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

December 2010

Friday, Dec. 31

Bowl games show attendance increase
Attendance at completed bowl games is up over four percent this year compared to the same games last year, the Football Bowl Association announced Thursday. With fourteen bowl games completed and twenty-one to go, attendance is up 4.1 percent.

"We're very happy that fans are increasingly enjoying America's bowl tradition," said Tina Kunzer-Murphy, chairman of the Football Bowl Association. "At almost half-way in the bowl season, we're excited to see that fans are coming out and watching our student-athletes cap off their season in a rewarding bowl game."

Stoops on excessive celebration
At his final news conference before his Oklahoma team takes on Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday, the first question Bob Stoops fielded involved the excessive celebration penalty called on Kansas State late in the Pinstripe Bowl. He said the rule will be emphasized to his players.

"Absolutely it will be addressed," he said. "It is quite often addressed. It is something I address before our Big 12 championship game as well. It will be addressed before this game. ...

"What I do know is what our players - what's explained to them is it is a judgment call. Everybody's judgment is different. So if you open the door for it to be called ... if it is called, don't be saying 'All I did was this.' You opened the door, gave them the opportunity, and everybody's judgment's different. So don't go there. And hopefully our players will abide by the rules."

Random bowl thoughts
*There will be continuing debate about the instant replay reversal late in the Missouri game and the excessive celebration penalty called late in the Kansas State game. There are reasons and there are excuses and those officiating decisions were neither. As The Old Coach used to tell Your Humble Correspondent: "Leave no doubt, leave nothing to chance. Don't put the game in a place where it can be decided by outside forces."

* Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, whose team faces Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl Saturday at Dallas' Cotton Bowl, was asked to comment on the Kansas State excessive celebration penalty: "You want me to get in trouble before the game," he asked, half jokingly. "You know, it's a rule. But it's so inconsistent."

* Speaking of celebration penalties: There was no flag on the left turn at the goal line by Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon on his first touchdown catch in the Alamo Bowl. Clearly, he was applying a little mustard to his TD catch. Next year, a new rule calls for excessive celebration before the end zone to be a spot foul, 15 yards and nullification of a score. Next year, will a similar meandering route to the end zone result in a flag negating a TD?

* With between three and six weeks between teams' final regular-season games and bowl games, plenty can change/happen. A team that you saw in late November/early December might wear the same uniforms but play like an impostor in a bowl game.

* Nebraska's offense, and particularly its offensive line, was ineffective as the Huskers lost three of their last four. In those three losses, averaged 262 yards of total offense and allowed 14 sacks. For the season, the Huskers allowed 29 sacks and sacked the opposing QB 31 times. Also, Nebraska had an eye-rubbing 45 fumbles (16 were lost).

* As illustrated in the next item, the four Big 12 teams that have lost bowl games so far have had little success stopping the run or running the ball. Oklahoma State, the lone Big 12 team with a victory thus far, wasn't sharp offensively. Theory One: Long bowl layoffs affect teams (Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma State) that rely heavily on the timing of spread passing attacks. Theory Two: Teams that run the ball and get a lead can continue to pound the ball and play from ahead.

That run down feeling
Well. Five bowl games for the Big 12 and just one victory (Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10 in the Alamo Bowl). The four games Big 12 teams have lost have had a common theme - the ground game.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian summed it up after his team's shocking victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl Thursday night. Asked about the difference between his team's 56-21 loss to the Huskers and the 19-7 bowl triumph, the Huskies coach needed nine words:

"We stopped the run and we ran the football."

The rushing numbers in the four Big 12 losses are staggering in their lopsidedness. Iowa, Illinois, Syracuse and Washington have totaled 1,043 yards rushing, an average of 260 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

The flip side - the run game for the four Big 12 teams in these games - doesn't measure up. The Tigers, Bears, Wildcats and Huskers combined to rush for 395 yards - 98.7 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry.

Each of the teams that defeated a Big 12 team also had a stand out rusher. Iowa's Marcus Coker gained a career-high 219 yards on 33 carries against Missouri. Illinois' Mikel Leshoure gained 184 yards and had three touchdowns against Baylor. Syracuse's Delone Carter had a career-high 198 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas State. Washington's Chris Polk totaled 174 yards against Nebraska.

Those individual rushing performances don't bode well for Oklahoma which faces Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl Saturday night. The Huskies' Jordan Todman is second in the nation in rushing, averaging 143 yards per game.

Don't forget men's hoops
This is the time of year when basketball gets lost in the shuffle of college football's bowl season. In particular, the week between Christmas and New Year's is a time when few hoops teams are playing and there are few significant games as teams get ready for conference play.

But Thursday night, the Big 12 recorded two significant nonconference victories.

Iowa State has stamped itself as a surprise team. The Cyclones, under first-year coach Fred Hoiberg, are 12-2 following their 60-47 victory at Virginia. Jamie Vanderbeken scored a career-high 24 points in Iowa State's first game outside its home state.

"People weren't expecting us to do anything this year," Vanderbeken said. "To prove those people wrong, it feels great."

"Our guys, definitely they are playing with a chip on their shoulder," Hoiberg said. "We had zero expectations coming into this. Every expert picked us last. Every coach in the conference picked us last so we're just going out there and playing with nothing to lose."

