Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Questions and answers from media days
By David Ubben
On Tuesday, the Big East wrapped up the last set of media days in college football, so it's time to take a look back at what we learned from the Big 12's annual event, as well as what we still have to learn.
What we learned from Big 12 Media Days
The Big 12's coaches weren't excited to see high school games on the Longhorn Network. Almost a week before media days, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put a hold on the Longhorn Network's plans to broadcast high school games, but the league's coaches voiced their displeasure at the possibility in various ways, none stronger than Missouri's Gary Pinkel. "It's a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can have high school games," he said. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy said his "antenna went up when I started to hear that information." Baylor's Art Briles was the only coach who said it didn't bother him, but on Monday, the league announced it would declare a one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games, allowing the issue to be further examined by the NCAA.
Mack Brown knows what he wants from his quarterbacks. Brown said summer workouts helped Colt McCoy separate himself from Jevan Snead the last time Texas had a quarterback battle, and he's hoping the same thing happened this summer. Brown wants leadership from his quarterbacks above all, but he wants them to take care of the ball second for a team that ranked 116th in turnover ratio in 2010. Garrett Gilbert has the experience and is the most vocal of the group, but he threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns last season. Case McCoy, Connor Wood and David Ash were supposed to spend their spring and summer mostly learning Bryan Harsin's new, complex offense. Now, it's time to focus on competing. The separation could happen fast, and Texas opens fall camp on Friday.
Art Briles narrowly edges out Tommy Tuberville for the league's most entertaining coach. Tuberville poked at the Big 12 on his way off the stage, but Briles earned a few more fans with a solid collection of one-liners, including one about Ahmad Dixon that somehow got overlooked. "I take a lot of pride in being able to guess how much a male weighs," Briles said of the 206-pounder. "If you looked at him, you'd say that guy looks like he weighs about 183. He's put together pretty good." Briles also argued that talking trash was "in the ear of the beholder" and compared his quarterback to famed hurdler Edwin Moses.
Oklahoma will be fascinating to watch. The Sooners got by far the most attention on Day 2, sharing the second half of media days with the four teams picked to finish at the bottom of the Big 12. Oklahoma, though, isn't shying away from the hefty preseason expectations and players also spoke openly about the death of their teammate, Austin Box, this summer. The Sooners have a few subtle tributes planned, and won't have Box far from their minds throughout the season.
Kansas State's quarterback race is over. Bill Snyder brought Collin Klein to Big 12 Media Days, which seemed conspicuous enough, but he confirmed the obvious once he made it to Dallas. "He’ll take the first snap when we start in the fall," Snyder said. Klein was the most impressive during the spring, ahead of Boston College and Blinn College transfers Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur, but Snyder maintained there wasn't a lot of separation between the three following the spring game. After the summer, it looks like that's changed.
What we have yet to learn after Big 12 Media Days
How will Texas rebound? We won't know this until the Longhorns suit up against Rice and BYU to open the season, but Texas is the Big 12's biggest wild card after a 5-7 season precipitated wholesale changes on the coaching staff. The depth chart is wide open for new coordinators Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin, and fall camp should be one of the most competitive ever for the Longhorns.
Are Big 12 realignment rumors over for now? Texas A&M said the Longhorn Network produced uncertainty about the Aggies' future in the Big 12, but the one-year moratorium on broadcasting high school games may only delay conversations about the future of the Big 12, especially if the NCAA rules in favor of the practice.
Is this Oklahoma's year? Or the SEC's decade? Bob Stoops told a crowd at an recent caravan that it was "about time" for Oklahoma to win a national title, 11 years after its seventh national championship in 2000. The Sooners have enough talent to do it, but can they play consistently and catch the right breaks to rip off the 13 wins it will take to bring a national title back to the Big 12? Texas' championship with Vince Young in 2006 was the last time any non-SEC team won a national championship.
Who will start at Texas and Iowa State? The Big 12 has just two true quarterback battles left. The Longhorns have to pick between four, but the race in Ames is likely boiled down to Jerome Tiller, who has played in spot duty behind Austen Arnaud, and juco transfer Steele Jantz.