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  1. 2011 Apr 01

    SPRING FOOTBALL: Practice Report 4/1


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Midway through Nebraska's sixth practice of spring football camp Friday, Brandon Kinnie took brief note of NU's mistakes and thought to himself, this is terrible.

    “You know when it's not a good practice,” Kinnie said. “You feel it.”

    The senior wide receiver didn't get many arguments.

    “We just made some dumb mistakes today,” offensive coordinator Tim Beck said.

    Senior Curenski Gilleylen – who moved from receiver to running back Wednesday – counted off the mistakes he and others made during “competition” drills. False starts. Dropped balls. Other penalties.

    “We definitely came out sloppy today,” Gilleylen said. “I don't really know what it was. It wasn't our best day.”

    No idea why?

    “Stage fright?” Gilleylen joked.

    That's because the Huskers hosted day one of their high school coaching clinic Friday. Guys of every age, size and color of pullover – many of them emblazoned with a mascot that only some long-forgotten school board could dream up – milled around the Hawks Championship Center and the adjacent practice outdoor practices.

    Beck's been one of those guys. He coached high school football for eight years in Arizona and Texas.

    “I appreciate them coming out,” Beck said. “I was there once, too...they're very well respected by me.”

    Friday night's keynote clinic speaker, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, watched practice, too. Dressed in all black – and appearing to have lost some weight – Stoops was initially not recognized by the press corps as he walked off the practice field with head coach Bo Pelini.

    “Hey – that's Stoops,” a camera operator said.

    “Am I talking to you guys today?” Pelini asked as he and Stoops walked past.

    “No,” another reporter said. He pointed at Stoops. “But he is.”

    And so, for a brief moment, Stoops did, acknowledging that the media mob in Lincoln is bigger than what he usually encounters in Norman.

    “It's great to be here,” Stoops said. “It's kind of ironic to be here, speaking at the clinic, watching practice.”

    As a rival coach, Stoops couldn't possibly have been Bo's guest for the coaching clinic - until now. In fact, NU had, at one time, been considering Air Force's Troy Calhoun for the keynote spot this year.

    Nebraska's move to the Big Ten apparently has other perks.

    “We'll conspire together and share ideas,” Stoops said of he and Pelini. “We used to do a little bit of it anyway on some common opponents. But now we're able to do it more often.”

    He said he'd cover his general coaching philosophy in the keynote speech and some tenets of the “50” defense that stuffed the Huskers' offense in the second half of the Big 12 Championship.

    “Guys looked good out there,” Stoops said of Nebraska's players, walking away after the minute he promised to give. He then signed autographs on his way out of the Hawks – including one to a high school coach who arrived decked head-to-toe in Sooner gear, carrying that iconic maroon helmet under his arm.

    Husker players, meanwhile, ran their share of post-practice gassers and grueling up-downs, then resolved to do better in Saturday afternoon's scrimmage – if indeed there is one. Players and coaches offered conflicting answers about that. Pelini will have to confirm Saturday whether it actually occurred.

    For his part, Kinnie said he chewed a little behind in the post-practice huddle, unsatisfied with the performance, if not the effort.

    “It feels like it's on my shoulders to say something and get it together,” Kinnie said. “And I did that.”

    Said quarterback Cody Green: “One slip up today is not going to put us down all the way back to the beginning. We're going to come out tomorrow and play at a high level. Higher than we have been.”

    Tags: spring football 2011, bob stoops, brandon kinnie, tim beck, curenski gilleylen

  2. 2011 Feb 28

    Stoops Headlines NU Coaching Clinic


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Well, this must be the first official perk of Nebraska football heading to the Big Ten: Former Big 12 rival coaches can load up their van and headline NU's spring coaching clinic.

    Naturally, Bo Pelini tabbed his good friend, Oklahoma maestro Bob Stoops, for the honors.

    Stoops, owner of seven league titles and a national championship, will serve as Friday's 7 p.m. keynote speaker at the Huskers' annual Nebraska Football Spring Coaches Clinic held March 31-April 2.

    We're guessing you know the Bo-Bob connection by now. Stoops might be even closer to Bo's older brother Carl, who worked under Bob at Kansas State for a stretch. Later, in 2004, Bo worked as Bob's co-defensive coordinator, helping lead the Sooners to the national title game.

    "It means a lot that Bob Stoops has agreed to take part in our clinic," Pelini said. "His track record speaks for itself. He's one of the best in the game, not only among current coaches, but when you look at the history of college football. This is a great opportunity for coaches throughout the area to get insight from Coach Stoops, as well as our coaching staff and a number of successful high school coaches. It should be a great weekend of learning and sharing ideas."

    The rest of the details from Nebraska Sports Marketing:

    The 2011 Nebraska coaches' clinic will kick off on Thursday evening with breakout sessions by members of the Nebraska coaching staff. Session I will focus on the Husker defense at 6:30 p.m., followed by a breakout session with the offensive staff at 8 p.m. Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini will begin Friday's activities with a welcome at 10 a.m., and those in attendance will also hear from Nebraska Football Strength and Conditioning Coach James Dobson on Friday morning.

    Other speakers at the coaches clinic include four 2010 Nebraska state championship coaches-Millard North's Fred Petito (Class A), Chuck McGinnis of Crete (Class B), Norfolk Catholic's Jeff Bellar (Class C-1) and Dave Ridder of West Point CC (Class D-1).

    In addition to the championship Nebraska prep coaches on the agenda, two successful out-of-state head coaches will share their insight at the clinic. Pat Mahoney of DeSmet High School in St. Louis will speak on Friday afternoon, and Tom Wilson of West Des Moines Dowling High will speak on Saturday morning. Wilson guided Dowling to the Iowa Class 4-A state title in 2010.

    In addition to Stoops and other speakers on Friday, the clinic will also include Nebraska's spring practice at approximately 3 p.m. Saturday's activities begin with an FCA Breakfast at 7:30 a.m., followed by position drills from 8:30 to 10 a.m. The clinic will conclude with Nebraska's Saturday practice, scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

    All sessions of the clinic will be held in the Hawks Championship Center or Memorial Stadium. Cost of the clinic is $55 per coach before Friday, March 25, or $65 after March 25 or at the door. For complete information and registration forms, visit Huskers.com or call the Nebraska Football Office at 402-472-3116.

    Tags: spring football 2011, bob stoops

  3. 2010 Dec 03

    Husker Heartbeat 12/3: Youngstown Boys


    By HuskerLocker

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    Welcome to Husker Heartbeat - a sampling of links and quick wit to start your morning! Keep checking each morning, Monday-Friday, for new links! We look for the offbeat as well as the straightforward - so don’t just think of us as a typical link farm!

    A quick abbreviation key FYI: OWH=Omaha World-Herald, LJS=Lincoln Journal-Star, CN=Corn Nation, BRN=Big Red Network, HI=Huskers Illustrated, BRR=Big Red Report. If we need to add more - we will. Others, like ESPN, are self-explanatory.

    *Excellent column from OWH's Dirk Chatelain on whether the Peso will be obsolete after the Big 12 title game.

    *The Big 12 trophies for the Nebraska football and volleyball teams are now in Lincoln.

