udoh is shooting 50 percent from the field and is averaging 13.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. But in his last two games, he's 5-of-25 from the field, has totaled 15 points and 20 rebounds.

* Nebraska coach Doc Sandler removed sophomore guard Brandon Richardson from the starting lineup for Saturday's game with Oklahoma. It was not a demotion. "Brandon's been, if not the most consistent player we've had all year, he's one of them,'' Sadler said. "I decided to bring him back off the bench because he can bring energy defensively, offensively - whatever he can bring is always positive. ... He made me look like I knew what I was doing.'' Richardson scored a game-high 16 points in 28 minutes.

* Guards Tony Crocker and Willie Warren returned to the Oklahoma starting lineup after missing recent games with ankle injuries. Warren played 28 minutes and Crocker played 25. They combined to make 3-of-16 shots.

* Here's why Nebraska's victory over Oklahoma was so important for the Cornhuskers: Their next six games are against teams with a combined record of 89-17. Nebraska plays host to Kansas State Tuesday, then travels to Kansas, hosts Baylor, is at Texas, at Kansas State, then at home against Missouri. The Huskers' victory over the Sooners was their first in Big 12 play.

* Texas Tech's Darko Cohadarevic returned to the lineup after a one-game suspension. He picked up three fouls in four minutes. Robert Lewandowski, his backup, picked up his third foul early in the second half. Texas A&M's David Loubeau took advantage of the foul trouble to score 19 points.

* Texas Tech's Mike Singletary injured his left shoulder late in the Red Raiders' 85-70 loss at Texas A&M. Once he got off the court, he went straight to the locker room. He left Reed Arena wearing a sling but the extent of his injury isn't known.

* After recording a season-high 28 points against Texas Tech Wednesday night, Texas senior forward Damion James had a career-high 19 rebounds in the Longhorns' overtime loss to Baylor. James leads the team in scoring (18.2 ppg), rebounding (11.3 rpg), double-doubles (12), minutes (29.2 mpg) and steals (37).

* Colorado is 1-13 at Hilton Coliseum in Big 12 play and 1-18 dating back to 1992. The Buffaloes' only win during that time was a was a 54-52 overtime triumph on Jan. 22 2005.

* Colorado freshman guard Alec Burks, who was the only first-year player in Division I to score in double figures in every game, didn't score before injuring his left knee early in the Buffs' loss at Iowa State. Burks was scheduled to undergo an MRI Sunday. Colorado trainers didn't believe that he sustained a torn ACL or any type of season-ending injury.

* Crowd talk: Texas A&M set a Reed Arena record with 13,648 in attendance for Saturday's 85-70 victory over Texas Tech. And Kansas State set a record for attendance for ESPN's College GameDay telecast when 8,159 showed up Saturday morning at Bramlage Coliseum. That record isn't likely to last. GameDay will be at Kentucky on Feb. 13 and there could be close to 20,000 at Rupp Arena. K-State is one of 15 schools to host the program for both football and basketball.

* Oklahoma has lost two of its last three and the Sooners' second-half defense in the last three games has been troubling. After halftime, OU's last three foes have shot 51-of-92 from the field (55.4 percent) and 15-of-28 from 3-point range (53.5 percent).

* From the FYI File: In case you missed it, San Francisco upset No. 8 Gonzaga, 81-77 in overtime, Saturday night. The loss ended the Zags' 28-game West Coast Conference winning streak. Dior Lawrence led the Dons with 22 points and hit consecutive 3-pointers in OT. Lawrence played his freshman season at Texas Tech. And San Francisco is coached by former Kansas guard Rex Walters.

They said it
After her team missed 12 free throws and was outrebounded by Colorado, Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin had this to say about the Cornhuskers' 80-64 victory:
"Not all games are going to be pretty. "This was a grind, but we ground it out for the win."

Colorado's Kathy McConnell-Miller on Nebraska:
"There's no doubt that Nebraska is one of the top teams in our conference and the country. They've got a very, very solid starting five. I would match them up with any in the country."

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel on his team's travel problems getting to Lincoln for Saturday's 63-46 loss to Nebraska: "We don't make excuses. Travel was what it was. It was different than what we do, but we got here in plenty of time.  We got some rest and got a good night's sleep back home last night. They just outplayed us and out-toughed us. That's something we have to do a better job with.''

Nebraska coach Doc Sadler:
"I know this: This team has no chance to succeed unless we play harder than everybody else. When we do that, then we can play with most teams. Then, we've got to make shots. This team starts making shots, it's a pretty good team."

Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke on Andrea Riley, who overcame foul trouble to score 27 of her 31 points in the second half:
"It was such a scramble, such a hard fought game, the only difference is that I have Andrea Riley. She's going to get it done more times than she's not going to get it done. She's one of the most special players in America."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on her team, which is 2-4 in Big 12 play:
"I want to say this about Baylor - we are not going away. We had every opportunity to fold our tent today and use excuses about freshmen. Look, it is what it is. Melissa Jones is gimpy. We are getting about all we can out of her. She is still not well. ... I looked up one time, and we had five freshmen on the floor. Give them the minutes because one day they are going to be able to execute on the offensive end, and that is where we are having our problems."

Big 12 men and women win Texas A&M Challenge
The Texas A&M Challenge was successful last season and expanded this year to include three schools from the Pacific-10 Conference, joining the Southeastern Conference plus Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M from the Big 12. The men's and women's teams from the Big 12 won both events.

On the men's side, the Big 12 piled up 297 points, compared to 235 for the Pac-10 and 144 for the SEC. For the women, the Big 12 scored 260, while the Pac-10 had 237 and the SEC had 192. The Big 12 consisted of Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas. The Pac-10 brought Oregon, Stanford and Washington State, while the SEC was represented by  Florida and South Carolina. Arkansas was prevented from competing because of icy conditions in Fayetteville.

Here's the story on the A&M Challenge from the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

Sunday reading: Worth the click
Here's what some national writers filed from Manhattan on Saturday night's Kansas-Kansas State game: ESPN.com's
Pat Forde and CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish. Both stories focused on Jayhawks senior guard Sherron Collins.

The Big Ten Conference's decision to study possible expansion has the college sports world on alert. Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says, "I do think the Big Ten holds a key, maybe the key, in terms of what is going to be the next phase of college athletics."

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman is blunt and on target in his criticism of Texas after the Longhorns' home-court overtime loss to Baylor.

Texas freshman Marquise Goodwin, who was a solid contributor to the Longhorns' football team, is out to make his mark in track and field.

Baylor senior Tweety Carter has taken over as the team's point guard and leader after building his reputation as a scorer.

Thursday, January 26

Men's notes from Wednesday's games
* Tommy Mason-Griffin's 38 points in Oklahoma's 89-84 victory over Iowa State is the most scored in a Big 12 men's game this season. His 38 points is tied for fifth for the most points by a freshman in Big 12 history. Mason-Griffin is the first OU freshman to score 20 or more points in three consecutive games since Tim McAlister during the 1983-84 season.

* Over the last five games, Oklahoma freshman point guard Tommy Mason-Griffin has played 202 out of a possible 205 minutes.

* In six Big 12 games, Mason-Griffin is 20-of-40 on 3-pointers.

* Oklahoma won without two starters. Guard Willie Warren (17.6 points per game) and Tony Crocker (12.3) were sidelined with ankle injuries. In addition to Mason-Griffin, junior Cade Davis helped pick up the slack by scoring a season-high 24.

* Texas guards Justin Mason and Dogus Balbay were combining to average just over seven points a game. Each had scored in double figures once this season. But when Texas Tech backed off both players and dared them to make plays, both responded. Mason scored season-high 18 and Balbay had a career-high 13 as the 6th-ranked Longhorns staved off the Red Raiders, 95-83. "We told them today they had to shoot the ball and they did," Texas coach Rick Barnes said.

* Texas Tech's John Roberson scored 27 against Texas. In the Red Raiders' five previous Big 12 games, Roberson had scored a total of 67 points.

* Iowa State's Marquis Gilstrap had 11 points and nine rebounds against Oklahoma. He fell one rebound short of his fifth double-double in Big 12 play.

* Iowa State has lost 17 consecutive games in the state of Oklahoma.

* Colorado freshman guard Alec Burks scored 21 points in the Buffs' victory over visiting Nebraska. Burks has scored in double figures in every Colorado game. He's the only freshman in Division I to score in double figures in every game this season.

* Colorado is 11-9 and 2-4 in Big 12 play. Last season, the Buffs finished 9-22 and 1-15 so they've won more games this season and doubled their Conference victory total.

Women's notes from Wednesday's games
* Stat of the week: In three Big 12 road games so far, Nebraska has limited its opponents to two 3-point field goals in 35 attempts.

* After missing the last four games with a stress reaction in her right leg, Baylor junior guard Melissa Jones returned to action. She checked in less than a minute into the 14ht-ranked Lady Bears' 61-53 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M. She played 36 minutes, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds. "She's the glue that holds us together," said freshman Brittany Griner, who had 20 points and five blocked shots. "Having (Jones) on the floor lifted all of us."

* Iowa State freshman Anna Prins celebrated her 19th birthday with 15 points in No. 22 Iowa State's 63-56 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma. Prins made 6-of-12 shots. In her previous game at Texas, Prins was 1-of-12 from the field.

* Nebraska's 42-point margin of victory over Texas Tech was the biggest winning margin in a conference road game in school history. It was also the Cornhuskers' first victory in Lubbock after seven defeats.

