- David Ubben, College Football
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Big 12 media days are just around the corner. Get ahead of the crowd and take a look at what you can expect.
When: July 22-23
Where: Omni Hotel, Dallas
Who will be there: All of the Big 12 coaches, of course, and Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk headlines a list of three to four players from every team in the Big 12. Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat will make the trip, as will TCU cornerback Jason Verrett and Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman. Compared to most years, the star power across the Big 12 is down a bit, but it still should be a fun few days.
Who won't be there: Lots of quarterbacks, but we'll get to that soon.
Five storylines to watch:
Where are the QBs? Only two teams are bringing a quarterback, and one hasn't played a down of Big 12 football: Texas' David Ash, and Kansas' Jake Heaps, a BYU transfer. TCU's Casey Pachall isn't making a return appearance after attending last year, and Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf won't, either.
Will they sing Kumbayah? Realignment has been a huge talking point at Big 12 media days since 2010, when Nebraska and Colorado attended for the last time, knowing they'd be leaving the league in a few months. Last year, the addition of West Virginia and TCU provided lots of fodder, but the conference lineup has not changed this year, and the realignment waters are as calm as they've been in a long time.
Balancing act. The Big 12's preseason poll will be released next week. Expect lots of talk about the top of the league and the lack of a true favorite. But don't expect much talk about the lack of a national title contender or the fact that the Big 12 may start the season without a team in the top 10 for the first time.
Lobbing bombs at the SEC? Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made a lot of headlines this offseason and not many friends in SEC country after talking about SEC "propaganda" and trumpeting the depth of the Big 12. The league's coaches likely would agree with him on the depth of the Big 12. That should be a hot topic, and I'm sure no one around the SEC will take notice.
Changing tides? Oklahoma and Texas haven't represented the Big 12 in a BCS bowl since the 2010 season, because Oklahoma State and Kansas State captured league titles the past two seasons. It's the first time since 1999 that Oklahoma and Texas have gone two years without winning the Big 12 (no, I'm not counting Oklahoma's "shared" title). The competition level at the top of the league is rising. Texas and Oklahoma should contend, but Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor will be in the mix again, and I wouldn't count out K-State, either. Expect lots of conversation about the national powers' place in the conference.
4dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information