Virginia, which has won at Minnesota and at Virginia Tech, missed 21 of its first 24 shots, its first 14 3-point tries and finished 20 for 62 from the field. The Cyclones put the game away with a 14-0 run early in the second half.

No. 10 Missouri also won a game from the state of Virginia, dominating a good Old Dominion team, 81-58. The Tigers are 13-1, their best start since the 1989-90 season. Many expected ODU to give Missouri a challenge. The Monarchs came into the game ranked No. 15 in the RPI with a three-point loss to Georgetown and victories over Clemson, Xavier, Richmond and Dayton.

Missouri shot 50 percent, forced 21 turnovers and battled a bigger team to a near-draw on the boards.

"They're going to be fun for people to follow this year," Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. "I don't know the Big 12 like the back of my hand, but I sure would like to think that they'd be pretty stout contenders in that league race."

Monday, Dec. 27

Lots of links to click
Coaching changes around the country can have far-reaching impact. Texas Tech will be without defensive coordinator James Willis for the TicketCity Bowl because he apparently will join former Texas assistant Will Muschamp's staff at Florida.

The Waco Tribune-Herald selected Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw as its inaugural Sportsman Of The Year.

Iowa State senior point guard Diante Garrett has developed into a top scorer for the Cyclones.

Matt Hayes of The Sporting News looks ahead to the Big 12's 2011 season.

Great read from Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman, who talked with Melanie Weeden, the wife of Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. 

Kansas State long snapper Corey Adams will close out his career in the Pinstripe Bowl and hopes to finish without ever making a bad snap.

Want some insight why the universities of Missouri and Iowa last played 100 years ago despite being in states with a common border? Read David Briggs' story in the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Gary Pinkel has been Missouri's coach for 10 seasons. Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides some perspective on one of the most successful decades in school history.

He wasn't highly recruited out of high school, but Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter will cap a stellar career when the Cowboys play Arizona in the Alamo Bowl.

Resurgent, bowl-bound Baylor takes its cues and inspiration from confident quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Thursday, Dec. 23

Early Christmas gifts (links)
Your Humble Correspondent offers up these links for your unwrapping (clicking) and reading pleasure. Unless events warrant, YHC plans to suspend blog posting until next week. Happy holidays to all.

Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, in a letter sent to high school football coaches, displayed a deft sense of humor with some tongue-in-cheek advice about Christmas shopping.

Texas was tougher and stronger than Michigan State in impressive road victory Wednesday night.

Missouri's late-game blitz - a 21-7 run - made the difference in the Tigers' Braggin' Rights victory over Illinois.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com writes that Missouri's "back-at-you" style, on display in Wednesday night's victory over Illinois, makes the Tigers one of the most exciting teams in college basketball.

Third-ranked Kansas won 78-63 at California and the Jayhawks' first road game of this season was a chippy affair with several on-court confrontations.

Wednesday, Dec. 22

OU's Coale on Connecticut's winning streak
Connecticut's top-ranked women's team won its 89th consecutive game Tuesday night, surpassing the 88-game winning streak compiled by UCLA under coach John Wooden in the 1970s. Here's Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale on the Huskies' accomplishment:

"The program Geno has built at the University of Connecticut has no peer, unless you stretch across the line into the world of men's basketball and legacy of Coach Wooden at UCLA. What the UCLA Bruins did for the sport of men's basketball, the Connecticut Huskies are doing for women's basketball. But any comparison of the two actually ends there. This isn't about which program is greater, who's the greatest coach of all time or any of those other ridiculous discussions. What this is about is excellence unparalleled and a standard that stretches us all if we allow it to."

Basketball milestones
* Nebraska's Christopher Niemann played seven minutes against Eastern Washington Saturday night. It was his first competition in 1,126 days. The 6-11 center from Germany signed with the Huskers in 2007 but the NCAA ruled he had to sit out his first season because of his presence on a German club team and then he twice tore his right ACL.

* Nebraska (10-2) has won eight consecutive games, the Huskers' longest winning streak since 1994.

* Iowa State's 104-63 victory over Chicago State Tuesday night was the first time the Cyclones scored 100 points since 2005.

* The Big 12 has six teams with 10 or more victories. The 16-team Big East also has six teams that have reached double digits in victories.

Overheard
Kansas State coach Frank Martin, after his team - without seniors Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly - lost to UNLV, 63-59, in Kansas City Tuesday night:
"Until we find some character and leadership, we're going to continue to flounder around. We're not about losing, man. We're not about playing hard and coming up with moral victories. That's not what we build our program on. We lost, so it wasn't good enough."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey after her team closed out the Sunsplash Shootout in the Bahamas with a 77-43 victory over No. 23 Syracuse:
"You're always worried about the last game before the holidays, and Syracuse has a good team. They're ranked 23rd, they come from a tough league in the Big East. ... We all need a break, we all need to see our families But when you're playing this good, you almost hate for it to end."

Missouri freshman guard Phil Pressey on his broken right ring finger, which is expected to keep him sidelined for two weeks:
"It's tragic right now. They say two weeks, but that two weeks is going to be the longest two weeks of my life, watching my teammates go out there and play. But I know they're going to take care of business, so I'm not worried about what's going to happen."

