Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 concludes today with Week 15. The past two Big 12 champions face off, and Bedlam is always fun.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Baylor 41, Kansas State 24: With the final weekend mirroring 2013, the Bears know this game could gain added importance if the Sooners slip up in Bedlam. Taking the field with that mindset, Baylor takes a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter and never really looks back. Bryce Petty is efficient and effective, and Baylor's defense uses the experience gained in the first 11 games to help slow Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in a comfortable win to end Year 1 at McLane Stadium.

at Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 35: Another Bedlam, another close game, another late-game win for the Sooners. This time it’s true freshman running back Joe Mixon who turns a swing pass into a late fourth-quarter touchdown, giving the Sooners a late lead and, for the second straight Bedlam game, Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker seals the win with a big play on the Cowboys’ final drive. The Sooners win the Big 12, and their campaign to be included in the College Football Playoff begins immediately with Bob Stoops saying the Sooners “absolutely” deserve to be one of the four teams included during his postgame comments.

at TCU 42, Iowa State 20: The Horned Frogs end a solid eight-win season in style with a blowout win against the Cyclones. TCU’s offense gives Horned Frogs fans plenty of hope with a six-touchdown performance to end the season, including a touchdown pass and touchdown reception from “Mr. Versatility” Trevone Boykin.

Final Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 11-1, 8-1
2. Baylor -- 10-2, 7-2
3. Kansas State -- 9-3, 7-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 8-4, 5-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-7, 3-6
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-10, 0-9
DALLAS -- Daryl Worley was visibly annoyed, not by the question, but by the memory it evoked.

“Against Texas, there was a miscommunication,” the West Virginia cornerback recalled. “I didn’t get the call and they ended up scoring. If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t have even went into overtime. It’s a team mistake, but the way I look at it, it was my mistake.”

Worley’s calm, cool demeanor while answering the question masked the fire behind his eyes as he spoke. The sophomore went on to say the play still sticks with him.

[+] EnlargeDaryl Worley, Travis Bell
AP Photo/Christopher JacksonDaryl Worley has used last year's Texas game as motivation as he prepares for what could be a breakout sophomore season.
His determination, high expectations for himself and exceptional physical talent are just a few of the reasons Worley could be one of the Big 12’s breakout performers in 2014. Worley started five games and played in 11 as a true freshman in 2013, finishing with 45 tackles (36 solo).

“Coming in I had high expectations and I definitely did not fulfill all of them,” Worley said. “That’s just me, even if I feel like I did my best, deep down, I don’t think I did my best.”

Teammates noticed Worley could be an impact player as he stepped on campus.

“He attacked the weight room, he attacked the film room, you would have thought he’d been here five years,” receiver Kevin White said. “He definitely had the right mindset.”

Heading into 2014, the Big 12 could see a different, much-improved version of Worley.

“I feel like a completely different person,” Worley said about the difference from last year to this year. “[I went] from not knowing what to expect to being a student of the game and trying to perfect everything, studying so much and try to be perfect.”

WVU is going to need Worley to take his game to another level this fall. At 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, Worley has the size, skills and mental makeup to become one of the Big 12’s top cover men this fall.

“He's one of the better cover guys that I've seen,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “And he's only going into his second year on our team.”

White, as a player who battles Worley on a consistent basis in practice, knows the cornerback’s potential.

“He’s going to be a heck of a player for us, we’re looking to him to make big-time plays,” White said. “He’s big, he’s quick, he has catch-up speed, [going against him] is hard, even if you’re a big receiver. He can be on an island by himself and that side will be shut down.”

After falling short of expectations a year ago, Worley has high expectations for himself as a sophomore, and if he takes his game to another level this fall his goals should be within reach.

“I want to contend for the Jim Thorpe trophy,” he said. “If a play needs to be made, I want to be the guy that makes it.”

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
It's been a busy week at ESPN but Big 12 coaches aren't the only ones who made a visit to Bristol.
After just a few months in Ames, new coordinator Mark Mangino is drawing rave reviews. At least from the two Iowa State offensive players who attended Big 12 media days this week.

“My first impression when I met him was, wow, this is a nice guy who genuinely cares -- contrary to some of the reasons he left KU,” said Tom Farniok, Iowa State’s four-year starter at center.

This offseason, head coach Paul Rhoads tabbed Mangino to turn around an Iowa State offense that was one of the worst in the country last season.

