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The Big Roundup - August 23, 2010

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Garrett Gilbert is not the mild mannered kid we thought he was.

To this day, Aaron Williams can't exactly recall what Garrett Gilbert said during the 7-on-7 drill during Texas' summer workouts.

The important thing to Williams and the other veterans on the field, was that Gilbert said something in response to Williams' taking a shot at the offense. It might have been trash talk or just a bunch of angry unconnected syllables, Williams joked. The specifics hardly matter. Gilbert showed he had the fire to follow Colt McCoy.

"Finally, he's here," Williams said, remembering his reaction. "Finally, he said another word instead of walking away and being quiet."

Same story, second verse. It's the offensive line again.

Thin at ... offensive line

Colt McCoy began last season behind a line that had amassed 91 total starts. The figure this season: 47. Tackle Kyle Hix and guard Michael Huey move from the right side to anchor the crucial left side. David Snow, who has looked comfortable in spot duty at center, inherits that position. A foot injury to senior Tray Allen has opened the door for redshirt freshman Mason Walters. Coach Mack Brown has acknowledged depth is a concern.

Texas may not win if the offensive line doesn't improve.

The Texas Longhorns don't just want to believe in their offensive linemen — they need to.

For two years, they've watched their big men up front get pushed around in feeble attempts to run the ball.

Now, a new line has been assembled. Its members claim to be more aggressive, more determined, and other UT players are eager to believe them.

Texas safety Christian Scott wants some big hits.

First there was the crack of pads colliding. Then a thunk as Smith slammed into the turf. Then came the oohs, ahhs and cheers from the stands.

But Malcolm Williams had a different reaction to the explosive first 11-on-11 play at Texas' open practice last week.

"I almost cried when I saw that," the Longhorns' junior wide receiver said.

The third year is the charm.

Mack Brown went on record last week saying he thinks this year's Texas defense could be the best he has had since he's been on the 40 Acres.

A big reason why is that the Horns are now in year three under defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. In Muschamp's first season, the Longhorns led the nation in sacks. Last season, they ranked third nationally in total defense.

The future is going to be very, very good.

No more cream puff schedule?

Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said Texas will continue to try and upgrade the non-conference schedule in the future.

The reason?

The loss of the Big 12 Championship game, which provides a strength of schedule boost.

"The BCS used to be set up where it didn't reward you for playing a tough non-conference schedule," Brown said. "We felt it was important to have a marquee game to replace the championship game."

The Longhorns have a pretty awesome record.



Depends on who you ask. The Aggies are no laughing matter.

There has been no bigger Aggie joke lately than the football team.

Yes, that is more than a bit harsh, but the rebuilding of the Aggies remains stuck in the rebuilding phase. Texas A&M has had three winning seasons going back to 2002.

But ... thanks to a few of those "can't-miss" recruiting classes, an offense loaded with skill, all-conference performers at quarterback and linebacker, and a favorable schedule, the Aggies may finally be in a position to at least move past Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 South.

"We've very, very close. I've been on winning teams with LSU when we won the [2007 national] title and I know how the locker room is supposed to be," said senior offensive lineman Matt Allen, who played two seasons at LSU before transferring to A&M.

Is Jerrod Johnson the best player in the conference?

Johnson has all the tools: Strong arm, swift legs, big frame and a good head on his shoulders.

What he hasn’t had is a great team around him.

The Aggies were fourth in the Big 12 South last year and finished 6-7 overall. The previous year, they tied for last in the South with a 4-8 record.

Receiver/QB Ryan Tannehill has options.

According to Colleyville's way of record keeping...Aggies win the first game of the season!

A&M still pals around with cheaters.



Here's No. 2, in case that o-line isn't all it is cracked up to be.

Kicker Matt Moreland has academic issues and won't play this season.

Freshman weak-side linebacker Corey Nelson is impressive.

"He is an athlete. He’s really picking up the defense. He’s like I was after my sophomore year, that’s how fast he has picked up the defense. He’s gonna be a great replacement. He’ll be on the field this year in special teams."

Freshman Austin Haywood could be the starter at TE.

Last summer Austin Haywood didn't have any Division I scholarship offers. A year later, he might play a key role with the Sooners as a true freshman.


"He has tremendous ability," said Southmoore coach Chris Jensen. "He's a very tenacious blocker and has great hands. If he buys in to what Schmitty (OU strength coach Jerry Schmidt) preaches he could play right away. And I think he will. He practices hard."



Is there a Big 12-2 network in the works?

Eight Big 12 athletic directors met with a media rights holder Friday morning to discuss forming their own cable network.

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Iowa State, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas State had discussions Learfield Sports, a Plano, Texas-based company that manages the multimedia rights for more than 50 universities nationwide. Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne has talked and tweeted about the meeting publicly. The move is not related to any conference shifting, but is seen as a new revenue stream.

"[People are] interested in creating a cable network for the conference," Byrne told "It's something I'm quite interested in ... It's something that our fans are going to be demanding sooner rather than later."

SI's George Schroeder has a Big 12-2 preview.


The South

OSU defensive back Markelle Martin is smart. Real smart.

The Tulsa World breaks down the Pokes' roster.

Tommy Tuberville is concerned with the defensive unit. The other guys? Maybe not so much.

