Summer is officially here, and before you know it, so will Big 12 football Media Days — now less than four weeks away, to be exact. There’s nothing like college football’s nasty little habit of sneaking up on you when it feels centuries away, and that’s a great thing, no doubt.
But before you go full weekend-mode, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re up to speed on the latest rumblings from around the Big 12 and beyond. Spoiler: The version of Baker Mayfield we all know and love (at least some of us love it) is back in the headlines. Again. If that didn’t grab your attention, well, I’m out of luck.
Still the same old Baker
Let’s be real: nothing — at least in North America — matches the pageantry of college football. If you’ve ever ventured over to the Cotton Bowl Stadium in October to watch Oklahoma and Texas duke it out for 60 minutes, you know very well that the Red River Rivalry is about as good as it gets. If you made Norman or Austin home during your college years, the annual feud becomes part of your identity — all the way until you take your final breath. Ask Baker Mayfield about that.
Okay, so the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft rightfully has a little extra beef with the Longhorns considering he grew up within 20 miles of the Forty Acres and was never recruited by UT, but boy do you have to admire the size of the chip on his shoulder — a chip that has since manifested into what you may even call an obsession with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger.
In the case you’ve been under a rock last year, let’s remind you: Mayfield really wants you to know that Ehlinger — also an Austin native, who played at Westlake High School — never beat Mayfield’s alma mater/Westlake rival Lake Travis. Mayfield really wants you to know that Texas is not baaaaaaaaaack, even though the Longhorns’ Sugar Bowl win over Georgia was nothing shy of impressive. Above all, Mayfield just really, really wants you and the rest of the entire universe to know that Ehlinger is essentially public enemy No. 1 on his list, as the Cleveland Browns passer proclaimed for all to hear on SportsTalk 1400 (KREF) earlier in the week.
“He doesn’t like me, and I hope he knows I don’t like him either,” Mayfield remarked.
So, what’s to make of it? Did Mayfield, now a starting QB in the NFL, go too far in taking such an outspoken dig at a college passer? Or is this just Baker being Baker — embracing the rivalry that shaped his college years to the fullest extent? We’ll let you decide, but you know you’re lying to yourself if Mayfield’s remarks surprised you in the slightest — regardless of whether you feel his comments toward Ehlinger and Texas are warranted or not.
Semifinal state of mind
Is the Big 12, in fact, the most well-rounded athletic conference in the country? Once again, we’ll leave it up for you to decide, but there’s certainly a case to be made.
When it comes to deep postseason runs, the league knows a thing or two. To be precise, the Big 12 is the only conference this school year to feature a school in the national semifinals for football, both men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball.
That’s not to mention some of the additional accolades for Texas Tech, including a trip to the NCAA men’s basketball national title game and a men’s track and field national title. Baseball could soon join those ranks, with the Red Raiders currently in the semifinals of the College World Series. Oh, and most importantly: Let’s give another shout-out to your 2019 national champion TCU rifle team.
Turns out that a 10 team conference was never such a bad thing after all, eh?
Meanwhile in Mt. Vernon....
Nearly a month has passed since the Friday night that ex-Baylor head coach Art Briles was hired by Mount Vernon ISD as the high school’s new head football coach and athletic director. And finally, just this week, the public had its first opportunity to sound off in front of school board members at a Monday board meeting.
As for the meeting itself, only three individuals in the room of more than 60 offered up their thoughts on the hire. Of that trio, only one spoke out against the decision to bring in Briles, who was fired from Baylor in May 2016 amid the sexual-assault scandal involving the football program. That didn’t stop others in the room from dubbing Briles as “the greatest coach in America.”
So, what might the future hold for Mt. Vernon as Briles returns to the coaching scene in the Lone Star State? It’s far too early to tell at the moment, but the only guarantee for now is that the football team’s 2019 opener vs. Bonham on Aug. 30 is sure to generate plenty of attention, as will Mt. Vernon’s home opener two weeks later on Sept. 13 vs. Canton.
Briles, 63, has not coached at the high school level since his final year as the head coach at Stephenville in 1999 — a school where he spent more than a decade in charge. Most recently, Briles coached overseas as the head of coach Florence, Italy based Estra Guelfi Firenze American Football club.