Kansas coach Mark Mangino has been a part of Big Eight and Big 12 Conference football for more than 10 years. This season, though, he has noticed a change in his conference.
“We certainly are not the ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ conference as we were once called in the Big Eight,” Mangino said on Monday’s Big 12 Conference call.
Several Big 12 coaches noted that conference teams are scoring more points. In this past weekend’s games, winning teams had totals of 73, 65, 52, 50, 41 and 38.
Mangino said it is a philosophy of many college football coaches to take more risks.
“Unless you’re an awfully physical football team on offense, you don’t want a lot of formations,” Mangino said. “You’d rather stretch them out and use the entire field. We say, ‘Let’s spread the field out and put a little more pressure on the defense’.”
Coaches mentioned the Big 12’s horde of athletic quarterbacks, including Texas Tech’s B.J. Symons, Oklahoma’s Jason White and Missouri’s Brad Smith.
“There’s no doubt the skill is just fantastic,” Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. “Good luck to whoever has to pick all-conference players.”
Nebraska coach Frank Solich said the offensive outbursts partly come from defensive players not tackling as well. Lack of personnel also contributes.
“You can go back to spring ball if you like, but I think some of it comes back to where teams are injury-wise,” Solich said. “You just don’t have the depth that you need to have. That’s almost every program.”
WIDE OPEN SPACES: In the Big 12 North Division, four teams are tied for the conference lead. Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado all have 1-1 records.
Any team like Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats team which is 0-2, has a chance to win the division, though.
“There’s several teams in the Big 12 North that exactly the same thing is true for,” Snyder said. “Most of the teams have their own destiny in their own hands.”
Oklahoma and Texas Tech are tied for the conference lead in the South division with 2-0 records.
“There’s just a lot of parity and obviously the teams in the South are very strong,” Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. “Playing the South teams, that’s where it’s going to be made or not made, in our league.”
Though Iowa State is 0-2, McCarney said the season is still more than salvageable.
“With a couple losses, you can hang in there and still determine what kind of season you want to have,” McCarney said. “Our league will stand up to anyone in America.”
SMITH HONORED: Smith was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. He tied a school record with four touchdowns and had 350 total yards, including 47 yards receiving, as the Tigers beat Nebraska 41-24 for the first time in 25 years.
In other Big 12 awards, Oklahoma cornerback Derrick Strait was named Defensive Player of the Week and Colorado kicker Mason Crosby won Special Teams Player of the Week.
Strait had 11 tackles, one interception and two fumble recoveries. Crosby made three field goals, including one with 14 seconds remaining to send the Buffaloes’ game against Kansas into overtime.