Tag Archives: Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Best and Worst of 2016: Big 12

The Big 12 Conference had a pretty forgettable year on and off the field in 2016. The conference was shut out from the College Football Playoff again and hit rock bottom in terms of conference prestige.

But not everything was a complete disaster. Here are some of the best and worst games in the Big 12 last season.

Best Games of 2016

Texas vs. Notre Dame

Texas is back” is what college football fans heard on the Sunday of Labor Day. The Longhorns kicked off the season with a thrilling double overtime win over 10th-ranked Notre Dame. It appeared very briefly that Texas would make some national noise, but finished 5-7 instead. And despite the game being fool’s gold because of Notre Dame also being highly overrated, it was still arguably the best game for a Big 12 team, especially in the non-conference schedule.

TCU vs. Oklahoma

This was a game many thought TCU could win, especially with Oklahoma’s early struggles. The Sooners ran away with the game in the first three quarters before TCU mounted a strong comeback. They had an opportunity to win in the end, but it ended up being an Oklahoma victory 52-46. The win was the beginning of some serious momentum for Oklahoma that propelled them into an eventual top-10 finish in the polls.

TCU vs. Texas Tech

This game may not have looked pretty, but it was highly entertaining. In what was expected to be a shootout, no one could have predicted the score to be tied at 17 at the end of regulation. The Red Raiders won on the road in double overtime 27-24 after the TCU kicker missed a short field goal on the first possession in double OT. In true Texas Tech fashion, they played conservatively and kicked a game winning field goal. A fitting end to one of the most surprising results of the Big 12 season.

Honorable Mention: Kansas State vs. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State vs. Colorado

It’s worth mentioning these two bowl games together because it’s always good for the conference when a team beats a former conference mate. Kansas State beating Texas A&M was a true shocker, and no one expected Oklahoma State to handle Colorado the way they did. These games really helped the perception of the Big 12 during the bowl season.

Worst Games of 2016

Oklahoma vs. Ohio State

The final score showed Ohio State winning 45-24, but anyone watching the game knows it was much worse than that. This was supposed to be the game to put Oklahoma and the Big 12 on the map. Instead, the Sooners got embarrassed by the Buckeyes at home. It capped off a rough start for Oklahoma, who eventually would win the conference. Which raises the question: just how far behind is the Big 12 when it comes to being nationally relevant?

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma

This game was just purely embarrassing for the Big 12. With the final score of 66-59, how can you really claim either team won? The teams should have just rested their defenses and let the offense play against air. It would have been the same result. I have no problem with a high scoring game, but this one got out of hand. A big embarrassment for the conference, to say the least.

Kansas vs. Texas

Big 12 critics seem to think the conference won’t be relevant again until Texas and Oklahoma are both top-10 teams again. Texas proved they have a long way to go after losing to lowly Kansas. It’s easy to say this was the worst game of the Big 12 season, but you can’t take away that much from Kansas. You can. This was an awful game from start to finish. Kansas snapped their 23-game losing streak to FBS opponents and Texas finally hit rock bottom. No one truly won this game, and the conference took a huge hit to its reputation as a result.

Honorable Mention: Oklahoma State vs. Central Michigan

You may not have seen a wilder finish to a game than this one. The referees admitted a mistake on their part, which gave Central Michigan one last chance with an untimed down. They threw up a Hail Mary, which got lateraled back and ran across the field for a touchdown. Cowboys fans will want to forget this one forever.

Iowa State vs. Texas Tech

Overshadowed by Texas’ loss to Kansas, Texas Tech managed to lose 66-10 to Iowa State on the same day. I’m not even sure how that’s possible on either side of the scoreboard, but somehow it happened. As if anyone wanted to really watch this game anyway.

Well, there you have it. Time to close the book now on the 2016 Big 12 football season as being one to forget. But hey, look at the bright side, the conference can’t get much worse in 2017!

Or can it?

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

It’s All About Texas

It’s all about Texas. It’s always been all about Texas in the Big 12. And this isn’t a good thing. This isn’t a good thing because it is to the detriment of the rest of the conference. When it comes right down to it, this is something that everyone, including the leadership at Texas, has always known.

This Texas-centric attitude was on full display as the conference decided not to expand. As the news broke about the Big 12 remaining at 10 teams, Oklahoma’s David Boren took the lead as he spouted the contrived rhetoric that is considered to be the conference’s most up-to-date position. But make no mistake, this is about what’s best for Texas. It’s always been about what’s best for Texas.

If there is any doubt about the role that Texas has played in all of this, please read what Gabe DeArmond wrote at Power Mizzou. DeArmond takes us on a journey that can best be described as Back To The Future. Texas was, is and will always be the bully.

Roy Thrilliams wrote a stunning article of his own at Burnt Orange Nation. In his article, Thrilliams attempts to make the case for Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 in favor of the SEC. Thrilliams clearly states that the Big 12 is dying and Texas must get out while it can. 

