In the next few weeks we are going to get a real idea of who the contenders are and who the pretenders are for both the national championship and respective conference championships. Oddly enough, if the national championship were played today my pairing would be defending national champion Alabama against TCU.
That's right! TCU! I think the Horned Frogs are for real, but we will find out so much more about Alabama over the next three weeks with games against Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina. I actually have Arkansas and South Carolina as potential SEC contenders and South Carolina as an outside national contender. Others on my national board at this point are Ohio State, Boise State and Nebraska.
As for the Big 12, I have Texas and Oklahoma on there with Nebraska as possible conference contenders. I'm just not believing that anybody in the league this year will get through unscathed.
I also have Oklahoma State as a possible contender. I want to see that high-powered offense and solid defense going against greater competition. I believe Missouri and Kansas State in the North Division are pretenders and can not win the Big 12. I also think Texas A&M and Texas Tech are leaning toward pretending in the Big 12. Nebraska has the advantage of playing in the North, but the Cornhuskers South opponents aren't easy as Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are all capable of upsetting the Huskers.
The next few weeks will be a lot of fun.
2. Feel Sorry for Colorado?
I have already gone on record as saying I will miss Nebraska. The Huskers bring great tradition to the Big 12 and I can remember many (losing) afternoons in Lincoln that were tradition filled and a lot of fun. A lot of them were close and hard fought contests. There is a feeling in Memorial Stadium that I enjoy more than the stadiums of the same name in Norman and Austin. Nebraska fans truly are the most sportsmanlike in the Big 12, although that will be tested on October 16 when Texas visits Lincoln.
While I will miss Nebraska and wish they were sticking around, I have no such feeling for Colorado. I know it is beautiful up there but I have never had the hair stick up on the back of my neck during a game in Boulder. Nebraska has the money to afford forfeiting its television and conference revenue for two years, which is part of the penalty for departure of the league.
Truth be told, both schools were paid already for the 2009-2010 school year and Nebraska has said it is not returning any money. Here is another opportunity for the attorneys. Meanwhile, Colorado, which is having financial problems, is just looking for some charity from the Big 12 or a loan from its new brothers and sisters in the Pac-10.
I have no sympathy for either school. Colorado has made its own bed and deserves to pay for bad decisions and lack of effort at times in doing what was needed to assist their program. Nebraska, as previously stated, has the money and made enough vibes through negative inuendo that they should pay double. Threatening not to return money should cost them more when their attorneys lose and the judge says pay the Big 12.
Personally, I believe the Big 12 and the current members should extract as much exit cash as possible from the Buffs and Huskers. Does that sound hypocritical for someone who was excited about OSU possibly going to the Pac-10? The answer is yes, but just like that early summer week and manic Monday where the conference was saved. Things change moment to moment and right now I say go get the money!
3. Cowboys Get It
There are some players that "get it" and that is a good thing. In fact, when you have a high number that do then I insist that is when your program has the greatest opportunity for success. Last Saturday there were a couple of incidents of Cowboy players that really "get it."
"It" is the fact that while football and the results of Oklahoma State games are really important there are other more important things in society. God and family come to mind, but how about the "Special Spetators" that were at the OSU-Tulsa game.
Five youngsters, all battling some form of cancer or other ferocious disease, made the trip to Stillwater. Bade Nelson (13 years old) of Collinsville, Glen Jones (16) of Oklahoma City, Morgan Mitchell (16) of Coweta, Connor Rooks (13) of Del City, and Olivia Hamilton (8) of Sperry were the youngsters who had a great time as they toured the facilities and got to meet players on The Walk and were in the suites of Boone Pickens Stadium and on the field late in the game. They sang the alma mater with the players on the field after the game.
It was a special day for the youngsters and players alike. One Cowboy player that really gets it is outstanding wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Blackmon leads the nation in receiving and in scoring. Against Tulsa, Blackmon caught three touchdown passes, the final one for 81 yards.
Blackmon had already established a relationship with little 8-year-old Olivia, and on the tour before the game, she left several notes of encouragement in the locker of her favorite player. She also left a pink wristband that Blackmon wore in the game. After the game Blackmon, during a postgame interview, was excited about his tremendous game, but it was the mention of Olivia that got the most reaction out of the talented Cowboy. Justin Blackmon gets it.
So does Blackmon's teammate Hubert Anyiam. He is one of the Cowboys wide receivers that is writing and establishing pen pal relationships with U.S. servicemen and women serving our country overseas or just returned from deployments.
