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July 23, 2013

Day 1: Ok State, K-State, TCU, KU and Tech

Here's a look at Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU, Kansas and Texas Tech and Bob Bowlsby's scathing criticism of the NCAA from Monday's Big 12 Media Day ...

(Make sure you read Kansas State LB Tre Walker's quote about Texas ... and Charlie Weis' recruiting pitch to Kansas ...



OKLAHOMA STATE

Last year:
8-5 (5-4 Big 12)

Projected finish in 2013 by media: 1st

Returning starters: 8 on offense; 7 on defense

Bottom line:

After talking to Mike Gundy and his players, the Cowboys seem confident they can win the Big 12 title in 2013.

Gundy said he still hasn't decided between QBs Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. (I would pick Walsh, who is an accurate passer - 67 percent completion rate, 13 TD, 3 INTs, and averaged 5.8 ypc with 7 TDs rushing.)

One of the biggest reasons to like Oklahoma State is the schedule: OSU plays home games against Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU.

Biggest question marks:

****The transition of new coordinators. Linebackers coach Glenn Spencer has been promoted to DC, and Mike Yurcich was brought in from Shippensburg as the new OC.

****Finding a pass rush from the defensive end position. The Cowboys are hoping it's sophomore DE Jimmy Bean (6-5, 245) from Denton and senior DE Tyler Johnson (6-1, 245).

****Improvement in the secondary. Last year, the secondary figured to be a strength for OSU, but the Cowboys gave up 280 yards passing per game without collecting the turnovers (0 margin in 2012) after having a plus-21 turnover margin in 2011, when OSU won the Big 12 title.

One on one … with DT Calvin Barnett:

Barnett said he got so cocky in high school (Tulsa) that he didn't take care of his academics and was forced to go to Navarro Junior College.

I asked him what knocked him out of that cockiness, and he said, "Junior college."

"When you rip a glove there, you don't get a new one. The training table isn't the same. Nothing is the same. When I got to Oklahoma State, everything was better. We even have 8-foot mattresses to sleep on. Sometimes, I would just stare out the window at our stadium, and people would ask me, 'What are you looking at?'

"And I would say, 'The promised land.'"

Did you know?

Former Texas DB Van Malone is the cornerbacks coach at Oklahoma State entering his second year.

Best quote from Big 12 Media Days:

Mike Gundy on bringing in offensive coordinators who will run his system and not bring in their own system …

"We have 35 or 45 players who have played for our offense each year and when we've lost a coordinator to being a head coach, I've found it's to our advantage to have the coach learn our system as opposed to 35 or 45 kids learning a new system. We've had success, so I don't see any reason to change.

"We've also recruited kids to play in a certain offense. And our players help us recruit because they like our system and are successful in our system. We've tried to stay as consistent as possible. By having a coach come in and adjust to Oklahoma State, we've had success and will continue to operate in that direction."


KANSAS STATE

Last year:
11-2 (7-2 Big 12)

Projected finish in 2013 by media: 6th

Returning starters: 8 on offense; 2 on defense

Bottom line:

The quarterback position is in flux after losing Heisman finalist Collin Klein. But Jake Waters, the top dual-threat JUCO QB last year, was brought in to compete with sophomore Daniel Sams, an electric runner who needs to improve his accuracy throwing the ball.

Biggest question marks:

Replacing Klein and nine starters on defense.

One on one with … S Ty Zimmerman

I asked Zimmerman what Bill Snyder's secret to success is, and Zimmerman said, "How consistent he is. He doesn't waver from what he wants, and he demands that everyone pay attention to the details. And everyone does that because we know how hard he works.

"He comes to the facility in the morning and doesn't leave until it's dark. He's constantly looking for advantages, and when he gives us the game plan, and it works, it just makes you work that much harder for him. People see him as this little old man. We see him as a strong leader who will not accept anything but your best."

Did you know?

Bill Snyder rocks the black Nike Cortez classics on the sideline.

The 73-year-old Snyder also said he eats only one meal a day, usually late at night (around 10 pm).

Players say they rarely if ever see him at team meals before games.

Best quote from Big 12 Media Days Monday:

K-State LB Tre Walker told Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News about Texas:

"They kind of laid down a little bit ( last year). That's nothing to say about their character. That's just what they do."


TCU

Last year:
7-6 (4-5 Big 12)

Projected finish in 2013 by media: 3rd

Returning starters: 7 on offense; 9 on defense

Bottom line:

Gary Patterson isn't shying away from expectations. When told the media is picking TCU to finish third in the Big 12, he said it's up to him and his players to prove everyone right for believing in the Horned Frogs after a 7-6 season last year.

Patterson said he has not decided on a QB between sophomore Trevone Boykin and senior Casey Pachall, who is back after being suspended for the final nine games of last year and going to rehab. But he said, "If it's equal, I'll go with the veteran (Pachall)."

TCU has depth at RB with Waymon James returning from a season-ending knee injury as well as Nebraska transfer Aaron Green.

