Big news dominates Big 12 on Monday
Monday marked a day full of big news for the Big 12 Conference, which learned about a key injury to one of the conference's best players, heard a head coach laugh at the mention that he's a candidate for another high-profile job that came open suddenly and saw the dismissal, at another school, of a former consensus coach of the year.
Here's the scoop:
• Baylor learned over the weekend that starting quarterback Seth Russell, who was putting together a masterful season, would miss the rest of the Bears' run toward a berth in the College Football Playoff because of damage to the cervical vertebra in his neck. Russell will have surgery in the near future and recovery time is expected to be in the six-month range.
The injury leaves the Bears with true freshman Jarrett Stidham under center, but that might not be as scary as it sounds. Stidham has played in every game this season and completed 85.7 percent of his passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns. As you might expect, he was a five-star recruit, and KU coach David Beaty remembered recruiting him to Texas A&M before he took the job at Kansas.
"Jarrett and (A&M freshman) Kyler Murray were two of the best high school quarterback evaluations I've ever seen," Beaty said. "Both of those kids, we've seen throw since they were young guys, and this kid, Stidham, from a fundamental standpoint and a quarterback mechanics standpoint, man, he's as good as I've seen. He's very efficient, I love his motion and the guy makes great decisions. You can tell he's a bright kid. Baylor is in really good hands."
• Speaking of Kansas head coaches, one former KU boss got his walking papers on Monday, when it was revealed that Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads had fired offensive coordinator Mark Mangino in his second year with the Cyclones. Mangino's firing, which Rhoads said was the result of the two not being able to "get on the same page on a couple of important items," created an abrupt end to Mangino's return to the Big 12.
"We tried to talk that through again this morning in an effort to get us moving in a different direction," Rhoads said during a news conference. "In the end, Mark was not interested in that. I wish that wasn't the case, but I respect and understand his conviction."
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, citing sources, reported that the differences between Rhoads and Mangino had been building for some time over play selection and personnel usage, and that the parting wasn't related to a single or isolated incident.
It will be interesting to see where Mangino lands from here, but don't expect it to be at Kansas in any capacity. If KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger had any interest in bringing Mangino back to Lawrence — even in a supporting role — he has had a couple of opportunities in the recent past to do it and passed both times.
• Isn't it funny how quickly things can turn. Just a few weeks after feeling his seat catch fire, Texas coach Charlie Strong is now laughing off rumors of his name being tossed around as the replacement for Al Golden at the University of Miami, Florida. Golden was fired this week, creating the opening, and Strong, whose Longhorns have won back-to-back games — including a huge upset over Red River rival Oklahoma — after starting the season losing four of five, suddenly looks like he has things rolling in Austin. If that's the case, you can bet the second-year UT coach is going to stay right there. "I have the best job in the country," Strong said on Monday morning's teleconference.