This message was posted on the website OrangePower.com:
Since were on this topic, thout I'd share my surprise at my mailbox this afternoon. As most of you know Im active duty Navy and I just recently returned home from deployment. Well in my mailbox today was 5 envelopes from OSU athletic department. Upon opening them I noticed each was a personalized hand written letter to me from the Cowboy receivers (Blackmon, Anyiam, Chelf, Dickins, and Rockwell) each one telling me their gratitude for me serving our nation and providing them the opportunity to play this sport they love. It kinda choked me up, knowing that our Cowboys took time out of their busy schedule to take time for their servicemen. Its players like this that make it an honor to serve. (Oh and in Anyiam's letter he said he's dedicating his first touchdown this year to me! Hope he gets in the line up soon. GO POKES!!!
According to Anyiam and Blackmon, the message is from Dustin Hefley of the U.S. Army. Anyiam got his touchdown on Saturday, got two in fact, and yes, he confirmed that he had dedicated them to the serviceman. He also confirmed that he has sent another letter to Hefley to tell him about the touchdowns. Hubert Anyiam "gets it," and he says he will continue to correspond with U.S. military personnel because what they are doing and the sacrifice they are all making is much greater than he and his teammates.
4. Catching Up with Mike Leach
After watching the Cowboys demolition of Tulsa last Saturday 65-28, you couldn't help but notice the similarities in the offense going up and down Boone Pickens Stadium and the offenses coordinated by Mike Leach at Texas Tech.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has tweaked the offense and put his personaility to it. There is a little Mike Gundy influence in there as well, but still a lot of Leach and Hal Mumme. Holgorsen worked for both, but worked the longest and at three different schools with Leach. It was Holgorsen who helped set up our interview with Leach.
"I'm out here on my deck in Key West getting ready to do my radio show on Sirius and getting ready to talk some football," said Leach.
When Leach asked how everything was going in Stillwater, we informed the former coach and current broadcaster for Sirius and game analyst on CBS College Sports on cable that Oklahoma State for the first time ever leads the nation in passing.
"It's pretty fun and I'll tell you the other thing about Oklahoma State right now, in my opinion, has the best running back in the country in Kendall Hunter," said Leach surprisingly bringing up the running game. "Right now, I'm not saying that somebody won't get him but he is playing really well. I vote in this Heisman poll each week and I have him at the top."
That prompted a discussion of the running back position, something Leach looks at quite differently.
"We always wanted that position to lead in all-purpose yards, you know the combination of catches and runs," said Leach, who added his favorite back at Texas Tech was Taurean Henderson.
"Oklahoma State always had good running backs, good pair of running backs and there were years we were going back and forth with total yards out of the position. Oklahoma State would get all of theirs on the ground and about two-thirds of ours would be on the ground and about a third through the air.
"I think Hunter is going to flourish and they are getting more explosive and that quarterback is getting better and better. I'm looking for big things out of Oklahoma State and I wish Mike (Gundy) and Dana (Holgorsen) the best. I hope they have a big year."
My biggest question for Leach was about Holgorsen. He keeps his players entertained with his awarding of nicknames and look-a-like comparisons. Wide receiver Colton Chelf is "Evil Elf," wide receiver Josh Cooper is "Seth Rogen," and quarterback Johnny Deaton is "Johnny Drama." There are others but they must remain in the offensive meeting room.
So what kind of player was Holgorsen as a wide receiver and did Leach ever slap him with a nickname? "He was Little Dana, always Little Dana," said Leach, who estimated that the two spent over eight football seasons talking to each other on the headsets.
Leach called Holgorsen his best set of eyes he ever had. Now as a player... "Dana, when he was younger, was a really good basketball player," added Leach, who coached Holgorsen at Iowa Wesleyan where he played wide receiver. "I think he was probably better at basketball than he was at football. He was a surprising guy in that he had a slow forty time but had a real good vertical jump. You know he was a complete knowledgeable player, and even punted a little bit."
Yes, but both he and Leach never want to punt anymore.
5. The New York Jets signed wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who they knew had some baggage. Okay, Edwards gets picked up at 5:15 in the a.m. I know that New York is the "city that never sleeps," but c'mon Braylon.
Edwards was cited for having excessive tint on his vehicle windows and the police also test his breath. They find out that he has double the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Putting the information together, 5:15 a.m., athlete, too much alcohol as in double the legal limit. I don't know about Rex Ryan, but Bryalon is on the NFL waiver wire as soon as it is open for business. I'm all for mistakes, we all make them. I can't stand for stupidity and I don't want it on my team.
One More Week To Go: One more week before the "I told you so" plan goes into effect with folks like Phil Steele of Phil Steele's College Football Preview, Matt Hayes of The Sporting News, and maybe the biggest dummy of them all, OSU graduate Brett McMurphy of AOL Fanhouse, who predicted the end of defense as we know it for Oklahoma State as the Cowboys would be throttled by Tulsa. There are others and they know who they are.