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Monday, May 4, 2009

Big 12 South will remain football juggernaut

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) is pursued by Missouri defender Ziggy Hood, right, during the first quarter of their NCAA football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. Texas' Charlie Tanner assists on the play.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (12) is pursued by Missouri defender Ziggy Hood, right, during the first quarter of their NCAA football game in Austin, Texas, Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. Texas' Charlie Tanner assists on the play.

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— Don’t expect too many changes in Big 12 South football this fall.

When the dust settled last season, Texas was fourth in the final Associated Press poll with a 12-1 record, Oklahoma (12-2) was fifth and runner-up to Florida in the national championship game, Texas Tech (11-2) finished 12th, and Oklahoma State (9-4) was 16th. Those four schools have the bulk of their talent returning next fall.

With the resurgence of Baylor and with Texas A&M; expected to improve, the Big 12 South is shaping up to be as tough as it ever has been.

“I’m guessing that there’s probably going to be at least four teams in the Top 20 and maybe three of them in the Top 10,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “So I’m guessing it’s going to be pretty tough.”

Gundy has heard cries from other coaches about how difficult it is to survive in, say, the Southeastern Conference. Now he truly understands their plight.

“But the difference is when you play in this division and this league, you have to be ready to play each week,” Gundy said. “You have to get your players prepared to play a Texas, and then if you win, then you better get them ready Tuesday to practice to get ready to play an Oklahoma or a Texas Tech or whoever it may be.

“And that’s the most difficult part, in my opinion, as a coach is to continue to take these men and get them to play at a high level each week. So I don’t think there’s any question it’s a difficult league, but that’s a good thing.”

What will make the Big 12 South so challenging this fall is that every team except Texas Tech has a returning starting quarterback.

Two of those quarterbacks — Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Texas’ Colt McCoy — finished one-two in last year’s Heisman Trophy voting, with Bradford also claiming the Davey O’Brien Award.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops says the Big 12 South could be the toughest division in the nation.

“I think it probably was as well a year ago,” Stoops said. “And with so many experienced quarterbacks and big-play guys that are back, then you can see where you’ve got a legitimate (claim) there.”

Tech coach Mike Leach, who has groomed Taylor Potts to replace three-year starting quarterback Graham Harrell, agreed.

“I think the fact that good quarterbacks are back is a big key because it provides a level of leadership,” Leach said. “And I think that leadership through the summer allows you to get really good, solid, productive work.”

Baylor is excited to build around fleet-footed quarterback Robert Griffin, who was named a first-team freshman All-American. Still the Bears went just 4-8 last season.

“We felt like, arguably, the South is the toughest division in America, and I don’t think that’s shocking anybody saying that,” Bears coach Art Briles said. “We need to be a part of it; we don’t need to just be a member and say, ’Hey, we’re in the South.’

“I think we need to be a player. If you’re going to play football, if you’re going to do whatever you do, do it against the best.”

Comments

Ted Toulouse 10 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm. That should make it even sweeter when us "yankees" up in the North knock off a few of the over-bloated cash-cows of the conference. Looking forward to the challenge :)

William James 10 years, 8 months ago

This is just ridiculous. If this is the best division in America, try winning a few bowl games. These guys are total homers and live in a fantasy world. At very best, this is the 3d best division in America because both SEC divisions are better. If ya need a reference check their bowl resume over the last 3 years. I'm not even an SEC guy, and this annoys me. If your gonna run your mouth about how great you are(Bob Stoops), back it up when your playing the best.

tulsahawkfan 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree Fabio. What did this 'best' division do last bowl season? Texas was the only one with a win. Tech and Okie St both were embarrassed and Oklahoma lost yet again. Beat the big boys of the SEC before crowning yourselves.

K_Easthouse 10 years, 8 months ago

Fabio and tulsa, I think the reference is that this year the Big 12 South will be tough. This isn't talking about the historical context of the SEC or any other conference. The article plainly states that this year will be tough, given the returning talent and highly-ranked teams coming from the division.

Yes, the Big 12 bowl record is not stellar in recent history. At the very least, though, the regular season will prove as brutal as any in college football for those teams in the South.

It does give the opening for KU - the preseason Big 12 North favorite - top slide into the automatic BCS bid. But I doubt KU will get in with the division so loaded down south unless they win the Big 12 outright.

William James 10 years, 8 months ago

Point taken on the article. The issue I've got is the coaches saying they are the best division in the country this year, as well as last year. Absolutely ridiculous. Everyone with any sense, or a memory of a few months, knows the Big 12 South cant touch the SEC. Bob Stoops gets spanked every year in January and here he goes again running his mouth a few months later. A very good division, but to say its the best in America is laughable.

tulsahawkfan 10 years, 8 months ago

Actually I was referring to the Stoops quote saying it was the toughest division a year ago. Not slamming the article. He wasn't the only one touting it as the toughest division in football last year either.

Jared Grillot 10 years, 8 months ago

Just makes me want to win even more! Can't wait for kickoff!

Eurekahwk 10 years, 8 months ago

We have at least gotten to the point where we are competitive with them, but we need their level of talent to get it over the top. We can't get that talent, because they aren't impressed with 50,000 people disguised as empty seats in the 4th quarter. We may get one or two guys who can play with OU and Tex, but all across the board it is just too much. Especially when we are also playing against refs who are very liberal with their ball spots and reception calls for those schools. Those teams are hard enough to stop on defense without them only having to pick up eight or nine yards to get the first down.

Well, here's to getting that win over the Sooners in front of a raucous Memorial Stadium. And when I mean raucous, I mean they better make that 03 Mizzou game seem like a monastery! I will be there, and I expect to march goalposts down to Potter.

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