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Big 12 media days blog: Quickfire notes from Bill Self’s one-on-one interviews

1:50 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

We're going to go ahead and sign off on our live coverage from Big 12 media days.

Be sure to look below for:

Notes from Self talking at the podium and in one-on-one interviews.

Short videos with Big 12 director of officiating Curtis Shaw explaining the new handchecking and block/charge rules.

Also, check back to on Wednesday for all of Gary Bedore's stories and notebook items from media day.

1:08 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

OK, here are some quickfire notes from what Self said during his hour of one-on-one interviews:

• Self still believes Perry Ellis has the potential to be KU's leading or second-leading scorer this year.

Self says he never watches tape of his team's final game of the season after an NCAA Tournament loss. "Why watch it? You can't get it back. It's over," Self said. He said he's only watched one final game during his time at KU, but he joked that he watched that one a bunch.

• Self says center Joel Embiid "has fallen in love with basketball." He says the big man has great feet. Embiid might not make an impact early, but he could make a huge impact late. Self said KU only saw Embiid in recruiting because he was the fourth-best player on Brannen Greene's AAU team.

• Self said Wayne Selden has been "one of our best players since Day One. Period." Self says once the games start, he won't be overlooked by anyone.

On the possibility of Selden being a backup poing guard for KU, Self said the last thing he wants is Selden thinking too much. "Could he do it in time? Absolutely," Self said. Self doesn't believe right away is the best time for that, though. Playing point guard requires a lot. Self compared it to having your starting running back in football also assigned to be the backup quarterback. He said that's asking quite a bit of a player.

Self said at nearly every practice, 6-10 NBA guys are watching his players. He said that's a good situation that you want to have at your program. You want your guys to get exposure.

• Self said the biggest surprises for him have been the development of Naadir Tharpe, Perry Ellis and Embiid.

• Self said Tarik Black should be the best player he's had at sealing off defenders and scoring with angles. He's also helped Embiid's development.

• Last year, Self said KU didn't have a true low-post scorer with Kevin Young and Jeff Withey in the starting lineup. KU should play through the post more this year, and it's also deeper on the perimeter than last year's team. Self still said that last year's team at the end of the year would whip the team he has right now, which doesn't completely know what it's doing yet.

Self didn't hesitate to let Andrew Wiggins do the SI cover. At the time, though, Self didn't know how SI was going to do the cover or the story. Self did think the cover was cool, even if it did perhaps add more expectations.

Self believes the attention on Wiggins could help all his players, especially ones like Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene. Those guys should be able to develop at their own pace, whereas in another program, they'd probably have a lot expected of them right away. Self said Frankamp was going to be good, as he could shoot as well as anyone on the team. Self said one improvement Frankamp needs to make is with his defense.

• Self said KU was teaching its defense a bit differently because of the new defensive rules changes with handchekcing. The block/charge change, though, doesn't affect Self's defensive philosophy, as he's never taught guys to take charges, even though guys like Kevin Young and Travis Releford were good at it. Self said he likes to have his guys play physical on the perimeter, so he's not telling his guys to back off defensively, because he thinks that might send the wrong message. The team might have to adjust principles, though, based on how the game is officiated.

Self says his team has scrimmaged twice, and both times, it had three officials to get used to the new rules. His team will scrimmage twice a week from now on, and two officials will be present at those as well.

Embiid will not be a rim-protector like Jeff Withey was. Self said his team was spoiled the last two years. Self said Embiid is good at shot-blocking, but not as good as he could be. Embiid needs to get it more in his mind to go after blocked shots.

Self said he looks to NBA teams for information, mostly regarding how to guard ball screens.

Self said Wiggins is a guard that can post up, and KU's never had that in his time there. KU will try to get it to him there at times.

Self said KU could play with four guards this year, but he's more inclined to play his best players, and right now, the big men have been as consistent as anyone. It's going to be hard to take more than two big men out at a time.

• Last year, Tharpe was more comfortable being "a guy." "Now, he's the guy," Self said. Tharpe now believes he belongs.

• Self said Andrew White III's role could be first guard off the bench. He's listened to the coaches and improved nearly every aspect he was asked to in the offseason.

11:15 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

A quick note on the blog ... the updates might be a little more infrequent over the next hour or so, as starting at 11:30, one-on-one interviews start with both coaches and players. If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the Bill Self Cliff's notes below, along with the short videos that explain the new NCAA rule changes this year.

11:04 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Here's more clarification of OSU coach Travis Ford's quote below. Here's officially what he said from the Big 12's transcript:

"Well, we haven't talked much about where we were picked (in Big 12). We talk a lot about understanding what our goals are and what we want to try to accomplish. Winning a Big 12 Championship is something that we strive to do. It's something we talk about, but we fully grasp that Kansas is still a team to beat. I think any coach would tell you that. They're still the team in the Big 12 that everybody's trying to compete with."

10:49 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Some interesting comments a few seconds ago from Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, who was asked about the Big 12 preseason rankings.

"We fully grasped that Kansas is a team to beat," Ford said.

I believe Ford was referencing most of the past decade as KU being the league favorite, but he also might be trying to take some pressure off his guys.

10:32 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Short note from our Gary Bedore: KU walkon Tyler Self will be out three to four weeks with a torn ligament in the top of his foot.

10:25 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

For those who haven't heard anything about the new rules ... be sure to take a look at the two short videos below. Big 12 director of officials Curtis Shaw explains — with video examples — how block/charge and handchecking calls will be different this season.

In case you were wondering, KU plays from last year make appearances on both videos.

10:04 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

A couple photos of KU's players doing radio interviews about 20 minutes ago.


Wiggins by Jesse Newell


Black by Jesse Newell

10:02 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

The Big 12 officiating coordinator Curtis Shaw just finished his talk. Here are a few of the key points:

Shaw says the intent with the new rules isn't to shoot more free throws, but that might happen early as players adjust. Handchecks have been moved up into the front part of the rulebook, so now, these aren't just guidelines. They're rules. Now, these handcheck things are automatic fouls.

He says every game's officiating will be graded within 48 hours this year. The referees and coaches will get a copy so they know the league is reviewing it. Shaw believes this will help the referees and help find some tendencies from certain officials.

More from Shaw later, as I'll post some video of him explaining the new handcheck and block/charge rules.

9:40 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

A story from our Gary Bedore about KU coach Bill Self's reaction to the new rule changes ...

8:58 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Here's the full audio from KU coach Bill Self's time at the podium.

8:42 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Big 12 media days

Big 12 media days by Jesse Newell

Here are the Cliff's notes from Self's time at the podium:

Self says there's as much anticipation with his group as any time he's been at KU.

Center Joel Embiid has a chance to be as talented a big guy as Self has had. He's just starting his third year of playing ball. If he continues to improve at this rate, he could impact the league and also the college game nationally. He has a skill-set few 7-footers have.

KU has been ranked higher preseason a lot of times than this year, but it seems to Self there's higher hype about this team because of the recruiting class and Andrew Wiggins. Self has told the young guys he has that there have been pretty good players before them that have been proven, and none of you guys have made a basket. Nothing's going to be easy, and those guys are going to get everyone's best shot. Those guys are looking forward to it, though.

Wiggins hasn't asked for the attention. He deflects attention as much as anyone Self has been around. Self says the LeBron James comparisons and such are unfair. He just needs to try to be Andrew. When you're on the cover of SI ... you could go for 20 points and 10 rebounds in the opener and be a disappointment in some people's eyes. If you know ball, Self says you will see Wiggins impact the team in ways that can help KU win that might not be points and rebounds. Self says the expectations for him should be high, and there should be hype. He is talented, and he should be able to put his handprint over almost everything that KU does.

KU had big guards last year. Some of Self's best teams have had little guards. Wiggins and Wayne Selden can make plays off the bounce, but KU isn't going to change how it plays too much. KU will run a lot of ball screens for them.

Self's initial thought with the new handchecking rules is that scoring will go up and good play will go down. Self thinks the scoring will go up because of more free throws. Self doesn't know if he rule change will create more shots; he thinks it will create more free throws. There may be games early when teams won't go up and down the court twice without a stoppage. It'll be good down the line, but there could be fragmented games to get to that point.

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart is the best competitor Self has faced while at KU. He wills his team to win. He's going to do whatever it takes to give his team the best chance to win.

KU is going to make mistakes this year. The Jayhawks will struggle in some areas. Self thinks closing close games out could be a struggle, as you have to learn how to win. Self hopes that by league play, he won't be looking at his freshmen as young players, because if this tough non-conference schedule doesn't prepare you for conference play, none will.

8:25 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

More talk about the rule changes this year: Texas coach Rick Barnes believes zone defenses could make a comeback this year — along with pack-line defenses — with defensive contact being eliminated on the perimeter.

Barnes also noted that it will be very difficult for players to take charges with the rule changes. He said that in a scrimmage this past week, his team had three plays that he thought were charges that were called as blocks. After looking at film, he said they all were the right calls with the new rules.

Barnes said he'd like for the NCAA to continue to adjust its rules, as he'd like to see a 30-second shot clock, a wider lane and the opportunity for defenders to take the ball off the rim if it's bouncing above it. Barnes said he's in favor of an international game, so he'd prefer the NCAA go to the international rules.

8:13 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

I haven't seen many reporters from Oklahoma here, so that might let you know where college basketball falls in the pecking order as far as Oklahoma sports go at this time of the year.

One interesting thing — and it'll be a theme all day — was from OU coach Lon Kruger talking about officials enforcing handchecking rules more this season.

"It'll be extremely difficult (to adjust)," Kruger said. "That's what they want. If they're able to call it as they're describing and maintain it throughout the season, it'll be good for everyone."

Kruger called the change "as big as an adjustment as we've seen" in college basketball, and he included three-point line and clock changes in that statement.

The rule — meant to help increase scoring, which has been dipping in the NCAA for some time — is partially explained below.