Biggest question marks:

The offensive line, which had three freshmen on it last year and really struggled in TCU's losses.

Surviving the first two games on defense without suspended DE Devonte Fields (violated team rules). TCU opens the season against LSU at Cowboys Stadium.

Did you know?

TCU RB Waymon James said WRs Cam White and Ju'Juan Story, a transfer from Florida, are going to shock the rest of the conference.

Best quote from Big 12 Media Day Monday:

Gary Patterson on bringing QB Casey Pachall back to the team …

"The understanding was that he did everything he needed to do off the field, that he'd be given an opportunity. We needed to give him hope, because one of the things he lives his life around, he wants to be an NFL quarterback.

"The story, as we go forward, we'll find out how he does that. If he does, it's going to be a great story. If not, we took our opportunity to try to change a kid's life, and maybe it didn't work out. I'm betting on the first one."


KANSAS

Last year:
1-11 (0-9 Big 12)

Projected finish in 2013 by the media: 10th

Returning starters: 5 on offense; 4 on defense

Bottom line:

Kansas is hoping BYU transfer QB Jake Heaps can provide some kind of passing threat to go along with RB James Sims, who had 1,013 yards rushing (4.6 ypc) and 13 TDs in 2012.

The defense under former Dallas Cowboys head coach Dave Campo will rely on several junior college guys to improve a unit that gave up 36.1 ppg last season.

Biggest question marks:

Does going the JUCO route in recruiting the way Bill Snyder has pay off for Charlie Weis?

Did you know?

KU signed 26 players in 2013 with 18 of them coming from JUCO.

Best quote from Big 12 Media Day Monday:

Charlie Weis when asked about his recruiting pitch for kids to come to Kansas …

"I take a very honest approach and a very practical approach, but I'll just say as if it's your kid. Let's say it's your kid. Let's say he's a junior in high school, and I'm recruiting him, and we're talking, and you're sitting in my office. I say, look, I've got a great school here, great education, great academic support.

"I've got a great strength coach. My trainer is top notch. All the facilities are on par with everyone else. The only thing that needs to be done is they need to do some work on the stadium, which are in the plans.

"So all the background things I've got in place. Then, everyone wants to play. So I say pointing to the field, 'Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? Have you taken a look at that? So if you don't think you can play here, where do you think you can play?'

"It's a pretty simple approach. And that's not a sales pitch. That's practical. You've seen it, right? Unfortunately, so have I."


TEXAS TECH

Last year: 8-5 (4-5 Big 12)

Projected finish by the media: 7th

Returning starters: 5 on offense; 8 on defense

Bottom line:

Texas Tech has to replace three offensive linemen and QB Seth Doege, but new coach Kliff Kingsbury inherits some decent skill talent in WR Eric Ward, TE Jace Amaro, RB Kenny Williams and QB Michael Brewer.

Biggest question marks?

Fixing a defense that gave up 31.6 points per game last season. Kingsbury will be made or broken by the hire of his defensive coordinator Matt Wollerstadt, who coached LBs at Texas A&M last season.

Did you know?

Tech went 120 miles to Midland, Texas, to hold an intra-squad scrimmage in April to attract attention from Tech fans outside of Lubbock. More than 7,200 fans attended.

Best quote from Big 12 Media Day Monday:

Tech WR Eric Ward telling me that Kliff Kingsbury has video of all of Tech's losses from last year playing on a loop in the weight room …

"He wanted us players players to think about what we could have done differently to change the outcome of those ballgames," Ward said.


BIG 12 COMMISSIONER BOB BOWLSBY

Bowlsby went after the structure of the NCAA, basically saying the schools in the BCS conferences might need to form their own division of the NCAA with its own set of rules.

Bowlsby said it's too hard to get "meaningful legislation" through the NCAA about things ranging from stipends for student-athletes to recruiting reform with so many dissenting votes currently.

If the five BCS conferences don't get some change, Bowlsby said "secession" from the NCAA would be considered as "a last resort."

The five BCS commissioners aren't messing around any longer. NCAA president Mark Emmert better get on board, or that last resort could become a reality.

Bowlsby also said the Big 12 will play with an eighth official on the field this season to help spot the ball faster and maintain "pace of play" without sacrificing eyes on the field to watch for infractions.

And everyone will be watching the most talked-about rule change in college football: allowing officials to eject a player immediately from a game for an egregious helmet-to-helmet hit (or targeting) of a defenseless player.

If the hit occurs in the first half, the player is gone for the rest of that game. If it happens in the second half, the ejected player must sit out the first half of the next game.

Replay will be used to make sure the hit was indeed an ejectable offense.

"This isn't to sissify the game of football. We want to play the game the right way," Bowlsby said. "Our hope is it will be called consistently from game to game and from conference to conference."

There is no doubt college football is scared to death of legal liability for head injuries and what that liability could ultimately mean to football at the high school and college level as well as the NFL.





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