When conferences announce their player of the week awards to honor the performances of the previous weekend, the publicity generated is negligible. Maybe a line or two of newsprint or digital space but the announcement isn’t going to be the lead story on SportsCenter.
The Big 12 on Monday announced its offensive, defensive and special teams award winners for Week One and it’s worth your attention.
The offensive player of the week was Texas Tech freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield. The walk on led the Red Raiders to a 41-23 victory at SMU by going 43-of-60 for 413 yards and four touchdowns. He also had an 11-yard touchdown run.
Here’s what makes it news: Mayfield is the first freshman quarterback in Big 12 history to earn player of the week in the first week of the season.
Here’s what makes it more interesting: The last Texas Tech freshman quarterback to earn Big 12 honors was Red Raiders’ coach Kliff Kingsbury in 1999.
Mayfield became the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener for Texas Tech and according to a week’s worth of research by the school’s media relations department, it is thought he was the first walk on freshman to start an opener at quarterback for a BCS school.
And who is listed as the starting quarterback for Saturday’s home game against Stephen F. Austin? That’s a two-letter answer. The word “or” appears between Mayfield, sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb.
“After watching film with him, he sees the room for improvement,” Kingsbury said of Mayfield. “He knows there are a lot of negatives and he’s excited about being able to improve. And that makes me excited.”
While Mayfield was an unknown prior to Friday night’s kickoff, the Red Raiders discovered he had skills and guts during a freshman talent show during training camp.
"I'm just going to be honest, I'd never seen a white kid do the Dougie. Like, at all," Texas Tech linebacker Pete Robertson said. "When he did the Dougie, I'm just like, 'Is he really doing this right now?' He killed it."
David Ubben of FOX Sports Southwest gets credit for the investigative reporting of the anecdote and the supporting video evidence.
Not A Mad Hatter
In addition to starting 1-0 by defeating a Southeastern Conference team, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy received a present. For winning Saturday’s Advocare Texas Kickoff at Reliant Stadium, the winning coach was presented with a cowboy hat. This picture by Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World shows that Gundy walked off the field wearing the hat. What else would you expect from the coach of the Cowboys?
Buffalo’s Mack Attack
Buffalo is a member of the Mid-American Conference (the MAC) and the Bulls have a player whose last name is a good fit. Khalil Mack, a 6-3, 248-pound senior is considered one of the nation’s top linebackers.
When the Bulls play at Baylor Saturday, the Bears will be prepared.
“He’s very dynamic,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “He sticks out as soon as you put the film on. It takes about one play to figure out who their guy is. All the talk he's generated for himself, he’s earned. He reminds me of Von Miller."
This was posted on NFL Draft 365 after Saturday’s game at Ohio State: “Opening the season against Ohio State provided a big stage for one of the best senior prospects in the country. Mack delivered in a big way. He finished the game with nine tackles, 2.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Those stats alone would've put him on this list, but to top off his dominant performance, he also added an interception return for a score. He was easily the best football player on the field and his play created a buzz across the scouting community.”
What’s In A Nickname?
Sophomore wide receiver/running back Daje Johnson had a career-high 139 all-purpose yards for Texas as the Longhorns set a school record for total offense in the season opener. Johnson was a popular guy at Monday’s media session in Austin. Quarterback David Ash even got in on the fun, asking Johnson “did you like my handoffs?” Defensive back Quandre Diggs says that Johnson is called “Squirrel” because he’s elusive and low to the ground. Johnson doesn’t like that handle. So what animal fits? Cheetah," he said.
* Baylor coach Art Briles on Saturday’s opponent: "Buffalo brings a lot of sleek bodies that can run. They've played on big stages. They went to Ohio State and played extremely well."
* Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin on last year’s 50-49 victory at West Virginia when the Mountaineers totaled 778 yards in total offense. "We remember what happened last year and we'll be ready."
* Colvin on OU’s defense being less predictable: "Offenses are somewhat unsure of what we're about to play."
* West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen on Oklahoma’s revamped defense: “Yeah, they’ve made some changes, unfortunately for us. They look fast, they look good, they look aggressive.”
* Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, whose team lost its opener to North Dakota State, responding to a reporter’s “how are you” question: “I’ve had better days.”
* Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads asked to describe the mood of his team after losing to Northern Iowa: “We were distraught.”
* At his Monday news conference, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was asked about the Big 12’s experiment adding an eighth official. “I didn’t even notice it,” he said. That’s because the use of the eighth official doesn’t start until Saturday’s games. Your Humble Correspondent, no stranger to stupid questions, assesses a 15-yard penalty on the person who asked the question.
* Oklahoma (vs. West Virginia) and Texas Tech (vs. Stephen F. Austin) are planning to stripe-the-stadium for Saturday’s home games.
* The Stephen F. Austin-Texas Tech game, originally scheduled for Fox College Sports, the game will now be shown on Fox Sports Net with kickoff set for 6 p.m.
* Texas Tech will honor the memory of Jess Stiles with helmet decals and a special in-game recognition during Saturday’s home opener. Stiles was a long-time Red Raiders coach and administrator who passed away in June at the age of 83.
* Texas coach Mack Brown said that 90 percent of the players voted to continue wearing helmets that display their numbers. The team wore the helmets for Saturday’s opener to honor the 50th anniversary of the 1963 national championship team.
* The Big 12 Conference opener for West Virginia and Oklahoma Saturday will be the earliest conference opener in OU history.
* One of the eight FCS teams to win a game against an FBS opponent was Eastern Illinois, who won at San Diego State. Eastern Illinois second-year coach Dino Babers was an assistant for four years at Baylor before taking the EIU job.