    *Youngstown was a special place to grow up for Bo Pelini and Bob Stoops.

    *Bubba Starling is Kansas' best prep football player.

    *Carl Pelini is a candidate for the Minnesota job.

    *The OWH looks more closely at penalties thrown against the Huskers this year.

    *DeMarco Murray should play for the Sooners Saturday night.

    *The Dallas Police Department isn't investigating the Dan Beeb threats because the jurisdiction is Irving.

    *Travis Lewis says a snowstorm helped him decommit from Nebraska and commit to OU. NU has not played a game in the snow since 2006.

    Tags: husker heartbeat, bo pelini, bob stoops, dirk chatelain, volleyball, carl pelini dan beebe

  4. 2010 Nov 30

    Podcast 11/30: Prince Makes All-American


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Please enable Javascript, or download the podcast here.

    Tags: podcast, big 12 championship, taylor martinez, prince amukamara, womens hoops, bob stoops

  5. 2010 Nov 27

    Huskers-Sooners, One More Time


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    It is as it often was. Nebraska and Oklahoma, the old, friendly rivals, one final time, for the marbles.

    In a game worthy of its “Bedlam” name, OU slipped by Oklahoma State Saturday night 47-41 thanks to two long Landy Jones touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, which sets up the Sooners to emerge victorious in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South crown. So long as Oklahoma finishes two spots higher than Texas A&M in BCS standings released Sunday night, it will face NU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the Big 12 Championship.

    “That'll be pretty amazing,” OU head coach Bob Stoops told ESPN directly after the Sooners outlasted the Cowboys in a 15-round offensive shootout.

    Perfectly put, Bob.

    Oklahoma (10-2 overall, 6-2 in the Big 12) never trailed but also never shook Oklahoma State (10-2, 6-2) until Ryan Broyles recovered an onside kick in the game's final minute. OU grabbed a 14-3 lead; OSU answered with an interception return for a touchdown. The Sooners took a 24-17 halftime lead; the Cowboys tied the game on their first drive of the second half. Oklahoma booted three field goals for a 33-24 lead with 5:53 left in the game; Oklahoma State immediately answered with a touchdown to cut the gap to 33-31.

    Then Jones – who set career highs with 37 completions and 467 yards – threw a perfect third-down pass to OU receiver Cameron Kenney, who caught the ball in stride and raced 86 yards for what appeared to be the door-slamming touchdown. Not quite, as Cowboy kick returner Justin Gilbert returned a kickoff 89 yards for a score. The Sooners led just 40-38.

    That's when Oklahoma Kevin Wilson rolled the dice, calling a playaction pass on second down of his team's ensuing drive. Jones faked to freshman Roy Finch and floated a pass to wide-open James Hanna, who scored a 76-yard touchdown. Oklahoma State put one more field goal on the board, but Broyles clutched the onside kick and took it to the ground. A wild game ended with Jones' knee on the ground, and Stoops hugging OSU coach Mike Gundy at midfield.

    OU must await the BCS standings to know for certain that it lands in the Big 12 title game. Because of league tiebreaker rules, the Sooners – currently No. 13 in the BCS must finish two spots ahead of A&M – ranked No. 17 – because the Aggies beat them 33-19 Nov. 6. A&M's 24-17 win over Texas probably isn't impressive enough to overcome its 30-9 loss to Missouri earlier this year. The Aggies lost by seven to 10-2 Arkansas and by three to Oklahoma State, as well.

    As it turned out, a decision Stoops made to punt the ball late in a 36-27 loss to Mizzou may have paid off. OU trailed by nine and faced a fourth-and-long deep in its own territory. Instead of going for it, Stoops conceded the win to the Tigers, who ran out the clock, rather than tack on a meaningless touchdown in the final minutes.

    See also: Should it be Cody or Taylor to Face OU?

    Tags: big 12 championship, bob stoops, oklahoma

  6. 2010 Jul 06

    BIG 12 PREVIEW: Ranking the Big 12 Coaches


    By HuskerLocker

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    The two southern giants. A fast riser in the north. Two intriguing new hires and two guys with flaming hot seats. The Big 12 coaches are those seven men and five more to boot.

    The top of the list remains a choice between Mack Brown and Bob Stoops. As Texas has taken four of the last five from Oklahoma, so too has Brown pulled ahead of his Red River rival.

    Yes, UT has its share of advantages, but Brown, one of college football’s premier CEOs, manages those resources well, and has taken smart steps to ensure the Longhorns’ long-term viability by hiring defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as the head-coach-in-waiting.

    Brown caught the spread-zone-read wave at the right time with the right two quarterbacks in Vince Young and Colt McCoy and instructed his offensive coordinator, Greg Davis, to get out of their way. While a man of ego - what college football coach isn’t - Brown is a good ambassador of the league and a suave pro with the media. His style isn’t a perfect fit for every program - but it is for Texas.

    Stoops is well-matched with Oklahoma, as well. His coaching star is still burning bright, but questionable coaching decisions in recent years - sticking with a no-huddle goal-line offense in the BCS National Championship two years ago (to disastrous results) was one of them - have brought him down one rung among league coaches. No Big 12 team blows out an opponent like Oklahoma can, but the Sooners are just 12-12 in games decided by ten points or less during the last five years, including three 1-point losses in 2009. OU enjoys a talent advantage over so many of its opponents, but if a foe can get Oklahoma to the fourth quarter, it has a 50/50 shot of winning.

    UT’s record in similar games over that same span? 16-5.

    Tommy Tuberville jumps in at No. 3, and if that seems too kind, consider how hard it is to win 100 career games while coaching solely in the SEC. Actually - consider how hard it is to win 100 career games while coaching in the Big 12. Of the Big 12’s current coaches, only Brown, Stoops and Bill Snyder have done it.

    The league’s other new coach, Turner Gill, checks in at a tie for seventh. Gill’s positivity is a plus, but we want to see it work on a grander scale than the MAC Conference.

    Bo Pelini, having coached only two years, stands in fourth-place tie with Missouri’s Gary Pinkel. Nebraska’s much improved, but inconsistent in Pelini’s two seasons. In 2010, NU is expected to start inside the national top ten and stay there throughout the year.

    Here’s our rankings for Big 12 coaches. For division titles, understand that ties were counted.

    1. Mack Brown
    Record: 208-96-1 overall, 128-27 at Texas, 11-7 in bowls
    Milestones: Six division titles, two Big 12 titles, one BCS title.
    Strengths: Understands it’s about Jimmies and Joes, not Xs and Os, and recruits and schemes accordingly. Open to change on offense. Built North Carolina from ashes and quickly dragged Texas out of the doldrums. Cultivates a relationship with the media, which helped score UT in a berth in the 2005 Rose Bowl over California. Smartly hired one of the nation’s best defensive coordinators to be his successor, then paid Will Muschamp to stick around. Talks a good game, and rarely stirs up bad blood. He is one of college football’s best CEOs, and a perfect match for UT. Weaknesses: Not the best in-game adjuster. Still gets a little antsy with his quarterbacks, despite getting superlative play from Vince Young and Colt McCoy over the last six years. His early-bird recruiting method is open to flaws and has allowed some outstanding late-bloomers to escape the state elsewhere.

