HOUSTON - The final day of the Big 12 Preseason Football Hurricane watch has the Hurricane as a no-show. However, Baylor, O-State, KSU and Texas all did appear as expected.
Baylor coach Guy Morriss easily has the toughest assignment in the league, and knows it. Baylor's star player was Ray Guy winner Daniel Sepulveda (punter), who won it last year with enormous height, hang time and a 43.1 punting average.
Just the fact that your punter is your featured player tells you the state of this program. However, the Bears may have the best safety duo in the league in Willie Andrews and 'Mo' Lane. Look for RB Paul Mosley to be a star for the Bears this year as they try to win another Big 12 game. (Last year's victim, Texas A&M).
When asked what game the Bears had their best chance of winning this year the answer was Missouri. Go figure. And what programs the Bears thought they had a chance to pass in the crowded Big 12 South, the answer was OSU and Tech. "Our athletes are just as good as theirs". True, but Okie State and Tech both have more talent.
There were no surprises here. Bears bring up the rear again.
Head Poke Mike Gundy was the next up and got credit for candid forthright answers. You have to like him, even if he's on the wrong sideline. He struggled to avoid saying his team would not be a contender, but had to admit that this would probably not be their year.
Gundy brings a high stakes poker approach to Cowboy football on both sides. It's obvious that the Pokes will gamble and gamble often.
Gundy said last years pitiful meldown was due to fatigue, not a lack of talent.
"Our personnel just didn't match up and we just ran out of gas."
You never got the feeling that Gundy was totally sold on his team this year, although he tried his best to sell them to the media.
Bill Snyder showed up looking and sounding like the 9th grade world history teacher that always made you line up your chairs on the seams in the tile. The unlikely record last year has left Snyder shell-shocked with very little to offer in improvement.
How's this for a quote machine?
Coach Snyder, are you excited to get back on the field and erase last year?
Snyder: "I believe in living one day at a time. We still have six weeks before we play. ‘Everything in it's time, everything in it's place."
Yeoooooooooow what a halftime speech.
Like all the North coaches, however, Snyder did advance the theory that every North team would be better. We agree, and are actually thankful. Maybe they won't embarrass the conference this year.
Mack Brown has so rehearsed the OU jinx question that we heard him quote it six times in seven different interviews.
"We're not the only team that's had trouble with them..."
Then MB morphs into Texas spin with: "Over the last five years, Miami OU and Texas have the best records in college football and..."
"The first two we won, there was not much talk about OU. We lose and everybody talks about it all the time..."
Mack did say that the ‘Horns had problems at linebacker and in the kicking game and questions at tailback — all three areas will have to improve if they are to have the season that die-hards are expecting.
On the plus side, Mack says the new and improved Vincent Young' is the VY he saw in high school, and offers Michigan and the Rose Bowl as proof.
On missing Cedric Benson: "Cedric was our call on third and short, short-yardage and goal-line situations. I never had a better back that could get guaranteed two- three yards when needed. Our offense will change this year and the call in those situations will be Vince Young."
On life without Derrick Johnson Derrick Johnson: "We'll miss DJ as much as anyone player I can think of. He made dramatic, momentum changing, game changing plays. We have no one like that this year."
We'll take your word for it Mack. And put the ‘Horns a hair behind OU, primarily because the Sooners are still in the heads of the team and their coach.
Here's how we rate the conference teams relative to each other:
1. Oklahoma – Younger, faster, different, but maybe just as good.
2. Texas – Horns could get it done if...
3. Colorado – Klatt & Barnett make the difference.
4. Texas Tech – Cal win provides confidence and national attention.
5. Iowa State – Most underrated, QB Bret Meyer is a rising star.
6. Nebraska – At least a year away from Husker Power.
7. A&M – Most overrated team. Reggie McNeal – a great talent but inconsistent.
8. Missouri – If Brad Smith is the old Brad Smith – move Tigers up one. If not, down one.
9. OSU – Gundy talks a big game but problems are on the horizon.
10. Kansas – Scary, but probably not good enough to challenge.
11. K-State – Bill Snyder is still shell-shocked over last year.
12. Baylor – Maybe can get another Big 12 win this year. But where?
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