* Nebraska senior guard Yvonne Turner was 3-of-5 from 3-pointer range. In Nebraska's last four games, Turner has hit 20-of-38 3-pointers.

* Nebraska's 5-0 start in Big 12 play matches the school's best conference start. The Cornhuskers started 5-0 in the Big Eight Conference in the 1987-88 season.

* Texas Tech lost 91-53 to Tennessee but the 42-point margin in the loss to Nebraska was its biggest of the season. It was the worst loss for coach Kristy Curry as the Lady Raiders' coach.

* Texas Tech missed all 13 of its 3-point attempts while Nebraska made 7-of-16 threes.

* Texas A&M scored just 18 points in the first half at Baylor. That's the fewest since scoring 18 in the first half at Texas on Jan. 21, 2007 in Austin, Texas. The Aggies scored a season-low 53 points.

They said it
* Texas senior Damion James on setting the Big 12 record of 48 career double-doubles: "That don't mean nothing to me. It just feels good being on the winning side of the table. I'll let my mama talk about it. She'll brag about it to her friends."

* Texas Tech lost at Texas, 95-83, after leading at halftime 50-47. The Red Raiders were without two starters and appeared to wear down against the Longhorns' depth. Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was realistic: "I enjoyed coaching these kids tonight. I hate to lose. There is nothing worse, but my guys competed. I told them I was proud of them. If we can give this kind of effort, there are still a lot of games for us to win."

* Texas A&M coach Gary Blair after his team's 61-53 loss at Baylor: "The difference in the ball game? You could say Melissa Jones. Her attitude makes everybody else on that team play hard. Jones looked like she was playing hurt out there a little bit with one leg. But she gutted it out and kept going and that just shows a lot of class."

* Nebraska's Kelsey Griffin on the sixth-ranked Cornhuskers' 18-0 start: "We honestly say that when we don't know what our ranking is, or we don't care, we honestly mean it," she said. "We know we're far from perfect. We have a lot of work to do."

* Nebraska coach Connie Yori: "It's kind of fun being 18-0. Winning is contagious and when you win, you expect to win."

* Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly on beating Oklahoma after seven consecutive losses to the Sooners: "We've had a lot of trouble beating OU for a lot of reasons. We didn't just win a game, we won a game against people who do it the right way and I'm proud of our team for that."

* Nebraska coach Doc Sadler after his team's 72-60 loss at Colorado: "I thought the first 20 minutes is the first time in several years that we didn't compete. They were definitely the team that was the aggressive basketball team.This basketball team doesn't have the luxury of not being ready to play, and that's my fault. I did not have this basketball team ready to play in the first half tonight. I thought at times, in the second half, we got after it pretty good, but that's too late. We've got to be ready from the opening tip."

* Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel on freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin's 38-point effort against Iowa State: "Tommy was incredible. I had a feeling he was going to play really well. Before the game as we were in the locker room, I told our guys, 'We're gonna win.' I pointed to Tommy and said, 'Cause he's gonna lead us.'"

Wednesday, January 27

Women's basketball: linked up
ESPN.com's Mechele Voepel writes about Texas A&M post
Danielle Adams having guard-like skills and also reports on Nebraska's undefeated start.

Iowa State freshman forward Amanda Zimmerman is playing a big role for the Cyclones.

No. 15 Oklahoma State overcame illness and fatigue to turn back Missouri Tuesday night in Stillwater.

Texas Tech hopes to hand Nebraska its first loss this season when it plays host to the Cornhuskers.

Big 12 dominating in RPI
In the updated (through Tuesday's games) Ratings Percentage Index for men's basketball produced by Collegiate Basketball News, the Big 12 has eight of the top 45 teams: 2, Kansas; 5, Kansas State; 9, Texas; 28, Oklahoma State; 33, Texas Tech; 36, Texas A&M; 39, Baylor; 45, Missouri.

No other conference has as many teams in the top 45. The Big East Conference is next with six in the top 45 while the Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Big Ten, Atlantic 10 and Mountain West conferences have four each.

Tuesday, January 26

Gazing into crystal ball for Kansas, Texas
Pat Forde of ESPN.com, in his weekly Forde Minutes column on college basketball, listed the teams he believes have the best chance to win the national championship. Here's what he thinks about Kansas and Texas.

Why the Jayhawks can win it: They have an elite, big-shot-making point guard Sherron Collins and a center who can control the paint against just about anyone Cole Aldrich. They have an armada of athletic parts in between (Xavier Henry, the Morris twins, Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, etc.). They also have a coach with a recent national championship ring.

Why they might not: The Jayhawks sometimes forget Aldrich is alive, and he sometimes fails to remind them. (He's averaging just seven field goal attempts per game.) It is reasonable to wonder where Taylor's head is, after he injured himself fighting a KU football player in the fall and then allegedly griped about his role on Facebook last week - before his page disappeared into the ether.

Record against RPI top 50: 6-1.

Record against RPI top 100: 8-1.

Why the Longhorns can win it: They have size and athleticism comparable to Kentucky and Kansas, and perhaps even more depth. Damion James is a future pro who presents a matchup problem to just about everyone. Backcourt depth and quickness can wear down opponents.

Why they might not: Rick Barnes has never inspired the utmost confidence, and his team's shaky two weeks at the top of the polls makes The Minutes wonder how it will handle the pressure of March and April. Avery Bradley, J'Covan Brown, and have jacked up 516 shots among them - which means a lot of the offense is in the hands of occasionally fickle freshmen.

Record against RPI top 50: 3-2.

Record against RPI top 100: 6-2.

Thanks for the memories
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy issued a thank you note to Longhorns fans and the city of Austin. Here it is:

To the City of Austin and Longhorn fans everywhere:

My time at the University of Texas has been filled with countless memorable experiences, from the 45 wins I was fortunate enough to be a part of to the Big 12 championship this season.

You have been there for me through everything and have shown your unwavering support. You have always believed in me, and for that I will be forever grateful.

As much as I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life, I am also saddened by the thought of leaving. I have loved being a student and an athlete at the University of Texas, and every second I wore the Longhorn uniform was special to me. This school and this city hold a special place in my heart that words can't describe, and I intend to remain an active part of this community that has given me so much.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will carry your cheers and support with me always. Regardless of where my next stop may be, I will forever be a Texas Longhorn.

Baylor's Robert Griffin granted medical redshirt
The Big 12 Conference granted a hardship waiver to Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin that will allow him to have three years of eligibility. Griffin's sophomore season was shorted by a knee injury he suffered in late September.

Griffin underwent surgery to repair the torn ACL in his right knee and said that he is running again. He likely will be limited in spring practice but said he expects to be ready for the start of the 2010 season.

Speaking Frank-ly
Former Temple coach John Chaney was a wise old owl ... and not just because the team he coached was nicknamed "Owls." Chaney was old school about basketball and life. He had his "one-eyed-jacks" stare - the strength of an industrial laser - that could be focused on his players, referees or fools.

Kansas State coach Frank Martin is a lot like Chaney. Martin can bore holes with his sideline glares. After one of his players makes a bone-headed play, Martin appears just short of full-on mayhem.

Your Humble Correspondent is AARP-aged and has a teenage son who has yet to discover the hard-edged approach that can lead to a successful life. Maybe that's why he approves of Martin's tough love approach. Here's how the Kansas State coach explains his coaching style.

"I challenge them every single day," he said. "That's not a show I put on during the course of a game. That's me challenging them nonstop all the time to get them to understand that they cannot get rattled.

"It's about preparing kids for life. It's about preparing them to succeed. I think, in today's society ... we get so wrapped up over what we appear to be doing rather than the reality of what we should be doing. People get worried about me being emotional on the sidelines, yet they go around and allow kids listen to music that has some crazy lyrics in it, or play video games that all they do is shoot and kill and steal.

"Those things are OK, but yet having an emotional coach that's trying to push kids to grow, to mature, to accept responsibility and to understand how to do things the right way is a problem. I kind of view things a little differently, I guess."

Those of us who share Martin's view are often marginalized. Don't yell. Don't show emotions. Don't challenge. Don't compete. Don't demand accountability. Don't demand responsibility. Everybody gets a participation ribbon. Everyone is special. We all need to just chill.

By all accounts, Martin has a great relationship with his players. His bluster equals his boosting. He holds his players to a high standard but he also understands how to relate. Late in Kansas State's victory over No. 1 Texas, the Wildcats were bricking free throws. Denis Clemente, usually a dead-eye shooter, missed two, then missed one more. Before he shot the next one, Martin joked with Clemente. They both smiled. Next shot, swish.

Big Monday aftermath
Here's what Eamonn Brennan, an ESPN.com college basketball blogger, had to say about Kansas' 84-65 victory over Missouri Monday night:

"Sometimes it's easy to forget just how loaded Kansas is. Exhibit A: Cole Aldrich has been woefully neglected at times this season as Kansas' guards- Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry, primarily - have worked inside-out and broken down defenses with their supreme offensive talent. Sometimes, Aldrich goes entire stretches without touching the ball on the offensive end, and so you can forget just how good he was last year and just how important he is to Kansas' national championship chances in 2009-10. And then he reminds you: 12 points, 16 rebounds, seven blocks, about six or seven Kevin Love-esque 60-foot outlet passes and only five field goal attempts. Aldrich is good enough to own games even when Kansas refuses to give him the ball.

