DALLAS -- Big 12 media days kick off Monday in Dallas, the first big event of the 2016 Big 12 college football season.
Here are the compelling questions that each Big 12 team will face:
What will the players say?
Interim coach Jim Grobe has already addressed the scandal that occurred before his arrival. But what will quarterback Seth Russell, center Kyle Fuller and cornerback Ryan Reid say? No Baylor player has had to do an interview about how the school and football program handled sexual assault allegations that resulted in the termination of the coach (Art Briles) who recruited them. It’s difficult to envision the players being asked about much else. How they respond could set the tone for what figures to be a very challenging season.
Will Matt Campbell stand out?
Even with Briles gone, the Big 12 still boasts plenty of star power among its coaching ranks. The Cyclones are banking that their 36-year-old new hire is on his way to becoming a star himself. This will be Campbell’s first opportunity to stand out among his peers and send a message that Iowa State will become a force under his watch.
Can David Beaty conjure up optimism?
Because of a player shortage and talent gap, Kansas’ situation, which predated Beaty’s arrival, has felt hopeless. The Jayhawks, however, quietly improved over the course of Beaty’s debut season, despite finishing winless. Progress is going to continue to be slow. But if Beaty can keep the positive vibes going, Kansas has a chance to be an improved team that just might be able to eke out a win or two in 2016.
Is Bill Snyder primed to defy preseason expectations yet again?
During the second phase of his coaching tenure at K-State, Snyder has made hay outperforming the position his team has been picked to finish in the Big 12 standings. With a talented defense returning and quarterback Jesse Ertz healthy again, the Wildcats seem like a good bet to accomplish that again after being picked last week to place eighth in the league.
What will Baker Mayfield say?
Oklahoma’s vociferous quarterback has never been shy about saying what he really thinks. And in his media days debut, Mayfield figures to have plenty to say, especially on the conference walk-on transfer ruling this summer that finally gave him back his fourth season of eligibility.
What will the early returns be on Barry J. Sanders?
Few transfers in college football will be operating under the spotlight that the son of the Heisman Trophy winner will be see, playing in the stadium his father starred in some three decades ago. If Sanders jump-starts Oklahoma State’s previously dormant running game, the Cowboys could be a real threat to win the Big 12. What coach Mike Gundy and Sanders’ new teammates reveal about their first impressions from behind the scenes will be interesting.
What will Gary Patterson say about his quarterback battle?
Interestingly, TCU came out of spring ball without naming a starter at quarterback, even though Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill seemed to be the heavy favorite to win the job going into the offseason. Was the delay more about Foster Sawyer’s springtime emergence? Or has Hill underwhelmed so far? This has a chance to be another stout TCU team, but only if Hill -- or Sawyer -- steps up and performs in the place of Trevone Boykin.
Will Charlie Strong take another step toward naming Shane Buechele his starting quarterback?
All signs are pointing toward the freshman playing right out of the gate; Strong, in fact, has said as much. But will Buechele actually be Texas’ starter over Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard when the Longhorns open against Notre Dame? Strong could tip his hand on that this week.
Is Patrick Mahomes II ready to be the Big 12’s next star?
Mahomes just might be the best quarterback in the country almost never invoked on a national basis. In many ways, Big 12 media days will really be his first introduction to the collective national media. Should he charm, Mahomes could be on his way to becoming college football’s next star, and, perhaps, the Big 12’s next bona fide Heisman contender.
How will Dana Holgorsen handle the pressure?
There isn’t a Big 12 coach on a hotter seat than Holgorsen, who might be facing a make-or-break year in his fifth Big 12 season in Morgantown. This week in Dallas, Holgorsen is sure to be asked about his West Virginia future. How he responds could be revealing about what kind of team he thinks he might have going into fall camp.