MORE: Ranking Big 12 coaches for 2019 seasonWill Texas’ Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia resonate enough in Austin to break the Sooners’ streak? Or is the Big 12 fertile for a challenger like Iowa State to usurp Oklahoma? Is Baylor bouncing back fast enough? Is Oklahoma State primed for a return to excellence? Is TCU capable of a memorable charge?It’s certainly a telling season for a conference still trying to break through in the College Football Playoff. Sporting News’ review of the 2019 season in the Big 12:Odds to win 2019 Big 12 championshipThe Sooners are once again Las Vegas’ favorites to win the conference, followed by Nos. 2 and 3 by Texas and Iowa State, respectively. The full betting odds for the 2019 Big 12 champion, courtesy of Bovada:Oklahoma -130Texas +300Iowa State +800West Virginia +1400Baylor +1800TCU +1800Oklahoma State +2300Texas Tech +2500Kansas State +5000Kansas +10000Big 12 predictions1. Oklahoma2. Texas3. Iowa State4. Baylor5. Oklahoma State6. TCU7. Texas Tech8. West Virginia9. Kansas State10. KansasBig 12 X-Factor: Blast from the past?A league more closely resembling the old WAC — throw the ball everywhere, defense optional — may be undergoing an extreme makeover this season. Riley no longer has the No. 1 overall pick and Heisman-winning quarterback running the offense. Tom Herman says Sam Ehlinger is still polishing his throwing skills. Iowa State actually emphasizes tackling. Oklahoma State has a new quarterback. Penn Stater Matt Rhule would prefer Baylor’s offense look more like the New York Giants’. Gary Patterson is still a defensive genius at TCU. Matt Wells and Neal Brown will still throw it, but not as much as their predecessors. Chris Klieman’s foundation at K-State will be defense. Les Miles will run between the tackles at Kansas. Is the Big 12 going conservative in 2019?HOOVER: Big 12 coaches say patience, not shortcuts, that builds winning cultureBig 12 sleeper: BaylorAfter the wreckage left by Art Briles, most assumed Baylor was in for a substantial rebuild that would take five years or more to complete. Instead, Rhule guided the Bears from a 1-11 record in 2017 to 7-6 last season. This year, with Charlie Brewer and Denzel Mims on offense and one of the league’s most dynamic defenses, Baylor believes it can challenge for a spot in the title game.Big 12’s biggest games of 2019LSU at Texas (Sept. 7): Texas gets to follow up its decisive Sugar Bowl victory over No. 5 Georgia with a home game against No. 7 LSU. We’ll know pretty quickly whether Texas really is back.Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 12): Will the Red River Rivalry become the annual Big 12 Championship game preview? It was last year. The Longhorns won at the State Fair of Texas, then lost the rematch at Jerry World.Iowa State at Oklahoma (Nov. 9): Matt Campbell came into Norman two years ago, handed Lincoln Riley his first career defeat and ended a 30-year losing streak to the Sooners. Could he lead another upset?Big 12 Heisman hopefuls Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma. The Sooners should win enough for Hurts to get noticed, and he will have enough playmakers to put up big numbers. If he contributes on the ground, he may be New York City-bound.Sam Ehlinger, Texas. Ehlinger would need to be even better than last year (3,292 yards, 25 touchdowns, five interceptions, .647 completion percentage). Texas would also need to be better than 10-2 and runner-up in the conference.Keaontay Ingram, Texas. A lot would have to happen for Ingram to win. Ehlinger would have to defer. Ingram would have to stay healthy and put up huge numbers. And Texas would have to win a lot of games.Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma. Brooks finished third nationally among running backs last year with an 8.9-yard-per-carry average — while splitting time. If he’s the primary carrier in 2019, he’ll get a ton of chances to punch his ticket to the Heisman ceremony.HOOVER: Ehlinger ready to back up Texas hype in 2019Big 12 coach with something to prove: Matt CampbellAs strange as it may sound, Campbell needs to get Iowa State to the next level if he’s the coach everyone thinks he is. The Cyclones have achieved three straight eight-win seasons only once in school history. Campbell has his sights set a lot higher than that. If quarterback Brock Purdy, an experienced offensive line and a fierce defense can overachieve in 2019, Campbell can go from