WACO, Texas — Xavien Howard’s eyes lit up when he realized who he was being asked about.
"Oh, you mean No. 24?" the Baylor cornerback asked, raising his eyebrows and pursing his lips out of respect. "Oh yes, oh yeah. I saw him. Doesn’t he run track? I didn’t know who he was at first, but the offensive coordinator was talking about how fast No. 24 was. He said he was the fastest dude he’d ever seen in real life."
Oklahoma State running back Tyreek Hill’s debut made an impact on more than just fans around the league.
Baylor didn’t play until Sunday, so much of the team spend Saturday living life as a typical college football fan. I asked around about which games they’d watched and what stuck out to them, and Hill’s name kept coming up after the Bears’ players had taken in the Cowboys’ debut.
Word spread around the league to teams who spent Saturday preparing for and playing games.
"Somebody sent me some of his highlights on Sunday and I was like, ‘Wow, I really don’t want to try and catch this guy,’" one Big 12 defender told Fox Sports Southwest this week. "He was doin’ Florida State dirty."
Hill’s 278 all-purpose yards were third-most nationally in Week 1. I’ll have more on him in the near future.
Is the Big 12 really underrated?
Much of the national conversation around the Big 12 was the league looking underrated after West Virginia and Oklahoma State’s strong performances against the nation’s top two teams.
I’m betting by the end of the year, those two games won’t have much impact on how the Big 12 is ultimately viewed.
Conferences are ultimately judged by the strength of their strongest teams. It’s not the most accurate representation, but it’s the reality of how people see conferences across the sport.
On Saturday, we learned West Virginia would be perhaps an average team, maybe a bit better. That’s an improvement from being picked to win 3-5 games by most oddsmakers before the season.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, got an upgrade from average to easily above average, though few around the conference see the Cowboys as a legitimate title contender just yet. (Considering J.W. Walsh’s inconsistency as a pure passer, I am inclined to agree.)
On Monday morning, Baylor and Oklahoma still looked like the only Big 12 teams with claims for playoff contention. Perhaps by the end of the year, theoretical wins over WVU and OSU may get a little more respect from the committee and fans abroad, but the value of WVU and OSU’s performances on a conference-wide scale is being somewhat overvalued.
Time for an uncomfortable conversation at Texas
David Ash called Texas’ coaching staff in the middle of the night, hours after the Longhorns wrapped a 38-7 win over North Texas.
His concussion symptoms–dizziness and headaches–were back after just one game, and he was pretty certain that they’d been prompted by the first hit he took, which was as routine a shot as a player can take in a Division I game.
That’s prompted plenty of calls for Ash to retire, and the level-headed, middle-aged man with "perspective" in all of us probably agrees. It may not happen, though.
And what if it doesn’t? At some point, it seems likely that Ash will be cleared to play once again, even if doctors discourage him from continuing his football career.
Should Texas make that decision for Ash? It can’t make him quit football, but it can prevent him from playing.
However, is that fair if doctors say he’s cleared to play (while also warning of the high probability of future head injuries) and Texas holds him out? I probably would, but is it Texas’ responsibility to do what’s best for Ash even if he won’t do it himself? Or do his coaches and the school ultimately have to let him take a risk considering it’s not an immediate life or death situation?
I’m not sure there’s a right answer for Texas if Ash returns from this head injury healthy and determined to play football. What I am sure of? Many uncomfortable conversations lie ahead if he does.
Injuries by the bushel
My goodness, has any conference in recent memory had worse injury luck in Week 1 exhibition games than the Big 12 this weekend.
Let’s take stock of the carnage that all occurred in just one week of games:
• Texas QB David Ash (head), out indefinitely
• Iowa State WR Quenton Bundrage (torn ACL), out for season
• Iowa State C Tom Farniok (sprained MCL), probable for Week 2
• Texas Tech NT Rika Levi (knee), questionable for Week 2
• Texas C Dom Espinosa (ankle), out for season
That’s a bunch of firepower in games that weren’t exactly against top-tier competition. Petty’s injury is supposedly not one that lingers once it heals, but I’m wary of any back injury, especially for a quarterback. Any discomfort could affect his accuracy and overall play.
Devonte Fields finds a home
TCU defensive end Devonte Fields’ plan to transfer to Stephen F. Austin fell through, but the Big 12 Defensive Preseason Player of the Year was in uniform on Saturday.
He’s now a member of the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals, wearing No. 18. The school is located in Athens, Texas. He helped the Cardinals beat Tyler Junior College, 59-45, in their season opener.