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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. 

November 2010

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Stoops recounts his decision to punt vs. Missouri
During Monday's Big 12 Championship game teleconference, Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune asked Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops a great question about a play most of us had forgotten about. Here's his story based on his question:

Six weeks ago, Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops elected to punt late at Missouri even though his team trailed by nine with two minutes left. The decision was criticized at the time but, in hindsight, it could help deliver the Sooners a Big 12 championship.

After OU's 36-27 loss in Columbia on Oct. 23, Stoops defended the punt, pointing to the impact a more lopsided loss could have on OU's position in the polls.

As it turns out, the Sooners' place in the BCS poll is the reason they're playing in Saturday's Big 12 championship game against Nebraska. Tied with Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in a three-team logjam at the top of the South Division standings, Oklahoma punched its ticket to Arlington by virtue of the league tiebreaker that sends the team with the highest BCS ranking to the championship game. OU is No. 9 in the latest BCS poll, ahead of No. 14 OSU and No. 18 Texas A&M.

"I felt solid about when I did it, regardless what anybody wants to say," Stoops said during today's Big 12 teleconference. "We didn't show any life three downs prior to that. We didn't even sniff a completion. I probably wouldn't have done it had we been out at the 20-, 30-yard line, something like that. I know I wouldn't have. ... Whether it was right or wrong, everybody can have their opinion. But right now, it's worked out OK."

It worked out in the form of Oklahoma's eighth berth in what will be the Big 12's last league title game for the foreseeable future. Under Stoops, the Sooners are 6-1 in the Big 12 championship game. A win over Nebraska and Stoops' fellow Youngstown, Ohio, natives Bo and Carl Pelini will send the Sooners to the Fiesta Bowl.

"The Dash" on Big 12 football
ESPN.com's Pat Forde in his final "Forde Yard Dash" of the season handed out some awards and a play from Saturday's Bedlam game was honored.

Defensive Play of the Year: Oklahoma State's two-man tag-team interception against Oklahoma, Nov. 27. Surely you saw it over the weekend: Landry Jones' attempted throwaway pass was spectacularly batted back in bounds by leaping cornerback Brodrick Brown, into the hands of linebacker Shaun Lewis for a pick. It was like saving a ball in basketball to a teammate. Only harder and more improvisationally ingenious.

Forde also graded each Football Bowl Subdivision conference. Here's what he had to say about the Big 12.

Overall Grade: C-minus. After putting a team in the BCS National Championship Game the past two years, the Big 12 came up well short of that this time around. In addition to the Texas train wreck, neither Nebraska nor Oklahoma lived up to their highest expectations -- though the two will meet in Dallas on Saturday for the league title. Colorado got its coach fired, and first-year coaches at Kansas and Texas Tech underwhelmed. The only teams that exceeded expectations were Oklahoma State, Missouri, Baylor and Texas A&M.

Player Of The Year: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State. The previously anonymous wide receiver exploded onto the scene this year and was the best wideout in the country. He led the nation in receiving yards per game, led the league in all-purpose running (despite not returning kicks) and had at least 100 yards receiving in every game he played.

Coach Of The Year: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys were a popular pick to finish last in the Big 12 South but went into the final weekend of the regular season with a chance to win it. They fell short against Oklahoma, but nobody would have dreamed of 10-2 before the season after the Cowboys lost 14 starters from 2009. Gundy made one of the nation's best staff additions by bringing in Dana Holgorsen from Houston to be his offensive coordinator, freeing the head coach to take on more of a CEO role.

Championship game pick: Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 19.

Hot links
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini are both from Youngstown, Ohio, and they're good friends.

Former Baylor women's basketball player Morghan Medlock is using her tragic personal experience with domestic violence to help others.

With a six-game winning streak, Texas A&M is one of the hottest teams in college football. That leads some Aggies to wonder what their chances would be if there was a playoff.

Kansas' basketball team had to work hard for its victory over Arizona.

Monday, Nov. 29

Blackmon played hurt, tied NCAA record
Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon had 105 receiving yards and a 15-yard touchdown catch against Oklahoma Saturday night. That tied an NCAA record for most consecutive games with 100 yards receiving and a touchdown reception.

The sophomore, though, was playing at "60 to 70 percent" according to Cowboys coach Mike Gundy. Blackmon suffered a sprained ankle against Kansas in the previous game.

"Justin didn't practice all week. Didn't take one snap all week," Gundy said. "We kept him in a cast for five days and put him in a boot the last day. I would suspect he'll be pretty sore tomorrow.