    2. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
    Record: 117-28 overall, 5-5 in bowls
    Milestones: Seven division titles, six Big 12 titles, one BCS title
    Strengths: Infectious confidence that catches on with his players. Excellent defensive mind. Great closer on the recruiting trail. Fosters a “family” atmosphere at OU, which appeals to players and their parents. He and his staff develop individual talent well. Weaknessess: Impulsive decision-maker whose gambles don’t always work. Doesn’t always seem comfortable with a four-quarter game, and neither does his team; the Sooners often come out like a house on fire to overwhelm an opponent, only to lose gas if the game gets dragged into the second half. His teams have not performed well recently in bowls, either.

    3. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
    Record: 110-60 overall 6-3 in bowls
    Milestones: Five division titles, one SEC title, undefeated in 2004 (all at Auburn)
    Strengths: The record doesn’t lie; over 100 wins in the SEC (with Auburn and Mississippi) is nothing to brush off. A confident risk-taker who has won his share of close games under the watchful eye of the nation’s toughest booster at Auburn. Good bowl game coach. He’ll recruit better to Lubbock than Mike Leach ever did, occasionally plucking a player or two out of Florida. Weaknesses: Viewed as cocky and outspoken. Takes risks - he got the nickname “Riverboat Gambler” - that don’t always pay off. His final season at Auburn was a disaster, as he hired - then fired - his equally outspoken offensive coordinator before the year had ended. Seemed to openly ask for jobs in the offseason. Well - he got one.

    T4. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
    Record: 140-83 overall, 67-46 at Missouri, 4-3 in bowls
    Milestones: Six division titles, one MAC title (at Toledo)
    Strengths: On the brink of being fired at Mizzou, he surprisingly changed his coaching style, touching off the best years in recent school history. Runs an offense players like. Has created a recruiting presence in Texas for the Tigers. Seems in it for the long haul at Missouri and has built a real program out of a perpetual underachiever. Turned Toledo into one of the best programs in the MAC prior to Columbia. Weaknesses: Doesn’t win many big games. Hasn’t beaten Texas or Oklahoma yet. His coaching - and team - tightens up in close games, especially near the goal line. Offense is too quarterback-oriented. Pinkel seems unable to attract top-flight coordinators; or perhaps he’s too loyal.

    T4. Bo Pelini, Nebraska
    Record: 20-8 overall, 3-0 in bowls
    Milestones: Two division titles
    Strengths: One of the nation’s premier defensive innovators who doubles as a dogged teacher of the game. Good in-game adjuster. Plays well as an underdog. Has created a culture, similar to Stoops, that players gravitate toward. His style and energy will arguably play better in the Big Ten than it does in the Big 12. It’s early, but he carries himself like one of the greats. The 2010 season will be key.
    Weaknesses: The temper, which rubs the more effete, sensitive Big 12 referees the wrong way. It doesn’t play well on TV, either. A bit imperious with the media, although he’s not as bad as perceived. The occasional perplexing roster decision - not playing Phillip Dillard for two games in 2009, then suddenly turning him loose to become an all-league player.

    6. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
    Record: 142-74-1 overall, 6-5 in bowls
    Milestones: Four division titles, one Big 12 title
    Strengths: Prepares for a game as well as any coach in the Big 12. Works however many hours it takes. Mild-mannered style allows his players to generate the emotion. Believes in excelling at special teams, and generally gets that result. Grooms other coaches for bigger and better things. Working the percentages, Snyder turned around an awful K-State program before Kansas or Missouri got a clue. Weaknesses: Softens his non-conference schedule for easy wins. Can be stubborn and intractable, not adjusting within the game until it’s too late. His JUCO-reliant recruiting method is akin to roulette, and the Wildcats’ talent base suffers as a result. Snyder builds his offense around the quarterback to such an extent that he needs an elite one to have much success. Snyder is just 15-19 in his last three seasons as a head coach, and that 28-8 record he chalked up against Kansas and Missouri during his career won't be so easy to reproduce in his second stint.

    T7. Art Briles, Baylor
    Record: 42-44, 8-16 at Baylor, 0-3 in bowls
    Milestones: One Conference USA title (at Houston)
    Strengths: Gets graded on a bell curve, considering how pathetic the Bears were for the last decade before he took over. Excellent offensive mind. Good recruiter who’s stocking Baylor’s best talent in 20 years. He works the media like Mack Brown. In two years, he’ll be a highly sought-after coach if the Bears catch a few breaks. Weaknesses: After quarterback Robert Griffin went down, offense appeared to crawl in a shell for a month. Defense never seems to be a huge priority with Briles, whose teams don’t play much of it. Has to attract more fans to home games.

    T7. Turner Gill, Kansas
    Record: 20-30 overall
    Milestones: One division title, one conference title (at Buffalo)
    Strengths: Took a laughingstock at Buffalo to an out-of-nowhere conference title. Knows the college quarterback position as well as nearly any coach, yet was smart enough to hire experienced coordinators (Chuck Long and Carl Torbush) for his move to the Big 12. Decent recruiter. Gets kids to buy in to his positive-thinking template for success. Good role model. Weaknesses: Does Gill have a sense of urgency? Is his method too friendly? College football takes on a corporate culture, and boosters, for better or worse, enjoy a kind of manic intensity in their coaches. Gill is just the opposite. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the MAC, either.

    T7. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
    Record: 36-27, 2-2 in bowls
    Milestones: None
    Strengths: Probably the league’s best quarterback coach, or darn close to it. Knows offense and believes in a balanced attack - or at least he did. Shrewd recruiter who had discovered some underrated talent (Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter) and developed it well. Weaknesses: With his two best teams,he didn‘t come very close to beating Oklahoma or Texas. Because of uber-booster T. Boone Pickens, Gundy can seem beholden to the rich guy’s wishes. Literally turned his back on his defense in 2008 for whole chunks of the game so he could draw up offensive plays on an equipment trunk. His teams got smacked around in its last two bowl games. He’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!” diatribe against a reporter won him some admirers, but if and when Gundy gets fired, it’ll be the epitaph on his gravestone.

    10. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
    Record: 7-6 overall, 1-0 in bowls
    Milestones: None
    Strengths: Blue-collar persona should help transform ISU into a program that competes hard on defense - which is a change from most years. Well-traveled and respected defensive coordinator who hired a good defensive staff to help him. Thanks to the football gods, beat a very good Nebraska team 9-7. Seems to have a nose for close games and how to win them. Weaknesses: Don’t mistake one fluke win and the media’s enjoyment of the guy for long-term progress. The Cyclones’ honeymoon is over, and Rhoads is likely to experience a 10-loss season this year. Has to recruit the Midwest and Texas more effectively; the Dan McCarney method of plucking second-tier guys out of Florida and combining them with JUCO players worked to diminishing returns as McCarney’s tenure came to an end. It’s going to take more work than just one season.

