34 days until the Louisiana-Monroe game.
What makes Mack Brown different from other Big 12 coaches? He is the nice guy.
And where does Texas coach Mack Brown rank? He is the nice guy, which might explain why he had a much smaller crowd in comparison to Stooper and Leach.
Everybody knew he wasn't going to say anything particularly controversial or fiery. It is not his way; it never has been.
Listening to him talk Wednesday, in his lilting twang, it is also easy to see why his way also works, why this nice guy has been able to finish first in this amazingly difficult division.
And why I think he will do so again this year.
A reporter from the Omaha World learned twelve things at Media Days.
6. Nobody works the national media like Mack Brown. The Texas coach and a handful of his players, including Colt McCoy, hosted a "meet and greet'' function in Brown's hotel suite Tuesday night with selected national media members only. Remember that come Heisman time.
Last season was more about regret than bitterness.
"If we had played better at Tech and won the game," Brown said, "we would have been in the conference championship game."
"As a player, you reflect on games you lost,'' Muckelroy said. "You don't worry about the ones you won. You always think about what you could have done here or there that maybe could have made the difference in the game.''
"I think everybody felt like they could have done things better,'' Texas receiver Jordan Shipley said. "We understood if we would have taken care of our end of the deal and won all the games, then we wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place.''
"We should have won (at Texas Tech)," linebacker Sergio Kindle said. "If we win, there would be no doubt."
UT players get to attend the Big 12 Media Day and answer asinine questions from reporters.
As big as we want it to be: Texas vs. OU.
The way the schedules shape up, the stakes should be what they usually are, or at least are billed to be and seem to be at the time: As always, OU-Texas is a rubber match for the Big 12 title and an elimination game for the national championship. Even after last year's twisted denouement, that hasn't changed.
Dennis Dodd has five things he believes about the Big 12.
This just might be the biggest Texas-Oklahoma game ever. Texas won the game last season but wants "revenge" for obvious reasons. The game used to be a window on the Big 12 and national championships. Last year’s screwy tiebreaker messed with everyone’s head.
With Oklahoma State in the mix this year, there is the possibility of another three-way tie. Meanwhile, we will wait until Oct. 17 in Dallas. Stoops was asked if Texas-OU can get any bigger?
"I don’t know how it could," he said. "The last eight, nine years it’s been as heated as it could be."
How does Colt McCoy plan to improve this season?
"I can be on the same page with Coach (Greg) Davis more," McCoy said. "I can understand defenses better, studying with Coach (Will) Muschamp, studying film from last year. Maybe my footwork. Maybe take care of the ball a little more. Just being a smarter quarterback overall. I consider myself a learner."
And so he spent part of that Manning camp picking the brains of hosts Peyton and Eli, and talking a little shop with his roommate, Bradford, before lights out.
"We talked about defenses, the kinds of things we see," McCoy revealed. "I remember he'd say, 'Some guys bring corner blitzes versus bringing their safeties down.' We see a lot of the same stuff."
Dennis Dood has finished his decade rankings. USC is No. 1, OU is No. 2 and we are No. 3.
2. Oklahoma: Calm down 'Horns.
OU gets the nod over Texas because Stoops has won those six Big 12 championships. Two of his quarterbacks have won Heismans (Jason White and Sam Bradford). There is that nasty business about five consecutive BCS bowl losses but how many teams would kill for a chance just to get to that point?
3. Texas: In 2000, Mack Brown was wondering if he would make it at Texas. In his first two seasons in Austin, Brown had won 18 games. Ricky Williams had won the Heisman. He was getting the distinct impression it wasn't enough.
What followed is one of the best runs in the history of the game. Beginning in 2001, there began an ongoing streak of eight consecutive seasons of at least 10 victories. Texas has lost all of 18 games this decade.
All of it pales, though, behind Vince Young scrambling for the game-winning touchdown in the 2006 Rose Bowl. Finally, the pressure was off Brown. He had his national championship. There might have been another in 2008 if the 'Horns hadn't lost that Big 12 South tiebreaker.
Congratulations. Destinee Hooker was named the Big 12 Female Athlete of the Year.
Dime Magazine has a Q&A with Rick Barnes.
OU Football: One Shining Moment. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Dr. Saturday looks at OU's revamped offensive line.
The only holdover from last year is right tackle Trent Williams, an All-Big 12 pick by league coaches and an All-America by a lot of the preseason magazines, who's moving to the left side. The other four projected starters are what you'd expect from Oklahoma: All came in as top-10 prospects at their respective positions and members of the Rivals250 list of the best incoming prospects overall. One, new right guard Stephen Good, was a five-star billed with a penchant for nastiness. Another, senior Brian Simmons, was an elite prep school prospect who's played in every game the last two years. In those terms, even with the surprise transfer of a former top center prospect, Jason Hannan, this line is more talented/hyped than the one that precedes it.
But when Bob Stoops publicly called out the entire line for poor winter conditioning before spring practice, the urgency came into focus: If this group can't at least approximate the fortress of solitude the last starting five typically erected around the pocket, Sam Bradford's star -- along with the Sooners' highest ambitions -- will come crashing to Earth sooner or later.