"That's what happened Monday night. And after an 8-3 Missouri run to start the game, Aldrich and company showed why Kansas is Kansas, and why it's foolish to get even slightly bearish on the Jayhawks. This team has so many resources it can afford to be wasteful and still blow out a 15-4 team at home. What goes for Aldrich goes for these Jayhawks."
 

Monday, January 25

Two Texas Tech starters out for Texas game
Texas Tech will be without two starting forwards when the Red Raiders play at No. 6 Texas Wednesday.

Senior Darko Cohadarevic was suspended Monday. Coach Pat Knight said the suspension was because of "behavior detrimental to the team." Knight said Cohadarevic will be suspended "until he changes his attitude and becomes coachable." At Monday's practice, Cohadarevic had words with Knight and an assistant coach.

Junior D'waylyn Roberts is sidelined because of increased pain caused by a bone bruise in his right foot. He has been bothered by the injury for nearly two weeks and has seen limited practice time.

Sophomore Robert Lewandowski and junior Brad Reese are expected to start against the Longhorns.

Colorado also has injury woes
Colorado could be without a starting forward and a front court reserve when the Buffaloes play host to Nebraska Wednesday.

Junior starter Marcus Relphorde (bruised hip) and freshman Keegan Hornbuckle (shoulder) are "day-to-day" according to coach Jeff Bzdelik. Relphorde, who is third on the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game, was injured in the second half of Saturday's loss at Texas A&M.

'Remember The 10' in Stillwater Wednesday
Before the 6:30 p.m. tipoff of Wednesday's Texas A&M-Oklahoma State game in Stillwater, a moment of silence will be observed. Jan. 27 is the ninth anniversary of the plane crash that killed 10 members of its men's basketball travel party.

Kendall Durfey, Bjorn Fahlstrom, Nate Fleming, Will Hancock, Daniel Lawson, Brian Luinstra, Denver Mills, Pat Noyes, Bill Teegins and Jared Weiberg were the 10 members of the travel party who perished in the crash as the Cowboys were returning from a game at Colorado.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., Dr. David Bosserman, Oklahoma State's Vice President for Administration and Finance, along with his executive assistant, Nancy Horner, and Oklahoma State Physical Plant Director Rick Krysiak, will visit the crash site in Colorado. Their annual trek and ceremony will also include several members of the Colorado emergency response teams from 2001.

At 6:37 p.m. in Stillwater, the Oklahoma State Library Carillon will toll 10 times in honor of each of the victims.

Sunday, January 24

Women's basketball notes from Saturday
* Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale won her 300th career game - all with the Sooners. Coale is the fifth current Big 12 coach with at least 300 career victories.

* Nebraska had a school-record crowd of 13,303 (tickets were $1 each) at the Devaney Center. "We hope they saw something that's worth coming back and seeing time and time again," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "We feel we're a fun team to watch."

* Nebraska's 17-0 start is the best in Big 12 history. The Cornhuskers and No. 1 Connecticut are the only unbeatens left in Division I.

* Nebraska's Yvonne Turner has made 17 of 33 3-pointers (51.5 percent) over the last three games.

* In her first Big 12 Conference start, Texas A&M's Danielle Adams had a triple double - 27 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 10 blocked shots. Adams is the 10th Big 12 player to record a triple double and the second in A&M history. Toccara Williams had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in a game in 2002.

* Baylor has lost three of four games for the first time since February of 2003.

* Kansas senior Danielle McCray had scored in double figures in 30 consecutive games but in the Jayhawks' last two games, she has been held to seven and six points.

* Texas held Iowa State without a field goal for the first 7:05 minutes of the game - the sixth time this season the Longhorns have held their opponent without a field goal for seven minutes or longer.

* Texas finished with nine 3-pointers and has made at least eight 3-pointers in eight of the past 10 games, including the last two in a row.

* Oklahoma's Nyeshia Stevenson is averaging just under 15 points a game this season but in the Sooners' last three games (all victories) she's averaging 21.7 per game. Over that stretch, she's 24-of-49 (48.9 percent) from the field and 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point rnage.

* Missouri's 70-62 victory over No. 10 Baylor was the Tigers' first victory over a Top 10 foe since Jan. 4, 2006 - when Missouri upset No. 4 Baylor.

* At the end of her interview session Saturday, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey editorialized in favor of Missouri coach Cindy Stein, who is in the final year of her contract: "Now I got to ask y'all something. Do all y'all in this room come to Cindy Stein's Missouri home games every game? Raise your hand. Y'all keep supporting her. The rest of you need to come every game. She deserves it. Her team's playing hard."

Men's basketball notes from Saturday
* Oklahoma State's Nick Sidorakis, a 6-4 junior guard, had played 32 minutes in his career and scored nine points. He had not scored a point this season. At Kansas State Saturday, with freshman guard Ray Penn on the bench because of an injury, Sidorakis played 26 minutes and scored nine points. His behind the back fling to save a loose ball in front of the scorer's table was a key play in the Cowboys' 73-69 upset of the ninth-ranked Wildcats.

* Texas had 42 points at halftime at Connecticut. In the Longhorns' two previous games, they didn't reach 42 points until the 13:16 mark of the second half (against Texas A&M) and 13:31 of the second half (against Kansas State).

* Baylor has 13 nonconference victories, the most since the 1945-46 team won 14.

* Baylor won its 11th consecutive game in the Ferrell Center, a school record for a home winning streak.

* Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn scored 15 points, ending his streak of scoring 20 or more points at four games. Had he scored 20 against Massachusetts Saturday, he would have become the first player in school history with five consecutive 20-point games.

* Massachusetts had a 38-30 rebounding edge against Baylor, the first game this season where the Bears were out-rebounded.

* Texas has lost five straight and nine of its last 10 road games vs. ranked opponents.

* Iowa State has lost 17 straight games against ranked opponents.

* Iowa State played its second game since junior guard Lucca Staiger left the team for a pro contract in Germany. During Saturday's game at Hilton Coliseum, one fan held up a sign on Saturday reading "Thanks For Nothing, Lucca!"

* Kansas has started Big 12 play 4-0 for the fourth consecutive season. Three of the Jayhawks' four victories thus far have been by double figures.

* Kansas sophomore forward Marcus Morris didn't start in the Jayhawks' Big 12 opener at Nebraska. Motivated by being benched, in four Big 23 games Morris has made 30-of-45 field goal attempts and is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game.

* The last time Oklahoma State had beaten a top 10 team on the road was 1958 when the Cowboys (with former coach Eddie Sutton playing) defeated No. 2 Kansas, 52-50, in overtime.

* Kansas State has lost 12 of its last 14 games against Oklahoma State.

* Kansas State's 14-game winning streak in Bramlage Coliseum - the longest in the facility's 22-year history - ended with the loss to Oklahoma State.

* Kansas State coach Frank Martin on his team's loss to Oklahoma State Saturday: "We missed 47 open shots. We didn't get any offensive rebounds. We just missed shot after shot after shot. Didn't make free throws, didn't make lay-ups. Couldn't catch the ball. I obviously didn't do my job very well preparing this team to play."

* Missouri has won 31 consecutive home games. That's tied with Siena for the second longest current streak in the nation.

* Texas A&M junior forward Nathan Walkup scored a career high 16 points, the second time in the last three games he's notched his career best.

* Texas A&M is 3-2 in Big 12 play, their second-best start after five games in 14 years in the Conference. The 2006-07 team started 4-1.

* Texas Tech made 16 of 28 shots (57.1 percent) over the last 17 minutes of its victory over Oklahoma. The Red Raiders were 0-for-4 from 3-point range in the first half and 7-for-9 (.778) in the second.

* Oklahoma freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin had a career-high 26 points and tied a career high with 11 rebounds.

* Oklahoma senior Tony Crocker recorded his sixth career double-double (all in the last 13 games) with 20 points and 13 boards.

* In five Big 12 games, Texas A&M is 17-of-94 from 3-point range, an ice-cold 18 percent. "We are just a basket case shooting the basketball," Aggies coach Mark Turgeon said. "Guys, I've got good shooters and we had good looks (Saturday). The thing I like is we are getting good shots, sharing, executing inside-out, and we are just not making them. I keep telling you we are going to (make them), and we are at some point."

Compare and contrast
The four games Texas played as the nation's No. 1 team produced statistics that were quite different than the 15 previous games. Here's a look:

Category Before No. 1 As No. 1
Points/game   88.1   74.5
Points allowed/game   63.1   77.2
FG percentage   50.4   44.1
Opponent FG pct.   36.3   43.3
3-pont percentage   34.0   37.5
Opponent 3-point pct.   29.6   29.0
Free throw pct.   63.3   57.5
Rebounds/game   45.1   41.0
Opponent rebounds/game   35.0   39.0

Basketball links
After his team's loss at Connecticut Saturday, Texas coach Rick Barnes said he's pondering trimming his team's
player rotation and he also emotionally recounted the impact Dave Gavitt, his former boss, had on his career.

Great story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Mike Jones on Texas senior forward Damion James.

Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com has an insightful story on Kansas State coach
Frank Martin.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com nails it with his opinion on Lucca Staiger leaving the Iowa State team in the middle of the Big 12 Conference season.

Interesting story in the Oklahoman about the effect of players' body language on the basketball court.

Thursday, January 21

Oklahoma's Abi Olajuwon making a difference
As the teams were shaking hands after Oklahoma defeated Texas A&M, 74-65, Sunday in Norman, Aggies coach Gary Blair made sure he stopped to compliment Sooners senior Abi Olajuwon. After the game, Blair repeated his comments to the media.

