Tim's mailbag: My picks for the best teams for each school

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I got an interesting question earlier this week that I figured deserved a little more consideration than merely an item in my mailbag.

Steve Johnson from Alpine, Texas, writes: Tim, I love your blog. I read your item last week where you picked your five top choices of best teams in the Big 12 era. Could you also expand on that by picking the best team for each team during that same time period and maybe a reason why you think each was the best?

Tim Griffin: Steve, I appreciate your question and will do my best to pick the team I think that best represents each school. And remember, the Big 12 era begins in 1996, so all of those e-mails I got from Nebraska fans wondering why I didn't rank the 1995 Nebraska team came because of a reason. They didn't play in the Big 12.

But here goes.


The best team: 2005

Record: 5-6

Coach: Guy Morriss

Best players: S Willie Andrews, WR Dominique Ziegler, P Daniel Sepulveda.

Best victory: Season-ending 44-34 triumph over Oklahoma State.

Bowl: None.

What made them special: The closest Baylor has ever come to a bowl berth in Big 12 history.


The best team: 2001

Record: 10-3

Coach: Gary Barnett

Best players: RB Cortlen Johnson, RB Chris Brown, G Andre Gurode, TE Daniel Graham

Best victory: 62-36 beatdown of Nebraska to clinch North Division title.

Bowl: Lost to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, 36-16.

What made them special: Only Colorado football championship team in Big 12 history.


The best team: 2000

Record: 9-3

Coach: Dan McCarney

Best players: RB Ennis Haywood, WR-KR J.J. Moses, DE Reggie Hayward

Best victory: 24-14 victory over Iowa.

Bowl: Beat Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl, 37-29.

What made them special: Most wins in history by an Iowa State team in the Big 12 era as well as the only one that finished the season ranked.


The best team: 2007

Record: 12-1

Coach: Mark Mangino

Best players: CB Aqib Talib, T Anthony Collins, DT James McClinton, QB Todd Reesing.

Best victory: Record-breaking 76-39 victory over Nebraska.

Bowl: Beat Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, 24-21.

What made them special: The Jayhawks' only BCS team won every game except a regular season-ending showdown against Missouri for the North Division title.


The best team: 1998

Record: 11-2

Coach: Bill Snyder

Best players: QB Michael Bishop, LB Jeff Kelly, K Martin Gramatica

Best victory: Their 40-30 triumph over Nebraska snapped a 29-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers.

Bowl: Lost to Purdue in the Alamo Bowl, 37-34.

What made them special: Sure, the Wildcats did claim a Big 12 championship five years later. But this was their best team, missing out on a shot at playing for the BCS championship only because of a second-half collapse against Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game.


The best team: 2007

Record: 12-2

Coach: Gary Pinkel

Best players: QB Chase Daniel, RB Tony Temple, WR-KR Jeremy Maclin, NT Lorenzo Williams

Best victory: Their 36-28 victory over Kansas wrapped up Missouri's first North title and briefly pushed them to a No. 1 position in the national polls.

Bowl: Beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, 38-7.

What made them special: The Tigers had an explosive offense that pushed them to the brink of a BCS bowl in a season marred only by two losses to Oklahoma.


The best team: 1997

Record: 13-0

Coach: Tom Osborne

Best players: RB Ahman Green, G Aaron Taylor, DE Grant Wistrom, CB Ralph Brown

Best victory: A lopsided 69-7 victory over Oklahoma gave Osborne a little retribution in his final game against his old rivals.

Bowl: Beat Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl, 42-17.

What made them special: The first team in Big 12 history to share a national championship pulverized opponents by rolling up at least 42 points in eight games and at least 35 in two others.


The best team: 2000

Record: 13-0

Coach: Bob Stoops

Best players: QB Josh Heupel, LB Rocky Calmus, LB Torrance Marshall, S Roy Williams

Best victory: Showed what they were capable of doing with a 63-14 thumping of Texas.

Bowl: Beat Florida State in the Orange Bowl, 13-2.

What made them special: The Sooners' first national championship team in 15 seasons enabled Stoops to claim a national championship in only his second season as a head coach.

The best team: 2008

Record: 9-4

Coach: Mike Gundy

Best players: QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, WR Dez Bryant

Best victory: An early-season 28-23 triumph at Missouri caught the nation's attention and brought Gundy's unique play-calling habits from the bench to widespread attention.

Bowl: Lost to Oregon in the Holiday Bowl, 42-31.

What made them special: The highest-ranked Oklahoma State team at the end of the season in the Big 12 era lost on
ly three regular-season games -- all as underdogs. They likely would have won their bowl game if Bryant hadn't gotten hurt, grounding their explosive offense.


The best team: 2005

Record: 13-0

Coach: Mack Brown

Best players: QB Vince Young, DE Tim Crowder, S Michael Huff, CB Cedric Griffin

Best victory: Vince Young's one-man assault sparked a 41-38 victory over USC in the Rose Bowl, wrapping up the national championship and snapping the Trojans' 34-game winning streak.

Bowl: Beat USC in the Rose Bowl, 41-38.

What made them special: The Longhorns' first undisputed national championship team since 1969 was a marvelous blend of an explosive offense and a defense that limited opponents to 17 points or less in eight games.

The best team: 1998

Record: 11-3

Coach: R.C. Slocum

Best players: LB Dat Nguyen, P Shane Lechler, LB Warrick Holdman, S Rich Coady

Best victory: Sirr Parker's late heroics sparked a wild 36-33 double-overtime victory over Kansas State in the Big 12 title game.

Bowl: Lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, 24-14.

What made them special: The only Big 12 football championship team in history was a cohesive bunch that won five conference games (including the title game) by a touchdown or less.


The best team: 2008

Record: 11-2

Coach: Mike Leach

Best players: QB Graham Harrell, WR Michael Crabtree, DE Brandon Williams, S Darcel McBath

Best victory: Harrell's dramatic touchdown pass to Crabtree with one second led to a 39-33 upset victory over No. 1 Texas.

Bowl: Lost to Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl, 47-34.

What made them special: Leach's team featured a running game (at least for them, anyway) and a stingier defense. That combination enabled them to climb as high as No. 2 nationally after starting the season with 10 straight victories.