The Big 12 Conference will stage its football media days Monday and Tuesday in downtown Dallas. There are several ways to know who’s in town to talk football. The simplest form of identification – coaches, players and (most) media won’t be wearing pink.
The Mary Kay Inc., a world-wide cosmetics firm with a workforce of 3 million, is staging its 50th convention in Big D this week and 50,000 conventioneers – almost all of them wearing a shade of pink – will be at the nearby Dallas Convention Center.
Your Humble Correspondent has attended dozens of preseason media gatherings to discuss the upcoming season. And he humbly submits that the Big 12 format is the best for asking questions and gathering quotes.
Monday and Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the 10 teams (five each day) will have representatives available. Each head coach and nearly 40 players will be on hand and will be outnumbered nearly 10 to one by media folks.
The best thing about media day? It means the season is just around the corner.
One Man’s Opinion
David Ubben, who does outstanding work covering the Big 12 for ESPN.com, offers up his five storylines to watch during media days.
Where are the QBs? Only two teams are bringing a quarterback, and one hasn't played a down of Big 12 football: Texas' David Ash, and Kansas' Jake Heaps, a BYU transfer. TCU's Casey Pachall isn't making a return appearance after attending last year, and Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf won't, either.
Will they sing Kumbayah? Realignment has been a huge talking point at Big 12 media days since 2010, when Nebraska and Colorado attended for the last time, knowing they'd be leaving the league in a few months. Last year, the addition of West Virginia and TCU provided lots of fodder, but the conference lineup has not changed this year, and the realignment waters are as calm as they've been in a long time.
Balancing act. Expect lots of talk about the top of the league and the lack of a true favorite. But don't expect much talk about the lack of a national title contender or the fact that the Big 12 may start the season without a team in the top 10 for the first time.
Lobbing bombs at the SEC? Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made a lot of headlines this offseason and not many friends in SEC country after talking about SEC "propaganda" and trumpeting the depth of the Big 12. The league's coaches likely would agree with him on the depth of the Big 12. That should be a hot topic, and I'm sure no one around the SEC will take notice.
Changing tides? Oklahoma and Texas haven't represented the Big 12 in a BCS bowl since the 2010 season, because Oklahoma State and Kansas State captured league titles the past two seasons. It's the first time since 1999 that Oklahoma and Texas have gone two years without winning the Big 12 (no, I'm not counting Oklahoma's "shared" title). The competition level at the top of the league is rising. Texas and Oklahoma should contend, but Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor will be in the mix again, and I wouldn't count out K-State, either. Expect lots of conversation about the national powers' place in the conference.
Preseason Poll Notes
* Oklahoma State is picked by the media to win the championship this season; that’s the first time the Cowboys have been the preseason pick.
* It’s the first time since 1998 that Texas or Oklahoma hasn’t been picked No. 1 in the Big 12 or Big 12 South.
* The last two conference champions (Oklahoma State in 2011, K-State in 2012) each received 1 first-place vote in the media preseason poll.
* Six teams received first-place votes in the media poll.
* The point-total gap between the top four teams (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas) is just 28 points. TCU, picked third, earned more first-place votes (9) than Oklahoma and Texas (8 each).
* Iowa State was picked ninth. Bobby LaGesse, sports editor of the Ames Tribune, wrote that the Cyclones have several questions to answer if they’re to move up: Is quarterback Sam Richardson ready for a full season of Big 12 play? Is the offensive line fixed? Who steps up at wide receiver? Can the offense score more points? Is a young and inexperienced defensive line up to Big 12 standards? Does the defense take a step back with only five starters returning? Who replaces all-conference linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott?
* In the media preseason polls the last two seasons, Kansas State was picked to finish seventh (2011) and sixth (2012). The Wildcats won a total of 21 games in those two seasons. This year the media has picked K-State sixth.
* The Big 12 has the oldest coach in FBS (Bill Snyder, age 73; he turns 74 in October) and the second-youngest in Kliff Kingsbury (33; he turns 34 in August).
* For the second season in a row, half the Big 12’s teams finished in the top 15 in total offense.
* And while high-scoring, yard-producing offenses have been the rage in the Conference, the teams that finish atop the standings win because of defense and turnovers, particularly. The last seven Big 12 champions have forced an average of 31 turnovers.
* This is the 25th anniversary for Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders winning the Heisman Trophy. In 1988, Sanders rushed for an FBS record 2,628 yards. Coach Mike Gundy was the quarterback for the Cowboys that season.