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Bevo's Daily Roundup - March 8, 2010

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The future.

"He's just football-smart. … He would watch film with me every day. We
would go through the game plan together. He was always ready in case
something happened. Yeah, he had five turnovers in the bowl game.
That's the national championship. Had it been Texas A&M or
something, it would have been a whole lot different."
- Colt McCoy on Garrett Gilbert

Garrett Gilbert says all the right things.

When someone asks about dropped passes by his receivers in the title game, he says the team played as well as it could. When someone asks whether he thought he proved something to the older members of the Longhorns by leading a second-half rally, he says it was just a learning experience. When someone asks whether he's getting more comfortable answering these kinds of questions — because as the starting quarterback at UT, it's going to be a big part of his life for the next three years — he manages his first smile, gives a nervous chuckle and swallows before uttering one word.

"Kinda," he said.

He just needs to keep up with his helmet.

Garrett Gilbert has the humble thing down.

Five plays into the BCS title game, coaches called his number to replace the injured Colt McCoy. The backup freshman quarterback, who had all of 26 college passes to his name, couldn't find his helmet.

The Horns have lost some serious defensive talent, but the most important person returns.

Texas lost several big names on defense (Sergio Kindle, Lamarr Houston, Roddrick Muckelroy, Earl Thomas), but returned perhaps the most important name of all — Will Muschamp.

Muschamp gives Texas’ defense a strong leader with a hard edge — as is the case with Bob Stoops/Brent Venables at Oklahoma and Bo Pelini/Carl Pelini at Nebraska.


Basketball

Don't read this on an empty stomach. The Washington Post chronicles the Horns' fall from the No. 1 spot.

The Texas Longhorns have taken a long, hard fall from No. 1.

When they were 17-0, no team was playing better, more talented or better situated as a national championship contender.

That was six weeks ago, before inconsistency set in and losses and injuries mounted. Before lousy free throwing shooting started costing them games and before fans started griping about coach Rick Barnes for the first time in his 12 years at Texas.

J’Covan Brown is living his dream.

With only two days left until the 2009-10 school year started, J’Covan Brown had still not been declared eligible to play basketball at Texas. The NCAA clearinghouse was taking its time perusing the hopeful freshman’s academic transcript before giving the OK.

Brown pondered his alternatives. He could play overseas in Europe or maybe enroll at a junior college.

Then, Brown received a call from the Texas assistant coach Chris Ogden.

Damion James is confident.

I asked James how dangerous the Longhorns could be in the NCAAs if they beat Baylor today and then won a couple of games in the Big 12 tournament.

"I bet no team in the country will want to face us when it's a one-and-done deal," he answered. "We've been on top before and we just have to do it again. We're ready to go."

Rick Barnes wants everyone to know his quote was taken out of context.

"I didn't say that I don't care about winning a national title," Barnes said. "Of course we do."

Barnes said that when he was interviewed by ESPN writer Elena Bergeron for this story, she asked him if he "feels the pressure to win a national championship" this year more so than other years.

"I don't know how anyone can ask that question," Barnes said. "It's every year you want to win it. I told her every year we want to win it.

 

Baseball

We're deep.

"You hate to say these things," Garrido said. "But I've coached for a long time. This is the deepest and the best staff that I've had."

This comes from a coach who sent three pitchers from his 1986 and '87 teams at Cal State Fullerton to the big leagues.Yet this Texas team has so many arms that Garrido plucked one of his aces, junior right-hander Chance Ruffin, out of the rotation and made him the Longhorns' closer.

The win over Rice was important.

Championships aren’t won in March, but the foundation for a national title sure can be constructed.

That’s what Texas coach Augie Garrido hopes happened Friday night as his Longhorns defeated rival Rice 2-1 in front of a large crowd at Minute Maid Park.

It wasn’t the same Texas team that dropped a series to New Mexico to start the season. It also wasn’t the same Rice team that has struggled since the start of the season.

The Horns beat Missouri in the final game of the Houston College Classic.

 

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How do teams snag a bowl invite in the Big 12?

"The mystery of the Big 12 bowl selection process still casts a shadow on the 2009 campaign. For the third consecutive year, teams the Tigers defeated were selected ahead of them. Our e-mail and phone lines were busy as many of you voiced concerns about the process.

The media shed light: The bottom line seems to be that, unless a team is conference champion, wins and losses mean little. Instead, bowl organizations make selections based partly on television ratings but mosly on how many fans travel to watch the game in person. It can be tough to swallow that a team's performance on the field can count for so little."

