Tuesday mailbag: Who should be the Big 12's Coach of the Year?

Happy Tuesday afternoon. Here are some reader questions and answers before I plow into some late afternoon interviews around the conference.

Scott Jackson of Stillwater, Okla., writes: Tim, who do you think should be coach of the year in the Big 12? My thought is it should be Bill Snyder who wins the Big 12 North. If that does not happen it could be a tie between Mike Gundy and Paul Rhoads; Gundy has did a good job keeping OSU together through lost players for many reasons, but I would have to give the edge to Rhoads for what he has done at ISU, because if anyone had said they would beat Nebraska and were going bowling they would need strapped down. Thanks for your input.

Tim Griffin: Scott, I haven’t made my mind up, yet. I’m still kind of waiting for the final two games and the championship play out. I’m actually favoring Snyder right now with Gundy and Rhoads in that order. I think the fact that Snyder is challenging for the Big 12 title has got to be one of the major surprises in college football. Like you said, Gundy has done a nice job of keeping the Cowboys together with Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter out of the lineup. If OSU can make a BCS at-large spot, I think he would be a legitimate candidate. And Rhoads’ coaching job has been stunning. After talking to several Iowa State players for a story I wrote earlier today, I think the rebuilding job he has done on that defense has been absolutely stunning. Remember how they struggled to make basic defensive plays last season with Gene Chizik's defense. They are doing a great job of keeping opponents out of the end zone this season.

Drew Firestone from Los Angeles, Calif., writes: Tim, two questions for you. First, how many times has Cody Johnson scored for the Longhorns inside the 3-yard line this year on short runs? It seems to me like even during Texas' championship run in 2005, that Mack Brown would give the ball to his big goal-line back inside the 5 instead of letting his Heisman candidate QB get credit for the score, which is something that Urban Meyer doesn’t do with Tim Tebow.

Also, I believe not once last year did anyone blast Bob Stoops for running scores up and passing when his team was up 30 in the fourth quarter, yet there’s a big deal about it now when negative talk about his team doesn’t matter. What do you think?

Tim Griffin: Cody Johnson has scored 11 touchdowns this season, including seven from inside of 3 yards. And you are correct, Mack Brown has typically designated a goal-line back. In 2005, the Longhorns used Henry Melton in that role. Tebow is obviously featured that way for the Gators.

And I’ve got to disagree with you. Several comments were made late last season about Stoops keeping Sam Bradford in the game late, particularly in late season games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. What he’s hearing about Landry Jones playing so late in the Texas A&M game isn’t anything new.

Ashtyn Beek of Jefferson City, Mo., writes: A lot of different people and sports websites are predicting Nebraska to meet Stanford in the Holiday Bowl. I think this would be a great match-up between two physical teams, led by two confident, competitive coaches. Suh/Crick vs. Gerhart would be a great battle. Anyway, I can think of Nebraska playing just about everyone from the Pac-10 in recent history, except for Stanford. What's the history between these two teams?

Tim Griffin: These two teams have met only once and it is the fewest times that the Cornhuskers have played any Pac-10 opponent. Their only game came in 1940, when Stanford notched a 21-13 home victory over the Cornhuskers.

Also, I agree with you. A matchup between Bo Pelini and Jim Harbaugh would be intriguing. And, the matchup between the bullish Stanford running game and the dominant Nebraska defensive front would be a good one, too.

Jared Henke of Columbus, Neb., writes: Tim, my question regards the conference as a whole. Going back a couple weeks to your blog about changing the conference from North and South to East and West. What if the Big 10 decides to expand to make a championship game and wants Missouri. What team do you think would be added to the Big 12 to keep a championship game? Arkansas? TCU? Maybe Iowa? How could the conference be restructured to align them in East/West and possibly bringing back the NU vs. OU rivalry and the Texas A&M vs. Arkansas rivalry?

Tim Griffin: I actually think that if the Big Ten is looking for an expansion team – and that’s a mighty big if – that they might look other ways before Missouri. I would think that they would offer Notre Dame the chance first. And they would have to be convinced the Irish aren’t interested in the vacancy. I think Pittsburgh might be a better choice than Missouri. And don’t discount Nebraska either.

But if they had to go another way, I think all of the team you mention would be good choices. TCU is the hot national team now and I would think that if it joined, it would want to be included with the other four Texas teams. I can’t see Arkansas leaving all of the money the Razorbacks are making in the SEC to come to the Big 12, no matter how viable or how much more sense it would make. And for much the same reasons, I can’t see Iowa leaving the Big Ten. A more likely scenario might be a team like BYU or Utah from the west.

But I think it’s all very speculative at this time as I don’t know how attractive Missouri would really be to the Big Ten at this time.

Steve from Saint Louis, Mo., writes: I am curious what would happen in a case that the Big 12 champion is not bowl eligible. I realize that cannot happen this year, but a Kansas State champion would just barely have the number of wins.

Tim Griffin: Actually, the won-loss record wouldn’t matter in that far-fetched case. The Big 12 champion would automatically qualify for a BCS record, no matter what its record would be.

Justin Wilson from Oklahoma City, writes: Tim, I was wondering how to find defensive stats. ESPN.com has a great set of stats for offensive players and teams but I haven't been able to find any reliable sets of stats for defense or special teams really on this site. Some help?

Tim Griffin: I check defensive statistics every week as part of how I award helmet stickers. The best source I can think of is going to the individual school websites. They typically are up about an hour after a game concludes and are then can be found for permanence as most schools provide that information.

As for season stats, try the NCAA’s wonderful website. I think they’ll have what you want. I know I probably check this site on an almost hourly basis in my research. It's a good one.

Here’s the link. Follow each team and go to the defensive statistics from the drop-down menu.

Try this out and let me know if it works.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. Check back again late Fridayafternoon for some discourse on the Big 12.