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Beyond the Fort: Field rushing fines and more from a Big 12 conference with dwindling playoff hopes

Everyone has now been afforded some time to reflect on what was simply a wacky weekend in the Big 12 Conference.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now four days removed from a Saturday (plus a Thursday night showdown) that seemingly transformed the Big 12 into one of the defensive juggernauts of college football — and boy, was that quite a sight to take in.

Texas Tech scoring 17 points in a win? Oklahoma State getting trounced by what we all thought was an abysmal Kansas State team in Manhattan? Iowa State recording its third AP Top 10 win a span of 12 months? Let chaos reign, folks.

Maybe it was an aberration. Maybe it’s the new norm. Either way, it took some time to process for everyone — coaches included — to digest everything that went down across the conference during the second weekend of October. And from thoughts on field rushes to a surprising reaction from one coach after an ugly loss, we’ve got a lot to discuss.

Here’s your weekly update on the latest news from the plains of West Texas to the October Sky in West Virginia.

Dana Holgorsen not a fan of field rushing

West Virginia entered Jack Trice Stadium Saturday evening at 5-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. When the game clock hit zero, the Mountaineers had been dealt a 30-14 loss at the hands of Iowa State as many of the 60,000 fans on hand stormed the field.

And West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen wasn’t amused in the slightest.

Such was the mood from Holgorsen — now in his eight season with the team — on Monday at least, when he called the field rush “unprofessional” during the Big 12 football coaches teleconference.

“Our job is to keep student-athletes in a safe place and when you’ve got thousands of people coming at you, it’s not good. There are league rules and league bans against that for a reason. Our job is to keep players safe. We didn’t have time to get them off the field. That was not good.” — West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen

Whether you agree with Holgorsen’s remarks or not (Cyclones fans certainly didn’t), the league was sympathetic, as the Big 12 announced on Tuesday that it would fine Iowa State $25,000 as public reprimand for how the postgame activities were handled. To no surprise, Iowa State will appeal. But the verdict could certainly shape the future of field rushing in the conference. It’s not an issue that other conferences take lightly by any means, as the SEC fines schools $100,000 for each instance. LSU was the latest victim of such after knocking off No. 2 Georgia on Saturday.

Still, rules and all considered, good luck stopping a sea of some 20,000 fans from celebrating an upset with their team at any college football venue in the United States.

Kliff Kingsbury the playoff advocate

It’s been quite a year for Texas Tech, who has already achieved four wins halfway through the 2018 campaign after some predicted the Red Raiders may only reach three all season. And there’s no happier man in Lubbock than Kliff Kingsbury, who has just about been removed from every hot seat possible after recording wins in both Stillwater and Fort Worth.

At 4-2, the Red Raiders can probably toss out the idea of a dream playoff run, but hey, the Big 12 title game is still very much in play if they can take care of business with an upset of Oklahoma or Texas sprinkled in going forward. Of course, that might keep the Big 12 from having any 1-loss team once the dust settles, but what if the conference champion does have only one blemish on its resume entering selection Sunday?

Take it from Kliff: The Big 12, for the first time ever, should indeed be a part of the College Football Playoff for a second straight season after alternating appearances every year of its existence thus far.

“If somebody can survive this league and win the (conf.) championship with just one loss, they should absolutely be in,” Kingsbury said on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday.

Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia: we’re looking at you.

Easier said than done, of course, as perception often becomes reality in college football. But Kingsbury has a point — that no other Power 5 conference champion has to face everyone — plus one opponent twice — in order to capture the Big 12 crown. And with the amount of parity that the league has showcased this year, yeah, that’s quite a task.

Unfortunately, all the coaches can do is vouch, and hope that the committee gathered in a conference room in Grapevine shares a similar point of view. Bad news: Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt is no longer the committee chairman as of this season.

Mike Gundy cool, calm and collected as ever

There have been better times for Oklahoma State under its rattlesnake hunting, mullet-sporting head coach. Just a year after being tabbed a preseason playoff contender by many, the Cowboys are without many players who made their offense so formidable in 2017, and a result, Oklahoma Sate is off to a 4-3 start after rocketing out to a 3-0 mark with a No. 15 AP ranking.

Disappointing for the fans? You bet. But that’s not the way that Mike Gundy sees things. In fact, he’s about as happy as anybody has ever been able to find him since he first took over head coaching duties in 2005.

Well, that’s certainly not hard to see amid guest appearances by his dog in pressers, vodka smoothie comments, and even the audacity to sport a referee polo last month during one media availability.

But what about the struggles on the field? Does that bother the 51-year-old at all?

Well, this was supposed to be rebuilding season in Stillwater, and with that in mind, Gundy would rather not overreact by making drastic changes amid problems plaguing team. But if the players have ideas for solutions, his open door policy remains in effect, as he told the Oklahoman.

Nonetheless, the Cowboys still have to face Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and West Virginia before the season reaches its end. The dates with the Sooners and Horned Frogs come on the road. And at just 4 wins — including an inability to beat K-State for a second straight season — bowl eligibility won’t be any gimme.

But hey, maybe it’s just a matter of “keep calm and carry on.” We’ll see if it works.