"What she was able to do, she might be the most improved player in the conference," Blair said. "Give the kid a lot of credit. She's lost her weight and waited for her opportunity. She hurt us on the defensive end, and hurt us on rebounding."

Olajuwon, a 6-4 senior who has taken over in the low post for the legendary Courtney Paris, had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots against Texas A&M.

Olajuwon, the daughter of NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon, rarely played last season, averaging 1.4 points and 2.2 rebounds. This season, she's averaging 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Over the summer, Olajuwon went on a conditioning program  and lost 30 pounds.

"Really during the summer, I wasn't even thinking about playing," she said. "It was about getting to a place to where I would have the opportunity to try and make an impact."

Olajuwon said Blair's words, "Really meant a lot to me, such a great compliment."

And Olajuwon's contributions have meant a lot to the 13th-ranked Sooners, who are 13-4 and 3-1 in the Big 12 after a last-second victory at Missouri Wednesday night.

"Her presence in the post - you don't want to compare anybody to Courtney Paris - but Abi's presence in the post is plenty efficient for what we want to do and the way we want to play," said OU coach Sherri Coale. "The thing I've loved about her is her energy. She does not walk in and not change the complexion of the room. She has a very impactful personality. And that energy you saw Sunday was fantastic.

"She's come a long way since her freshman year. A completely different player."

Baylor women's basketball adds another 'name' player
Destiny Williams has transferred from Illinois to Baylor. A native of Benton Harbor, Mich., Williams was the Michigan Class A player of the year and a McDonald's All-American in 2008. Williams will be eligible at the end of finals of the fall 2010 semester and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The Baylor roster next season will include players named Destiny , Odyssey and Brooklyn. Brooklyn Pope, a transfer from Rutgers, will be a sophomore. Odyssey Sims, one of the top high school players in the country this season, will be a freshman in 2010-11.

Buffed up
Playing at Manhattan, Colorado had a 14-point halftime lead that Kansas State trimmed to one point (55-54) with 3:40 to play Wednesday night. The Buffs went five minutes without a field goal and there was reason to panic. Freshman guard Chucky Jeffery, though, said that wasn't the case.

"When they made their run, we called a timeout, we all ran off the floor, we got it together," said Jeffery, who had 13 points, four rebounds and four assists. "We all were talking. I didn't feel like we were going to crack at all. I just felt like we were going to come out and jump on them."

Following the timeout, Brittany Spears (15 points, nine rebounds and five steals) made a 3-pointer to give Colorado a four-point lead and the Buffs maintained their edge the rest of the game.

Rare air
In this week's Associated Press women's basketball rankings, Nebraska was ranked seventh and Oklahoma State was ranked No. 12. Those are the highest national rankings for both schools. The Cornhuskers (16-0) are one of three unbeaten teams remaining in Division I (along with Connecticut and Wisconsin-Green Bay).

Layups
* Texas senior guard Erika Arriaran came off the bench to score a career-high 28 points in the 20th-ranked Longhorns' 77-63 victory over No. 12 Oklahoma State Wednesday night. Arriaran scored 19 in the second half and sparked a rally when UT trailed by seven with 14 minutes remaining. Arriaran, who was scoreless in the Longhorns' previous game, made 8-of-11 3-pointers. "Before the game I told Erika she was going to be on fire tonight," Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. "She said, 'I hope so' and I told her, 'I know so.'"

* Texas' victory over Oklahoma State was coach Gail Goestenkors' 100th career victory over a ranked team.

* Oklahoma State guard Andrea Riley had 31 points at Texas, her 76th consecutive game scoring in double figures.

* Kansas State coach Deb Patterson was late to the postgame news conference after her team's 63-57 home-court loss to Colorado Wednesday night. "Sorry guys, I was just giving a lecture," she explained. "I wasn't impressed with anything anybody that put on a Kansas State jersey brought to the floor tonight ... I feel bad that I think for 32 minutes of that game we let Colorado dictate and be the dominant basketball team possession by possession. That's something you address to your team."

Wednesday, January 20

Big 12 in three of the decade's top 10 games
ESPN.com has been reviewing the previous decade in college football. Columnist Pat Forde listed the top 10 games of 2000 through 2009. The Big 12 was involved in three of the top four. (Your Humble Correspondent was fortunate enough to be in attendance at seven of these games: No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8.)

1. Texas 41, USC 38, 2006 Rose Bowl. Two of the best teams of the decade combined to play the best game of the decade, highlighted by Vince Young's galloping through the Trojans in the final five minutes for a thrilling comeback victory.

2. Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 (OT), 2007 Fiesta Bowl. No game - ever - was won on a guttier succession of daredevil plays than this one. The Broncos had their Cinderella moment thanks to the Triple Crown of gadgetry: hook-and-ladder followed by halfback pass followed by Statue of Liberty - followed by the star running back proposing to his cheerleader girlfriend on the field. Absurd.

3. Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2 OT), 2003 Fiesta Bowl. The last night of the Hurricanes dynasty. The Buckeyes pulled one of the bigger title-deciding upsets of modern times, thanks in no small part to freshman star/future pariah Maurice Clarett. It was also memorable for the game-turning interference call in the end zone and the ghastly injury to Willis McGahee's knee.

4. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33, 2008. The Longhorns' gritty rally looked like it would end in victory. Instead, Graham Harrell hit Michael Crabtree, who broke a tackle and scored with a single second left to win. The Red Raiders' win kept Texas out of the national title game and marked the greatest moment of the now-historical Mike Leach era in Lubbock.

5. Florida 31, Alabama 20, 2008 SEC championship game. Unrelentingly intense from opening kick to final gun. Hits galore. And a Tim Tebow-led comeback in which the Gators played something close to a perfect fourth quarter.

6. USC 34, Notre Dame 31, 2005. Green jerseys. Defending national champions. A daring goal-line decision to play for the win and not the tie. The game might have been settled with a Reggie Bush push - but it was the Trojans' 61-yard pass play on fourth-and-9 that turned Charlie Weis' biggest victory into a defeat. Turns out it was still Weis' finest hour as coach of the Fighting Irish.

7. Ohio State 42, Michigan 39, 2006. The first No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup in series history lived up to an insane level of hype, with the top-ranked Buckeyes holding on to earn a berth in the national title game. Legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler died the day before, then the two teams combined for the second-most points in series annals.

8. LSU 28, Florida 24,  2007. Les Miles gambled his way to glory, scoring two touchdowns on fourth down and using a fake field goal to set up a third score. The Tigers converted two fourth downs on the winning drive, coming from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to win on their way to the national title.

9. Marshall 64, East Carolina 61 (2 OT), 2001 GMAC Bowl. The Thundering Herd trailed 38-8 at halftime before rallying to tie at 51 in the final seconds - then missed an extra point that could have won it. But Byron Leftwich (576 passing yards) got it done in double overtime. Those who saw it will not forget it.

10. Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, 2007. Massive shocker in the Big House on opening weekend of '07 set the tone for an entire season of unbelievable upsets. Michigan football hasn't been the same since.

Staiger stuns Cyclones with departure
Your Humble Correspondent says that Greg McDermott is a good guy and a good basketball coach. He doesn't deserve the hands he's had to play since taking over as the Cyclones' coach four years ago.

McDermott had his most complete roster going into this season. Led by All-American candidate Craig Brackins, there was reason for optimism that Iowa State would reach the postseason. Now, not even midway through the Big 12 Conference schedule, the Cyclones are facing unexpected personnel adversity.

Junior guard Lucca Staiger, a starter who was averaging 9.4 points a game and shot 42.5 percent from the 3-point line this season, left the team to return to Germany and pursue a professional basketball career. Staiger informed the coaching staff Tuesday morning, 12 hours after practicing with the team and a day before the team is scheduled to play at Texas Tech.

Staiger's decision to leave in the middle of the season stunned the coaching staff and his teammates.

"A lot of it has to do with the timing and the fact that Lucca didn't feel comfortable enough to share his feelings with us as coaches or even some of his friends that are his teammates," said McDermott, who said he felt somewhat betrayed by Staiger's decision. "The money that he's going to have the ability to make over the course of the next two years is something he felt he couldn't say no to."

Last summer Staiger considered staying in Germany but decided to return to Ames. That decision, along with Brackins' decision to skip entering the NBA Draft, gave McDermott a roster that could be competitive in the Big 12.

Heading to Texas Tech, the Cyclones have seven scholarship players available. The team lost backup guard Charles Boozer to an ACL injury last week and senior center Vanderbeken has been shelved due to injuries. McDermott could lift the suspension of freshman guard Chris Colvin. Freshmen guards Antwon Oliver and Bubu Palo could have their redshirts removed in order to play.

"I have to decide along with the input from my coaching staff what is best for our basketball team at this point," McDermott said.

 Here's the statement Staiger issued through the Iowa State sports information department:

"I came to the United States with the hope of playing professional basketball in the NBA. After the past couple of seasons in college, I've realized that dream has become less likely. An opportunity to play professionally in my home country has come my way and I've decided to pursue it right away.

"I will miss my teammates and the greats fans at Iowa State and I know this is a bad time to leave. I appreciate the opportunity that Coach McDermott gave me to play at Iowa State, but I felt like it was important to make this move now because the opportunity might not be there in the future for me."

Tuesday, January 19

Uh, Coach Knight ... it's for you
Former Texas Tech and Indiana coach Bob Knight is working as the analyst on this season's ESPN Big Monday Big 12 telecasts.