[+] EnlargeMark Mangino
AP Photo/Orlin WagnerNew Iowa State offensive coordinator Mark Mangino has made a positive impression on his players.
The Cyclones ranked 89th nationally in points and 107th in yards. In fact, the last time Iowa State ranked any higher than ninth in the Big 12 in scoring offense was 2005.

“I reached out to him and certainly had great respect for what he's done in our profession,” Rhoads said this week. “I coached against him in 2009, my first year as the head football coach at Iowa State. Then his proven track record as a play-caller, as a tough-guy type of coach in what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way, but at the very top of the list was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success, and that was something that our program needed.”

Mangino’s resume included a national championship as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, then an Orange Bowl victory as the head coach at Kansas.

But he had been out of coaching at the FBS level for four years after resigning at Kansas in 2009 following accusations of verbal abuse of players.

“I thought he’d be a good a coach that might be a little bit of a jerk, just based off media reports. That’s all you have. Because I had never talked to anyone who knew him or talked to him myself. That’s all you have to go off of,” Farniok said. “Then you meet the guy, and you realize he cares. He cares a lot."

That doesn't mean Mangino has gone soft.

“I mean, if you mess up, he’ll jump on you," Farniok said. "But to me, that’s how football should be coached. If you mess up, you deserve to get your butt chewed. So to me, it’s like, he’s not a jerk at all. He’s just a good guy who coaches hard. Which is what I would think is expected of everyone that coaches, to get the best out of your players.”

Tight end E.J. Bibbs agrees.

“He’s very outgoing,” he said. “People don’t see that. In film room, he’s very goofy and relaxed. He knows how to motivate players and get them ready to play for him. When he first came in, I thought he was just going to be the offensive coordinator. But when I found out he was going to be the tight end coach, it made me even more excited.

“He’s been phenomenal.”

The Cyclones have kept a lid on just exactly what the offense will look like in Mangino’s first season.

But Farniok believes that with Mangino pulling the strings for an offense that returns 10 starters, the Cyclones could -- at long last -- be in for that elusive breakout offensive season.

“Obviously, to take Kansas to an Orange Bowl victory, you have to be a smart guy,” Farniok said. “But you don’t understand how much he knows until you talk football with him. Then you’re like, ‘Oh man. This dude is on a whole new level of football knowledge.’

"We're pumped about what he's going to bring."
In today's Big 12 blog, we discuss Trevor Knight, Devonte Fields and Iowa State Cyclones scheduling.

Click here to submit an entry for a future mailbag.

Now, on to the 'bag:

Will in Houston: Do ya'll think defensive coaches can succeed in the Big 12? Gary Patterson so far has not, which makes me a little nervous about Charlie Strong.

Trotter: Bob Stoops is a defensive coach, and he's done just fine in the Big 12.

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Alex in Searcy, Arkansas writes: How well do you think Oklahoma would do if Trevor Knight went down with an injury for any length of time? Who do you think could step up and replace him in a leadership role if this were to happen?

Trotter: With Blake Bell having moved to tight end full time, this scenario would present a huge dilemma for the Oklahoma Sooners. That is, assuming Baker Mayfield's petition for eligibility with the NCAA falls through. Mayfield, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, would be an excellent backup option for the Sooners. But if he's out until 2015, Oklahoma would have to roll the dice with either Cody Thomas or Justice Hansen, neither one of which looked ready yet for the big time during the spring. That's why Stoops said this week Knight had better be sliding a bunch this season. Right now, they can't afford to lose him.

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Ryan in Crystal Lake, Illinois writes: I realize every year they play Iowa. But I was wondering why Iowa State does not also schedule non-conference opponents from the SEC or Pac-12.

Trotter: The baseline goal for Iowa State every year is to get bowl eligible. That goal would be that much more difficult with an SEC or Pac-12 team on the schedule. The Cyclones already play the Iowa Hawkeyes, which went 8-5 last year. That's plenty. Nobody in the Big 12 has more than one Power Five conference opponent on its non-conference slate, except for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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Christopher Edwards in North Carolina writes: What are the chances that Joe Mixon jumps Alex Ross for the No. 2 spot on Oklahoma's running back depth chart?

Trotter: Based on what I've heard, I don't think it's unthinkable that Mixon eventually jumps everyone into the starting lineup.

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Harry in Austin, Texas, writes: Is TCU on a string of bad setbacks or does Gary Patterson have a discipline problem? First the drug busts, then Casey Pachall, now Devonte Fields. These offseasons have not been good to the Frogs.

