DALLAS – You are looking live at the main stage inside the Omni here as a crowd substantially larger than what was “gathered” when I snapped this photo awaits Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and his state of the Big 12 Conference union.
Updates will follow within the post of Bowlsby’s news conference as well as the thoughts from today’s head coaches (Charlie Weis, Bill Snyder, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson and Kliff Kingsbury) as the players at Kanas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech. Players from those teams, plus the head coaches, speak later in the day. The rest of the league’s head coaches and player representatives, as well as the league’s coordinator of officials, speak tomorrow.
- You’ll remember that at this event last year, WVU’s mascot, Jon Kimble, made quite the splash with his effervescent personality, the fact he was the league’s only “human” mascot and that he was a, shall we say, active participant.
I watched this man make his uninterrupted rounds for 15 minutes this morning. People were lining up to hug him and mug for pictures. It’s really something to behold.
(A word in my defense: I did not spend 15 minutes locked on Mr. Kimble. That would be weird. I was catching up with people, too, but about half of them remarked that Kimble remains popular. And now wonder …
THREE POUNDS OF DEER JERKY!
- The five teams here have a set of home and road uniforms on display on mannequins. I think the only new thing is the red Kansas helmet — and the Jayhawks are doing a bunch of funky things — but I can’t say I remember an all-white Texas Tech look. I guess my point is that out of this, no one renovated their look for 2013 like WVU did.
- Early highlights from Bowlsby: Reiterating the Big 12 is “intentionally” a 10-team league and that it might not change soon because realignment is in a period of ”relative calm.”
“I’ve been in the building 30 minutes and haven’t heard a realignment question yet,” he said.
- Big 12 stadiums will fill in-stadium breaks with live action and highlights from other games. Bowlsby believes this will help curb the trend of dwindling attendance.
“It’s something we’re very excited about that we think will greatly enhance the in-stadium environment,” he said.
- Now, having said that, players will have RF chips in their shoulder pads so things like velocity and travel routes can be tracked and presented — presumably for the television audience.
“We are, to be quite frank about it, not sure what we’ll do with the technology,” Bowlsby said.
- Bowlsby has said some really strong things about the the NCAA and “some kind of reconfiguration about how we govern” as well as “reevaluating our core purpose.” He said it’s too easy to get in and then to stay at the Division level and that about 70 Division I institutions win about 90 percent of the championships. He mentioned new federations, which means subdivisions and, I would assume, one for the elite he referenced, a few times in there.
I’ll expand on that later, promise. That was interesting. That follows closely what his counterpart in the SEC, Mike Slive, said last week. This is probably a talking point among the major commissioners.
- Bad news for WVU’s surely arthritic seamstress. A new Big 12 logo will be introduced and utilized beginning in the 2014-15 athletic year. Here’s a hurried picture of what it will closely resemble — sans blurriness.
- Bowlsby: ”I do think the Big 12 and other conferences like us would advocate for some form of additional support for student-athletes and it wouldn’t be support just for football student-athletes or basketball.”
- That “additional support” nugget from Bowlsby was attached to an answer to a question about the variables and elements that, who knows, could craft what we’re calling a fourth division within the NCAA. Basically, schools that could support, or would endorse, things like stipends for student-athletes, or more scholarships or greater revenue distribution, would form their own federation.
I’m thinking that the very blunt Bowlsby grabbed the spotlight and aimed it at something we’re going to talk and hear more about here soon — basically a move away from mid-majors who enjoy their NCAA affiliation, but do not embrace or maximize it. This isn’t new-new — Slive last week and the ACC’s John Swofford today have touched on it — but Bowlsby left no doubt that changes are needed and that nothing transformative an happen because the Division I populace is, for lack of a better choice of words, too crowded.
- At Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy doesn’t have the go-to recruiting hooks that Oklahoma and Texas have, though that’s no fault of his own. He might have the best recruiting pitch, though. His offensive coordinators since 2005: North Carolina Coach Larry Fedora (2005-07), UNC assistant Guenter Brewer (2008-09), Dana Holgorsen (2010), Southern Miss Coach Todd Monken (2011-12) and new hire Mike Yurcich (2013).