I have news for Thrilliams. Texas is not a casualty of the unstable conference. The Longhorns are the reason for the unstable conference and I’m sure the SEC is well aware of that fact.

As DeArmond reported in his article, Missouri athletics director Mike Alden considered the Big 12 doomed from the start.

Added Alden: “The structure of the Big 12, the way it was originated, in my opinion, that league was set up to fail. I do believe that if it would have been set up differently, it could have been one of the greatest leagues ever. When you set it up and you had favoritism toward one institution and then everybody else, it’s not going to work.”

The “one institution” that Alden was referring to is Texas.

Missouri has always been blamed for the Big 12 collapsing, but a factual look at the history of the conference tells an entirely different story. Nobody trusted Texas from day one so when the Big Ten expressed interest in expansion, Missouri listened.

And if we’re talking about which schools were the first to have a wandering eye, again, look no further than Texas. The Pac-12 was prepared to add Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. R. Bowen Loftin, who was at Texas A&M at the time, questioned Larry Scott about the terms of the invitation to join the Pac-12. Loftin didn’t believe that the terms would be agreeable to Texas. But to his credit, Scott said that was how it would have to be. Texas could take it or leave it. We all know how that ended.

Texas was the source of the unstable conference, but Longhorn athletics director Deloss Dodds continued to paint other schools as the bad guy. Dodds knew that he was shopping Texas to the Pac-12 and had at least one foot out the door, but that didn’t stop him from cussing out the Missouri leadership during a Big 12 meeting.

When all this was going on, there was one athletic director in particular, I can’t remember what school it was, but it’s in Austin. Anyhow, I heard a guy in that chair, he just started flipping out—flipping out is probably too strong a term, but he got pretty agitated, this person—and started dropping expletives about this and firing them kind of at us, at Mizzou, because Mizzou was rumored maybe the Big Ten is looking. And I was trying to be very professional.

Texas is Texas. I get it. But no other conference wants to touch it because the Longhorn program considers itself above every other program. And one of the things that DeArmond proved in his expose was that Texas is a phony, backstabbing program.

Yes, geographically Texas makes sense for the SEC. But Texas is a toxic program even with all of its financial clout. The SEC has 14 members that all get along so why would that conference risk that stability all for Texas? I don’t see it happening.

I am of the opinion that every school not named Texas should be looking for an exit strategy from the Big 12. Yes, there is a Grant Of Rights clause that forces the Big 12 to remain intact until 2025, but schools can make their intentions known before the GOR expires.

Based on what we’ve witnessed from the Big 12 and from Texas, I find it highly unlikely that schools like Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State aren’t actively shopping for another conference. Here’s how I view the Big 12 – Texas has to live with its ex-wife until she finds someplace else to live. 

But Thrilliams still considers Texas to be too good for any conference, including the SEC, to pass up. Nevermind that the Pac-12 already told Texas, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And I’ve got more news for Thrilliams, it’s not ignorant to think that the SEC would turn its back on Texas.

The SEC operates without a GOR, because, well, it’s the SEC. And by operating without a GOR, the SEC has told its members that it trusts them. If Texas was brought in, that trust among the schools would evaporate. I mean think about it. Who in their right mind would expect Missouri or Texas A&M to give Texas a glowing recommendation? Nobody. That’s who.

It’s also important to remember that Texas has to be the center of attention. Does anyone honestly believe that the SEC football programs are going to take a step back at the negotiation table for Texas? Again, there’s no way that happens.

The SEC is king of the college football world. And as magnificent as Texas believes its football heritage to be, it pales in comparison to Alabama’s. Alabama wouldn’t lick Texas’ boots and shouldn’t be expected to. That submissive role in the SEC is not something the Texas ego could stomach.

Thrilliams and everyone else who bows before Bevo needs a reality check. Texas isn’t the innocent conference bride that its made itself out to be. The Pac-12 realized that early on and there’s no way that the SEC will fall for Texas’ act of innocence.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikipedia

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Pac-12 Links: Arizona, California, and USC Quarterback Issues

The USC Trojans typically get a ton of love from writers, whether it’s actually deserved or not. The Arizona Wildcats get dismissed quickly until they prove they deserve different. And, the California Golden Bears are not even in the discussion unless they have a number one draft pick at quarterback. What do all three of these teams have to do to get into and to stay in the discussion for a bowl or conference title for 2016? Let’s take a look.

Arizona

This program won the Pac-12 South division in 2014, but took a dive last season. A big part of that dive last year was due to injuries to key players like Anu Solomon and Scooby Wright.

Arizona is one of those football programs that takes a backseat to their basketball program. They have won in the past, but not to the level that would create a buzz every time a new season is on the horizon. How do they get back to what they were in 2014?

