Greg Hansen: Oklahoma St. quarterback Weeden a man among boys

2010-12-29T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T19:28:41Z Greg Hansen: Oklahoma St. quarterback Weeden a man among boysGreg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 29, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Dear Mr. Football: Is Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden really 27? Is that fair?

A. Weeden is indeed 27. He's so old that he once was traded by the Yankees to the Dodgers for Kevin Brown. He's so old that he was selected in the same baseball draft that produced Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels and Joey Votto.

Weeden is so old that he was minor-league teammates with ex-CDO infielder Justin Crist and ex-Flowing Wells pitcher Gilbert De La Vera, both of whom are now retired from baseball.

Dear Mr. Football: When Weeden goes to the NFL next year, will they refer to him as a rookie?

A. The thing is, he's only a junior. He might not get to the NFL until he's 29.

Arizona's oldest player of the Pac-10 years was Adrian Koch, a linebacker from Desert View High School, a key part of the UA defenses of 1999 and 2000. Koch was 26 as a UA senior, a man among boys who had served four years as a Marine in places like Somalia and Bosnia.

The common link is that older players seem to be among the best players. Arizona tackle Jose Portilla, at 25 during his last UA season of 1997, was second-team All-Pac-10 and a future NFL starter. Edwin Mulitalo was 24 in his final UA season, 1998, and he went on to play 10 NFL seasons.

Dear Mr. Football: Why isn't the Alamo Bowl a good fit for the Pac-10?

A. It makes sense financially, but it is so far removed from Pac-10 turf that it might as well be in Biloxi, Miss. Arizona is the closest Pac-10 school to San Antonio, and it is 890 driving miles to the Alamodome from Tucson. This is never going to be a neutral field for Pac-10 teams.

Nevertheless, the 18-hour drive hasn't deterred all. The Pride of Arizona Marching Band - five busloads of musicians - left Tucson at 5p.m. Sunday, drove through the night and arrived in San Antonio at 10 a.m. Monday. The one food stop: Taco Bell.

To the credit of UA director of athletics Greg Byrne's, he used a good portion of the school's $1.1 million in expenses, allotted by the Pac-10, to have the full band and all of the cheerleaders at the game. Two years ago, counting pennies at the Las Vegas Bowl, the UA permitted only a mini-sized band to travel, via bus, and even at that arranged for them to leave the stadium immediately after the game and drive through the night to Tucson.

Attending a bowl game is not cheap for traveling fans and never has been. If you want to attend the official UA tailgate party in San Antonio it's $55 a ticket. At the Rose Bowl, an official ticket to the Wisconsin tailgate bash is $75.

Dear Mr. Football: Which of Arizona's 16 football players from Texas is expected to have the biggest booster group at the Alamodome?

A. It's not a player at all, but outside receivers coach Dave Nichol. He grew up in Lucas, Texas, near Dallas, graduated from Texas Tech and coached at Cisco Junior College, Texas Tech and Baylor.

"I requested 25 tickets," he says. "My brothers, their kids, their wives, my parents and a bunch of buddies from Dallas are all coming. I probably could've used 50 tickets."

Nichol grew up about a mile from South Fork Ranch, famously used for the epic TV series "Dallas." He worked as a tour guide and parked cars there for celebrities such as Tony Dorsett and Roger Staubach.

Dear Mr. Football: Was Oklahoma State the year's most unexpected power in college football?

A. The Cowboys were picked last in the Big 12 South by Phil Steele's College Football Preview, the best of its kind. Sports Illustrated listed OSU as No. 46 nationally, and Athlon Sports ranked Oklahoma State fifth of six Big 12 South teams.

And why not? They lost 12 starters from a 9-4 team that limped to a finish, losing 27-0 to Oklahoma and 21-7 to an average Ole Miss team in the Cotton Bowl.

The shock is that the 2010 Cowboys passed for 355 yards per game, No. 2 in the NCAA. Get this: In its last six games of 2009, OSU passed for 117 yards per game.

Some of it was that, by luck or design, OSU played three dreadful opponents to start the year, enough break-in time to get Weeden established at QB and to pass for 1,175 yards collectively against Wazzu, Troy and Tulsa.

Dear Mr. Football: Is Justin Blackmon the most feared receiver Arizona has ever faced?

A. He has caught 102 passes this season, which would tie the best single-season mark in Pac-10 history by USC's Keyshawn Johnson in 1995.

Blackmon's numbers can't be diminished. If you catch 100 balls, you are an absolute star. But OSU's scheme - it threw 491 passes, 135 more than Stanford, for example - means someone was bound to run up some big numbers.

Over the last 30 years of Pac-10 football, it's likely that Cal's DeSean Jackson, several USC receivers and even someone like Oregon State's Sammie Stroughter, to name a few, were as good or better than Blackmon, but it's a small number.

Jackson caught just 65 passes in his final year at Cal, 2007, because the Bears were loaded with NFL-type tailbacks such as Jahvid Best and Justin Forsett. At OSU, Blackmon is option A, B and C.

Dear Mr. Football: Can Arizona possibly win this game?

A. Oklahoma State played two legitimately strong teams: Nebraska and Oklahoma. It lost both, 51-31 and 47-41, respectively. Given Arizona's schedule, it's conceivable the Cowboys would've lost to Stanford, Oregon and struggled against Iowa, USC and Oregon State.

But for whatever reason, Arizona has historically been a bad bowl team. It stunk up the joint in the 1990 Aloha Bowl against Syracuse, the 1992 Sun Bowl against Baylor, the 1994 Freedom Bowl against Utah and the 2009 Holiday Bowl against Nebraska.

It took a team-of-the-century, 1998, to win the Holiday Bowl, and the Desert Swarm's best effort to beat Miami in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day 1994. The 2008 Las Vegas Bowl win, against BYU, came against an overrated BYU team from a weak conference.

Against Arizona's weak secondary, the Cowboys should score at least 40, maybe 50. Can Arizona score at that rate? It's unlikely, but it should be close.

OSU 44, Arizona 34.

Imagine the fun if it comes down to a final kick by Alex Zendejas.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

Team W L T PCT
Arizona 5 1 0 0.833
Utah 5 1 0 0.833
USC 5 2 0 0.714
ASU 5 1 0 0.833
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714
Colorado 3 4 0 0.429

Pac-12 North football standings

Team W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857
Oregon State 4 2 0 0.667
Stanford 4 3 0 0.571
Washington 5 2 0 0.714
Cal 4 3 0 0.571
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286
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