"He has a pretty high tolerance for pain. He wanted to play. He wanted to play with the pain and we really couldn't keep him out of there.

"That's not an excuse. That's not the reason we lost the game."

Blackmon finished with eight catches but at least twice after making receptions hobbled to the sidelines.

"You can't keep him out," Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen said. "A great player, you can't keep him off the field. Regardless of whether he practiced or whether he didn't practice, if we scheme things up for him or we scheme things up without him, you're still going to put him out there if he can go.

"But it does hinder you a little bit."

No All-American love for Ryan Broyles
Four players from the Big 12 Conference made the American Football Coaches Association All-America team that was announced Monday. Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma safety Quinton Carter and Nebraska corner back Prince Amukamara made the team.

Oklahoma wide receiver Ryan Broyles was not selected as the other wide receiver. That spot went to South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery. For the record, here's how their numbers compare: Broyles 115 receptions for 1,391 yards (12.1 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns; Jeffery 75 receptions for 1,351 yards (18 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns.

"I find it hard to believe how Ryan Broyles would not be a first-team All-American," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Monday. "He's had an unbelievable year, and has been consistently a huge big-play guy for us in every single game all year. We're at the top of the league in most every offensive category, and largely because of him. He's had a huge year, so that's disappointing that he wouldn't be on that, because he's a special player."

Big 12 bowl projections
Here are bowl projections from three writers; these matchups are based assuming certain outcomes of Saturday's games.

Stewart Mandel, SI.com:
Fiesta: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Cotton: Texas A&M vs. Alabama
Alamo: Oklahoma vs. Arizona
Insight: Missouri vs. Iowa
Holiday: Oklahoma State vs. Washington
Texas: Baylor vs. Illinois
Pinstripe: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
TicketCity: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern

Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News:
Fiesta: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Cotton: Texas A&M vs. LSU
Alamo: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Insight: Oklahoma vs. Michigan
Holiday: Missouri vs. Washington
Texas: Texas Tech vs. Illinois
Pinstripe: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
TicketCity: Baylor vs. Northwestern

Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express News:
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Cotton: Texas A&M vs. LSU
Alamo: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Insight: Nebraska vs. Michigan
Holiday: Missouri vs. Washington
Texas: Baylor vs. Illinois
Pinstripe: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
TicketCity: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern

Monday, Nov. 22

Back on the blog
Your Humble Correspondent spent last week at Club Med ... as in medicine. A nasty throat infection kept YHC from producing much of anything. (OK, no cracks about how can anyone tell the difference from the usual production.) Anyway, as you can tell from the mug shot with this blog, YHC is all about handsome and less about healthy. So let's get back to Big 12 Insider stuff.

Bowl projections
Stewart Mandel of SI.com's weekly bowl projections are always interesting to ponder. We list his projections for Big 12 teams. In particular, check out the matchup he predicts for the Alamo Bowl.
Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh
Insight: Missouri vs. Michigan
Texas: Baylor vs. Northwestern
Alamo: Nebraska vs. Stanford
Pinstripe: Kansas State vs. Connecticut
Holiday: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
TicketCity: Texas Tech vs. Illinois
Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Arkansas

Three from Big 12 on top shooters list
Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com ranks his top 33 3-point shooters for the 2010-11 season. Three Big 12 players made the list:

15. Keiton Page, 5-9, 160, G, Jr., Oklahoma State: Can really stroke it from deep. Has made 137 of 351 from deep in his two seasons in Stillwater - good for 39 percent.

16. LaceDarius Dunn, 6-4, 200, G, Sr., Baylor: An explosive scorer who can make shots from just about anywhere. Dunn's next 3-pointer will be the 300th of his career. He was 116 of 277 for 41.9 percent last season.

23. Tyrel Reed, 6-3, 190, G, Sr., Kansas: Made 44 of 93 for 47.3 percent on three-balls a year ago and is at 42.8 percent in his three years in Lawrence.

And a couple of links
The Kreklows are becoming Missouri's First Family, writes Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star.

Great Q and A with Kansas State coach Frank Martin by Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com.

Sunday, Nov. 14

RIP Wes Santee, Kansas track and field great
Wes Santee, an Olympian and Kansas distance running great, died Sunday. He was 78.

Santee, a native of Ashland, Kan., was a three-time U.S. outdoor champion and set the world record in the 1,500 meters in 1956.

At Kansas, Santee won three NCAA individual titles, and he led the Jayhawks to their only NCAA cross country championship in 1953.

