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Coaches, Commissioner Talk League’s Depth, Competitiveness at Big 12 Media Days

‘We will be the deepest conference in America. Every week will matter.’

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

LAS VEGAS — Discussions of depth and parity were common place in the entertainment capital of the world.

Big 12 Media Days got kicked off Tuesday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, where commissioner Brett Yormark and eight of the league’s 16 coaches took to the stage to preview the upcoming year. Although the SEC and Big Ten might draw more national eyeballs, it’s hard to argue against the Big 12 being the most competitive power conference in the country. It’s a topic nearly everyone who spoke hit on.

“We will be the deepest conference in America,” Yormark said. “Every week will matter. I’m going to say that one more time. We will be the deepest conference in America and every week will matter. We have star power in parity. We boast some of the top players and coaches in the game. November will be incredibly exciting, and we will brand it as a race to the championship.”

The conference’s preseason poll released last week, where newcomer Utah was picked first, but among the 61 voters, five teams earned multiple first-place votes. Utah topped the poll with 20 first-place votes, with Kansas State being just one first-plate vote behind.

“We feel like we’ve got a good roster right now, one through 85, and ready to compete in this league,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “And I think it’s a really good, good league. We’re picked number one, but in my estimation there’s eight or nine teams that could win this thing, and we’ll have to see how things unfold.”

After Utah and K-State came Oklahoma State, a team that made the Big 12 title game last season and returns an immense amount of production, including Ollie Gordon — the league’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year.

Kansas is expected to continue to climb under Lance Leipold. Arizona has undergone a coaching change but is coming off a 10-3 season. Iowa State should be better with quarterback Rocco Becht entering his sophomore year. West Virginia had an underrated nine-win season last year.

Talent is everywhere, and though the league might lack a traditional blue blood or nationally recognized helmet logo, it’s hard to imagine there will be many unentertaining Big 12 games this fall.

“I think what makes the Big 12 unique is parity,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes said. “If you look at the Big Ten, you look at the SEC, you look at the ACC, the same teams have represented those leagues year in, year out in the conference championship games. In the last three years, six different Big 12 teams have been in the championship game. So I think right there that speaks to the parity of the league. …

“Every team in the league is capable of beating any other team on any given Saturday. I don’t know that that’s the case in some of the other leagues.”

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