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7/13 Roundtable - 5 Thoughts On The Big 12
Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
Oklahoma RB Chris Brown
Posted Jul 13, 2009

7/13 Roundtable - Five thoughts on the upcoming Big 12 season. It's the Friday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

July 13

5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
7/10 M-West & the BCS
7/9 Guilty Pleasures
7/8 OU or OSU - Biggest BCS Bust
7/7 5th BCS Game
7/4 Should the SEC get a BCS break?
7/3 There should be a playoff
7/2 There shouldn't be a playoff
7/1 The unbreakable record
6/30 BCS on ESPN
6/29 Best non-BCS program
6/26 Rule changes
6/25 Why does the Big 10 stink?
6/24 Top 3 non-conference games
6/23 Coach on the hot seat
6/22 The No. 5 team is ...
6/19 Most underrated teams
6/18 Most overrated teams
6/17 BCS title sleeper
6/16 Do 40 times matter?
6/15 Is a Rooney Rule needed?
6/12 Should Bama vacate wins?
6/11 Should players be paid?
6/10 Recruiting hype
6/9 Your No. 1 draft pick
6/8 Where would you coach?
6/5 Who does the least with the most?
6/4 Who does the most with the least?
6/3 Sept. star players
6/2 Who'll generate early buzz?
6/1 The one coach you'd want
5/29 Tebow, McCoy, or Bradford?
5/28 Should the Big Ten expand?
5/27 Should the Pac 10 expand?
5/26 Chizik, Kiffin, or Mullen?
5/24 Heisman sleepers
5/22 Most interesting teams
5/21 Is Tebow the best ever?
5/20 When should polls come out?
5/19 The M-West & the BCS, Part 1
5/18 BCS or bust for Weis

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

The Big 12 took a PR hit after the bowl season, with Oklahoma losing to Florida, Texas struggling to beat Ohio State, Texas Tech losing to Ole Miss, Oklahoma State losing to Oregon, and Missouri needing overtime to get by Northwestern. Fans from other conferences, who groused throughout last year that all the big offensive numbers had as much to do with bad defenses as they did the great talent on offense, but there was a reason for this: time off.

Look at what happened in the bowl games and who the big-time attacks struggled with. Florida won on defense and the running game. Ole Miss was able to get into a shootout and let its tremendous defensive front four go to work. Oregon won on its running game, and Ohio State, who all but gave up the downfield passing game after Terrelle Pryor took over, was able to use its speed on defense and the ground attack to give Texas problems. It is a time honored truth when it comes to bowl games that teams with great ground games and top-shelf defenses almost always beat the teams with the high end offenses mainly because they have time to prepare. That, and for college kids who have more than a month off after their last big game, they tend to lose their edge and their timing. How did Nebraska beat Clemson in the Gator Bowl? It stuffed the Tiger ground game, holding it to a net four yards.

Missouri's Chase Daniel was never right against the Wildcats, Colt McCoy, by his own admission, needed a half to get on track in the Fiesta Bowl, and Graham Harrell and the Texas Tech offense weren't consistent against the Rebels. Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson bombed away for 350 yards against Oregon and simply lost in the shootout, but again, Oregon didn't need the precision passing attack to win. It ran the ball for 307 yards and five scores. And then there's Oklahoma.

The fatal flaw in the Sooners' loss to Florida wasn't that Sam Bradford and the offense that put up record-setting numbers only threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, it's that the coaching staff didn't rely enough on the best offensive line in college football. While the signature moment of the national title game was Florida's goal line stand, the OU O line was actually doing a decent job throughout the game when it got its chance. Chris Brown ran for 110 yards in grinding style, his longest run was just 17 yards as he averaged five yards per carry, while Florida was able to overcome a two-interception day from Tim Tebow with 249 rushing yards to help settle things down. When the timing of the passing game isn't working, and the quarterback isn't quite on, it's vital to be able to go to the ground game. Florida did that, Oklahoma didn't, ball game.

Now the Big 12 has to learn from how it struggled with the time off and not just assume it was because its defenses were lousy. Yes, with quarterbacks like Bradford, McCoy, Robinson, Todd Reesing at Kansas, and Blaine Gabbert at Missouri, it'll be easy to try to fall back on the passing games and let the stars do all the work, but not being afraid to get powerful isn't a bad thing, either. This year, the Big 12 has more high-end talent than any conference in America, the SEC included, but none of it matters in the court of public opinion if the teams can't close in the end. Watch throughout the year to see if the league tries to adjust, or if it's going to be another year of very fun, but potentially hollow shootouts week after week.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

Is Dan Hawkins still the right man for the job in Boulder?