    11. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M
    Record: 69-58 overall, 10-15 in college, 0-1 in bowls, 2-4 in the NFL Playoffs
    Milestones: Three NFC North Division titles
    Strengths: A master of the West Coast Offense who called plays for three different NFL teams. Good quarterback coach. Good recruiting plan. Attracted a lot of good offensive players in a short time. Weaknesses: A&M’s first two defenses have been a disaster, and hiring defensive coordinator Joe Kines - who retired after the 2009 season - was clearly a mistake, too. His teams suffer bewildering losses (to Arkansas State and Colorado) and crippling blowouts (62-14 to Kansas State, 65-10 and 66-28 to Oklahoma) much like Nebraska did under Bill Callahan. His WCO sputters in key moments. Sherman, who often seems a bit perplexed or detached - he’d have an NFL assistant job within 20 seconds of leaving A&M, and he must know that - has to win in year three, or face the chopping block.

    12. Dan Hawkins, Colorado
    Record: 69-44 overall, 16-33 at Colorado, 2-3 in bowls
    Milestones: Four conference titles (all at Boise State)
    Strengths: Positive-thinking, hand-clapping kind of coach who appears to be a good guy. He could throw the Buffaloes’ pathetic athletic department under the bus, but he doesn’t. Good offensive mind. Weaknesses: Seems whipped and out of options. Inspires pity. Made the monumental mistake of recruiting his undersized son, Cody, to play quarterback at CU, which put both of them in the uncomfortable position of constantly defending one another. Recruited a lot of lameoids and reprobates who either left school or got in trouble with the law. Never insisted on getting out of murderous non-conference schedules. To get on TV, had his CU team play three games in 13 days last year, including a ridiculous Friday night 54-38 loss at Toledo.

    How Would You Rank the Big 12 Coaches?

    Check Out Our Full Big 12 Preview: Commentary, 12 Best Players, Ten Overrated Players, Ten Underrated Players

    Tags: big 12 preview, big 12, bo pelini, mack brown, bob stoops, gary pinkel

  7. 2010 Mar 17

    RECRUITING: Inside the Big 12: Oklahoma


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Husker Locker's Samuel McKewon is a big fan of OU's latest recruiting class - a class necessary, he says, to get the Sooners back in the speed game. Comments from Bob Stoops, plus exclusive commentary and insight on where Oklahoma is headed in future years, with a 14-day free trial to Husker Locker Pass! Try looking for this stuff somewhere else - you won't get it!

    Tags: recruiting, big 12, bob stoops, oklahoma

  8. 2009 Nov 06

    Commentary: A Measuring Stick for Bo


    By HuskerLocker

    We're 21 games into the Bo Pelini era – please, no counting the 2003 Alamo Bowl – and we've got a pretty good handle on the guy as a coach.

    Where Bo's good – namely, defense – he's performed as advertised. He's a little rough on the media, but we can take it. He'll pull the trigger on off-the-field issues (booting Quentin Castille off the team) and playing freshmen.

    He left the offense fully in the hands of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson for more than a year, but now he's got his fingers in it a little bit, and the Cornhuskers will, bit by bit, eventually define itself by the same kind of power running game imposed on Watson by Gary Barnett in Colorado. It worked at CU. It'll work here.

    The recruiting wonks say Bo needs to work a little harder in the summer, press kids more effectively on their official visits and build more bridges. Eh, maybe. I say Bo's smart not to sell kids a bill of goods, which they repay with a bill of effort.

    Pelini's 14-7 overall, and only one those games – Iowa State - was an unexpected loss. NU isn't “back.” It's not eating worms, either.

    But here comes the first mid-term. Here comes the measuring stick, being pulled from the closet of expectation, to see how Nebraska stacks up with Oklahoma. How Bo stacks up against Bob Stoops.

    "I'm at the infant stages of my tenure," Pelini said Thursday. "I'm not in a position to measure up to what Bob's done. He's won a national championship, he's won Big 12 Championships. I'm finding my way and trying to build a program here. Obviously, he's set a helluva benchmark on how to go about that."

    Fair enough. Beat Oklahoma. Or hang with OU for four quarters. Start there.

    Considering the variables - reputation, control of the Big 12 North, momentum, a nice TV audience, a huge recruiting weekend – games like this are either a big step forward or several steps back. They don't often break you. But they can make you. And they usually define you.

    The process may not be complete, but Bo's put his imprint on the Huskers, no denying it, shaping the emotional and athletic makeup of the team.

    It's Bo who redshirted the entire 2009 recruiting class, and Bo who's chosen to burn the redshirts of several freshmen this year. Bo who adjusts like a demon on defense, and Bo who wastes timeouts on that same defense. Bo who argues too much with game officials. And Bo who riles up with players with passionate pregame speeches.

    Some of his strengths can be weaknesses, and vice versa. So it is with most of us. The man is who he is. The team is what it is. Time to find out if that's enough to handle the Sooners.

    Bo was hired to win the pitcher's duels, the low-scoring games often played in the SEC. Bo knows stalemates and four-quarter games.

    Stoops used to win those games without much sweat. These days, the longer a game remains in doubt, the more you can count on the Sooners falling apart.

    Can NU keep OU on the burner long enough to hit its melting point?

    This is no vintage Oklahoma squad – its weak offensive line and speed remind me of Clemson in the Gator Bowl – but it's still the best team Nebraska's played since the last dance with the Sooners in 2008.

    The best lesson from 62-28? Don't get buried early. Stick with the gameplan. Eat clock. Stop momentum. Get some first downs.

    Earlier this week, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson seemed to have a pretty good handle on how the game might unfold by calling it “a NFL game.” Manage the clock. Don't waste timeouts. Don't waste time, period, bawling out the referees.

    Watson's bound to get cute with Saturday's gameplan at some point. These West Coast Offense guys, God love em, might call three running plays in a row only to switch each of them to a pass because a strong safety might be creeping into the box. It's on Bo to tell Watson “run it anyway.” It's on Watson to know it without being told, which goes back to planning during the week, knowing the hook on which you'll hang your hat.

    We'll be watching NU's discipline in the game, too. How about a night with zero personal fouls, false start and illegal motion penalties? How many yards do the Huskers just hand to Oklahoma?

    Does Bo switch quarterbacks if Cody Green starts cold? Does he remember to look for crafty punt fakes and onsides kickoffs? When does he dial up blitzes? Do they work?

    Remember Clemson? Nebraska was rocked back on its heels by the faster, more athletic Tigers. Ask the NU conditioning crew, and they'll say it was that game that opened their eyes to reality about Nebraska's speed and power. Folks, it's not there yet, as Oklahoma's speed and athleticism will make clear.

    But Bo won all the coaching points in the Gator Bowl. Made the right blitzes. Seemingly had plays diagnosed before they occurred. Got field goals instead of gambling for touchdowns. Watson won some, too, pounding Castille in the power run game and schooling then-quarterback Joe Ganz into stepping up in the pocket, and buying enough time to hit big passes.

    Coaching won that game. Saturday could boil down to that, too. For either team.

    Nebraska isn't favored to win. It shouldn't be. But this game could reveal so much about the team, Bo, Watson and their direction together.

    See also: 10 Key Players and Commentary: A Big Measuring Stick for Bo and Five Keys: Oklahoma and OU scouting report and video breakdown.

