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Remote patrol: Craig James advises OSU stars to return

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: December 30, 2010 at 8:34 am •  Published: December 30, 2010

ESPN's crew — play-by-play announcer Rece Davis and analysts Jesse Palmer and Craig James — were insightful and entertaining Wednesday night while describing Oklahoma State's Alamo Bowl win over Arizona.

Palmer, one of the network's underrated analysts, is solid breaking down plays and zeroing in on big-picture storylines.

“A lot of us wondered how Oklahoma State would respond to play in the Alamo Bowl,” Palmer said late in the first quarter. “They believed they should have been in the Big 12 title game, but they look like they're excited to be here.”

James is better than given credit. He does his homework but too often states the obvious. James advised OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon to return next season instead of turning pro.

“I think Weeden comes back. He needs more snaps. He's had one season. He needs to see more coverages,” James said. “I think Blackmon comes back. Could he play in the NFL? Absolutely. But come back, mature physically and mentally and enjoy the game before you get in the pressure cooker.”

When it was apparent the Cowboys would post a school-record 11th win, the crew discussed OSU's future in the competitive, revamped Big 12.

“That's not an easy schedule next year,” Palmer said. “But consider what they have coming back — all five offensive linemen, 14 players that played on defense.”

James added: “Their biggest problem is what (the media) did to Nebraska. Everybody in the country jumped on the bandwagon: ‘Oh man, Nebraska.' And I was one of them. I drank the Kool-Aid big time. We're going to sing the praises of Oklahoma State. You still have to play the games.”

After OSU built a 33-10 lead, the crew adjusted. They talked about Mike Stoops' challenges, ending the season with five consecutive losses. The Wildcats must replace all five offensive linemen. The television crew debated what a down year in the Pac 10 means to Oregon's chances in the national title game.

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