Linkage
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com writes about the plight of Kansas State and coach Frank Martin following Tuesday night's loss to UNLV.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes about some of the reasons why Bubba Cunningham turned down the chance to become athletic director at Kansas.

Missouri's All-American tight end Michael Egnew has become adept at making big plays for the Tigers.

Missouri junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe is a beast on the court but he's quiet and introspective off the court.

Sophomore wide receiver T.J. Moe's catch and run for the game-winning touchdown against San Diego State was a season-changing play for Missouri.

Quinton Carter, Oklahoma's consensus All-American safety, is also a star when it comes to community service.

Thursday, Dec. 16

Kevin Durant honored by USA Basketball
Kevin Durant, who in his one season at Texas became the first freshman named the consensus national player of the year, has added another award to his sparkling career. He has been named the 2010 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year.

"It means a lot," Durant said in a statement released by USA Basketball. "My goal was to represent my country to the best of my ability. I really appreciate all of the coaches and players that I got to share that experience with. I am very humbled by this honor."

Durant averaged a team-best and U.S. World Championship scoring record 22.8 points per game to help lead the USA to the FIBA World Championship gold medal last summer. He played a team-high 28.2 minutes per game and averaged 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals. Durant shot 55.6 percent from the field (74-133 FGs), 44.6 percent from 3-point range (26-57 3pt FGs) and 91.2 percent from the free throw line (31-34 FTs).

"Kevin brought maturity and a winning mindset to every practice and every game last summer," said Mike Krzyzewski, USA Men's National Team and Duke University head coach. "He was a critical part of our success, and his teammates wanted him to have the ball in critical situations. They knew he'd deliver, and he did repeatedly.

"Despite his level of accomplishment at such a young age, Kevin wants to be a better player at both ends of the court. He's motivated, and there's no ceiling on his game. He's a very special player and deserving of any honors he receives."

Bowl officiating assignments announced
Officiating crews from the Big 12 Conference have been assigned to work the Liberty, Capital One, Kraft Hunger, Orange bowls. The Big 12 officials who work the postseason are determined by their work during the regular season.

In addition, bowls involving Big 12 teams will be worked by crews from the following conferences: The Pacific-10 will work the Texas and Fiesta bowls; the Big Ten is assigned to the Pinstripe; Conference USA will work the Alamo and Cotton bowls; the Mountain West is working the Holiday and TicketCity bowls; and Mid-American Conference is working the Insight Bowl.

Missouri's Pinkel, Alden bell ringers
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and director of athletics Mike Alden will take center stage in the world capital of commerce Friday morning. They'll be in New York City to perform the ceremonial ringing of the opening bell for the NASDAQ market. The football team's upcoming appearance in the Insight Bowl provided the opportunity. The bowl is sponsored by Insight Enterprises, Inc. (NSIT on the NASDAQ market ticker).

"This is a big honor, it's going to be a real thrill to be there in person and see the inner workings of the market," Pinkel said in a statement issued by Missouri. "I've always had an interest in the market and have followed it as much as possible, but certainly haven't ever had this kind of opportunity, so I'm looking forward to representing Mizzou and the Insight Bowl."

Linkage
Texas and Penn State, the schools that met in last year's national championship match, face off in Thursday night's semifinals of the NCAA Division I women's volleyball final four in Kansas City.

Jason White and Sam Bradford, former Oklahoma quarterbacks who won the Heisman Trophy, credit the success of OU quarterbacks to assistant coach Josh Heupel, recently named the Sooners co-offensive coordinator and play caller.

The inaugural Pinstripe Bowl, which will match Kansas State of the Big 12 against Syracuse, has put New York City and Yankee Stadium back in the bowl business.

Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com checks in with his weekly notebook rounding up info about Big 12 men's basketball.

Texas sophomore and leading scorer Jordan Hamilton has some interesting observations in this question and answer session with slamonline.com.

Wednesday, Dec. 15

What ESPN's Fran Fraschilla likes and dislikes about 3 Big 12 teams
ESPN.com college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla breaks down what he likes and dislikes about some of the nation's top teams. Here's what he had to say about three Big 12 Conference teams.

Kansas
What I like about the Jayhawks: Offensive balance. Bill Self's team is shooting at a ridiculous 62 percent rate inside the arc and has enough perimeter shooting (42 percent behind the arc) to keep opponents honest when they double-team All-American candidate Marcus Morris in the paint. There are few ball-stoppers in this lineup, making Kansas one of the best passing teams in the country.

What I don't like about the Jayhawks: Chemistry. Freshman sensation Josh Selby becomes eligible this weekend, and while I think his transition into the rotation will eventually be smooth, the Jayhawks are 9-0 without him. There are few better at soothing egos than Self, but until it gets done, this has to remain a question mark.

Baylor
What I like about the Bears:
LaceDarius Dunn. While the Bears' front line has 22 feet of wingspan in the 2-3 zone -- and that has become a major weapon for coach Scott Drew -- the Bears wouldn't be considered a potential Final Four team without the prolific scoring ability of 6-foot-6 senior Dunn. In addition to being a great 3-point shooter, he has added a driving game to his offensive repertoire over the course of his career and is primed to end up as the school's all-time leading scorer.