great Iowa State coach to great college football coach. The Big 12 is Oklahoma’s to lose until someone takes it from the Sooners, isn’t it?Oklahoma has won the conference four years running. Lincoln Riley finally did something about the defense this offseason, hiring Alex Grinch from Ohio State (via Washington State). Riley got his next quarterback too, acquiring Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts to hold down the quarterback position for a season. And Riley brings back CeeDee Lamb, Grant Calcaterra, Trey Sermon, Kennedy Brooks and others to support Hurts on the offense. Big 12 stat that matters: 40That’s the percentage of new head coaches in the league this season, and they all come from different backgrounds. Klieman maintained an FCS juggernaut at North Dakota State. Brown elevated Troy, and Wells elevated Utah State. And Miles, who already gave bite to one former Big 12 also-ran (Oklahoma State), is looking for career redemption after things got sideways at LSU. How does this sudden influx of leadership change the complexion of the league not only this season, but for the next decade?Big 12’s biggest question: Can it finally win a Playoff game?Oklahoma has been the Big 12’s only Playoff representative. Three times the Sooners have made the semifinals, and three times the league has been left wanting more. OU’s defense was mostly awful in losses to Clemson, Georgia and Alabama. Riley said it’s hard to beat a top-four team, but acknowledged that, if the Sooners are who they think they are, then it needs to happen. Now would be a good time to start.Big 12 champion: OklahomaNo way the Sooner defense isn’t better than the last two years — and those were Playoff-caliber teams with historic offenses. If Grinch can just level things out a bit (eg, not be last in the country in pass defense or red zone defense, create more than 11 turnovers a season, don’t miss tackles by the truckload, and play just average technique on deep throws) then Oklahoma could be unbeatable. A rebuilt offensive line (four first-time starters) will be problematic early, which makes Hurts’ predictably steady demeanor and commanding leadership all the more vital.
Share23TweetShare1Email24 SharesJune 16, 2016; WBUR-FM (Boston Public Radio)Senator Charles E. Grassley of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees issued a letter on Thursday essentially declaring that the American Red Cross (ARC) is stonewalling his investigation on questions of accountability where its activities and spending in Haiti are concerned. The ARC received approximately $487 million dollars to provide food and shelter in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.Eventually, questions began to be raised about the organization’s effectiveness in Haiti, with charges about inefficiencies and waste. Grassley mentioned that reports also surfaced about the ARC viewing the disaster as a public relations and fundraising opportunity.Most of the work the ARC did in Haiti under the Haiti Assistance Project (HAP) was in fact subcontracted to other organizations. Still, the Red Cross retained around 25 percent of that money, or $124 million, for its own operations and program costs. The rest, around $367 million, went to contracts with partner agencies, but the whole picture is obscured by a “complex yet inaccurate process to track…spending.” Consequently, the organization has been unable to answer questions about, for instance, how much went to oversight and evaluation activities—an important accountability measure, as far as Grassley is concerned. He writes that the ARC blames its lack of precision on its reliance on “nonprofit accounting standards which allow for the use of estimates rather than actual numbers.”In the same vein, Grassley charges that the ARC attempted to stop and then successfully limited a GAO audit, whereupon it still refused to respond to requests for information. And, finally, it has downsized its own Investigations, Accountability and Ethics (ICE) unit from 65 full-time employees in the immediate aftermath of Katrina to just three today. Further, that unit reports to the organization’s general counsel, who was the contact pushing limits on the purview of the GAO review.All of this, writes Grassley, creates substantial and fundamental concerns about ARC as an organization. Readers can go here to read the letter and the Red Cross’s response to queries.—Ruth McCambridgeShare23TweetShare1Email24 Shares