ARLINGTON, Texas--The pre-Big 12 Championship coaching press conferences featuring Bo Pelini and Bob Stoops have just concluded here at Cowboys Stadium. Here's a few of the interesting or newsworthy notes.
First things first, Bo Pelini played his quarterback situation coy. "Taylor [Martinez] did well," Pelini said of his quarterback's week of practice. "We limited his reps at times and thought he did some good things. I liked what I saw." Asked if he knew who his starter would be, he flashed a subtle smile. "I have a pretty good idea," he said. The plan is still to wait until game day to decide.
Oklahoma announced on Thursday that DeMarco Murray would play, but Stoops was asked about his running back and the decision-making process that went into making him available for Saturday's game. "He went through the entire practice [on Thursday] and was feeling good afterwards," he said. "That's all a positive sign. So we anticipate him being prepared and ready to go."
Saturday's game is widely assumed to be the final Big 12 title game ever, with Nebraska and Colorado packing their bags to the Big Ten and Pac-10 after the season, and the league moving to a round-robin, nine-game conference schedule to determine what some call a "true conference champion." Well, maybe the Big 12 title game isn't going away forever. At least, not according to Pelini. "I think it's probably the last one maybe for a year or two, but I don't think this will be the last Big 12 Championship. It just so happens that I think the conference will keep thriving. It will probably add--who knows what's going to happen," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if you see a Big 12 Championship come back around here pretty quick.
Take what you will from Pelini's comments -- I don't necessarily agree -- but Stoops was asked about them during his question and answer session. "Hopefully that is the case. It's hard to speculate on where things will move to and go. If there are more, that will be great. If there aren't that will be great, too," Stoops said with a laugh. "So it will pretty much be great one way or the other."
Stoops passed along a thought we've heard from several coaches: The conference championship is exciting in a situation like this, where you're playing for a BCS bowl berth. It's not great when it means you'll have to hop another tall hurdle to reach the national championship. "This game then is one that you're thinking, 'What in the world are we playing this for?' when you look at some of these other conferences and we're not. They're in a national championship, ready to play for it too. They're home sitting down, eating turkey, watching you."
Stoops' brother, Arizona coach Mike Stoops, suffered a painful loss on Thursday night when his team had two late extra points blocked and lost at home to Arizona State. Bob Stoops wasn't watching. "I can't," he said. Asked if it was the emotions, he said, "Yeah, all of it. I'm saving my energy for tomorrow night." Stoops knew what happened, but later admitted that in the 2004 Sugar Bowl against LSU, trailing 21-14 with the national championship on the line, he was "strongly, in my mind, thinking of going for two." He added "It had been an uphill battle all game. They had the crowd. We felt at the time, I felt they were tired. We'd have them on the run."
Finally, there's been plenty written this week about Oklahoma being a de facto "people's champion" for Big 12 fans not backing the Huskers. Bring 'em on, Stoops said. "Maybe that's the case. I'll take all the good vibrations I can get," he said. "I'm kind of in a cocoon, going to practice, getting ready for the game, so I'm not aware of it. If that's the case, we'll take all the rooting and all the cheering from whoever wants to give it to us."