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Beyond the Fort: Links & updates from across the Big 12

A lot is happening in America’s favorite Power 5 conference, and we’re here to bring you up to date.

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

First things first, congratulations: You’re just several weeks away from successfully surviving the 2018 edition of the college football offseason.

Less than 21 days remain until TCU and the rest of its Big 12 counterparts kickoff the season across the country, which means preseason camp is in full swing for all teams. As the intensity ramps up on the gridiron, so do the headlines, but the biggest stories from across the league this past week extend beyond the football field.

So beyond Fort Worth — where a “quarterback race” remains between Shawn Robinson and Michael Collins, and a revamped offensive line looks to find its groove — here are the latest happenings across the conference:

The legend of Bill Snyder continues

Bill Snyder will be 79-years-old in October, and yet nobody should have been surprised in the slightest last week when it was announced Kansas State had extended the legendary coach’s contract through 2022.

Your math isn’t off. If Snyder is still coaching at that point, he’ll be 83 years old and 13 years into his second stint with the Wildcats. Snyder’s first run as Kansas State’s head coach lasted from 1989-2005, so that would give him 31 seasons of being in charge in Manhattan, Kan — nearly double the time it took him to have a the team’s stadium named in his honor.

But I wasn’t being sarcastic when I said nobody should be surprised by this news — as rare and remarkable as it may be. Not only did Snyder repeatedly say earlier this summer that he has no intentions of retiring soon, but the Wildcats’ success under the “Wizard” of college football head coaches speaks for itself. Let’s not forget that Kansas State owned a 299-510 record and was on the brink of losing it’s D-1 status when Snyder was hired nearly 30 years ago in November 1988. Since then, the Wildcats have reached at least 9-wins on 14 occasions and have captured a pair of Big 12 titles.

I’m not saying that Kansas State will completely fall off a cliff come the day Snyder does decide to call it quits. But Snyder is an emblem of success on the football field in Manhattan, and it’s hard to imagine anybody else leading the charge as well as him.

Quarterback questions lingering in Norman

It’s no secret that Oklahoma is going to see at least some regression on offense this season with the departure of quarterback Baker Mayfield. The 2017 Heisman winner posted video-game like numbers week-in and week-out, and you can bet that the Sooners will feel Mayfield’s absence both on and off the field once Week 1 arrives.

That said, enter Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall. It seemed clear for most of last season that Murray — the former Texas A&M transfer who completed a perfect career at DFW-area Allen High School — was on his way to succeeding Mayfield this fall, but head coach Lincoln Riley has maintained that there is “no major separation” between Murray and Kendall for the starting job.

Murray in particular is an interesting character, purely because the dual-sport athlete was selected by the Oakland Athletics as the No. 9 overall pick in the MLB Draft two months ago (yes, Murray is technically the highest-paid quarterback in all of college football). Even more intriguing however is that both Riley told reporters that the speedy signal-caller could be back for the Sooners in 2019, despite his MLB contract only permitting him to play one more season of football. Those comments are at odds with Scott Boras, Murray’s agent, who reiterated to The Athletic following Riley’s comments that 2018 will be the last season on the gridiron for Murray.

Baseball contracts aside, however, it’s hard to see Murray not emerging as the team’s starter this fall. He may not be the most prolific downfield passer the game has ever seen, but he boasts a level of speed that is hard to come by among quarterbacks — something we saw on the first snap of the day vs. West Virginia (a 77-yard gain) last November. Sure, college football is full of wild twists and turns, but you can count on three-time Texas state champion taking the snaps before this fall before Kendall likely takes over the job in 2019. This “race” is likely nothing more than an attempt on the Sooners’ part to ensure Kendall doesn’t transfer before then.

Tom Herman and the mess at Ohio State

Though it appears to be nonsense now, the scandal currently plaguing Ohio State football took an unexpected turn on Saturday when Buckeyes insider Jeff Snook reported on his Facebook account that Texas coach Tom Herman was the tipster who initiated Brett McMurphy’s reporting into the domestic violence accusations surrounding former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith.

It would be a bombshell if Herman — who served as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator from 2012-2014 — was indeed the tipster, but the claim appears to be all but false after parties on both ends quickly shot it down. Herman, via a team spokesperson, told the Austin American Statesman on Saturday that the report was absolutely untrue before McMurphy took to Twitter in saying that Herman, “unequivocally,” was not the tipster who initiated his reporting. Without jumping to conclusions, all signs point to a non-story in the end.

Nonetheless, the rumor about Herman is out, and that can’t exactly be undone. Until the entire situation in Columbus is settled — and who knows how long that might take — expect Herman’s name to pop up several times in the headlines. For what it’s worth, TCU plays Ohio State and Texas back-to-back in September, and that could be rather significant if Texas does feel any ripple effects from all that has happened with the Buckeyes.

An unlikely distraction in Stillwater?

There are a lot of changes in the works at stadiums across the Big 12 — the latest being Oklahoma State’s addition of a 110-foot video board above the east endzone of Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

No doubt about it, it’s a nice addition to the 60,000-seat facility, which has lacked a marquee scoreboard ever since the the west endzone of the stadium was enclosed to form a horseshoe nearly 10 years ago. But the sheer-size of the video-board is enough to steal anyone’s attention when they walk into the venue, and that has Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy a tad bit concerned.

Last week during an appearance on the Doug Gottlieb radio show, Gundy said that the Cowboys will be holding several practices at the stadium with the video-board up and running so that the players will be fully adjusted come the team’s season opener vs. Missouri State on Aug. 30

“Were going to practice six times in the next three weeks on the field, at different times of the day, with the video board running, just to try to figure out what kind of distraction it is, if any at all, and get adjusted to it,” Gundy said on the show.

That said, it’s not even the biggest scoreboard at a Big 12 stadium — trailing those at Oklahoma and Texas in size. And let’s not even get started with the beast that is the high-definition scoreboard within AT&T Stadium, which plays host to the Big 12 Championship Game.

If the Cowboys — for whatever reason — can’t adjust come Week 1, whelp, good luck to the visitors. Thankfully, the Horned Frogs won’t have to worry about traveling to Stillwater this season as they host Oklahoma State to conclude their schedule on Nov. 25.