Santee was a member of the 1952 Olympic team, and a silver medalist in the 1,500 at the 1955 Pan American Games.

Santee was one of the top competitors chasing the four-minute mile barrier. England's Roger Bannister got there first in 1954. Santee's career best mile time was 4:00.5.

"Wes Santee was one of KU's all-time greats, not just in track and field, but in the history of Kansas athletics," said Kansas interim athletics director Sean Lester. "He loved KU and the entire Kansas family will miss him. Our hearts go out to his family."

Monday, Nov. 8

Hot links to start the week
Oklahoma State captured the Big 12 Championship in women's soccer with a penalty kicks victory over rival Oklahoma.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star weighs in with a thoughtful assessment of the NCAA eligibility issue regarding Kansas freshman point guard Josh Selby.

Under coach Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State is 0-10 against Texas and Oklahoma. The Cowboys need to end that losing streak to win the Big 12 South Division.

After leaving Nebraska in 2004 during the ill-fated Bill Callahan Era, Turner Gill returns to Lincoln as Kansas' coach when the Jayhawks play the Huskers Saturday.

Colorado players want to see coach Dan Hawkins finish the season.

A new day has dawned in Big 12 Conference football, writes Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman.

Jimmy Burch of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram follows up on Golden's premise and writes that the Big 12 South Division turned back time with Saturday's results.

Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle chronicles how Texas A&M's defense has improved under first-year coordinator Tim DeRuyter.

Texas opens basketball schedule against Navy
The men's basketball season begins this week and Texas gets an early start. The Longhorns, ranked No. 25 in the coaches' preseason poll, will play host to Navy at 8 p.m. Monday in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer Austin Regional Round.

Louisiana Tech will play the Longhorns in Austin Wednesday. Texas will advance to the semifinals in New York, where it will face Illinois in the semifinals on Nov. 18. Pittsburgh and Maryland will face off in the other semifinal. The winners of the semifinal games will play for the championship on Nov. 19 with the losers facing off in a consolation game.

The season opener will mark the debut of two freshmen from Canada who were teammates last season at Findlay Prep. Point guard Cory Joseph and forward Tristan Thompson are both expected to play major roles for the Longhorns this season.

Texas, which was ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history in January, finished a disappointing 24-10. The Longhorns lost an 81-80 overtime game to Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

One man's bowl projections
In about a month, the bowl matchups will be official. For now, there is speculation and projections. Stewart Mandel of SI.com has projected the matchups for all 35 bowl games. Here is what his crystal ball says regarding the Big 12, which has seven teams bowl eligible.

Fiesta: Nebraska vs. Pittsburgh
Little Caesars: Temple vs. Iowa State
Insight: Missouri vs. Michigan
Texas: Illinois vs. Baylor
Alamo: Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
Pinstripe: Rutgers vs. Texas A&M
Holiday: Arizona vs. Kansas State
Dallas Classic: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Arkansas

Sunday, Nov. 7

Texas Tech's Taylor Potts: A class act
Texas Tech senior quarterback lost his starting job this week but came off the bench to lead the Red Raiders to a 24-17 victory over Missouri. After the game, he did not take questions from the media in the postgame news conference. (Here's a link to the video of the news conference.)

But it's not what you might think. Potts wasn't "acting out" because he had been benched. Saturday's game game was dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project and Potts offered a very moving and sincere thank you to the men and women of our nation's military:

"The thing I want to talk about is this being Wounded Warrior Week and these jerseys and what they represent, and the guys that we had visit us this weekend. Every time we got to talk to these guys it was a brand new story. It was unbelievable and it was breathtaking, these guy's stories, and how hard they fight.

"Every single morning these guys wake up and go out and fight for their lives, everyday. Every single day you are in a firefight. Which I don't think I ever realized that people being in a war, I thought maybe once or twice a week they might engage in battle, but he said every single day you are in a firefight. It's not like hunting because you are hunting something that is going to hunt you back. You are fighting for your life every single day.

"I'm glad we got to experience this Wounded Warrior Week, doing it for those guys. Those guys are our heroes because we get to go out there and play this ball game tonight. On Saturdays we are worried about wins and losses, and it kind of puts it into perspective for me when they sit back and tell us their stories and are worried about their lives. They are worried about what is going to happen to their families if they don't make it back.

"So, me being able to be a part of this project is huge, and I am really honored I got to meet some of these guys. I would love to meet more one of these days. It was a huge honor to be able to wear these jerseys and what they represent and be able to meet these guys, hear their stories and be able to talk to them a little bit about what they do. They give so much for us every single day, and I don't think we appreciate it enough, what they put on the line every single day.

