In the last game of the fondly remembered, and somewhat maligned Southwest Conference, UT beats A&M with the help of a freshman running back named Ricky Williams.
We're No. 1. Well, according to ESPN's Tim Griffin.
After spring practice, there's been a little movement in my pre-spring power rankings. Here's where I think schools are slotted heading into the summer.
1. Texas: Colt McCoy is back bigger and stronger than ever. But the real improvement during the spring for the Longhorns came in the secondary, where they have legitimate two-deep talent. Sergio Kindle was a natural at defensive end and incoming freshman Alex Okafor was better than advertised as a prime pass-rusher. The running game is still a question and depth at defensive tackle could be iffy. But the Longhorns still remember how 2008 played out -- at least if the asterisk-marked Big 12 championship hung in their team room is any indication. February pre-spring ranking: 1.
Tim Griffin breaks down the 2009 spring practice with a "Best Of" column. The best collective defense performance award should make us all proud.
Best collective performance, defense: Texas' secondary showed two-deep talent throughout the camp, but saved their last for the Longhorns' spring game. They terrorized Heisman Trophy runner-up Colt McCoy, who completed only 11 of 24 passes for 95 yards. Most importantly, they produced two interceptions after notching only six during the entire 2008 season.
Griffin's online chat with readers brought up some questions about the Longhorns:
Shane Houston,TX: Who has the best Offensive Line in the Big 12?
Tim Griffin: Shane: I'll say Texas. They have more experience than anybody. Guys like Hall and Ulatoski seem like they've been around Austin since the Clinton administration.
Fernando (Mart, TX): Does Colt McCoy stand a chance of breaking his own completion percentage record?
Tim Griffin: Fernando: It's gonna be tough. I think he misses Quan Cosby, who was a great checkdown receiver. I expect the numbers for both McCoy and Bradford to go down a little bit. Both played at mind-boggling levels last season.
ESPN.com's college football reporter Mark Schlabach put out his own way-too-early preseason Top 25.
Here's the third version of our way-too-early preseason Top 25, and there are several noticeable changes. Florida, with quarterback Tim Tebow and possibly the country's best defense coming back, remains a very solid No. 1. But Oklahoma and Texas flipped spots, with the Longhorns moving up to No. 2 and the Sooners falling to No. 3.
Mark Schlabach also had an online discussion with readers and some questions about the Longhorns were submitted:
Ronnie (Canyon Lake, Tex): Mark, I appreciate your work. How do you see Colt McCoy doing this year? Also, I think Baylor may be a surpise team in the Big 12 this year. Thanks again for your hard work.
Mark Schlabach: (4:01 PM ET ) I think McCoy can win the Heisman Trophy. Jordan Shipley should be as good, but Malcolm Williams really needs to step up and become a deep threat. More importantly, Texas has to find an every-down runner to take some of the pressure off Colt. He's a great runner, but they have to be able to run it out of an I-formation. They couldn't do that last year.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands): Mark, Texas should be a decided favorite against OU this year, right? Just seems like Texas is bringing back so much, and OU lost several key guys, that this may not even be a close game.
Mark Schlabach: (4:13 PM ET ) It's a rivalry game so it's going to be close. I don't think OU falls off much, not with Bradford and Gresham and Murray coming back. Key, obviously, will be the offensive line. They have to protect Bradford. Defense might be better with McCoy and Reynolds coming back. We'll see.
Greg (Crystal Lake, IL): I can't wait to see Texas defense in action this year. Despite being in the pass happy Big XII, I think Texas could have one of the better defenses in the country. Would you agree, and why?
Mark Schlabach: (4:39 PM ET ) I think Texas' defense will be better in year 2 under Will Muschamp. A little more aggressive. They have to replace Orakpo and Miller, but Kindle is going to be an All-American.
Columbia Daily Tribune writer Dave Matter on his Big 12 football thought of the day:
We’re months away from having to fill out the preseason All-Big 12 ballot, but I’m already wondering whose name I’ll fill in next to the letters QB. Back in December, my Heisman Trophy ballot had Texas’ Colt McCoy on the top line, followed by eventual winner Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. So, I guess it’d be inconsistent to suddenly give Bradford the nod as the best in the conference. If I had to vote tomorrow, I’d stick with McCoy, the better runner of the two.
And now that he decided to stick around for his redshirt junior year and his offensive line returns just one starter, we’re going to learn a lot about Bradford this season. The Sooners will figure into everyone’s preseason top five, but something tells me the country’s going to appreciate just how special a player McCoy is now that he’s behind the more seasoned core of blockers. Either way, what a treat the Big 12 has in having two decorated quarterbacks returning this season.
Your bottom line starts with your front line. -John Villere. Rivals.com has ten front lines to watch next season. OU and Texas A&M make the list.
1. Oklahoma: By now it's common knowledge the Sooners lost four starting linemen who earned All-Big 12 recognition. That line protected Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford and paved the way for two 1,000-yard running backs. Trent Williams is the lone returning starter, and he moves from right tackle to left tackle. Cory Brandon made a great impression this spring on the right side, but the Sooners still will be counting on guys that Stoops criticized in March. Bradford's Heisman campaign and OU's national championship hopes depend heavily on the line play.
