Tag Archives: Big 12

Vincent’s All-Time Big 12 Skill Position Team

Editor’s Note: AH. Sorry I’m so late. Vincent was out enjoying his time in Big 12 Country (i.e. Austin, TX) where he took in South Commerce and a ton of Torchy’s tacos. Results may be biased toward the Longhorns as a result.

Quarterback: Vince Young (Texas)

Offenses have gotten really crazy|sexy|cool as of late and QB statistics have been a major beneficiary. I’ve always placed Vince Young at the mountain top of Big 12 QBs but a look at QB play since VY reveals stats that don’t dwarf Young’s accomplishments, but pull him back into the pack. As great as VY was, it is his immediate successor, Colt McCoy, who holds the majority of UT’s passing records. Add in Sam Bradford and RGIII’s Heisman winning seasons and you’ve got a crowded race for the best QB in the Big 12. Sometimes, though, statistics take a backseat to impression. Of course, the nature of this column is to pick my favorite QB in the Big 12, not to pick the best QB in the Big 12 according to some quasi-pseudo objective standard. What Vince Young did in the 2006 Rose Bowl still stands, in my mind, as the most dominant performance I’ve ever witnessed. I was kind of a fledgling college football fan in 2005-06 and that game was a major reason why I was reeled in for good.

Running Back: Marcus Dupree

Can hype really destroy an athlete? It’s hard to separate between actual and implied causality when sports media is so eager to make a case for the affirmative. Before Johnny Manziel dealt with the pressures of notoriety, Marcus Dupree was the test tube of pressure. Dupree’s story is captured in both Willie Morris’s The Courting of Marcus Dupree and Jonathon Hock’s 30 for 30 entry The Best that Never Was, both of which shed light on the Wild West days of college recruiting. Dupree’s Fiesta Bowl game, where he showed up overweight and ran for a record 239 yards on 17 carries and still got reamed by Barry Switzer, is one of my favorite stories in sports because it challenges so much of what we think good athletes should be or do. Dupree’s football career sadly unraveled after that game, a unfortunate or poetic circumstance, depending on how you looked at it (I tend to look at the former). But for being, truly, man, myth, and legend, you’ve got a spot on the team, Marcus.

Wide Receiver: Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech)

VY’s Rose Bowl game was a sustained stretch of dominance. If you asked me what the beastliest individual play I had ever seen was though, it was undoubtedly Michael Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown against Texas in 2008. With 8 seconds left on the clock, you might think Crabtree would sprint out of bounds to get another play in. I think the two Longhorn DBs though that too. Instead, Crabtree decided to win the game then and there for the Red Raiders.

Wide Receiver: Jordan Shipley (Texas)

Jordan Shipley had a fantastic career as a Longhorn, but really, the reason why he’s on this list is because of those sweet white arm bands/tourniquets that him and the other Texas receivers wore all the time. I never really understood what they were for but form far surpasses function in this case. So Jordan Shipley, due to your abundance of elbow swag, welcome to the team.

Tight End: Trey Millard (Oklahoma)

Millard, I guess? He’s more of an H-Back, but I’ll put him in the TE spot for my all-time list. Not too many notable TEs in the Big 12; I thought about guys like Jermaine Gresham or Chase Coffman, but honestly, I remember everything else going on in their offense a lot more than their contributions to them. Millard takes the spot thanks to this bad ass jump truck move he sprung on some unsuspecting Texas defenders last year

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Matt’s Favorite of the Big 12: West Virginia

by Matt Waller

WVU

Image courtesy of Flickr user pcscheid

After what I wrote yesterday regarding Kansas State’s inferiority complex and some of its fans’ attempts to deflect negative stereotypes onto West Virginia, it should be no surprise that today I’m picking West Virginia as my favorite team in the Big 12. It’s a no brainer. I grew up in West Virginia during the tail end of the Nehlen era and almost the entirety of the Rich Rod era. It was a solid stretch for the WVU program. After high school, I left West Virginia to attend Notre Dame. Some West Virginians actually consider this an unforgivable breach of loyalty and identity, and I’ve talked to people who’ve told me I can never be considered a “true” WVU fan again. That’s fine, I guess — I’m still allowed to shotgun Natty Lights in the Blue Lot when I make it back to Morgantown, right? Regardless of how I’m viewed by those back home who consider me a traitor, I’ll still be preaching the Gospel According to Dana here in Chicago to anyone who’ll listen.