    Tags: bo pelini, shawn watson, bob stoops, oklahoma game

  9. 2009 Nov 05

    Scouting Report: Oklahoma


    By HuskerLocker

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    The best scouting report on the Web goes right to the heart of Oklahoma football team to ask one key question: What's the hidden weakness in these Sooners and head coach Bob Stoops. We know what it is - do you want to? Check out a 14-day free trial fo Husker Locker Pass then!

    Tags: scouting report, bob stoops, landry jones, oklahoma game, gerald mccoy

  10. 2009 Nov 02

    Mirror Images


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Childhood friends, former colleagues and now Big 12 head coaches on opposite sides of the field, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Nebraska's Bo Pelini both reflected Monday on the renewal of the NU-OU rivalry, watered down as it may be after the formation of the Big 12 Conference and its North and South divisions.

    “Anytime you've played for a long time and the games were meaningful, there's going to be a different air to the game,” Pelini said during Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference. “A lot of people take it real seriously and we're looking forward to it.”

    Stoops said the rivalry has “no question” changed now that the teams only play two out of every four years, but the OU staff – which includes former Sooners Cale Gundy, Josh Heupel, Chris Wilson and Jackie Shipp - “puts it in front of the players” during game week. In the past, Oklahoma has shown a video of classic moments from the series.

    “You do your best to educate them on it,” Stoops said. “You'd like them to sure understand where the rivalry used to be and the tradition of it.”

    Another common thread in the 2009 game: Defense. Nebraska and Oklahoma are near the top of the Big 12 and the nation in several defensive categories – NU is 9th and 4th in total and scoring defense, while OU is 11th and 8th against slightly better competition – and have accomplished their success in similar fashion: With strong pass rushes – both teams average more than three sacks per game – and tough run defenses.

    “Very physical,” Stoops said of NU's defense. “A great front four. Better defenses are really good up front. Strong, physical guys up front and physical guys across the board. Very disciplined, which you'd expect from watching Bo's defenses.”

    Said Pelini of OU: “There's some similarities, some differences. They're a little more pressure-oriented than us right now and they've been in the system a lot longer than we have. They do a good job.”

    Tags: bob stoops, bo pelini, oklahoma game

  11. 2009 Aug 29

    Big 12 Breakdown: No. 2 Oklahoma


    By HuskerLocker

    Husker Locker will be counting down and breaking down each of the teams in the conference. We hope you view this series as more interesting, comprehensive and definitive than what you may find elsewhere. Where we can make strong takes – we will.

    We rank the teams 12 to 1 in overall strength. Then we’ll provide for you the North/South breakdown – and the preseason All Big 12 team, as well.


    Today: No. 2 Oklahoma

    Coach:Bob Stoops
    2008 Record: 12-2 (lost 24-14 to Florida in the BCS national title game)

    What’s Changed Since 2008: That big, dominating offensive line is mostly gone. In its place, a big line that will probably dominate in 2010, but struggle, at times in 2009. OU lost two receivers, as well, but the Sooners generally just reload. Otherwise, this is the same mean, lean bunch it’s been for several years now.

    2009 Non-Conference Schedule: Kicks off in Cowboys Stadium vs. BYU, which is being billed as a bigger game than it will probably turn out to be. The key non-conference tilt is at Miami (Fla.), where, we suspect, Randy Shannon’s Hurricanes will already be 0-3, causing Shannon, who will either be fired by then or close to it, or his replacement to throw every stupid thing in the playbook at OU. It could be one of those 24-21 upsets or a 55-14 bloodbath. You just don’t know.

    2009 Conference Schedule: Second in difficulty only to Kansas. OU must play Texas, of course, travel to KU, Nebraska and Texas Tech, and tangle with Oklahoma State at the end.

    Offense: Spread/Multiple

    Coordinator: Kevin Wilson, whose no-huddle offense knocked every team but Florida and Texas for a loop last year. And, of course, the Sooners blew two key opportunities vs. Florida – probably because of the no huddle.

    Strength: Sam Bradford doesn’t look like much off the field, but on it he’s a cool customer. Canny – that’s the word for him. He knows where to place the ball and how to get it there. He’s exceedingly accurate, and he’ll press the ball downfield. Tight end Jermaine Gresham is almost – almost – good enough to surpass Keith Jackson as OU’s best tight end in history. We’re not as enamored with running backs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown as some are, but they do run hard, and downhill. Murray is a superior receiver, and could play that role in the NFL.

    Weakness:OU made a killing on the right side last year in the running game. With a brand new guard and tackle, easy yards will be harder to come by. And Bradford, while terrific, can be sacked if he’s pressured. Let’s see how well he holds up without Phil Loadholt and Duke Robinson protecting him.

    Defense: 4-3/Attacking

    Coordinator: Brent Venables, who loves to stress the opposing quarterback with multiple looks and well-timed blitzes. Occasionally, he leaves his safeties left on an island, and if you can get OU’s linebackers peeking into the backfield and throw behind them, you’ve got a chance.

    Strength: The front seven is a jaw-dropping array of talent, really, and it should be even better with the return of middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds. OU’s run defense has been more susceptible to breakdowns in the last two years. Don’t expect that to be the case in 2009. The Sooners’ corners, Dominique Franks and Keenan Clayton, are NFL types.

    Weakness: Just the safeties, really, where Oklahoma must replace Nic Harris and Lendy Holmes. If OU’s defense is going to be tested, it’s right down the seam, preferably with playaction. BYU will certainly try.

    Special Teams Ryan Broyles is a capable punt returner. On kickoffs, DeMarco Murray was quite good, but can OU risk another injury to him? Jimmy Stevens is a fair kicker.

    Intangibles: That no-huddle offense is a real pain to prepare for in just one week; for a bowl game, it’d probably be easier. Oklahoma has chosen to become a rhythm, momentum team, which stuns and pummels lesser foes – Nebraska in 2008, for example - but can backfire against an equally matched opponent. It did against Florida, which weathered the initial onslaught and eventually dominated the fourth quarter, when the Sooners ran out of gas.

    Best-Case Scenario: Another Big 12 Championship, another shot at the national title.

    Worst-Case Scenario: Three, maybe four losses in the Big 12.

    Our Take: It’s OU vs. UT for all the glitz, again, and we like Texas by a hair. And trust us – Oklahoma isn’t winning that BCS tiebreaker again this year even if Christy Turlington personally lobbies on the Sooners’ behalf. 11-1 or 10-2. BCS or Cotton. Bradford third in the Heisman race.

    Tags: oklahoma, big 12 breakdown, bob stoops, jermain greshman, sam bradford

  12. 2009 Jul 28

    B12MD: Day 2 Wrap: Pinkel, Bradford and Mangino Hold Court


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Grim and a little frustrated, Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel hustled up to the podium Tuesday at the Big 12 Media Days and immediately apologized for a delay at the Dallas airport that left him tardy for his appointed engagement.

    Not long after Pinkel settled in, he was quickly peppered with queries about the immense talent – especially on offense – that he lost in the offseason to the NFL. Chase Daniel. Chase Coffman. Jeremy Maclin.

    First, replacing Daniel, that love him/hate him quarterback that put Mizzou in the national spotlight and won two straight Big 12 North titles.

    Pinkel shot straight: Former prep phenom (and Nebraska commit) Blaine Gabbert is the guy.

