The first day of Big 12 media days is completed, and five Horned Frogs made their mark in the Omni Hotel in Dallas. Jason Verrett, Waymon James, Jon Koontz, Sam Carter and Gary Patterson all addressed the media throughout the day. Here are a few highlights from the festivities:
Gary Patterson joked that he’s “buying his team less diapers” this season, a joke referring to the youth of Patterson’s team. After working in 2012 with the youngest team he had ever coached, Patterson said his team has developed into a better team with more maturity and experience.
Although Patterson refused to name a starter at Big 12 media days, he did tell reporters two reasons why Casey Pachall has not spoken to the media since returning to the team in January.
The first reason, Patterson said, is that Pachall has not been named as the starter yet. The second reason, however, came from a personal plea from Pachall.
“[Pachall] asked me when he came in, ‘Coach, can I just be a student,’” Patterson said. “What I've done is I've left him alone. His whole thing is: 'I just want to be a student. I want to be a football player.'”
Patterson also said he felt that he acted correctly while dealing with Pachall’s off-the-field issues last season. Patterson suspended Pachall indefinitely until Pachall left the team in October to attend rehab. Pachall was reinstated to the team in January.
Big 12, big changes
Bob Bowlsby, the commissioner of the Big 12, said in his state of the conference address that a number of changes were coming.
Released with a PSA that will be played at stadiums around the league, Bowlsby said the league is committed to player safety, particularly regarding concussions. New technology will be added to players’ gear, such as RF chips in shoulder pads which will measure velocity and impact of hits. Bowlsby said the league will team with Sportvision to interpret the data, but Bowlsby admitted that he did not know what would happen with the data.
“To be quite frank about it, we're not sure what we will do with the technology or what Sportvision will do with the technology,” he said. “We think it's a very interesting innovation that developments in other areas outside of sports have accommodated.”
In a new Big 12-only change, Bowlsby also announced a new experiment regarding officials in the Big 12. The league will be adding an eighth official to the field, as opposed to the traditional seven-person system. The official will be placed in the offensive backfield.
During his press conference, Gary Patterson said he was one of the coaches to vote in favor of the additional referee.
Other State of the Conference highlights
Bowlsby also revealed a new conference logo, which is set to be released in summer 2014. Additionally, he said live highlights will be piped into Big 12 stadiums during TV timeouts – a move which Bowlsby said was to counter declining attendance in stadiums around the conference.
The commissioner also ripped into the NCAA, and said that a look into new leadership should be considered. He also said there should be a possible look into the viability of federation by sport, as opposed to NCAA leagues.
“I really think the time has come to think about federation by size and scope and equity brought to the system,” he said. “ There are about 75 schools that win 90 percent of the championships in the NCAA, and we have a whole bunch of others that don't look much like the people in our league, but yet through rule variation they're trying to compete with us.”
Bowlsby said that secession from the NCAA wouldn’t be a legitimate or even a likely option, but did say that it could be considered as a point of leverage for a stance of final resort.
Finally, Bowlsby announced a commitment to play games against the Southeastern Conference on a regular basis. The commissioner said that in order for the Big 12 to be the best conference, it must win national championships and find ways to beat teams in the best league.
The SEC has won the last seven national championships, including two wins over Big 12 schools in the title game. The Big 12 has not had a national champion in football since 2006, when Texas defeated USC in the Rose Bowl.
The state of the TCU defense
Jon Koontz, Jason Verrett and Sam Carter, the three representatives who spoke for TCU’s defense at media days, all said they were confident in their teammates to repeat as the league’s top defense.
Carter praised his teammates, including Verrett, who was named as an All-American in 2012. He said Verrett’s abilities to cover big-time receivers makes his job easier as a safety, while Koontz shared a similar opinion, noting his job as a defensive end is easier because of Verrett’s play.
Verrett and Carter both spoke about their roles as seniors and leaders on the defense, as both believed they had a responsibility to raise up younger players in the system. Both said they aren’t afraid to give fellow players encouragement or correction in order to make players perform better in practice.
Carter said he is particularly excited to see the development of incoming linebacker Sammy Douglas, who stayed at Carter’s home when he was visiting TCU as a recruit. Carter said Douglas is a “gym rat” and is constantly working on his physical strength.
Around the league
TCU isn’t the only team in the Big 12 to refuse to name a starting quarterback. Both Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State and Bill Snyder of Kansas State would not select one specific quarterback to be the starter for their teams. Gundy is deciding between J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf, while Snyder is choosing between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters.
Additionally, Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats have proven preseason rankings useless the past two years, and Bill Snyder thinks it’s time for a change. With his team ranked sixth heading into the preseason, Snyder said he’d pick his team to finish 99th if he had a vote.
Finally, after using his press conference to rip into his team, Kansas coach Charlie Weis solidified himself as the most blunt coach in college football. The Jayhawks have won only two out of their last 34 conference games, something Weis is not happy with.
To remedy the situation, Weis is inviting junior college players to play for him as transfer students. When asked what his sales pitch was, Weis declared a statement which no one in the room expected.
“Have you looked at that pile of crap out there? If you don't think you can play here, where do you think you can play? It's a pretty simple approach,” he said.
Kansas went 1-11 last year, with its only win being a 31-17 win over the FCS school South Dakota State. The Jayhawks have not won a Big 12 conference game since 2010.
“Have you looked at the pile of crap out there?” – Kansas head coach Charlie Weis, on what he says to recruits asking about his team
"They kind of laid down a little bit. That's nothing to say about their character. That's just what they do." – Kansas State linebacker Tre Walker, on the Texas Longhorns
“I think we need to think a little bit about reevaluating our core purpose. [The] NCAA has gotten to be an organization that has very broad ranging responsibilities and oversight. I'm not sure we're doing as good a job with some of the core competencies as we need to.” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, on the state of the NCAA