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The Great Debate

October 26, 2003|Jay Christensen; Jim Barrero

IS TEXAS TECH QUARTERBACK

B.J. SYMONS, AMONG THE LEADERS IN

PASSING EFFICIENCY AND TOPS

IN OFFENSE, THE REAL DEAL

OR JUST ANOTHER COLLEGE FRAUD?

POINT: Fraud. Let me tell you why. Hayden Fry, the former Iowa coach who grew up in West Texas, used to say the Hawkeyes "will scratch where it itches." The Texan-to-English translation is "we will take what the defense gives us." Symons has been taking, all right. Taking from some of the worst pass defenses imaginable. Now there are 117 teams in Division I-A, and let's run down the list of the teams the Red Raiders have played, with the pass defense ranking: Southern Methodist (101); New Mexico (110); North Carolina State (114); Mississippi (117); Texas A&M (40); Iowa State (105); Oklahoma State (95) and Missouri (42). And he no doubt will fatten up in the coming weeks against Colorado (115) and Baylor (61), which for the record, gave up only 73 points to Texas A&M. Not until the final two weeks -- Texas (7) and Oklahoma (4) -- will Symons be tested. Get back to me after the Longhorns and Sooners put him through the meat grinder.

-- Jay Christensen

COUNTERPOINT: Just how is it these days that someone in football is defined as being the "real deal"? Does it depend only on their pedigree, their dimensions, what round they were drafted in and how many zeroes are found at the end of their first pro contract? What happened to good old-fashioned results? Symons can't be faulted for quality of competition. He plays in one of the nation's toughest conferences (Big 12) even though his surrounding talent falls way short of measuring up with teams such as Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. Passing for 664 yards -- as Symons did against Mississippi earlier this season -- doesn't happen by accident either. It takes skill, smarts (Symons is an All-Big 12 academic selection) and the know-how to manage a complex offense and produce success week after week. Coaches usually measure a player's worth on consistency, and with Symons averaging 489.3 passing yards a game, how can that be anything but genuine?

-- Jim Barrero

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