Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days featured the second five teams in the conference, as well as Big 12 Officials Coordinator Walt Anderson and Bill Hancock, had of the new College Football Playoff. Here are some news and notes from the day.
-The day began with Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson, who updated the group on different rule changes and modifications. One major change in instant replay is that recovery of the ball on a turnover is now reviewable. 2006 Oklahoma would love this rule to be applied after the fact.
-Also, players have to re-establish themselves inbounds to make it a completed catch if they are forced out of bounds by a defender. This doesn’t apply to running out of bounds on own accord. That will still be called illegal touching.
-There is no change in the targeting rule in terms of what a foul is. However, the penalty for targeting won’t stand if the targeting call is overturned. There were 92 targeting calls last year in college football and 32 were overturned. Eight targeting fouls occurred in the Big 12 with four of those being overturned.
-Combination fouls can still be upheld (targeting + another foul) even if the targeting is overturned.
-The biggest rule change is of the roughing the passer variety. When the quarterback is in passing posture (normally in pocket), a defender can’t hit him at or below the knee. The exception to the rule is when the quarterback is outside the pocket (most cases).
-The average Big 12 game took three hours and 25 minutes, longest in major conferences.
-Bill Hancock, the director of the new College Football Playoff, also spoke on Tuesday morning, hitting on the ins and outs of the new system, committee members and other intricacies. One big thing: New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are going to loaded. Two tripleheaders of major bowls is going to be a ton of fun.
-Hancock ran through a couple of mock selection scenarios showing how the committee would place teams in the six bowl games. It’s a pretty straightforward process and one that shouldn’t generate much controversy. The ranking process on the other hand, could produce plenty.
- Bob Stoops said an appeal is currently being processed for Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham to be eligible immediately. Stoops went into some detail on how DGB came to Norman, citing the prior relationship he and receivers coach Jay Norvell had with him from the recruiting process. “Through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well and be great for his future.”
-One of the changes Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby mentioned when talking about NCAA changes on Monday was scholarships. Stoops has always been in favor of cost of attendance scholarships, no matter what that entails. “I think it's always good that the cost of attendance (scholarship) obviously would benefit us in being able to transport players back home and back to school on breaks, that kind of thing is—were always positive steps, and hopefully we can continue to take them.”
-Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury cited “team policy” as the reason he blocked Baker Mayfield’s transfer to Oklahoma. Stoops said he feels very strongly Mayfield should be eligible right away and even took a subtle shot toward Kingsbury. “I think it's one thing if you've invested a scholarship in an individual and he decides to leave, heck, they even half the time allow them to play immediately,” Stoops said. “But a guy that you haven't invested a scholarship in, I don't know why that would even be something-- why it would be an issue. But in the end, it's something that we're working through.”
-Paul Rhoads has six new coaches on his staff, most notably Mark Mangino, who will be the offensive coordinator. Mangino will have a lot of talent and athleticism to work with, something that Rhoads said probably attracted him to the position. “I think he wanted to see that the cupboard wasn't bare,” Rhoads said. “I think he found that out. I think he was anxious to get back to this level. He wasn't going to just jump back in at any job. I think he saw the opportunity for success at our place. He liked the way that the program was being run. He knew that we're full of toughness from playing us in 2009 and talking to other people that had been playing us since then.”
-Rhoads admitted the Cyclones’ one-point loss to Texas to open Big 12 play was a “devastating loss” that “affected our football team.” The Cyclones lost their next six games before finishing the season with two wins. The controversial review in that Texas game probably cost ISU the game, but Rhoads said he hasn’t lost faith in the replay system because of it. “I think it accurately depicted what the replay system is and what it's not going to be capable of overturning,” Rhoads said. “What we've always known is the ruling on the field is most important. So I wouldn't say I've lost faith in it because of that, doesn't make it any easier to swallow that loss, because it's a game we certainly thought belonged to us as it played out on the field.”
-The Cyclones have had problems recruiting defensive tackles that can stop the run but are also fast enough to battle against the up-tempo offenses of the Big 12. Rhoads acknowledged those players are not easy to find, not only for ISU, but also for everyone. “You walk through the shopping mall, you don't see a lot of 6'6", 290-pound guys that can run really fast nor anywhere else walking around the streets. The numbers of those guys, they just don't exist and we all want them, and so every time you find those guys, the haves in this game of college football, the traditional college programs, they'll get first crack at those guys. We're going to take guys that on occasion are 230 pounds and develop them to be that 290-pound guy.”
