Big 12 noon links: Dramatic change for A&M, KSU since '98 title game

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It remains one of the most memorable football games in the Big 12's short history.

Back in 1998, the facility in St. Louis still was known as the The Trans World Airlines Dome. And the conference's championship game there was as good as any I have ever seen.

Kansas State was playing for a shot at the national championship game. And that became a tangible goal when Miami upset UCLA midway through the game, opening that opportunity for the Wildcats.

With players like Michael Bishop, Mark Simoneau, Darren Howard, David Allen and Travis Ochs, that KSU team was loaded. But somebody forgot to tell the underdog Texas A&M Aggies and particularly backup quarterback Branndon Stewart.

The Aggies stormed back to claim victory in overtime when Sirr Parker scored on a game-winning 32-yard touchdown pass from Stewart. I still think I can hear A&M play-by-play announcer Dave South's call ringing in my ears from that play.

But what a difference nearly 10 years makes. The matchup Saturday at Kyle Field between the Aggies and Wildcats might be between the two worst teams in the Big 12. Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News does a nice job of tracking down some former A&M players for their recollections of the title game.

There are a couple of reasons why both schools have fallen on hard times. The departure of legendary KSU coach Bill Snyder has been the major explanation of why the Wildcats haven't been able to consistently continue success in recent seasons. KSU won a Big 12 title with Snyder in 2003, but have been to only one bowl game under Ron Prince. And it might be a stretch for them to make another bowl trip this season.

And A&M's slide can be best explained by the emergence of national-caliber programs at both Texas and Oklahoma in the years since then. And in retrospect, the firing of R.C. Slocum might have been a tad hasty. Slocum remains the only A&M coach to lead his team to a Big 12 football championship -- or a title game for that matter.

Here are some other links that should make your lunch tastier.

  • Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls explains why Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is known as "Coach Rewind."

  • Baylor coach Art Briles would like to see Baylor's offense a little more balanced with less use of quarterback Robert Griffin as a running threat.

  • The father of Kansas linebacker Mike Rivera said his son's recent slump was because he was playing hurt with an undisclosed injury. Rivera produced seven tackles to key the Jayhawks' comeback victory over Iowa State last week.

  • Despite ranking second nationally in rushing, sixth in total offense and allowing only two sacks this season, Oklahoma State offensive linemen haven't been impressed with their early performance.

  • How bad is it for Colorado's patchwork offensive line? Converted redshirt freshman defensive tackle Eugene Goree could get a look at guard Saturday for the Buffaloes against Kansas, despite no previous experience on offense.

  • Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel breaks down the sizable mystique of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.