Big 12 Conference 17th Annual Media Days – July 23-24, 2012

by Dan M | Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

 

By Bo Carter
Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby set the stage for 2012 football media days with an optimistic outlook for the 10-team circuit.
He also was preparing to go to London, England, Tuesday night as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee but savored the Big 12 spotlight during media days’ activities.  “Doesn’t seem possible,” he opined. “It’s been a month already (as Big 12 commissioner). I’ve been kind of drinking from the firehose these last few weeks. But I have to say that it’s been a really interesting and challenging time, and I’m excited that we are getting to the point where we’re going to begin some competition and do what it is that we all like to do.
“You like to cover our sports programs,” he continued, “and we like to put them on the fields and playing surfaces and making sure we’re having a good time with it. As I stated in my introductory remarks at the initial Big 12 press conference, I think the best days of this conference are ahead. I came into the process skeptical, would probably be a fair way to portray it. And during my first month, it’s flown by. “I’ve gotten unbelievable support from the people that are involved,” he continued. “We’ve been engaged in the BCS process obviously. We’ve been working hard with our colleagues on the SEC on the Champions Bowl, both the RFP process and the television process that goes along with it. We’ve made good progress there.”
“On July 1 we welcomed TCU and West Virginia,” Bowlsby added, “two members that I think will blend exceedingly well with the eight remaining members. I think we have a stability that is far better than perhaps the public perception. I think we have members that represent the best qualities of intercollegiate athletics.  And I think we are going to do some really remarkable things in the years ahead. One of the things we’ve been working on is our television package. It is not finished. I would suggest to you that having two  media companies and 10 presidents and 10 general counsels and 10 athletic directors, all, generally speaking, have editorial veto authority over the preparation of the documents, is a complex environment that may very well the understatement of the year.”
Big 12 head coaches in attendance echoed the new commissioner’s sentiments, and, as one bowl rep once noted: “Everyone is undefeated this time of year.” “On behalf of TCU,” said Horned frogs head coach Gary Patterson, “my players sitting in the back, we’re excited about our first inaugural year in the Big 12. Obviously it’s been a long journey for us. We’ve been through a lot of different conferences along our way. “And, for us, the way we approach things,” he noted, “we’ve always approached things, whether it’s been as a university or as a football program, it’s been about one day at a time and making sure we build a foundation that would last.” “And so my biggest desire as a head football coach is to make the Big 12 proud of inviting us into the league and make sure we have a product on the field, which is what I’m in control of,” Patterson stated. “Our goal has always been to win a conference championship no matter what, if you look in our pyramid, no matter what our league is, and that’s going to be our strive in this league to do so also, and also someday play for a national championship.”
The coach of the 2011 Mountain West Conference champs was followed by 20-year Kansas State legend and head coach Bill Snyder. “I’m not altogether certain about how we will finish in the Big 12 this year,” Snyder observed. “And I think you look back at last season, and we moved up maybe six slots. I just hope that we can do something similar to that. “But for us that’s, I don’t think, really significant,” he continued. “How do I deal with it? Probably not the same way that young people in the program do. Do we perform better as, quote/unquote, underdogs? That I don’t know. I haven’t seen any statistics in that regard. Last year obviously we played reasonably well in those circumstances.” “I have a greater concern about game by game when we are perhaps selected as favorites in a ballgame.” Snyder stated. “I think that — as any coach probably would say, that’s where your greatest concern lies,
just not making sure that young people don’t take things for granted or we as coaches don’t take anything for granted. You go back to the last season and what was our mindset going into the very first ball game of the season. We played Eastern Kentucky and did not score a touchdown until 58-plus minutes of the ballgame and then we’re very fortunate to walk away with a victory.”
Oklahoma’s six-time Big 12 champs’ coach and 2000 BCS title winner Bob Stoops also expressed cautious optimism about his team, which was chosen by Big 12 media to win the ’12 crown. “We’ve got three excellent players here with me: Landry Jones, senior quarterback; Ben Habern, senior center; and Demontre Hurst, a senior cornerback,” he allowed. “All excellent leaders and guys we’re hoping are going to have great years. But we’re looking forward to the season. Hopefully, we can be back to have a chance to once again compete for the Big 12 Championship. “I think it’s fair to say our league,” he noted, “when you add West Virginia and TCU, two teams coming off bowl wins, two ranked football teams, you put them with the rest of what we’ve been doing here in the Big 12, that our league is every bit as strong as it’s ever been, if not stronger. “So it will be a challenging year,” Stoops said. “Also, the non-conference schedule for us, when you add Notre Dame into the equation with the rest of the league, is a challenging and tough schedule. But it’s one I know it’s got the attention of our players, and it will be exciting to work our way through it.”
