DALLAS – Media days for any conference are a lot of fluff and wasted time, but every now and then, actual insight and news is discovered. Let’s look back on the meat of media days:
1. Texas has a starting quarterback… officially. Charlie Strong quietly handed out a little piece of news during his breakout session with reporters on Tuesday: David Ash is officially his starting quarterback. It’s no major surprise – Tyrone Swoopes didn’t show a lot of potential last year and Jerrod Heard wasn’t in camp this spring, but it’s become trendy to stay silent on your status at QB until the season opener. Strong won’t be doing it.
2. TCU’s off-field issues are still very present. I don’t want to make light of what sounds like a serious situation, but Gary Patterson had to be somewhat glad that news broke of Devonte Fields’ latest legal trouble on the day AFTER he made his appearance at Big 12 Media Days. If not, he might not have faced a question about anything else. Unless the police report proves to be entirely falsified by witnesses, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Devonte Fields play another snap for the Frogs.
This is not what TCU needed and serves as another strike for the program since announcing plans to join the Big 12. It already kicked off four players who got caught up in a campus drug sting and starting QB Casey Pachall missed most of 2012 after a DWI arrest.
That’s three high-profile incidents in about two and a half years. I do not envy Patterson’s cardiologist.
3. Texas is getting honest about past problems. Quandre Diggs, take a stinkin’ bow. How often can a player go on a rant that pleases both his head coach and the media? Diggs basically sounded like an uncensored version of what his new coach has said all offseason.
"We had guys that just didn’t love football. If you don’t love football, you don’t need to be a part of this university or a part of this team," he said. "I want to weed guys out. That’s just me. I’m an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I’m going to tell you how I feel. I’m not going to jab at anything. I’m going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I’ll try to knock you out. I don’t sugarcoat anything just like [Strong’s coaches] don’t sugarcoat anything. That’s just how I am, how I was born, how I was raised. I love the way they’re taking the approach of getting guys out of here that don’t belong."
That’s not the only issue that’s hurt Texas in the last half decade, but it’s a big part of it. For now, though, it’s all just talk. Will it show up on the field in the fall?
4. Mike Gundy plans to seek the Freek. You don’t hear coaches quantify projected carries very often, but OSU’s coach didn’t shy away when asked about juco transfer Tyreek Hill’s possible impact.
"We’re learning more about him each day," Gundy said. We feel like that he needs to touch the ball at least 15 to 20 times a game, maybe more, depending on how he fits into our system each week.
He’s already made a big impact on the track and should prove himself as one of, if not the fastest player in the league and in all of college football.
Oklahoma State’s used Joseph Randle like they plan to use Hill, in a hybrid receiver/running back role, and Gundy said comparisons to the way WVU has used Charles Sims and Tavon Austin were accurate.
This is going to be fun to watch.
5. Bob Stoops isn’t apologizing for bringing in high-profile transfers. Stoops defended his decision to bring in Dorial Green-Beckham after a troubling third strike earned him a ticket out of Missouri’s program.
"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 and be great for his future and believe in him as a young man and what he’s able to maybe continue to become," he said.
Stoops also drew some undeserved criticism for arguing that Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield deserved to be eligible immediately. Last year, Stoops said he supported Mike Gundy’s initial decision to restrict where Wes Lunt could transfer, but Lunt was a scholarship athlete who essentially left a scholarship unoccupied for a season. Mayfield did not do that to Texas Tech, even though he’d been promised a scholarship eventually.
It’s simply not the same thing, and Stoops is in the right for arguing that as a walk-on, Mayfield should not be kept from playing in 2014. If you’re paying your own way, you deserve to play wherever and whenever you want.
6. The Big 12 will make some history in September. The news got swallowed up by Bob Bowlsby’s later comments about cheating and the NCAA, but when Kansas hosts Southeast Missouri State on Sept. 6, Cat Conti will put on the striped shirt and become the first woman to officiate a Big 12 game.
7. Bob Bowlsby can still play the provocateur. Before taking the stage, Bowlsby told me and a few other reporters in a casual conversation that his wife told him not to be provocative this week.
So much for that. It doesn’t get much more provocative than a major conference commissioner saying "Cheating pays." Nick Saban’s disagreed since, and I agree it’s silly to say what Bowlsby did and moments later backtrack with an "Oh, no, I don’t think cheating is rampant," but cheating does pay right now, and fixing enforcement will be high on the agenda when (not if) the Power Five conferences achieve autonomy.
8. Oklahoma State’s recruiting class took a big hit. Like Ash, this was news we’d expected for a long time, but Devon Thomas was a great pickup for Oklahoma State. The four-star recruit and No. 22 running back in the 2014 class was arrested and charged with felony counts of burglary, armed robbery and shooting with intent to kill.
He hasn’t been officially dismissed, but Mike Gundy confirmed he wasn’t part of the team until the legal process played out. OSU is solid at the position this year with Desmond Roland and Rennie Childs, but Thomas will leave a big hole in the future if his dismissal becomes permanent.
9. Baylor’s just feuding with everybody now. I don’t know why Jimbo Fisher’s assertion that the Big 12 not having a title game was "ridiculous" struck such a nerve with Art Briles, but it did.
"Don’t come down here to Texas and try to tell me how to do mine," Briles told reporters. "Jimbo Fisher needs to worry about the ACC. That’s what he needs to worry about. I’m not telling him how to do their business."
Jimbo’s opinion wasn’t going to change anything, but he doesn’t seem very impressed with the Big 12’s "One True Champion."
Briles also joked later in the day that a Dairy Queen worker in Salem, Ore. would have heard of Bryce Petty this year. The Oregonian tested that theory, and it turns out Briles was wrong. Which ignited an amazing rivalry between Baylor and Salem and Baylor and Dairy Queen.
This is my favorite thing to emerge from this week.