Somehow, someway, the Wildcats coaching staff has to come up with a way to keep Anu Solomon off of his back. Do they venture away from the read-option and try develop Solomon as a better pocket passer? I would.

I know the read-option is the fashionable kind of offense, and there are aspects of it that I like, but if you want to have a solid quarterback, you have to develop his pocket presence. I’m not convinced he knows how to break down a defense at the line of scrimmage yet and he’s going to be a true junior this season. This will be something I’ll be watching this year.

A player to watch in case Anu Solomon gets injured: Brandon Dawkins.

Dawkins is a big -framed player who has a big arm which means he can throw the deep ball. The deep ball is something that Solomon can’t do, so if he struggles, look for Dawkins to come in and lead the offense.

California

In the post-Jared Goff era, questions abound in Berkley. Who is going to lead the offense? One of the possibilities is Davis Webb, the Texas Tech transfer. Webb originally transferred from Colorado, but when head coach Sonny Dykes came calling, Webb changed his mind and enrolled at California.

With Webb on the roster what does this mean? Does Webb automatically take over the offense and become the starter? Possibly, but nothing is guaranteed in college football. Does it mean that Sonny Dykes already has a starter in mind and will have Webb as their capable backup? Again, possibly.

My thought is that Dykes will go with the proven commodity in Webb. Having played in the wide-open offense of Texas Tech, the transition to Sonny Dykes open offense should not be much of problem. Anytime you switch schools and have to learn a new offense, growing pains will occur.

Part of me says that this is Sonny Dykes trying to figure out who is going to give him the best chance of winning games in 2016. Webb may be that guy and if he doesn’t take advantage of Webb’s game experience then he may not have the chance to figure it out next season.

USC

In the City of Angels, the question about who will play quarterback is at the top of everybody’s list.

Clay Helton may not have a bigger question in his first full year as the head coach of USC. What are his choices?

Coach Helton has a choice between junior Max Browne and redshirt freshman Sam Darnold. Browne is the presumptive nominee to take over the quarterback position for the Trojans, but did not separate himself from the Darnold during spring ball.

Both quarterbacks have the “look” of what coaches want. Max Browne is 6’5”, 220lb, and supposedly has a great arm. Sam Darnold is 6’4”, 215lbs, with a good, accurate arm and has something that Browne doesn’t. Darnold has mobility to help extend plays and put additional pressure on defenses.

Who gets the starting Trojan quarterback job?

Max Browne will. I don’t think Clay Helton will put a redshirt freshman under center against Alabama. Helton doesn’t want to possibly ruin a young player’s confidence by having him destroyed by the Crimson Tide defensive line. Now, I am not saying that Max Browne won’t be spending a lot of time on his back, but he has a bit more maturity so the coaching staff may be counting on that to mean something in the early part of the year.

Final Thoughts

I have said over and over that this is a transitional year for the Pac-12 because of the turnover at the quarterback position. Out of the three schools discussed here, Arizona is the only school with a returning quarterback, but he has questions about his health. California and USC are looking for replacements for their NFL-bound former quarterbacks. What will happen is anybody’s guess, but if the coaching staffs are worth their salaries they will figure these questions out.

Image: Creative Commons

Realigning into 16-Team Power Conferences

So much has been said about conference realignment in the last few years that we’ve become numb to it.  We recognize that the motive behind all of it is money, and that, understandably, turns many of us off to the whole idea.

I haven’t seen anybody try to turn this sensitive issue into something fun though.  Obviously, this is a complicated case with a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous.  We don’t need to get into all of that.  It’s been done before.  It’ll be done again.  So, forget all that and proceed with an open mind.

Let’s just stuff 16 teams into each of the Power 5 conferences and see what that looks like.

First of all, logistically speaking, adding teams gives us an opportunity to level the playing field a bit.  16-team conferences break down nicely into four divisions of four and that allows me to mandate schedule changes.

Every team will play 12 games in a regular season, three non-conference contests against other Power 5 teams and nine within the conference.  Teams will play their three divisional foes every season.  They’ll also annually rotate playing one entire division within their conference.  This leaves two more games, filled by one team from each of the remaining divisions in the conference.  Those, too, will rotate yearly.

From there, division winners will be pitted against each other in a two-week long playoff to determine a conference champion.  The five conference champs will receive automatic bids to the College Football Playoff with three more bids going to the most deserving at-large teams.  Oh yeah, we’re expanding the Playoff too, but that’s another column for a different time.

Enough introduction, let’s realign.

ACC

We’ll start out with the easy one.  The Atlantic Coast Conference already has 14 teams and it’s a basketball league anyway.  It shouldn’t be hard to add two schools that’ll make the East Coasters happy.