After three years of mediocrity and a 13-24 record, it’s a very fair question to ask. Wasn’t he supposed to bring the glory back to Colorado with hard work, a can-do attitude, and a blueprint that worked so well at Boise State? He still might, but the early returns have not been positive and people are becoming justifiably impatient. Not only have the Buffs failed to catch fire, but the offense, which the Hawk was supposed to revamp, has had more schematic changes than high points. In a North Division that’s far more upstart-friendly than the South, it’s about time for the program to start showing some tangible progress.

Hope for 2009 can be found in an offense that returns 10 starters, and could finally be effective with an old-fashioned approach. The Buffaloes plan to simplify things this fall, which is code for a lot less no-huddle and shotgun and a greater reliance on a power running game. The parts are there for it to work, including a physical, improving offensive line and a quartet of backs capable of carrying the load. Sophomore Darrell Scott has a star’s ceiling if he can stay healthy. If Colorado can control the tempo on the ground, everyone benefits, especially iffy quarterbacks Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen, and a defense that has some rebuilding to do.

Was it really only three years ago that the hiring of Hawkins was being hailed as a no-brainer? It’s time to start fulfilling expectations because a reputation and candid sound bites can keep everyone sated for only so long.

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

Wish I could say something about an actual team or division, but when the league’s coaches voted (on May 6) to KEEP the same tiebreaker system that depends on the ultra-politicized and ever-subjective BCS, well….. (sigh)…. one is left to wonder why people in power make such stupid decisions, over and over and over again. There are no words.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

The defenses are going to be incredible…  Okay, they’re not.  But they should be better.  With a few marquee names gone from the offensive side of the ball, there’s a key hole of space for a couple of ace defenders to squeeze through and make names for themselves.

Baylor will get drenched in preseason underdog hype because of quarterback Robert Griffin, but their tacklers might have to carry more of the load if they want to head to the postseason.  Safety Jordan Lake, linebacker Joe Pawelek, and incoming Penn State transfer DT Phil Taylor are all among the top five or so at their respective positions in the conference.  And they’re not that far off nationally.

Oklahoma has perhaps the best group of defensive tackles in the nation in Gerald McCoy (a probably top ten pick in the 2010 NFL Draft), Demarcus Granger, and Adrian Taylor.  The guys playing behind them aren’t exactly scrubs either.  Ryan Reynolds, who coincidentally shares the name of an actor who once appeared on Scrubs, should be a great one if he can stay healthy, and Travis Lewis may be talented enough to jump to the NFL after only two seasons of playing for the Sooners.  The Texas secondary, which was so publicly burnt on Texas Tech’s infamous game-winning drive in 2008, will be one of the strongest units in the country in 2009 led by the coverage of safety Earl Thomas and the pressure of end Sergio Kindle. 

Even Oklahoma State has a puncher’s chance of fielding a defensive lineup that could at least not embarrass their offensive counterparts with new defensive coordinator Bill Young back in Stillwater.  And Nebraska boasts one of the best defenders at any position in DT Ndamukong Suh being coached by one of the best defensive minds around in Bo Pelini.

The Big 12 isn’t suddenly going to become the SEC, and the Sam Bradfords, Colt McCoys, and Todd Reesings will keep the scoreboards sizzling, but there’s hope, and certainly room, for improvement.  Maybe one of these squads will rank in the top 50 this year.  Anything’s possible right?

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: 5 Thoughts on the Big 12.

This is a league that is one of the two most entertaining leagues to watch in the country, along with the SEC, over the past few years.  I love the Big Ten, and I appreciate the brand of football they play, but from a 'mass appeal' standpoint, the Big Ten is a few rungs down the latter as of late, and unless you grew up in that region watching November smash-mouth games, then the Big 12 is probably a league more up your alley right now.  It's been an amazing transformation, as it used to be a running league. 

However, most of the schools have either embraced some form of a spread attack, or they are in the process of doing that.  Short passes account for rushes these days, quarterbacks put up mind boggling statistics that will have to be measured in their era when we look back on how we remember Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniels and others.  But it's an exciting league that has some of the best playmakers in the country under center and some dangerous speed demons on the outside. 

Do they still play defense?  They didn't have any teams ranked inside the Top 50 last year in total defense.  Is that a function of the offenses they play, or an emphasis on putting up such a pace on offense that defense has taken a back seat?


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