The rules committee is concerned that various types of handchecking on a player with the ball drastically reduces the dribbler's ability to beat his man to create scoring opportunities. Accordingly, certain guidelines for officiating these plays have been inserted into Rule 10 and officials are instructed to call the fouls written within the rules.

Original post: By Jesse Newell

Welcome to Big 12 men's basketball media days at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Here's the schedule for the podium today:

8 a.m. — Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger
8:15 a.m. — Texas coach Rick Barnes
8:30 a.m. — Kansas coach Bill Self
8:45 a.m. — Baylor coach Scott Drew
9 a.m. — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins
9:45 a.m. — Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith
10 a.m. — Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
10:15 a.m. — TCU coach Trent Johnson
10:30 a.m. —  Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg
10:45 a.m. — Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. — Coaches' one-on-ones
12:30-1:15 p.m. — Athletes one-on-ones

Be sure to check back for more from media days as it happens, including Self's audio and Cliff's notes from his time at the podium.

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Big 12 media days blog: Matt, Jesse provide their takeaways from Day 2 in Dallas

4:58 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Matt and I just finished up this video chat, talking about the biggest takeaways we had from Day 2 in Dallas.

With that, we're going to wrap up our coverage from Big 12 media days. Be sure to check back to for all your KU football coverage as the team begins practices in August.

4:25 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

You can find the news of the day in Matt Tait's notebook below. Also included in there is the latest on KU football signee and offensive lineman Pearce Slater.

3:26 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Was going through Big 12 media days photos from the Associated Press and couldn't resist posting this one.

Kanas quarterback Jake Heaps conducts interviews during a breakout session at the Big 12 conference football media days on Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

Kanas quarterback Jake Heaps conducts interviews during a breakout session at the Big 12 conference football media days on Monday, July 22, 2013 in Dallas.

I'll let you guys determine who is the best dressed of the two.

3:08 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

I wanted to give you guys a glimpse of what Matt was talking about with Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk's personality.

Here's a video I shot of him where he says Baylor should be seen in the same light as the Texases and Oklahomas of college football. He also says he's tired of only hearing about Robert Griffin III when people talk about Baylor.

Much like KU coach Charlie Weis yesterday, I have no problem with Seastrunk avoiding cliches and saying how he really feels. It makes days like this much more interesting.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk speaks to the media during Day 2 of the 2013 Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk speaks to the media during Day 2 of the 2013 Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. by Jesse Newell

2:12 p.m. update: By Matt Tait

Just got my first taste of Baylor running back Lache (pronounced Lake) Seastrunk, who has made waves this preseason by predicting a Heisman Trophy victory for himself at the end of the year.

Don't confuse Seastrunk's bold prediction for cockiness or arrogance. It's not. It's more a general feeling of, if that's what you believe, why not say it, because saying it can only help you visualize it and then attain it.

The Bears, picked to finish in the middle of the pack in 2013, have been doing a lot of that today, with the words "Big 12 championship" and "national championship" coming out of the mouths of all four BU representatives here today.

Personally, I like it. Having talked to them and listened to their explanations for why they believe those lofty goals are attainable, it seems perfectly legitimate for them to think big like that. The only time when it became an issue was when BU coach Art Briles was asked what he wanted from his defense this season. His answer? One word.

"Shutouts," Briles said. "Why would we want to shoot for anything else. We want to score 60 on offense, throw up shutouts on defense and win the Big 12 and national championships."

Briles went on to say that he understood that hoping for shutouts in a league as offensively advanced as the Big 12 was a bit of a reach, but it all came back to that philosophy of why not say what you believe.

"We're never going to go into a game saying, 'Let's hold them to 21 and hope that's enough,'" Briles said. "If we hold 'em to zero, we know that'll be enough to at least get us to overtime."

I like this Baylor team. Good dudes, confident guys, no-nonsense approach. I wouldn't bet against them this season.

As I was typing this up, I overheard Mack Brown talking about KU coach Charlie Weis a little more:

"Charlie Weis, to me, is a great coach, not a good one," Brown said. "And I think it's only a matter of time before he gets Kansas going again because he knows what he's doing and he's passionate about it."

1:07 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

The breakout session is just starting, with players and coaches from today's five schools available to media members. Not surprisingly, Texas and Oklahoma are drawing the biggest crowds.

Going to go listen in. Here are two more KU videos from yesterday, in case you missed 'em:

12:14 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads had high praise for his punter Kirby Van Der Kamp during his time at the podium.

"We believe we have the best punter in college football," Rhoads said.

Like KU men's basketball coach Bill Self, Rhoads will get the opportunity to coach his son, Jake, who is on the team as a long snapper this season.

"I've already seen him mature and grow in the five weeks he's been a part of our summer training," coach Rhoads said. "It will have its trying moments, but I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun."

11:49 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Baylor coach Art Briles, on his team's new gold helmet: "There's two shiny things up here: that helmet and my head."

Briles also didn't seem concerned with this quote from running back Lache Seastrunk in the offseason: "I'm going to win the Heisman. I'm going to win it in 2013. If I don't, I'm going to get very close."

"I'd rather have players wanting to win the Heisman than clapping for the one that does," Briles said.

11:24 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

A few videos in case you missed them yesterday.

11:17 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was asked what he thought about coaches — like Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Alabama's Nick Saban — that have publicly complained about what the spread offense has done to college football.

"I'd tell them to get over it, because it's not going to change," Holgorsen said.

While on the podium, Holgorsen also complimented former KU running back signee Dreamius Smith, who ended up going to Butler Community College before signing with WVU.

10:59 a.m. update: By Matt Tait

It was obvious Monday that KU football coach Charlie Weis' comments about using the phrase "have you seen that pile of crap" in recruiting took the Big 12 media by storm.

Here's a quick look at some of the reaction from around the league as well as my take on why it's not such a big deal.

10:53 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Texas coach Mack Brown had some interesting things to say:

Brown had high praise for Kansas, which nearly knocked off Texas last year. Brown noted that KU nearly beat every Big 12 team it played at home last year. "Charlie's doing a tremendous job, and Kansas will be back soon, in my opinion," Brown said.

Brown says Texas quarterback David Ash has grown up and says at times last year, Ash played like former UT quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy.

Brown defended his defensive coaches, who took some fire a year ago: "They didn't just get stupid."

Brown said he'd like for his team to get 80-plus plays per game. Texas ran 68 plays per game a year ago.

10:20 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops just finished his time at the podium. Here are a few notes:

Stoops has not announced a starting quarterback as of yet, but he likes what he has with Wichita native Blake Bell. Though Bell is known mostly for coming in for OU's "Bell-dozer" goal-line packages as a run-pass threat, Stoops said he "does throw the football well. We have have a history of having excellent throwers ... and Blake fits that mold."

Stoops says if you're going to go no-huddle, you have to be able to stay on the field and score. It's a balancing act with the no-huddle, hurry-up offense, as sometime that adds pressure to your defense.

Stoops says he feels appreciated by OU's fans and administration. He's never going to be appreciated by everybody, and that was even the case during the 2000 national championship season. He also was asked if his wife was participating in the Mary Kay convention in this same hotel, and he said yes. "Get your wives into it," he told media members with a smile.

9:56 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Quick note: Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson was showing video of the correct ways to hit an offensive player that is not considered "targeting."

Anderson showed a play of former KU safety Bradley McDougald hitting a TCU receiver last year, saying it was the correct way to hit a receiver. McDougald, as you might recall, was flagged 15 yards on the play. Matt even talked about the hit in this blog.

The biggest thing to remember: "Targeting" this year will carry an immediate ejection. Anderson said there were 17 instances of targeting in the Big 12 last year, and five were found later to be incorrect calls.

Interestingly, Anderson said if a player was flagged for targeting, but after the play is reviewed in the booth and it's determined the play is not targeting, an ejection will be avoided, but the 15 yards will still be penalized.

9:27 a.m. update: By Matt Tait

KU cheerleader Kiley Dombroski.

KU cheerleader Kiley Dombroski. by Jesse Newell

Charlie Weis, Jake Heaps, James Sims and the rest of the Kansas University football team may have left Dallas Monday evening after their five hours of media responsibilities ended at the Omni Hotel.

But that does not mean that KU will not be represented today, when the Big 12 Conference's five remaining schools — Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, Baylor and Iowa State — take their turn in front of the 475 media members who obtained credentials to this year's Big 12 media days.

That's where KU sophomore Kiley Dombroski enters the picture. Dombroski, a second-year member of the KU dance team known as the Rock Chalk Dancers was the lone member of KU's spirit squad — other than Big Jay the mascot — who was chosen to attend the two-day event in Dallas, which features cheerleaders and mascots from all 10 schools drumming up enthusiasm and excitement throughout the week.

Dombroski, a Lakewood, Colo., native, showed up Monday in full crimson-and-blue uniform, with a signature Kansas sunflower tucked behind her left ear and a huge smile on her face.

“Mostly travel is done by seniority so I was pretty surprised and really excited when my coach called and said, 'We talked it over and we want to see you to the media days,'” Dombroski said. “It's really a great experience for me.”

Though surprised by the invitation, Dombroski, one of 46 members of KU's dance and cheer squad, said she did everything she could as a freshman to get noticed for her passion for KU.

“I had a great year last year and I love appearances,” she said. “I did everything there was to do, whether it was sitting outside of HyVee promoting the KU chicken bucket or whatever. When you do all the little small things, it builds up and then you get to do big things like this, which has been amazing. You get to meet everybody else and hear their stories and their experiences at their universities.”

Dombroski, who performed at both KU basketball and football games last season, said she had a good feeling about the fall.

“I am looking forward to football season,” she said. “We have great fans, a great atmosphere, a great coach who's so enthusiastic about the team. So we're looking forward to it and hoping for a great year.”

Original post: By Jesse Newell

Welcome back to Big 12 football media days at the Omni Hotel here in Dallas.

