Winners and Losers from 2015 Big 12 Media Days
DALLAS — That's all from Big D, folks. Big 12 media days are officially in the books. What, exactly, did we learn?
We learned TCU might be the only group with tempered expectations for the season. We learned why Kansas coach David Beaty is such a strong recruiter. We learned Oklahoma feels it's much closer to competing for a Big 12 title than you may think.
That, and much, much more.
So let's take a few minutes to reflect on what the last two days have brought us. Here are the winners and losers—which generally aren't "losers" since there are no losers this time of year—from Big 12 media days based on the best quotes and moments of the week.
Winner: Kansas Coach David Beaty
It's a good thing first-year Kansas coach David Beaty is an eternal optimist. Seriously, the guy is made of sunshine rays. This isn't a criticism, as Beaty nearly had a room full of sports reporters ready to suit up for the Jayhawks this fall.
It's just that Kansas could, shall we say, "test" Beaty's optimism this year.
His rebuilding project is another story for another day. During media days, when everyone's undefeated, Beaty was full of charisma, thanking high school coaches everywhere and showing just why he's regarded as such a great recruiter.
Media members aren't supposed to have rooting interests, but it's going to be hard to not want Beaty to find success. He's a likable guy.
Loser: The Disadvantaged Big 12
College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock had to know the question was coming. Is the Big 12 at a disadvantage because it lacks a championship game?
The obvious answer is yes. This was indisputable last season when the selection committee left the Big 12 out of the playoff field even though it had two teams, Baylor and TCU, finishing in the Top Six of the CFP poll.
"There's no question that Ohio State benefited from getting a chance to play another game against a quality opponent. It enhanced their resume," Hancock said.
This has been known for a while, but it doesn't make the answer any less painful to the Big 12.
But the more pressing question is whether the Big 12 will find itself at a disadvantage again in 2015. That's where Hancock reiterated Commissioner Bob Bowlsby's sentiment: One year does not make a trend.
"The risk from conference championship games is significant," Hancock said. "Nobody knows that better than the Big 12."
True, but no one else knows the consequence of not having a championship game better than the Big 12 too. Come 2016, the Big 12 could have some serious decisions to make.
Winner: Baylor Coach Art Briles
Look, we're not going to spend a lot of time explaining why Baylor head coach Art Briles won Big 12 media days. Just read what he said below, and you'll understand:
On what he's doing to combat penalty problems this year: "You know, I mean, trying not to commit them, first of all."
On Baylor's new gunmetal gray helmet (pictured): "That's the first I've heard that. Gunmetal gray? That's a little wordy for me."
On converted offensive lineman LaQuan McGowan moving to tight end: "Well, first of all, I'm like you. I like big guys too. I like them. I like them a lot."
"He's 6'8", 403 pounds right now, slimmed down to that."
On starting from the bottom of the Big 12 and arriving at the top: "Did you really say 'started from the bottom and now we're here?' Did I hear you say that? Never heard that before."
On not being complacent: "When you stay the same, people catch you, and you get caught. It's called an M.O., and that's why criminals get caught, because they do the same thing over and over again. You track them. You look at them. If you hunt, you know this deer comes here every day, or if you fish, you know they get in this fishing hole."
Loser: The Joe Mixon Case
The first two questions directed toward Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops involved the state of the program and violence toward women.
Anwar Richardson of OrangeBloods.com specifically asked Stoops why he hasn't distanced himself from running back Joe Mixon. Mixon, of course, was charged last August with misdemeanor assault after he allegedly punched a female victim, but the charge was later resolved through a plea agreement.
"First, let me say there's no place for it. It should never happen," Stoops said about violence toward women. "There's not only domestic violence, but there's violence toward women, there's violence in general. None of it should be tolerated, and it has been disciplined."
That's the right thing to say, but it's also fair to question whether Stoops really has taken a no-tolerance stance regarding the Mixon case. Mixon did serve a season-long suspension, but the cold, hard fact is that he is still on the team. Is that really "no tolerance"?
You're probably not going to get anything other than a diplomatic answer from Stoops on this, but there's clearly some tolerance for what happened. Otherwise, Mixon wouldn't be on the team.
Winner: Oklahoma Center Ty Darlington
One of the outspoken leaders for Oklahoma is center Ty Darlington. A self-proclaimed "natural born leader," Darlington was a vocal part of the Sooners football team in the wake of the racist chant made by the OU chapter of the SAE fraternity.
According to Darlington, the racist chant inspired change within the football team, bringing teammates closer together and shining a light on the situation.
"Just by standing up and talking about it, we were presented with so many opportunities with publications," Darlington said. "We were given a great platform to talk about this."
On a personal level, it allowed Darlington to learn more about his teammates than ever before.
"It wasn't ever intended to help us on the field. It was intended to be a positive change and talk about a national issue. But a side effect of it was that it brought us together as a team. I trust my teammates more than I ever have," Darlington said.
"When you're on a team with 105 guys, you don't get a chance to get to know them on a personal level. But that incident broke down some barriers for us. You stand up in a room and talk about some real-world issues. Even talking on a subject like that brings us closer together."
Loser: Oversized Facemasks
Day 2 of Big 12 media days began with Walt Anderson, the supervisor of officials. Overall, there weren't many rule changes for the 2015 season. There also wasn't a hot-button rule discussion like last year, when many coaches wanted a 10-second-substitution rule for defenses.
One of the minor changes for the Big 12 this year, though, is the elimination of the "oversized" facemasks, such as the one pictured above.
"Not a big deal," Anderson said.
Not a big deal?
Not a big deal?
OK, so it probably isn't a big deal, but it does seem like kind of an unnecessary move. If you're a fan of anyone wearing a facemask that resembles Scorpion or Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat, then this was a dark day for you.
Winner: Bulletin Board Material
Well, the Longhorns haven't forgotten.
According to head coach Charlie Strong, Texas has Bielema's comments plastered in the team's football building. Whether those comments are viewed as motivational or just plain uncomfortable is unknown at this time.
But as far as bulletin board material goes, this is definitely among the most uncommon cases. So there's that.
Loser: Feeling Old
Big 12 media days is full of anecdotes. Some are good; some are...not so good.
Here's one that falls into the latter category.
TCU center Joey Hunt made every person at media days feel old when he was asked by an official Big 12 reporter who his favorite player was in middle school. Hunt's response?
Even for someone who hasn't cracked 30 years old, I almost got weak in the knees from the shock. Remember when Young was running all over USC for the national championship in early 2006? Hunt was just a kid, not even in high school.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football. All quotes were obtained during group media sessions.