Trotter: The TCU Horned Frogs certainly have had some discipline issues since joining the Big 12. But the Horned Frogs are hardly alone. Several other schools in the Big 12 have been in the news for ugly off-the-field incidents. Too many to even list here. It really hasn't been a great offseason overall for the league. And, it's been another bad one for TCU.

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Bob Budiselic in Carlsbad, California writes: I was really hoping that Texas and Oklahoma were going to move to the Pac-12. Do you think that this might happen in the future, and bring Tech and OSU?

Trotter: When it comes to conference realignment, never say never. But that ship has sailed for the foreseeable future.

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Nicholas in Houston writes: Say Tech or TCU wins the conference this season. That would be four straight championships by teams not considered traditional powerhouses. What would that mean for the Big 12's national perception? Would it be a positive because it would show the league is deep? Or, would it be a negative because it would appear that the major powers are on the decline?

Trotter: Tech or TCU winning the Big 12 in a vacuum wouldn't be a negative for the league. But the Big 12 is always going to be perceived as being stronger when Texas and Oklahoma are strong, too. The same goes for Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten, USC and Oregon in the Pac-12, Florida State, Miami and Clemson in the ACC and Alabama, Florida and LSU in the SEC. Right or wrong, perception is reality in college football, and conferences are perceived to be better when their traditional powers are winning.

'Hot' Kliff Kingsbury reads flattering tweets

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
There's no getting around it: Texas Tech football coach Kliff Kingsbury is an attractive man. This, along with the fact that he is single and has a high-profile job in the Big 12, has gained him quite a few admirers around Lubbock, the Lone Star State and the country.

 Kingsbury isn't shy about all of the extra attention. In fact, while at ESPN headquarters with his fellow Big 12 coaches Thursday, the 34-year-old bachelor sat down with SportsNation and read aloud some of the most flattering tweets about him.

BRISTOL, Conn. – Kansas Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis is a little lighter in his fingers and at his waistline.

Weis, a former Notre Dame coach and NFL offensive coordinator, said he is about halfway through his weight-loss journey, which started in February with the help of a doctor in Overland Park, Kansas.

“Every time you see me this year, I’ll be smaller,” Weis said. “It’s not going to be a debate.”

Weis told the Chicago Tribune earlier this summer that he wanted to lose 100 pounds, and he looks much lighter than he has in the past. Weis said his weight problems go back to a failed gastric bypass surgery in 2002. He also suffered knee and hip injuries when a player was blocked into him on the sideline during a Notre Dame-Michigan game in 2008, in which he tore the ACL in his left knee.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Weis
AP Photo/Eric GayKansas' Charlie Weis isn't flashing rings to recruits these days.
Weis had hip replacement surgery shortly after he was hired as Kansas’ coach in December 2011.

“The pain was just completely unbearable,” Weis said. “Getting my hip done was the greatest day of my life. I woke up pain-free for the first time since that hit.”

Weis, who has a 4-20 record in two seasons as head coach of the Jayhawks, said he hopes to coach for five more years. He said part of his desire to lose weight is so he can enjoy retirement.

“I’d like to enjoy my wife and my daughter and my son,” Weis said. “I don’t want to have worked for 120 hours a week for 30 years and then not enjoy them.”

There’s also something noticeably missing from Weis’ hands – three Super Bowl rings he won as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

Weis wore them to impress recruits as Notre Dame’s coach, and some media members criticized him as being arrogant. Now, Weis said he only wears his wedding ring during recruiting visits.

“When I was at Notre Dame, I’d wear one and got hammered for it,” Weis said. “Now they ask me if I have a ring, and I tell them I’m wearing the only one that matters – and that’s true.”

But Weis still points out to recruits that he helped the Patriots win multiple Super Bowl titles. In fact, Weis and Kansas defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Dave Campo combined to win six Super Bowl rings as NFL assistants.

When a recruit has reservations of playing at Kansas because of its recent record, Weis said he offers them this recruiting speech (he refuses to call it a pitch):

“What is your dream? It should be to graduate from college with a degree. About 98.4 percent of college players don’t play in the NFL; only 1.6 percent do.

“You want to play early, right? Where do you think you fit on their depth charts?

“When you get to that point, in four or five years, and if you’re lucky to have the God-given talent and progress to that point to play in the NFL, you’re questioning whether I can get you there?”

But what recruits won’t be able to see on Weis’ hand is a Super Bowl ring. He said they’re sitting in a box at his home.

“They belong to my son, to be honest,” Weis said. “He doesn’t know it, so be careful how you write it.”
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Baylor was one of college football’s biggest stories last season after finishing 11-2, winning the Big 12, playing in a BCS bowl game and scoring points at a record pace.