8. Texas A&M: The Aggies are good at the skill positions, but they've been atrocious up front. Consider this: Last season, the Aggies ranked 114th nationally in rushing offense and 115th nationally in sacks allowed, and that was with mobile quarterbacks. Three fulltime starters are back and Matt Allen - a transfer from LSU - has taken over at one guard spot, so maybe the blocking will improve. If it doesn't, the Aggies are facing another losing season.
Such sad, sad news... According to Barry Tramel, NewsOK, the Sooner football schedule is full of landmines.
Studying the 2009 Big 12 Conference football schedule, I was struck by just how difficult OU’s assignment is.
The Sooners play seven games I would term losable. That’s seven opponents that would seem to have a legit chance to beat Oklahoma. Some would need to play really well, some would need some help from OU and some will stand toe-to-toe with the Sooners.
Some can dream about impossible upsets, but the truth is, Idaho State, Tulsa, Kansas State, Texas A&M and Baylor are just not physically able to compete with OU right now. But that leaves seven opponents that can at least hang in there: BYU, Miami, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas Tech and OSU.
More sad news from Oklahoma. Oklahoma State doesn't recruit well in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Why? Possibly because they do not have a presence in the area. OSU athletic director Mike Holder isn't too happy about that.
Oklahoma State now is the only Big 12 South school without an annual game in Greater Dallas. Is no Big D a big deal?
Dallas is prime recruiting ground for every South school, plus Arkansas, which is a Big 12 South member emeritus, having been in the Southwest Conference from 1915 to 1991 and having played OSU 28 times from 1950 through 1980.
Playing in Dallas has been beneficial to the Sooners and Longhorns for almost a century. Now others want to share that stage.
"We’re the only team in the South that doesn’t have a game in Dallas," Holder said. "We’re probably forced to look outside the conference."
If coaches follow through on this policy, we won't have any officials at all. Nebraska's AD Tom Osbourne wants coaches to "rest" an official if they feel that the work of that official is substandard.
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne would like to reapply an old Big Eight policy to Big 12 officiating.
Osborne said Thursday that at next week's league meetings he'll try to gain support for coaches to be able to ask the conference to "rest" an official because of repeated substandard work.
"If you feel somebody has really not measured up," he said, "you could request that he not work any of your games the next year."
ESPN has a mock 2010 NFL draft and several UT players are in the top 10.
A&M quarterback Stephen McGee is thrilled to stay in Texas.
When the third round of the N.F.L. draft ended, so did Stephen McGee’s patience.
Already stung by a disappointing career as a quarterback at Texas A&M, McGee stormed out of his house, convinced a senior season lost to a shoulder injury had ruined his football future.
Then Jerry Jones called.
"It’s very special to me," said McGee, the first pick of the fourth round. "When I put this star on my helmet and strap it up for practice, there’s definitely a lot of pride because I’ve been following this team my whole life."
Checking in on another favorite quarterback... Barking Carnival's Trips Right wants Rhett Bomar to have a very long career.
What is the biggest concern among Big 12 AD's this year? Money.
Take note of the first two words in a memo from Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe concerning the top discussion item at this week’s league meetings:
With the economic conditions, big-time athletic directors and commissioners are dealing with the same problems as anyone else running a business or a household.
"I’ve been on a couple of conference calls and one video conference with other athletic directors from the Big 12," Nebraska AD Tom Osborne said. "I wouldn’t say there is panic, but I sense some real concern from some about the economy."
Is there anything else to do in Nebraska? Even in this economy, Nebraska's ticket renewals are at 98% and skybox renewals are at 100%.
More good news for the Cornhuskers. Athlon Sports has Nebraska ranked at No. 16 in its preseason poll.
Road trip! What will be the best games of the 2009 football season? Tim Griffin has the answers.
Need some off season entertainment today? Try the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. This little gem featured our favorite northern neighbors against West Virginia. Or how about the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl when OU faced Boise State? If a couple of Sooner loses don't make your day, just watch this year's game.
Our very heartfelt condolences to the Sooners. Oklahoma basketball great and musical talent Wayman Tisdale lost his battle with cancer.
Considered an OU basketball legend, Tisdale’s personality and talents were praised across college and the NBA and later extended to the jazz world, where he was an award-winning bass player. The past two years, he continued to wear his popular smile during a public battle with cancer that eventually resulted in the amputation of his leg above the right knee.
"Throughout it all, he always had that infectious smile," said OU basketball coach Jeff Capel. "This is an incredibly sad day as we have lost not only one of the greatest Sooners ever, but one of the all-time best people to walk the face of the earth."
Mark Kreidler, ESPN.com, on Tisdale:
In a perfect world, Wayman Tisdale would have been an NBA superstar, if for no other reason than that he epitomized just about every characteristic fans claim to crave in their sports idols.
He was immensely talented. He worked hard. He was humble to an almost cartoonish fault. He had fun. He didn't equate "smile" with "competitive surrender." He took his game seriously; himself not so much. And win or lose, he had time to visit with the people who paid the freight. A more fan-friendly pro you won't find.
Rest in peace.