Additions: Memphis and Temple

The Tigers and the Owls both had surprisingly solid seasons in the American Athletic Conference in 2015.  Timing might have a lot to do with this but it seems like they’d be the best fits for right now.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Clemson                    Florida State            Louisville                    Boston College

North Carolina         Miami                       Virginia Tech              Pittsburgh

NC State                    Georgia Tech            Virginia                       Syracuse

Wake Forest              Duke                          Memphis                     Temple

The problem with the ACC is there aren’t many schools you know you can count on to field a solid football team every year.  That made splitting them up evenly a bit more challenging and I think these combinations are as fair as you’re going to get.

To clarify the schedule reconstruction from earlier, let’s use Clemson as an example.  The Tigers would play UNC, NC State and Wake Forest every year going forward.  In 2016, they’d play every team in “Div. 2” and one team from “Div. 3” and “Div. 4”.  I think that shakes out to be a much better schedule than anything we see under the current system.

Of course, you’d rotate home and away to prevent Clemson from rarely leaving Death Valley, but breaking all that down would be delving into details that are not the aim of this column.  Again, we can do that some other time.

Big 12

Yee-haw!  Here’s where the real fun is to be had.  The Big 12 needs six teams to get itself up to code.  There’s been a whole lot of talk coming out of the Wild West, but it seems everyone is too afraid to pull the trigger on any real moves.  Let’s make it easy for them.

Additions: Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State, Arkansas State, North Dakota State

With so many spots to fill, this was the toughest conference to add to.  Houston, Cincinnati, BYU and Boise State all belong in the Big 12 for real and I figured why not throw in Arkansas State and FCS-powerhouse North Dakota State for fun.  All of these teams would run the Kansas Jayhawks out of the building so I’m not worried about having to dig a deeper basement.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                         Div. 3                          Div. 4

Oklahoma                  Texas                        Houston                    West Virginia

Oklahoma State        Baylor                      Boise State                Iowa State

Kansas State              TCU                         BYU                             Cincinnati

Kansas                        Texas Tech            North Dakota State   Arkansas State

Look, I know this isn’t perfect, but like the ACC, the Big 12 isn’t giving me much to work with.  It’s a conference dominated by its haves and embarrassed of its have nots.  I’ve almost made it into a coast-to-coast league by adding Boise State (that’s a long way from Morgantown, West Virginia) but the conference itself didn’t seem too bothered by that when it added the Mountaineers in the first place.

I tried to keep as many rivalries alive as I could without severely crippling any one of the divisions.  Who knows what to expect from “Div. 3” with all newcomers, or “Div. 4” with West Virginia at the top.  There’s a lot going on in the Big 12 and frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it on a regular basis.  Sorry, Courtney McCrary.

Big Ten

Welcome to Big Ten country, where football is just better.  Sure, we’ve recently added a couple ridiculous East Coast members in Maryland and Rutgers, but they do serve nicely as automatic wins for our real teams.  Just two additions needed here.

Additions: Notre Dame and Ohio

Now that I know I’ve scared away all the Golden Domers, I can just come right out and say that it’s utterly ridiculous for Notre Dame to be playing half of an ACC schedule.  The Irish belong in the Big Ten.  We all know it.  They all know it.  The only reason they’re not, you guessed it: money.

Also, welcome the Ohio Bobcats whose campus is absolutely beautiful (and great fun on Saturday nights).  Maybe now people will realize there is, after all, another school besides THE one in Columbus.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Ohio State                Michigan                    Nortre Dame            Wisconsin

Penn State                Michigan State         Iowa                            Minnesota

Maryland                  Indiana                      Northwestern            Nebraska

Ohio                           Rutgers                       Purdue                        Illinois

Truthfully, I would love to boot Maryland and Rutgers, make them go play in the ACC and add a couple more MAC schools.  Northern Illinois, Toledo, Central and Western Michigan would all suffice, but for the purpose of this column I’m simply working with what’s already there.

Notre Dame gets to play schools it can start, or continue, a legitimate rivalry with.  They’ll have to play those fake rivalries they’ve got on both coasts on their own time.  The Buckeyes will have to play the Bobcats every year because I know that scares them.  As far as “The Game” is concerned, like our own Damien Bowman says, Michigan vs. Ohio State would be an even bigger game if it wasn’t played annually.

SEC

I know I angered many of you from the Southland with that wise crack about football being better up north.  We all know where the best football is played.  It’s just that people are tired of hearing about it.  The best conference in college football also needs just two teams to fill itself out.

Additions: Western Kentucky and Southern Mississippi

You’re the best, right?  Well, then you shouldn’t need any more help proving it.  Take these two C-USA teams (last year’s division winners), and consider them replacements for those mid-season walk-throughs y’all like to schedule against FCS schools.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

Alabama                    Florida                       LSU                             Ole Miss

Auburn                      Georgia                      Arkansas                     Tennessee

Texas A&M               Kentucky                    Missouri                     Mississippi State

South Carolina        Western Kentucky    Vanderbilt                  Southern Mississippi

There are so many rivalries down south it’s impossible to keep them all intact.  This divisional split preserves many of the big games while setting up some intriguing new ones.  This shakeup seems perfect to me, particularly for this coming season, but I’m sure some of you have one or two issues with it.  I’m curious what our SEC guys (and gals), Bird LeCroy, Seth Merenbloom and Kristen Botica, think about this.