What I don't like about the Bears: Point guard play. The Bears miss the leadership of Tweety Carter, one of the most underrated players in the country a year ago, and they are already turning the ball over at an alarming rate. This needs to be rectified if Baylor wants to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament.

Kansas State
What I like about the Wildcats:
Their intensity. The Cats won't always look like a basketball masterpiece, but they will battle you on both ends of the court. They crash both backboards and defend every inch of the floor, including at the rim. Coach Frank Martin and point guard Jacob Pullen are joined at the hip when it comes to competing, and this rubs off on everyone in purple.

What I don't like about the Wildcats: Free throw shooting. Give K-State credit for getting fouled a lot. The team is shooting almost 26 free throws a game. The bad news is that the Wildcats are shooting a woeful 54 percent from the charity stripe. That is likely to cost them a big game or two on the road to the NCAA tournament.

ESPN's Jay Bilas likes Kansas' offense
ESPN college basketball analyst is a fan of how efficient Kansas' offense has been thus far this season. Here's what he wrote for ESPN.com:

"I have not seen a more efficient offensive team than Kansas this season. The Jayhawks are not the toughest bunch, but they are very skilled and truly outstanding passers, guards and big men. Coach Bill Self does a tremendous job working with his players to look inside in his "high-low" sets, and Kansas moves the ball. Self does not want the ball to "stick" from pass to pass, but he wants his players to move and get ball reversal time and time again to make the defense make a mistake. Thus far, Kansas leads the nation in field goal percentage at 57 percent and in assists with more than 21 per game. With Josh Selby eligible to play Dec. 18, KU will have a breakdown guard who can get his own and create for others, something the Jayhawks do not have right now."

Hot links for mid-December
For Miami-born Frank Martin, the Kansas State coach, becoming successful college basketball coach is a dream come true.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com writes that Texas outside hitter Juliann Faucette is happy to still be playing volleyball as the Longhorns have advanced to this weekend's NCAA final four.

Baylor's defensive effort was impressive in the Lady Bears' 65-54 victory over Tennessee in a sold-out Ferrell Center Tuesday night. Sophomore Brittney Griner had 21 points and nine blocked shots for Baylor.

Gary Johnson and Cory Joseph keyed the offense as Texas had little trouble knocking off North Florida Tuesday night.

Matt Tait of the Lawrence Journal-World does an assessment of Kansas football coach Turner Gill on the one-year anniversary of his hiring.

Senseless gunfire at a funeral of a victim killed by senseless gunfire
The last game that Missouri junior Marcus Denmon played for the Tigers, he played despite mourning the death of a cousin who was more like a best friend. Marion Denmon III was killed last week when he was caught in the crossfire of an exchange of gunfire in which he was merely a bystander.

Marcus Denmon and members of Missouri's coaching staff attended Marion's funeral Tuesday in Kansas City. What should have been a somber event remembering a young person's too-short life almost turned into another tragedy. Shortly after the minister finished speaking, shots rang out and 400 people rushed out of the church in a panic.

Your Humble Correspondent has difficulty comprehending mourners attending a funeral for someone who was a bystander killed in a crossfire and those mourners terrorized in the midst of more gunfire.

A nice holiday gesture by Oklahoma athletics
When word came down that the Oklahoma Athletics Department wasn't holding an office holiday party, the first thought was, "Oh, guess times are tough and they're trying to save some money."

Not at all. Instead of a staff party Friday, staff members will be performing community service. They'll at Feed the Children in Oklahoma City stuffing backpacks and sorting food donations; at Habitat for Humanity; at Meals on Wheels delivering meals; and at Thunderbird Clubhouse (a group home organization) painting and putting together thank you baskets for donors.

Trick or Tweet
Depending on who you follow, Twitter can be entertaining, informative or infuriating. The last two weeks, during this offseason's ongoing college football coaching carousel, it's been more trick than Tweet. (See what Your Humble Correspondent did there?)

For instance, Twitter Tweets recently have ...

* Reported that Jon Gruden would be the new coach at Miami (Fla.).

* Reported that Miami's athletic director had been granted permission to interview Nebraska coach Bo Pelini about the Hurricanes' coaching position.

* Reported that Bob Stoops would be the new coach at Florida.

* Reported that new Florida coach Will Muschamp would hire Major Applewhite as his offensive coordinator.

* Reported that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart would be Florida's new defensive coordinator.

* Reported that Gus Malzahn had agreed to become Vanderbilt's new coach.

* Reported that Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen was the front runner to become Pitt's new coach.

* (Here's a direct quote of a Tweet; author not named to protect the guilty) "Holgorsen could scheme his way to 9 wins at Pitt with talent on hand. Malzahn alone gets Vandy 2-3 SEC wins. Then, how well do they recruit?"

* Reported that West Virginia coach Bill Stewart would step down after the bowl game.

* Reported that reports were incorrect of a West Virginia team meeting where players were informed that Stewart was stepping down.

Tuesday, Dec. 14

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds on 'influential' list
DeLoss Dodds, the Texas men's athletic director, is ranked 42nd on the list of the 50 most influential people in the sports business. That's according to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal.

