Winners and Losers of 2014 Big 12 Media Days
DALLAS, Texas — The Big 12's media days are in the books. Besides preseason practice, the only thing left is to strap on the pads and play football.
It's all happening faster than you think.
With media days over, it's time to look back at who won the press conferences and what was left to be desired.
Who were some of the winners and losers of this year's Big 12 media days?
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless cited otherwise.
Winner: Baylor Coach Art Briles
Can Baylor's Art Briles actually lose? He certainly doesn't do it on the field much (anymore), and it's hard to imagine him struggling during a media appearance.
Briles got the ball rolling on Monday with a great line about being a Big 12 heavyweight: "I try to eat as healthy as possible."
Then, Briles told Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher to mind his own business over differing opinions regarding conference championship games.
It's all fun and games in July, and Briles delivered. Again.
Winner: Bill Snyder's Perfect Lead-in
The general consensus on Kansas State's Bill Snyder is that he's a coaching wizard. He's also one in the linguistic sense in that he's capable of lacing together long-winded answers rivaling the Iliad and the Odyssey.
But, occasionally, Snyder delivers a signature gem. Asked right off the bat about his optimism heading into the season, Snyder replied, "My degree of optimism is negotiated daily."
Those were his first words, too. Snyder's lede game is strong, folks.
But Snyder also reflected on his lengthy career with the Wildcats. He has no plans to retire anytime soon as long as he continues to have a positive influence on his players.
"You have to ask our players what it's like having a great, great grandfather as a coach," he said. "But if it has a positive affect on our players, it has a positive affect on me."
Two years removed from a conference championship and a conference title sleeper this year, it's clear Snyder, 74 years old, still has it. It's hard to imagine a time when he won't.
Loser: TCU Defensive End Devonte Fields
Naming Devonte Fields a loser is tough to do considering Fields didn't even attend the media days. Nevertheless, he attracted headlines in the worst way possible.
Deanna Boyd of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Fields is under investigation "after his ex-girlfriend accused him of pointing a gun at her, threatening, 'I should blast you!' then punching her in the head."
Fields, the conference Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, has been "separated" from the team. On Monday, Frogs coach Gary Patterson expressed his surprise that Fields was given the preseason honor and didn't talk much about Fields.
Fields has had off-the-field problems before, one of which cost him two games at the start of last season. Fields has a ton of upside, but he hasn't been able to stay out of trouble. While he's allowed due process, the details of the latest allegation are disturbing.
His future doesn't look bright with the Frogs.
Winner: Texas Coach Charlie Strong
As B/R's Taylor Gaspar noted, Texas coach Charlie Strong takes a little getting used to, as he's nothing like his predecessor, Mack Brown. That said, he's an excellent coach, and it's more than obvious he cares little about what anyone thinks of him.
Strong, not always comfortable in front of microphones, handled himself fine during the media days. He sidestepped questions about expectations, but his reasoning makes sense.
In short, he's in the middle of implementing a five-phase process to get Texas back on track. He's not thinking about wins and losses. That's not the sexy answer, and some might say he's avoiding questions, but he knows what he's doing.
And if you want to talk football, he will do it all day long. He even cracked a few smiles and jokes.
Strong is taking over a big job, but it looks like he's starting to fit in fine. What will matter most, though, is when the season starts. That's when the Longhorns need to show they're a different, better team.
Winner: Oklahoma's Defensive Line
A back problem cost Oklahoma defensive lineman Jordan Phillips for a little more than half of last season.
Apparently, though, Phillips is back and ready to go.
Phillips wasn't at media days, but Sooners defensive end/linebacker Geneo Grissom was and shared some good news about his teammate.
"I saw Jordan do a double back flip off a diving board two weeks ago," Grissom said. "He's back."
With Grissom and Phillips returning, the Sooners have what looks to be one of the more dominant defensive lines. The Big 12, for what it's worth, looks to be especially deep at that position.
Quarterback Trevor Knight has a lot of the hype and perhaps the boom-or-bust storyline, but Oklahoma's defense should be the anchor of this year's team.
Loser: Paul Rhoads' Censored Answer About Replay
Paul Rhoads is passionate enough to make a couple hundred media members think they too can strap on the shoulder pads and run through a brick wall.
So when Rhoads was asked if he could reflect on last year's controversial loss to Texas, Rhoads replied "without getting in trouble?"
Suffice to say, Rhoads didn't go off on another rant and spill some juicy quotes. That's no fun.
Sure, Rhoads talked about new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino and actually gave some insightful answers about recruiting at Iowa State (hint: it's not easy, especially trying to get defensive linemen). But as far as the good stuff goes?
Rhoads didn't quite oblige.
Winner/Loser: Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy
This is a wild card, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had a good and bad moment on Monday.
First, he said he "felt like Britney Spears" coming into this year's media days, an improvement from when he first began attending conference meetings. To understand Gundy is to understand that he rarely says anything that interesting. Mark one down in the "win" column.
But Gundy also created some confusion regarding the status of running back Devon Thomas, who was charged with three felonies last month related to an armed robbery. When asked why Thomas was not on the updated roster, Gundy stated, without naming names, that "if there's a player that's not on [the] roster, then he's not a part of our team."
However, Gundy told John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World later that Thomas had not been dismissed from the team—before clarifying, again, that Thomas was in fact off the team.
Gundy likes to keep things under wraps, but this was an instance where it would have been better just to say the legal process has to play out and that he can't comment beyond that.