The end of another football season is near, and Christmas is even closer. Which got us to thinking - was the Big 12 naughty or nice this year? Will teams be getting a stocking full of coal or will their hopes/dreams be wrapped nicely, waiting beneath a welcome Christmas tree?
Perhaps Santa is the only one that can return the Big 12 to powerhouse conference status. So here's to you, Saint Nick! (No, not you, Saban.) Our 2010 Christmas Wish List:
For A&M… a win against once longtime rival LSU in the Cotton Bowl. With only three defeats under the Aggies’ belt and nice wins against schools like Big 12 champ Oklahoma, A&M has proven it can not only hang with the big ‘uns, but take them down.
For Baylor… a win in the Texas Bowl, their first bowl game since 1994. After finishing 7-5 and earning a Top 25 spot for the first time since the 1993 campaign, nothing would validate this program more than a win against Illinois. Sick em', Bears!
For Colorado… may a change in scenery be just what this struggling program needs. As the Dan Hawkins' era finally comes to an end, along with the Buffs' time in the Big 12, let's see what a new coach and a new conference can do for this team.
For Iowa State… a quarterback that can run Tom Herman's (offensive coordinator) game plan. With stable running backs, progress in their air game could lead to a much better season next year.
For Kansas State… a dismantling of Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium. Yes, the Pinstripe Bowl. K State's athlete director John Currie wants to “brand” Kansas State and create recognition for their football program. Well, here you go fellas - what better stage to do it in than the largest media market in the world.
For Kansas… a steady offseason, and the opportunity to improve. Turner Gill finished his first season and that nightmare is over. Improvement needs to come up front on both lines, and someone needs to find a quarterback. Gill has time and (Kansas) experience now to figure it all out.
For Missouri… a win in the Insight Bowl against Iowa. The victory would highlight the underrated force of the #12 Tigers and could be one giant leap towards establishing themselves in the "new" Big 12. And with Iowa reeling from controversy, and a list of players now suspended for the game, a Mizzou loss would be all the more damaging. The time to make a statement is now.
For Nebraska… a domination of the Big 10 next year. Let their decision to leave the Big 12 at least be worth it, after hurting generations of Nebraska fans by ending traditions built on more than a century of football against Missouri and Kansas.
For Oklahoma… a win in the Fiesta Bowl. That’s it. Let the past 5 BCS bowl games be no indicator of the future.
For OSU… Justin Blackmon. Don’t know how he’ll fit in the stocking, but the Cowboys' sophomore wide receiver led the nation in receiving yards earlier this season... OSU needs him to stick around. No DUIs, no drama, just catches. And many of them.
For Texas… a new offensive coordinator, a new defensive coordinator, and a new quarterback. Perhaps a bit greedy to ask for three, but hey, that's Texas. Hopefully everyone will be Men-in-Black’d and just forget about 2010's painful season.
For Texas Tech… to embrace Tuberville and put Leach behind them. The only way for this to happen is for Tech to wins games. Many games. Let the Red Raiders have some faith in their new coach.
HOWEVER, if in fact the Big 12 was naughty this year, Christmas may look more like this:
For A&M… a loss to LSU in Jones' castle. The mini-Super Bowl production proves to be too much for the Aggies. The Tigers’ #9 ranked defense takes them down, while A&M's "wrecking crew" defense collapses under pressure. LSU football is back.
For Baylor… a crushing loss to Illinois' rushing attack. Pounding, pounding, pounding to make Edgar Poe wilt. Stop the run, or let the losing streak begin anew.
For Colorado… it may be too much change. The grass isn't always greener.
For Iowa State… an unimpressive open competition in the spring to replace Austen Arnaud (quarterback) and a loss of coach Paul Rhodes to Pittsburgh. Since Rhodes was the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh from 2000-2007, it seems only natural that he fall into the head coaching position there. Overall, plenty of coal a possibility for Iowa State.
For Kansas State… a disappointing bowl game. Fans unable to make the holiday trip to New York leave the stadium half empty in the largest media market possible, and cost the school six-figures in ticket expenses (read Dan Wetzel's new book, Death to the BCS). The Wildcats' defense shows it's true colors and can't manage to hold back Syracuse running back Delone Carter. Not exactly the brand we were looking for.
For Kansas… the previous offseasons for Mangino and Gill are repeated. Nothing gets done and Kansas goes nowhere. The people lose their faith in Gill. Talk about bah humbug.
For Missouri… a loss in the Insight Bowl to a depleted Hawkeye squad, and a major victory for the Big 10. The media attention the Tigers crave could turn out to be a negative... Going on national television and losing to Iowa - not impressive.
For Nebraska… more money (doubling up to $20 million), but no more success getting to the BCS Championship game. Though this year they gain the freedom they've craved from certain Big 12 schools. No coal for Nebraska.
For Oklahoma… a 6 game BCS bowl losing streak. Gadzooks!
For OSU… “And with the fifteenth pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams select… Justin Blackmon.”
For Texas… the coordinator shuffling negatively impacts recruiting. Oh, and Case McCoy beats out Gilbert to follow in his brother's footsteps (who wouldn't have loved a V. Young repeat?). Though at what QB controversy cost?
For Texas Tech… another season filled with "Leach would have won that game and the one against Texas, too!" sentiment. With Leach suing ESPN for slandering his good name, forgetting him may be far, far off in the future… And so could winning games.
Let's hope that Scrooge doesn't show his face this holiday season!
Liz Gonzales writes on the Big 12 and CFB. Email her at LizGonzalesCFN@gmail.com