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Big 12 mailbag: "Curse of the QB" struck this season

The season might be over, but letters and e-mails keep rolling in.

Here are some of the better missives I’ve received over the last several days.

Steven Johnson from Salina, Kan., writes: This season there truly was the “curse of the Big 12 quarterback” all season long. Did any other conference lose as many starting QBs as the Big 12 this season due to injury? In the South Division, only A&M had the luxury of their starting QB all season long. Who were the only quarterbacks in the Big 12 who started every game this season?

Tim Griffin: Yes, it was a bad time to be a starting quarterback in the Big 12 in 2009. The only quarterbacks who started every game were Kansas’ Todd Reesing, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Texas’ Colt McCoy and Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson.

And McCoy’s injury against Alabama last week might have been the biggest injury of the season for any player in the nation.

I don’t know of any conference anywhere that had the run of injuries that the Big 12 endured this season.


Terrell from the Bay Area in California writes: It's obvious that Mack Brown's offensive staff doesn't develop the talent like it should or utilize the talent it has. What's the shelf life of Greg Davis? Mack has a history of going with the style that's winning. And right now a pro-style SEC offense is dominating the championship scene. Do you see Coach Brown having the courage to replace Davis or are we stuck with him until Will Muschamp takes over? I think now would be a perfect time to make the switch especially with the recruiting classes they've had the last three years. The lineman alone should make Brown a more pro-style coach.

Tim Griffin: Terrell, you raise an interesting point I often hear from Texas fans. Davis was successful enough to help Vince Young and Colt McCoy develop into two of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history. There’s no doubt the Texas running game struggled this season, but Davis was able to cobble together a short passing offense that still took them to the national championship game.

I think there’s a lot of loyalty between Mack Brown and Greg Davis. They’ve worked together for 17 seasons at three different jobs -- Tulane, North Carolina and Texas. Brown has never fired a coach before during his Texas stint. And I don’t see him starting with one of his most stalwart associates in Davis.


Zachary Cole from San Marcos, Texas, writes: I just read that Tommy Tuberville's new offensive coordinator will be Neal Brown from Troy. I don’t know much about Troy, do you think this is a good choice or do you think that Lincoln Riley should have got the call?

Tim Griffin: It doesn’t surprise me that Tuberville looked outside the Tech program to pick his offensive coordinator. And Brown is one of the rising stars of the business after the job he did with the Trojans over the last two seasons. He’s actually the youngest offensive coordinator in the nation but has more experience as a coordinator than Riley at the job.

Tuberville was looking for a proven commodity along with a coach rising in the profession. It's a bonus that Brown arrives with a few different wrinkles he wants to bring to his new job.

I think it’s a good choice, although it sounds like the offense will be pretty similar to the one the Red Raiders have run in recent years with Mike Leach serving as the coach and offensive coordinator. Tuberville wants his own immediate stamp on the program and that’s why I think he went out of it for Brown.


Chris Watkins from Lawrence,Kan., writes: Tim, now that Jim Leavitt, Mike Leach, and Ruffin McNeill are all available, would it be wise for Kansas State coach Bill Snyder to bring them in, even in the thick of the tumult? I could see going to Kansas State being a smart move for Leach and Leavitt considering their reputations have taken hits. Snyder is just the guy to "mentor" them, much like Tony Dungy did with Michael Vick. Who would be most likely to go to work for the Wildcats, in your opinion?

Tim Griffin: I expect Jim Leavitt, Mike Leach and Ruffin McNeill all to be back in coaching quickly. But as far as Kansas State, I would suspect that Leavitt makes the most sense, mainly because he’s worked for Snyder before.

I know that Snyder has leaned on veteran counsel in the past and hasn’t hesitated to surround himself with former head coaches. And Snyder’s ability to “mentor” coaches, as well as work them pretty hard, is legendary. It would be a good place for any of those coaches you mentioned to land.


Preston Nix of Austin writes: Tim, now that the season is over I've been looking at recruiting and noticed that Texas doesn't have a running back ranked better than 31st in his position for 2010. Why is this? It seems with Texas underperforming at running back there would be a high demand for star running backs to fill the gap.

Tim Griffin: Preston, I’m not normally a huge fan of recruiting rankings except for the very top players. And it seems like Mack Brown has done a nice job melding together his program in recent seasons with players who weren’t the top recruits. But at running back, I am a little surprised that the Longhorns haven’t been in the ballgame for more top prospects. Obviously, the Longhorns’ running game problems since Jamaal Charles left the program have been well-chronicled. And it seems that Texas has steered away from the running game in favor of pass-heavy offense under McCoy. Obviously, recruits see that and likely are more interested in places where they will carry the ball more often.

Maybe Chris Whaley will be poised to earn playing time over the spring. Or Tre’ Newton could takes the next step in 2010. But it is clear that Texas does have an immediate opening for a top running back heading into next season. Improved punch in the running game will be important as the Longhorns try to lessen some of the pressure around new quarterback Garrett Gilbert.


Kelly Smith from Memphis, Tenn., writes: Tim, being an avid Cornhusker fan in SEC country, I have really enjoyed your coverage of the Big 12. I look forward to your outstanding continued reporting on college football. Keep up the good work. I have only one thing against you...lol... you did not vote for Ndamukong Suh for Heisman. I will forgive you, however.

Tim Griffin: Kelly, I appreciate the kind words. And your note isn’t the only one that I’ve received for not voting for Suh for the Heisman.

But I am going to meet with Suh on Thursday night in Omaha. In my role as the president of the Football Writers Association of America I’ll be presenting him with his Outland Trophy, emblematic of his season as the best lineman in college football.

We supposedly will be having a record crowd for the banquet. I’ll look forward to seeing him, the Pelini brothers and all of the rest. I’ll report back on it after the banquet on Thursday night. It should be a good time.

Thanks again for all of the good questions. I’ll check again Friday as I leave Omaha and head into the weekend.