Arizona State Sun Devils

Postscripts: One Question for Each Big 12 Football Coach at Media Days

Oct 6, 2018; Stillwater, OK, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell and Oklahoma State Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy (right) meet before a game at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

What’s going on in the Big 12 and beyond? I expand and explain every Sunday in Postscripts at Heartland College Sports, your home for independent Big 12 coverage.

This week, I’m getting ready to head to Las Vegas for Big 12 Media Days (with a little detour to Denver first to see the Avett Brothers for three days). I, along with members of the HCS staff, will be there both days to truly kick off the 2024 football season.


The Question

Now that I’ve done some actual research for the upcoming football season, if I could get one question with each head coach, this is what I would want to ask during Big 12 Media Days in sweltering Las Vegas:

Arizona Wildcats

To Brent Brennan: How did you keep all of those stars?

Seriously, in an era when a head-coaching change almost always means transfer portal chaos, the Wildcats didn’t bleed out like other programs. The Wildcats kept what could be the best passing combo in the Big 12 in quarterback Noah Fifita and wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan. On defense the Wildcats kept their linebacker Jacob Manu.

Arizona didn’t keep everyone, of course. But that’s good work for a new head coach. How did he do it?

Arizona State Sun Devils

To Kenny Dillingham: What does a step forward look like in year two?

Dillingham is one of those coaches that rose fast. In 2013 he was coaching quarterbacks at Chaparral High School in Arizona. Now, he’s leading his alma mater. That’s meteoric by any standard. Dillingham shouldn’t be in a rush, but some young coaches can be and take shortcuts. I want to know what his standard is for next season because I see a young team with great talent in the trenches, but maybe one year away at some of the skill positions.


Baylor Bears

To Dave Aranda: How hot is that seat you’re sitting on?

Without question the hottest seat in the conference belongs to the Baylor head coach, who admitted that he’s struggling in the NIL/transfer portal era. The situation took on urgency in the offseason when he flipped offensive coordinators (Jake Spavital), make himself the defensive play-caller and moved himself to linebackers coach.

One thing that is certain — Dave Aranda will “appreciate the question.”

BYU Cougars

To Kalani Sitake: Do you have the beef now?

When I covered Cincinnati at BYU last fall, one of the things Sitake talked about after the game was that the program’s recruiting and development efforts on the offensive line needed to improve for the Cougars to contend in this conference. That was reflected in their season.

Does Sitake and his offensive line have what they need in Year Two?

UCF Knights

To Gus Malzahn: What impact do you expect from K.J. Jefferson?

Malzahn and his staff landed one of the best transfers on the market when they were able to get Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson to transfer to Orlando. This will be his sixth year of college football and he doesn’t have to come to the Knights and light the world on fire. They have enough talent for him to just fit in and do his job, and they could be a lot better than last year. But I’m curious to hear what Malzahn thinks about Jefferson’s impact.


Cincinnati Bearcats

To Scott Satterfield: What will you do without The Godfather?

Just before the Big 12 preseason team was announced, we learned that Cincinnati defensive lineman Dontay Corleone would be out indefinitely with blood clots in his lungs.

There may not be a more important player to their particular defense than Corleone is to the Bearcats. How Satterfield and his staff will work around his significant absence will be vital to whether the Bearcats have a good season.

Colorado Buffaloes

To Deion Sanders: Is this program stable now?

In the last two years, the Buffs have turned over so much talent that one has to wonder if Deion Sanders cares about stability (I believe he does). I’d want to know if, in the long term, he believes the Buffs can be a winning program with this much turnover (I don’t believe they can)? And what does manageable turnover look like to him?

Houston Cougars

To Willie Fritz: How long will it take to win in Houston?

Folks, all this dude does is win. He did it at Blinn College in the 1990s. He did it in Division II, FCS, and FBS. Now he’s finally at a Power 5 school, a job I feel he’s deserved for a long time. This is tricky now, though. The athletic director who hired him is now fired, an acknowledgment that the Cougars don’t have the resources to compete yet. Does that put more pressure on Fritz? And is that unfair this soon?

Iowa State Cyclones

To Matt Campbell: Is This Rocco Becht’s Year?

Last year, as the full-time starter for the first time, Rocco Becht threw for 3,210 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Those are already solid numbers. But what would make 2024 Becht’s big year? Reducing turnovers? Improving his completion rate (was nearly 63% last year)? ISU isn’t pivoting away from running the ball. I’m curious what a season of “leveling up” looks like for Becht. Because I think he can.


Kansas Jayhawks

To Lance Leipold: What’s your dream job?

What I really want to ask is what would get him out of Lawrence, not because I want him gone but because I’m legitimately curious. He’s what Matt Campbell was five years ago. Campbell hasn’t left. Lance Leipold has drawn incredible interest in the last two coaching cycles but is still at Kansas. It’s good to know what you want, and if Leipold hasn’t made the jump yet, it means he probably does. And I’m just curious.

Kansas State Wildcats

To Chris Klieman: How will you replace Ben Sinnott and Cooper Beebe?

I get that all the talk is about quarterback Avery Johnson and that’s for good reason. But, replacing Sinnott, their do-everything tight end, and Beebe, their All-Big 12 offensive lineman, is paramount to Johnson being successful. Those are big shoes to fill. And note that it may not be about replacing them per se, but more about replacing their production.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

To Mike Gundy: Is this the Cowboys’ best chance to win the Big 12?

The Cowboys have come awfully close as recently as 2021, when they narrowly lost to Baylor in the Big 12 title game (let’s not talk about what happened last year). Iowa State stole their dreams of a BCS title game berth more than a decade ago. I think this is the most experienced roster Mike Gundy has ever had, and there is a path for the Cowboys to win this league and reach the College Football Playoff.

There should be high expectations in Stillwater. It would be great to hear him address that.

TCU Horned Frogs

To Sonny Dykes: What are you going to do at QB?

Last year was rough. We all knew TCU would take a step back after losing quarterback Max Duggan. But I still had the Horned Frogs pegged as a bowl team, and they missed that completely. It’s why the position is so vital to success and failure and why TCU’s situation is intriguing. Josh Hoover is back and needed the spring to continue his development but he missed time. Vanderbilt transfer Ken Seals got that time instead. Did that help distance him from Hoover? That’s what we’re all in Vegas to find out.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

To Joey McGuire: Is Tahj Brooks the key to winning the Big 12?

Texas Tech finally allowed Tahj Brooks to be the primary ball carrier and look — 1,541 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He’s one of the most under-appreciated backs in the country. Yes, the Red Raiders got a lot better at wide receiver in the portal and the recruiting trail. But it’s all going to start with Brooks. Just curious to see if Joey McGuire agrees.

Utah Utes

To Kyle Whittingham: The head-coach-in-waiting thing? Now?

I’m not going to be so bold as to ask Kyle Whittingham when he’s retiring. But making defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley the head-coach-in-waiting invites the question. Whittingham is only 64. In coaching terms, that’s still young. But, then again, Bob Stoops retired around 60 years old. So you have to think that Whittingham is thinking about it. Plus, when has this ever worked out well for either the coach-in-waiting or the school?

West Virginia Mountaineers

To Neal Brown: Are we undervaluing WVU as a contender?

I have to be honest — watching WVU win nine games last season took me by surprise. That team came together as perfectly as it could have. We know the league is wide open, and for years, Brown and WVU have been asking fans to “trust the climb.” The Mountaineers have the right offensive mix. The defense has quality talent. I wonder if Neal Brown feels overlooked (or if he even cares if WVU is being overlooked).

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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