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Big 12 Media Day - The Best Of The Coaches
July 22, 2014
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

DALLAS – The 2014 Big 12 Football Media Days wrapped up Tuesday with Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia, Kansas State and Texas coaches and players meeting with reporters from print and electronic media outlets.

Here are the highlights of what the five coaches had to say in their time on the podium:

The Best Of … Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops
On receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was dismissed at Missouri, becoming eligible to play this season:
“Yes, there's an appeal  being processed, so that hasn't been ruled on yet. But as far as the process of him being a part of our team, through extensive conversations, first of all, I had a close relationship as did Coach (Jay) Norvell, our receiver coach, from recruiting Dorial personally as well as with his family.  And then through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well.”

On his relationship with new Texas coach Charlie Strong:
“Charlie and I have known each other for a good number of years now being former defensive coordinators together and even our background back at Florida, all of that together we've had a chance through the years to get to know each other some.  I think Charlie's a great coach. He's an excellent person. We've really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can't wish him too much luck.”

On keeping quarterback Trevor Knight healthy:
“Some injuries you just can't avoid that are just going to happen. But at the quarterback position, regardless of how much or little we run him, when he has the opportunity and he is out on the perimeter running, we want him to avoid and take as little contact as possible to step out of bounds, slide, get down if you already got 13, that's good enough.”

On Blake Bell moving from quarterback to tight end:
“Blake was recruited definitely as quarterback. But when you look at him now after three years, he is the prototype at tight end. He's got great hands, great size, 6'6", he's almost 260. He can run. Natural spacing as far as where to be in his routes.  And I go back to even it's in his genes, his dad was an NFL tight end for eight years. So he fits the bill perfectly and it's a position that we want to continue to make stronger.  So I think he's really going to impact us in a great way at the tight end position.”

The Best Of … Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads
On hiring former Kansas coach Mark Mangino as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator:
“I reached out to him and certainly had great respect for what he's done in our profession.  … I spent eight years in Pittsburgh, and Mark's a western Pennsylvania guy. So we knew each other through mutual people that way and had a respect because of that. His proven track record as a play caller, as a tough guy, type of coach in what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way, but at the very top of the list was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success, and that was something that our program needed.”

On freshman receiver Allen Lazard, considered one of the top recruits in recent Iowa State history: “You've got to pick up the system first, no matter what position you're playing, you've got to understand what it is you're doing and then being productive at your craft. And Allen is a physically matured young man.  He came in and did a great job with our summer weight program this year. He's going to get his opportunity … If he's where he's supposed to be catching balls in the process he'll have an opportunity to play right away.”

On the challenge of recruiting talented defensive linemen?
“I think it's not just our program, I think it's historically true across the country. And it's the simple answer to that question, you walk through the shopping mall, you don't see a lot of 6'6", 290-pound guys that can run really fast. The numbers of those guys, they just don't exist and we all want them, and so every time you find those guys, the haves in this game of college football, the traditional college programs, they'll get first crack at those guys.”

On the attention Iowa State has received from signature upset victories during the Rhoads Era:
“First of all, it means that the brand has grown. Before the 2011 victory over Oklahoma State, there would be a lot of young men a lot of people in the country wouldn't know who this team was.  And I think with some of those signature wins, Iowa State has gained the attention that's advanced our program.  I think if you're playing in our program, you know it's one that's passion-filled. It's blue-collar. It's hard work. It's a program where we're not afraid to wear our emotions on our shirt sleeve, and that kind of honesty is appreciated by our kids.”

The Best Of … West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen
On West Virginia going into its third season in the Big 12:
“I think our players in our locker room understand what the Big 12 is all about. They understand how challenging it is. They understand what the venues are like. They understand what the teams, personnel, coaching, style of play is like. I obviously tried my hardest to be able to relay that to not only the players but the coaches and the administration and the fan base. And until we get through it for a couple of years, I knew it was going to be challenging.”

On building defensive depth:
“One of the challenges that we knew going into Big 12 play several years ago is you better have depth, you better have depth that can compete at a high level. Probably the biggest difference in the conference that we used to be in and the conference that we're in now is that needs to happen if you want to win. The style of ball that exists in the Big 12, you're going to end up taking more snaps. So when guys get tired, you better be able to replace those guys with guys that go in, perform at a very high level. I think we're at that point right now.”

