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The Big Roundup - August 30, 2010

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The Kick. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez/file)

"I won't be a Bobby Bowden or a Joe Paterno," Brown said this week, 
according to the Sporting News. "But I'll be here a long time
and as long as it works for me." - Mack Brown

Garrett Gilbert is living the dream.

Gilbert's love of the Longhorns was solidified at a young age after he met Cade McCrary, who would become one of his best friends. McCrary — who played receiver on Lake Travis' two state championship teams quarterbacked by Gilbert, and is now a walk-on receiver at Texas — is the son of Hardee McCrary, a Longhorns assistant coach from 1998 to 2003.

Give the guy a little breathing room. The Statesman asks how Gilbert will be judged.

Is UT Quarterback U?

But until recently, Mack Brown and his coaches haven’t been able to tell highly sought quarterbacks that UT can help them get to the next level.

Now? Brown has ammo not many outside of the University of Southern California can match: "Son, we’ve sent our last three quarterbacks to the NFL. If you come play for us, you could be next."

So what exactly does Mack Brown have up his sleeve?

Mack Brown knows something. Seriously. He's got inside information.

As Texas' head football coach, he'd better, of course. Brown sees every practice, sits in on every staff meeting, watches practice tapes until Sally makes him go to bed and can give you Cody Johnson's decline in body fat percentage or Sam Acho's grade-point average off the top of his head. Garrett Gilbert doesn't hiccup that Mack doesn't hear about it.

The point is Mack Brown knows something about how good this Texas team can be. He appears as relaxed and as comfortable as he has in any of his previous 12 seasons on the Austin campus. And as confident.

Texas freshmen plan to produce.

Even though UT is loaded with enough experience to earn a preseason No. 5 national ranking, coach Mack Brown said he expects to play as many freshmen this season as he has in years.

At some places, an abundance of teenagers on the field means there aren't enough good veterans to fill all the holes. At UT, it means the newcomers are so good, not even the accomplished older players can hold them off.

Although UT won't release a depth chart until Monday, it's been apparent that some freshmen will see action early in the season, perhaps as soon as Sept. 4 against Rice.

Kenny Vaccaro is Mr. Versatility.

It is not enough to be a good safety or cornerback. To be truly valuable, one has to be able to play everywhere in the defensive backfield.

Kenny Vaccaro had that reputation before sustaining a season-ending injury in the third game of his senior season at Early. That is one reason the University of Texas didn’t rescind its scholarship offer to the all-state performer.

"When we watched Kenny in high school, we could tell he could play receiver, or any four of the defensive back positions," UT coach Mack Brown said. "He can run, he can catch, he’s tall, he’s very aggressive and he’s very smart."

August practice is hell.

There comes a time in any football training camp when the Texas heat exerts a certain degree of dominance over the human body.

As a result, the body weakens and the brain takes over.

Then the questions begin.

How hot is it out here? 107?

Mack Brown has the respect of his colleagues.

Name the college coach for whom you have the most regard.

Mack Brown of Texas led with four votes, followed by Ohio State's Jim Tressel with three and two apiece for Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Penn State's Joe Paterno.

The Wall Street Journal has a prediction:

Texas won't play in a Bowl Championship Series game this season.

Texas is No. 1.

When it came to selling branded merchandise last year, the University of Texas beat Alabama and everyone else.

For the fifth straight year, the Longhorns head the Collegiate Licensing Company's annual list of top-selling colleges. UT made a whopping $10.15 million in royalties for the fiscal year running from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010.

So much for that fund raising idea.



"Our guys need to handle the adversity a little bit better," he said.
"We have to think we’re good enough to beat anybody, and I’m not sure
the last two years our guys or fans felt like that. We need to feel
like we can go into Austin, Lubbock, Norman and Stillwater and win. And
believe it. And not to be arrogant about it, but there’s a certain
swagger you have to have when you play this game. A quiet confidence. A
calm-among-crisis type of attitude that we can handle anything." - Mike Sherman

The Aggies have been working on special teams play.

It's the field hazards that have his attention, especially on special teams, after errors in that area cost A&M three potential victories late last season.

"Last year was my fault that we weren't good on special teams," Sherman said. "We've put a huge emphasis on it."



Bob Stoops really needs a kicker.

Stoops wants everyone to know that Aaron Colvin is the real deal.

