Big 12 media days have finally arrived. Here’s what to expect from Day 1 in Dallas:
Storyline: The Bears may have won the Big 12 championship last year. But do they have the staying power to defend their title? With stars such as Petty and Goodley, they just might. Petty turned heads last year with his precision and poise. He turned heads this summer as an Elite 11 camp counselor with his mental and physical toughness. In other words, Petty is the total package. The Bears have glaring questions, notably a secondary with virtually no experience. But with Petty at the helm -- and weapons like Goodley at his disposal -- the Bears will have their chance to repeat.
Storyline: In two years, Weis has gone 1-17 in the Big 12, which is why his seat has begun to warm up. But despite the recent record, Kansas isn’t devoid of any talent. Harwell, Mundine and Tony Pierson form a competent pass-catching trio. Heeney is an All-Big 12 performer, and leads a defense that returns eight other starters. Still, Kansas won’t go into the season favored to win any of its Big 12 games. But the Jayhawks -- and Weis -- will have to fare better than they have.
Storyline: No team in college football got ravaged by graduation more than the Cowboys. In fact, Seales, Simmons and Peterson are three of just eight returning starters from last year’s 10-win team. Yet while inexperienced, Oklahoma State has recruited well and has talented prospects eager to prove their mettle. Will that be enough to stave off a rebuilding year? That will hinge heavily on junior quarterback J.W. Walsh, who won’t actually be at media days. Walsh was terrific in spot-starting duty two years ago as a redshirt freshman. But he struggled in 2013 with accuracy and decision-making, and eventually lost the starting job back to Clint Chelf. Now that Chelf is gone, the keys to the offense are Walsh’s again. Can he keep the Oklahoma State attack humming?
Storyline: The Horned Frogs have been stout defensively since joining the Big 12. And this year should be no different with standouts like Hunter, Carter and defensive end Devonte Fields, who last week was named the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Yet even with all that defense, a sputtering offense has prevented TCU from winning many games. This offseason, Patterson brought in coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to jumpstart the offense. If the Horned Frogs can finally begin to score, they could emerge as dark-horse threats to co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor.
Storyline: In Kingsbury’s first season, the Red Raiders followed a familiar script. They got off to another hot start. But when the schedule stiffened, they crumbled again in November. Then, however, Tech went off script. In one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season, the Red Raiders knocked off Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl. The win completely changed the tenor of the offseason. And the rapid development of sophomore quarterback Davis Webb has elevated the expectations for 2014. Webb threw touchdown passes on Tech’s first four possessions in the Holiday Bowl, and after putting on weight, was just as impressive during the spring. Kingsbury seemingly has the quarterback to take Tech to the next level. But does he have the defense? That will require Williams, Eguavoen and four junior college transfers along the defensive line to come up big.