Tuberville claims he focused on the defense and the scrimmage film will determine who the first-team gunslinger will be. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown was unavailable for comment.

"I watched more of the defense today than I watched anybody," Tuberville said. "I can look at the other group on film."

Baylor QB Robert Griffin is feeling good.

"For me personally, it was another notch on the progress line," Griffin told Baylor Athletics.  "Being back here for the first time after tearing my ACL here was a big thing for me, mentally.  I didn’t come out here fired up, like, ‘Let’s Go!’  But for me it was sentimental.  I am back on this field, and it felt good to be out here," Griffin said.

Just what everyone needs...More reality television.

Red Raider fans will get a behind-the-scenes, all-access look into their favorite teams beginning on Saturday, Sept. 4, when the first episode of Texas Tech's new reality show "The Ride" hits the airwaves.

Texas Tech football will be the first program showcased in this new reality show and hours of footage from the summer and training camp are being edited at this moment for the very first episode. The weekly reality show will give fans a front row seat on the ride our student-athletes and coaching staffs take each week. Through the ups and downs, The Ride will provide a never before seen glimpse into the day-to-day trials and triumphs of Texas Tech athletics. The planning, execution, work and thrill of sport are all part of The Ride.


The North

Brace yourselves. The Big 12-2 is in the presence of greatness. There is just no limit to what Bo Pelini can do.

Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Bo Pelini.

So sad. Here's more on the Cornhuskers' agony.

Nebraska right tackle is 300 pounds of pure fury.

"Ricky ran directly at me," Paul said. "I was kind of off to the sideline. I knew he was running directly at me. So instead of tackling Ricky, I backed off and let my teammates tackle Ricky — and then I jumped on him.

"I remember Ricky being one of the toughest/dirtiest players we ever played in high school. Ricky made sure when he hit you, you were going to feel him hit you.

"Everybody knew about Ricky Henry. Everybody."

The Huskers may have a QB this year.

Missouri tailback Jared Culver can also help out on the sidelines.

But Culver’s not just some big oaf that the Tigers will call in to gain a few inches when they need him. He’s a gifted athlete who participated in three sports in high school.

Football, baseball and cheerleading.

The Cyclones are positive about their progress.

"We're light years ahead of last year at a comparable time," Cyclone quarterback Austen Arnaud said after the final major scrimmage of camp. "It's like night and day."

It's official. The Buffs now have a starting QB.

In an announcement that didn't send any shock waves through Colorado's football team, let alone the Big 12, on Saturday, junior Tyler Hansen was named the Buffaloes' starting quarterback.

Hansen had begun the last two seasons on the bench but eventually earned the starting job. The release of the first fall camp depth chart marks the first time he has officially beaten out Cody Hawkins, the coach's senior son, to start the season.

"I was expecting it just because last year I started the last seven games and coming out of spring I was on top of the depth chart, but it's always a relief," Hansen said after the team's picture day. "I had to earn it in camp. It wasn't anything that was given to me."

The Wildcat offensive line has spent some quality time together.

Kansas State running back Bryce Brown cannot get out from under his career at the other UT.

Former Tennessee Volunteers running back Bryce Brown recently enrolled at Kansas State and on Thursday spent about two hours answering questions on a teleconference with the NCAA about the recruiting practices of former Vols coach Lane Kiffin and his staff, according to Brown's father.

The Jayhawks have a QB.

"Kale Pick is definitely the guy who has earned the position," Gill said before Thursday's practice. "Ball security was huge. He didn't really turn the ball over. Jordan turned the ball over a few times. That was a big separation between the two. Also, the intangibles. I love the way his demeanor has been, inside the huddle, outside the huddle. Those were the main two reasons."



Is the AP Poll important?

Berry Tramel doesn't think so.

Fans anxiously awaited release of the preseason poll, like the post positions of the Kentucky Derby. See where you start so you can start worrying about where you finish.

These days, of course, the AP poll packs all the punch of a 21st-century phone book. Obsolete. Irrelevant. Never used.

Could ESPN manipulate bowl matchups?

For fans already fretting that some commentators may hurt their beloved school in the BCS standings, a new wrinkle arrives this season. ESPN, home to endless hours of college football debate, takes over the broadcasts of the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls and the title game.

It’s just more fodder for the great American tradition of conspiracy theories: Get ready for insinuations that ESPN is hyping particular teams that it believes would draw higher ratings in the BCS contests.

Should college football be privatized?

And we know that while college football players aren't getting a W-2, they are getting paid to play the game. It's a straightforward business transaction: You play for us, we give you a one-year scholarship, renewable at the head coach's discretion. In some cases, rules are broken by schools or other parties so that relatives and other associates of the players can be paid, too.

Realignment isn't the best thing for small schools.

From the time the NCAA started televising games, those networks had an interest only in the "haves." You know who they are, the big market and/or brand name schools that move the needle. Those that couldn't measure up have passed away -- Pacific, Long Beach State, Cal State-Fullerton since 1992.

Sure, I-A membership has grown in the past decade from around 100 members to the current 120. That's too many for major-college football. The NCAA tried to save those ambitious schools from themselves by instituting a moratorium on I-A promotion that will expire in June. There is pending legislation that would keep schools from moving up unless they have a conference affiliation waiting for them.

What does TCU's Gary Patterson know and who told him?


And finally...

Bevo is one popular steer.


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