Some Questions for Big 12 Media Days

Written by Kyle Porter

The Big 12’s annual convention starts Monday morning at Jerryworld Jerry’s back house, and I have some questions. The Big 12, per the usual, is in a bit of an upheaval. Normally that means the South Floridas and Fresno States of the world are sliding up to the table to try and eat. This year’s consternation has nothing to do with expansion, though. Instead it has to do with turnover in the coaching ranks.

Out are the impossible-to-replace Bob Stoops and definitely-possible-to-replace Charlie Strong. In are newbies Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman. Lots of potential, zero wins. With that as our jumping off point, here are some legitimate questions/storylines I’m curious about heading into the hullabaloo of Big 12 Media Days.

1. Is OU really the favorite?

The parity of this league shined through in the All-Big 12 team voting. No school had more than five players on the team, and every school had at least one (even you, Kansas!) OU is the incredibly heavy favorite in Vegas, but with a 33-year-old trying not to drown in Year 1, should they be?

And if not OU, then OSU is the obvious second pick, right? And if not those two, then who’s a sexy third? The media says Kansas State, but is that what the coaches think (I know it’s not what Bill Snyder thinks).

We obviously learn nothing about on-field performance from these pressers, but it’s pretty easy to read between the lines about how coaches feel about other teams (and their head coaches).

2. How do coaches feel about the Big 12 title game?

Speaking of feels, I’m curious if the implementation of the $25-$30 million made-for-TV game at the end of the season featuring two teams that have already played Big 12 title game will change the way coaches think about the rhythm of this season. It seems such an odd thing to drop on a conference that already features games between all of its teams. I’m guessing the attitude among coaches will be a lot of well, if we have to have it to get into the CFB Playoff, then so be it.

3. What’s the feeling on Baylor and … Kliff?

Two entities that face fork-in-the-road moments this season. Baylor is going to be … decent? Maybe? Could be awful. Could be better than average. Nobody really knows. I’m intrigued to see the energy surrounding Matt Rhule and what other coaches as well as Bob Bowlsby are saying about them.

Also, Kliff. Is this it? Are his cases of hair gel and frogskins already in boxes to be shipped to Arizona or Utah or Columbia where he’s an OC next year? He’s good for the Big 12 beyond the movie-star looks and “fortune favors the bold” attitude because this is where he grew up and this is where he’s been grinding for five years now in Lubbock as head coach. His team is not getting better. Neither are his odds of staying around long term.

4. Iowa State’s gonna be pretty good, aren’t they?

Which team emerges from this two-day soiree as the “yeah, nobody wants to play them” team. My guess is Iowa State. Matt Campbell has some juice, and they took teams to the wire last year (Oklahoma State included). ISU lost by 25 combined points to OSU, OU, Kansas State and Baylor in 2016, and they have a terrific QB-WR combo in Jacob Park and Allen Lazard. I’m already a wreck about 11/11.

5. Is there a distribution plan?

SEC Media Days is on the SEC Network. Big 10 Media Days is on the Big 10 Network. Big 12 Media Days is on … the Longhorn Network and some permutation of Fox Sports channels. Oh, and it’s on Twitter via the Big 12 handle. That’s not very impressive, and though it’s one of the weakest points of the Big 12 currently, it also holds some of the biggest potential for the future.

Partner with somebody (anybody!) and get that #content to the masses. Google (YouTube), Netflix, Twitter, Amazon — something. While we’re here, the Big 12 could stand to get a website makeover. That thing is just not very impressive, and with all the talk of “we’re in a great position technologically and with distribution” I’ve heard, I’ve yet to see that actually play out in real, legitimate advances.

6. Is everybody feeling good about the Big 12?

The perception nationally is still not strong. Like “KD at the NBA Combine” not strong. That can be righted early with OU going to Columbus, USC-Texas and Oklahoma State-Pitt. But it probably won’t be. OU and Texas aren’t beating tOSU and USC, right?

So then, coming off a so-so year last season and heading into that gauntlet with two new, inexperienced captains manning this 10-team ship, how’s everybody feeling about the future? David Boren Zillowing houses in Illinois, Iowa or Minnesota yet?

The face put on this week will be a good one — and the money says it should be — but what does everyone actually think about the future of this conference?

There is an additional identity crisis this year not because of which teams will or won’t be in the conference in the future, but because the league’s leading man for the last two decades exited stage right a few months ago.

Big 12 Media Days are always interesting, and they will be even more so this year with a conference lacking a real identity and looking to the future to find it.

  • David Einstein

    I think the conference could get a clean sweep of tOSU, USC and Pitt. Small chance, but it’s possible.

    • guest

      you fooling yourself if you believe texas is going to beat USC…its not happening. OU has a punchers chance if they can block tOSU’s DL. That unit is just filthy and as good as OU OL is (top 3 in the country easy) i dont know if they block that DL for 4 quarters. We should be pitt by a couple scores if we show up

  • ttuadvisor

    I love this prevailing logic that Iowa State is going to be “pretty good” because they lost a bunch of close games and played Oklahoma State close last season but “Kliff is done”.

    • Mark

      The problem is that I can’t find any fault in the logic. 😉

      • scott

        Meaning that TTech lost to OSU, OU, and Kstate by a total 15 points. They also beat Baylor by 19. Three 3 close losses and a win, compared to 4 close losses. Advantage TTech.

        But TTech does have plenty of problems this year. I’d bet ISU over TTech. Not enough to list them as a pretty good through.

    • Michael H

      Tech lost their QB to the first round of the NFL draft. Is there a legitimate expectation that they will be more competitive without Mahomes? That Tech-Iowa State game in Ames last season suggests the programs could very well be on different trajectories…

      • ttuadvisor

        Mahomes was a transcendent talent but I think Kingsbury has earned the right not to question whomever he starts at QB.

        Even with Mahomes, Tech only won 5 games last season(with a lot of close losses). I think you have to look past Mahomes and ask if the OL, Running game and Defense have gotten better. The OL and Running game are still ? but the defense should be better….and I fully get all the eye rolls that sentence induces.

        Yep, that Tech vs. ISU game in Ames was a disaster last season. If anyone understood the power of Ames night games late in the season, I figured it would be here. Tech laid a giant egg, still don’t think that’s enough to claim ISU is going to be “pretty good” and completely write off Tech.

        • Michael H

          I understand that you feel like Tech is being undervalued, but the logic behind it isn’t unfounded. Teams with returning quarterbacks generally perform better than teams with brand new ones. The defense should be better considering they were the worst in college football last year, but nobody is giving them the benefit of the doubt (and rightfully so). Chances are they will still struggle to stop people while scoring less efficiently than last year.

          As much as anything, proclaiming ISU to be “pretty good” is a relative statement, not necessarily a sweeping declaration that they’re definitively better than Tech. Chances are that ISU will surprise some people this year whereas we generally know what to expect from Texas Tech, largely because of how we associate the historical quality of those programs.

          • ttuadvisor

            It’s more of a question of the logic behind saying ISU is going to be “pretty good” because they lost some close games last season and only lost to OSU by 7. Then turning around and saying “Kliff is done”, despite 4 losses coming by a single possession and only losing to OSU by a missed extra point.

            This isn’t a homer fan arguing his team is undervalued, just pointing out the clear logically inconsistency I’ve seen thrown around quite a bit this offseason.

  • Glen W. Walker

    So isn’t even going to show media days?

  • Mark

    Every Poke fan should be rooting for OU and Texas week one. It will only help our playoff chances if we are, indeed a contender.

    • Glen W. Walker

      Cannot, will not, root for nOu but I do hope theotherOSU loses that game. And yeah Texas needs to win.