It takes a village...The Texas Tech SID is working overtime to get out the prettier side of Raider athletics. We can probably expect the touchy-feely Bear stories to start soon.

 

Basketball

Who are the Big 12 Coach of the Year candidates?

Nebraska basketball is the athletic department's ugly duckling.

The Huskers have won a Big 12-best 75 conference titles in 13 sports: football, volleyball, women's basketball, baseball, men's indoor and outdoor track, women's indoor and outdoor track, wrestling, women's gymnastics, soccer, softball, women's swimming.

Five NU teams finished 2008-09 ranked in the Top 10: volleyball, wrestling, men's indoor track, men's gymnastics, women's bowling.

Noticeably absent from all those lists is men's basketball.

Even more noticeably absent is much to brag about at all for a sport with a 114-year history.

 

Spring Football

The Pokes have disposed of the tight end position.

The tight end position is no longer a part of Oklahoma State’s football depth chart.

OSU listed four receiver spots — two inside receivers and two outside receivers — on its pre-spring depth chart that was released Thursday.

OSU will have nine new starters on defense this spring.

Oklahoma State will break in nine new starters on defense this spring, but for defensive coordinator Bill Young, that could be a positive.

This season, he’ll get another year with players in his system at his alma mater, and when fall arrives, he’ll be able to employ the services of players he recruited personally that better fit that system, like defensive linemen Davidell Collins and Diamonte Wheeler.

They are keeping it simple in Stillwater.

Holgorsen begins installing OSU’s new offense when the Cowboys open spring football practice on Monday.

Holgorsen’s system is not too complex, focusing on allowing players to make plays and utilize football sense to be successful.

"He’s big on just being a football player and making plays," quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "He’s not real big on being too specific. He just (says) it’s a game of football, be athletic and make a play."

 

Dave Matter has a Q&A with Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.

Q: Not to shortchange anything those two players did here, but does this system lend itself to creating a receiver who can produce numbers like they did?

A: What I think our system allows us to do is if you have a Jeremy Maclin or Danario Alexander, rather than put him at one spot — "Hey, that’s where he is the whole time, defense." — our system easily you can put that guy all over the field. And you can create ways for him to get the ball. It really allows you to utilize your personnel and create opportunities.

Q: How unique is that within your formations? It seems like other offenses generally line up their playmakers in the same spot on most plays.

A: I don’t know compare it to everyone else, but I think it’s really unique because it works for us. What happens, too, is you can establish a couple high-level players, maybe three. If you look back two years ago, Tommy (Saunders) really turned into an impact player. Maybe he became one because everyone was worried about everyone else. Then you had J-Mac and Chase Coffman, two NFL players. Now, as it multiplies through numbers, it creates a lot more problems. Then what we did was say, "OK, here are the plays we want for Coffman. Here are the plays we want for J-Mac. And here are the plays we want for Tommy." As that expands, it allows you to do a lot more.

Lots of Q&As this time of year. Dan Hawkins talks to CUBuffs.

CUBuffs.com: What's maybe your top priority entering spring ball?

Hawkins: "Getting better . . . and that comes down to cinching up the details and creating a little momentum. That's really the crux of it - just hammering that down."

What does Dan have against dogs? All of the Buffs spring practices will be open. Just don't bring any cell phones, pets or a camera.

There's another quarterback controversy brewing in Manhattan.

Grant Gregory’s graduation gives way to a three-way quarterback battle in Manhattan between Carson Coffman, Chris Harper and Sammuel Lamur. Coffman opened last season as the starter, but was relegated to the bench after three games by coach Bill Snyder in favor of Gregory. Gregory, of course, lost the initial quarterback battle, and there's little to suggest the starter in the spring or fall will still be the starter in December.

Monte Kiffin wants to pick Bo Pelini's brain.

Monte Kiffin came to help his son but found time to do some football work as well.

Kiffin visited with Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and some of his staff Thursday at the Osborne Complex. The Southern Cal defensive coordinator was accompanied by two of his Trojan assistant coaches.

"Just exchanging ideas. It’s pretty commonplace,’’ said NU defensive coordinator Carl Pelini. "Sometimes guys come and spend three or four days and pick your brain.’’

Is that even possible after the Cornhuskers' offensive production last season? Pelini doesn't want his quarterbacks to have a false sense of security.

None will wear the no-contact green jerseys in practice, a change from past years for the Huskers.

"We need to see them,'' Watson said. "The other thing with green jerseys is a false sense of security develops.''

Here are the Land Thieves to watch this season and the 2010 spring football projected depth chart. We get to see our favorite Sooner defensive tackle in action this year.