“There’s a huge amount of energy that’s surrounding our football program right now that’s created an increased excitement both internally and externally as we head towards the 2012 season,” said Iowa State head coach Pal Rhoads. “I think that’s supported by the fact that we’re going to open up a brand-new state-of-the-art football facility this fall. We had record-setting attendance last year in three different categories. Season ticket sales, single season attendance at all six of our home football games were over 51,000 for the first time in the history of Iowa State University football. “The season ticket sales for 2012 have already surpassed those marks,” he remarked. “Our football team through three seasons has experienced great growth and development, and I think as we head toward this season we’ll put our most talented football team on the field as we once again face a schedule that all if not most will rank as one of the top five toughest in college football.”
“We’ve had a good spring, good off-season recruiting,” explained Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, “two good recruiting classes back to back…The big thing I’m excited about is we get a little closer defensively. We haven’t had enough depth to compete in this league with all the high-powered offenses we’ve seen over the last couple of years. “You need around 30 players that can go day in, day out and play in this league,” Tuberville added, “and we’ve been about half that. But we’ve pretty much doubled our talent on that side of the ball. We’ve taken some junior college players. Most of the guys that played last year are back with us, and I
think they’re going to help.”
“I remember when we first heard that we were going to go to the Big 12,” said WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, who previously was offensive coordinator at Texas tech and Oklahoma State. “I mean, I obviously was worried about the (2011) season. It was a Friday. We were going up to play Rutgers. It was all over the media that West Virginia is going to the Big 12 and had to call a quick team meeting to get everybody together. “And that was obviously not the time to talk about the Big 12,” he stated. “And we really still haven’t — from an overall team perspective, we really still haven’t sat the team down, explained what the Big 12 is all about.”
“Last year at this time I sat here, and we had four quarterback candidates,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown. “And there was a lot of concern about trying to get four guys prepared for a new offense. So at the same time (Garrett) Gilbert gets hurt in the second ball game, David Ash steps up as a true freshman, Case McCoy jumps in, and Connor Wood. And Wood transfers, so it was all over the place. “What we have done now,” Brown continued, “we have two older guys that have been through a year with (assistant coaches) Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite offense. They both won significant games, one against – Case against A&M in College Station at the end of the year, David Ash in the Bowl game against Cal. So we’re coming in at a much better place this year than we were last year.”
“It’s an exciting time as always for us to be able to get back to work and come off vacation and looking forward to getting with the players,” said defending Big 12 championship coach Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, “seeing how they developed and grown and gotten stronger. For us, with a new quarterback and a number of veteran players on offense, and then a very solid and deep defense and looking forward to
a great year on special teams, it’s an exciting time. “There’s always a lot of talk about losing players that have really done well at Oklahoma State,” Gundy continued,”but one thing that we look forward to as coaches is an opportunity to start to develop and watch young people grow. And so we’re real excited about the season and looking forward to getting back to work.”
“Well, I’m already friendly with a few of the coaches in this conference,” said new Kansas and former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis. “I’ve been friends with Mack for quite some time. And Tommy Tuberville and I went to visit the troops together years ago and spent a lot of time over there (in the Middle East) – getting to know a lot of people. “Actually, one of the guys who I have the most respect for is coach Snyder,” Weis alluded, “and all the people of Kansas will be mad at me for having respect for coach Snyder, but I was always a big fan of his. So it’s fun and refreshing to get to know some of these other guys better. But the bottom line is: You want to go beat them; you don’t want to go become their buddies.”
Colorful Baylor head coach Art Briles rounded out the festivities and continued his moments of reflection on a 10-3 season, Robert Griffin III’s first Heisman Trophy in BU history, a new stadium in 2014, and a bright future with the Bears. He even had some good-natured fun with a media day reporter.
“Well, to ask that question so calmly about a subject that’s so exciting as the new stadium at Baylor, I admire you,” Briles quipped. “That’s good. You hid your excitement well. I wish I could hide mine that well. But it’s a big-time deal now. I’m not kidding you. It’s going to change the whole image of Baylor, I mean, to people that never really considered Baylor from now on, the next 50 years. “There’s 42 million people that drive down I-35 beginning 2014 that are going to see this beautiful stadium which is going to be one of the most beautiful stadiums in the United States of America on the Brazos River,” he added, “and they’re going to look over and say, okay, those people at Baylor are doing it right, because it’s going to be unmatched in beauty. And what it’s going to do for us from an image standpoint, recruiting standpoint, both academically and athletically for people that want to get into Baylor University, I’m not smart enough to articulate how much difference it’s going to make for our university.”
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