A meeting of the minds. Bob Stoops went to Tuscaloosa to visit Nick Saban.
Congratulations. Sam Bradford was named the Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year.
Don't bet the ranch on Texas winning the Big 12 title. We have to get past Oklahoma State, but Dr. Saturday doesn't give the Cowboys much credit.
Is Oklahoma State a legitimate challenger to the South overlords? Everyone recognizes that the Cowboys have a lot going for them, at least on offense, but again, the defense hasn't suggested at any point in Mike Gundy's tenure that it can hang throughout a sustained championship run -- they've given up at least 25 points per game all four seasons under Gundy, including more than 28 per game last year, and that was despite a healthy turnover margin. The pass rush remains one of the worst in the country (dead last in the conference in sacks last year), which is the kiss of death against the deadly, rarely-hit quarterbacks in this division, and in fact Gundy's teams are 0-8 against Oklahoma and Texas. The admitted butt-kicking in the Holiday Bowl didn't do much for that big game reputation -- essentially, considering Missouri's fade after the upset in Columbia last year, OSU is still looking for its first really big win under Gundy. Dez Brant notwithstanding, they haven't earned the benefit of the doubt.
The Cowboys plan to return the favor to a visiting Georgia team.
Mike Gundy remembers taking his Oklahoma State squad between the hedges at Georgia Stadium two years ago. And he remembers the atmosphere as the Cowboys suffered a season-opening loss to the SEC school.
This year, Gundy plans to return the favor. And he knows Oklahoma State fans could be the key when the Cowboys host Georgia on Sept. 5 in OSU’s 2009 season opener.
Chris Brown of Smart Football breaks down OSU's prolific balancing act.
Is MIke Leach the most important person in Texas Tech history?
The real pressure for Leach is choosing between Hardee's and Arby's. The day I met him 10 years ago, he was Oklahoma's offensive coordinator reaching into a bag of fast food and watching game tape.
Not much has changed except the paycheck. Aside from some suddenly vocal boosters and administrators earlier this year, they have left him alone. It's going to be that way for quite some time now because everyone suddenly realized the alternative.
Life after Leach might be less funny but it would also be less successful.
He has become arguably the single most important figure in the school's history. Compared to Leach, Bobby Knight looks like a student manager. Under Leach, the stadium has been expanded, suites have been built. There have been nine consecutive years of bowls.
How does Leach feel about moving the Texas game to September 19th?
"It's not really rocket science," Leach said. "The university felt like they could generate more money, and so that's what we [decided to do].
"Texas is challenging no matter when you play them, but we feel like we've got a good team. We just have to go out and play the best we can. I don't know how big an impact the timing of it has. Last year we played four top-15 teams back to back and that was tough, too."
Does it really matter who plays quarterback for the Red Raiders?
How inevitable is Potts' rise to statistical glory? Of the five starters Leach has trotted out in nine years, every one has topped 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season; even in terms of efficiency as opposed to straight cumulative totals, they've been remarkably consistent from year to year. And only the last one in that line, Graham Harrell, had better reviews than Potts before he took over the job.
The Austin American-Statesman has a profile of Raider offensive lineman Brandon Carter.
"Outside of football," Brandon Carter said with a warm smile, "I'm a nice guy."
But it was tough to focus on Carter's message, which those who know Texas Tech's massive offensive lineman swear is true. Why? Oh, maybe it was his spiked, Mohawk haircut.
More likely, though, the distraction was the latest addition to his expanding collection of tattoos — a menacing skull on the left side of his shaved head, accompanied by inked cobwebs, two stars and stitches.
ESPN's Tim Griffin has three predictions about Baylor. A lot of it has to do with one player.
Paul Rhodes and Iowa State have a tough road ahead this season.
Austen Arnaud sees the end. Not the end result of this season, specifically — that's still yet to be determined. He can't say for certain exactly how new coach Paul Rhoads' tenure at Iowa State will work out, either.
But Arnaud, the Cyclones' junior quarterback, has a specific vision of the distant future, and sometimes it's his biggest source of comfort.
"I can't wait until I can look back on this and laugh," Arnaud said.
The Denver Post has things to watch: Colorado football.
Is Nebraska really back? Coach Bo Pelini believes that it is.
"I believe the program is getting firmer," coach Bo Pelini said. "I just feel better about where we are. We're not the finished product yet. I understand that. Our players understand that. They're starting to sense what we can become."
Pelini is working on building trust and relationships with his players.
"With me, there's not a lot of gray," Pelini told the audience. "It's black and white as far as what's right and wrong. If they (the players) are not on the right side, we're going to take a foot and put it right up their back side."
The thing is, Pelini said, the players are coming to realize that the coaching staff has their best interests at heart.
"There's a trust that's building," he said.
Ground control is key for the Cornhuskers this season.
Take rushing offense minus rushing defense and see what kind of figure it produces.
Using that formula, Nebraska was at plus 53.3 yards per game last season, the best mark in the Big 12 North in 2008. Improving on it likely would give the Huskers a good shot at matching or bettering their status as divisional co-champions in 2009.