If you're a sports fan, you're aware of Bob Knight's occasional fits of temper. One of his more famous outbursts came during an NCAA Tournament postgame news conference when he yelled at a moderator because was upset about some mis-information the moderator had distributed.

With that as background, consider this. Knight, the former Texas Tech and Indiana coach, is working as the analyst on this season's ESPN Big Monday Big 12 telecasts. That meant he was in Manhattan for Monday night's game that saw No. 9 Kansas State knock off No. 1 Texas, 71-62.

During postgame interviews in the media room, an iPhone on the table started ringing. Kansas State basketball sports information director Tom Gilbert picked up the phone and killed the call (Know that media folks in interview rooms are routinely asked to turn off or set their cell phones to vibrate).

After the interviews were finished, Gilbert asked who had left an iPhone on the table. A tall man with white hair approached Gilbert and claimed the phone.

Bob Knight. (And if you didn't see that coming, check your pulse.)

Gilbert, who likely would have lectured the owner about leaving a live cell phone on the interview table, handed the phone to Knight, who walked away. Knight, apparently, had misplaced the phone and had returned to the court looking for it before returning to the interview room.

Use your imagination as to what might have happened had a cell phone rang and interrupted one of Knight's news conferences.

Saturday, January 16

Women's basketball notes from Saturday
* Jordan Murphree and Ashlee Roberson each scored a career-high 29 points for Texas Tech (13-4, 1-2). Murphree added a career-high 13 rebounds and eight assists. For Murphree and Roberson, both seniors, it was their first loss at home against Texas.

* Texas Tech suffered its first loss in Lubbock after winning its first 12 home games.

* It was Texas Tech's first overtime game since 2007; the Red Raiders also lost that game in double overtime, 86-81 to Oklahoma.

* Texas is 18-15 in Lubbock and the victory was the first for the Longhorns at Texas Tech since March 2, 2003.

* The Longhorns had 14 turnovers in the first half but committed just five more in the second half and the two overtimes.

* Texas overcame a 13-point first-half deficit, its largest of the season.

* Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley scored 31 points and moved into third place on the Big 12's career scoring list; she has 2,361 points.

* Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley was 9-of-33 from the field against Kansas State. The rest of the Cowgirls were 14-of-26.

* Oklahoma State is 3-0 in the Big 12. In the three victories, Andrea Riley is 35-of-99 from the field and 11-of-30 from 3-point range while averaging 34.7 points per game.

* Oklahoma State has won 11 consecutive games, the longest winning streak since the 1992-93 team won 16 in a row.

* Iowa State's Alison Lacey scored 32 including 18 in a row for the Cyclones in their 68-62 victory at Colorado.

Men's basketball notes from Saturday
* In seven trips to Lawrence in Big 12 play, Texas Tech has lost by the average score of 95-62.

* Baylor have defeated Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the same season for the first time in school history. The Bears beat the Sooners last Saturday

* There were 67 fouls called in Kansas State-Colorado game, a Coors Events Center record. Three Colorado players fouled out and nine players finished with four fouls.

* Baylor's Lace Dunn is averaging 25.3 points over the Bears' three Big 12 games. He's 25-of-49 from the field and 15-of-27 from 3-point range in the three games.

* In his last two games, Kansas sophomore forward Marcus Morris has scored a total of 39 points on 14-of-18 shooting with a total of 15 rebounds.

* Texas Tech has started Big 12 play 0-3 for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

* Colorado was trying to beat ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time in school history.

* Colorado freshman Alec Burks had 14 points. He's the only true freshman in Division I basketball to score in double figures in every game this season (17 games).

* Texas has won eight consecutive games against Texas A&M in Austin.

* Texas A&M is 0-4 against No. 1-ranked teams.

* The Longhorns are 17-0 for the third time in school history and the first time since 1932-33.

* Damion James had the 47th double-double of his career, tying him with former UT player Chris Mihm for the most double-doubles in Big 12 history. "I'm so tired," James said after the Longhorns' overtime victory. "They came out and punched us in the mouth and we didn't retaliate until the second half... This is what you play for. This is how you make a name for yourself as a team."

* Iowa State's 56-53 victory at Nebraska ended the Cyclones' 16-game Big 12 road losing streak. The last time Iowa State won at the road was also at Nebraska, in 2007.

* Nebraska made just two field goals and two free throws over the last 10:36.

* Oklahoma junior Cade Davis, who was ill and had to receive fluids intravenously before the game and at halftime, posted his first career double-double (15 points, career-high 11 rebounds)

* In its 11 victories, Oklahoma is allowing 62.5 points a game and is holding opponents to .386 shooting from the field.

* Because of injuries and suspensions, Iowa State had just eight scholarship players available for its victory at Nebraska. Seven players scored six or more points. "I couldn't be more happy for our team," Cyclones coach coach Greg McDermott said. "We have guys on this team who had never won a conference road game and they are pretty happy right now. I thought the final two minutes of the game was the best we have played all year."

Friday, January 15

A variety of story links
The unfathomable tragedy of the earthquakes in Haiti have touched two Big 12 Conference football players who are natives of the country: Oklahoma State's
Lucien Antoine and Iowa State defensive back James Smith.

Oklahoma State football Lucien Antoine is native of Haiti and he has been stunned by the reports of the earthquake devastation in his home country.

Iowa State defensive back James Smith, who was a senior during the 2009 season, learned that his mother and two brothers survived the earthquake.

Former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford says there's "no doubt" he made the right decision to return to the Sooners in 2009 after winning the Heisman Trophy in 2008.

Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal writes that Kansas State coach Frank Martin is a no-nonsense coach who sometimes has to deal with modern day political correctness.

Iowa State freshman Anna Prins has had to overcome obstacles during her first season of college basketball.

Colorado's Alec Burks leads the Buffs in rebounding and is the top freshmen scorer in the Big 12.

Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville is in the "meet and greet" phase of his new job.

More attention for Baylor's Brittany Griner
Now that the national media is starting to focus on the college basketball season, Baylor's Brittany Griner is starting to get her due. The 6-8 freshman is averaging 18.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 6.2 blocked shots per game. This week's Big 12 Report has a nice feature on Griner, ESPN.com's Mechelle Volpel wrote about Griner and ESPN's Outside The Lines will focus on Griner at 8 a.m. CT Sunday.

Griner will also be featured in ESPN's first ever Women's Basketball College GameDay. The network's basketball GameDay crew will be in Storrs, Conn., for the Notre Dame-UConn game. The feature on Griner is scheduled to run in the first hour of the show, which starts at 9 a.m. CT.

Thursday, January 14

Colt McCoy wins 2010 Manning Award
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is the winner of the 2010 Manning Award which is presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top quarterback in the nation. Last month, McCoy won the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award.

In its sixth year, the Manning Award honors the college football careers of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. McCoy, who finished second in the award voting last year to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, edged Tebow for the 2010 honor.

McCoy has won the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Player of the Year Award, Maxwell Award (nation's top player), Unitas Golden Arm Award (nation's top senior QB). He was a unanimous All-America selection, as well as being named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year by both The Associated Press and league's coaches.

Wednesday, January 13

Texas A&M's Von Miller passes on NFL Draft
Texas A&M's junior All-American Von  Miller announced Wednesday that he'll return for his senior season. Miller, playing the "Jack" position in the Aggies' defense, led the nation in sacks with 17. Miller had 48 tackles (31 solo) and 21.5 were tackles for lost yardage.

"After careful consideration, I feel it is in my best interest to come back. It is important to me and my family to earn my degree from Texas A&M and this will put me much closer to that goal.," Miller said in a statement released by the school. I can't leave A&M right now. "I know (strength coach) Coach Kennedy will be anxious to see me in the weight room and in the running drills.

"We've got most everyone coming back on defense and I think we have some good recruits coming in. I have confidence in coach (Mike) Sherman and I know we will have a great defensive staff. I am looking forward to having a good year."

Sad, bad news for Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin, former Oklahoma star and last season's consensus national player of the year, will have to wait until the 2010-11 season to start his NBA career. The Los Angeles Clippers, who made Griffin the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, announced Wednesday that Griffin needed surgery to help repair his left kneecap.

Griffin injured his kneecap in the Clippers' final preseason game on Oct. 23. He had been increasing his workload in rehabilitation but that had caused pain in his knee. Medical examination Tuesday indicated that surgery was needed.

115 home games, 114 victories
Going into Wednesday night's games, that's the Big 12's men's basketball home court record: 114-1. That is a mind-boggling statistic. When Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford was informed of that stat, he was speechless and kept shaking his head in disbelief. Here's some more
number crunching relative to how well Big 12 teams defend their home courts.

Sad, bad news for Kansas women
Kansas has lost three consecutive games, started 0-2 in Big 12 Conference play and dropped out of the top 25. All of those woes can be corrected. Losing the starting point guard can't.

Redshirt freshman Angel Goodrich, who missed last season after tearing the ACL in her left knee, will miss the rest of this season after tearing her ACL and meniscus in her right knee. Goodrich went down late in the Jayhawks' 70-68 loss to No. 15 Oklahoma State Tuesday.

Goodrich was wearing a brace on her right knee after she "tweaked" it against Pepperdine on Dec. 30. Midway through the first half, Goodrich had to be helped to the lockerroom after a hard fall appeared to aggravate that injury. She returned to action later in the first half. Goodrich was averaging 7.1 assists, 6.8 points and 2.7 rebounds for Kansas.

