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TCU at Big 12 Media Days: Key Takeaways

TCU Football Head Coach Sonny Dykes taking questions at Big 12 Media Days at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, on Thursday, July 14th.

It all begins and ends at AT&T Stadium.

Or, at least does the Big 12 Football season. With 2023 Media Days having taken place July 13th and 14th, and the Big 12 Championship that’s occurring Dec. 3 at ‘Jerry’s World’, the metroplex’s wonder is the perfect preface, and the perfect conclusion, to a Big 12 season.

Of course, while there are plenty of rumors swirling around the future of the Big 12, for now, the teams representing Big 12 Media Days haven’t changed, and TCU is still DFW’s Big 12 team.

Big 12 Conference News

Yet, starting July 1, 2023, as Outgoing, and former, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said at the beginning of Media Days, Houston, UCF, BYU, and Cincinnati will be joining the Big 12. We knew these four teams had agreed to join the conference, but now, the official date the programs will be members of the Big 12 is set in stone for July 1, 2023.

In more general conference news, current Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark, in his introductory presser, said that the conference is “open for business” and is “exploring all options”, in adding potential programs to the Big 12. In the case of Oklahoma and Texas leaving before 2025, Yormark said he wants a “win-win” situation for everyone involved, but ultimately does want what’s best for the Big 12.

Big 12 Officiating Changes

Greg Burks, the Big 12 Coordinator of Officials, also wants what’s best for the Big 12, and is hopeful some of the rule changes he addressed in his Day 2 presser will contribute to the betterment of Big 12 gameplay. There’s some more trivial changes, like uniform expectations (pants covering the knee), but there’s also some that have promise, like potential penalties called for players feigning injuries, and a targeting rule change, in which when players are called for targeting in the second half of a game, automatically causing a suspension, the Big 12 may vacate that suspension if the call is deemed to be missed.

The officials’ “points of emphasis” for the 2022-23 Big 12 season are: targeting, disconcerting signals/clapping/defensive shifts, unsportsmanlike conduct, feigning injuries, uniform conduct, and sideline management.

TCU at 2022 Big 12 Media Days

Coach Sonny Dykes is, clearly, excited as can be to be a head coach of a Big 12 program, as he started his first Big 12 Media Day presser stating how he’s, “excited to be a part of the league, and really excited to be a part of TCU.”

Regardless of his excitement, Coach Dykes didn’t waste any time talking about his legendary predecessor, Gary Patterson, who is largely responsible in bringing this program to the Big 12 in the first place, saying “what he did was really pretty remarkable... building the brand, having the success that he did,” and says he’s blessed to be following Patterson’s footsteps.

Noting there’s pressure in “following a legend”, and noting that “there is a certain level of expectations with any program,” Dykes will be reminded of that pressure, and those expectations, every time he passes the Gary Patterson statue outside Schollmaier Arena, as he did say in his presser, “when you follow a legend, there’s not many places where there’s a statue of that coach outside the stadium.”

Inside the stadium, and on the field, Coach Dykes has had a tremendous amount of success in developing quarterbacks (Tim Couch, Nick Foles, Colby Cameron, Jared Goff), and is excited for what TCU’s QB room has to bring, saying he feels “we have a lot of talented guys in the room.” Yet, if you wanted hints as to who Coach Dykes will be naming starter for the team’s season opener against Colorado, you’d be straight out of luck, as Coach Dykes spent time on both Chandler Morris, and Max Duggan, equally, while also mentioning the “young talent” he’s excited about, and adding that “the strength of our offense should be our offensive line, and our question mark is really our quarterback position.”

So, while not naming a solidified starter, Coach Dykes says he “feel[s] incredibly confident that either one of those quarterbacks that we choose can get the job done at a very high level,” continually using the term “Quarterback Battle”, which it seems Max Duggan and Chandler Morris will be engulfed in during this off-season.

While neither Morris, nor Duggan, was present at Media Days to represent the Frogs as players, other team stars, and leaders, were there to talk to media and show face as potential Big 12 superstars. WR Quentin Johnston, OL Steve Avila, LB Dee Winters, and CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson represented the team this week in Arlington, Johnston and Hodges-Tomlinson coming off being named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team on July 6.

Given a 15-minute presser on Day 2, the players didn’t leak anything too noteworthy, but their excitement for this upcoming season was evident, as all four clearly enjoyed their time throughout the week, and looked comfortable on the stage, emphasizing how “everyone’s getting bigger and faster,” during off-season workouts.

Another general theme from the four was the fact that the team is learning a new offensive, and defensive, playbook, but that the squad has been determined to learning the ins-and-outs, that connections are being made, and it’s becoming easier and easier to see what Coach Dykes and the coaching staff want from the team.

Ultimately, all four showed the media, the Big 12, and TCU fans that their leadership will be crucial for success in this new-look, new-era TCU football team. Johnston’s control and leadership over the WR group will be much looked at, as he’s the clear #1 target for whoever starts in the QB spot. Winters and Hodges-Tomlinson will be commanding a whole defense, being the clear leaders on that half of the ball, and will have to set the tone, and lead by example for a young defensive unit. And, in what will likely be a strength of this year’s team, as Coach Dykes noted, Avila will lead what projects to be one of the better offensive lines in the conference. An experienced veteran, who knows both Duggan’s and Morris’ tendencies well, he should be able to with ease.

We’re certainly itching to see just how much bigger, and how much faster, these guys got during the off-season, and our first potential look at them will be at team practices, which Dykes made sure to take note of in his presser.

Team practices, which will be open to everybody, yes, anyone who wants to watch a TCU practice, will be able to Aug. 2, when the team begins practicing for their Sept. 2, ‘Friday Night Lights’ season opener vs. Colorado.

But until then, the team has two more weeks of hitting the gym, learning new playbooks, running sprints, and staying in shape.

Anything that will make them “bigger and faster” before this new season starts.

And, until then, Coach Dykes, and his staff, will be continue pondering the question: “Who starts at QB this year?”

While 2022’s Big 12 Media Days might not have given us any answers regarding that, they showed how optimism is taking a hold of this new-look program, and that it’s always Sonny in Fort Worth.