The Bears were featured on national TV and became a social media phenomenon because of their myriad flashy uniforms and fast-break spread offense.

But Bears coach Art Briles takes more pride in being featured on the cover of this year’s issue of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, which has been called the “Bible” of football in the state.

[+] EnlargeArt Briles
Courtesy of Dave Campbell's Texas FootballArt Briles finally made the cover of Dave Campbell's Texas Football, a highlight for the Texas native.
Briles was born and raised in Rule, Texas (population 636, according to the 2010 census) and has never worked outside the state. In fact, the most time he ever spent outside the Lone Star State was for last season’s Fiesta Bowl, when he spent more than a week in Tempe, Ariz. The Bears were upset by Central Florida 52-42.

“Maybe that’s what went wrong,” Briles said. “Next time I’m going to take some soil and food with me.”

Because of Briles' state pride, it's no surprise he said the Texas Football appearance is bigger than being featured on the cover of some national publication.

“It’s a huge deal. That’s without question the Bible of football in the southwest part of the country. Not everybody in Texas reads Sports Illustrated,” Briles said. “But if you like football in our state, you’re reading Dave Campbell’s.”

Campbell, a longtime sportswriter and sports editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald, first started publishing his magazine in 1960. For many years, Campbell published it out of his kitchen. It was sold to a media company in recent years.

How coveted is Dave Campbell’s cover? Even after Briles won four Class 4A state titles at Stephenville (Texas) High School, he wasn’t featured on the cover.

“I’d been in there one time,” Briles said. “In 1977, when I was a player at Houston, they had my photo in there. That tells you how big of a deal it is because I remembered it.”

Former Baylor WR to Bowling Green

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Former Baylor wide receiver Robbie Rhodes is transferring to Bowling Green, his father told ESPN.com.

Rhodes, who was dismissed from the Baylor program in June, will sit out the 2014 season and have three seasons of eligibility at Bowling Green.

Bowling Green's new head coach, Dino Babers, coached receivers at Baylor from 2008-11 and intends to install a similar offense with the Falcons.

"Coach Babers talked to him and laid down everything that would be good for him," Robbie's father Reggie Rhodes told ESPN.com. "The offense fits him so there's no transitioning to a new offense; everything is exactly the same. He wanted to go somewhere where he can go in and make an impact and be the No. 1 receiver."

To continue reading this story, click here.

Big 12 lunchtime links

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
Texas coach Charlie Strong spent some time with the Numbers Never Lie crew on Wednesday.
Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is set to begin his second season as the main in charge of the Cowboys defense. Spencer's unit had a stellar 2013 season, finishing atop the conference in points allowed (21.6), yards per pass attempt (5.83), third down conversion rate (31.4 percent) and opponent adjusted QBR (20.9). With preseason camp on the horizon, Spencer sat down with ESPN.com to discuss his unit's motto in 2014, strengths and concerns and his biggest area of growth heading into his second season as DC.

Heading into fall camp, what are three things you’d like to get accomplished with your defense?

First thing, which is the most important and has nothing to do with talent, is finding out where their heart is as a unit. Getting them to realize all the intangibles you have to have to be a really good defense. What’s your motivation for playing? Are you going to be selfish or unselfish? Where is your level of authentic toughness? Are you accountable to your teammates every practice? All of those things. Here are the three things, they're going to be on a T-shirt I’m making for the defense for camp: (1) Authentic toughness (2) Outrageous effort (3) Conquering love. It has nothing to do with talent. You have to have that to have any chance of being good and maximizing your talent and ability to be a great defense. That’s our motto.

Other than that, there’s a sense of urgency to make every rep valuable for those guys. You can’t simulate game day but you have to make it as close as possible and put those guys in stressful situations to see how they’re going to respond, create chaos out there in the practice atmosphere to toughen their skin and toughen their mind.

Are you feeling better about the leadership than you did in the spring?

It’s a process. The guys I’ve challenged with that role, Ryan Simmons, James Castleman, Kevin Peterson, those guys have earned a bit of respect because they’ve played and they know how to practice hard and get ready to win a championship. I feel better about it but they haven’t arrived yet and we have a long way to go.

I’d imagine, defensive line wise, you feel pretty good?

Yeah based on the number of guys who have played. They know the highs and lows, ups and downs and have proven they can play at this level. If you had to say we have a strength, which I don’t think we have a lot of strengths right now, that would be one. I’ll challenge them from the start of camp and say, ‘Hey, I’m expecting a lot out of you guys.’

