DALLAS — Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Baylor and Iowa State took the stage to wrap up the Big 12’s annual media days on Tuesday.
Here are team-by-team highlights from day two in Dallas.
Note: I’ve excluded Iowa State from this recap due to the fact that we’ve heavily covered everything that Paul Rhoads and his players had to say today already on this site.
2012: 10-3, 8-1
2013 Projection: Picked second by the Big 12’s media
*** Sick and tired of reading about quarterback competitions in the Big 12 yet? Well here is another. Apparently Oklahoma’s job is not Blake Bell’s to lose at this point in time.
“You’re kind of making assumptions if you think he’s the guy right now,” Stoops said to a reporter who asked about Bell being the guy. “We’ve got a number of guys in there in competition with him that are doing really well, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight to go along with Blake Bell. We’ve never been real excited about naming a guy too early. So they’re working hard as well.”
*** The million-dollar question regarding Oklahoma is, can Blake Bell throw the football?
“Blake is a guy that does throw the football well. We have a history in my going on 15 years of having guys in quarterbacks that are really excellent throwers, and Blake fits that mold. We would never recruit a guy that we didn’t feel would be a great passer.
So he works hard at it. He throws a great deep ball. So to go along with his big physical presence and ability to run it, we’re excited about the way he throws it too, yes.”
*** So you think Iowa State has a brutal schedule? Take a look at Oklahoma’s first six games of 2013.
@ Notre Dame
Toughest question Bob Stoops faced: “Do you still feel appreciated by Oklahoma fans?”
How he answered it: “Yes, I do feel appreciated by our fans, administration, and everybody. I’ve never been appreciated by everybody, even in 2000. So not everyone’s going to ‑‑ that’s always going to be the case, and any time you’ve been somewhere 15 years, that’s something to consider.”
Best quote: On his wife being a national sales director for Mary Kay (the company is having a massive conference at the Omni as well)…
“She comes down Friday, and her seminar starts, I think, Monday through Wednesday. So she’ll be part of this group, just in a different seminar. Very proud of her. These women do a great job.
Get your wives into it. It would be good for them. I’m recruiting.”
2012: 9-4, 5-4
2013 Projection: Picked fourth by the Big 12’s media
*** Look for Texas’ offense to play at a much faster pace in 2013. That is obviously by design, and it’s important to consider that David Ash is a more experienced quarterback for the Longhorns.
“We think that David is ready to go up tempo now with the offense. He’s in command. He’s very confident. He knows what we want. We didn’t change the names of the plays. We didn’t change the plays as such when major took over, and we’ve gone up tempo. But Major and Darrell Wyatt still have the same things in place. We’re just going at a much faster tempo. We want to go even faster than we did this spring.
We think David’s ready to do that. We’re a faster team. We’re an older team. We should be a mature offense. Two years ago our offense wasn’t very good. Last year at times they were really good. But we want to be more balanced. That’s the difference with up tempo than when we had Colt McCoy. We didn’t run the ball very well, and we want to continue to run the ball and be balanced in this offense.
*** Another reason to go more up-tempo on offense? Brown believes it will help his defense.
“Obviously, we were laughing last night, if you’re three and out with up tempo, you’re out real fast. So it gets your defense back on the field. So you have to be good at it to make third and fourth downs and keep the ball moving.
Last year I saw, during the season in our league, defenses having trouble getting defensive calls in the game because nobody was substituting and the ball was being snapped so quickly. I also saw that players were getting very tired across our league on defense, big guys were having trouble rushing the passer, they were having trouble getting out of the game because people weren’t substituting, and we felt like it was a real disadvantage to our defense that they didn’t get to see tempo at any time during practice.
They handled it much better this spring because they saw it every day. We feel like going to the up‑tempo offense will probably be a bigger help to our defense than it will our offense.”
Toughest question Mack Brown faced: “One national magazine has you all picked fourth in the nation. The Big 12 preseason poll from writers and broadcasters had you fourth in the conference. Which one do you think has more merit?”
How he answered it: “I really like the first guy better. I don’t know about his merit, but I like it better.
Who knows? You know, I do think that we have the most balanced league in the country right now, top to bottom. You look at Kansas struggled some this year, but they nearly beat us. They nearly beat everybody they played in Lawrence. They had some great games. Charlie is doing a tremendous job, and Kansas will be back soon, in my opinion. Everybody else can beat anybody else in the league on a given day, and that’s not happening across the country.
You saw in the SEC there’s seven that beat ‑‑ the top seven beat the bottom seven 30‑0, and that’s not happening in our league. Our league is very challenging. At one point, there were two or three teams that were better than everybody else, and that’s not the case anymore. Everybody is pretty good.
When you look at us being voted fourth, I thought what we saw is the numbers are all really, really close, and people are confused on who they think may win this conference championship, and that’s a compliment to our league.”