"We do put a lot of focus on running and stopping the run,'' NU center Jacob Hickman said. "Every week, we always do team run, ones vs. ones, in practice. So we're always going against each other and getting the best look possible with those kind of things.
"So it isn't surprising that those numbers are pretty good like that.''
Bill Callahan: Callahan was particularly wondrous in not only not changing the signals before a Super Bowl despite the other coach being his former boss who knew the entire system, but for his limpid performance as Coach at Nebraska, where the crowning achievement of his career may be calling Oklahoma fans "f----- hillbillies" post-game.
The Quad has Kansas at No. 32 in the college football countdown.
Dr. Saturday sizes up the North contenders.
College Football Live will be going to MIssouri.
Some other stuff
In the Big 12 civil war, the North loses.
If you could pick your own quarterback, who would it be? Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy?
But for the sake of this discussion, Bradford and McCoy finished 1-2 in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Bradford was first-team AP All-American (and player of the year) and McCoy was second-team. In media voting, McCoy was the Big 12's offensive player of the year, but Bradford was the first-team quarterback. In coaches voting, Bradford was player of the year and first-team All-Big 12.
Two of the nation's best aren't only in the same conference. They play for blood-feud rivals, and they've struck up quite the friendship.
Do SEC defenses have the advantage over the Big 12?
"I know sometimes people pick on the defenses in our league because there’s so many offensive numbers," said Colorado coach Dan Hawkins. "But I just think it’s because of the great talent that’s in our league, and then obviously spreading people out. It’s very difficult to defend."
That’s a position Stoops claims, too.
"Look at the quality of quarterbacks, the skill level," Stoops said. "It’s easier to play better defense when you’re not playing against great quarterbacks. When that guy behind the center isn’t special, it’s always a little easier."
Dave Matter, Columbia Tribune, has a little more on the defensive quandry in the Big 12.
Of course, not every program has the luxury of speedy, elite athletes to line up on defense like Texas and Oklahoma. But if there’s one common answer to the league’s most vexing question — how do you slow the spread? — it starts with a good pass rush.
"You’ve got to stop the run, obviously, on first down, but you’ve got to get packages for pass rushers," Texas Coach Mack Brown said. "So as much as we’re concerned about the big guys up front, we still have to make sure that we have packages for pass rushers in situations where somebody’s going to throw the ball all day and your big guys stay fresh."
Generating heat on the quarterback without blitzing linebackers or safeties is a valuable asset.
Someone is still asking this question and it happens to be our own newspaper.
The lingering knock on the Big 12 has been that the league is overrated. Think the Sooners may have heard that partisan crowd at Dolphin Stadium mention that a time or two.
The Gators not only backed up their claim that they had the stronger conference, they rubbed OU's noses in it, holding an offense that had topped 60 points in five straight games to 14. Tim Tebow implied the Big 12 didn't exactly play the same style of kick-butt defense that he saw on Saturdays. And more than one cynic suggested those inflated Big 12 passing numbers were a byproduct of soft defenses.
Mostly, they were right, with the exception an abundance of great throwers.
And the survey says... 29 of the 38 players that attended Big 12 Media Days were polled by the The Oklahoman.
In The Oklahoman's player poll, 56 percent answered they believed Texas would defeat OU in the Cotton Bowl.
But not all went against the Sooners; 53 percent said last season OU was more deserving of going to the Big 12 Championship than Texas.
The majority of Big 12 players also voted OU's Bob Stoops as the coach they'd most like to play for.
What school would they want to attend?
If you had to attend any school, which would you attend?
Oklahoma State, 10%
What about mascots?
Who has the best mascot?
Ralphie (Colorado), 25%
Bevo (Texas), 20%
Joy and Lady (Baylor), 15%
Pistol Pete (Oklahoma State), 10%
Herbie Husker and Lil' Red (Nebraska), 10%
Quotable: "It's definitely Ralphie. No one else I know has a buffalo." — a Big 12 North defensive player
Quotable II: "They actually have a live bear sitting in the end zone," — a Big 12 North offensive player
Quotable: "After we lost to them, they ran on the field and tried to beat us up. They're the worst." — a Big 12 South offensive player, on Texas Tech fans.
This has to be the most insightful article about Media Days:
It’s not that these summer banquet-room rituals are pointless exercises in minutiae and public relations (although they occasionally come close). It’s just that most of the time, attending a media day is more or less like watching a film starring either Sandra Bullock or Matthew McConaughey.
It might not be a total waste of time. But you pretty much know what’s going to happen before you get there.
Most entertaining comment about a quarterback-receiver tandem:
Most inconspicuous pairing: Todd Reesing & Kerry Meier. Here’s a great thing about college football: Both halves of one of the country’s most prolific passing tandems could have passed for bellhops at Big 12 media day … because neither cuts the figure of a big-time college player.
Happy birthday to MTV. The video network launched on August 1, 1981. The great advertising firm of Ogilvy & Mather thought the logo was horrible and the concept would never work. This just goes to show you that sometimes the so-called experts can be wrong.
And on that note... The coronation is a little premature. Everyone seems to have conceded the Heisman to Tim Tebow, but there are a couple of other players to consider.