    “Any time you have a transition quarterback,” Pinkel said, “everybody sits back and goes, ‘Wow, what's going to happen?’ When you lose a high level guy like that, hopefully, we can replace him with a high-level guy.”

    Pinkel said he’ll bring along Gabbert, a sophomore, much as he did Daniel in his corresponding season. Daniel was inconsistent in 2006, alternating between excellent and average. He made “the leap” in 2007. Pinkel’s hoping the same for Gabbert.

    He’s not so sure Maclin, the receiving and return whiz, can be replaced. But, he added, this version of the Tigers was his fastest.

    On replacing two coordinators, Pinkel referenced the “Bill Belichick approach” of training and promoting from within. Pinkel the admitted he hasn’t lost two coaches, much less coordinators, in nine years at Mizzou.


    Baylor’s Art Briles delighted the media with clever lines and quick answers. Briles kept referring to “turning hope into happen” throughout his interviews, because, at this point, that the Bears’ next step.

    Briles talked a lot of about his quarterback, Robert Griffin, the fast, gifted sophomore quarterback. Griffin has helped with TV exposure, with recruiting, with fan recognition, with everything.

    But Griffin, and his Bear teammates, won’t be sneaking up on anyone in 2008. Teams that narrowly escaped with wins – like Missouri, Nebraska and Texas Tech – learned their lesson.

    “People are going to approach us differently on the other side, in other staff rooms and on other practice fields because they're going to come into Baylor with a different mindset than they did a year ago,” Briles said. “We understand that. We understand we're going to have to rise up and be better in all facets
    of the game, not only physically, to deal with the charges that are going to come our way.”

    Briles drew laughs for his stories about accompanying Jason Smith to the NFL Draft, and his comments on the wardrobe of some of his questioners. Briles is going to make an interesting push in the Big 12 South. He’s the first with the raw charm to recruit head-to-head with Mack Brown. His program doesn’t have the facilities, it doesn’t have the tradition, and it doesn’t have any recent success. But Baylor does have Briles.


    There’s a curious, gentlemanly quality to the way Kansas Coach Mark Mangino handles himself in front of media. You tend to see a lot of different sides of the guy. You see the pride, the attention to detail, the self-made aspect. Just about every coach brings that to the table. But with Mangino it’s something a little more – a vulnerability, perhaps? A love for the little guy?

    The coach talked with great care about recruiting quarterback Todd Reesing to KU several years ago, about how Reesing, tiny as he was, just had a confidence, a style, a belief that belied his looks. You could see why that might impress a guy like Mangino, who gets more comments about his appearance than he did his coaching.

    Yes, Reesing runs around a little too much – and sometimes gets himself in trouble for doing it.

    “But that's what makes him unique, you know, the idea that he believes in himself and that
    he can make plays when there's not one,” Mangino said. “Kind of really reflects his personality; that he always thinks he can overcome. He always wants to prove the opposition wrong. Those traits have served him well.”

    Good coaches tend to know – what’s best for each player is to fulfill their potential…through their own personality.

    Also appreciated that Mangino admitted he likes to recruit “tough” players – read, guys a little rough around the edges – and that “sometimes we fail in that area, but we like kids that love to play this


    Mr. Heisman and Big Game Bob was last to appear Tuesday, as Oklahoma took the podium.

    The big questions for OU, of course, revolved around its offensive line. Everything else about the Sooners – QB Sam Bradford, the running backs, the extraordinary defense – is in place. But the line, which must replace three starters, remains a weakness.

    “Mistakes they were making on day one, day two, they weren’t making on day 14 and day 15,” Bradford said. “I think we still need that progress once we’re in camp.”

    Bradford also touched upon the “frustration” of never having won a bowl game. Especially when reporters, who have to find something negative about the kid, ask so often.

    “It’s not something we like to do – “oh, we had a good season, let’s lose the last game,’” he said. “It’s starting to really to get to everyone.”

    At one time, Bradford didn’t much care for the no-huddle offense, either.

    “When we first switched to it, I didn’t it like it,” Bradford said. “It just seemed like chaos, it seemed like no one was on the same page. It sucked. If you would have seen us trying to run it the first couple days, you would have thought it was just a disaster.

    “But the more time we spent on it, and the better we got, the more I fell love with it.”

    Tags: big 12 media days, missouri, baylor, kansas, oklahoma, mark mangino, todd reesing, sam bradford, bob stoops, art briles, robert griffin, gary pinkel, blaine gabbert

  13. 2009 Jul 15

    Tim Griffin, Part 4: Still The King?


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    Has "Big Game Bob" worn out some of his welcome in Sooner country, or does the return of quarterback Sam Bradford make hopes spring eternal? Also: what changes, if any, might OU make to its no-huddle attack? ESPN's Tim Griffin looks at Nebraska's oldest rival. Check it out with a 60-day free trial of the Locker Pass!

    Tags: tim griffin, espn, oklahoma, bob stoops, sam bradford

  14. 2009 Apr 13

    OPPONENT REPORT: The Rich, Getting Richer


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    One side of the trench is stacked. What about the other side? Also: Which three freshman are OU fans gushing over? Insight, analysis about the enemy camp that no other Husker site is offering. Get it today with a Locker Pass!

    Tags: springtime with bo, opponent report, oklahoma, locker pass, bob stoops, sam bradford

  15. 2009 Apr 01

    The Six Easiest Football Jobs in the Big 12


    By HuskerLocker

    Blog post image

    In light of Bo Pelini’s new contract at Nebraska, we decided to review the coveted coaching jobs in the Big 12 Conference and determine, top to bottom, which job was hardest and which was easiest.

    We decided to eschew “best” and “worst” in part because that debate automatically thrusts Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska to the top of the list and schools like Baylor and Iowa State to the bottom, based on sheer tradition.

    Rather, we decided to take a bold stab at figuring out which jobs – perks and warts combined – were the kind coaches could tackle with enthusiasm and effort, and which jobs needed, shall we say, a bit more than that. Like a few a well-placed prayers to the pigskin karma saints.

    Our list goes from easiest to hardest, and takes into account five categories:

    Recruiting Base/Interest
    Administrative/Booster Support
    Media/Fan Expectation
    Chance of “Success”
    An “X” factor

    Today, we run down we deem to be the six easiest jobs in the Big 12. Tomorrow, the sixth toughest.

    And as we count them down, know this: None of them are what you’d call “easy.” All take 60-hour workweeks, strength, smarts, stamina and personality.

    One other thing…the list partially takes into account who’s coaching the program, which, in the case of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, frankly, makes the job easier than it would have been for Snyder’s predecessor, Ron Prince, or whoever follows Snyder.

    On with the countdown!

    No. 12 KANSAS

    Head Coach: Mark Mangino. Compensation: $2.3 millon per year, with tons of performance bonuses. Mangino gets five grand just for beating Nebraska, for example. For every game televised on ESPN that KU wins, Mangino scores ten grand.

    Recruiting Base: KU has direct access to the best talent in Kansas City and Wichita, along with reasonable access to the second-tier prospects in Oklahoma. The Jayhawk State is also home to many of the Midwest’s best junior college football programs. Mangino still plucks his share of players out of Texas – that’s one of the secrets to his success – but there are more home-grown kids to choose from, too.