Best quote: “I do think that the offenses in the Big 12 are the most difficult to defend in the country, and we’ve studied it very, very hard, and I think we have the best offensive teams in America in this league. I think ‑‑ and you can check it ‑‑ we had four of the five fastest guys in the combine last year in the Big 12."
2012: 7-6, 4-5
2013 Projection: Picked eighth by the Big 12’s media
*** The biggest question surrounding West Virginia entering 2013 is how the Mountaineers will replace losing the firepower of guys like Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey at the wide receiver. Dana Holgerson said that he hasn’t lost any sleep over it.
“That’s not the first time we’ve lost receivers to the NFL and be able to line up next year and execute our offense.
It gets me excited of being able to get out there and face the challenge of being able to take ten strong guys and coach them and be able to develop them.
When I got to West Virginia a couple of years ago, there was a couple of guys that hadn’t made a tremendous amount of plays, and we coached them, and we developed them, and we turned into phenomenal football players and will play in the league for a long time.”
*** A lot was made about West Virginia’s travel schedule during its first Big 12 season in 2012. Holgerson said that he doesn’t buy into that being a big disadvantage for his football team.
“I’ve never bought into that. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I will never use travel as an excuse for a win or for a loss.
Now, Coach Huggins and Coach Carey and Coach Mazey, our basketball coaches and baseball coaches, they should be complaining about it. When you play two, three games in a week, it’s different. When you play one game a week on 12 Saturdays in 14 weeks, it is not that big of a deal. We’ve got five road games.
The routine of those road games will remain the same regardless if we were going to get on a plane and fly to Syracuse, New York, or fly to Lubbock, Texas, or south Florida or Austin, Texas. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about routine for us. We’re going to get back after the game on Saturday and line up and have the same routine the next week.”
Toughest question Dana Holgerson faced: “It seems that head football coaches’ salaries have been escalating through the roof, and now there seems to be a bidding war for quality coordinators and top assistants. Do you see a ceiling on that coming any time soon?
How he answered it: “No, I really don’t. It has ‑‑ we had to replace two or three guys this year that moved on for more money or whatever it was.
Yeah, it’s changing. I remember that there’s been plenty of days where there hasn’t been a need for changing assistants because nobody leaves. I think I was on the same staff at Texas Tech for four or five years before it changed. I know Coach Briles has done a tremendous job of retaining his staff.
But it is changing, and those guys see ‑‑ I mean, they see the need that some of the other staffs want to do what they’re looking at. How are they going to change that? They can’t come after me, so they come after the assistants to be able to do what we’re doing. I just use me as an example, but there’s been plenty of other examples across the country as well.”
Best quote: When asked about recent comments that were made by Nick Saban and Bret Bielema about fast-paced offenses…
“Yeah, I’d tell him to get over it because it’s not going to change. It’s going into the NFL, for crying out loud. There’s people being hired in the NFL that have the background in college football to be able to create a little bit more parity.
Don’t see it changing any time soon. So you’d better learn to adapt to it.”
2012: 8-5, 4-5
2013 Projection: Picked fifth by the Big 12’s media
*** Did you know: That 2013 marked the first time ever that Baylor received a first place vote (two of them actually) in the media’s preseason poll. Art Briles’ response to it…
“I don’t know how many people vote, I guess 25. I was wondering why those other 23 didn’t believe in us.
The thing that ‑‑ it just shows, I think, that we’re gaining some respect. We’re certainly not where we need to be or want to be or going to be, but we got one foot out of the water and on the land. We’re gaining ground.”
*** A lot of people around the conference were surprised when college football guru Phil Steele recently projected Baylor’s Byrce Petty to be the Big 12’s top quarterback in 2013. Petty, only attempted 10 passes as season ago. Briles discussed expectations for his junior quarterback.
“Bryce, a reasonable expectation, first thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do. I don’t know what expectation anyone would have other than doing that, which equates to winning every football game we step on the field with, which needs to be his expectation along with ours.
His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.”
Toughest question Art Briles faced: What was your reaction when Lache said he ‑‑ when he guaranteed he’d win the Heisman?
How he answered it: “I don’t know that he guaranteed it. I really did not look at the quote. If you’re saying he did, then I guess he did, and I hope he’s right.
What it did to me, nothing. We know Lache. Lache is a great teammate. He’s a great, passionate, caring person for everybody on our football team, prepares as well as anybody in the United States of America, and he believes in himself. And I learned a long time ago, if you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will.
He’s a great teammate. He’s a guy that’s going to help us win football games, and he’s going to fight hard to do it. So we respect him.”
Best quote: On Baylor’s shiny new helmets for the 2013 season…
“Well, there’s two shiny things up here, that helmet and my head probably. To me, that’s what it’s all about. You got style, you got attitude, you got effort. You have an image, and our image is we’re going to play fast, we’re going to be fearless, and we’re not going to worry about what other people think because we know who we are and we know what we’re going to do.”