"So, it is a real honor to have an army and to have people volunteer like that and go and serve to keep us free, and keep us able to play ball games. They keep people in the stands and keep the game going. So, we are really lucky to have them. To all our military, thank you very much for everything you do. We all appreciate it and the Red Raiders love you very much, so thank you."

Saturday, Nov. 6

Kelli Griffin leaves Baylor women's basketball team
The outcome of an exhibition game for a team ranked No. 2 is rarely newsworthy. And it wasn't headline making when Baylor overwhelmed Texas A&M-International, 107-26, Friday night in the Ferrell Center.

But two hours before the game, the school announced that senior point guard Kelli Griffin had "quit the team."

Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey could provide little explanation when interviewed after her team's victory.

"I don't know," she replied. "Nothing happened. Kelli just didn't show up at practice this week and doesn't want to play basketball anymore."

Baylor advanced to the Final Four last season and Griffin averaged more than 33 minutes a game, tied for most on the team with Brittney Griner. She had started 50 consecutive games and was 132 assists away from setting a school record in the category. Griffin averaged 6 points, 3.4 assists and more than 26 minutes a game in her three-year career at Baylor.

Griffin's absence means Baylor will be inexperienced at point guard. Sophomore Kimetria "Nae-Nae" Hayden played some point last year as a freshman. Mulkey also said juniors Terran Condrey and Lindsay Palmer can play the position.

Freshman Odyssey Sims, one of the nation's top high school players last season, could wind up being the point guard once she gets more experience.

Friday, Nov. 5

Dan Beebe's contract extension shows faith, stability
In this New World Order of instant journalism and warp speed analysis, there is no gray. It's either black or it's white. It's right or it's wrong. There is no "yes, but on the other hand ..."

Your Humble Correspondent understands. Thursday night offered prime examples. News of a possible play-for-pay scandal involving Auburn and quarterback Cam Newton brought Tweets and blog posts about Newton not winning the Heisman Trophy. Also, Virginia Tech's narrow win over Georgia Tech brought out the Smart Guys opining on how that result effects Boise State in the BCS.

As that cell phone commercial says, "Really?"

Friday morning the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors chairman and University of Missouri chancellor Dr. Brady Deaton announced the three-year contract extension of commissioner Dan Beebe. His original five-year contract, signed upon his appointment to the post in September 2007, was set to expire in 2012. With this extension, he now remains under contract until June 30, 2015.

Like an aviary, the announcement produced Tweeting, such as: "Will Big 12 still exist?" ... "For losing NU?" ... "No comment. No comment needed."

YHC, sounding like a parent arguing with a teenager, answers the first two questions. "Yes." And, "Dan Beebe didn't lose Nebraska." And YHC would like to provide a comment where "no comment was needed."

There are those who can question YHC's objectivity, but the point is this: Had Beebe not marshaled the forces to fight to keep the Big 12 alive as a 10-team league, there are a number of schools who would be facing uncertain conference-alignment futures. They know who they are.

About 11 months ago when the Big Ten Conference fired on Fort Sumpter and started the recent round of expansion moves and speculation, Beebe immediately put together a task force. He visited each campus to find out what the member schools wanted. He talked with television networks to gauge the future revenue streams.

The board of directors extended Dan Beebe's contract because the Continuing Ten believe in the future of the conference and they believe that Beebe is the man to lead it.

"Dan Beebe has been an outstanding leader for the Big 12 Conference during very challenging times, including our transition to 10 teams," said Dr. Deaton said in a statement. "The board feels that he has performed well beyond his job description under extraordinary conditions."

Most college fans and too many in the media have no idea of a commissioner's job (and the job description varies conference to conference). In the Big 12, the commissioner's job is largely about building consensus among members that have, at times, been more concerned with their school rather than the whole. That's not a criticism; it's an understandable, way-of-the-world fact.

Last June, Beebe was powerless to prevent Colorado leaving for the Pacific-10 Conference and Nebraska leaving for the Big Ten. He was powerful when it came to keeping the Big 12 from dissolving. He damn sure earned an extension and the 10 remaining schools are lucky to have retained his leadership and fortitude.