Yet Oklahoma State’s offense is still Gundy’s offense. It’s not an amalgamation of what his other coordinators have brought to his meeting rooms. The explanation? Well, one, it keeps promises to recruits, which is something everyone says, but not everyone truly sticks to. But the best answer makes the most sense.
“We have approximately 35 or 45 players or so that have played for our offense each year,” Gundy said. “Each season when we lost a coordinator to become a head coach, we felt like it was an advantage to continue to run the offense and keep the terminology, so when we bring in one coach, or two new coaches, they learn our system instead of 35 or 45 players learning new terminology or a new system.”
- Let’s not dismiss the wizardry of Bill Snyder. He’s been around the block, and in case you didn’t know that, consider this from Señor Snyder:
“My first position as an assistant coach was in Gallatin, Mo. — and this was a high school position,” he said. “I was an assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach and assistant women’s basketball coach, assistant track coach, drove the school bus, taught four units of Spanish, which I knew nothing about, and I made $6,000 a year. And I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, in all honesty, because I’d never had a paycheck worth very much prior to that.”
- For me, at least, the most interesting part of the preseason all-conference list was seeing Casey Pachall as the quarterback. Pachall can play — he’s 16-1 as a starter and was the nation’s most efficient passer last season when TCU started 4-0 — but he was also suspended the final nine games last season after an arrest and subsequent treatment for substance abuse.
He’s not here, but he’s someone many people are talking about, which is precisely why Pachall is not here, according to Coach Gary Patterson.
“A lot of people ask me why I didn’t bring him to media days. Number one, we don’t know who our starting quarterback is. Two, it doesn’t have anything to do with what my intentions were. If you really want to know the truth about it, him and I talked, and I kind of mentioned, look, you need to get some of this stuff out of the way because these guys are going to ask these questions down the road.
“But kind of like he did in the spring. He asked me when he came in, coach, can I just be a student, or can I be a football player? So what I’ve done is I’ve left him alone. I asked him before media days. I ask him about, now, do you want to go? And his whole thing is: I just want to be a student. I want to be a football player.
“So I’m letting him do his thing, keep the pressure off of him. I think having a two-‘quarterback situation that we feel like we have two quarterbacks now that can go win ball games in the Big 12 is a positive as far as the pressure type and go forward.”
- Charlie Weis wins the day. Believe it or not, Kansas is doing pretty well recruiting, winning some battles the casual observer would not expect the Jayhawks to win. Weis was very honest with how honest he is with his recruits who are joining a team that’s lost 21 straight Big 12 games.
“Here’s no one that wants to not play,” he said. “I said, ‘Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don’t think you can play here, where do you think you can play?’ It’s a pretty simple approach. And that’s not a sales pitch. That’s practical. ’You’ve seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I.’
“So now you’re sitting there saying, ‘Look, you want to have an opportunity?’ Everybody wants to tell me about depth charts. When a kid asks me, ‘Well, what’s your depth chart? How many guys are you going to take?’ I answer the question: Let me give you some advice, never ask that question again because that means that you don’t think you’re good enough.”
- OK, we’re done for now. I’m headed back to the hotel so I can beat traffic and get to my room before 7 p.m. CST. That’s the warning I’ve received. Back with more a little later.
- And we’re back. Fox announced its studio and game broadcast crews today. The upstart Fox Sports 1 will have a two-hour studio pregame show on Saturdays called Fox College Saturday. It will feature Erin Andrews as the anchor with Eddie George, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis as studio analysts. Former pro and college official Mike Pereira and Outkick the Coverage proprietor Clay Travis will also be on hand as part of the production.
The game broadcast crews are mostly familiar names … and I know that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Play-by-Play: Gus Johnson
Analyst: Charles Davis
Sideline Reporter: Kristina Pink
FOX SPORTS 1 THURSDAY NIGHT
Play-by-Play: Justin Kutcher
Analyst: Joel Klatt/Petros Papadakis
Sideline: Kristina Pink
FOX SPORTS 1
Play-by-Play: Craig Bolerjack
Analyst: Joey Harrington
Sideline: Ryan Nece
Play-by-Play: Justin Kutcher
Analyst: James Bates
Sideline: Brady Poppinga
Play-by-Play: Adam Alexander
Analyst: Chris Simms