The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

September 3, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN- Is Big 12 football changing?

MORGANTOWN — As expected, the ink was not yet dry on the headlines that read “North Dakota State topples Kansas State” and “Northern Iowa beats Iowa State” before the world in unified horror began asking what is wrong in this world of college football where FCS schools are beating FBS schools with a certain degree of regularity.

Indeed, it happened across the land no fewer than eight times, just as Texas coach Mack Brown had predicted a week earlier, and now on Monday’s Big 12 coaches conference call Brown was saying, “When I see eight FCS teams beat FBS teams across the country I say you better be careful who you schedule No. 1. You can get beaten on any weekend.”

But the fact that two of the teams that fell were Big 12 teams, while a third, West Virginia, escaped with a narrow victory over William & Mary after trailing much of the game, meant the cry became more centralized on the Big 12 Conference.

No one, of course, wanted to admit that this had something to do with a weakening of the conference itself, preferring to lay credit to the FCS schools and noting that parity has come to the game of college football, just as it long has been in college basketball.

Certainly, Dana Holgorsen wasn’t going to bite on that, despite his scare and the other two losses in the Big 12.

“I worry about what we do first and foremost,” he said. “It’s no different than any other year. It’s all about the final product and how we finish the year, not how we start the year. There’s going to be a lot of positive things happen in the Big 12, a lot of great games and at the end of the year we’ll see how we stack up.”

While that is unquestionably true, there were some clues put forth this opening week of the season that told you this is not the Big 12 WVU entered a year ago. In fact, as feared, the quarterback play had little resemblance to last season and, as a result, the offensive play was, to be honest, rather ordinary.

Consider, if you will, that in their first games a year ago, Big 12 teams scored 462 points.

This year it was fewer, and for those who want to argue that the comparison is unfair because Kansas has yet to play, let me assure that Kansas will not score 150 points ... because this year’s teams accounted for only 313 points scored.

Teams were playing the game differently ... good teams like WVU and Oklahoma and Kansas State.

Berry Trammel, a columnist from, saw it as if the Big 12 had become caught in a time warp, writing: What is this, 1948? Did they also play single-platoon, with leather helmets and turtleneck sweaters? Did the Cowboys travel by train to Houston, where they dispatched Mississippi State 21-3? Did the Sooners celebrate their 34-0 thumping of Louisiana-Monroe with a sock hop at the Student Union?

This kind of football — the OU-Monroe game totaled 17 punts; OSU-Miss State totaled just three possessions that got within 10 yards of pay dirt — is a mystery to us.

Plus, the quarterbacks were old school.

State’s J.W. Walsh threw for 135 yards and ran for 125. OU’s Trevor Knight completed 39 percent of his passes, which is straight out of 1948; he rushed for 103 yards and passed for just 86.

The Big 12’s opening week reminded us that the league’s quarterbacking has taken a dip. West Virginia and Kansas State, for example, played I-AA foes and each scored just three touchdowns.

The Sooners and Cowboys are going with quarterbacks better at running, rather than flinging the football, around the sandlot. Partly by design, partly out of necessity.

You cannot argue with it. In fact, we expect the next rage in Kansas City to be the return of hula hoops, ducktail haircuts on men and lettermen sweaters.

If my math is right, and Miss Connors from back at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J., will tell you there’s no better than a 50-50 chance of that, this year’s Big 12 teams gained 4,019 yards this year while last year — subtracting Kansas from the mix — the same teams gained 4,518 yards.

The game is changing in the Big 12, not because they want it to change, but because the quarterbacks are different and, perhaps, the defenses are improved.

Email Bob Hertzel at or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Comparing pay of coaches and professors

    Stringing together some odds and ends which may be of interest to you:
    • A beautiful lady came up to my table last Sunday at brunch in the Village of Heritage Point’s main dining room with a message.

    April 17, 2014

  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos