Big 12 media days are upon us this week in Arlington, Texas, as all ten Big 12 teams will converge on AT&T Stadium and preview the upcoming 2022 college football season. Five teams will be featured on Wednesday and then the other five teams will be featured on Thursday.
This is the unofficial start of the college football season and it’s the first big chance for all of the Big 12 media folks to get in front of the coaches and players and preview what’s to come for the upcoming season.
With that being said, here are the Top 5 storylines to watch heading into 2022 Big 12 football media days.
1. New Commissioner Brett Yormark
Even if I had written this piece two weeks ago, Brett Yormark would have been at the top of the list. Here is the new Big 12 commissioner getting set to address the media for the first time on the job. His background has no experience in college sports, which is fine, but it also makes him a new figure to all of college athletics. What is his vision? How can he bring a new, fresh perspective to the a league that has consistently found itself in survival mode?
2. Realignment Chatter
And of course, this all leads into the looming cloud of more potential Big 12 expansion. What does the league do? What does Brett Yormark say about his thoughts on moves the Big 12 should be seriously considering? Oh, and how about the coaches? Let’s be honest, we know certain coaches will say more (Mike Gundy) than others (Matt Campbell). That’s what makes it great, fun, entertaining and unpredictable as we get set for Media Days.
Oh, and how do Oklahoma and Texas handle this moment know they’re on their way out of the door and heading to the SEC?
It’s amazing since it was just last year when Bob Bowlsby cracked a joke about not having to discuss realignment this year. Days later, the entire sport was upended and now we are going through it again nearly 12 months later to the day.
3. Baylor as the Hunted
Baylor was picked by Big 12 media to win the conference this fall. How does Dave Aranda prepare his team for that heading into Year 3 as the head coach? Last year, the expectations were very low for the Bears. They were coming off a two-win season and Aranda even had some Baylor fans chirping about his ability to run a program.
But one year and one Big 12 Title later, plus a big contract extension, and times are good in Waco. They’re the defending Big 12 champions, they’re picked to win the league, and the talent base continues to grow on both sides of the ball.
Are Aranda and his guys up for the challenge?
4. New Faces
One of my favorite things about Big 12 media days is the one-on-one experience you can have as a media member with a player or a coach. It makes the event unlike anything else in sports. And when you get new coaches in the conference, media days is a great way to get a feel for them as personalities as well.
The Big 12 has three new coaches this year in Oklahoma’s Brent Venables, TCU’s Sonny Dykes and Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire. My hunch is that Venables and McGuire come in with high energy and a lot of positivity. Granted, it’s easy to be positive before you have anything beyond a zero in the loss column, but that’s also naturally who both guys are based on what we’ve seen in other press settings and elsewhere on social media.
However, neither guy has run a program before and is about to face the spotlight in a way neither has during their very successful careers. That always brings a new element to the equation and how both guys handle it will be very interesting to watch.
Meantime, Dykes moves from one side of the DFW Metroplex to the other after re-building his career at SMU. He takes over for a legend in Gary Patterson and needs to take the talent at TCU to the next level. He hasn’t had the big presence social media push of the other two, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready to make a big splash at his first Big 12 media days.
5. Which Players Stand Out?
Each year, media and fans get to better know some of the best Big 12 football players heading into the season via media days. Who are the stand-out personalities this year?
Typically, one may think of the quarterbacks, but in my experience, they’re usually not as interesting as we want them to be. It’s the other positions where you find a breakout media sensation.
Plus, it’s interesting there will only be two quarterbacks in attendance this year in Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders and Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez.
Given that we saw him last year at media days, my money is on Texas running back Bijan Robinson continuing to successfully work the media, flash his personality and build his brand. After that, it’s anyone’s guess who shines, but know that once they do, you’ll be reading plenty about it at Heartland College Sports.