    Administrative/Booster Support: For football, it’s better than ever, after KU finished a $33 million football complex in 2008. Basketball will always be king in Lawrence, but football is being embraced like never before.

    Media/Fan Expectation: Tempered by the hulking monolith that is the basketball program, KU football is expected to compete for the Big 12 North trophy and beat its rivals, Missouri and Kansas State. Beyond that? Gravy. At least a quarter of the Big 12 programs would like a national title in the next decade. If that doesn’t happen at Kansas, nobody is losing sleep over it.

    Chance of “Success”: Mangino has upped the ante and created his own success story. Still – “success” at KU is defined by eight, nine wins a year, a solid bowl game, and win over Mizzou. Would many Kansas fans have considered 2008 a “down” year? Following 2007, yes, it was. Overall? It was quite good by historical Jayhawks standards.

    X Factor: Kansas football is not, and never will be, the flagship sports program in Lawrence. Outside of possibly Iowa State, it’d be hard to claim that about anywhere else right now.

    No. 11 OKLAHOMA

    Head Coach: Bob Stoops Compensation: Around $6 million. This includes a $3 million lump sum Stoops received recently for his tenth anniversary as OU coach and bonuses he earned last year.

    Recruiting Base: It’s national, really, but Oklahoma does most of its damage at home and in Texas, routinely plucking great players from both states. Some years, OU outperforms Texas for coveted players in the Lone Star State. Stoops is a good recruiter, sure, but he resides in and near the land of milk and honey, too.

    Administrative/Booster Support: Very strong. Stoops has the full support of the old guard (guys like Barry Switzer) and his athletic director, Joe Castiglione, is a proactive standout in his field. As far as facilities go, we’ll take Nebraska’s swank spread of OU’s ten-year-old digs, but the Sooners want for very little. Stoops has all the tradition, support and booster bucks he wants. He’s created a lot of success, yes. He’s also been given a lot to create it with.

    Media/Fan Expectation: They’re high. Very high. But they’re not lunatic high, like they are at certain SEC programs, and the fans aren’t fickle, like they are at Texas. Sooner fans want to win. Stoops does win. But he’s not required to be a messiah (again: see the SEC).

    Chance of “Success:” OU has every advantage in this regard. It’s one of the great programs, and has been since Bud Wilkinson. There’s talent. There’s tradition. There’s reasonably warm weather for recruiting purposes.

    “X” Factor: Stoops’ recent run of losses in bowl games makes fan groan a little. Not that they want him to go anywhere.

    No. 10 TEXAS

    Head Coach: Mack Brown Compensation: Around $3 million.

    Recruiting Base: None better. The best talent in the state of Texas. And most of them are rounded up by the end of spring football. UT’s recruiting budget must be equal to the military budget of Albania.

    Administrative/Booster Support: Some would call DeLoss Dodds the nation’s most powerful athletic director. He’s sure one of them. In defense of Brown, he’s done a really good job winning back his share of boosters after the long, dark period after Darryl Royal retired. Then again, it was Brown’s predecessor, John Mackovic, who got the unpleasant job of bluntly telling those boosters UT’s facilities were woefully out of date. Brown walked into a better situation than Mackovic left when he was fired.

    Media/Fan Expectation: We know some Texas fans, and, outside of rubbing OU’s nose in it, the goals are sometimes fuzzy. UT will cherish Vince Young and the national title he won for the Longhorns for the next century. But do they blame Brown for the one loss that blemished an otherwise terrific 2008? Success doesn’t always bring out the fans anyway, as witnessed by the occasional empty seats in UT’s stadium.

    Chance of “Success”: Right up there with OU. Texas has all the advantages. At this point, any number of coaches – say, Will Muschamp – could be plugged into that job and coast on fumes for five years.

    “X” Factor: The University of Texas has more beautiful women on its campus than any other in America, in one of the nation’s best college towns. It helps.


    Head Coach: Bill Snyder Compensation: 1.85 million

    Recruiting Base: The same as Kansas, except that Snyder leans much more heavily on the JUCOs.

    Administrative/Booster Support: Basically, Snyder will get the “Joe Gibbs” treatment. He’s already performed “The Miracle in Manhattan” and if he carves out a modicum of success, any setbacks will just be blamed on Ron Prince’s three years at KSU. Snyder runs that town, and he’ll make darn sure the Wildcats schedule three or four wins per year.

    Fan/Media Expectations: A respectable program. Coaches who don’t have to run stadium stairs.

    Chance of “Success”: Pretty good, if 7-5 is the standard, and we don’t really see Kansas State doing much better than that in whatever time Snyder chooses to put into this second act.

    “X” Factor: Snyder will need one year, and maybe two, to clean up the mess Prince left behind. And he won’t have Stoops and Mangino to help him do it.

    No. 8 TEXAS A&M

    Head coach: Mike Sherman Compensation: $1.8 million

    Recruiting base: The central/southern part Texas seems pretty sweet to us. The Aggies make a killing in NASA country (that’s Houston). A&M probably draws a little too much talent from a 100-mile radius, for that matter.

    Administrative/Booster Support: Aggies are plenty competitive, and will spend top dollar to win in almost every sport. Athletic director Bill Byrne is no less competitive, even if his zeal in the past, including at Nebraska, was for non-revenue sports that could inch him closer to a Sears Directors Trophy. Still – at A&M, excellence is the standard. Another season like 2008, and Sherman might be gone very soon.

    Fan/Media Expectation: For a solid decade, A&M was the premier program in Texas. Getting there again is a top priority, and it’s not completely out of the question, either. The Longhorns are due for a dry spell. Oklahoma, on other hand…we don’t see the Sooners going anywhere. The fans at A&M are terrific. The closest to Nebraska fans, in fact.

    Chance of “Success”: Ten wins, a Big 12 South crown and bragging rights over UT are a lot to ask for right now. Maybe a little too much to ask. But the Aggies are committed, support is entrenched, and the area talent is rich. This is fertile ground for winning. Sherman has no excuses, really, because Dennis Franchione didn’t exactly run the program into the ground.

    “X” Factor: A&M is making the painful transition from option zone read to West Coast Offense with a former NFL coach. Ask Nebraska how well that turned out.

    No. 7 TEXAS TECH

    Head Coach: Mike Leach Compensation: $2.3 million

    Recruiting Base: Leach has made inroads into central and the Texas Panhandle to go along with the football-rich region of West Texas.

    Booster/Administrative Support: It’s no great secret that Leach and his athletic director aren’t great chums. But Leach won the war of public opinion in a recent contract dispute, and let’s just say wasn’t the proletariat that turned the tide, but the Tech bourgeoisie. The Red Raiders just finished a $84 million renovation to Jones Stadium.

    Media/Fan Expectation: Leach seems to win eight every year – 11 in 2008 – and fans don’t seem too riled up if he can’t win the big games, which he rarely does. He’s brought more publicity to Lubbock than anyone since Buddy Holly. Yeah, even more than Bob Knight.They love the big pirate-lovin lug.

    Chance of “Success:” Every four years or so, Tech might be able to climb that national title mountain like it did in 2008. Otherwise, since fans seem content with nine wins and a fun offense each year – and the Wes Welkers and Michael Crabtrees of the world are still willing to enroll – chances are pretty good, we’d say.

