There are five Saturdays sitting between you, me, and the start of TCU Football. But before we get to the games, there was two days of Media Days quotes, pontifications, and coach speaks to get through.
While we continue to sort through the mass to give you the best of what was and wasn’t said at the House that Jerry Built last Monday and Tuesday, we want to give you a nice chunk to sift through in the meantime, by breaking down one thought from each of the ten Big 12 coaches.
While some are wily veterans and others brand new, the Big 12’s leading men had plenty to talk about over the course of their two days in Arlington. So let’s take a look back at one thing each said that we will be thinking about for the next several weeks.
Neal Brown: “I think it’s because we’re undefeated. No, it’s a couple things. I think our marketing staff and the people within our administration have done a really good job presenting us to the state.”
This playful quip was in response to how he and his family were greeted by the Mountaineer faithful so warmly and so quickly.
Neal Brown has, probably outside of Kansas, the toughest job in the Big 12 heading into the 2019 season. With 11 of his 12 games against a Power Five opponent (in addition to the conference schedule, the Eers play Mizzou and NC State), and a team that lost a stunning amount of players from their 2018 squad to either graduation or transfer, WVU is starting at the bottom of the pile. But he’s clearly got the right frame of mind, a good sense of humor, and a track record of success.
Matt Campbell: “I think one of the greatest things that’s been known when I first got to Iowa State all of the questions were what color uniforms are you wearing, what’s your entrance song, people cared about stuff that really doesn’t matter, and now we’re talking about a football team, we’re asking football questions and we’re concerned about what’s really important.”
First of all, if you’ve never asked Coach Campbell a question, then I can’t possibly explain to you what it’s like to be on the other side of this man’s eye contact. I was towards the back of a very large room when I asked him one at Media Days, and his steely gaze were so intimidating that I forgot what I was going to say. Bro is INTENSE.
But the really important thing now is that people are paying attention to the Iowa State Cyclones and what they are doing on the field, and for the first time in a long time, the expectations are HUGE in and around Ames. This is rare air for ISU, their players, and their fans, and the onus is on one of the young rising stars in college football to prove them right, not prove them wrong.
It won’t be easy in a wide-open Big 12, but the Clones and their head coach have to be thinking to themselves, “why not us?”
Mike Gundy: “Oh, I thought about actually getting a haircut yesterday, but it was Sunday and they were closed. So I decided to wing it. I don’t know anymore. It’s hard for me at times to decide what I’m going to do the next day until I get into the season. So hang out and go with it. As long as it makes me look younger, if somebody said it makes you look old, I would probably cut it.”
Somehow, Mike Gundy is one of the more under-appreciated coaches in the country. The dude has won at least ten games six times and at least eight nine. He has finished with an above-.500 record every year but his first in Stillwater. He’s the second-longest tenured coach in the conference at 15 years, trailing only Gary Patterson. But what he has become best known for, of course, is that long, luxurious mullet.
So, please, for the love of god, no one tell him he looks old. Especially not his wife.
Tom Herman: “We weren’t here to just have a really good season in year two. We were here to rebuild a program that’s capable of sustaining success and we feel like we’re on our way there.”
Is Texas Back?
Tom Herman would apparently tell you no. Despite an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game and a whooping of Georgia, Herman doesn’t seem satisfied with what has happened so far in Austin. And he shouldn’t be. The arms race is Texas is an on-going battle, and A&M doesn’t seem ready to give up the fight. Herman has one of the country’s top quarterbacks and all the preseason hype in the world, but, at the end of the day - his Horns haven’t really won anything that matters. If he wants to put Texas back on the national map, he is going to need to win championships. And if he’s going to do that, he’s going to have to keep recruiting at a high level while continuing to change the culture in Austin.
And not just by using Matthew McConaughy.
Chris Klieman: Well, it’s one of the most synonymous names in college football history not just at Kansas State but anywhere. We have a great culture because of what Coach did. I know I’m not going to fill his shoes. I’m just trying to continue in his legacy, but doing it our own way. We’re going to lean on some of the former people.
It’s often said that it’s never good to be the guy following THE GUY, but that’s exactly where Coach Klieman finds himself in his new job at Kansas State - following Bill Snyder.
Klieman’s best chance to blaze his own path is to head a different direction while still giving prudence to all The Wizard built. It won’t be easy, but after a down season, expectations aren’t sky high in the Little Apple. Klieman, who won a ton of championships at his previous stop at North Dakota State, will get time to build the program his way.