Dodds is the only college athletic director to make the list.

The story had this to say about Dodds: As the world of college athletics teetered toward radical realignment in June, DeLoss Dodds held the key to the future. Plenty of college administrators and media executives played parts in the drama, but Dodds, as the University of Texas men's athletic director, heads the program whose decision to stay in the Big 12 Conference kept most of the jigsaw pieces in their present places, for now.

Others college executives on the list include Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany at No. 25 while NCAA president Mark Emmert and executive vice president Greg Shaheen sharing the 32nd spot.

Click for interesting reading
Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman writes that Josh Heupel is one of the Sooners' most popular former players but she wonders how long it will take fans to become disgruntled with his offensive play calling.

Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday that he is considering bringing freshman guard Josh Selby off the bench Saturday against USC, the first game Selby is eligible to play.

In its last season as a 12-team league, the Big 12 had perhaps its most surprising, competitive season.

Texas overcame a number of injuries to reach the NCAA Division I Volleyball final four in Kansas City this weekend.

Oklahoma State used a quick start to claim a big victory over Oklahoma in the first Bedlam wrestling match of the season.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World points out the contrasts in the smooth transition on Oklahoma's coaching staff to the rocky situation facing Texas.

Here's a nice column by Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times about former Texas A&M guard Derrick Roland whose senior season ended with a gruesome broken leg at Washington nearly a year ago.

Sunday, Dec. 12

Comedy Club-worthy conspiracy theory
This was posted Sunday on the Web site SaturdayDownSouth.com. Consider the name of the web site when reading the following:

As soon as Urban Meyer stepped down, everyone at Florida was calling for Bob Stoops to be the next head coach at Florida. GatorCountry.com reported that Stoops was 98% a done deal on Saturday, and he had an offer in hand. Then, they retracted on the 98% and said the percentage was based on a personal feeling and that it was not supposed to be mentioned in the post. The Gators fully expected Stoops to take the offer Monday or Tuesday. He didn't show up for pressers, and he would not return anyone's phone calls. Gators think they have their man.

Chris Petersen was also mentioned as to being the possible head coach if Stoops turned the job down. Contingency plans were thought to run through Boise, Idaho.

Yesterday afternoon, there was a report from TulsaWorld.com about Bob Stoops denying the contract negotiations with Florida via text.

"Not true, whatsoever," Stoops replied in a text to the Tulsa World when informed of the online story that originated in Florida. "Wow, they have a bad informant."

There was another report that Chris Petersen and Boise had shot down rumors about accepting the job at Florida.

So, Florida's top two coaches were out, it seemed.

Enter Will Muschamp - the Gators made things interesting with the hire. Debating whether he's qualified or not, that will be for a different time. However, Foley said Muschamp was the targeted guy the whole time, and the guy he wanted from the beginning.

I will bet my boots that Gator AD Jeremy Foley made his first call to Stoops to gauge interest. Stoops either said he wasn't interested in the job right off or he mulled over it a day or two. Either way, Stoops garnered all the attention in Norman - and on "Gator insider" message boards - taking the pressure and the nation's eyes off Florida and Jeremy Foley. Then, Stoops, when appropriate, shot down the rumors via text to TulsaWorld.com that he is not coming to Florida. Was it strategic timing? Was Stoops creating a smoke screen for the country and his archenemy Texas, allowing Florida to steal their coach in waiting inconspicuously and create a massive meltdown in Austin? I think so - talk about kicking them while down!

No one saw this coming, not even Texas. The Gators just messed with Texas and won!

Your Humble Correspondent admits to loving conspiracy theories. This one - that Stoops "played" Florida in order to rob Texas of an outstanding defensive coordinator - is not a conspiracy theory. It's a comedy theory. YHC has to end this post; it's difficult to type while ROTFL.

Deep (?) thoughts
*
Your Humble Correspondent has been over this before but it's worth going over again. The coaching staff shakeup at Texas is major and who knows how that will impact the Longhorns' program. This is worth noting because most "experts" have said that Texas and Oklahoma would dominate the future 10-team Big 12 in football. Change happens. And with change comes uncertainty. We'll see how Mack Brown reshapes his program but rest assured it will be different.

* Saturday afternoon GatorCountry.com, a Web site that covers Florida athletics, reported earlier that multiple different sources had confirmed Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was "finalizing a contract to become Florida's next coach." About six hours later, Florida announced it was hiring Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. A year ago, reporters who cover the Sooners were chasing (incorrect) rumors that Stoops was headed to Notre Dame. It was déjà vu all over again Saturday. As Oklahoma sports information director Kenny Mossman Tweeted: "I feel badly for the good reporters who have to follow up on the junk spewed out there by the bad ones."

* YHC has been honored and fortunate to be a Heisman Trophy voter since 2005. This year's vote was contentious because of the controversy surrounding the winner, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. He was left off 105 of the 886 ballots because of suspicions regarding his recruitment. (The NCAA says Newton's father solicited money from Mississippi State recruiters.) Some in the media have criticized voters who publicly admitted to not voting for Newton, a landslide winner. If a voter believes he is right, who has the right to criticize the exercising of the right to vote. YHC didn't list Newton first on his Heisman vote. It didn't change the outcome. YHC did not "punish" Cam Newton by not voting him first. Winning college football's most prestigious award isn't a "punishment."