Pac-12

Fifth and finally, that wacky conference out west that loves to put up points.  Unfortunately, picking last and being on the West Coast severely limits the options here.  With four spots to fill, this is going to be a tough one.

Additions: Utah State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Nevada

Basically, the Pac-12 absorbed the best available teams from the Mountain West and banished the rest of them to whatever level we’re setting up underneath the Power 5.

Div. 1                          Div. 2                          Div. 3                          Div. 4

USC                            Stanford                    Oregon                         Utah

Arizona                      UCLA                         Washington                Colorado

Arizona State            California                  Washington State      Colorado State

San Diego State       Nevada                      Oregon State               Utah State

Dividing this group of teams was even more difficult than finding which ones to add to it.  I wanted to keep USC and UCLA together, but doing so makes all the other divisions look much less formidable.  The door does seem wide open for Oregon and Utah in this setup.  I tried to put the Ducks and the Utes together but, again, the repercussions make things worse than they stand now.  What say you, Mike Wilson?

Reminder

Sports are supposed to be fun.  If they’re not, then what’s the point?  And while I understand this is a serious topic with a lot of money involved, I have a hard time taking it seriously since all anyone wants to do is talk.  Until something real happens, I’ll just keep serving up far-fetched proposals to stir the conversational pot.

I hope you enjoyed reading and I look forward to many of you telling me what I already know, why this won’t work, in the comments section below and on Twitter @GreatGatzke.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Not Enough Red Bull for Holgorsen

There have been some interesting things going on in the Big 12 recently. Obviously, expansion talk is still the number one topic in people’s minds, but there have been contract extensions being turned down, pay raises for coaches who maybe don’t deserve them and players getting kicked off of their teams, just to name a few.

ESPN Big 12 reporter Jake Trotter gave his opinion on the Big 12 expansion. Trotter thinks the Big 12 will expand. One of the main reasons Trotter thinks this is because the Big 12 will have a higher percentage of making the playoff if it has more teams competing and there is a championship game to be played. The best model was the old way  so they are trying to go back to it. Trotter also mentioned how difficult it is going to be to gain a television network when Texas isn’t even close to being 100 percent on board and getting rid of theirs in order to do so. Hopefully Texas will agree to switching soon, but I highly doubt it.

With football season quickly approaching the conference networks are announcing their prime time games. Since the Big 12 doesn’t have that luxury, writer Sean Cordy decided to make a list of what he thought the prime time games in the Big 12 should be. I don’t agree with some of the games on the list and here is why. He picked three games where Kansas is playing. How Kansas, who didn’t even win a game all season, can be picked for even one “prime time” game is beyond me. But I guess he thought these were the best games of the week. Kansas should be better this year but I don’t think it will be that competitive in only a year. I look forward to the day when the Big 12 has its own network just so we can see what the prime time games will be that season.

At the beginning of the 2015 season many people thought that Dana Holgorsen would lose his job. The season turned out to be a positive one after the Mountaineers finished the strong. After the season ended, the Athletic Director at West Virginia realized that he did not want to let Holgorsen go. The Mountaineers wanted to extend his contract but Holgorsen did not accept it. Holgorsen has two years left on his contract and will probably be offered another extension after next season, or after his contract is up. He needs to coach well these next two seasons or I don’t think West Virginia will take him back after he did this. I also don’t see another big name school picking him up, so he better hope for the best.

Texas Football hasn’t made a statement on the football field in a while, until now. This time it has to do with coaching. After two losing seasons the regents decided to give pay raises to some of the assistant coaches. Yes, you read that right. To be an assistant coach at Texas, that must be the life. The assistant coaches that will receive raises are: Brick Haley the defensive line coach, tight ends and special teams coach Jeff Traylor, strength coach Pat Moorer, and new assistants Charlie Williams, Clay Jennings and Anthony Johnson.

The specific reason is unknown as to why three Texas Tech players were kicked off of the Red Raiders football team. Kliff Kingsburry, the Texas Tech head football coach said it was “due to failure to uphold student athlete expectations.” Sophomore linebacker Dakota Allen, sophomore offensive lineman Robert Castaneda and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Trace Ellison were the three Red Raider players involved.

Running back Alex Ross announced this week that after he graduated from Oklahoma this week he will be transferring schools. Ross didn’t make much of an impact these past two years because he was overshadowed. He did make a large impact in the Sooners’ kick return game though.  Ross will be able to play immediately for whatever school he chooses. As of Sunday, it has been reported that Ross made a visit to Columbia, Missouri to visit MU. The Tigers need a running back so this could be the perfect fit for Ross this coming season.

