Big 12 Media Days 2019: Top Five Storylines to Watch
As football season creeps closer and closer, it seems like everyone is counting down the days until their team kicks off the season. Unfortunately, it is still just July but there is one last big event before the season begins which is Big 12 media days. I know this isn’t going to exactly fix my football cravings either, but it will have to do for right now because let’s face it, this is all we have right now. For the first time, media days will be held at AT&T Stadium or “The house that Jerry built”. It’s a new season and a fresh start for the coaches but these are the biggest headlines heading into Big 12 media days.
Kansas Running Back Pooka Williams Jr.
In case you have been living under a rock, Kansas running back Pooka Williams Jr. has been suspended by Les Miles FOR ONE GAME. If you don’t know, back in December I believe it was that a woman that Pooka was involved with claimed that he had punched her in the stomach and grabbed her by the throat and even had the text messages to prove it. Kansas suspended Pooka for awhile (All offseason) and came out earlier this week claiming how well he has handled himself during that time before laying down the joke of a punishment of one game against Indiana State. Les Miles dropped the ball, and I feel bad for the women at KU because this isn’t even a slap on the wrist in my opinion. I could go on and on about this but maybe one of the most interesting things to come out of this is why was the punishment announced the week before media days? Because you know that’s all anyone is going to be talking about to Les at media days. This whole thing is head scratching and I hope we can get a reason why he chose this joke of a punishment although nothing he says will make this situation any better because of the way he already handled it.
New Faces at New Places
This year we have four new head coaches in the conference in Matt Wells (Texas Tech), Neil Brown (WVU), Chris Klieman (KSU) and Les Miles (Kansas). What is interesting is that when the media preseason polls came out, these four schools with new head coaches are all picked to finish in the bottom four of the conference. While they all have their work cut out for them for the season ahead, I want to see just how different these guys are and what type of changes can we expect from these programs? Think about it, Matt Wells is at a starving football program at Tech replacing the golden boy (Kliff Kingsbury), Neil Brown is replacing Dana Holgorsen who was a bit crazy and then you have Chris Klieman following in the footsteps of a legend in Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Oh yeah, Kansas has Les Miles too who was a guy who ran a top five program in the country and now is starting from the bottom (But he isn’t here). So many new faces and I won’t know where to start. Ok I lied because I want to know what in the hell Les Miles was thinking issuing a one game suspension.
From Baker to Kyler to Jalen?
Without a doubt, Lincoln Riley’s table at media days will have more people than a Kansas football game from last season. I mean seriously, people will climb on top of one another to get a picture or quote from him and to be honest, he won’t give you much and it would be like pulling teeth from him to get something interesting to really come out. However, I want to know more about Jalen Hurts than just what I saw at the Oklahoma spring game. I want to know how he carries himself, how he leads and so on. What changes can we expect with Jalen running the show? But Jalen isn’t coming, and I hope that Lincoln doesn’t try and throw out that there is a “competition” like he did last season with Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall. Is Jalen ready to step up and be “The guy”? The defense will still be a work in progress so the offense (As always) will have to carry the team once again if they want to get back to the Big 12 title game. Not to mention, Jalen has to follow two Heisman winners. No pressure Jalen. No pressure.
Only Two Quarterbacks?
I talked about this with Pete on this week’s podcast. 10 teams come to media days and yet only two quarterbacks? Texas quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger and Kansas State quarterback Skyler Thompson are the only two. This one to me is a head scratcher. I think there could have been at least four here but that’s just me. Iowa State could have brought Brock Purdy, Baylor SHOULD have brought Charlie Brewer and you can say that Tech should have brought Alan Bowman. All three guys will be starters and in Charlie’s case he is going into year three basically as a starter. How do you not bring him? I know you want to get some seniors in there but from a marketing standpoint, the quarterback is the face of your team and program. You should want that exposure and I think the Big 12 should try and push some of these schools to start bringing their starting quarterbacks. It’s not like they will say something we don’t already know because most of them won’t say something stupid because the are all trained to talk like their coaches now. Again, I think it would help with exposure but it’s not my call to make.
Who Can Break Out of the Middle of The Pack?
To me, there are tiers in this league. I think Oklahoma and Texas and possibly even Iowa State are at the top tier while teams like TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech are in the mid-tier. Then you have you bottom tier which is West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas. Ok, maybe Kansas can be in the bottom tier of their own, but you get my point here. Out of that mid-tier of TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas Tech, how will that shake out? Last season I remember going through the Big 12 preseason poll and I could have made a case for any team from spots 2 through 8. Now it seems like the only shuffling I could do was through 4 to 7. I think there won’t be as much parody in the conference this year compared to previous years, but it is always interesting to see how it plays out. TCU and Oklahoma State have quarterback questions while Baylor and Texas Tech have questions on defense. You can throw Oklahoma State in that category too but even though you may not be able to make a great case for any of these teams to be in the Big 12 title game, these four teams are very interchangeable to me. I want to see how the coaches and players of these teams feel about their squads and see how much confidence they have for this upcoming season.
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