What’s great about being a WVU fan? First, drinking. That goes without saying and requires no elaboration.

But being a WVU fan and seeing WVU succeed on the field is also something that gives many West Virginians, and I certainly include myself here, an unmatched sense of pride in the state. Sure, the vast majority of the roster is made up of kids from Florida, Texas, and other states (though in the rare cases where a West Virginian plays a notable role on the team, he becomes a veritable folk-hero-Mountaineer-demigod, and rightfully so). But the fact is that these out-of-state players come to WVU and knowingly choose to represent the state of West Virginia (Is it naive of me to think that? Probably, but whatever.); once a player gets to Morgantown, the state considers him a de facto West Virginian, and that’s that. We’re talking instant first-name basis familiarity.  Stedman, Tavon, and Geno may as well have grown up in Parkersburg, Clarksburg, and Martinsburg (rather than Miramar and Baltimore).

It’s odd (and maybe sad, I’m not sure), but the West Virginia athletic program is currently one of the only vehicles through which the state is able to garner positive national attention for itself on a regular basis (though of course, the program gets its fair share of negative attention as well). Ask someone from outside of West Virginia to tell you something positive about the state, and the answer will likely involve Pat White, Steve Slaton, or Major Harris. (The answer is not likely to involve education, median income, or health.) In addition to living with the real shortcomings of the current state of affairs in WV (and they are manifold, to be sure), West Virginians — both current residents and expats — also have to deal with outsiders’ imagined notions of the state. This basically involves having to prove to people  that you still have teeth and that you are able to read, and it often involves saying, “No, I have never met the banjo kid from Deliverance, and did you know that that movie/novel is actually set in Georgia?” That’s what happens when a.) a state has a certain historical reputation, and b.) people have little incentive to visit the state and be proven otherwise. So it goes.

All of that isn’t to say that all West Virginians actually care about outside perceptions; I can assure you that many don’t (this is paradoxically a great strength and a major weakness of the state as a whole). But still, the “backward” image persists and the stereotypes prevail, and autumn Saturdays give West Virginia — and West Virginians — a rare opportunity for superiority on the national stage. West Virginia football brings the state (excepting Marshall fans) together in a way that little else does. Most West Virginians are fiercely independent, skeptical, and even cynical (there’s no sense in trying to romanticize it any other way). But Saturdays in the fall bring everyone from Bluefield to Wheeling together in the hopes that their team will deliver the blows on behalf of a state so used to receiving them.

Oh yeah, there’s also Dana Holgerson and one of the most exciting offenses in college football. There’s also the fact that WVU has won three BCS bowls over major programs (Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson). There’s also the legendary Quincy Wilson touchdown against Miami in 2002 (see below), which is one of my greatest football memories ever. I could go on for a while, but I think I’ll go drink a beer and watch some highlights.

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Vincent’s Favorite in the Big 12: Baylor

by Vincent Kwan

This is nominally a post about Baylor Football, but as you’ll find out as your read on, it’s more accurately a love letter to Baylor head coach Art Briles. Unlike the PAC 12, where I struggled to find teams that I truly liked (or had any strong feelings for), the Big 12 is home to three of my favorite coaching personalities in the college football: Briles, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury and WVU’s Dana Holgorsen. Being Matt’s team of choice, I’ll leave it to Matt to do more Justice to WVU than I ever could.