Loud and proud in the Big 12
ESPN The Magazine decided to take a scientific run at selecting the 10 loudest college basketball arenas. Here's part of the story that explains how they ranked the top 10:

"We polled a variety of resident ESPN hoopsheads to create an anecdotal list of the 10 most boisterous arenas. Then we turned to more objective pros, members of Penn State's acoustics program. To calculate the maximum decibel level (direct sound plus reverb) at each center court, PSU's team perused construction data provided by the schools and contractors, then assumed the following to create their models: 1) a capacity crowd of yelling spectators; 2) student fans yelling twice as loudly as others; 3) fan bodies absorbing sound equally at all venues.

"The result is the season's first upset: Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse over Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium. But our acousticians want to make one point perfectly clear: These rankings aren't final."

Three Big 12 basketball venues made the top 10. They are listed here, with their ranking. Your Humble Correspondent is guessing that a certain private school on Tobacco Road will be screaming for a recount.

No. 9. Gallagher-Iba Arena Oklahoma State
Cowboys' record at Gallagher-Iba 687-193 (.781)
Capacity: 13,611 | Student Seating: 3,000 (22.0%)
Arena Alias: Madison Square Garden of the Plains

When OSU added nearly 7,230 seats almost a decade ago, school officials were worried the renovation would dampen crowd noise. They made architects include steeper seats to funnel the sound, which helped. But relatively high absorption (blame fiberglass insulation) and some nosebleed student seats keep Gallagher-Iba out of the top tier of our rankings.

No. 7. Bramlage Coliseum Kansas State
Wildcats' record at Bramlage 259-91 (.740)
Capacity: 12,528 | Student Seating: 4,000 (31.9%)
Arena Alias: The Octagon of Doom

Kansas State should get bonus points for dedicating so much of Bramlage's real estate to its campus kids: The 4,000-seat student section is tied with Rupp Arena for biggest in our Top 10, even though the building's overall capacity is barely half that of Kentucky's. Too bad the cellulose-laden ceiling at the Octagon sucks up a lot of the students' good, hard work.

No. 1. Allen Fieldhouse Kansas
Jayhawks' record at Allen 633-106 (.857)
Capacity: 16,300 | Student Seating: 4,000 (24.5%)
Student Alias: Phog Phanatics

Surprised to see Allen Fieldhouse at No. 1? You shouldn't be. Not only is it home to the longest current winning streak in college basketball (59 games), but Bill Self is 113-6 at the Phog in his seven seasons as coach.

Simply put, it is the perfect combo of dimension, students-to-court proximity and low-absorption materials. But if you want the down-low on KU's acoustics? Here are three factors that turn the Phog into a sonic storm:

The Seats: They have no padded backs to absorb the crowd clamor. The Phog is filled with aluminum bleachers that are made for stomping - not to mention reflecting the eerie strains of "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" after yet another home W.

The Students: Yes, a committed student section is key. But the most thunderous undergrads won't do much good if they're stuck in the rafters while boosters schmooze politely courtside. Not only does Kansas welcome a high percentage of campus kids, it keeps them close to the action, too.

The Ceiling: Unlike more modern domes, the Fieldhouse roof is fairly flat and hangs relatively close to the floor. Plus, there are no sound panels attached to the ceiling. So sonic booms bounce around rather than get swallowed up.

Big 12 basketball previews
Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com previews the upcoming Big 12 men's basketball season.

And here's a Big 12 preview from CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish, who says the regular-season title race should be wide open.

Monday, Nov. 1

Gazing into a crystal ball
Mike Hugenin of Rivals.com breaks down the Big 12 division races and predicts which teams will be bowl eligible.
Buzz: Nebraska basically nailed down the North Division title with its victory Saturday over previously unbeaten Missouri. Four teams -- Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M -- have legit chances to win the South Division, but the thought here is that the division title will be on the line when Oklahoma visits Oklahoma State in the "Bedlam Game" on Nov. 27. Still, this Saturday's Baylor-at-Oklahoma State game is huge for both -- and when have you ever been able to say that about a Baylor-Oklahoma State before?
Projected champ: Nebraska (over Oklahoma in title game)
Projected bowl teams: Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech

Read all about it
Clip and save: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma's record-setting junior wide receiver, says he'll return for his senior year instead of entering the NFL Draft.

Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman says that Texas is a flawed team that has little chance of fixing itself this season.

Nebraska's victory over Missouri was a "big one" for coach Bo Pelini.

Neill Woelk of the Boulder Daily Camera writes that after Colorado's 43-10 loss at Oklahoma, the "if Dan Hawkins will be fired" has turned into "when Dan Hawkins will be fired."

For a great analysis of the how and the why of Nebraska's 31-17 victory over Missouri, check out this day-after story by Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Baylor's success in football this season doesn't surprise former coach Grant Teaff.

 

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