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Three Things Dave Aranda Said Entering the Big 12 Championship Game

On the OU opening, Broyles finalists and a rematch against the Pokes.

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[Liz Parke/Big 12]

Dave Aranda has gone from a 2-7 2020 campaign to a shot at the Big 12 title.

Aranda’s Baylor Bears will take on Oklahoma State in Arlington this weekend for the conference crown. Aranda met with reporters Monday in Waco. Here are three things he hit on.

1. The Coaching Carousel

The coaching carousel hasn’t showed any signs of slowing down, and Dave Aranda’s name is a popular one among national pundits.

A former LSU defensive coordinator, Aranda was brought up plenty for the opening in Baton Rouge. Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly filled that position, but when one spot gets filled another often opens up. In the wake of Lincoln Riley bolting from Norman, Aranda’s name has again been murmured in relation to the Sooners. Aranda did an admirable job of shutting that talk down Monday.

“For me, I’ve spoken to the team twice on these things,” Aranda said. “They know me well enough. They know the quirkiness and everything I’ve got is, I think, a great fit for here. I’m hopeful that we’re past some of that.”

2. Battle of the Broyles Finalists

Two of the five Broyles Award finalists will battle against each other Saturday in Jerry World.

OSU defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes were each named finalists for the award given to the best assistant coach in the country.

A defensive guy, Aranda has levied high praise on Knowles in the past and gave some more Monday. Aranda pointed particularly to Knowles adding different looks to OSU’s defense over the years while making those alternate schemes look similar at the snap, confusing offenses. Aranda also said when he was at LSU he would call Knowles to talk football.

“With Coach Knowles, I think there is an intelligence about him,” Aranda said. “There is just a real strong football coach about him, just his passion. … He just wants to talk ball and get into it and stuff. Those times were fun. You can see when you watch their film there’s an intelligence about him, an edge about him. They play with a confidence, and they play with ‘respect all, fear none.’ It screams off the tape, so it’s awfully impressive.”

3. The Rematch

The 10-team Big 12 is unlike any other conference in that, aside from a cancelation, the championship game will always be a rematch.

Aranda and his Bears have already lost to the Cowboys once this season, falling 24-14 on Oct. 2 in Stillwater. Looking back at it, here is how Aranda assessed that game and what needs to be different in Arlington.

“The first thing that pops out is that was our first really road environment,” Aranda said. “Pressure creates abnormal behavior. I think we were in spots where the jersey number said it was so-and-so, but we weren’t acting like that person. And I think coaching-wise, same thing. There was a lot of unforced errors in that game, things that, unfortunately, we could control that we didn’t do a very good job with. Credit to Oklahoma State. We played Baylor and we played them that night.”

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