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Expansion or No Expansion…That is the Question

Maybe it’s because I am a K-State fan, but this article made me laugh out loud. Does it really surprise anyone that no Kansas football players were drafted? De’Andre Mann, Taylor Cox and Larry Mazyck have been picked up in free agency. Mann signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Cox has been invited to Cowboys camp and Mazyck will be attending free agent tryout camp with the Houston Texans. It will be interesting to see if more KU players can make in impact in the NFL like Harris and Talib did this year. I just don’t really see players from these past few years making it very far considering what their record has been.

The contract from Brad Underwood has been approved. Underwood will make a total of 6.3 million the next five years with a starting salary of $1 million for next season. This doesn’t include the incentives he will be receiving from the Big 12 and Oklahoma State if he wins. As I said in my article earlier this year, Underwood is a great coach and deserves a large contract. I am very happy he is in the Big 12 again, I just wish it was with a different team.

Memphis President M. David Rudd released a promotional publication on his twitter account. He is really pushing for his school to join the Big 12. I think this would be a very interesting move by the Big 12. I wouldn’t be opposed at all. Memphis is progressively getting better in football and, of course, is very good in basketball. It is also somewhat close to other schools so people would travel, which is always important. I am not sure how much people who actually make these decisions pay to twitter and make their decisions off of promotional videos.

Bob Bowlsby finally spoke up about when decisions are going to be made in regards to expansion. He said “we need to move ahead and make decisions. I just think we need to move ahead expediently.” At this point I am somewhat indifferent about what happens. I am just ready for them to make a decision and hope it is the bet one for the conference. It sounds like they will have a decision made in the next ten days.

The Big 12 needs votes from eight schools to expand. I have heard they currently only have votes from seven schools. I have never liked Texas, nor will I ever like Texas. I feel like Texas is a very selfish school. Texas wants to keep the Longhorn Network so the Longhorns are pressuring TCU and Texas Tech not to vote for expansion. So, instead of thinking about what is best for the Big 12, the Longhorns are just thinking about themselves and what their TV contract will do for them. The Longhorn Network has lost money the past few years. So in the long run Texas is losing money for something they are so adamant on keeping.

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Top 10 Big 12 NFL Draft Prospects

The Big 12 might struggle this year when it comes to top picks in the NFL draft, which starts this Thursday, April 28. There isn’t a stand out player in the Big 12 that will more than likely go early in the first round. Before the 2015 season ended I would have said that Treyvon Boykin, or even Shawn Oakman, would be going high in the draft, but with their recent stints in jail I would have to say this is highly unlikely. Most people know that it doesn’t matter where you get drafted all that matters is how well you perform in training camp and the pre-season games. Last year the two best rookies coming out of the Big 12 were Jordan Hicks (before his injury) and Tyler Lockett. Both of them were drafted in the third round. They both should be stand out players for years to come.  According to Saturday Blitz, out of all of the Power 5 conferences, the Big 12 produces the least amount of NFL talent. According to ESPN the Big 12 only has 132 players on active NFL rosters. To put numbers in perspective, the SEC has 309 players.

It is very interesting to compare top ten lists of experts’ predictions of who in the Big 12 would be drafted high in 2016 before the 2015 season and after the 2015 season. The newest top 10 list I have seen on Saturday Blitz is in this order:

10) Shawn Oakman (Baylor): The two previous preseason lists on CBS Sports had Oakman at number four. This was before all of the allegations and arrests came about. I think he will still be drafted but his stock went down quite a bit. Oakman has also struggled generating power from his lower body to create leverage against offensive tackles. He also struggles to use his hands well and has been known to give up on most plays after the first pass rush. Even though Oakman is huge at 6’9″, 280 I still think he has a lot of work and maturing to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went late in the second, or even the third round.

9) Spencer Drango (Baylor): I don’t fully agree that he will be the tenth person to go in the Big 12. I haven’t seen him play much, but from what I have read about him he seems like he will probably be the fifth person in the Big 12 to go. He is tough, durable and reliable (only missing four games his whole career). It sounds like he might not be the quickest to the ball but is very smart. I have a feeling Drango will be a stud in the NFL.

8) La’Raven Clark (Texas Tech): Clark is a good player who had not-so-good coaching in college. Texas Tech struggled with its offensive line coaching, but that didn’t stop Clark from getting All-Big 12 First Team honors both his junior and senior years. Hopefully his talent will be paired with a good coach so his full potential can be shown.

7) Karl Joseph (West Virginia): Joseph wasn’t even on the preseason top ten list that I found, but he was number seven even after his 2015 was cut short due to an injury. During the 2015 season it looked like Joseph had the potential of being one of the best players in college football. Joseph was quick on the field and led the NCAA with five interceptions in four weeks. He will be a great NFL player as long as his injury doesn’t affect him.