-West Virginia is entering is third year in the Big 12, and coach Dana Holgorsen said he finally feels the Mountaineers are ready for what the conference demands. Holgorsen said the days of rolling through the Big East are over for West Virginia and that understanding what the Big 12 is all about is going to pay dividends for the Mountaineers in year three in the conference. “I think we're at that point right now,” Holgorsen said. “We have 55 guys on our team that have played Big 12 football. So that just means that there's guys that have played that are experienced and should continue to get better each and every year.”
-Quarterback Clint Trickett will be the starter for West Virginia in 2014, despite playing very little for the Mountaineers last year due to injuries. An increased understanding of the WVU offense has been a step in the right direction for Trickett in the offseason, but Holgorsen said the biggest thing about Trickett is his leadership, something the Mountaineers lacked last season. “The leadership aspect of it is something that we were missing,” Holgorsen said. “I was looking out there (and) not only we had a bunch of guys coming back that played a lot of football but there wasn't any leadership that was present at the quarterback spot, at the skill spot. He'll be able to take that to another level. People follow him. He understands what it takes to be successful.”
-Holgorsen said he doesn’t necessarily tailor his defensive recruiting philosophy to defending his own spread offense, but noted the necessity of having a plethora of playmakers to use against the wild Big 12 offenses. “When it comes to recruiting defensive personnel, we try to recruit as much defensive personnel as you can,” Holgorsen said. “You better have some big guys up front that can stop the run. You better have linebackers that can fill gaps and stop the run. In addition to that, you better be able to drop coverage and be able to cover. The secondary is probably the most important position on the defense in today's day and time.”
-Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said his optimism about this season “could be negotiated daily.” The Wildcats have always worked hard to not take anything for granted under Snyder, and he hopes this year will be the same. “I think my major concern is always young people taking things for granted,” Snyder said. “I say young people, (but) I probably can reference everybody in our program, is not taking our performance level, our talent level for granted, not taking the preparation for opponents for granted, not taking our workouts during the course of the summer for granted. Trying to find that way to get better every single day.”
-Tulsa native Tyler Lockett had a breakout year in 2013 and is poised for a big senior season with the Wildcats. Snyder described Lockett as a “young guy that’s got all his marbles in the right place,” and said his work ethic and attitude make him a great representative for the university and program. “He's one of those guys that you leave the practice field, you go in your office, you look out the window and you've got the equipment managers out there twiddling their thumbs wanting to get the lights turned off and Tyler won't let them because he's out there catching balls off the machine and keeping quarterbacks out to throw to him.”
-Snyder will turn 75 in October and the grind for head coaches in college football hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. Snyder said early in his career, he struggled with wanting to move on to the next job, but when he made the decision to stay put and not focus on the next big thing, he saw a change. “That allowed me, I think, to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on,” Snyder said. “It wasn't significant to me. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing, and that was kind of the approach that I've taken.”
-Charlie Strong may not enjoy the public speaking that comes with being a head coach, but he came out talking like a drill sergeant and acting like the media was the team he was trying to pump up. “It's all about putting a T back into Texas,” Strong said. “We talk about putting a T back into Texas, you talk about toughness, you talk about trust, talk about togetherness, and you talk about just becoming a team. You can never become a team until you have toughness to you, and then you look at guys. You can't trust one another until you can trust yourself. And it's all just about coming together, just becoming a team that is exciting to watch.”
-Strong said the Texas job may be big, but at the same time, it’s just another stop in his football coaching career. His experience at other big-time football schools helps him to keep perspective on what’s really important in the job. “The mission is very simple; it will never change,” Strong said. “We will make sure we graduate our young men. We want to make sure we go compete for championships, but we want to make sure they become a better person than they were when they came into the program.”
-Strong also talked about his role as the first black head coach in Texas football history. “There's tall shoulders that I stand on and there's people that have paved the way for me, and I've been given this opportunity,” Strong said. “It's been a great opportunity. But it's because of a lot of hard work from other people also. And I'm just so fortunate to be in the position. I don't ever look at it as a pressure because I know if you prepare, you have the right preparation, then you're going to overcome all type of pressure.”