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Beyond the Fort: Gundy records another off-field victory, calls for more Power 5 contests, & more

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As we get set for kickoff, it’s time for the latest news and headlines from across the Big 12.

Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

You made it, friends. Week 1 of the 2018 college football season is here.

And what could be more indicative of that than Gary Patterson being concerned about an FCS opponent — the Southern University Jaguars — rolling into Amon G. Carter Stadium against a preseason Top 25 team?

Of course, that’s nothing new in the Patterson-era of TCU football. But as the Horned Frogs get ready to prepare for their season opener — simultaneously paying tribute to the legendary Davey O’Brien this Saturday — here are the latest happenings from the rest of the Big 12 Conference:

Mike Gundy has a new friend

Just when we thought we had seen it all, the 51-year-old man with a mullet struck again.

No rattlesnakes or rants this time around, though. The latest attention-grabbing move from Oklahoma State’s fearless football coach involves man’s best friend.

Gundy took the podium at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. on Friday for his final press conference ahead of the Cowboys’ Thursday night season-opener vs. Missouri State. How many reporters were actually focused on football during the 40-minute session is up for debate, however, considering Gundy brought his new dog along for the show.

That’s right. Meet Kenzie, who has become a frequent presence in the Oklahoma State football offices since Gundy and his family adopted the pup, per the Tulsa World.

“We adopted her so she’s become my legal guardian and protector,” Gundy told reporters. “That’s my buddy. She comes to the office most every day now.”

A good luck charm? Maybe. Needless to say, Gundy may have a whole lot more visitors than he’s accustomed to with the arrival of his new personal assistant.

How many Power 5 games are enough?

We’ve heard this one before: should every team in college football — or at least the Big 12 — be required to play the same amount of Power 5 opponents each season?

With the Big 12’s round robin format, everyone in the conference automatically gets nine games of such on the calendar. Venture into non-conference play, however, and it’s a different story for every team. On one level, there’s Kansas, whose lone Power 5 non-conference matchup of 2018 comes against the “high and mighty” Rutgers Scarlet Knights (okay, that actually might be a challenge for the Jayhawks). On the opposite end of the spectrum, Texas and West Virginia have upped the ante by scheduling not one but two Power 5 opponents each — bringing their total to eleven.

It’s a respectable move on the part of the Mountaineers and Longhorns, no doubt, and one that could pay dividends if both teams get past their respective combos of Tennessee/North Carolina State & Maryland/USC unscathed. But it’s also undeniably a tougher path to the College Football Playoff than many of their counterparts.

West Virginia coach Dana Hologrsen, understandably so, wouldn’t be opposed for a more uniform policy when it comes to scheduling opponents.

“We have 11 Power 5 games on our schedule. Others have eight and a whole lot have nine,” Holgorsen said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I think it needs to be more carefully thought out and mandated -- a little bit more uniform.”

Texas head coach Tom Herman echoed those comments during his session later on the teleconference later that morning. Herman, in particular, took issue with how the differences have put Texas behind the eight ball when it comes to rebuilding from a stretch of three straight sub .500 seasons from 2014-2016.

“This program [was] coming off three straight losing seasons, and to schedule 11 Power 5 opponents makes the task of rebuilding a little bit more difficult considering there’s schools in other conferences that play eight,” Herman said during the teleconference. “I saw some other Power 5 schools that play two FCS schools in the same season and two Group of 5 schools. That’s something that needs to be addressed on a national level.”

Could the answer be an FBS commissioner or another new governing body? Time will tell, but the pressure is certainly on with the latest comments from Holgorsen and Herman.

And how about a Tom Herman/Urban Meyer rivalry?

Three seasons before his arrival to the Forty Acres, Herman was the offensive coordinator for a 2014 Ohio State team that won a national championship after narrowly sneaking into the inaugural College Football Playoff. But as Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel wrote, there could be fierce rivalry now brewing between Herman and his former boss — Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer.

Forget Meyer’s critical comments toward his former assistant after Maryland upended Texas in Herman’s coaching debut with the Longhorns last September. If there’s any fire, it’s bound to be fueled by Ohio State confirming Tuesday that Herman was the assistant who accompanied former Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith to a South Florida strip club during a May 2014 recruiting trip, per the Columbus Dispatch.

There’s certainly no moral high ground to be had for the Buckeyes, given the scandal that cost Smith his job and resulted in a three-game suspension for Meyer. For Herman, this will likely pass. But if there are any lasting effects, don’t expect this to be the last time some shade is thrown between the head coaches at Texas and Ohio State once Meyer is back on the sidelines.

And if the Buckeyes and Longhorns ever square off on the same field? Oh boy. There could be fireworks, and not just on the gridiron.