Here's the schedule for the podium today:

10 a.m. — Oklahoma
10:30 a.m. — Texas
11 a.m. — West Virginia
11:30 a.m. — Baylor
Noon — Iowa State

Just in case you missed it, here's a video from Matt and me discussing Kansas coach Charlie Weis' controversial "piece of crap" comment Monday.

I'd also invite you to look back to Monday's live blog in case you missed any of our KU coverage, which included player videos, a short podcast with defensive back Cassius Sendish, photos and notes from Dallas.

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Big 12 media days blog: Jesse, Matt discuss Weis’ ‘pile of crap’ controversy

9:00 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Here's a video wrap-up from Matt and me discussing the KU news of the day and the controversy that was Weis' "pile of crap" comment.

With that, we're going to sign off from Big 12 media days in Dallas. Be sure to check back Tuesday for the live blog as five other Big 12 schools step to the podium.

5:45 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Two more light-hearted videos ...

The guys talk about who was the best-dressed at media days — and quarterback Jake Heaps admits he helped one Jayhawk with tying his tie.

Also, KU linebacker Ben Heeney discusses his beard and says it might grow the whole season.

5:16 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Matt just posted his notebook that you can find here ...

Also, I've got a couple lighter videos coming to show more of these guys' personalities. Here I posed the question, "If the NCAA had no celebration penalties, what would your touchdown celebration be?"

4:44 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

And another video. The question this time: "Which KU players will surprise fans this season?"

4:29 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Quick video: I asked three of the Jayhawks, "What makes you optimistic about this season?"

Charlie Weis talks to reporters on Monday afternoon at media days.

Charlie Weis talks to reporters on Monday afternoon at media days. by Jesse Newell

4:02 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

I enjoyed talking to KU defensive back Cassius Sendish today, as he represented KU at Big 12 media days though he's yet to play a game for the Jayhawks as a juco transfer from Arizona Western CC.

You can learn more about Sendish in this Q-and-A podcast we recorded this afternoon.

3:26 p.m. update: By Matt Tait

Tweeted this out a while ago, but KU coach Charlie Weis said today that linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore, a juco transfer from Pierce College in Los Angeles, tweaked a knee on the first day of workouts and has since had a surgical procedure on the knee to fix the problem.

Weis said he did not yet know how long Jenkins-Moore would be sidelined and also did not rule him out for the entire season.

Since Jenkins-Moore has three years to play out his two years of eligibility, doing this does not hurt him in the long run. Weis said that was a big factor in them deciding how to proceed once the injury occurred.

At this point, it's a wait-and-see thing but the one thing Weis did confirm was that we should not expect to see Jenkins-Moore in action any time in the near future.

One other note of interest came in the saga of transfer wide receiver Nick Harwell, from Miami (Ohio) University. Weis said Harwell's status for 2013 was still unknown and he compared it to a soap opera, one which KU has no control over.

The only thing he could say definitively about Harwell was that he would be on campus in August and, if he was not eligible, he would be the best scout team receiver in the country.

I still think Harwell has a good shot of playing this year but any future updates will likely come from his lawyer, Don Jackson.

Stay tuned...

3:15 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Just finished with breakout interviews, and we'll have much more as we get content posted.

A few quick notes ...

KU running back James Sims said one personal goal was to beat his rushing yard total from last year (1,013). He said he was surprised he wasn't a first-team preseason all-league pick, but that might be because KU didn't win much last year.

He also said the NFL running backs he liked watching most were Pierre Thomas and Adrian Peterson, and if he could have one attribute from a running back teammate (that wasn't Tony Pierson's speed), he would take Darrian Miller's balance.

Defensive back Cassius Sendish said one of the biggest draws to playing at KU was the ability to show his abilities against pass-happy Big 12 offenses. He also said his juco (Arizona Western CC) is structured like a Div. I school, so the transition to KU was easier.

He said he'd never been to a media day before today. When asked his position, he also responded with defensive back, hinting perhaps that he could play cornerback or safety depending on the defensive matchup.

Quarterback Jake Heaps said watching last year's team without being able to help out was "excruciating." He said sitting out a year to learn the offense was the best and worst thing that could have happened to him. At the time, though, "It just felt horrible." He said he learned a lot from Dayne Crist last year, and complimented the former KU QB, saying he handled his struggles as well as anyone could have.

Heaps said it would be important to get a passing game going this year to "alleviate pressure from the running backs." He said the team's expectations are higher than any outside expectations, and he also believes this year will be different because winning and losing can both become habits, and the Jayhawks have had leaders emerge that have the mind-set that enough is enough.

Heaps also said receiver Justin McCay was playing with confidence, and his strong performance in the spring game helped that.

12:54 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Here's the full transcript of Weis' comments at the podium, in case you want to read them in their entirety.

A programming note: KU's players and Weis will be available from 1-3 p.m. here, so there might not be many updates from the blog in that time, as Matt and I work our hardest to get all the quotes we can.

After that, though, we'll come back to the blog to update with quotes, notes and also some video.

11:52 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Charlie Weis at podium.

Charlie Weis at podium. by Jesse Newell

Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Weis during his time at the podium today:

Weis started his time at the podium by saying last year KU was 1-11, that everyone had picked his team last in the Big 12, and he said he agreed with everyone believing that. "We've given you no evidence, no reason to be picked other than that."

Weis says he's going to group quarterback Jake Heaps and receiver Justin McCay together. He says the two established a rapport together on the practice field. KU had a solid running game, but it couldn't pass the ball and couldn't score points. Weis is counting on his team being more balanced this year, and Heaps and McCay should be a big part of that.

• Though KU wasn't good last year, Weis said his team had quality players at the running-back position. KU is even better at that position this year, so that has allowed Weis to use those guys more flexibly. If KU can get Tony Pierson more involved in space, it will open things up on offense.

The high number of juco players Weis took this year was a necessity. It's not a long-term plan. Weis believed his team needed to fill the holes right now. Most high-school kids need at least a year to develop. Weis needed guys that could play now, or otherwise, his team was going to be ranked 10th in the league every year.

Weis takes an honest and practical approach to recruiting. He says when he brings in recruits he tells them it's a great situation and that facilities are on par with everyone else. He says KU still needs work on the stadium, which is in the plans. Then, everyone wants to play. Weis tells recruits, 'Have you taken a look at that pile of crap out there (referring to last year's team)?' ... If you can't play here, where can you play?'

Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps' situations are totally different. Crist was coming off two ACL injuries. You can simulate a lot of things, but in training camp, you couldn't simulate players coming after him. Heaps had no physical issues. That's how it's different.

Weis says he didn't take much from the loss to Texas last season. He said he was happy for Texas coach Mack Brown but miserable for himself. Other than that, he didn't take much for the game.

Weis agreed with a media member that said his kicking game was atrocious. He said he believes one juco guy (Trevor Pardula) could handle all three responsibilities next year.

Weis believes running back James Sims might not have been put on the all-Big 12 first team because KU hasn't been winning. Weis said KU could potentially have the best stable of running backs in the Big 12, and you can't say that for the Jayhawks in many positions.

Bob Bowlsby.

Bob Bowlsby. by Jesse Newell

11:22 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Weis will be at the podium in eight minutes. Saw him chatting downstairs a few minutes ago with former NFL running back Eddie George, who now is a member of the media.

Be sure to check back for Cliff's Notes of what Weis says.

11:11 a.m. update: By Matt Tait

TCU coach Gary Patterson is on the podium now and he opened things up by answering questions about why he did not bring last year's opening-day starting QB Casey Pachall to Dallas with him this week.

Pachall, you may remember, went through all kinds of trouble last season off the field and ultimately was suspended for the remainder of the season, forcing the Horned Frogs to play the final half of the season without him.

He has since been reinstated, but Patterson stressed that he has not been handed his starting job back and that's one of the big reasons he's not here.

As Patterson put it:

  1. We don't know who our starting QB is yet. (Sophomore Trayvon Boykin, who filled in during 2012 is in the running)

  2. He told me this spring that he wanted to be a student and a football player so I'm trying to let him do his thing and keep some of the pressure of being back off of him.

Boykin can flat-out play and he's a different player than Pachall. Because of that, it sounds like the possibility exists that TCU could play two QBs this season.

Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

10:59 a.m. update: By Matt Tait

Given the recent success of the Oklahoma State football program, OSU coach Mike Gundy, an OSU alum, was asked during his time on the podium whether he had seriously entertained taking any of the other jobs to which his name has become attached in the past.

Gundy was very candid in his response and said he loved his current situation. He also said in order for the Cowboys to enjoy continued success, he had to avoid any uncertainty about his future at the school:

"From Day One when we took this over, our coaching staff going into nine years now, we felt like the most important thing that we could do for the players on our team is make a commitment to them, if they would buy in, that we would have a chance to have success.

"For me personally, I have to feel comfortable knowing there's a commitment to the young men on our team to give them the best opportunity for success in the classroom and on the football field, and if there's not, then it's hard for me to sell. So at times, whether we all like to admit it or not, there's a business aspect to this profession, probably more so than we would like to think. But I have to feel comfortable myself personally — and I don't use 'I' myself very often when we talk about Oklahoma State football — that there's a commitment in all different areas for our young men to have success.

"So when we go in those homes, the very most important thing we do is recruit young men who want to get a degree from Oklahoma State and be a part of that team, and that commitment has to be from both sides. So I'm comfortable with that. It doesn't mean I always agree with the decisions that are made, none of us do, but I do understand a chain of command, and at the end of the day, I say, yes, sir, and move forward."

10:50 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder skipped the opening statement and went straight to questions. He's become a pro at talking without saying much.

A couple notes:

Snyder was asked about being picked sixth in the conference, and he said ranking teams is a difficult task. He even declined to participate in national coaches polls in the past because he thought it would be a tough chore.

When asked about his first assistant-coaching gig, Snyder said he made $6,000 a year in Gallatin, Mo. While there, he was an assistant coach for four sports, drove the bus and also taught four hours of Spanish.

10:20 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy just finished his time at the podium. Remember, the Cowboys were the media's preseason pick to win the league. Some notes:

No decision has been made on a starting quarterback.

Gundy thinks the Big 12 using an additional official to spot the ball is a good move. He believes it allows the other guys to give more attention to officiate the game.

10:03 a.m. update: By Matt Tait

Here's a just-posted story breaking down the key points that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talked about this morning ...

9:21 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby just announced the conference would roll out a new logo starting next July. Didn't get my phone out quick enough, but you can check it out here.

9:11 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is at the podium now, talking about how realignment has settled down. I think everyone's happy with that. We'll have some notes on what he says later.

In addition to the mannequins below, the Big 12 and Omni Hotel also have put up banners where each player and coach will sit during interviews this afternoon. These are all banners that are taller than me ... and I'm sure would be swiped up if more were printed off and available for sale.

Here's a look:


Heaps by Jesse Newell

Ben Heeney.

Ben Heeney. by Jesse Newell

Cassius Sendish.

Cassius Sendish. by Jesse Newell

James Sims.

James Sims. by Jesse Newell

Oh, and here's one more pic, this one of KU's blue-uniform mannequin.

Blue mannequin.

Blue mannequin. by Jesse Newell

Original post: By Jesse Newell

Dallas — Welcome to's live coverage of Big 12 football media days, live from the Omni Hotel in Dallas.

Today marks the first of two days here in Dallas. Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Texas Tech will all have their own time at the podium today, with KU coach Charlie Weis stepping to the mic at 11:30 a.m.

The Big 12 switched locations for football media days this year, and one of the main features in the main interview room are the player mannequins that have been set up in each team's jersey. Here's a look at KU's.

KU mannequin.

KU mannequin. by Jesse Newell

Be sure to check back throughout the day, as KU football beat writer Matt Tait and I will be posting updates to the blog. which will include videos and photos. You can also follow our updates on Twitter at our handles @jessenewell and @mctait.

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Big 12 media days coverage: Will Toben Opurum play both ways in 2012? Also, Charlie Weis admits interest in potential Penn State transfers

7:05 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

About to hop on a plane to get back to Kansas, so we're going to sign off for our live coverage from Big 12 media days.

Be sure to check back to the site Wednesday for additional stories and notes from today's event.

4:59 p.m.: By Matt Tait

Just following up a little on that whole Toben Opurum could play running back again this season thing that Jesse mentioned earlier.

Although Opurum said he had not been approached by Weis about the idea yet, Weis was not as convincing. Remember, Weis recruited Opurum to Notre Dame as a fullback and he reiterated Tuesday that Opurum could play some as a goal-line and short-yardage back.

When asked if he had talked to Opurum about the idea, Weis said: "That's not important to you."

Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't, but the fact remains that Opurum would be both interested and likely productive should such a scenario materialize.

Weis also mentioned that offensive lineman Duane Zlatnik, who is known as one of the strongest dudes on the team, could play some as an interior defensive lineman in goal-line and short-yardage situations.

The times they are a changin', folks. But, again, this is all about Weis getting the best players on the field in the best positions.

One other note of interest: Weis again credited his one season with the Kansas City Chiefs as one of the big reasons he took the KU job. He knew the area, he liked the environment and he liked the opportunity.

Here's another one, before we wrap up and head to the airport: Weis talking about Allen Fieldhouse and KU hoops.

"Well, first of all, I love college hoops, so let's start there. And I get great seats, too. I get great seats. But you think — let's think about: Recruiting is the lifeline of every program, right? All right. So it's a Saturday afternoon in January. And you're going out on the Fieldhouse with about 20 recruits you're bringing in. The place is rocking and rolling. The decibel level is well over 100. You've got one of the best basketball teams in the country with arguably the best coach on an annual basis playing, and the fans are going bananas. And what you're saying to these players coming in, saying: That's what we want — that's what we want Memorial Stadium to become like. You've got to come here and give them a reason to be that way. I mean, they're already seeing evidence of what the people are willing to do. But you have to help become part of it. It's a wonderful recruiting tool. So most people would look at it as second‑class citizens. I play right into that. I mean, you couldn't have a better recruiting tool than our basketball team."

4:21 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

I asked KU coach Charlie Weis what made him optimistic about the upcoming season. Here's his answer, which includes discussion of his players buying in and the potential to prove naysayers wrong.

4:02 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

A few notes from talking with KU defensive end Toben Opurum during one-on-one interviews:

• Opurum reiterated that Josh Williams had been a vocal leader in defensive drills, but he also said that fans shouldn't forget about Kevin Young and John Williams. Both players contributed to KU's defense last year before getting sidelined or hampered by injuries, and Opurum said both had performed well in the summer.

• Opurum said that, for him, the K-State game didn't take on any extra significance with Missouri out of the Big 12. He said he'd approach the game the same way.

• Opurum said he'd watched a lot of tape from last year, and he came away with it frustrated that on many plays, one breakdown on KU's defense would result in a big play for the other team. He said there were times when three blown assignments resulted in KU being down 21 points.

• Opurum also said while watching tape that he was most discouraged when he saw instances of players not giving full effort. That's a mental thing, he said, and shouldn't happen.

• Opurum said he hasn't been approached about playing both offense and defense this season, but he said he'd be interested if Weis offered that. Opurum said he'd be lying if he said he didn't still think about being an offensive player. In summer drills, he's even run some routes against KU linebacker Darius Willis.

3:41 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

Here's Charlie Weis talking about his favorite Dayne Crist story. This goes back to Weis' days at Notre Dame when he had just recruited quarterback Jimmy Clausen to play for him.

You can tell from the way that Weis tells the story that he's a big fan of Crist's.

3:27 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

A couple more AP photos from here at Big 12 media days ...

Kansas cheerleader Jordan Snyder jokes around with friends while wearing a football helmet at the Big 12 college football media days on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Dallas.

Kansas cheerleader Jordan Snyder jokes around with friends while wearing a football helmet at the Big 12 college football media days on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Dallas.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist speaks during the Big 12 college football media days on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Dallas.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist speaks during the Big 12 college football media days on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Dallas.

3:10 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

I asked Toben Opurum the same question as I asked Weis earlier: Which KU player might surprise fans with his play this year?

Here's Opurum's response, as he says one of the KU's defensive newcomers has become one of the team's best leaders.

2:38 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

While he was doing TV interviews, KU defensive end Toben Opurum was asked about the most interesting thing that happened to him during the offseason.

The senior talked about KU's new conditioning routine under strength coordinator Scott Holsopple, which includes work with boxing gloves.

2:02 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

I asked KU quarterback Dayne Crist to share his favorite Charlie Weis memory.

The senior gave an interesting response, talking about how Weis was one of the only coaches to challenge him. Crist also tells a funny story about how Weis offered him a scholarship.

1:37 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

I asked Weis if there were any KU players that should be getting more attention.

Here's his answer.

1:29 p.m.: By Matt Tait

The Jayhawks are finished with the morning session of interviews and are now in the middle of a little lunch break before heading to the one-on-one interviews with reporters between 2 and 3.

For a program coming off of two of its worst seasons in school history, there certainly was a lot of interest in the Jayhawks this morning.

Obviously, most people wanted to talk to Charlie Weis. Why did he take the job? What kind of job can he do? What are his expectations. All of those are things we've heard, but it was a good opportunity for KU to represent itself on the national stage and Weis and company did not disappoint.

Throughout the morning Weis was the Weis we have come to expect. Cool, calm, sarcastic and honest.

For the most part, I think it went over well and many of the members of the media came away with a good impression of both Weis and KU.

There seems to be a belief that the Jayhawks will be more competitive this season, and a lot of the credit for that goes to Weis and the respect he has gained throughout his career.

In fact, I talked with all nine other Big 12 coaches about Weis and, while many said they did not know him prior to him taking the job at KU, each said that they had a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done and who he is. Four Super Bowl rings will do that.

As for the players, for starters, they looked sharp. Dressed in suits — some older than others — Jayhawks Dayne Crist, Toben Opurum and Tanner Hawkinson were loose and really had a lot of fun with the day.

Many of the questions they were asked were about Weis. What it takes to play for him, what kind of person he is, were they scared when he took over? Before each answer, nearly every time, the players kind of laughed before they spoke.

It's clear that there is a real connection between Weis and this team already. And it can't be said enough how impressive that is. The guy was hired in December and he already has developed a kinship and a familiarity with all of his players.

Jesse's working on some video from the players so we'll have that up as soon as possible. From 2-3 we'll be doing more video and interviews, but be sure to check back after that for the latest from Dallas.

All in all, the Jayhawks showed very well today and gave the rest of the Big 12 media a reason to be interested in what's happening in Lawrence. That wasn't really the case during the past two seasons.

Stay tuned ...

12:45 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

Quick update: Just was able to get video interviews with Weis, Crist and Opurum.

We'll have some good things coming, including who Weis thinks could surprise in 2012, Crist's favorite memory of Weis and Opurum talking about KU's new workout routine.

It'll take a little while to get these posted, but we'll get them up as quickly as possible.

11:49 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis said when he took the KU job, he decided not to talk to former KU coach Mark Mangino, even though he knew him from earlier. Because Mangino had coached some of the players, Weis wanted to make sure to do things the way he wanted to do them and give players a fresh start.

And with that, Weis' time at the podium is complete.

Also am hearing that "Charlie Weis" is trending on Twitter.

11:47 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis says he was offered more jobs for more money than the KU job offered. He says that shows his interest in the program.

11:46 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis said, when looking back at his experience at Notre Dame, he sometimes looks back and says, "How stupid could you be?" He says he learned a lot from that experience.

He said early on at Notre Dame, he didn't talk to a lot of alumni groups. That disgruntled some people. When he took the job at KU, one of the first things he did was go on a tour to meet alums. He believes that has paid dividends.

11:42 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis says he loves college hoops, and he says that he gets great seats. Recruiting is the lifeline of every program, he says. When Weis recruits, he takes guys to KU basketball games with one of the best teams and coaches in the country. Weis says he tells recruits that they can see the support they can get at KU, but they need to come to help build that same sort of thing for the KU football team. Weis says the football team couldn't have a better recruiting tool that KU basketball.

11:37 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis jokingly calls linebacker Anthony McDonald and tight end Mike Ragone "my blockheads." He said both came to KU to enhance their potential value in the NFL. Both players at their old schools were behind the best players on their respective teams.

11:35 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis says one of the reasons he took the KU job was his familiarity with the Kansas City area. He says he enjoyed his time with the Chiefs when he was an offensive coordinator but had family issues that forced him to move.

11:33 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

From Matt's tweet ...

"Weis: One of guys I have most respect for is Coach Snyder and I know some of the people at Kansas will be mad at me for that"

11:32 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

• Weis starts with an opening statement about Penn State: "No one wins. Everyone loses."

• Weis says he has taken a look at Penn State's roster to see if any of the players could help KU. He still said you had to respect PSU coach Bill O'Brien and the program and go through the proper channels.

11:27 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Weis is in the room. He gives a half-hug to Big Jay on the way to the stage.

Keep it here for updates.

11:25 a.m.: By Matt Tait

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was the third coach to step to the podium today and it was quite clear that last season's BCS success did nothing to change who Gundy is or what he believes. The main thing he's stressing now is for the Cowboys to maintain their success and take it to new heights.

"Our organization and our football program has come a long way. And hopefully we've got it set right now so that it will continue this way for a number of years."

Coach Weis is up next.

11:23 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

A few photos of the KU players here ...

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist talks to ESPN's Samantha Steele during an interview at Big 12 media days on Tuesday in Dallas.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist talks to ESPN's Samantha Steele during an interview at Big 12 media days on Tuesday in Dallas. by Jesse Newell

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist talks with ESPN's Samantha Steele before an interview on Tuesday at Big 12 media days in Dallas.

Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist talks with ESPN's Samantha Steele before an interview on Tuesday at Big 12 media days in Dallas. by Jesse Newell

Kansas defensive end Toben Opurum talks to a reporter on Big 12 media days on Tuesday in Dallas.

Kansas defensive end Toben Opurum talks to a reporter on Big 12 media days on Tuesday in Dallas. by Jesse Newell

11:10 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Here's a video previewing where Matt and I talk about what we expect from KU at Big 12 media days today.

10:52 a.m.: By Matt Tait

UT coach Mack Brown, who always seems to charm the pants off of everyone in the room at these things, was much more business-like during his session with the media today.

1. Brown said quarterbacks like Colt McCoy and Vince Young made the Longhorns "soft" in terms of the running game. "Becuase those guys were so good and so accurate, we were throwing it on third and four," he said. Instead of seeing that continue, Brown said he would like to see a little more toughness from the running game, especially in the red zone. "You can't just throw it all the time and be successful," Brown said.

2. Midway through the session, Brown turned to the various cheerleaders standing at the front of the room and asked, 'How we doing girls? Ya OK?' They smiled, of course, and nodded their heads yes. There's the Mack Brown I remember from these things. He actually asked all of them to come in to stand up front for his session.

3. Brown really likes the talent, progress and improvement shown by cornerback Carrington Byndom, who has had a solid summer and is poised to be a leader for the Longhorns' defense.

"I think he will end up being one of the better defensive backs in the country this year," Brown said.

4. Brown said there's a great need for UT's wide receivers - especially the young guys - to step up early to help the inexperienced QBs settle in a little quicker. Still no decision on a starting QB. David Ash and Case McCoy will spend most of August battling it out and Brown said he believed the competition could go down to the last day. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is up next.

10:20 a.m.: By Matt Tait

As was the case Monday, Day 2 of the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas opened with a newcomer, as West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was the first coach to address the media today.

KU coach Charlie Weis, who arrived Monday evening currently is doing radio interviews and will move on from there to 50 minutes with national television crews.

Weis will address the print media at 11:30 and also will be available for 30 minutes during the player and coach breakout sessions from 2 to 3. KU captains Dayne Crist, Tanner Hawkinson and Toben Opurum also will be available to print reporters during that time.

For now, here's a look at some of the highlights from Holgorsen's comments.

1. Moments after saying how excited he and his school were to be in the Big 12 Conference, Holgorsen went on to discuss what a good marriage WVU and the Big 12 have created.

"What we're getting into is the same thing we've got at home," he said. "And that didn't necessarily exist in the conference we were in last year." One note of interest: Holgorsen has coached in the Big 12 as an assistant for nine of the last 12 seasons.

2. With the Mountaineers picked to finish second in the league this season, Holgorsen knows there are a few expectations for his team to compete in the Big 12 right away. He's not worried.

"Our team is used to winning," he said. "And that's the case with the other nine schools in the Big 12."

3. Travel does not seem to be a concern for Holgorsen or West Virginia. He said most of the travel these days is done via airplane anyway and also said that the concept of bringing 15,000 home fans to road games is a thing of the past because that many tickets just aren't made available to road teams any more.

"It's gonna be an airplane ride," he said. "You're gonna jump on a plane and fly a couple of hours no matter where you go, and, from there, it's normal preparation and really no big deal."

4. Holgorsen said Geno Smith really picked up confidence late in the 2011 season and he's expecting that to carry over into 2012. He also thinks Smith's performance down the stretch helped propel him to his selection as the preseason offensive player of the year in the Big 12. As for the offense itself, Holgorsen knows what he's getting into in terms of trying to keep up in the Big 12. And he has a few plans for that.

"We'll probably put something new out there," he said with a laugh. "I'm not gonna tell you what it is."

Original post: By Jesse Newell

Welcome back to Big 12 football media days at the Westin here in Dallas. This is Day 2 of the festivities and also the day that Kansas coach Charlie Weis, quarterback Dayne Crist, offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson and defensive end Toben Opurum meet with reporters.

Here's the schedule for the podium today:

10 a.m. — West Virginia
10:30 a.m. — Texas
11 a.m. — Oklahoma State
11:30 a.m. — Kansas
Noon — Baylor

Coaches and players also will be available for one-on-one sessions during the afternoon from 2-3 p.m.

Obviously, be sure to check back here for your KU coverage, which will include photos, videos and updates from here in Dallas.

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Big 12 media days, Day 1: Wrap-up video, plus KSU linebacker Tre Walker says MU’s departure has made KU-KSU rivalry stronger

"Boomer" the Oklahoma mascot sits in the place of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby before the start of Big 12 football media days on Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

"Boomer" the Oklahoma mascot sits in the place of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby before the start of Big 12 football media days on Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas. by Jesse Newell

8:07 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

Here's a final wrap-up video from Day 1 of Big 12 media days, where Matt and I talk about the biggest takeaways we had from Monday's interviews.

With that, we're going to wrap up our live coverage from here in Dallas.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for Day 2, as KU and new coach Charlie Weis take the podium at 11:30 a.m.

4:43 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

If you're just tuning in ... don't forget to vote in our poll: Who do you think has the best hair on the KU football team?

The photos of the five finalists are below in the 10:05 a.m. update.

At last check, Dylan Admire had a commanding lead.

4:24 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

I asked Kansas State linebacker Tre Walker if he believed that Missouri leaving the Big 12 might add to the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry.

The Olathe native said he thought that had already become the case, saying, "Things we're hearing from KU right now are things we never thought we'd hear before. And it's all in good fun."

Check out Walker's full response in the video below.

4:04 p.m.: By Matt Tait

Just getting finished up with player and coach breakout interviews and here are a few things that caught my eyes and ears.

  • Yes, I did say eyes, because while today's five coaches were positioned at their stations talking to different groups of reporters, three Texas Tech student-athletes - quarterback Seth Doege, running back Eric Ward and defensive back Terrence Bullitt - put on quite a display for a Texas television station.

With Doege lined up under center and Ward split wide, the camera crew announced and filmed a mock play that featured Doege firing a pair of rolled up socks to Ward in place of a football.

The first pass fluttered and fell incomplete. But the second was flawless and even inspired Ward to begin his end zone celebration.

That moment won't mean much when it comes to Texas Tech's season, but it shows you how much fun these guys have when they come down to these things. It's a fair amount more than their head coaches who have been through it dozens of times and, though cordial, always seem to just want to get in and get out. Can't blame 'em.

  • I talked with quite a few defensive players in the room about the addition of Crist and Weis to the Kansas offense, and it's obvious, already, that the league has a lot of respect for that duo. More on that in a story sometime in the next week, but it's definitely something that the players have noticed.

  • Like new KU quarterback Jake Heaps, K-State QB Collin Klein recently got married. Klein, who enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2011, was married last Saturday to the former Shalin Spani, daughter of legendary K-State athlete Gary Spani. KSU coach Bill Snyder, whose own daughter was married two weeks prior to that, said the wedding was wonderful and that he had all the confidence in the world that Klein would be able to balance his duties as a husband, athlete and student during the coming season.

3:55 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

A couple more AP photos from here in Dallas ...

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall answers questions from the media at NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

TCU quarterback Casey Pachall answers questions from the media at NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops answers questions at Big 12 Media Days on Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops answers questions at Big 12 Media Days on Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

3:35 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

A few notes from listening to TCU coach Gary Patterson's talk with reporters during one-on-one interviews.

• Expect him to be prepared for KU's offense Week 3. Patterson said he had just finished watching cut-ups from each Big 12 offense for the fourth time this offseason.

In KU's case, he had to do extra studying. Patterson said he watched cut-ups from KU coach Charlie Weis' offenses at Notre Dame (when Weis was a coach there), Florida (when he was offensive coordinator last year) and KU (from TV highlights of this year's spring game).

• Patterson said has has tried to calm down TCU's fanbase's excitement regarding its move to the Big 12, but he jokingly said it wasn't working and that they hadn't listened to him for 12 years on anything anyways.

Patterson said getting to the Big 12 wasn't the accomplishment, though. His goal is to win in the conference.