That leaves us with Kingsbury and Briles. For the sake of this post, lets imagine these two at a Crossfit gym together. It’s not hard – if you’ve ever been in one, you’ve either got young power yuppies who look like Kingsbury or older dudes like Briles with their old man strength. Holgorsen, for good measure, is outside drinking a pint of Four Roses while doing bicep curls over his Trans Am.

Kingsbury’s eager to please, talking about the additional benefits of his Vibram Five Fingers and preaching the gospel of the Paleo diet. You stare at him from afar, with one part envy, one part sexually confusing attraction, and two parts pure seething hatred. You see him load up another plate on to the bar and think “God, I hope that douchebag falls on his ass,” but he doesn’t, finishing his set with perfect form. Later in the night, he’ll probably scoop in and take the girl you were eyeing at the bar. Initially, you’re angry, but then you realize a simple truth — there are those of us who are blessed with GQSWAGGERHOLLYWOOD status and there are those of us who are not. Who are we to hate on the Heisman-tutelage and Ryan Gosling looks of those more fortunate than us?

While you’ve been working out latent self-esteem issues thinking about Kingsbury, Briles has long finished his workout. As he walks out, he turns your way and says goodbye, pulling out his earbuds and revealing that he’s been listening to Young Jeezy this entire time. Slowly, you turn off your iPod that’s been playing that Ariana Grande song on repeat, hiding your shame. You slowly approach Briles and ask him what the secret to it all is, and he simply says “so what was, ain’t. It’s done.” You’re not entirely sure what transpired here, but next thing you know, you’re wearing green and gold and writing a check for a new Baylor stadium.

Kingsbury’s return to Lubbock echoes Briles’s return to Houston years ago, where he lead his alma mater to renewed relevance largely under the hot hand of Kevin Kolb. Now, the great question facing Kingsbury is whether or not his rising star was propelled solely by the prowess of his prized pupil, Johnny Manizel. When Robert Griffin III left for the NFL, Briles faced the same question and answered brilliantly, using holdover Nick Florence to lead the 11th best offense in the country (only a drop off of 6 spots from the previous, RG III-led year). Football Study Hall committed a two-part series on the Baylor offense, explaining the many ways it can hurt you and offering limited solutions on defense in return. The aerial assault of Briles’ Baylor teams belies the fact that Briles offers more flexibility than you would think. As discussed in Spencer Hall’s interview with Briles, Baylor’s demolishing of UCLA in the Holiday Bowl last season featured only 12 passes from Nick Florence, who had just posted a season of comparable quality to his Heisman predecessor. It makes you think twice about Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk’s boasting about the Heisman – there’s just enough grain of truth there to stop you from betting short on it all the way. Briles is an old hand at swaggerin‘, Kingsbury’s just working his way up to it.

Who knows if Baylor can play enough defense to get out of the Big 12’s middle tier. If they can poach the best talent that the Longhorn state has to offer on both sides of the ball, maybe you might see a more complete Baylor team take the field. But then again, would you complain if you had to watch this again? Art Briles is a craftsman, solely dedicated to building the purest spread. We shouldn’t ask for too much more than that.

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Matt’s Least Favorite of the Big 12: Kansas State

Editor’s Note: Another week, another conference. This time, Matt and Vincent talk about favorites and least favorites in the Big 12.

By Matt Waller

Having grown up in West Virginia and been a lifelong WVU fan, most of my WVU-related hatred (which is different from my ND-related hatred; more on that in the Big 10 week) is reserved for old Big East rivals, namely Pitt and Virginia Tech. But now that WVU is in the Big 12, new rivalries will emerge. Since WVU is so geographically removed from the rest of the conference, its new rivalries will develop based on something other than geographic proximity, unlike what happened in the Big East with the Pitt and VT rivalries. What will spur the new rivalries? And who is emerging as a potential new rival? My vote for the new rival is Kansas State, because I think KSU sees a little too much of itself in the tired stereotypes about WVU and is responding by directing a bunch of hate WVU’s way. Looking at some comments from the KSU fanbase on the fan forum www.goemaw.com (it seems like a real font of wisdom) leading up to last year’s game against WVU (see below: click the image and then enlarge it to make it readable), I’ve gotta say: KSU, thou doth protest too much.