Tuesday, January 12

An opinion on Colt McCoy
Life provides unique, "one-timer" opportunities - first crush, first kiss, birth of your first child, high school senior year.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy's goal as a college quarterback was to win a national championship. Hard work, talent and fate gave him the chance for his one shining moment. Fate also proved fickle.

The final game of his career, a career that produced more victories than any other major college quarterback, lasted five plays. By now you know that McCoy was knocked out of the BCS National Championship Game by a freak injury - a pinched nerve in his right shoulder that turned his strong and accurate throwing arm into a useless appendage.

Your Humble Correspondent says that if McCoy had played the entire game, the final score might have been 37-21 but in favor of Texas, not Alabama.

McCoy was in shock after the game but he stood tall in the Longhorns lockerroom and answered repetitive questions for 20 minutes. I've seen coaches and players hide after emotional defeats. McCoy manned up and did his duty ... and trust YHC, answering reporters' questions is not something McCoy wanted to do in that situation.

McCoy said he hopes that God gives him another chance for a championship. That would be in the NFL. YHC doesn't know much about what the NFL looks for in quarterbacks but in the next 10 to 15 years, you're going to see Colt McCoy quarterback a team to the Super Bowl. And if that happens, he's due to have fate smile instead of frown.

A ring for McCoy - his girlfriend, at least
Turns out Colt McCoy had one more completion left in his career.

The Texas senior quarterback proposed to his girlfriend Rachel Glandorf. She said "yes." But it was far from a simple proposal. McCoy brought Glandorf to Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. When they reached midfield, the stadium's giant high-definition video board in the south end zone displayed the words "Will You Marry Me?" When Glandorf turned back to McCoy, he was on bended knee.

Monday, January 11

Mid-day women's hoops
Maybe you can take a long lunch break. Maybe you could just play hooky from work/school. Either way, if you want to check out some Big 12 Conference women's basketball, Tuesday gives you the chance during the middle of the week.

No. 15 Oklahoma State, fresh off its upset of No. 5 Baylor, plays at Kansas at 11 a.m. Tuesday on ESPNU. The telecast is part of ESPNU's "conference countdown." Also, the game is designated as "Schools for Success Day," a program developed by Kansas Athletics made possible by the NCAA Women's Basketball Grant Program. The grant was awarded in 2009 for the purpose of increasing awareness and attendance for KU women's basketball.

Who's No. 1? Texas
For the first time in school history, Texas is No. 1 in men's basketball. The Longhorns climbed to the top of the USA Today/Coaches poll that was released around noon CT Monday. Texas took over for Kansas, which lost at Tennessee Sunday and dropped to No. 3. Kentucky is No. 2.

Texas coach Rick Barnes understands that a No. 1 ranking in January is mostly meaningless.

"For the program, it's a compliment," he said Monday. "You want to be looked upon as one of the top programs in the country. It's a compliment to the team and work they've put in but it is what it is right now.

Texas plays at Iowa State Wednesday night. Hilton Coliseum is always tough on visiting teams. The last time the Cyclones played host to the No. 1 team was Feb. 9, 1997 when top-ranked Kansas prevailed, 69-62.

"When you're ranked one, two, three, four five, there's just more energy and more emotion for your opponent," Barnes said. "That's a good thing that you have to embrace because it's gonna make you decide what you need to do to get better. If you are in a comfort zone, you're gonna have to get out of that to match the energy and emotion of your opponent."

(See "Who's No. 1? Who wants to be?" item below for more on Barnes and the rankings.)

Not just button pushing
Oklahoma started the season in the top 25 but an unexpected three-game losing streak ended the Sooners' rankings. OU's 30-game winning streak over Baylor ended Saturday when the Sooners lost in Waco, 91-60.

"It's frustrating for all of us, it's not just about me," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said Monday. "I feel bad for our guys because I haven't been able to figure out the right buttons to push. I've always thought it's been a strength of mine to find the right buttons. That's the most frustrating part for me.

"I don't think anyone in our program envisioned that we'd be 9-6 with some of the losses we've had and the manner in which we've lost them. What's been most frustrating to me is we haven't fought. We've gotten down and given in a little bit."

In their six losses, the Sooners have given up an average of nearly 87 points a game. Last year's Elite Eight team gave up more than 80 points just four times.

Capel, in his eighth year as a coach, said his first season at Virginia Commonwealth his players "didn't fight" in one key conference game. "I've never had that problem since then," he said. "It's been awhile."

Who's No. 1? Who wants to be?
When the polls are released later today, there's a good chance that Texas will move up from No. 2 to No. 1 to replace fellow Big 12 team Kansas. If the Longhorns are atop the polls, it will be the first time that's happened in school history.

And that's the only thing that matters in being ranked No. 1. In basketball, the polls are about prestige and history. What matters is the NCAA Tournament. Texas and Kentucky are the last two undefeated teams this season; Indiana in 1975-76 is the last team to have a perfect season.

"I don't think anybody in college basketball is going to go undefeated,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes told ESPN.com's Andy Katz. "People called me to tell me that Kansas got beat. I can't honestly tell you who was the No. 1 team in the country the second week of January last year. But I can tell you who won the national championship. And that team (North Carolina) started the conference (ACC) at 0-2 after everyone though they would go undefeated."

A year ago at this time, Pitt was No. 1. The Panthers were one of six teams that reached the top of the Associated Press poll last season. Two of those teams _ North Carolina (the preseason No. 1) and Connecticut - reached the Final Four.

Texas plays at Iowa State Wednesday. Saturday the Longhorns host rival Texas A&M. On Jan. 18 they'll be at Kansas State for Big Monday followed by a Saturday game at Connecticut.

"There are certain schools over a long period of time that have the target on their back,'' Barnes said. "When they play us, because of where we are, the games are harder. The fans have more energy. There is more emotion. But what you have to do is embrace it and it helps you. You have to be ready to play every night or you're going to get beat and sometimes a little bit of pain never hurts anybody.''

Standing up for Missouri
Kansas State coach Frank Martin is one of the Big 12's more vocal coaches when it comes to defending the Conference's national honor. After his 11th-ranked team lost at Missouri Saturday, Martin wondered why the Tigers were ignored in preseason rankings.

 "Everyone picks Villanova to be right in there for the Big East title. Everyone picks Villanova to be a possible Final Four team," he said. "You tell me what the difference is between Villanova and Missouri? Villanova lost their whole front court and returned all of their guards. What did Missouri do? They returned all their guards and lost their front court guys. Their backup guys who played a lot last year are now their starting front court guys, and Missouri went to the Elite Eight.

"For a team that just went to the Elite Eight and returned all their perimeter guys to be voted whatever people voted them (seventh) in the league? That's a slap in the face. ...

"Why are they all of sudden not a good enough team? Mike and his guys have worked too hard to get this program going for people to disrespect them that way."

Baylor women need Jones
No. 5 Baylor lost at No. 23 Oklahoma State Saturday as the Cowgirls' Andrea Riley scored 43 points. After the game, Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey wasn't making excuses but she did point out that her team was without a key player.

"Melissa Jones has a stress reaction and we're going to be very careful," Mulkey said. "We don't want it to be a stress fracture. I'll sit her the whole Big 12 if I have to so she's ready for the (NCAA Tournament.)"

That's a bold statement but Mulkey realizes just how valuable Jones is to the Lady Bears. Freshman sensation Brittany Griner draws attention for her 6-8 height and accolades for her play, but Jones is the glue that holds Baylor together.

The 5-10 junior can play all five positions; when the Lady Bears lost a post player late last season, Jones played inside. Going into Saturday's game, Jones had made half of Baylor's 3-pointers. Whether it's a rebound, a pass, a steal or a basket, Jones usually makes the play when it's most needed.

Basketball players' feet take a pounding and stress fractures can be the result. Mulkey's reaction to the stress reaction afflicting Jones is proper. A healthy Melissa Jones could make the difference for Baylor's Final Four chances.

Twitter truth?
Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star posted this item on his blog over the weekend:

"Ran into missouri ad and friend mike alden. Sez tigers not going to big ten."

That's what Austin, Texas, newspaper columnist Kirk Bohls posted on his Twitter account Friday.

"That is unbelievable," is what Missouri athletic director Mike Alden told The Star on Saturday in denying he said any such thing.

"We met at the security line at LAX," Alden said, as Bohls and Alden were both heading home from the BCS title game on Friday.

Bohls, Alden said, asked him about reports - and a statement from MU chancellor Brady Deaton - that MU would listen if the Big Ten wanted to discuss MU leaving the Big 12.

"What I said," Alden told me, "was 'Hey man. We haven't heard anything from them.'

"That's it.

"Kirk Bohls. I can't believe that."

Sounds like a leap from "haven't heard" to "not going."

But hey, everything you read on Twitter is the truth, right?

Wednesday, January 6

BCS: News and notes
* Alabama coach Nick Saban said that All-American linebacker Rolando McClain should be ready for Thursday night's game. McClain and backup defensive back Rod Woodson were limited in Tuesday's practice because each was ill with a stomach virus.

* Saban addressed the media first, followed by Texas coach Mack Brown. Between their question and answer sessions, they posted for photographs with the BCS championship trophy. They also exchanged gives. Brown gave Saban a pair of spurs. Saban gave Brown a large gift basket plus a cooler full of food from Tuscaloosa's famed Dreamland Bar-B-Que. Advantage, Brown.

* During Wednesday morning's news conference, a reporter's cell phone went off. The ring tone? "Sweet Home Alabama." Guess you can figure out where he's from.