* YHC was in College Station Saturday for Texas A&M's gritty 63-62 victory over Washington. (YHC uses the term "gritty" with the greatest admiration; coach Mark Turgeon's teams are tough-minded.) It was an emotional victory because Mike and Nikki Oyedeji were at Reed Arena. Tobi Oyedeji would have been a freshman on this year's team but died in a car accident on May 16. Tobi was an only child. His parents continue to feel the love of the Aggies Family.

Saturday, Dec. 11

Volleyball links from Friday's action
Texas reached the regional final and will play Purdue Saturday in Austin for a chance to reach the national semifinals. Nebraska's bid to reach the NCAA volleyball final four in Kansas City ended with a loss on Washington's home court. The ending left both coaches angry. Missouri lost a four-set match to Duke and Oklahoma was swept by Penn State, which is trying to win its fourth consecutive national championship.

Friday, Dec. 10

Acho a deserving Campbell winner
In his 3-Point Stance posting, ESPN.com college football writer Ivan Maisel had this to say about Texas defensive end Sam Acho winning the Campbell Trophy, aka the academic Heisman:

At the end of a lousy season, and one day after head coach Mack Brown sent old friend and colleague Greg Davis out the door, Texas finally received some good news. Defensive end Sam Acho won the Campbell Trophy, the "Academic Heisman" awarded by the National Football Foundation. Acho thanked the NFF's Gold Medal winner, Bill Cosby, for inspiring him as a child. Acho also spoke of his family's work in organizing annual medical missions to Nigeria, his parents' homeland. It's easy to see why he won.

Thursday, Dec. 9

Sad but uplifting story
Missouri kept its nonconference home winning streak alive with an 85-82 overtime defeat of Vanderbilt Wednesday night. The 15th-ranked Tigers won because Marcus Denmon made a key steal that led to the game-winning three-point play. Denmon was playing with a heavy heart.

Cotton Bowl supplies pizzas for A&M ticket buyers
A line of students were camped out at Kyle Field Wednesday night so they could buy tickets to the Cotton Bowl. When officials at the Cotton Bowl heard there was a tent city of students, they spent about $500 to have a Cici's Pizza in College Station deliver 75 pizzas to the students.

"Having been an A&M student and one that camped out, when I saw those photos, I knew we had to do something," Cotton Bowl spokesman Michael Konradi told the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

Wednesday, Dec. 8

Three views of Kansas
Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com writes that undefeated Kansas is a good team but wonders if the Jayhawks could be great once freshman Josh Selby becomes eligible on Dec. 18.

Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com takes a different view of Kansas and writes that adding Josh Selby to the current player rotation won't be easy.

And Dana O'Neill of ESPN.com writes that 8-0 Kansas is  a pretty good team even without Josh Selby.

Click and read all about it
Before hiring a new offensive coordinator, Texas needs to establish its offensive identity. So says Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman.

Oklahoma also is looking for a new offensive coordinator and Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman says that Kevin Wilson, who is Indiana's new coach, will be missed.

Texas Tech's men's basketball team continues to struggle on the defensive end.

Missouri guards Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon share a bond that goes back to middle school.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star blogs that he's uncomfortable with Missouri coach Gary Pinkel putting pressure on fans to attend the Tigers' bowl game.

Sunday, Dec. 5

Big 12 Championship Game records
* Nebraska's Roy Helu Jr. had a 66-yard touchdown run that was the longest in Big 12 Championship Game history, surpassing a 63-yard run by Darren Sproles in 2003.

* Nebraska senior kicker Alex Henery broke his own Big 12 Championship Game record with his 53-yard field goal in the first quarter. He kicked a 52-yarder in the 2009 Big 12 Championship Game.

* Nebraska junior linebacker Lavonte David had 17 tackles, equaling the Big 12 Championship Game record set by Dat Nguyen in 1998.

* Oklahoma's successful comeback from a 17-0 deficit is the largest rally in Big 12 Championship Game history. Texas A&M trailed Kansas State by 15 points in 1998 before rallying for a victory in double overtime.

Oklahoma, Nebraska notes
*
In 13 games this season, senior I-back Roy Helu Jr. has seven scoring runs of 50 or more yards. Helu's 50-plus TD runs have covered 58, 65, 68, 66, 73, 53 and 66 yards.

* In his career, Helu has 386 rushing yards on 47 carries against the Sooners, an average of 8.2 yards per carry.

* Senior kicker Alex Henery became Nebraska's all-time leading scorer. He has 396 career points, surpassing Kris Brown's 388. Henery is 18-of-19 on field goals and has made all 53 extra points he has attempted this season. For his career, he's 68 of 76 on field goals.

* Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones accounted for 339 yards of total offense in tonight's game, ending a streak of 29 straight games without allowing an opposing player to account for 300 yards of total offense.

* Since the Big 12 Conference's debut in 1996, Oklahoma is 140-53 and Nebraska is 139-54. The teams entered Saturday night's game with identical records in league games.

* Oklahoma defensive lineman Frank Alexander set a career high with four tackles for loss.

