If you ask Texas coach Mack Brown, they`re a sign of a championship contender.
"Usually, the best teams are the more penalized teams if you study it in the history of college football," Brown said. "I`ve said this before, but the most penalized team in our conference at the ACC was Florida State and they were winning all the games at the time.
"I always got confused about that, and it`s because they were so aggressive."
Coach Dan Hawkins` team at Colorado has started the season with 20 penalties in two games, following a year in which the program committed 107 penalties in 12 games. CU`s number of infractions was the second highest total in 20 years.
But no one is confusing the Buffs with one of the best teams in the conference.
The penalty problem has obviously not served the Buffs in the way Brown might have believed it would.
CU is 4-10 in those penalty ridden last 14 games and is coming off a 52-7 loss at Cal, in which the Buffs committed eight penalties while falling behind 31-0 in the first half.
Hawkins` approach to correcting his team`s penalty problem has been to make players run more in Sunday conditioning sessions or after practices. It didn`t work last year and doesn`t seem to be working so far this season.
So I thought I`d ask several Big 12 coaches how they try to correct a team with a habit of committing a lot of penalties. I started with the elder statesmen in the league, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.
"We shoot the offenders," Snyder deadpanned.
Snyder`s team has committed 12 penalties so far this season. Only Iowa State and Texas Tech havecommitted fewer among Big 12 schools. Snyder said the difference between a more penalized team and others is pretty simple.
"It`s basically that, being mature enough to have the discipline that it gives you a chance to avoid those things," he said. "And then you have to work on those things as well. Sometimes because there is so much we have to be prepared for, sometimes as coaches we forget to kind of drill our guys on some of those things.
"It`s a two-way street. We have to do a better job of coaching when we have those kinds of issues and by the same token, you have to try to create that discipline and maturity in the young people that you have."
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel analyzes every penalty in a game and decides whether he agrees with the call or not. Hawkins and his staff go through a similar process.
Pinkel said if he disagrees with officials he doesn`t grade players down for the call, and he includes the play on video he sends to the league for evaluation. He said the goal in the communication with the league is providing a chance for people on both sides to learn from the call.
Hawkins and his staff also communicate with the league about penalties each week.
Pinkel said the penalties that bother him most are personal fouls or unsportsmanlike conduct calls of an inappropriate nature. He said he doesn`t frown on his players playing aggressively and being called for hitting a player as they are heading out of bounds for example, but reacting emotionally after a play might draw his ire.
"It`s discipline, it`s maturity, it`s being able to think and play in an intense environment on national TV and in front of 70,000 people," Pinkel said.
Not the end of the world
Colorado fans understandably are depressed or even angry this week after watching their team get blasted at Cal, but look no further than Kansas for evidence that the season is not lost because of one early season setback.
The Jayhawks were down in the dumps at this point last week after opening the year with a loss to North Dakota State before rebounding to beat Georgia Tech.
"We all know in life your true character gets revealed when adversity hits," KU coach Turner Gill said. "I think this is a great example of our coaching staff and our players that they know how to handle adversity."
NU gets crack at Pac-10
As if Colorado fans aren`t in enough pain over the way their Buffs performed in their introduction to the Pac-10 in Berkeley last week, rival Nebraska gets a chance to show up the Buffs this week with a game at Washington.
The Huskers are nationally ranked and rolling offensively behind a powerful running game featuring freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. He already has back-to-back 100-yard games. Don`t be surprised if Big Red makes a much better impression in Seattle this week.
Nebraska faces Washington quarterback and NFL prospect Jake Locker.
"He`s a really good player," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "We have a lot of respect for him."
2 -- The number of catches Missouri sophomore T.J. Moe had all of last season as a freshman. Moe leads the nation, averaging 11.5 catches per game, after two weeks.
Landry Jones (Oklahoma), Justin Springer (Kansas) and Eric Stephens (Texas Tech) were named Big 12 Players of the Week, as selected by a media panel. ... Oklahoma State running back Kendall Hunter (2nd), Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas (3rd) and Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez (7th) rank among the top-10 rushers in the country after two weeks. ... Few people would have guessed the most efficient passer in the Big 12 after two weeks would be Carson Coffman from Kansas State.
Who is hot?
Texas A&M defensive lineman Demontre Moore had seven tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery against Louisiana Tech and somehow didn`t win the defensive player of the week award in the conference.
Who is not?
The Iowa State defense is allowing 215 rushing yards per game through the first two weeks.