Is there a particular position that is a concern?

We don’t have a lot of proven safeties, we don’t have a lot of proven linebackers. Linebacker then safety would be the top two concerns in terms of having young guys who have to play that haven’t proven themselves yet. They’ll need every practice to get ready to have half a chance against Florida State. We might have to get out some diapers to put out there along with their game uniforms, we’ll have to put some diapers because there might be a few accidents out there in Dallas.

Heading into your second season as defensive coordinator, what do you feel was your biggest area of growth as a coach?

I enjoy the process, it’s nice to start fresh again. I enjoy the process of developing a lot more things than people imagine, it’s a privilege for me. The experience of going through game planning, even though I was heavily involved with Bill (Young, OSU’s former DC), being the only guy and being in charge of the organization of a game plan and calling it on Saturday. Having gone through that for a year, just like a say you can’t coach experience of playing, you can’t coach the experience of making adjustments. The whole thing about defense these days is adjustments because you’re going to get something every week that you haven’t seen before. They might be attacking you with something, well you have to do something different. What is your adjustment going to be and being sound with your adjustments.
Our series of preseason picks for every single Big 12 game of 2014 continues today with Week 14, which features a Thanksgiving night showdown in Austin and another high-profile game at AT&T Stadium.

More Big 12 predictions for 2014.

at Texas Longhorns 24, TCU Horned Frogs 14: Charlie Strong's first season in the Big 12 ends on a high note with a victory over the always-tricky Horned Frogs. A pick-six from Quandre Diggs on his senior night is the highlight of a dominant night for the Longhorn defense, and a fitting finish for Texas' solid turnaround on that side of the ball in 2014.

West Virginia Mountaineers 37, at Iowa State Cyclones 34: Dana Holgorsen ensures his job safety for another season with a good, tough win over an Iowa State team that isn't nearly as bad as its record suggests. Mario Alford and Kevin White both surpass 1,000 receiving yards on the season after big showings against the Cyclone secondary.

at Kansas State Wildcats 35, Kansas Jayhawks 13: Kansas State sets up an intense, high-stakes final week for the Big 12 with an easy win over the Jayhawks, whose frustrating season has finally come to an end. Jake Waters has never looked sharper, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another himself. Ben Heeney somehow finishes the year with a school-record 207 tackles.

Baylor Bears 56, Texas Tech Red Raiders 52 (in Arlington, Texas): Last year, Texas Tech blew up Baylor in the first quarter but quickly ran out of gas. This time, Davis Webb gets his chance and keeps the Bears sweating for four quarters. A defensive bust and a 45-yard touchdown run for BU's Johnny Jefferson midway through the fourth is the difference-maker in an extremely even ballgame.

Current Big 12 standings

1. Oklahoma -- 10-1, 7-1
2. Kansas State -- 9-2, 7-1
3. Baylor -- 9-2, 6-2
4. Texas -- 8-4, 6-3
5. TCU -- 7-4, 4-4
6. Texas Tech -- 7-5, 4-5
7. West Virginia -- 5-7, 4-5
8. Oklahoma State -- 5-6, 3-5
9. Kansas -- 3-9, 1-8
10. Iowa State -- 2-9, 0-8

Strong encourages series with Texas A&M

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
BRISTOL, Conn. -- Texas and Texas A&M have played 118 times, and their in-state rivalry was a longtime holiday tradition in the Lone Star State, with the teams meeting 64 times on Thanksgiving Day.

But one of the sport's most storied rivalries was a victim of conference realignment, as the Longhorns and Aggies stopped playing each other when Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC before the 2012 season.

While Texas and Texas A&M administrators have repeatedly said renewing the rivalry isn't on their front burners, new Longhorns coach Charlie Strong said he wants the rivalry to resume.

To read more, click here.

Video: Strong on culture shift at Texas

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong joins ESPN's "SportsCenter" to talk about changing the culture at the University of Texas, getting back in the national championship picture and recruiting for the future.