• Patterson said his favorite two weeks of the year were two-a-days, because during those weeks, he focused on football from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day.

He said his players probably disagreed with him, as usually, those two weeks weren't their favorite ones of the year.

• Patterson, who is 52, said he'd like to coach about 10 more years. He said he still wants to be able to scuba dive when he retires.

He also said that he's never tailgated at a football game ... an activity he thought he'd like when his coaching career is done.

1:57 p.m.: By Matt Tait

The West Virginia Mountaineer mascot teaches a group of Big 12 cheerleaders the words to John Denver's "Country Roads" at Big 12 media days.

12:44 p.m.: By Jesse Newell

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said he didn't have a positive experience against KU coach Charlie Weis when Weis was the coach at Notre Dame while Rhoads was defensive coordinator at Pitt.

Rhoads tells the full story below.

12:21 p.m.: By Matt Tait

Third-year Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville was the final coach of the day to step to the podium. Although the Red Raiders have made strides since Tuberville took over, they still appear to be trying to get over the hump.

Tuberville seems to think that could come this year, as long as the offense stays productive and the defense progresses.

Here are a few of his specific thoughts:

  1. Tuberville believes the Red Raiders have doubled their talent on the defensive side of the ball and, under new defensive coordinator, Art Kaufman, he thinks TTU should be better on defense. Last year, he said, Tech tried to hide its defense with the running game.

  2. Tuberville: This is a points league. We scored close to 40 points a game last year and won five games. Defensive coordinators are going to earn their money.

  3. Running back Eric Stephens is close to returning but may not play in Tech's non-conference games just to be safe. The main thing for Stephens is, to regain and rebuild his confidence. Back-up running back DeAndre Washington also should be back soon.

  4. Defensive lineman Brandon Jackson red-shirted last season, largely because Tuberville beileved he could be a heck of a player but wanted to build depth. He's excited for him to hit the field this year. Also, Tuberville said he thinks good teams have to be three-deep at almost every position. You don't have to have great players, but you have to have enough players to be able to recover if you suffer an injury and the Red Raiders are getting closer to being at that point.

That's the end of the coaches on the podium for today. More from the player and coach breakout sessions to come later.

11:51 a.m.: By Matt Tait

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder just wrapped up on the podium. As usual, Snyder was long-winded with each answer, but he did give some good insight into where KSU stands after last year's 10-2 season.

  1. Snyder says he's not worried about being the underdog or the favorite in the league. His Wildcats were picked sixth in the league by the media this preseason, but he says he's more worried about the game-to-game favorites and that kind of thing.

  2. One of the things KSU has to concern itself with this year, Snyder said, is making sure they don't take anything for granted after last year's success. So far, he believes they've handled that very well.

  3. Snyder becomes the first to make mention of Texas A&M and Missouri, but does not mention them by name. Says the league lost two very fine programs but replaced them with quality programs, as well. Also says he feels the league is in a very strong position and he had nothing but good things to say about both Chuck Neinas and Bob Bowlsby.

  4. Asked if quarterback Collin Klein's play last year surprised him, Snyder says, "First of all, I'm too old to be surprised." Snyder then went on to praise Klein in every aspect, from family man to football player. Paints him as a player and person who strives to improve every day. Also says those traits have rubbed off on a lot of Klein's teammates.

  5. Wide receiver Tyler Lockett did not participate in spring game because of a hamstring tweak. He was not seriously injured and he did practice for the first 14 days of spring ball. Snyder said Lockett has recovered fully and is having a good summer.

Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville is up next.

11:40 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Here's our first AP photo from the event of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in front of a picture ... of himself.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks at NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks at NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 23, 2012, in Dallas.

11:22 a.m.: By Matt Tait

The always entertaining Paul Rhoads was a little more subdued during today's session at the podium.

  1. Rhoads believes that the Cyclones will put their most talented team on the field this season. Questions remain about the always-difficult schedule that the Cyclones play, but Rhoads said everyone is excited about the prospects for 2012.

  2. Win over Oklahoma State last year was huge for ISU in terms of national exposure, national branding and recruiting.

  3. Cyclones need better play from QB position if they're going to become a better football team ... especially in terms of accuracy. "If we're going to be a better offensive team, which is very important in this league, we have to get better quarterback play." ISU QBs Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz both still batting for starting job.

  4. Rhoads on Penn State: First and foremost this is a matter for the legal system and the courts and there's more of that to come. I can't say anything or give my opinion about anything that's going to help the victims or their families.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is up next.

11:17 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

TCU coach Gary Patterson talks in this video about one of the advantages of playing in the Big 12, which will be playing in front of full stadiums.

10:49 a.m.: By Matt Tait

Nothing too surprising from OU coach Bob Stoops.

Here are the highlights:

  1. He's excited for the upcoming season and believes OU has a chance to get back to competing for championships.

  2. Stoops is looking forward to the return of his brother, Mike, (formerly the head coach at Arizona) not only for personal reasons, but also for football reasons. Stoops hopes brother Mike can help get the OU defense back to the level it was during OU's more dominant years.

  3. In order for QB Landry Jones to have a monster year, the Sooners will have to run the ball better and everyone around Jones will have to elevate their game. Stoops believes Jones played well last season but that the rest of the offense may not have done its job. One other note on Jones: He got married in the offseason. When Stoops was asked if he would coach a married guy any differently, he laughed and said, "Good for him. He's got a special wife, too. We'll coach Landy just as we always have and he's got a great mentor and coach in Josh Heupel."

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is up next.

10:23 a.m.: By Matt Tait

TCU coach Gary Patterson just finished up at the podium and here are a couple of quick thoughts on his Q&A session.

  1. Patterson and TCU feel very honor and privileged to be a part of the Big 12 and they are planning on making the Big 12 glad it invited them both on and off the field for years to come.

  2. Patterson knows that his schedule just got a heck of a lot tougher, but he's not too worried about it. His guys will work the same, play the same and believe they can compete.

  3. Speaking of the schedule, Patterson gave KU a little love twice during his comments. First, he said he expects Charlie Weis' crew to be 2-0 when TCU comes to Lawrence for the Week 3 Big 12 opener. Second, he said the games start to get tough beginning in Week 3 at KU and don't stop being tough until the end of the season.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops is up next.

10:08 a.m.: By Matt Tait

Just kicking off the team portion of today's session at Big 12 media days. TCU and head coach Gary Patterson will get things started today and, in a similar manner, West Virginia will begin things tomorrow. Nice welcome to the Big 12 gesture there.

Anyway, earlier we had the opportunity to hear new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby address the media on a number of topics and a few things stood out.

First, Bowlsby was exactly the kind of image the Big 12 would want to project up at the podium. Calm, confident and very in control of the room and his message. Seems like he was an outstanding selection for this role and everyone we talk to continues to confirm that thought.

As for Bowlsby's general message, he talked a little about expansion (it's not happening any time soon), a lot about the Champions Bowl and college football's four-team playoff system and how that will not only change college football but also impact the Big 12.

He did not stand up there and fire off sunshine and rainbows. He was happy to admit that there remains a lot of work to be done and also admitted that the landscape of college athletics, both in and out of the Big 12, was far from a perfect system. There is work to be done and one of the main reasons he was attracted to the opportunity to be this league's commissioner was that it gives him a chance to help right the ship on a grand scale.

From here, Bowlsby will be heading to London due to a previous commitment to the Olympics and he's already very well versed in the presence of the Big 12 at this year's summer games. Bowlsby said 93 former Big 12 athletes will be competing in this year's Olympic games and he was very proud of that number.

While Bowlsby is away, former interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, who was surprised today to hear that the Big 12's college football coach of the year award is now named in his honor, will remain on call for the Big 12, should the league need anyone to speak on its behalf while Bowlsby is busy.

If I had to sum up Bowlsby's address in a couple of sentences, I would go with this: The Big 12 Conference is in great shape, heading in the right direction and ready to flourish. It's going to take some work to get where everybody wants the league to be, but everyone is committed to the same vision and the league is as strong and stable as ever.

I know that sounds corny, but Bowlsby gave a very strong and clear address, something that even the biggest critics would have a hard time breaking down.

10:05 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

With the release of the KU football media guide, let's take a light-hearted look at the KU player's bio photos.

I've come up with five candidates for best hair on the KU football team.

The candidates are below.

Dylan Admire

Dylan Admire by Jesse Newell

Michael Cummings

Michael Cummings by Jesse Newell

James Sims

James Sims by Jesse Newell

Taylor Cox

Taylor Cox by Jesse Newell

Schyler Miles

Schyler Miles by Jesse Newell

Just for fun, here's a poll: Who do you think has the best hair on the KU football team?

My vote is in for Dylan Admire.

9:25 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Bowlsby announces that from this point forward, the Big 12 football coach of the year will be honored with the "Chuck Neinas Big 12 football coach of the year," named after the recent conference interim commissioner.

9:18 a.m.: By Jesse Newell

Here are a few Tweets from KU football beat writer Matt Tait, as he gives updates from Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's address, which began at 9 a.m.

• Bowlsby re: Big 12 expansion: "I don't know that we'd get 2 votes for moving to a larger number."

• Bowlsby says one of the reasons he took Big 12 commish job was b/c it gives him opportunity to make a difference on national level. #KUfball

• Bowlsby says Big 12 is "salty from top to bottom." #KUfball

• Bowlsby: "Talent pool in the Big 12 conference takes a back seat to no organization." #KUfball

• Here they are: 2012 #kufball media guides. Pretty plain. KU takes turn at B12 media days Tues but 5 others go today.

Original post: By Jesse Newell

Dallas — Welcome to's live coverage of Big 12 football media days, live from the Westin Galleria in Dallas.

Today marks the first of two days here in Dallas. TCU, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech will all have their own time at the podium today.

In case you were wondering, Kansas and new coach Charlie Weis will be up on Tuesday, with Weis' time at the mic set to begin at 11:30 a.m.