6) Josh Doctson (TCU): Doctson was in the same position on the preseason and postseason lists that I found. Doctson was the star wide receiver for the Horned Frogs. One of his specialties was that he made plays even if the ball wasn’t thrown directly into his arms. He is not remarkably fast, but he is one of the best receivers in this year’s draft.

5) Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State): Ogbah, who is going into the NFL early has recorded double digit sacks the past two seasons is more than likely going to be a great NFL player. He has the size and speed to do great things. Hopefully he will put out more effort in the NFL than he did in college. If he does this he will be very successful.

4) Corey Coleman (Baylor): Coleman is another person that was on the postseason list, but was not mentioned on the preseason list from CBS Sports. Coleman is a huge offensive threat because he is exceptionally fast. He isn’t the smartest player, especially when it comes to plays and reading routes. I think this will take some time in the NFL, but teams will still pick him up because they will love his playmaking ability.

3) Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma): Shepard is a very quick and a smart route runner. His size may limit him on how high he will go in the draft. But honestly that will not matter as long as he performs well in the league.

2) Cody Whitehair (Kansas State): Whitehair, who has started in almost every position on the Wildcats offensive line is very versatile. After watching him throughout the years I know he is a hard worker who puts out maximum effort on the field during every play. These are both great attributes for NFL players to have. I hope a great team picks him up.

1) Andrew Billings (Baylor): Both on the preseason top 10 and postseason top 10, Billings was number one. Billings is young and quick. He is a really smart player, but still has a lot to learn. If he can learn different ways to get off of the line to beat the offense he will be a stud on Sundays.

*Featured image courtesy of Flickr/Marques Stewart

The 2016 Quarterbacks of the Big 12

Quarterbacks are extremely important when it comes to football. The Big 12 has had some powerhouse quarterbacks throughout the years. The quick explosive offenses the Big 12 has been known for are highlighted by the quarterbacks that have gone through the league throughout the years. It looks like this year will be no exception, especially with a lot of high-powered quarterbacks returning for Big 12 teams.

The main returning quarterbacks that will make a big impact in the Big 12 this season are Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Baylor’s Seth Russell, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. West Virginia has its quarterback, Skyler Howard, who was the number five quarterback in the league in passing yards per game. Howard threw for 3,145 yards and 26 scores. Iowa State also has its quarterback position filled with Joel Lanning, but Zep Noland looks like he could also compete for the starting job. These two quarterbacks might not have as huge of an impact in the Big 12 this season, but it is nice that their teams won’t have to worry about filling that position.

The rest of the Big 12 schools are still questioning who their starting quarterback is going to be. The main question for Texas is what quarterback will fit into the offensive scheme of the new offensive coordinator. There are three options for Texas with Tyrone Swoopes, Jerrod Heard and true freshman Shan Buechele.

TCU has to replace its biggest play maker in Trevone Boykin. Quarterback Bram Kohlhausen made a huge impact in the Alamo Bowl at the end of the season, but unfortunately he graduated after that game. Now the battle of quarterbacks consists of Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill and former four-star recruit Foster Sawyer. It will be a big battle, and it will be very interesting to see who Gary Patterson will chose to start the first game.

Kansas State is the next team in the Big 12 that has questions about its starting quarterback. Luckily for the Wildcats there is no shortage of choices for people who play that position. Last year the Wildcats caught some bad beaks with injuries and sickness. This year the Wildcats return Jesse Ertz from his ACL injury, co-starter Joe Hubner, red shirt freshman Alex Delton and top recruit Skylar Thompson. I could see Coach Snyder waiting until the day before the first game to announce who he will pick to start at quarterback for the Wildcats.

The Kansas Jayhawks are the last team that still doesn’t know who their starting quarterback is going to be this season. The Jayhawks have more questions that that though.  KU has to choose between Montell Cozart, Ryan Willis and Tyriek Starks. Both Cozart and Willis played last season but neither quarterback really stood out. Willis is a better quarterback when it comes to David Beaty’s air raid offense. Willis did get hurt this sprig playing basketball, but they are hoping he is 100% by fall. Starks was offered a scholarship even though Kansas was set for this season. The Jayhawks staff did not want to pass this opportunity up, even though their scholarships are limited. IT will be interesting to see who Beaty will choose to start the season, but it probably won’t be the same person that finishes at quarterback for the Jayhawks.