* Receiver Ryan Broyles passed Mark Clayton as Oklahoma's leader in career receiving yards. Broyles has 3,259 receiving yards.

* Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Landry Jones set OU single-season records for completions (371) and attempts (568).

* Oklahoma defensive tackle Pryce Macon recorded a career-high five tackles for loss in the first half (-24 yards) and a career-high three sacks.

* Oklahoma freshman receiver Kenny Stills set the school record for receiving yards in a season by a freshman with 713. Ryan Broyles had the old record with 687 yards.

* Oklahoma receiver Cameron Kenney had a career-high six receptions.

* Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis recovered the first two fumbles of his career.

Read all about it
In a season where Baylor made a bowl and Texas didn't, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Oklahoma's back-and-forth victory over Nebraska reflected the Big 12's unpredictable 2010 season.

Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman says the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game was everything one could have hoped for.

Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald writes that Nebraska has no one to blame but itself for losing its final chance to win a Big 12 Championship in football.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes that Oklahoma knows how to win the Big 12 Championship game.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World writes that an imperfect game produced the perfect ending to the final Big 12 Conference championship game.

Saturday, Dec. 4

Counterfeit credential scam
About 20 counterfeit media credentials were confiscated from fans at Saturday's Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game at Cowboys Stadium. The credentials were being sold on the Internet for hundreds of dollars.

The Big 12 sympathizes with the fans who were ripped off by the scam but reminds all that it's "buyer beware" whether it's tickets or any other access to Conference events. Make sure you purchase your tickets from reputable sources.

Upset up, upset down
The upsets giveth and the upsets taketh away.

Missouri pulled off the biggest volleyball upset in NCAA Division I Tournament history Friday night when the Tigers stunned fifth-seeded Northern Iowa, 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 26-24, 26-28, 15-10) on the Panthers' home court.

Missouri volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow called it an "epic" match before a packed house. Northern Iowa became the highest national seed to lose in the first round since the NCAA began seeding teams back in 2000.  The victory moved the Tigers, who finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference, to a second-round match Saturday afternoon with Northwestern Saturday afternoon.

The Missouri upset was ironic in that last year in the NCAA Tournament, Northern Iowa's men's basketball team pulled off the biggest upset when it knocked off top-seeded Kansas in the second round.

While the Tigers' victory was a bit of Big 12 Conference over Missouri Valley Conference revenge, the MVC pulled another stunner Friday night in volleyball. Unseeded Creighton beat No. 16 Iowa State 3-2 (27-25, 16-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11) in a first-round NCAA match in Minneapolis.

Iowa State was the only one of five Big 12 teams to fall in the first round. Second-seeded Nebraska already has advanced to the third round where it will face Washington Friday in the Seattle Regional. That will be a rematch of the 2005 NCAA title contest. The teams also met in a 2008 regional final.

Friday, Dec. 3

Officiating head says Kansas-UCLA call was correct
ESPN.com's Andy Katz talked to John Adams, who coordinates men's basketball officiating for the NCAA, about the foul call at the end of the Kansas-UCLA game Thursday night. Here is Katz's story:

Official Doug Sirmons made the right foul call on UCLA's Malcolm Lee with 0.7 seconds left that put Kansas' Mario Little at the free-throw line for a game-winning free throw Thursday night in Lawrence, according to the NCAA's head of officiating.

Little converted the free throw to give Kansas a 77-76 win over the Bruins, continuing a 64-home game win streak. Lee and Little were going for the ball when Lee reached into Little. UCLA had just tied the game at the other end on Tyler Honeycutt's 3-pointer with five seconds remaining. UCLA coach Ben Howland said after the game, "that was a really, really a poor way to end the game on a call. Just for anybody that hasn't seen it. It's a loose ball, both 23, Little and Malcolm Lee are putting their hand on the ball at the same time, with 0.9 seconds left.''

"The refs reacted properly,'' said John Adams, the head of the NCAA's officiating on Friday. Adams added that Sirmons was an experienced official who worked an NCAA regional last season. "The only argument you can make is whether or not it was a foul. It's a foul. The Kansas kid has control of the ball. It's incredibly unfortunate to end the game like that. But I've looked at the tape this morning and Doug called the foul like he's supposed to.''

Adams said he reviewed the tape over the phone with Big 12 coordinator of officials, Curtis Shaw, and they all agreed it was the appropriate call.

Howland said after the game, "Normally you wouldn't make that kind of call at that point in the game unless it was very obvious. And from what I saw, it's very disappointing to end the game on that note.''

Adams said officials can't consider how much time is left when making a call.

"It's dangerous to read into every play in the game to see time, score and circumstances,'' Adams said. "We do not ask [officials] to play God. If you do that, then you're asking them to play God. If the kid has possession and gets fouled, it's a foul. It's incredibly unfortunate that it was at the expiration of time. In the old days you would walk away (because time appeared to have expired). But in this time we have the video to check on the monitor to see if there was time left on the clock [and there was].''

Big night for a school and a player
In Big 12 Conference women's basketball this week, Wednesday was significant for Kansas and for Oklahoma's Morgan Hook.