On week three, when Stoops was asked what he specifically liked about Colvin, the wondering was totally eliminated.

"Everything," the coach answered. "He's as talented a guy as we've ever recruited. He runs, he's strong, he's smart. He has a feel for it. Plays the ball well. He's got size.

"Whoever was ranking stars on that guy missed it. Missed it by a long shot." Then, once more for emphasis: "He is as good a player at any position we've recruited here."

There will be a lot of rotation in the offensive line.

Reserves who will see playing time are Jarvis Jones at backup tackle and Gabe Ikard, Bronson Irwin and Brian Lepak as interior reserves. Josh Aladenoye, strong in the running game, could earn time at tackle if he improves his pass protection.

"The first group won't be taking 80 to 90 snaps a game. We're going to be taking 45, 50, 55," Habern said. "Those twos will be rotating in, getting 30 to 35 plays.

"Down the line in Big 12 play, we won't be getting beat up and worn down because we've been in for every play. We're going to be more rested. That's really going to help."

Landry Jones is The Man.

In the Bob Stoops era, the Oklahoma quarterback has become one of the "it" positions in college football. Josh Heupel led a national title team in 2000. Bradford and Jason White each hoisted Heismans. The standards are established.

Now it's Jones' turn with a full spring practice and preseason camp to get ready.

"We all know he's the guy," standout receiver Ryan Broyles said. "We're all looking forward to what he can do, what he can progress into."

Well, this is just great news for the Big 12-2. Quinton Carter and DeMarco Murray worked out with MMA trainers.

Yes, but how hard are the classes? OU leads the conference because the Sooners are all great scholars.

The University of Oklahoma football program leads the Big 12 Conference in Academic Performance Rate for a third consecutive year.  The Sooners scored a rate of 962, which is 19 points higher than the league average.



Here's a list of freshmen to watch this season.

The Cornhuskers need a quarterback and and a left tackle.

NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said the left tackle job remains unclaimed on the Husker line, but said the staff likes what it has seen of redshirt freshman Jeremiah Sirles.

Bo Pelini is not impressed with your Twitter habit.

"If people have time to follow Twittering and tweeting, then they need to get a job."

Dan Hawkins has been thinking.

Dan Hawkins would like a contract extension and he`s not afraid to say so.

In a meeting of head coaches in the Colorado athletic department earlier this summer, a senior staff member asked the Buffs` head football coach if there was one thing the department could do to help his program succeed this season, what would it be? Multiple sources in the room that day told the Camera Hawkins responded by saying the school could give him a contract extension.

Hawkins confirmed the story after practice Wednesday. When asked why he chose to answer the question the way he did, he said, "Just the continuity, stability."

Mike Gundy is still under the microscope.

It's good to be Gundy - and yet someone out there views him as having job-security issues.

Last week's issue of the Sporting News included this prediction:

Oklahoma State will finish last in the (Big 12) South, and coach Mike Gundy will be forced out. Next in line in Stillwater: former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.

The Bears want to end their bowl free existence. The key word for Baylor is fearless.

"The thing I like about our guys who we're putting on the field this year is they're going to be very fresh, very fast and very fearless," Briles said. "And I think the last word there is the most important because there's a bunch of different ways to let you understand what I'm talking about."

Bill Snyder is a demanding coach.

"We learned how demanding he can be," junior safety Tysyn Hartman said. "He’s not going to lower the bar for anybody."

Snyder’s perfectionist attitude initially caught K-State players off guard. After spending three years under former coach Ron Prince, many didn’t understand why they were being criticized for playing well. After all, things appeared to be going fine.

Opposing defenses know what is coming.

Thomas quickly became the Wildcats' offensive centerpiece, and the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder erupted onto the national scene by running for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns on 247 carries. Those numbers were good enough to lead the Big 12 Conference in both rushing yards and attempts.

SI's Stewart Mandell gives Tech a little respect and slams the Aggies.

I'm pretty puzzled myself that Tech has fallen off the radar. The ouster of Mike Leach -- the winningest coach in school history -- was obviously a traumatic event, but it's not like the school replaced him with some unproven sucker. Tommy Tuberville was an SEC head coach for 14 years, produced an undefeated team at Auburn in 2004 and finished in the Top 25 in six of his 10 seasons there. And he's inheriting a veteran squad, one about which Leach recently told my colleague Richard Deitsch, "I felt like it was the best team I had coming back in 10 years."

