By KEVIN LONNQUIST
Big 12 Insider
So at RattleandHumSports, we thought it might be a good time to take a look at the highlights of the season with superlatives and noteworthy accomplishments. This is going to look a lot like the all-Big 12 team that the coaches just released and many others. But then again, the accomplishments speak for themselves.
Player of the Year – Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State Sr.: He is a finalist for the 78th Heisman Trophy that will be presented on Saturday at New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club. That should tell you all you need to know. In Kansas State’s five games against ranked opponents, Klein welcomed the challenge and flourished. He rushed for 10 touchdowns, passed for six others and threw only one interception. Klein led the Wildcats to a share of the Big 12 title, but the Wildcats earned the automatic berth to the BCS and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl because of their win at Oklahoma. He threw for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 890 yards and a conference-best 22 scores. His Heisman hopes may have been derailed by the three interceptions he threw in the loss at Baylor. However, look at the entire resume, and there really isn’t another worthy of this honor.
Honorable mention: West Virginia QB Geno Smith, who threw for 4,004 yards and 40 touchdowns. Baylor QB Nick Florence, who led the country in yards per game at 387.7 ypg. Oklahoma QB Landry Jones, who became the Big 12’s all-time leader in passing yards and total offense.
Coach of the Year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State. He was selected by his peers for this award for the fourth time overall and for the second consecutive season. He really maximized this team’s abilities by making sure it was always prepared. And when this group didn’t play well, it still found a way to win. In fact, in mid-November, this team climbed to No. 1 in the BCS ratings. There was the hiccup at Baylor, but only one team not on probation (Notre Dame) didn’t lose a game this year. You can bet that the 27 seniors on this team will always remember their time with him.
Honorable mention: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy guided his program to a bowl by starting three different quarterbacks. TCU coach Gary Patterson found a way to get this team to a bowl despite losing 21 players from the roster since February, including starting quarterback Casey Pachall.
Biggest surprise – Kansas State. I said this in late October, and that won’t change in early December. If you had the Wildcats as your Big 12 conference BCS representative, then you knew something the rest of us didn’t. The early attention went to Oklahoma (the Sooners shared the conference championship) and West Virginia and many Big 12 pundits considered the Wildcats a middle-of-the-pack squad. I know I did. All of the accolades deserve to go to Klein and Big 12 defensive player of the year in linebacker Arthur Brown, but great teams don’t beat themselves. The Wildcats were the least penalized team in the conference (42) and led in turnover ratio (+21).
Honorable mention: Baylor. Left for dead in the middle of the season and labeled the biggest disappointment through the first half, the Bears rebounded and reached a bowl by winning four of their last five. Improved defense and a surge in the running game made the difference.
Biggest disappointment – West Virginia. The Mountaineers were preseason No. 2 in the conference rankings because of quarterback Geno Smith and WR Tavon Austin. Of course, everybody thought the questions about the defense could be overcome. But that really turned into the problem. When the Mountaineers were slammed at Texas Tech, 49-14, on Oct. 13, it triggered a five-game losing streak. West Virginia’s pass defense was the worst in the conference, allowing 327.1 yards per game and collecting only nine interceptions.
Honorable mention: Texas pretty much had a “meh” season throughout. No impressive wins. Very disappointing losses. No consistent quarterback play from either David Ash or Case McCoy. While season-ending injuries to DE Jackson Jeffcoat and LB Jordan Hicks hurt, there were signs of rushing defense problems even when they were in there. Texas was worst in the league at 198.8 yards allowed per game.
Newcomer of the Year – Devonte Fields, DL, TCU, Fr.: All you need to know about how special he was occurred in the opening series of the Kansas State game. He dropped into pass coverage and came up with an interception. Fields has the ability to turn into one of the legendary players in this conference. He finished second in the conference in sacks with nine and led with 17½ tackles for loss.
Honorable mention: Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk, who basically rushed for about 750 of his 874 yards in the last five games of the regular season.