Hook, a freshman from Lowell, Ark., sparked the Sooners' 94-45 victory over Sam Houston State with her 3-point shooting. In just 22 minutes, Hook had a game-high 25 points as she made seven of nine shots from 3-point range.

"Her willingness to take the shot and to be confident in it definitely sparked us," OU senior point guard Danielle Robinson said of Hook.

Kansas won the 700th game in school history by overwhelming Maine, 126-63, Wednesday night in Lawrence. The 126 total points eclipsed the previous record of 122, which KU achieved twice before - against Wichita State in 1979 and again in 2000 against Grambling. The Jayhawks also tied the school record with 32 assists in running their record to 7-0.

"We talked about it before the game that we would have an opportunity to be a part of history," said KU coach Bonnie Henrickson, referring to the team's pursuit of win No. 700. "At the end of it, to be able to break a scoring record and tie an assist record, I'm really excited for the kids to be a part of it. I know they were really proud of it."

Hardwood Series update
The final year of the Big 12/Pacific-10 Hardwood Series is thus far going the way of the Big 12, which recorded three victories Thursday night to move to 4-0 in the series. However, three of the four victories have been by a total of six points.

Thursday night in Eugene, Ore., No. 9 Missouri bounced back from Tuesday's overtime loss to Georgetown with an 83-80 victory over Oregon. The Tigers built a 22-point first half lead then had to hold on as the Ducks, who made 8-of-15 3-pointers in the second half.  Missouri made six of eight free throws in the final 48.4 seconds to move its record to 6-1.

No. 4 Kansas survived UCLA's upset bid when Mario Little was fouled in the final second and made a free throw for the Jayhawks' 77-76 victory that extended KU's home court winning streak to 64 games.

No. 11 Baylor, with LaceDarius Dunn scoring 24 points, pulled away in the second half for a 68-54 victory in Waco Thursday night.

Josh Selby's coming
The countdown continues but the wait grows shorter day by day. Freshman Josh Selby is scheduled to make his debut for Kansas on Dec. 18. He is expected to be one of the nation's top point guards when he takes the floor but Jayhawks coach Bill Self expects him to also see action at shooting guard. That's because Kansas has depth and versatility in the backcourt.

 "The perfect way for us to play is multiple guards in there," Self  told the Lawrence Journal-World. "Whoever gets it, brings it. It's not fair to Josh that he be on the ball all the time. He'll be thinking so much. There will be enough pressure outside people will put on him.

"We'll probably keep Tyshawn on the ball a majority of the time. I don't know if people see how well Ty is playing. He's close to leading the country in assists. His assist-to-turnover ratio is good (43-17). I think we're better with him on the ball running the team. For him (Selby) to get in the game a lot of minutes, he has to beat somebody out. He knows that and understands it. It'll be fun. Practice will be competitive, and I certainly enjoy that."

Fast breaks
* After beating Rice, Texas spent two full days working exclusively on its defense. That was evident when the Longhorns faced Lamar Wednesday night. Lamar came in averaging over 22 3-point attempts but managed only nine (making one) in a 76-55 loss in Austin. Overall, the Cardinals were 18 of 70 (25.7 percent) from the field. "We're going to be okay offensively, but I am telling you, for two days, we have done nothing but defense, and I like the carryover from that," said Rick Barnes, who won his 300th game as UT's coach.

* The last time a Big 12 Conference team faced Northern Iowa, the Panthers pulled the biggest upset of the 2010 NCAA Tournament by stunning top-seeded Kansas. Northern Iowa beat and frustrated the Jayhawks by making it a half-court game. Iowa State found that out Wednesday night. The Cyclones' suffered their first loss after six victories when Northern Iowa pulled away in the final minutes for a 60-54 victory. "With the way they play defense and the way they execute in the halfcourt, it's hard to get out and run," Iowa State senior forward Jamie Vanderbeken said. "They swamp the paint so we can't get penetration. They lock down the shooters."

* Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford on his 6-1 team: "Defense, no question, is what's been best for us. It's way ahead of our offense right now. I wouldn't know where to begin with our offense at this point. But defense needs to be our priority. And rebounding needs to be our priority. I'm not overly excited about our offense, but I'm not worried about it. We're still working on defense. And we'll come out in practice and work two hours on defense. As much as we need to work on offense, we need to develop the mindset of what our identity needs to be."

* Prairie View A&M coach Byron Rimm after his team's 90-45 loss to Baylor: "I've been to a couple of NBA practices, and I haven't seen a team that big. Our guys were shell shocked. Baylor does a great job of stretching their zone and we couldn't get into the gaps. When we got into the gaps, we couldn't shoot over them."

* Texas Tech's Robert Lewandowski on the Red Raiders' inconsistent play: "Well play great defense for five minutes then great offense for the next five, but forget our defense completely. If we get all pistons firing and play like we know we can, we'll be back."

* Kansas State coach Frank Martin on senior Jacob Pullen, who became the school's all-time leading 3-point shooter in Monday's victory over Emporia State: "When his career is over here, he might rewrite that whole record book the way he's going. ... I think our fans appreciate what he's done for our basketball program. Our fans remember him as that freshman Frank used to yell at and bench, all that stuff. He never stuck his tail between his legs and ran home and cried. He came back the next day and was ready to get better."