Dr. Saturday sizes up Landry Jones.

Physically, you get pretty much what you'd expect from a guy Jones' size: He's even less mobile than Bradford, picking up a meager 34 positive yards on the ground all year, but can match his feted predecessor for sheer arm strength. The test this season will be how well Jones improves his accuracy and decision-making (always major strengths for Bradford) after finishing at or near the bottom of the Big 12 in completion percentage and interceptions.

ESPN blogger David Ubben has his Big 12 breakdowns, North and South divisions. He has Texas as No. 1 in power rankings.

ESPN's Joe Schad has a list of the top 100 players to watch in 2010. Some Big 12 players made the list.

 

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Conference Expansion...A story that isn't going away

From the Big 12

The Buffs are thinking about a possible move to the PAC 10.

Tom Osborne wants to make sure Nebraska doesn't get left at the gate.

"It’s much better to be proactive than reactive. I don’t think I’m free to say much more than that. We are very aware. We don’t plan to get left at the gate, although we could be. I just don’t know what’s going to happen in this environment."

Osborne did say "it’s hard for me to believe that Texas could get a better deal" than it has in the Big 12. He cited the Longhorns’ strong recruiting base in Texas, large population base, the way they’re situated geographically in the Big 12 and the fact the conference playoff game is held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas."

ESPN has a new Big 12 blogger, David Ubben. If the name sounds familiar, it is. He wrote for The Oklahoman. Here are his thoughts on Big 12 expansion/exodus:

Taylor in Dallas asks:What is your take on the expansion hubbub? Do you think the BIG 12 will be picked apart due to league apathy on the part of Missou and Colorado? Or how about this novel concept. Would the BIG 12 ever go on the offense and go after a couple of teams to evolve into the BIG 14? Arkansas? Tennessee?

DU: Picked apart? I don't think so. But the Big 12 going on the offensive is an interesting idea. That said, they won't get Arkansas or Tennessee to leave the SEC. The list of good candidates to join the Big 12 from thin air is pretty short, but I think it starts with TCU. We could talk about hypothetical situations all day, but when this all blows over, I think the biggest realistic shake up is the Big 10 just adding Rutgers or Pitt, and the Big 12 stays out of it. My most likely scenario? Nothing happens at all. But anything is possible.

Except Texas to the Big 10.

Is time to redraw the Big 12?

The conference would be more fun, and more balanced if, instead of a North-South split, we went with an East-West split, using I-35 as a rough dividing line.

You'd get something like this: An East Division of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa State, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, with a West Division of Kansas State, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas. There's some leeway there, of course, and I understand this splits up some old rivalries, especially in football. Maybe for some people, that's too big of a loss. Maybe there are ways to make sure rival teams like Texas and Oklahoma and Kansas and Kansas State play each other every football season anyway. Such things are done in other leagues.

But in my book, you'd end up with a more balanced, more exciting conference in both football and basketball, and you'd do it without adding or losing teams.

 

The rest of the country

Superconferences. It is all about the money. TV money. It is all about brand. (And no, TCU and Boise State don't have either.) Here are some factors that could sink that expansion.

The Big 10 should just say yes to expansion, but someone is going to have to pay.

"You just don't jump into the league and get a full share of what everyone else in this league has established over time," Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told The Associated Press. "I think someone has to buy their way into the league."

 

Some other stuff

The $20-per-semester “isn’t even coffee money,” Seitz said. 
“It’s a way to get us where we have to be.”

Students don't seem to mind the increase in fees?

The cost of funding the programs will be about $1 million annually, which might seem hard to get amid employee furloughs, enrollment caps and the ongoing budget crisis in California.

But the Cougars have an answer for that. It’s the same answer many other universities around the nation recently have sought to sustain and grow their athletic programs: student fees.

In 20 years, the frequency of college football games played between teams ranked in the top 25 has been nearly cut in half. 

In twenty years, the frequency of games played between top-25 teams has been cut by nearly 40 percent. The primary reason for the decline has been conference expansion. In 1989, 25 teams were independent, including AP final Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and six of the top-25 overall. In 2009, only 3 FBS teams were independent, none of which were ranked. Additionally, there were 94 FBS vs. FCS games played last year, 17 involving AP top-25 teams. Only 50 such games were played in 1989, two by AP top-25 teams.

Is preparing a player for the NFL really the job of a college coach?

College football fans will be the first to experience the game in 3D.

In the U.S., the shift likely will begin with college football fans. While ESPN's first live broadcast of an event in 3-D will take place in at the World Cup in June when Mexico faces South Africa, the network's first regularly planned 3-D coverage will come in the form of a 3-D college football game of the week.

