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Big 12 Coaches Aware Of Stress, Health Risks
November 06, 2013
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
Big 12 football coaches range in age from Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (74) to Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury (34). It just so happens the Wildcats meet the Red Raiders in Lubbock Saturday at a time when the stress of being a head football coach is getting plenty of attention.

Minnesota’s Jerry Kill has had to reduce his role this season because his epilepsy is exacerbated by the stress of the job. In the NFL, Denver’s John Fox and Houston’s Gary Kubiak have been sidelined because of health issues.

“Obviously, it’s extremely stressful,” Snyder said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “You see that across the country and it’s grown over a period of time because it’s become all about winning and losing and money and television and not about the things it was initially about. That creates, I believe, a great deal of pressure on those that are involved in the profession.”

Kingsbury and Kubiak are friends – Kubiak’s son Klint worked with Kingsbury at Texas A&M.

“It makes you think about some of the stresses of coaching,” said Kingsbury, a first-year head coach. “It’s a stressful profession and you have to take care of yourself and not take it too seriously, but it’s an intense game.”

Million-dollar contracts, being the Big Man On Campus and the lure of winning championships are balanced by never-ending work schedules, pressure and stress. Once the season starts, normal healthy pursuits – a good night’s sleep, exercise, a balanced diet – can be pushed aside for game planning, film study and practices.

“There’s no getting around it,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “It is part of our job. The stress of it, the way we push ourselves, whether it be the lack of sleep, the lack of eating, just the daily grind of trying to find ways to improve and push your team. It is part of what we do.”

Stoops is 53. He’s well aware of the perils that come with coaching. His father died of a heart attack on the sidelines when he was 54.

“If anybody knows the hazards of it, it’s myself, my family,” Stoops said. “The reason why I, twice a year, am very aware of being checked thoroughly with doctors. Not that that can prevent it, but you want to use science, medicine and doctors as much as you can, as well as you can, because they’re available to us.”

Barry Sanders And The Heisman
This is the 25th anniversary of what was arguably the greatest individual season by a college football player.

In 1988, Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders led the Cowboys to a 10-2 record and a bowl victory by setting 34 NCAA records. Many of those records might never be surpassed. (Click here for a story that details Sanders’ statistical and video highlights.) 

During Saturday’s Kansas-Oklahoma State game in Stillwater, Sanders and his teammates will be recognized during a reunion of the 1988 team. Current Cowboys coach Mike Gundy was the team’s quarterback.

"I know it will be a really neat time for those players," Gundy said.

Sanders’ amazing season came before college football telecasts and coverage proliferated. For most fans in 1988, Sanders’ season played out in the sports section of the Sunday newspaper.

"For the majority of the year, nobody ever saw Barry Sanders play,” Gundy said. “If it was in today's time and age, he would be on every highlight reel and every show every weekend. He stayed hidden fairly well throughout the year, unless you were playing against him."

Short yardage
* Oklahoma has allowed six touchdown passes (which is tied for third nationally for the fewest) and only one of those touchdown passes have been longer than 40 yards. Baylor has 17 touchdown passes covering 40-plus yards.

* Thursday’s Oklahoma-Baylor game will be just the second time the teams have met when ranked in the BCS standings. In 2011, No. 22 Baylor upset No. 5 Oklahoma, 45-38.

* Through seven games, Texas Tech was allowing 123 yards rushing and 358 total yards per game. In losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Red Raiders have allowed averages of 279 yards game on the ground and 509 total yards.

* Fun with numbers: Four Big 12 quarterbacks have games with 50-plus pass attempts in their careers. Kansas’ Jake Heaps had two at BYU, TCU’s Casey Pachall and Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf each have one. Texas Tech freshman Davis Webb has made four starts and has at least 50 attempts in each of those games.

* TCU has 38 interceptions since the start of the 2012 season, including 17 this season, tied for second-most in the nation. The Frogs trail only Oregon (39) in interceptions since last season.

They Said It
Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw on football coach Art Briles:
“He's turned this into a destination job. This is his program. He's built it from the ground up. He's really proud of it. We look forward to him continuing to lead our football program for many years to come.”

Oklahoma defensive back Aaron Colvin on facing Baylor’s offense:
"Anytime you face an offense like this it's challenging. If you want to be the best defense, if you want to be one of the best players, you have to go against challenging teams and challenging players. We have to be locked in."

Oklahoma State safety Lyndell Johnson on playing against fast-paced offenses in the Big 12:
“When you’re in the game, it’s not like you’re counting snaps. You know how fast the game’sgoing, but you really don’t realize how many snaps you’re playing. Playing teams with spread offenses, they’ve got that tempo, so everything’s moving super fast. You’ve just got to be ready.”

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