Game of the Year – Oklahoma 51, Oklahoma State 48 (OT), Nov. 24, Owen Field, Norman, OK - It came down to the last four seconds in regulation when Blake Bell scored on a four-yard run to force overtime. The Sooners, who never led in regulation, won the game in the extra period on Brennan Clay’s 18-yard run. Quarterback Landry Jones set school records in attempts (71) and completions (46) and wound up becoming the Big 12’s all-time leading passer.
Honorable mention – West Virginia 70, Baylor 63 - The offensive execution was extraordinary as the teams combined for 1,507 yards. Texas Tech 56, TCU 53 (3 OT) because the drama, from TCU scoring 10 points in the final four minutes of regulation to the three overtimes, was just too much fun.
BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS
Each week, RattleandHumSports unveils its weekly power rankings. Agree or disagree, these make for great water cooler talk. We will have one more following the bowls.
1.Kansas State (11-1, 8-1) – A magical season culminates in a BCS berth.
2. Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1) – The Sooners lived on the edge for the final three weeks.
3. TCU (7-5, 4-5) – This team is very close to contending for the 2013 Big 12 title.
4. Baylor (7-5, 4-5) – The Bears led the Big 12 in rushing offense (225.5).
5. Texas (8-4, 5-4) – Never has a program had done so little with so much talent.
6. Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4) – Cowboys only surrendered 10 sacks.
7. West Virginia (7-5, 5-4) – Tavon Austin at RB became entertaining football.
8. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5) – Red Raiders lost four of their last five.
9. Iowa State (6-6, 3-6) – In QB Sam B. Richardson we trust.
10. Kansas (1-11, 0-9) – While they struggled, they have hope for 2013.
NEWS & NOTES
Let there be peace at OSU?
When the rift between Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and athletic director Mike Holder became public, it really could create some tense times in Stillwater, OK. That depends on who lasts longer.
Gundy’s connection with the Arkansas and Tennessee openings were, in part, a product of what has transpired in this apparent fractured relationship. Gundy reportedly has been upset over his lack of control over forming the non-conference schedule and other monetary matters that involve the football program.
In 48 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday, reports surfaced that Gundy had been offered and accepted the Arkansas job – before that was dispelled – to being offered and declining the Tennessee job.
If this was a power play by Gundy to see if Holder, who is basically OSU influential booster T. Boone Pickens’ chosen one, it’s too early to tell. We should know in the coming months if this will allow Gundy, OSU’s all-time winningest coach, to wrestle more control of some of the day-to-day operations. After all, Gundy led the program to its first BCS appearance in 2011 and arguably did his best job in 2012 by winning seven games with Clint Chelf, Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh as his starting quarterbacks.
All you have to do is have your name connected to an opening and your employer will jump. Few know how serious Baylor coach Art Briles was about the Arkansas job.
Regardless, Baylor AD Ian McCaw rewarded Briles to another contract extension for the second consecutive season. Terms weren’t disclosed but a recent USA Today report on coaching salaries shows Briles’ base salary to be at $2.2 million. It’s thought the new salary will be substantially higher.
It would have been hard to see Briles leave. One of his objectives when he came to Waco was to have an on-campus facility built. The $250 million Baylor Stadium should be ready for the 2014 season. Baylor is also playing in school-record third consecutive bowl game and playing in its first bowl out of state in 21 years.
While Georgia Tech officials continue to deny they are looking at bolting the ACC to the Big 10, that’s furthered the speculation that Florida State and Clemson might be ready to leave for the Big 12. In fact, there was a report that Big 12 would be adding FSU as early as Friday.
However, Florida State’s Rivals affiliate said there have not been discussions between the two sides. What may be something to watch is how the ACC’s lawsuit with Maryland and the $52 million exit fee is resolved. Maryland is joining the Big 10 in 2014.
BY THE NUMBER
The number of losses by the Big 12 to teams that were not bowl eligible.