Just imagine if the technology had been in place this season. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh would have blasted right off our screens. We could have shared the fear of the poor Big 12 quarterback Suh chased on a given Saturday.

A 96 team NCAA tournament is just madness.

I’d be tempted to say the N.C.A.A. could expand the national tournament to 96 but only if it abolished conference tournaments. That would give more credibility to the regular season, the way the Ivy League does it — no tournament, every game matters. But I would miss the high drama of lesser conference tournaments, which send only the winner to the nationals.

Sixty-four is perfect. Or 65, depending on how you count. Just don’t get too greedy.

Fans are rushing to rush the court.

It's spontaneous, like a flash flood. It's unpredictable, like Publishers Clearing House showing up at your front door. It's as unstoppable as a sneeze and just as unplanned. It carries you away like a tornado. You suddenly find yourself on top of the rim and have no idea how you got there.

You people are treating it like it's your weekly Spanish lab. Or poker night. You can't e-mail about it ahead of time. It'd be like penciling into your calendar "Make out with Halle Berry tonight after winning Oscar." And it can't be something to do just to get on TV. You wanna be on TV, go bother Matt Lauer.

Concussions are on the rise in college basketball.

Diving for a loose ball during a summer pickup game, North Carolina center Tyler Zeller knocked heads with another player. It left him with a headache, nothing he was too worried about.

Next day, Zeller learned it was a bit more: tests revealed he had a concussion.

It was mild, enough to keep him off the court just for a couple of days. Yet it also added him to a growing list of college basketball players who have suffered concussions in a game that's gotten bigger, faster and, as a result, much more physical.

But is this really more important than expanding the basketball tournament to 96 teams for more revenue? The NCAA needs to make sickle cell testing mandatory.

Sickle cell trait happens to be the leading killer of Division I football players since 2000. If he did die from the condition, Abram would be the ninth such victim in that time. Sickle cell is an inherited condition that occurs in approximately 8 percent (one in 12) of the country's African-American population. Caucasians are susceptible at a much lower rate.

The Heisman Pundit is not a fan of the NFL combine.

Why anyone would want to sit around and watch players do drills is beyond me.  The coverage of the event has this weird suspension of disbelief surrounding it.  First off, the talking heads sit around and act like they aren’t sure how fast certain players are.

This story will make your day. Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich will be back on the field this fall.

A repeat effort would be a lofty aspiration for anyone, let alone someone who has endured what Herzlich has been through since May 2009, when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. A tumor had been detected in his left leg, leading to aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

To the delight of everyone involved, doctors told Herzlich he was cancer-free last fall. In late November, he had a rod inserted to support the leg that withstood the brunt of the treatment.

SMU led the way in integrating college football.

SMU owns a special place in the integration of college sports in Texas for its signing of Jerry LeVias as the Southwest Conference's first black scholarship football player in 1965. As Black History Month ends this weekend, it's worth noting the school's involvement in that area goes back almost two decades earlier.

As the 1947 Mustangs closed in on an SWC championship and their first berth in the Cotton Bowl Classic, coach Matty Bell stated publicly he wanted No. 3 SMU to play the highest-ranking opponent possible, No. 4 Penn State. It didn't matter to Bell that the Nittany Lions' varsity roster included two black players – two-way back Wally Triplett and end Dennie Hoggard, both juniors.

Never before had a black athlete played in a college football game in Texas against one of the state's segregated universities.

 

I've spent time at the Independence Bowl. The ACC can have it.

As far as Richard Justice is concerned you can insult Texas. Just don't mess with Wyoming's swim team.

More in the series of revamping your college mascot: Purdue Pete is getting a makeover. At least Bevo doesn't make kids cry.

Purdue Pete is big, brawny and carries a sledgehammer -- the kind of mascot Boilermaker fans want on their side.

But he can also make little kids cry. And, according to some, he's just plain ugly.

The Oregon duck is free.

Well, sort of.

The Walt Disney Corp. has surrendered its control over use of the University of Oregon's costumed athletic mascot – quite possibly in response to a brouhaha involving The Duck, three UO students and a rap video that went viral on the Internet.

 

And finally...

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This was just too good not to share. From a Sand Springs Leader article:

In a testy call-in show with Bob Stoops several years ago, Stoops was criticizing sportswriters for only focusing on a recent recruit’s arrest, not the Sooners’ satisfying week of practice.


"Well coach," Barry said. "If you’re driving down the road and have a blowout on one of your tires, what are you going to pay more attention to - the three good tires or the one bad one?"