Iowa State's 31-30 overtime loss to Nebraska last season eats at Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads. ISU lost when a fake extra point failed; holder Daniel Kuehl short-armed a pass to wide open Collin Franklin and it fell incomplete.
“It's a call that I relive and a play I relive every week,” Rhoads said. “There's not a week that goes by that I don't think about the play and what it could have created for our football team and our football program.
“There was a lot of thought that went into our week's preparation. And as the game went along, it was a play I studied and certainly was there. The intended receiver was wide open, from me to you wide open, and we failed to execute. That's the name of the game, when it's a play like that, the final game of a game or the first play of the game, you have to execute to be successful.
“The fallout was positive, if anything, from players to fans to most people I talked to they thought it was a right call, gutsy call, but the right call, and would have given us an opportunity to really springboard our program.”
NEW DEFENSE AT TECH
Tommy Tuberville said he learned a lesson in 2010, his first year coaching Texas Tech.
“There's two things you need in this league,” Tuberville said. “You have to have a very good pass rusher coming from the outside, and you have to have two good corner(back)s.
“And if you have those, you've got a chance in this league to keep somebody under 21 points. If you don't, you've got no chance. You better outscore them.”
Tech used a nickel defense (five defensive backs) much of the time in the Big 12, so Tuberville has switched to a 4-2-5 base defense under new coordinator Chad Glasgow, who spent the previous 10 years at TCU.
Nebraska had trouble beating Texas. Kansas State has not had such trouble. The Wildcats are 5-2 vs. Texas during the Big 12 era.
So is K-State coach Bill Snyder pleased that he now gets the Longhorns every season?
“No,” Snyder said with a laugh. “We've been very, very fortunate. I don't think there's anybody that doubts the quality and capabilities of the University of Texas and their program. Nobody does it better than (UT coach) Mack Brown and the quality of young athletes that they have.
“We've just been fortunate that our players play extremely hard. Fortunate that things just kind of fell into place in several of those ballgames. But I assure you that we don't have anybody's number, Texas or anybody else for that matter.”
Kansas will be young in 2011.
The Jayhawks took some beatings a year ago, finishing 3-9 overall and 1-7 in Big 12 play under first-year coach Turner Gill. But Gill swallowed hard and resisted playing his kids, choosing instead to redshirt the bulk of a freshman class.
Now those players are preparing to help.
“That was a big decision,” Gill said. “I decided to redshirt the majority of them because I thought there would be a better situation as far as the following year and two or three years down the road.
“They would be bigger, faster, stronger. And I thought that would benefit our program definitely in the long term.”
Kansas State marketing folks could borrow from the UPS ad campaign, “What Can Brown Do For You?”, this season.
It's actually a telling story line for the Wildcats – times two – with Arthur Brown and Bryce Brown forming two key figures in a hopeful rise in the Big 12 standings.
The brothers, from Wichita, are transfers to the program after originally turning down K-State as highly touted recruits. Arthur, a linebacker, started his career at Miami, while Bryce, a running back, went first to Tennessee.
Both are projected to start for the Wildcats, with Bryce even picked preseason all-Big 12.
“They'll have a big impact,” said KSU defensive back Tysyn Hartman, another Wichita product. “From their size and speed and athletic ability alone, they should cause problems for opposing teams.”
SENIOR QB AT TECH
It seemed like Texas Tech always had a senior quarterback when Mike Leach was the coach. And now Tuberville is about to start another senior QB, Seth Doege, after platooning seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield in 2010.
“Seth is a coach's son,” Tuberville said. “He's been around. He's been through a lot of adversities, persevered through two knee injuries. He's the first one at the office every day, work out, lift weights. He gets receivers to practice. He wants to be the guy.”
Tuberville said Doege could have been Tech's starter last season, that he actually knew the offense better after spring practice, since Potts and Sheffield were injured.
CYCLONES TO CHANGE SCHEDULE
Along with the challenges of playing nine conference games, Iowa State's schedule also features Iowa and UConn, the latter of which played in the Fiesta Bowl.
That gives the Cyclones 11 games against teams from BCS conferences. Don't consider it a trend.
“My wife likes our job and I sort of do, too,” said Rhoads, “so, no, that's not a direction I'd like to move, playing 11 BCS opponents every year. And a change is in place in 2012 and beyond to get away from that challenging of a schedule.”
LARGE MEDIA TURNOUT
The Big 12 issued a record 455 media passes for this year's two-day session at the Westin Hotel. Despite having two less schools, the turnout was the largest ever, surpassing 408 media passes in 2008.
Counting team representatives — players, coaches, cheerleaders, etc. — the conference issued more than 650 credentials.