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Big 12 Media Days: Five Things Observed

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Five things I learned from Monday's Big 12 Media Days. The expansion headache is about half of it. More importantly, our very own Trevone Boykin is certified superstar.

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Gary's faith in the defense seemed honest, exciting

We all know and love Gary Patterson. And even though he can dance around questions, or reframe them to his liking, he's usually dead honest. Even when the defense looks near perfect from the eye and on paper, Gary will find something to criticize. That's his job, obviously. So yesterday, when everyone--including myself--expected him to express the concerns about the major replacements on the defensive side of the ball, he didn't skip a beat. If anything, he was optimistic.

Remember like 10 years ago when he gave a post-game interview (after beating Tech in the most prototypical old-TCU fashion)? How'd they beat a high-flying Red Raider offense? Speed, baby. Now, even more than last year, that's the case--especially at linebacker. Patterson made it seem like this year's linebacker corps makes last year's look like molasses.

Gary doesn't even really keep tabs on the offense

He says something to the extent of "They tell me it's even better". I mean, why shouldn't it be? In it's first year, the TCU scoring offense went from a team was outside the Top-100, to being the second most potent scoring offense in college football. Talking to Doug Meacham at the Austin Alumni event, there's not as much preparation as you'd think. There's no war room where he and Sonny Cumbie meticulously go over film, and study their enemy like Cold War tacticians. It's not as obsessive and data driven as say Gus Malzahn's is; their version of the Air Raid is brassy, and regardless of their opponent, it rarely deviates from its original form.

Boykin is a Superstar

Boykin is obviously a magician on the field, yet his charisma off the field is just as enthralling; it's organic. There's no bullshit, there's respect, there's humor--and among a few other things--there's humility. What really struck me about Boykin, however, was that he pivoted nearly every question as a way to praise his teammates, particularly Aaron Green and Josh Doctson.

A question would go something like this:

Reporter: Trevone, how are you going to lead your team to playoffs?

Boykin: Well, you know, we got guys like Aaron Green and Josh Doctson.

Halftime: Brady Quinn and Matt Leinart standing 10-yards from each other was amazing

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Halftime: Dana Holgorsen is just as scary in person. And his Red Bull habit doesn't help that

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">By an act from above ... Red Bull girls showed up at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Big12MediaDays?src=hash">#Big12MediaDays</a> as Dana Holgorsen walked by. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Eers?src=hash">#Eers</a> <a href="http://t.co/GEHgSchJzA">pic.twitter.com/GEHgSchJzA</a></p>&mdash; Nate Feken (@TheGreat_Nate) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheGreat_Nate/status/623216450489024512">July 20, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Coaches seem pretty divisive on expansion, Players not so much

I don't want to speak too much on this, because I think, and will always think, that adding Houston or Central Florida or Faber College is a bad idea. The round robin is (a) unique and (b) anyone who thinks it was a lack of a Championship game, and not a pseudo-marketing move to get Ohio State in inaugural chapter of the new era of college football, is just lying to themselves. No Big 12 coach, aside from Bill Snyder and wanting Nebraska back, are all in on expansion: And are either keeping a smart distance from the subject, or like Stoops, favor it if it gets two really great programs in.

Here's an excerpt from David Ubben:

Art Briles, Baylor: "Yeah, I would (support expansion) from a selfish standpoint. So we only have five (annual games) and three (cross-divisional games) and rotate those three. ... Honestly, divisions are OK. They're OK."

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: "That's way above my pay grade. I will cop out and I have no problem doing it. (laughs)"

David Beaty, Kansas: "It's an everchanging landscape in college football. If they do expand, I know that commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby, if that happens, I know he'll pick the right fits. That's important for us, the right fits in the Big 12 moving forward. Not just anyone, but making sure they fit the Big 12. I'm confident of that."

Bill Snyder, Kansas State: "I've long been an advocate of a certain way, and only because of its value to Kansas State. ... I have always favored the way it was at one time. I favor a 12-team conference, I favor two divisions, and I favor a championship game."

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: "If it'd be the right teams, if somebody's going to bring something to continue to improve the quality, sure."

Charlie Strong, Texas: "Whatever the commissioner thinks is right, I'm all for." Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: "I wish I could speak intelligently on it. I have a lot of confidence in our league office. Do I think at some point two more teams will get on board? I do. I don't know who they are, I don't know when. Do I want to have a conference championship game right now? No. I guess what I'm saying is I don't think there's any reason right now to hit a panic button."

Gary Patterson, TCU: "No. Reason I don't really look forward to it is the only way you do that is you'll probably have to travel a longer distance and I've already done the West Coast-East Coast thing."

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech: "I really don't have much of an opinion on that, truly. I think it's a great plan, what we're putting out there now. ... I haven't thought too much about expansion, I just play the games on the schedule. The only one I've heard consistently is BYU and obviously they're a storied program, but I haven't thought too much about it."

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: "There's some quality teams out there. ... In order for some of those teams to be considered, they need to model what TCU did, which, 10 years ago, they started building and started winning. Which teams those are is not for me to say, but I'd use the TCU model in order to be considered."

The players aren't so divided. Here's SBNation's Matt Brown's wonderful words:

Specifically, 88% of the group said the Big 12 should add two more teams. When asked which teams the conference should add, BYU finished second, at 17%, only behind previous Big 12 team Texas A&M. Only four squads got more than one vote, with Houston and fellow former Big 12 school Nebraska being the other two. Other votes included Oregon and USC, because student athletes absolutely should make jokes if they get the chance.

The players weren't the only people at Media Days to express support for expansion. Kansas State head coach Bill Synder also indicated he supports growing the league, although he did not specifically mention BYU.

Of course, this is a tiny sample size, and at the end of the day, what current players, or even coaches, think about conference expansion doesn't matter, since it is school presidents that make that decision. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby also said that "It is my understanding at present time that majority of our presidents/chancellors believe 10 is right number for us".

Sign of the Apocalypse: Briles and Patterson agree?

Perhaps Art and Gary made a secret pact a long time ago, that they'd hate each other and sell The Revivalry. Perhaps not. Yet one thing they can agree on is that the perception of their respective teams is still struggling despite strong proof on paper and from the eye that they're part of the new elite in college football. Sure, they don't have the history of Ohio State, Southern Cal, or Texas, but especially in today's world, people are buying into what's new. That's also not to say people won't stick to the classics, nor that the newer trends won't last; it's more about finding balance in the College Football Playoff era.

Gary and Art both know that say that say a two-loss, Big 10 Champion Wisconsin team wouldn't have been the shoe-in that a 1-loss, Big 10 Champion Ohio State team was. Wisconsin brings in big numbers, and big money, but Buckeye Nation simply brings more. That, plus Wisconsin isn't as nationally attractive as Ohio State is. Great team, great history, sure, but a 1-loss Big 12 team--both of which would've had multiple advantages over Wisconsin--probably would've gotten in.

It boils down to this, and I'm sure I'll have a more organized version of this before the season: the CFP system is great and exciting, yet it has a plenty of kinks to work out. The Big 12 knee-jerking two teams in is not one of them.