Tramel's ScissorTales: Banner year for Big 12 football with Baylor, OSU & OU all in final AP top 10

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The final Associated Press college football poll has been released. Georgia is No. 1. But you knew that.

Here’s what maybe you didn’t know. Big 12 football had a great year. The Big 12 finished with three top-10 teams: No. 5 Baylor, No. 7 OSU, No. 10 OU.

That’s a super season for any league this side of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC, of course, had No. 2 Alabama to pair with Georgia. But no other SEC school made the top 10.

The Big Ten had three top-10 teams: No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State.

Final rankings don’t mean much other than bragging rights. But that’s what much of college football is, right? Bragging rights.

And the Big 12 can take it further. While OU is headed out the door to the SEC, sometime between now and 2025, Cincinnati, Brigham Young, Central Florida and Houston will join the Big 12.

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In the AP poll released Tuesday, Cincinnati is No. 4, Houston No. 17 and BYU No. 19.

Since 2002, only once had the Big 12 had more than two top-10 teams – in 2007, with No. 4 Missouri, No. 7 Kansas, No. 8 OU and No. 10 Texas.

That was in the Big 12’s heyday, when it was considered the equal of the SEC and the Big Ten. That status soon withered as the SEC soared.

In the five years from 2009-13, the Big 12 had only four top-10 teams combined – No. 2 Texas in 2009, No. 6 OU in 2010, No. 3 OSU in 2011 and No. 6 OU in 2013.

That’s back when the Big 12 at least had parity – six schools won or shared conference football titles in the six years from 2009-14. OU, OSU, Kansas State, Texas, Baylor and Texas Christian.

A little parity finally returned in 2021, with Baylor beating OSU 21-16 in a memorable Big 12 Championship Game, after the Sooners had won six straight league titles.

Sometimes, parity can lead to a lack of elite teams. But not in 2021.

Get this. OSU finished 12-2 and beat three teams that finished with at least 11 wins – Baylor, OU and Notre Dame, the latter 37-35 in the Fiesta Bowl. Baylor beat four teams that finished with at least 10 wins – BYU, OSU, OU and Ole Miss.

So while 2021 had its devastating developments (the eventual exodus of OU and Texas) and its rocky moments (no College Football Playoff participant for the second straight year), Big 12 football finished strong and at least positioned itself for a bright future.

More: From quarterbacks to recruiting, here are 22 things to watch for OU football in 2022

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Chris Paul treasures season with the Thunder

It seems so long ago that Chris Paul played for the Thunder. Game 7, Thunder-Rockets, first round of the NBA Playoffs, in the Orlando bubble.

Houston survived OKC 104-102. CP3 had 19 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists. He missed six shots. A quintessential Chris Paul game.

Among his teammates that day were Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel. Hope I haven’t sent anyone into depression.

Seems so long ago. But it wasn’t. September 2, 2020. Only 496 days ago.

Hope you haven’t forgotten. Paul hasn’t.

In a recent interview with The Athletic’s San Francisco-based Anthony Slater, an Oklahoman alumnus, CP3 said his year with the Thunder was his proudest season out of 17 in the NBA.

Paul had spent two seasons as a Houston Rocket, and his reputation around the league was frayed, as things went sour with fellow superstar James Harden. Paul was traded to OKC for Russell Westbrook, with the Thunder – not the Rockets, the Thunder – getting two first-round draft picks.

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Hornet Chris Paul (3) shoots against Denver's Kenyon Martin, in the first quareter, during the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, October 23, 2005, in Oklahoma City.  by Bill Waugh/The Oklahoman.
Hornet Chris Paul (3) shoots against Denver's Kenyon Martin, in the first quareter, during the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets exhibition game against the Denver Nuggets, Sunday, October 23, 2005, in Oklahoma City. by Bill Waugh/The Oklahoman.

That deal seems quite one-sided now. Any team wanting Paul for Westbrook would have to sweeten the pot. But in summer 2019, CP3, not Westbrook, was considered the fading superstar.

Paul, one of basketball’s greatest point guards, came to the Thunder in need of redemption. He came to OKC expecting to be traded sooner or later.

“That year I played in Oklahoma City is something I’ll never forget,” Paul told Slater. “That was my first year living away from my family. The relationship I got with my teammates and fans. The fans were amazing. I always hate that that season got cut short because of COVID-19.

“That was a big season, big summer for me, going through things I hadn’t gone through since I’d been in the league.”

Paul was superb in his OKC return. His first two NBA seasons were spent in Oklahoma as part of the relocated Hornets, who had been pushed out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.

OKC is where Paul established himself an up-and-coming NBA star. OKC is where Paul re-established himself as one of the game’s greatest players. At age 34, he led the Thunder to a surprising 44-28 record and was seventh in voting for Most Valuable Player in the league.

In autumn 2020, Thunder general manager Sam Presti took the plunge on a rebuild and traded Paul, Schroder and Adams. The Thunder is in its second season toiling in the lottery business.

Meanwhile, CP3 led the Phoenix Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals and has Phoenix again contending for an NBA championship.

Paul’s year with the Thunder was good for the franchise. It extended OKC’s run of playoff contention by a year and it solidified the Thunder as a franchise that revitalize careers.

It was even better for Paul.

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Adrian Peterson still wants to play

Adrian Peterson is not the oldest running back in National Football League history. But give Peterson time.

Peterson, who arrived at OU almost 18 years ago out of Palestine, Texas, just completed his 15th NFL season. It wasn’t easy.