* For what it's worth, Auburn grad and NBA analyst Charles Barkley (aka the Round Mound of Rebound and the Mouth of the South) picks Texas to beat Alabama by a field goal. "I just think Texas is underrated and the SEC is down this year. Texas has a great chance to win the game."

BCS: Numerology
0: Opposing running backs that have gained 100 yards against Texas this season.

1: Heisman Trophy winner that has won a BCS National Championship Game (USC's Matt Leinart, 2004).

2: National championships at two different schools for Nick Saban if Alabama wins. Saban's LSU team won the 2003 national title. No coach has won two titles at two different schools since the AP poll debuted in 1936. Since 1900, Glenn "Pop" Warner won titles with Pittsburgh (1916 and 1918) and Stanford (1926). Howard Jones won titles with Yale (1909) and Southern California (1928, 1931 and 1932).

3: Consecutive victories for Texas in BCS bowls.

6: Alabama players named to the Associated Press All-America team.

10: Turnovers by Alabama. That's tied with Cincinnati for the fewest in Division I-A.

14-0: The final record for the winner of Thursday night's game. Only two other teams have finished 14-0 (Ohio State in 2002, Boise State this season).

50-3: Combined records for Texas (25-1) and Alabama (25-2) over the last two seasons.

110: Victories over the last 10 seasons for Texas.

337: Combined victories for Texas coach Mack Brown and Alabama coach Nick Saban.

1982: Last time Texas and Alabama played (the Longhorns won the 1982 Cotton Bowl, 14-12).

1992: The last time Alabama won the national championship.

BCS: Audibles
* Texas coach Mack Brown on his pep talk to the Longhorns:
"I told them it was bunch of 'Fs'. Have fun. Play fast. Be physical ... Some of them didn't get it"

* Alabama coach Nick Saban had this comment about kickers that some might view as being a bit politically incorrect:
"Kickers are a little bit like assassins. They got one shot. They got all day that they can prepare for it. When they get in the window and take the shot, they've got to make it. I don't think you mess that up right before he's pulling the trigger. So I don't usually say anything."

* Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain on the single-minded attitude of coach Nick Saban:
 "He's really never happy. He just has a mindset that carries over to this team. After we beat Florida, as soon as he got on the plane home, he was already watching film."

* Texas quarterback Colt McCoy on what he expects:
"It's not going to be a game where you come in here and light them up, throw for 400 yards and complete 80 percent of your passes. That'll never happen playing against a defense like this."

* Alabama defensive end Brandon Deadrick, who played in the season opener five days after being shot in the hip during a robbery attempt:
"I don't know why everybody should be so depressed after being shot. I feel you should be happy that you didn't die."

BCS: Hot links
Pat Forde of ESPN.com writes that a Texas victory over Alabama would keep the Southeastern Conference from
"taking over" college football.

Which are the 10 players most under the gun in Thursday's national championship game? Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com provides this list.

Alabama can cap the first decade of the 21st century with a national championship - a neat trick considering how much turmoil the football program has endured.

Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp suffered a compound fracture in his right leg in high school, an injury that nearly ended his playing career. He keeps the 17-inch steel rod on display in his office to remind himself and his players about overcoming adversity.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes that the Big 12's bowl record is important because the conference avoids playing challenging nonconference games.

Tuesday, January 5

BCS: Who you callin' small, stranger?
During Tuesday's media day at a Newport Beach hotel, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy had an interesting exchange with an interviewer.

Media person: Did you ever fear that you would break down physically? In other words, you look at Tim Tebow, for example, you can see how he's big enough to absorb a lot of hits. You've taken a lot of shots, and you're not really big ...

McCoy: Are you saying I'm small?

Media person: I'm saying you're a lot smaller than he is.

McCoy: I'll take it.

For the record, Tebow is listed at 6-foot-3, 245 pounds. McCoy is listed at 6-2, 210 pounds.

BCS: Weather report
As one might expect, the weather in Southern California this week has been outstanding: sunny skies, temperature in the mid 70s. Meanwhile, back on campus, it's in the mid 40s in Austin and the low 30s in Tuscaloosa as an Arctic cold front grips most of the nation.

Alabama defensive back Javier Arenas has enjoyed his first trip to the West Coast and has spent a lot of time on the phone.

"Mostly calling back home and saying I'm in California, making everybody jealous," he said. "I like being on the phone telling everybody, 'I'm in California, where are you at?'"

BCS: D.J. Monroe unsure of his role
Freshman D.J. Monroe is back as member of the Texas team after being suspended for the final three games of the season. His return to the active roster doesn't mean that he'll play Thursday night against Alabama.

"I'm not sure where he (Coach Mack Brown) wants to put me right now," Monroe said. "He hasn't said the final word. I catch balls every day, but I'm not sure about where I'll be used."

Monroe was suspended after he was arrested on Nov. 15 on charges of driving while intoxicated. Those charges eventually were dismissed. In the first 10 games of the season, Monroe returned 14 kickoffs for a 35.8 yard-per-return average and two touchdowns.

Freshman Marquise Goodwin has taken over Monroe's role as a breakaway threat on kickoffs. Goodwin had a 95-yard return for a touchdown that helped the Longhorns put away Texas A&M.

BCS: Greatest day (so far)
Considering that either Texas or Oklahoma will experience the thrill of a national championship Thursday night, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com asked the players to talk about the greatest day of their lives. Here are what Texas players said.

Sergio Kindle,  Texas DE: Seeing my son born was my greatest day. It was in July 2006. I was so excited but also so nervous. I knew a lot of things were about to change. You wanna be such a good father. It also made me cut back on things because I was a little crazy as a youngster. It was truly a blessing.

James Kirkendoll , Texas WR: I'll say it was signing day of my senior year of high school. I had worked so hard to get into that position and then you're signing your life away.

Aaron Williams, Texas CB: The day I played in the Army [All-America] Game. I actually gave up a touchdown. The receiver, Jonathan Baldwin (now of the Pitt Panthers), made a great play. We both went up high for the ball. I got one hand on the ball, but he got two hands on it. Our team (West) ended up losing, but still, that experience meant so much to me to be around all of those great guys, and it just gave me a chance to see what the game is about. It was an eye-opener.

Chykie Brown, Texas CB: I'll say when we won the state championship in high school; we beat the Woodlands. They had Danny Amendola and (baseball prospect) Kyle Drabek. It was a great game.

BCS: News you can use
* Alabama All-American linebacker Rolando McClain and backup defensive back Rod Woodson didn't attend Tuesday's media day at a Newport Beach hotel because of a stomach virus. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said both were "under the weather." Both players came down with their illness Monday night. Alabama linebackers coach James Willis said McClain, the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker, "ate something wrong last night or whatever." Willis expects McClain to be fine for Thursday's game.

* Texas quarterback Colt McCoy won the National Bobby Bowden Award Tuesday morning. Presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Bowden Award which honors achievements on the field, in the classroom and for conduct as a "faith model" in the community. The award has been presently annually since 2003 and McCoy is the fifth Big 12 player to win it.

* Texas expects to have at last 17 former players who are now in the NFL on the sideline for Thursday night's game. Coach Mack Brown said that Vince Young, Ricky Williams and Chris Simms are among the players who are expected to be on hand to cheer on their former team.

* Mack Brown was asked about Boise State, which could claim some national championship consideration after finishing 14-0. "Last year, we were sitting in the same position. We were No. 3. We were 0.128 out of the national championship game, we beat a really good Ohio State team and we said the same thing and nobody cared. It's about the system. The system is going to put the winner of Thursday's game No. 1. Until our system changes, it's really hard for a team not playing in (the BCS game) to get in the national championship picture."

* Alabama governor Bob Riley declared Wednesday as "Mark Ingram Day." The Alabama running back is the first Crimson Tide player to win the Heisman Trophy and the third Heisman winner from a state school - Auburn's Pat Sullivan won the award in 1971 and Bo Jackson won it in 1985.

BCS: Audibles
* Texas coach Mack Brown, who recently received a $1 million raise that makes his yearly compensation $5 million:
"I think, from a business standpoint, if you ask the CEOs of the state of Texas, they would agree with it. If you asked other people, they might not, because when a football coach makes more than the university president, that's hard to understand, and I get that."

* Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis on the complexity of the Alabama defense:
"You break their blitzes down ... they do so many different things it's hard to say, 'This is their favorite.' A lot of times they're doing things in a game they haven't done before. They will do more things than any of our other 13 opponents."

* Texas senior offensive tackle Adam Ulatoski:
"We've won every bowl game since I've been here, and we have a lot of faith in (offensive coordinator Greg) Davis. He does a great job in game planning. It's just our job to go out there and execute his game plan."

* Alabama junior quarterback Greg McElroy on Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle:
"He's a freak, for a lack of a better term. He's a stud. He plays fast. He plays smart. He's great in pass pass rush and he's great in pass coverage. He's one of those rare hybrids that you see. Being a (Dallas) Cowboys fan, he reminds me a lot of DeMarcus Ware, I guess. He is just so versatile and he can make things really difficult for an offensive lineman or a quarterback because of his tenacity and the ferociousness that he plays with. He's going to be a handful, but hopefully we'll be able to handle him somewhat; you can't ever stop him."

BCS: Links worth the click
Texas defensive end/linebacker Sergio Kindle has persevered through several
rough spots in his life.

David Whitley of Fanhouse.com wonders why so many people hate Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain, in his second season with the Crimson Tide, has proven to be a good fit.

