1. Well, the Texas Longhorns better hope they can successfully flip 5-star QB Kyler Murray (#1 dual-threat QB) from Texas A&M. The Longhorns lost 4-star commit Zach Gentry (#8 pro-style QB) to Jim Harbaugh and Michigan last week. That leaves them without a quarterback commit for the 2015 class. With their current QB situation on campus, that’s a potential disaster for Charlie Strong and his staff.
As time goes on, it seems more and more likely that Murray could land in Austin. First off, the job is easier to capture, sooner, at Texas. A&M looks to be set with Kyle Allen going forward. Meantime, following the up and down season of Tyrone Swoopes, the Longhorns are still searching for their answer at QB. Also, might Murray want to forge his own path? His father was an Aggie. There’s plenty left to find out, but Strong and his staff are making a strong push.
2. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops has yet to fill out two positions on his staff. It’d be the first time in five years, and only the third of his tenure at OU, that he won’t have a full, nine-man coaching staff when he announces his new recruiting class next week. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a huge deal. Recruits know Stoops is highly unlikely to leave (whether OU fans like to hear it or not). And now with a new offensive coordinator in Lincoln Riley, he is set in stone for the foreseeable future. Plus, despite his struggles in 2014, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is unlikely to be going anywhere. So the big three pieces are in place, coaching-wise, at OU. They can find a new wide receivers and cornerbacks coach in due time.
3. There was a story this week in the Tulsa World about former Missouri/Oklahoma wide out Dorial Green-Beckham’s decision to declare for the NFL Draft. As you know, DGB was dismissed from Missouri, transferred to OU, but was unable to play this past season. Instead of getting another season of ball under his belt, he declared. His former offensive coordinator Jay Norvell suggested DGB should have stayed in school.
I couldn’t agree more. DGB will go into the draft not having played organized football in 18 months, as a high ceiling talent, with major character question marks. Plus, the skills he showed off at Mizzou, were more a case of a guy who was bigger and more athletic than his competition. In the NFL, everyone is just as athletic and strong. He’ll be lucky to get drafted in the second round. He was once the top high school prospect in America. Had DGB returned and played at OU, succeeded under new OC Lincoln Riley, he could’ve gone into next spring’s draft as a potential top-10 pick. It is a short-sighted move on his part.
4. Needless to say, Baylor quarterbacks have yet to prove they translate to the NFL, highlighted by Robert Griffin III. So, with Jameis Winston and Marcus Marriota expected to be the first two quarterbacks off the board, who will be the third? Baylor’s Bryce Petty is in the mix. Petty has been working with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr. on making the adjustment. Baylor’s uptempo offense rarely includes being under center, which is only one of the many things Petty needs to work on to succeed at the next level. Petty was one of the top passers in the Senior Bowl (9 for 13, 123 yards), which is just a small sample size. Overall, I have more confidence in Petty than RGIII, who seems to have fallen victim to fame and fortune. Petty has always come across as humble and hard working. Two characteristics that have been questioned about RGIII.
5. After sitting for much of the second half in last Saturday’s loss to Iowa State, Cliff Alexander has played with a passion and energy that Bill Self had been hoping to see all season long. The top recruit scored 13 points and grabbed 13 boards in a win over Oklahoma on Monday, and then had 15 points, 9 boards in Saturday’s win over Texas. Self sat Alexander vs. Iowa State, taking a short term gamble, and hoping for a long-term pay off. So far, so good.
6. The two conferences I watch the most of are the Big 12 and the Big East. And the best coaching comparison between the conferences is Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford and St. John’s Steve Lavin. Both are really good recruiters, and by all accounts, solid individuals. But, one of the reasons both programs lack the success they should have is because, as good as both men are at recruiting, the lack that same ability on the bench in X’s and O’s. It’s rare that when all else is equal, talent, rest, etc., that OSU or SJU will beat their opponent, typically because they were outcoached. As the depth and grind of the Big 12 continues, Oklahoma State is going to struggle. They’ve dropped 3 of 4, losing to Bill Self, Lon Kruger, and Bruce Weber. They’re 3-4 in the conference. If they can squeeze out 9-9, they have a real shot at the NCAA’s. But, that’s a big “if”.
7. Here is our tweet of the week! Clever! #SECBias
8. Count me as one who didn’t like the foul call at the end of overtime against TCU. As the Fort-Worth Star Telegram wrote: “Trey Zeigler made a basket in the lane with 2 seconds left to put TCU ahead by one, the Mountaineers threw a long pass over the Horned Frogs’ defense to Carter streaking downcourt. Carter missed a layup but was fouled by Anderson, to the disbelief of some of the Frogs players.” I agreed with the TCU players. The call was a bit ticky-tacky, especially considering the circumstances. It was a bail out call for Bob Huggins’ team. But, when your TCU basketball, you rarely get the call. Nonetheless, by TCU standards, coach Trent Johnson has some mojo going in Forth Worth.
9. So, after TCU scared the bejesus out of West Virginia, and Texas Tech beat Iowa State, there is officially no easy win in the Big 12. When conference play started, we knew the Big 12 was, arguably, the deepest conference in America. Now, there’s no debate. You can point to every other major conference, and find a couple of very weak teams. But, that’s not the case in the Big 12 this season. One of the perks of only having a 10 team conference: less possibilities for subpar teams.
10. Now, the bad news for the conference: it’s still the Kansas Jayhawks’ to lose. With Iowa State’s unexplainable loss at Texas Tech on Saturday, Kansas is once again in the driver’s seat at 5-1, and sole possession of first place in the conference. KU is as vulnerable as they’ve been in a few years under Bill Self. But, they are positioned to win their 11th straight Big 12 title. It’s nice to have a team atop the conference that is a national brand whom teams gun for each and every year. But at the same, it’s a bad look for the conference to have one team win the league 10+ straight times. This was the year to break the streak, but with each passing game, and the Jayhawks continued improvement, it looks less and less likely.
11. It’s the fourteenth anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of 10 members of the Oklahoma State basketball family. Each year OSU honors those lost at the home game that hits closest to January 27th. Ironically, this year it is on that date, as Oklahoma State hosts Baylor tonight. Be sure to keep the families of Nate Fleming, Dan Lawson, Bill Teegins, Will Hancock, Jared Weiberg, Denver Mills, Pat Noyes, Brian Luinstra, Bjorn Fahlstrom and Kendall Durfey in your prayers.
12. Our first full slate of Saturday basketball picks will come this Friday afternoon on the website. Of course those picks will be against the spread! Finished football 37-26-1 on the year.