On senior Clint Trickett, who has been named the starting quarterback:
“Clint's been around football his whole life. He possesses a tremendous amount of knowledge when it comes to the game of football, he possessed zero knowledge when it came to our offense.  So it took him a while to be able to understand that. Not only does he possess the knowledge that it takes to be successful in the game of football, he understands the knowledge that needs to exist when it comes to our team.”

On defenses being able to defend against Big 12 offenses:
“When you play in the Big 12, you're going to have to defend the pass, and you're going to have to do it quickly. I think everybody understands the style of play that exists in the Big 12 and we're no different.  When it comes to recruiting defensive personnel, we try to recruit as much defensive personnel as you can. Better have some big guys up front that can stop the run. You better have linebackers that can fill gaps and stop the run. In addition to that, you better be able to drop coverage and be able to cover.”

The Best Of … Kansas State’s Bill Snyder
On his optimism heading into the season:
“My degree of optimism is negotiated daily, I think, and the mantra of our program has always been centered around that daily improvement. And when we make daily improvement, then I become a little more optimistic. And when we don't, obviously I don't.  I think my major concern - and going in the opposite direction but my major concern is always young people taking things for granted.”

On senior receiver Tyler Lockett:
“Tyler's a tremendous representative of our program. He has matured greatly, but he was a reasonably mature young man when he came into our program. Tyler is an extremely hard worker.  He's one of those guys that you leave the practice field, you go in your office, you look out the window and you've got the equipment managers out there twiddling their thumbs wanting to get the lights turned off and Tyler won't let them because he's out there catching balls off the machine and keeping quarterbacks out to throw to him.”

On Kansas State winning six of its last seven games including the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl:
“Probably the period of time that I was most proud of the young people in our program was the approach that they took to our preparation for the Bowl game.  And my - I don't know, we've been to 16, 18 Bowls at Kansas State, but I cannot recall a preparation that was as pleasing to me as the one that took place this past season.  I thought our young guys were tremendously focused. They brought that value system to the practice field.”

On senior quarterback Jake Waters:
“Jake is one of those young guys that has a tremendous value system. He's a young guy that understands what our program is truly all about. He's a young guy that works diligently to improve his plight in life and on the football field on a very regular daily basis. He was a young guy that entered our program with very little experience, in our program for a very short period of time. He had a rocky start in the first half of the season. But at no time did he ever stop trying to improve. He's a bright, young guy. His level of confidence I think has grown immensely. I think that experience from last year has benefited him greatly.”

The Best Of … Texas’ Charlie Strong
On what he’s learned about being the coach at Texas since taking the job:
“Well, the main thing, what's really key, you can't look at any job any different than anywhere else you've been. What's been great for me, I've had an opportunity to coach at really outstanding programs, whether it be University of Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Ole Miss and been the head coach of University of Louisville. But what's key is just make sure you surround yourself with good people.  And the mission is very simple. We will make sure we graduate our young men. We want to make sure we go compete for championships, but we want to make sure they become a better person than they were when they came into the program.”

On competing for national championships:
“I've been a part of two National Championship … we never talked about going and winning a National Championship. It's all about our players going out, competing each and every day. And then there are expectations everywhere.  You expect them to have expectations at University of Texas because you're looking at a premier program. But it's all about our players and just making sure we go compete. When you get caught up in the expectations, I don't ever want to put pressure on our team, on our players at all. I just want them to go out and just go to work each and every day.”

On hiring offensive line coach Joe Wickline, who previously coached at Oklahoma State:
“It's always good when you go hire staff and you look at just getting the right people within your program. Joe and I, we've coached together at two different places. With him being in this conference and knowing the conference, he's been a great asset. I'll tell you this: When we get into conference play, he'll be someone to just go lean on.”

On instilling toughness:
“When you talk about toughness, you have to not only talk about it but you have to practice it. And that's what we felt like we did in spring practice when you look at three-on-threes and you look at one-on-ones and you look at the goal line. It's a toughness. A lot of times when people talk about toughness, it's not physically where you're always trying to just beat them down. It's a toughness to just go do the right thing. Go to class. Just go do the little things. It's having that type of toughness.”

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