Peterson’s services are not much in demand anymore. He turns 37 in March. Peterson still wants to play and said he was refreshed with his time in Seattle, where the Seahawks picked him up in mid-season and gave him 11 carries, on which he gained 16 yards and scored a touchdown before he went on injured reserve. The TD allowed Peterson to tie Jim Brown for 10th all-time in NFL touchdowns, with 126.

But 37-year-old tailbacks don’t have much shelf life in the NFL.

Only five running backs in NFL history have played at an older age than Peterson’s 36: Jim Thorpe, 41 (1920-28); Lorenzo Neal, 38 (1993-2008); Frank Gore, 37 (2005-20); John Henry Johnson, 37 (1953-66); and Darren Sproles, 36 (2005-19).

Thorpe played in the NFL’s dusty days. He was 33 when pro football was formed. Neal was a fullback.

That means if Peterson is on an NFL roster next season and plays in November, he would become the oldest NFL tailback ever in the modern age.

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“I just can't fathom my career ending the way that it did,” Peterson told Seattle media this week. “So with that, I'm going into the offseason with the mindset to continue to play. I still have love for the game. I feel I can compete at a high level still and with an offseason under my belt, with the mindset -- because I'm stronger than I was last year, mentally -- with the mindset that I would go into this offseason with, I feel like I'll be able to do some incredible things, getting healthy and just kind of grinding this offseason with a different mentality. So as of today, I definitely look forward to playing again."

During the Cardinals-Seahawks season finale Sunday, broadcasters Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth continually brought up Peterson’s impact on young Seattle tailback Rashaad Penny, who had a monster day against Arizona and ran for 671 yards over his final five games.

"I feel like one of the biggest people that I was able to impact was Penny," Peterson said. "He didn't shy away. He didn't shy away from asking questions and trying to pick my brain. 'Hey, what are you doing?' Not only did he just ask, he actually acted off of it as well. He's been doing things throughout the week to help recover his body, to keep his body in


Seahawks coach Pete Carroll noticed Peterson’s role with Penny and even suggested Peterson consider a career in coaching.

"After talking to Coach Pete, it's something I've kind of been thinking about," Peterson said. "I talked to my wife as well and she was like, 'Adrian, you are just a different person when you're around football and it shows. So it's something you really should think about and consider.'

“So for the first time, I've actually thought about it and considered going in that direction if and when I'm done playing football. So we'll see where the chips fall.”

Peterson ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,918 career rushing yards. Emmitt Smith is the record-holder, with 18,355 yards. But Peterson needs just 351 yards to catch Barry Sanders for fourth place.

Still, 351 yards is a lot of yards for a 37-year-old tailback. Peterson has become a vagabond. Since leaving the Vikings after 10 seasons, Peterson in the last five years has played for six franchises: Arizona, New Orleans, Washington, Detroit, Tennessee and Seattle.

The end is near on his glorious career. But few people have surrendered to time less than has Adrian Peterson.

More: A new defensive coordinator, Kasey Dunn's evolution and the 22 things for OSU to look forward to in 2022

The List: 2022 college football odds

In the wake of Georgia’s national-title victory over Alabama, the odds already out for the 2022 national championship, according to Here are the top 30, plus other Big 12 and SEC odds:

1. Alabama 13/4

2. Georgia 7/2

3. Ohio State 7/1

4. Clemson 12/1

4. Michigan 12/1

6. Texas A&M 16/1

7. Oklahoma 18/1

8. Notre Dame 20/1

9. Oklahoma State 33/1

9. Oregon 33/1

9. Texas 33/1

9. Utah 33/1

13. Michigan State 40/1

13. Southern Cal 40/1

15. Baylor 50/1

15. Miami 50/1

17. Arkansas 66/1

17. Auburn 66/1

17. Florida 66/1

17. Iowa 66/1

17. Louisiana State 66/1

17. Penn State 66/1

23. Brigham Young 80/1

23. Cincinnati 80/1

23. Houston 80/1

23. Kentucky 80/1

23. North Carolina State 80/1

23. Ole Miss 80/1

23. Pittsburgh 80/1

23. Wake Forest 80/1

31. South Carolina 100/1

31. Tennessee 100/1

36. Iowa State 150/1

41. Mississippi State 200/1

41. Texas Christian 200/1

46. Kansas State 250/1

46. West Virginia 250/1

53. Missouri 300/1

53. Texas Tech 300/1

57. Central Florida 500/1

57. Vanderbilt 500/1

76. Kansas 1,000/1

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Mailbag: Brady Manek

Basketball player Brady Manek, from Harrah High School, played four years at OU, then transferred to North Carolina, and still has the interest of OU fans.

Edward: "Brady Manek, 19 points, 5 assists (against Virginia). Still cannot guard anyone. His best defensive move is a flop. But if his 3 is falling, he is a star. Why is he in North Carolina instead of OU close to home?”

Tramel: Manek has played in all 15 games for the 11-4 Tar Heels. He’s only started thrice. But Manek’s numbers are very much like his OU numbers. Minutes played (25.8 per game; 26.8 at OU). Points (12.9, 12.0). Rebounds (5.8, 5.6). Three-point shooting (.364, .374). The one major difference is that Manek’s overall field-goal percentage has risen dramatically (.497, .454).

I have no idea if Manek wanted to stay at OU or was interested in trying something new, and frankly, playing basketball at North Carolina is a bucket-list type of experience. However, even had Manek wanted to stay at OU, it seems unlikely he would have fit in well with Porter Moser’s new regime. Moser is all about hard-nosed defense, and he figures out the offense. That’s not really Manek’s game.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Big 12 football: Baylor, OSU & OU finish in AP poll's top 10

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