It's here. The day college football fans have been waiting for, and a lot of Texas Tech's pledge class has gotten the business of signing out of the way. It's 8:30 a.m., and I've been able to confirm 14 players have signed national letters of intent with Tech.
So without further adieu, the new signees include:
Cibolo Steele OL Matt Goetz
Lake Charles, La., Barbe IR E.J. Celestie
Columbus OT LaAdrian Waddle
Mansfield Timberview RB Eric Stephens
Friendswood QB Jacob Karam
Denton Guyer OT Kyle Clark
Keller Fossil Ridge WR Aaron Fisher
Lewisville Hebron OT Joel Gray
When word spread last week that Austin High WR prospect Emory Blake had backed off his Tech commitment in favor of Colorado, one of the questions I asked was this: Is there a concern with Tech or is it simply that Colorado is more appealing? Blake's response: "My only concern that I had is about Coach Leach, but since he's not going to leave anymore, it's not a concern.''
Blake said he had gotten assurances from Tech's staff that Leach is going to remain in place, so the fear that Leach will leave Lubbock was less of a concern in his mind.
A lot of Texas Tech followers seemed underwhelmed Sunday when Killeen Shoemaker's Derrick Mays committed to Tech. Something about him not having enough stars next to his name and not enough schools recruiting him. As for the latter, Darrell Royal's credited with once saying, Don't be afraid to recruit a player no one else is. Make your own evaluation and trust your own judgment.
Mays might not pan out, but his resume reminds me of a few Tech players who turned out to be much better than forecast by those who assign the stars.
Tech players told me this week that they didn't care to pull off another comeback, the likes of which they used to beat Minnesota and Virginia the last two years. They're not that far behind, 24-21at halftime, but the Red Raiders still have their work cut out for them.
There are several sources of concern: Most notably, the Raiders are without two starting DBs -- S Darcel McBath and CB Jamar Wall -- at halftime. Plus, CB L.A. Reed, though not a regular starter, isn't suited up today, as expected. So all that depth that the Raiders have in the secondary? Good thing.
--Before the invocation and national anthem, the Cotton Bowl honored three titans who passed away in the last year: Former Southwest Conference commissioner Fred Jacoby, longtime Cotton Bowl ambassador Hoss Brock and Sammy Baugh, whose team won the first Cotton Bowl.
--Four U.S. Navy fighter jets just conducted a pre-game stadium flyover. The F-5N Tiger and F/A-18 Hornet aircraft came from four locations: Fallon, Nev., Virginia Beach, Va., New Orleans, La., and Key West, Fla.
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Ole Miss defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix both talked this week about the challenges such a long layoff present in preparing for bowl games. In a lot of instances, whichever team handles it the best is the one that wins.
I'm not sure what to expect today from Ole Miss. Houston Nutt and the Rebels both talked before and after they got to Dallas about the novelty and fun of the bowl experience for the players. Nutt said his players enjoyed every minute, and I got that same vibe from Rebels players I talked to as well.
I've just been informed that the Draddy Trophy -- sort of the Heisman for academics -- is being presented to California center Alex Mack during the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame dinner tonight at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. The Draddy goes to the player who is deemed the best all-around at academics, community service and on-field performance.
Tech's Graham Harrell was a finalist for the award. However, Harrell's awards tour is just getting started.
Partly to satisfy my own curiosity and partly because the subject seemed to generate much discussion Sunday among fans, I went back and checked to determine the last time Mike Leach appeared for a news conference or conference call the day bowl invitations were extended.
The answer: 2002.
That's the last time Leach appeared in person to discuss his team's bowl bid the day it happened -- when Tech got a Tangerine Bowl invitation in '02.
Before Texas Tech fans start reading too much into Mike Leach's absence from Sunday's Cotton Bowl conference call to announce the teams, they should know this: I can't remember the last time Leach took part in the day-of announcement about where his team was headed.
For the last several years, Leach has traveled to New York on this day to attend the annual National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame awards dinner that comes up early this week. For all I know, he might take the same flights each year.
It's been confirmed today what the A-J first reported after Saturday's game against Baylor. Graham Harrell had the surgery as scheduled on his left (non-throwing) hand and is expected to be ready when the Red Raiders play their bowl game. If Tech winds up in the Cotton Bowl, as most expect, Harrell has about a month to heal.
ESPN.com's Pat Forde, citing an unnamed source, reported details of Sunday's surgery.