I know it’s rash to generalize about an entire school based on the comments of some select idiot fans in an online forum, but in this case, I couldn’t help it. The comments in the screenshot below have officially made Kansas State my least favorite team in the Big 12. To quickly summarize the comment thread: the original poster wonders if Kansas State traveling to Morgantown to play WVU will irreparably tarnish KSU’s image, now that KSU has “spent far too many years building it up to be in line with the notre dame and alabamas of the world” (I can’t tell if this is a serious comment or not, considering it took Big 12 games being shown on FX to get KSU anything resembling consistent airtime…). What results a pretty massive troll-job involving a series of comments in which KSU fans decry WVU in an attempt to defend their own notions of KSU as an elite program (“I say let’s give them a break. They’ve never played anyone as elite as us before.” Note: In the prior seven seasons, WVU had won three BCS bowls, against Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson.) and elite academic institution. The comments are, of course, full of the usual stereotypes: toothless hillbillies, poor, drug addicted, etc. It’s hard to tell who is being serious and who isn’t being serious in their comments, but it’s pretty absurd nonetheless.

K-State_message_board

Could it be, though, that Kansas State fans realize that their own town/program/fanbase/school have reputations very similar to WVU’s and, correspondingly, they need to deflect those ideas onto someone else? That’d be my guess (this post gives a quick summary of the irony involved in this whole thing). Both KSU and WVU are located in small, out-of-the way towns; neither school is academically remarkable; both programs are fairly new to the “elite” ranks of college football (though WVU, unfortunately, appears to be falling out of that category pretty quickly)  and are concerned with how to project themselves; both too often end up being the butt of jokes. So, perhaps a new rivalry will be defined by a shared loathing arising from each school seeing the worst of itself in the other. I’m sure that, like WVU fans, most KSU fans are decent, respectful people whose reputation gets sullied by the actions of just a few. I’ll also add that I very much respect what Bill Stewart has done to establish KSU as a legit college football program. Either way, unless something changes dramatically, KSU has earned its place as my least favorite team in the Big 12. And I must say, it feels good to have someone to replace Pitt in my ranks of the disliked.

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Beginning Next Week: The Commutes College Football Extravaganza

College Football

Courtesy of Flickr user starmanseries

Believe it or not, we have only five full weeks left until the first college football weekend of 2013. Before long, we’ll all be able to feel normal about drinking at 9:00 AM on Saturdays again. To help pass the five weeks until that glorious day, The Commutes will publish a five-week series of posts about college football, with each week focusing on a particular major conference (Pac 12, Big 12, ACC, SEC, Big 10). As most of our writers are fans of an independent program, we figured it’d be fun to offer our outsiders’ views on each conference.

Each Monday through Thursday will feature our writers’ takes on a different topic related to the conference:

  • Monday — Least favorite team/school in the conference. Everyone has that team they hate in a particular conference, whether for a good reason or not. Didn’t get in to school there? Got arrested there? Hating on schools is fun, especially when you’ve got a case of the Mondays.

  • Tuesday — Favorite team/school in the conference. Even if you’re a fan of an independent team, you usually have a crush on some other teams and like a little something on the side.

  • Wednesday — All-Time Conference Skill Position Team (1 QB, 1 RB, 1 TE, and 2 WRs). The purpose of this isn’t to pick the best group of skill position players in the history of the conference, but to pick favorites or just throw together an interesting group of players. Jamal Lewis, Matt Jones, and Aaron Hernandez on the same team? It’d be like Urban Meyer’s all-time dream team of crime. Anything is possible.

  • Thursday — Free-for-all. These posts can be about anything and everything relating to the conference.

We’ll be starting next Monday with the Pac 12, the conference-we-want-to-get-out-of-the-way-because-no-one-actually-gives-a-shit-about-it.

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