Obviously, one of the big stories of today will be TCU's first year with the conference. In fact, the Horned Frogs are the first team that will meet the print reporters today at 10 a.m. They will be followed at the podium by the Sooners (10:30 a.m.), Cyclones (11 a.m.), Wildcats (11:30 a.m.) and Red Raiders (noon).

Be sure to check back throughout the day, as KU football beat writer Matt Tait and I will be posting updates to the blog. which will include videos, photos and audio. You can also follow our updates on Twitter at our handles @jessenewell and @mctait.

Reply 22 comments from Bigal Jack McEnaney Ralster Wildjayhawk Robert  Brock Colreader Jayhawk1958 Riverdrifter Jeff Coffman Matt Tait and 6 others

Week 6 Big 12 picks: A farewell and thank you from Conference Chatter

I want to start this blog entry by thanking the loyal readers, fans and commenters of

For more than three years, I've had the honor of keeping the Conference Chatter blog, where I've detailed my observations about hot topics in the Big 12. I reflect with fond memories, for instance, on live blogging two BCS Championship games involving Big 12 teams (Oklahoma in 2008 season, Texas in 2009 season), interacting with the community during the over/under contest of 2010 and chiming in during the conference realignment craziness last June and this year.

Much of the reason I enjoyed writing the blog was because of the lively discussion generated by the readers. You guys made this blog relevant for more than three years, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

With that in mind, I wanted to write this entry to bid the community farewell.

I recently accepted an offer to become the social media manager at Grantham University in Kansas City, Mo. It's an exciting and incredible opportunity, and I look forward to building and maintaining professional relationships at Grantham as I did at the Journal-World and since February 2008.

Thank you for making these last three years so memorable.

I will still make picks on the weekly staff football predictions this season, and look forward to catching up with you guys in the comments section.

We still have some Big 12 games this weekend, so let's close the blog with predicting those battles, straight up and against the spread. Here's how I've done this season:

Season, straight up: 27-8
Season, vs. spread: 16-13


No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas, 11 a.m.
Line: Oklahoma by 10.5
Pick: vs. line: Texas; straight up: Oklahoma
One-line reason: I could see UT's defense (12th in country in scoring defense at 14.75 points surrendered per game) keeping the Longhorns in the game, but I'm not expecting Texas to threaten OU's bid at a perfect season.

Missouri at No. 20 Kansas State, 2:30 p.m.
Line: Missouri by 3.5
Pick: vs line: Missouri; straight up: Missouri
One-line reason: I don't like doubting this Bill Snyder-led Wildcats squad, but the late-game comebacks can't last all season.

Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m.
Line: Oklahoma State by 31.5
Pick: vs. line: Oklahoma State; straight up: Oklahoma State
One-line reason: This matchup will cause trouble for a Jayhawks' defense against an OSU juggernaut that puts up 571.75 yards (third in country) and 46.75 points (sixth in country) per game. OSU covers by a half point, 52-20.

Iowa State at No. 25 Baylor, 6 p.m.
Line: Baylor by 15
Pick: vs. line: Iowa State; straight up: Baylor
One-line reason: ISU's 3-0 start was nice and this game could be close for a while, but the Cyclones were finally exposed in a 37-14 home loss to Texas last week. I'm expecting losses to follow.

No. 24 Texas A&M at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.

Line: Texas A&M by 8
Pick: vs. line: Texas Tech; straight up: Texas A&M
One-line reason: The Aggies have lost their last two games by a combined five points; I could see them ending up on the other side of a close game on Saturday by pounding the football with Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael; Texas Tech is fourth-to-last in the country in rushing defense, allowing a whopping 229 yards on the ground per game.

That should be all, friends. As always, discuss.

And, again, thank you.


Week 5 Big 12 picks: Will Kansas protect home field, cover 6.5-point spread vs. TTU?

Here are my week 5 Big 12 football picks for this weekend's slate of games.

The results, so far, for this season's picks:

Season, straight up: 24-6
Season, vs. spread: 13-11

Picking against the spread isn't easy. Someone on the blog last week asked if I take these picks to the bank. Not exactly. The picks are just for fun. I might be broke by now if I actually took these picks to the bank.

Let's move on to this weekend's Big 12 slate:


Texas Tech at Kansas, 11 a.m.
Line: Texas Tech by 6.5
Pick: vs. line: Texas Tech; straight up: Texas Tech
One-line reason: Both teams are somewhat of an enigma (Texas Tech has only looked good against an 0-4 New Mexico team, while Kansas showed promise against Northern Illinois, but then was routed at Georgia Tech). The guess here is the home field will keep the Jayhawks competitive, but the image of Red Raiders quarterback Seth Doege throwing at will all over the field (he's averaged 316 yards, more than three touchdown passes per game and has completed 76.3 percent of his passes, all without an interception) can't escape the mind. Most of that reasoning stems from KU ranking dead last in the country in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, total defense and scoring defense.

No. 14 Texas A&M vs. No. 18 Arkansas (Arlington, Texas), 11 a.m.
Line: Texas A&M by 3
Pick: vs. line: Texas A&M; straight up: Texas A&M
One-line reason: For the sake of this pick, here's hoping the Aggies clean up their four turnovers last week against Oklahoma State, a game they still led, 20-3, at halftime. Should that happen, I like their chances to cover here.

No. 15 Baylor at Kansas State, 2:30 p.m.
Line: Baylor by 3.5
Pick: vs. line: Baylor; straight up: Baylor
One-line reason: It may be a bold prediction, but I don't see K-State, which currently flaunts the Big 12's top-ranked scoring defense and total defense, holding onto that distinction after running into Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin. The junior QB is a legitimate Heisman contender who's thrown for 13 touchdowns versus only 12 incompletions and zero interceptions in three games.

Ball State at No. 2 Oklahoma, 6 p.m.
Line: Oklahoma by 37.5
Pick: vs. line: Oklahoma; straight up: Oklahoma

One-line reason: Perhaps the Sooners, who fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the latest Associated Press poll without losing a game, approach this battle with the mind-set of putting up some style points for the voters. If that happens, they should win by 40 at bare minimum.

No. 17 Texas at Iowa State, 6 p.m.
Line: Texas by 9.5
Pick: vs. line: Iowa State; straight up: Texas
One-line reason: Paul Rhoads and the Cyclones, who stunned Texas (28-21) last year in Austin, are off to an improbable 3-0 start. I'm looking for the Longhorns to reverse that fortune, but 9.5 is a big spread. I'll take the points against the line.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.


Big 12 review, week 4: OSU fans let SEC-bound A&M have it with Big 12 chant

I feel the need to issue digital props to Oklahoma State fans for showing some conference pride this weekend in College Station, Texas.

In a riveting, back-and-forth battle between top 10 teams, No. 7 Oklahoma State held on for a 30-29 victory over No. 8 Texas A&M on Saturday at Kyle Field.

After securing the victory, visiting Cowboys fans apparently wanted to let the home team know what they thought about the Aggies' departure to the SEC, which was made official on Sunday.

Chants of "Big 12, Big 12, Big 12!" could be heard over the ABC telecast. Nice touch, OSU fans.

I wondered last week, with college realignment rumors flying around by the minute, if any conference pride still existed from Big 12 fan bases. Clearly, recent developments of Big 12 stability — the conference ousted Dan Beebe as commissioner, and announced a plan to bind the remaining nine schools together by holding their TV rights if a school tries to leave — has re-energized Big 12 fans. That much was evident on Saturday in College Station.'s Dennis Dodd said that was the first time he heard a Big 12 chant in his 16 years of covering the league.

When it comes to conference chants, everyone knows how that tune plays out. Look, I roll my eyes as much as you do with the "S-E-C, S-E-C!" ear-bleeder, but when you've won the previous five BCS Championships, there's really nothing we can do to take away from the SEC's dominance of college football. The conference's schools have beaten teams from the Pac-10 (Oregon), Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas) and Big Ten (Ohio State twice) since 2006, so as far as I'm concerned, their fans can chant all they want.

The Big 12 needs more of these moments, though, especially in a time the conference is starting over and rebuilding its image, from the brink of extinction (twice) to respectability and stability.

SEC teams clearly like playing in the SEC. They aren't going anywhere. The Big 12 is not anywhere close to there yet, but that should be the goal.

Maybe we'll look back one day and praise Oklahoma State fans for being the pioneers of Big 12 pride.

There's a lot to like about this conference right now. Half the league is ranked in the latest Associated Press poll, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are in the BCS Championship hunt, and the combined non-conference record of Big 12 members is currently 26-2.

I'm hopeful one day the Big 12 can become a more desirable, stable and respectable conference that is not mocked on a national level, especially given the on-field football success the league is enjoying in 2011.

Let's move to some bullet-point observations from week 4.

I completed my fourth week of picking every Big 12 football game, straight up and against the spread. The results:

Straight up: 3-2
vs. spread: 2-3
Season, straight up: 24-6
Season, vs. spread: 13-11

OU fans should not be too livid the Sooners dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the latest Associated Press poll, despite the fact that they remain undefeated at 3-0. Sure, Oklahoma has beaten some nice teams in Florida State and Missouri, but don't fret about LSU jumping to No. 1. I have nothing against LSU being No. 1 at the moment, with victories over three ranked teams (Oregon, Mississippi State, West Virginia). LSU still needs to complete a rigorous SEC schedule, including a road contest at No. 3 Alabama on Nov. 5, and I'm guessing that results in at least one loss. OU could soon realize the benefit of competition in a 10-team, major BCS league. Should the Sooners finish the regular season undefeated, they will undoubtedly play for the BCS Championship without having to play a Big 12 championship game.

OU's biggest test figures to come in the final game of the season, when the Sooners travel to No. 5 Oklahoma State. Could be one of the most significant Bedlam games in the history of the rivalry that dates back to 1904.

Player of the week: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.

This is getting to be ridiculous. The junior has thrown more touchdown passes (13) than incomplete passes (12) through three games this season. It's silly. His season numbers: 70-of-82 for 962 yards, 13 TDs, 0 INTs. Heisman, anyone?