Ultimately, Tech still lags behind division stalwarts Texas and Oklahoma, but I'm a bit puzzled as to all this buzz about Texas A&M being the new "hot" team in the South. Last I checked, Mike Sherman was still the coach of the Aggies. Thanks, but I'll put my money on Tuberville.

Tommy Tuberville is making his mark.

"That's kind of the vibe around here," Bird said. "It's something in the air, and everybody feels it."

Unlike Leach, Tuberville has been a constant presence at all kinds of civic and fan functions. Tech claims more than 46,000 season-ticket sales, a school record. In his farewell list of accomplishments, retiring athletic director Gerald Myers cited Tuberville, even though he has yet to coach a game at Tech.

Everything, seemingly, received a makeover – the weight room, the trophy cases. The coaches' offices, at least from the outside, trend toward flat-screen TVs and dark wood. Another innovation: Defense matters just as much now as the guys who can catch passes. Backup quarterback Steven Sheffield confirmed pretty much what everybody already knew at Big 12 media days.

The Raider defense will come in waves.

The players are going to be substituting quite often, if not continuously.

"It’s a little bit different than what y’all have seen in the past, and it’s hard to keep up with them going in and out," Tuberville said. "That’s the reason we’ll spend a lot of time on that little stuff — subbing, formations and all that — for the next six days. The first game’s always a headache, just trying to get everybody lined up."

Raider RB Baron Batch is a bowler.

School starts back on Thursday and I have a pretty light class schedule, which means I can get in a good amount of bowling! Yes, I own my own ball and shoes, and yes I have the leg kick follow through down. Actually, if football doesn’t work out, I should try and go pro in bowling!

Everyone tweets in Lubbock.

I am soooo glad I'm not a Jayhawk.

The Pokes may be investigated by the NCAA. And remember that horrible intro song last season? Cowboys Ride Free said it just got worse. It did.



Will the North rise again?

Despite the built-in advantages and disadvantages, more than a few coaches and officials advance the theory that the current Sun Belt dominance is simply cyclical. "You're dealing with impressionable young people, 17- and 18-year-olds," Akron's Ianello says. "If another school emerged, if Michigan emerges or Notre Dame re-emerges … some kids might not be venturing."

At Nebraska, Osborne says, "I don't think we need to concede anything. We feel we've recruited well. We have good facilities. We have good indoor facilities … We can compete."

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany acknowledges the Sun Belt-leaning numbers but rejects any notion that his conference — which will take in Nebraska as a member next season — has lost any kind of competitive step. Indeed, Big Ten teams are 16-15 vs. SEC teams in bowls the last 12 years, playing all but one of those games in the SEC's backyard.

Whatever happened to that thing called a redshirt?

There is a new business model in college football.

At the same time, Scott agreed that however lucrative the so-called neutral-site game might become, there is a potential downside to the college game doing too much business with the pros that is both financial and ethical.

"I’ve got a little hedge in that the concept is still being developed," he said. "The schools have to be mindful of their community fan and small-business base that is hungry for home games. I think that obligation is likely to keep this in check."

If you want to compete with the big boys, get a decent stadium. The Horned Frogs need to step up to their high ranking.

"Nobody goes to their games. They got no fans. They can't draw 30,000," said richy-rich T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oilman who funds the Oklahoma State athletic department.

Not that Pickens is exactly informed, but he's definitely following the script the Bevo 10 schools read from. Now that the Frogs have been to a BCS bowl, now that Patterson can claim "our goal is a national championship" (the preseason polls support that), the negative knock comes down to just one thing:

TCU doesn't have the big-time fan support.

Some of that is true, except there was an overflow crowd of 50,000-plus at Amon Carter last season, there was another crowd of 47,000-plus, and an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 fans followed the team to the Fiesta Bowl in January.

50,000-plus? That's a baseball crowd in Austin. (And check out the Horny Frogs record ticket sales.)

Have you ever wanted to own a sports franchise? Here is your chance.

There is nothing like Texas high school football.


And finally...

Sunday, August 29, is the anniversary of Katrina. New Orleans still has not recovered. is one of many organizations trying to make a difference and rebuild the city.


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