    “X” Factor: Leach makes this job easier for himself, because Leach is Texas Tech. We pity, really, the coach who must follow him.

    Tags: big 12 football, mark mangino, bob stoops, mike sherman, mike leach, bill snyder, mack brown

  16. 2009 Mar 05

    The early word this spring from Schooner Land is...


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    OU might have a quarterback who surpasses even Sam Bradford. Locker Pass is here to tell you about him and the Sooners' shiny new running back, too!

    Tags: locker pass, big 12 spring lowdown, oklahoma, bob stoops

  17. 2008 Oct 27

    Stoops Talks Pelini, Huskers


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops has too much tunnel vision to dwell on the fact that he’s coaching against childhood buddy Bo Pelini when OU takes on Nebraska this Saturday in Norman.

    But there was a moment last summer, when Stoops and
    Pelini were at a coaching clinic in their hometown of
    Youngstown, Ohio, that he just had to chuckle.

    “Bo and I were just hanging out with everybody,” Stoops said in Monday’s Big 12 Teleconference, “and we said, ‘isn’t it ironic two guys from the south side of Youngstown end up coaching, hell, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and the rivalry that it is?’ It’s just unusual.”

    Now focused on the task at hand, Stoops said “it’s never exciting going against your friends” and OU-NU rivalry than his friendship with Pelini, who served as co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 2004.

    “This game’s about a lot more than he and I,” Stoops said. “It’s been going on for a long time and it’ll be going on for a long time after us. I don’t take anything in my business as personal. It’s all about programs and teams.”

    Because of that, Stoops said, he’ll spend time this week reminding his players of the game’s history, the magnitude of which has been diminished since the inception of the Big 12 Conference and the splitting of Nebraska and Oklahoma into separate divisions.

    Stoops already runs clips of the rivalry during two-a-days in fall camp. But the Huskers and Sooners haven’t tangled since the 2006 Big 12 Championship game, nearly two years ago.

    “I believe our older players have seen it enough but you have to keep reminding them,” Stoops said. “It’s funny how young guys and kids are. History is the last couple of years to them sometimes. We do our best to educate them. We’ll talk about it and make sure they’re aware.”

    Stoops said the Cornhuskers look better after eight games under Pelini.

    “Defensively they’re just different in the way they play,” he said. “That’s been noticeable for sure. You see them playing hard, defensively. You see them very sound in what they’re doing.”

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    Tags: bob stoops, oklahoma week

  18. 2008 Oct 12

    Big 12 Rankings, Week Seven


    By SMcKewon

    Blog post image

    No. 1 Texas (6-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big 12, Beat Oklahoma 45-35) The Longhorns are, for now, the league’s most complete team, led by the league’s best-named quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy made several crucial plays in the win over OU, converting third downs into first downs with his arm and legs. UT’s defense struggles a little against skilled passing attacks, but the Sooners quickly abandoned the running game because it was having little success.

    Remember this game, folks. This could be the moment when Texas officially surpasses Oklahoma as the premier program in the Big 12. UT has won 3 of the last 6 meetings and it has been better in bowl games. Stoops has run this league for eight years. His reign might just be over.

    No. 2 Oklahoma State (6-0, 2-0 Beat Missouri 28-23) Surprise, surprise – it was the Cowboys’ talented-but-maligned defense, not their offense, that secured the biggest OSU victory in, well, some time. Oklahoma State’s offense is indeed diverse, and running back Kendall Hunter is absolutely the league’s best. But that defense has two or three athletes that Nebraska simply lacks. That’s the difference between Chase Daniel coasting along in Lincoln, and getting flushed and frustrated at home.

    No. 3 Oklahoma (5-1, 1-1, Lost to Texas 45-35) The Sooners have their terrible defensive game out of their system. Now it’s time to head to Kansas, where the Jayhawks run a strikingly similar offense and boast a fairly stingy defense. Once again, OU Coach Bob Stoops revealed his relative lack of belief in his own defense to stop an opponent when he tried a fake punt. At some point, one must ask: Why does Oklahoma, with arguably the most talent in college football, consistently have a “meltdown” game year after year?

    No. 4 Missouri (5-1, 1-1, Lost to Oklahoma State 28-23) What has to kill the Tigers is that OSU didn’t play near its best game on offense. Nope, Mizzou lost this puppy all on its own, as quarterback Chase Daniel came out cold and forced too many balls in the second half. This game was a monumental choke by Daniel and Missouri’s “unstoppable” offense. But the Tigers aren’t out of it; beat Texas this week (and it is possible) and Mizzou puts itself right back in the national championship conversation.

    No. 5 Texas Tech (6-0, 2-0, Beat Nebraska 37-31) Same old Red Raiders, relying on smoke, mirrors and a few whacky West Texas plays to mask over a smallish, undisciplined defense. Tech has a whole fleet of offensive weapons, though. I was especially impressed with slippery running back Baron Batch. Graham Harrell’s not bad, but if you put pressure on him, he’ll screw up.

    No. 6 Kansas (5-1, 2-0, Beat Colorado 30-14) KU’s won two games it was supposed to win. Neither were very pretty, but the Jayhawks did begin to find their running game against the Buffs, as junior Jake Sharp went over 100 yards on the ground. Todd Reesing’s still Todd Reesing, which means Kansas is never out of a game. Even against Oklahoma.

    No. 7 Baylor (3-3, 1-1, Beat Iowa State 38-10) In truth, Nebraska played well enough to inhabit this spot – until Baylor put a major number on a game Cyclones bunch. ISU probably suffered a letdown after two heartbreaking losses and quarterback Phillip Bates quitting the team, but, still – BU quarterback Robert Griffin is ahead of the breakneck pace Vince Young set a few years ago. And Griffin is in the right offense. Baylor has a real shot at a bowl game.

    No. 8 Nebraska (3-3, 0-2, Lost to Texas Tech 37-31) The Huskers flashed some of the potential we thought they had, but they couldn’t close the crucial deal in Lubbock. NU should win by 10 or more in Ames next week – emphasis on should.

    No. 9 Kansas State (4-2, 1-1, Beat Texas A&M 44-30) KSU gave up another 500 yards to an opposing offense, but the pathetic A&M has no defense of its own. Kansas State’s not winning another game in the Big 12 with that kind of defense.

    No. 10 Colorado (3-3, 0-2, Lost to Kansas 30-14) I’ve soured on this team. CU only mounts two or three good drives a game, and the Buffs are handicapped by the coach’s son, quarterback Cody Hawkins, who isn’t mobile enough to run the shotgun spread offense. The Buffs play fair defense, but rarely for four quarters.

    No. 11 Iowa State (2-4, 0-2, Lost to Baylor 38-10) ISU took a step back in Waco, and have to regroup quickly for a desperate, newly confident Nebraska team.

    No. 12 Texas A&M (2-4, 0-2, Lost to Kansas State 44-30) Knock knock. Who’s there? Fire. Fire who? Fire Mike Sherman.

    Tags: big 12, texas, oklahoma, bob stoops, fire mike sherman, cody hawkins

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