Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big 12 Media Days

Like the SEC, the Big 12 hosted three days of media madness, but this time in Dallas, Texas. Below are the highlights (in my opinion) of the last 72 hours.

Nebraska: Head Coach Bo Pelini did his best to shut down any questions about the Big 10 early on, but was obviously not entirely successful. You can't just become a major player in the conference realignment that never was and refuse to speak about it when there are three days dedicated to your conference's public image. But he did manage to get through the press conference unscathed - no grenades were thrown at his head, no cheap shots, etc. So Pelini and the rest of the Cornhuskers aren't looking ahead to next year, or supposedly even to the Texas game. Pelini commented that he never knew about the "Red Out" video that basically turned the rival game against Texas into a bloodbath battle. You can see the edited version here (with no mention of Texas anymore), but know that their name was all over it at one point and the end stated "Wear Red. Be Loud. Beat Texas." Woops, not sure who's brilliant idea that was, but you can bet they aren't raising their hand for credit. 

Baylor: As head coach Art Briles aptly put it, influencing conference realignment was out of his job description, so he chose not to be bothered by worrying about what came of it. He also just recently found out that the Big 12 wasn't held together contractually, but he thinks that his word (and anyone's word) should be as good as binding. Not going to lie, I like this guy. Not that I really care how Baylor's season plays out, but Briles' press conference showed that he was a real class act. Surprisingly impressed.

Iowa State: Head Coach Paul Rhoads said that he had to go back and teach his team "Tackling 101", which explains how they went from five wins in two seasons to seven wins in one. Other than that, Iowa State remains Iowa State and essentially off my radar screen.

Texas A&M: Receivers coach Steve Kragthorpe resigned due to family health issues (it is believed that his wife has cancer), and they are hoping for former NFL player Troy Walters to step in. Head coach Mike Sherman is in full support of this move, and thinks that Walters would fit perfectly with their team. I wish nothing but the best for Steve Kragthorpe and his family in their time of need and recovery.

Missouri: Missouri, you're actually quite annoying, and furthered your status as "programa non grata" in the Big 12 by showing up 20 minutes late for your allotted time at the podium. Dumb, dumb, dumb. 

Texas Tech: Out with the Leach and in with the new. The Mike Leach harassment era of Texas Tech football is over as ex-Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville takes over. In every way that Leach was unconventional and quite frankly, pretty weird, Tuberville is conventional and on the straight and narrow. Now to be honest, he isn't my favorite coach of all time. I've never really enjoyed his style, but that doesn't make him unsuccessful by any means (he was 85-40 at Auburn). He also dressed the part in a nicely pressed suit, while Mike used to wear an un-ironed polo to speak at past media days. No matter who the new coach is, I'm excited for Texas Tech to have a fresh start without Mike Leach and hopefully two uninjured quarterbacks.  

Kansas: I could care less about Kansas, but their new coach Turner Gill, seems to be a dedicated, stand-up guy. A combo platter of victories and strong relationships will carry any team far, and I wish them the best in their new endeavors. I know how hard a transition to a new head coach can be...

Oklahoma: Injury-free and ready to go, the Sooners are now reaping in the benefits of their unexpected 8-5 season last year. I think they're out for blood, and I think the game against Texas will be one for the ages. New players, new tactics, new strategies, but same old rivalry.

Even though head coach Dan Hawkins swears he isn't looking back at Boise State (where he had a 53-11 record) and wishing he had stayed, I can't imagine he isn't at least thinking 'what if'. As his Colorado record stands at 16-33, this season is do or die for him. But he claims he's still having just as much fun as ever. Whatever helps you sleep at night, buddy.

Don't worry, Longhorn fans. Even though your golden boy McCoy is no longer your leading man, Mack Brown says he isn't going anywhere (and neither is the Texas-OU rival game, with a Cotton Bowl contract signed through 2015). Garrett Gilbert is the man of the hour, and I'm very interested to see where he takes Texas in the 2010-2011 season, because ever since the Vince Young era, I've had a soft spot for the orange and white.

Kansas State and Oklahoma State: nothing exciting to report, and you both will probably have no impact on my college football-watching this season.

Before the Media Days started, the Big 12 pre-season polls came out:

1. Nebraska
2. Missouri
3. Kansas State
4. Kansas
5. Colorado
6. Iowa State

 1. Oklahoma
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Texas Tech
5. Oklahoma State
6. Baylor

While I 100% agree with the northern division, I would have said that the southern division looked more like this:

 1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas Tech
4. Texas A&M
5. Oklahoma State
6. Baylor

I have the Longhorns taking the Sooners and I also think that Tommy Tuberville will bring Texas Tech back up to that Raider Red status we all know them as, surpassing Texas A&M. I'd also love to put Baylor ahead of Oklahoma state, but I'm not that big of a risk taker.

Last to speak was Big 12 Comissioner Dan Beebe. Even though two of his teams are leaving him at the end of the season, he wanted them to know that Colorado and Nebraska both are "fellow members of the Big 12 conference until they're not." He wants the transition handled with class, and I think he is going about it in the entirely right way. I give him credit, cause I'm not sure I'd be that excited to be working with two teams that almost cost me the existence of my entire conference. But he did somewhat take a jab at the Big 10 and the Pac-10 (soon to be the Pac-12) by saying "You get beyond 12 and you don't have a conference anymore. You have an association."

In closing of the topic and of the Big 12 Media Binge, Beebe said "I'm not sure what else we need to do. I guess we could get all the athletic directors and board members up here and sing Kumbaya, and maybe that would help some of you."

Well played, sir.

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