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Rounding Newsy Notes From Football Media Days
July 23, 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 – Here’s a compilation of some short news and feature items published during coverage of Big 12 Football Media Days.

Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram asked the tough question about Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury – aka Coach Bro: How he gets his facial hair to look stylish and stubbly instead of ragged:

Rugged good looks. Cartoonishly handsome. Other wordly hair. A chin that makes the angels cry. A nose so impressive it casts a shadow over the sun. 

These are just some of the descriptions that are often used to describe me, and Texas Tech men's head football coach, Kliff Kinsbury - aka - Coach Bro.

Up close and personal, Kliff's got it. This is a good looking man with fantastic hair, a stout nose, but it's his Ryan Gosling-style beard that sets him apart from the rest of us, unfairly good looking people.

What is his secret to that magical beard that looks like it never grows, but maintains that cool-guy stubble without looking like he is a disheveled bum?

"It's year of practice," he told me. "Actually, I'm too lazy to shave every single day. I just work at it every three or four days."

Since this is Coach Bro's second season, he anticipates this Red Raiders team will be less about him, and the fact that he looks like he is a frat house president, and more about the players.

"I think the players that we recruit know I played, and played fairly recently, and still can throw and run and do things like that," he said.

As far as the reputation that Coach Bro is also a current Phi Si president who can organize a party complete with T-shirts? 

"It's all good. I don't get too involved with it," he said. "All ‘pub' is good pub at this point I guess."

Jason Kersey of the Oklahoman writes that Oklahoman senior defensive end Geneo Grissom is moving from defensive end to outside linebacker:

Oklahoma senior Geneo Grissom said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops approached him before the Sugar Bowl and told him they planned to eventually move him from defensive end to linebacker.

“I thought he was kidding so I kinda brushed it off,” Grissom said. “Going into the spring, they said, ‘No, we’re really moving you.’

“It was a good surprise. It’s been a lot of fun learning a new position.”

Grissom, who recorded 40 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season, said he’s excited to have more pass-coverage responsibilities.

“Most D-linemen, all they’re doing is rushing the edge,” Grissom said. “Now I can rush the edge and drop into coverage a little bit.

“I’m sure those NFL scouts are looking for guys with versatility. I’ve been all over the field, so I’m just looking to make plays.”

Bobby LaGesse of The Ames Tribune writing about the Big 12 announcing it will use a female official during a game this season:

The Big 12 will become the first Power Five conference to have a female officiate a football game. Catherine Conti will work the Southeast Missouri-Kansas contest on Sept 6.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced the move during his state of the league address on Monday.

“It’s significant that she’s doing it,” Bowlsby said. “And I don’t know that (Big 12 coordinator of officials) Walt (Anderson) made the selection for gender equity purposes; I think he made the selection because she is just a darned good official.”

Conti has worked smaller Division I conference contests in the past. Kansas coach Charlie Weis is a fan of the move. He joked that he’ll only make one change in how he approaches the game.

“I’ll try to watch my language,” Weis said. “I believe in the old-fashioned way. So I’ll try not to use as many bad words.

“But it means nothing to me. It’s great that a woman is put in a position where she can be put on equal footing with men. And if I said anything other than that, I’d be in trouble with my wife. So all the power to her.”

The Dallas Morning News reports on the nuances for selecting the four teams for the College Football Playoff that starts this season:

Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said the championship series’ top four teams will be selected by committee using four main criteria: Strength of schedule, head-to-head results, common opponent results and league championship wins.

The No. 1-seeded team will face the No. 4 seed regardless of a rematch. The top seed also receives the best possible home-field advantage. BCS bowl tripleheaders will be played on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“This will change the paradigm of New Year’s Eve in this country,” Hancock said. “When we go to our New Year’s Eve parties, they better have a television set or we’re not going to go, period.”

The national championship will be played on a Monday night each year. AT&T Stadium in Arlington will host the title tilt Jan. 12 in Arlington.

“We’re going to have a great celebration of the game for the weekend leading up to the championship game,” Hancock said. “The playoff provides universal access. There’s no more automatic qualification. And, yes, everyone benefits financially.”

Phoenix will be the championship site in 2016, followed by Tampa, Fla. Sites for years four and five, and possibly six, will be determined in September 2015, Hancock said.

The Dallas Morning News writes about the rule changes/tweaks for the 2014 season:

Walt Anderson, the Big 12’s coordinator of officials, explained several rule refinements (major changes occur in odd-numbered years).

If a replay overturns an ejection for targeting, the 15-yard penalty will also be erased. Last year, the 15-yard penalty was enforced regardless of the replay.

Anderson noted that 32 of the 92 targeting calls made in 832 Football Bowl Subdivision games last season were overturned. In the Big 12, four of 12 targeting calls were reversed.

Defensive players will be flagged 15 yards for hitting a quarterback below the knees when he’s in a passing posture. Exceptions: If the quarterback is out of the pocket, if the defender is making a wrap-up tackle and if a player is cut-blocked into the quarterback. Below-the-knees penalties are not be reviewable.

Recovery of a loose ball is now reviewable anywhere on the field, rather than just in the end zone. Also, if a receiver is forced out of bounds, he must re-establish himself inbounds for a completed catch.

Also notable: The average Big 12 game took three hours, 25 minutes, longest in major conferences.

Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star on Kansas’ Nick Harwell, a senior receiver who will be counted on to improve the Jayhawks’ passing attack:

For the past two seasons, Kansas’ offense has suffered from a nearly non-existent receiving corps. Enter senior transfer Nick Harwell, who once hauled in 97 passes for 1,425 yards as a sophomore at Miami (Ohio).

Kansas coach Charlie Weis is - quite predictably - excited about having an eligible Harwell in the passing game.

“Anytime you can plug in a No. 1 wide receiver that’s already been playing,” Weis said, “… it puts a whole different composition to your wide receiver position.”

After his prolific sophomore season in 2011, Harwell followed that up with 68 catches as a junior despite missing three games because of knee injury. Once a small-college recruit, Harwell transformed into a receiver with NFL capabilities.

But during the spring of his junior year, Harwell was dismissed from school for a spat of off-field transgressions. The final straw included a misdemeanor charge of attempted theft after an incident with a former girlfriend. The latter incident expedited his departure from Miami, but Harwell landed at Kansas, where he spent last season on the scout team. Now Harwell says he’s ready for next opportunity at Kansas.

“(I just try to) bring guys with me,” Harwell said. “If I go out there and run routes, I’m making sure I’m not doing it by myself. And I try to make the team better, no matter anything I do.”

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