Big 12 media days takeaways

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
DALLAS -- Big 12 media days have come and gone. Some of the storylines (Dairy Queen, fake watches) were silly. Others were far more serious. Here are some of the takeaways from this year’s edition of media days:

Baylor has a chip on its shoulder: Despite winning the Big 12 last season and returning the Big 12 offensive player of the year in quarterback Bryce Petty, Baylor was voted second in the conference’s preseason poll behind Oklahoma. The Bears clearly felt a bit disrespected while in Dallas this week. "That comes with being Baylor," defensive end Shawn Oakman said. "We're gonna be great one day and y'all are gonna notice." The Bears were pretty great last season, stomping the Sooners 41-12 on the way to their first Big 12 title. "That game from OU last year, that should have showed you that that product was nowhere near as good as the product that Baylor was putting on the field," Oakman said. "The execution, the players from each and every position ... You could tell we were on a different level from OU." Still getting picked to finish behind Oklahoma has given the Bears extra fuel for this season. "In our minds, we’re still underdogs," Oakman said. "We play with a chip on our shoulder. You only get the respect if you earn it."

Stoops is loose as a goose: The loosest coach at Big 12 media days might have been Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops. He was cracking jokes, photo-bombing his wife’s TV interview (she was there for a Mary Kay convention) and taking a break between interview sessions to grab a strawberry smoothie. He even chided Alabama coach Nick Saban for suggesting the Crimson Tide didn’t care about being in the Sugar Bowl. "So if I’m not in a national championship game, that means I’ve got a built-in excuse?" Stoops said. Such bravado could be a sign that Stoops thinks he has a pretty good team. With Trevor Knight at quarterback and nine starters back defensively, it’s not hard to see why.

TCU has a big problem: Though they had already left, the Horned Frogs were the story the second day of Big 12 media days. Defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was voted the league's preseason defensive player of the year, was accused of pulling a gun on his ex-girlfriend. TCU acted quickly after the news surfaced, claiming it had "separated" from Fields. If any part of the allegations levied against Fields are true, it’s difficult to see him ever playing another game in the Big 12. That is a big loss for the league. And an even bigger one for TCU, which is attempting to bounce back from one of its worst seasons in the Gary Patterson era.

Strong believes in Ash: The biggest question mark in Charlie Strong’s first season as coach at Texas is quarterback. More specifically, quarterback David Ash. But even though Ash missed virtually all of last season with concussion issues, then the spring with a fractured foot, Strong said he was impressed with Ash when watching old game film. "When Ash is healthy, he played very well," Strong said. All signs point to Ash being the starter when the Longhorns open the season. Whether he can be consistent and be healthy could go a long way in dictating how Strong’s first season goes, too.

Bowlsby does not believe in the NCAA: According to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, cheating pays. And the enforcement wing of the NCAA is broken. Bowlsby painted a bleak future for the NCAA, also predicting that Olympic sports could be in trouble down the line. "If you like intercollegiate athletics the way it is, you're going to hate it going forward," he said. "There's a lot of change coming." Because of its popularity, football will always be fine. But with lawsuits and athletic department expenses about to rise dramatically, Bowlsby thinks something will have to give.

Everyone’s mind is on the playoff, even if all minds don’t quite get it: The inaugural College Football Playoff was one of the big topics of conversation this week. The Big 12 coaches all believe the league is positioned strongly for inclusion, thanks to a robust nonconference slate of games and a nine-game conference schedule. Many players, however, weren’t well-informed about how the playoff will work. One didn’t know how many teams would be in it. Another thought every conference champ automatically advanced to it. And still another had no idea just how the playoff would be picked. The playoff is going to be an adjustment for college football fans. There is going to be an adjustment for the players, too.

Trickett was always the guy: According to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Clint Trickett was always going to be this season’s starting quarterback. It was just a matter of him getting cleared medically. "We wanted him to be the guy," Holgorsen said. "We had to wait and see how he did coming off the shoulder surgery." Holgorsen said there was little the other West Virginia quarterbacks could have done this spring to unseat Trickett, who sat out while recovering from the shoulder injury. "He was the best option we had this year, he was the best option we had last year," Holgorsen said. "Once I was pleased with what I saw, it was a no-brainer to me."

Hill will get the ball a lot: Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has had some talented offensive players over the years. But Gundy said it has been a long time since the Cowboys had a playmaker like juco running back Tyreek Hill. "He's very fast," said Gundy, comparing him to former West Virginia standout Tavon Austin. "He gets [past] that first level [of the defense] and no one is caching him." Gundy wants Hill to touch the ball at least 20 times a game. Whether he’s at running back or lined up in the slot, Hill is going to be the focal point of the Oklahoma State attack.

Snyder is still the man: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is 74 years old, just two years younger than former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who popped by media days Monday night. But Snyder is still coaching strong, with a team that was voted third in the preseason poll behind co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor. Apparently everyone should eat only one meal a day.