Winds of change blowing through Big 12

Updated: 2013-09-09T13:27:50Z


The Kansas City Star

Quarterback shuffles, alleged corruptness in a football program and now a defensive coordinator firing — all in the Big 12, two weeks into the season. Whee!

You thought the Big 12 race was tough to handicap before the season? Two weeks in and they’re playing hockey in the Big 12, changing on the fly.

Where to start?

The latest landscape shift occurred Sunday afternoon, when word spread and Texas quickly confirmed that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz paid for the previous evening’s debacle at Brigham Young with his job.

In Provo, the Cougars rolled up 550 rushing yards, the most ever against a Texas team, in a 40-21 triumph that dropped the Longhorns from the polls and all but eliminated a popular off-the-pace choice from the national-title conversation.

Texas coach Mack Brown decided to bring back Diaz after the Longhorns’ defense surrendered more yards per game than any in school history in 2012. But the leash was short, and now Texas has a new coordinator: Greg Robinson, the well-traveled coach who worked on the Texas staff in 2004 after two years as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator.

Robinson hasn’t coached since 2010, but he’s worked as a consultant to the Longhorns since July.

“Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that,” Brown said through the school.

Speaking of change…

Oklahoma outlasted West Virginia 16-7 and now has a quarterback quandary. Trevor Knight, the surprise victor in the preseason competition with more experienced Blake Bell, couldn’t move the Sooners and tossed picks deep in West Virginia territory on successive drives.

Bell entered and game-managed the fourth quarter well enough to perhaps get the nod in this week’s game against Tulsa.

For the second straight year, TCU won’t get out of September with starting quarterback Casey Pachall behind center. Last year, a DUI incident ended Pachall’s season after four games. This year, Pachall was in his sixth quarter of action when a Southeastern Louisiana defender’s knee slammed down on Pachall’s left forearm on the sideline, fracturing the bone. He’ll miss eight weeks.

The Frogs are fortunate to have a ready-made replacement in Trevone Boykin, who started nine games last season and pushed Pachall for the role this season.

Similar depth allowed Oklahoma State to switch quarterbacks, with the team responding better to J.W. Walsh than Clint Chelf. The two combined for six touchdown passes as the Cowboys scored eight touchdowns against Texas-San Antonio on Saturday.

But that wasn’t the big story involving the team over the weekend. The school issued a release to acknowledge awareness of an upcoming Sports Illustrated story that details corruption in the program, from academic fraud to a hostess program that provided sex to recruits to performance bonuses paid to players by former coach Joe DeForest, who is now at West Virginia.

“Oklahoma State University is deeply troubled by these claims,” school president Burns Hargis said in the statement.

Denials flowed over the weekend. Former safety Markelle Martin tweeted that he “never saw, heard or became part of anything illegal,” regarding the performance payments.

The bulk of the allegations occurred during 2001-2007, leaving Oklahoma State outside the NCAA’s four-year statute of limitations, and no current player is expected to be implicated. LSU coach Les Miles, who was the Cowboys’ coach during some of that time, defended the former players and himself.

“I don’t know of any improprieties while I was a coach there,” Miles said.

Amid the drama, quarterback shuffling and struggles stands the Big 12’s most positive development on a national level. Baylor entered the season as a curiosity with a promising offense, a new quarterback and an unreliable defense. In two games, the Bears have overwhelmed two lesser opponents 139-16. Saturday, the 70-13 throttling of Buffalo bought the Bears a few spots in the polls.

Maybe there is a national-title contender in the Big 12 after all, and it wears green.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.

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