The key will be can the Cats hang on to him once he does.
Les Miles: “We’re thankful to have him back, and, again, no violence against a woman is okay. I did not make this decision, but I stand by it and see it as a right one.”
I will have more on this quote and on Les’ handling of the Pooka Williams situation later this week, but I will say I find it upsetting, to say the least. I have always been a believer that while you can’t control what everyone under your purview does at all times, you can control how you handle it.
And, in my opinion, Les Miles and Kanas didn’t really handle it at all.
Gary Patterson: We always lose the arms race in the state of Texas because for every one person that yells TCU you have 50 people that yell A&M or Texas Tech or whoever, because we’re a smaller school. So I think we have a better reputation even outside of the state. We have had five or six guys that kind of came from perimeter places that aren’t just neighboring states and I think you will start seeing us more and more being able to do that because the reputation of TCU has grown from an admissions standpoint. That’s made our job easier.
For a while, Gary Patterson appeared to get caught up chasing stars. The Frogs’ raised their profile nationally, and with that came the opportunity to go after a higher quality of player - on paper. But the players that the Frogs brought in that had more hype seemed to not pan out, getting to campus and either not presenting the work ethic required of a TCU Football player or not willing to mesh with the admittedly tough coaching style of Gary Patterson.
So, GP went back to what made him and his program so successful for so long; recruiting hungry, under the radar guys that might not be high school heroes but were good football players with a deep desire to get better.
TCU won’t win the arms race against Texas or A&M, but they can continue to put a fence around DFW while expanding their boundaries outside of it. Patterson is back to being focused on recruiting the #FrogFactor, and I have a feeling that will do well for him in 2019.
Matt Rhule: “I think Charlie is a natural quarterback. The game comes easy to him. He’s accurate. He loves to play, loves to compete. What I’m excited about is his commitment to learning the game at a higher level, understanding the run checks, the pass checks, the protections, making himself a pro quarterback as a junior and I’ve seen great work from him and that to me tells me he’s ready to go be a great player this year.”
Man, I hate how much I like Matt Rhule. The guy is a total class act and I hope he leaves Baylor for the NFL really soon. Preferably like now.
But, that’s not likely to happen, as Rhule seems entrenched in Waco for at least as long as it takes him to rebuild Baylor to the point that he’s willing to leave it. That project starts and ends - for now - with Charlie Brewer.
While Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Hurts are getting most of the love this off-season, Brewer might be the most natural QB in the conference - and certainly has been the most productive from a pure thrower of the football standard. Brewer is really good, and if he can get a little protection up front and find someone to replace Jalen Hurd as an offensive weapon, he could elevate the Bears to a finish in the top half of the conference this fall.
Okay that was way too many nice things to have to say about Baylor I’m going to go throw up in my mouth really quickly BRB.
Lincoln Riley: “In the end, I think my personal relationship with Austin and his family, the fact that he took a chance and came out to Oklahoma when I first got there, the fact that I was kind of with him every step of the way, I think the personal side of it overtook maybe more the business side of it from my head and my views on it haven’t changed. I still don’t really agree with it but I realize in that moment I wanted to do the best thing for the kid and I couldn’t get past the personal side of it.”
Here’s another garbage take on player movement, spear-headed by a guy who has ridden three straight transfer quarterbacks.
The minute the Sooners started pursuing Jalen Hurts, Austin Kendall was no longer a part of their long term plans. Sure, Riley said all the right things about an open competition and standing by the guy he brought in - but come on, man, this is a championship QB you brought in, quit playing lip service in the name of protecting your program.
Riley reneged because of national pressure and the threat of a stain on his and his program’s reputation, pure and simple. Austin Kendall was probably never going to start for Oklahoma in 2019 - so what were they so worried about in letting him leave? The kid is a grad transfer, after all, someone who did things the right way and fulfilled his obligations to the university athletically and academically. Once he gets his degree, let him move on - don’t deny him a chance to try and play his last years of college football - even if it’s at a school you’ll have to play this season.
Matt Wells: “But I think it shaped who I am, a small town guy, real simple. But it’s the love of the game and the respect of the game that I think that was instilled in me at an early age for all my -- from all my coaches and I think that you saw the second part of your question, how does it impact you today? I think I’m a product of a lot of those high school coaches at Sallisaw not only in football but in baseball and in basketball that kind of molded me into who I am today.”
Matt Wells seems like a decent dude. After the GP hit piece that our Texas Tech sister site put up last week (which I won’t link to), I guess I will just wish him luck at his next job.