Junior Greg McElroy is Alabama's starting quarterback but there are questions about who the No. 2 QB is.

Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com discuss the defensive coordinators - Will Muschamp of Texas and Kirby Smart of Alabama - who have both benefitted from working under Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. (Check the nice sunset background in this video.)

Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times writes that Texas coach Mack Brown has had uncommon success as the Longhorns' coach.

And here's another interesting angle on Mack Brown - Pat Forde of ESPN.com writes that the Longhorns coach weathered the "big game" losses and the criticism that was rampant before winning the 2005 national championship.

 

Monday, January 4

BCS: Multi-talented
Texas safety Earl Thomas is known for his impromptu piano playing. Any time his teammates spy a keyboard and Thomas is around, he's asked to tickle the ivories. Thomas also has played drums while teammate Jordan Shipley plays guitar.

During Monday's interview sessions, questions about Thomas' musical hobbies led to this relevation: He also plays alto sax and when he was at West Orange (Texas) Stark High School he multi-tasked.

"My senior year, I had to march with the band at halftime," Thomas said. "I wore my uniform, I just took off my shoulder pads. We had about 30 to 35 kids in the band, about the same number in football."

BCS: Teaching history
Mike Tolleson is a native of Anniston, Ala., and much of his coaching experience came in the state. Now, as the defensive tackles coach/special teams coordinator for Texas, Tolleson has been able to school the Longhorns on Crimson Tide lore.

"Coach 'Tolly' is a born-and-raised 'Bama boy,'" Texas defensive tackle LaMarr Houston said Monday. "He's had a couple of stories about the history of the Alabama program. He told us about the previous games between Texas and Alabama, told us those stories about the Crimson Tide as we got ready. We've heard all about it."

Tolleson has educated the Longhorns on how Alabama got its Crimson Tide nickname and why an elephant is the Alabama mascot. Here's the 411 on both: Crimson Tide evolved from a 6-6 tie with Auburn when a sportswriter referred to the "Thin Red Line" that keyed the upset. In 1930, a huge Alabama line overwhelmed Ole Miss and led to the elephant mascot.

BCS: Audibles
* Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy on how he avoids all the hype that comes from playing in the national championship game:
"I watch Cartoon Network most of the time, not ESPN. And Cartoon Network hasn't even mentioned it."

* Texas defensive tackle LaMarr Houston:
"We don't listen to what the media says. We just go to press conferences."

* Alabama coach Nick Saban detests the "clutter" (distractions) that a team playing for the national championship can face. Defensive back Javier Arenas was asked to describe what "clutter" means:
"Clutter is clutter. You're driving down the road and you're thinking about a chick and you hit a dog in the road, it's clutter. If you ain't thinking about what you're supposed to think about, that's clutter."

* Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain:
"Sometimes in the game of football you have to reserve the right to punt. There's an old adage that every offensive possession should end with a kick. If you do that, it means you're not turning it over to the other guy."

  

Sunday, January 3

BCS: Third time the charm
Wide receiver Jordan Shipley is the "old man" of the Texas team. Because of injuries, he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. During the 2004 season, he was a redshirt when the Longhorns defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl. The following season he was injured and sitting out when UT won the national championship, also in the Rose Bowl.

Now he's back as the team's top receiver (he needs four receptions to break Roy Williams' career record of 241) with the chance to win a national championship ... in the Rose Bowl.

"This is definitely exciting. ... I couldn't have written it up better for me," Shipley said. "Coming out here twice and not being able to participate, I got to enjoy the games. But the chance to come back here for the national championship in my final game is pretty special to me."

BCS: Clearing it up
There was considerable consternation, particularly among Texas fans, when word came that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had made a trip to Tuscaloosa last month. Longhorns fans assumed that the Sooners' coach was visiting with the Alabama coaching staff to give the Crimson Tide tips on how to beat Texas.

Not so, says Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

"I've read a lot about the visit but we didn't meet with him," Smart said. "He came to our practice but it was our last practice before Christmas break and once it was over, I was out of there. It wasn't like he was drawin' stuff on the board or anything.

"And hasn't Texas beaten Oklahoma a lot lately? (Four of the last five meetings.) We're talkin' to the wrong guys if we're talking to them about beating Texas."

Alabama coach Nick Saban said that Stoops' visit last month was the continuation of conversations that took place last summer and that Stoops was interested in viewing the Crimson Tide's practice organization.

BCS: Riding the rides
Both teams spent time at Disneyland Saturday after practicing. Texas receiver Jordan Shipley nearly re-enacted a scene from one of his favorite movies.

"I ate a bunch of food before I went on one of those roller coasters in the dark," he said. "I felt like one of those kids in the 'Sandlot' movie."

In case that's not a flick on your "seen it" list, it's about a bunch of kids playing baseball at their neighborhood sandlot. To celebrate a victory, they go to an amusement park but all wind up hurling after ill-advisedly trying to chew tobacco.

Quarterback Colt McCoy, Shipley's buddy and roommate, was photographed on a ride wearing Mickey Mouse hands. McCoy also enjoyed several trips on the "Tower of Terror." How come?

"It's scary," McCoy said laughing.

BCS: Audibles
* Alabama linebacker Roland McClain calls the signals for the Crimson Tide defense and that calls for a lot of video study:
"My girlfriend watches film with me. She probably knows (Texas') offense better than most of my teammates."

* Texas quarterback Colt McCoy on his sleeping habits:
"I go to bed dreaming about this game. It's gonna be fun. (Any nightmares about Alabama?) "I sleep great. The beds in out hotel are really nice. You go to bed studying your game plan book. You wake up and it's still there."

* After answering a few questions about beating Florida in the SEC championship game, Javier Arenas was asked about if he and his teammates had put that game behind them. "Well, you guys keep asking me about it."

* Texas wide receiver James Kirkendoll on the similarities between this Longhorns team and the one that won the national championship in 2005:
"It makes it special because you watch that (2005) game and you look at what they did, and you get the same opportunity, and it's just like - it's just a dream. So, we're just going to go in there and play football and see what happens."

* Texas senior linebacker/defensive end Sergio Kindle on the energy of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp:
"He's just as excited at six in the morning as he is on Saturday night. It's like he's always on four cans of Red Bull."

BCS: Short yardage
* Texas sophomore receiver Brandon Collins, who has been academically ineligible this season, faces two felony charges according to a report on an Austin television station. Collins is accused of aggravated robbery and engaging in organized criminal activity stemming from a reported robbery at a Pflugerville
McDonald's.

* The Big 12 Conference has lost two bowl games to the Southeastern Conference this season with the Texas-Alabama BCS National Championship game pending. Since 2003, the Big 12 is 3-11 against the SEC in bowl games. "Our motivation isn't conference competition or anything else," Longhorns offensive lineman Adam Ulatoski said. "Our goal is the national championship."

* Over the last two seasons, Texas is 25-1. Alabama is 25-2.

Saturday, January 2

Having fun with football
Both Texas and Alabama arrived in Southern California Friday. After practicing Saturday, both teams got to enjoy themselves at Disneyland. Both coaches answered questions from the media.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is a branch on the Bill Belichik coaching tree. That means that football is fun and everything else is a necessary evil. During his question-and-answer session with the media Saturday, Saban was asked if he was having fun.

His pause before the answer had a comedic effect and evoked laughter. But the look on his face was of a man who had gotten a whiff of milk two weeks past its expiration date.

"It's an entertainment business, and I really do appreciate what you all (media) do to make our sport ...important and interesting and you create a lot of interest ... I do appreciate that," he said. "So I'm having fun out of respect for what you all do.  That's about as diplomatic as I can be."

Texas coach Mack Brown was asked if he's enjoying the "journey" that has led the Longhorns to the BCS National Championship Game.

"I've always enjoyed the journey," he said. "I didn't enjoy the losing. And if you're losing, then sitting here isn't much fun. I've done it both ways, so that's why we work so hard to try to win."

* As he walked into the ESPNZone at Disneyland, the Liberty Bowl was ending. East Carolina missed two field goals in the final two minutes of regulation and another in overtime in its loss to Arkansas. "I just saw a kick missed by East Carolina walking in that made me flinch," Brown said. "They had 15 seconds left and they missed the kick."

* Saban said that senior defensive back Marquis Johnson has return to contact in practice. He suffered a broken hand two weeks ago and has been wearing a cast. "He's using his hand again," Saban said. "Now whether he can catch the ball with a cast on his hand or not, he has caught some. But it could affect his ability to catch."

* Brown was asked about Mike Leach being fired at Texas Tech. "I hate it for Mike, and I hate it for Texas Tech, and I hate it for college football," he said. "It's a game about kids. When we get administrators talking about things other than kids and coaches talking about things other than kids, it takes away from what it's supposed to be about. ... It's a tough thing."

* Texas freshman D.J. Monroe, who was suspended after DUI charges that were eventually dropped, has returned to the team. Early in the season, he was the Longhorns' top kickoff returner. Brown said that Monroe is trying to prove that he's ready to return to action and that Monroe and fellow freshman Marquise Goodwin could return kicks against Alabama.

* Texas sophomore defensive end Russell Carter, who played in nine games, will not play against Alabama. According to Brown, Carter did not do well on a final which made him academically ineligible. He is expected to eligible for spring practice.

* Texas freshman defensive back Marcus Davis is transferring. Davis, who played in four games, was suspended in late November after he was arrested on two misdemeanor charges - driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance.

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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