 

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Big 12 Links: Rudolph Can Find Santa, but not a Catcher

The Big 12 will be represented on the U.S. Collegiate Volleyball Team

A trio of Big 12 volleyball players will represent the Big 12 Conference on the 2016 Collegiate National Team. The three girls selected were Baylor’s Shelly Fanning and K-State’s Brooke Sassin and Bryna Vogel. The Collegiate National Team consists of 36 members so it is a big honor to be selected for this team. Being on this team is considered to be the second tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team. These girls will play on June 26- 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named Texas Tech’s Davis Hitter of the Week

Michael Davis has had a great baseball season so far for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Davis leads all Big 12 players in RBI by accumulating 11 just last week. Davis helped the Red Raiders go on a 4-1 road trip that included a mid-week split with No. 5 Florida State. The Red Raiders also swept No. 16 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are having one of the best seasons they have had in a long time. Their record is 12-1 and haven’t swept a ranked team since 2002.  They have completed that already this year and look like they can do it again.

Some Important, and not so Important Date Changes for the 2016 Football Season

The Big 12 has announced two date changes to its 2016 conference football schedule. When the Kansas Jayhawks travel to Lubbock Texas to play Texas Tech their game will be played on Thursday, September 29 instead of October 1. The second game that is being changed is when TCU plays Texas in Austin. This game has been moved to Friday, November 25 instead of Thursday November 24. These have been moved due to television purposes, but I’m not quite sure how many people will tune in to watch the KU vs. Texas Tech game.

Is Tubby Smith leaving Texas Tech?

After Tubby Smith led the Red Raiders to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 it looks like he might be leaving the up-and-coming Red Raiders behind. Rumors are that Coach Smith is on the top of a very short list of candidates that the Memphis Tigers are looking at. Tubby would replace the old Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who took the job at Georgia Tech after the end of last season. Tubby has really improved the Texas Tech basketball team. He has made the Red Raiders relevant again in the Big 12. This would be a huge blow not only to Texas Tech, but also to the Big 12 conference.

Rudolph Needs to Stick to being a QB

You would think that a quarterback who has an over 60 percent completion rate last season would be able to thrown a baseball to a catcher. But Mason Rudolph proves everyone wrong when he threw the baseball way over the catchers head. Make sure you watch the video for this one. It is pretty hilarious.

Gators QB Will Grier to transfer to West Virginia

This announcement came on Wednesday. Will Grier will have to sit out the 2016 season for the Mountaineers due to NCAA rules for transferring. Another problem is Grier was suspended in October after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. West Virginia is trying to argue it, but the earliest Grier can play is the fall of 2017. It will be interesting to see how much he will end up playing at West Virginia.

Spring Football is in the Air

Spring football is in the air. Spring games have started around the Big 12. Most of the time these games don’t really mean much, but with some teams it will be interesting what some players can do and who will win the starting positions.

http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/eye-on-college-football/25496123/college-football-2016-spring-practice-and-spring-game-dates

On Friday April 1TCU was the first team in the Big 12 to have its spring game. The big question for the Horned Frogs is who their quarterback is going to be next season. During the spring game no quarterback stood out as a starter. Both Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer completed about half of their passes, but neither threw for a touchdown. Hill got to throw to competition for the first time in two years and did not look that bad. The only touchdown thrown during the game was by the third string quarterback Grayson Muehlstein. It will be interesting who wins the starting QB job at TCU and if they will even come close to competing in the Big 12 like Boykin did.

http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/college/big-12/texas-christian-university/article69573547.html

Baylor is the other team in the Big 12 that has also had its spring game. Well at Baylor it is just an open practice. The Bears defense dominated the scrimmage recording 12 sacks and limiting the Baylor offense to 20 points on 117 snaps. Baylor’s running backs also looked really solid during the scrimmage. Jamycal Hasty looked really good. He has four more years in a Bears uniform so he could be  huge threat for them.

http://baylor.247sports.com/Bolt/WATCH-Baylor-Football-Spring-Showcase-44615731

The next spring games are on Saturday, April 9. Kansas will play at 2 p.m. and Oklahoma will play at 3 p.m. It will be interesting to see what Coach Beaty can do with the Jayhawks this year. I know nothing will really be shown during the spring game, but you will still be able to see how some of the players perform. When it comes to Oklahoma it will be interesting to see how its defensive line performs and the impression that Baker Mayfield has.

On Saturday, April 16 Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas have their spring games. In the last Texas Tech spring practice Cameron Batson was mostly relegated to punt return duty. Batson had five catches for 83 yards and a TD. Quick running back Justin Stockton only had three carries, but had 44 yards and three touchdowns.

http://redraiders.com/filed-online/2016-04-02/out-shadows-batson-stockton-excel-texas-tech-spring-scrimmage#.VwMeCOIrLIU

On April 23 the last of the Big 12 spring games will be played. West Virginia will play at White Sulpher Springs and K-State will be back in Bill Snyder Family Stadium this year. It will be very interesting to see how the Wildcat quarterbacks perform after the two main starters were both injured last season. It will also be interesting to see how the defense performs after losing some key starters.

None of these games and practices mean anything, but it is still nice to see how each team will perform and hopefully no one will get hurt during them. This just means football season is one step closer.