The following is the latest edition of the Sorrentino Scale. The number in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week:

1 (1). Oklahoma (3-0): Beat Mizzou by 10, but should beat Ball State next weekend by 50.
2 (2). Oklahoma State (4-0): Well-deserved week off before playing host to Kansas on Oct. 8.
3 (4). Baylor (3-0): Interesting test awaits at Kansas State next weekend.
4 (3). Texas A&M (2-1): Schedule doesn't get any easier with future SEC matchup against No. 18 Arkansas in Arlington, Texas.
5 (5). Texas (3-0): Could Longhorns lose to upstart Iowa State two years in a row?
6 (6). Iowa State (3-0): If ISU coach Paul Rhoads beats UT, he'd be an early Big 12 coach of the year favorite.
7 (9). Kansas State (3-0): Wildcats' D looked strong in a stunning road upset at Miami (Fla.).
8 (7). Missouri (2-2): Record doesn't look good, but two losses were at Arizona State, at Oklahoma.
9 (8). Texas Tech (3-0): 3-0 is 3-0, but 35-34 victory over Nevada in Lubbock didn't win Red Raiders any style points.
10 (10). Kansas (2-1): Jayhawks open as 7.5-point underdogs in home contest against Texas Tech next weekend.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.


Week 4 Big 12 picks: Will Mizzou cover 22-point spread at OU?

I feel the need for a baseball-inspired lead-in to the blog this week after seeing an advanced screening of 'Moneyball' last night in Kansas City, Mo.

Very enjoyable film, especially for baseball dorks like myself. Brad Pitt was a very believable Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager who adopted the sabermetric philosophy of Kansas University graduate Bill James. There's even a brief reference to Lawrence in the film, when going over James' rise to baseball relevance. Take note.

Pitt, in true Ocean's 10-11-12 style, is frequently seen eating in countless scenes, which was pretty funny. It was also quite comical to hear the theater applaud the portrayal of the Kansas City Royals comeback against the protagonist Oakland A's in a game toward the end of the 2002 regular season.

I won't get into spoilers. It's a movie that's definitely worth your hard-earned cash, however. Anyone else seen it yet?

You know how much I love lists, so here are my favorite baseball movies of all-time:

  1. Bull Durham
  2. The Natural
  3. Field of Dreams
  4. Moneyball
  5. Eight Men Out


Let's move to Conference Chatter's regularly-scheduled programming, meaning it's time for week 4 picks in the Big 12. Here's how my record stands:

Season, straight up: 21-4
Season, vs. spread: 11-8


No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m.

Line: Texas A&M by 4
Pick: vs line: Texas A&M; straight up: Texas A&M
One-line reason: In conference game of the week, the Aggies (41.50 points per game) and Cowboys (52.33 ppg, third in country) should score a lot of points, but Oklahoma State's defense (27 points surrendered per game) hasn't shown much of anything this season.

Kansas State at Miami (Fla.), 2:30 p.m.
Line: Miami by 12
Pick: vs. line: Kansas State; straight up: Miami
One-line reason: The Hurricanes played well last season in beating Ohio State, 24-6, at home, but the 'U' doesn't seem like a juggernaut. K-State should be able to keep it close.

Nevada at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.
Line: Texas Tech by 19
Pick: vs. line: Texas Tech; straight up: Texas Tech
One-line reason: For reference, Nevada lost at Oregon in week 1, 69-20. Texas Tech, coming off a dominating 59-13 performance that saw quarterback Seth Doege go 40-44 (the 90.9 completion percentage was a national record for quarterbacks with at least 40 completions) for 401 yards and five touchdowns, shouldn't have any problems.

Rice at No. 17, Baylor, 6 p.m.
Line: Baylor by 20.5
Pick: vs. line: Rice; straight up: Baylor
One-line reason: Rice lost, 34-9, in week 1 at Texas, but followed that up with a 24-22 victory over Purdue. The Owls have had two weeks to prepare for Baylor QB Robert Griffin (41-of-49, 624 yards, eight TDs, 0 INTs in two games). Griffin may continue to be dominant, but 20.5 is a significant spread.

Missouri at No. 1 Oklahoma, 7 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma by 22
Pick: vs. line: Missouri; straight up: Oklahoma
One-line reason: This is the most interesting line of the week. OU, which carries the nation's longest home winning streak at 37 consecutive games, doesn't lose at home. But yikes, 22 points? MU hung with Arizona State on the road (37-30, OT). Of course, OU is a superior opponent, but I'm gong to give Missouri's defense, which surrenders only 14.33 points per game, a chance to keep the Tigers in this one. For three quarters.

That should be all for now, folks. As always, discuss.


Big 12 review, week 3: The realignment circus continues

In trying to keep up with college football realignment, a few questions have repeatedly crept into my mind during this time of anxiety and uncertainty.

How exactly did we get to this point in the first place? Did Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe destroy the league by allowing for the creation of the Longhorn Network? Would Nebraska (Big Ten), Colorado (Pac-12) and Texas A&M (SEC, eventually) have stayed in the conference if the Longhorn Network would have never been rolled out?

It just seems odd the ACC — a mediocre football league at best — is adding teams (Pittsburgh, Syrcause), while the Big 12 can't seem to add anyone and may be on the brink of extinction. Is the trust among Big 12 schools really that bad?

If conference realignment is all about football, something is off here. The Big 12 flaunts three teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest Associated Press poll, including Oklahoma, the No. 1 team in the country. And yet, the conference may be forced to take the Big 12 leftovers (Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State) and merge with Big East leftovers (TCU, South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut). That's 12 teams, but who knows if any of those 12 will explore other options, should the opportunity present itself. Most likely.

Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are expected to explore the option of jumping to the Pac-12.

It was a bittersweet feeling this weekend watching top-ranked Oklahoma take down No. 5 Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. On one hand, it was a great victory for the Big 12, and further paved the way for OU potentially running the table and playing for a BCS Championship. On the other hand, though, does anyone have conference pride anymore, with all this realignment stuff going on?

I want to see what happens if Oklahoma wins it all this season. I get the sense it would feel like the Pac-12 (or wherever OU lands) would be winning the title, not the Big 12.

To me, the fans don't gain anything from this mess. Traditional rivalries are lost to forced, start-up, exhibition-type atmospheres, and the geography of these 16-team super conferences makes absolutely no sense.

Let's say I'm an Oklahoma State fan, for instance, and the Cowboys eventually jump with OU, UT and TTU to the Pac-12. You're telling me in this time of economic difficulty, that in order to watch my team play on the road, I'd have to make trips to (not for sure, but just for grins) Pullman, Wash. (Washington State) and Salt Lake City (Utah)? No chance I'm spending my hard-earned money on those expensive trips.

The fans are getting hosed the most in these realignment developments. While these institutions look to join a league in which they turn the most profit, the fans are left with no control, having to sit back and take it. Will Kansas fans really get excited about facing Rutgers, in the event of a Big 12-Big East merger, to the point where they'd fly to the East Coast? That's not exactly easy on the wallet. For a series that has zero history? No thanks.

This whole thing has the feeling of the 'Back to the Future 2' alternate, gloomy, dark universe where Biff Tannen is running the town and chaos, deceit and crime run rampant with no regard to moral decency or common sense.

I completed my third week of picking every Big 12 football game, straight up and against the spread. The results, from week 3:

Straight up: 9-1
vs. spread: 5-3
Season, straight up: 21-4
Season, vs. spread: 11-8

Thanks, Iowa State, for messing up my perfect week of straight-up predictions. I have to give the Cyclones credit, though. They are easily the surprise team in the Big 12 to date, with mammoth victories over Iowa and Connecticut, and sit atop the league at 3-0. No coach gets more out of his players on the field than ISU coach Paul Rhoads.

Some statistical juggernauts from the previous weekend: Let's start with Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who completed 40 of 44 passes for 401 yards and five scores in a 59-13 victory over New Mexico. Hello. Second on the list is Missouri running back Henry Josey, who ran wild for 263 yards and three scores — on only 14 carries. That's an absurd 18.8 yards per carry, as MU steamrolled Western Illinois, 69-0.

Player of the week: Josey, Missouri. Even more ridiculous about his 263-yard rushing performance is that it all came in the first half.

For no exact reason, I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning watching the Oklahoma State-Tulsa game. Anyone else make it? I figured I was witnessing some sort of history with the game kicking off just after midnight because of lightning in the Tulsa area. It helped that I work nights and am used to staying up, but I think that's the first time I've ever left work and been able to watch nearly an entire live Big 12 game on TV. OSU won, 59-33.

The following is the latest edition of the Sorrentino Scale. The number in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week:

1 (1). Oklahoma (2-0): Florida State checked off list; interesting early-season matchup vs. Missouri looms.
2 (2). Oklahoma State (3-0): Huge game up next at Texas A&M.
3 (3). Texas A&M (2-0): Big early test against OSU to see who has best chance of challenging OU for conference crown.
4 (4). Baylor (2-0): Another Robert Griffin clinic (20-22, 265 yards, 3 TDs; 78 additional rushing yards) against Stephen F. Austin.
5 (5). Texas (3-0): Longhorns seemed to find their QB in Colt McCoy's younger brother, Case (12-15, 168 yards, 2 TDs in UT's 49-20 drubbing of UCLA in Pasadena, Calif.).
6 (7). Iowa State (3-0): Cyclones have built up quite the resume already.
7 (6). Missouri (2-1): Tigers continue brutal, front-heavy schedule with trip to OU next weekend.
8 (9). Texas Tech (2-0): New Mexico still wondering where Seth Doege will throw the ball next.
9 (10). Kansas State (2-0): Wildcats rebound from ugly week 1, drill Kent State, 37-0. Tough road test at Miami (Fla.) awaits next weekend.
10 (8). Kansas (2-1): Jayhawks back in cellar after surrendering 768 total yards of offense in 66-24 loss at Georgia Tech.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.



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