You don’t usually get a lot out of people at events like these. There isn’t as much emotion involved as the end of a game, there’s generally a list of questions that the coaches and players are prepared for, and every now and then, maybe a couple weird things happen.
This year seemed to be the opposite of this. It wasn’t just a few mascots running around being weird, either, it went all the way from the coaches to the players.
They didn’t have the most pre-appearance hype because they didn’t have a new coach, but Oklahoma State arguably made the biggest splash. Anytime you put Mike Gundy in front of a mic it’s always a show, and he filled us in on the curling of his mullet. His punter, Zach Sinor, released his Heisman campaign website, which looks like it was created before I went to middle school. The Cowboys also had media bingo, a stunt preformed the day before by Texas Tech’s Jah’Shawn Johnson as well.
As for the new coaches, Tom Herman and Lincoln Riley handled their first time in the spotlight just fine. Herman faced some fairly tough questions and had rather candid answers, talking about how he didn’t evaluate players in shorts and t-shirts, and addressing the fact that some will have sky-high expectations for the program. Riley delivered as well, and spoke most poignantly about the legacy of Bob Stoops and the importance of recruiting taking off.
Kliff Kingsbury was absolutely raked over the coals in his presser. There’s no other way to say it, Texas Tech’s defense is bad, and it’s sure got lots involved with the program frustrated, especially after they had a transcendent talent like Patrick Mahomes at the helm. Without Mahomes’s wizardry, Kingsbury will face extra pressure, but said he didn’t feel anything more than the normal pressure to win games. It’s do or die time for Kliff, though. He needs wins, now.
It’s difficult to be impressed by someone in an interview in front of a mass of people. You can often get some funny insights, or get some previously unknown knowledge, but the subject being legitimately impressing is rare. Matt Rhule was impressive, no doubt about it.
Detailing what happened at Baylor is no longer necessary, everyone knows the story by know. What set Matt Rhule apart was his willingness to say, in nearly every answer, “yes, this happened, and here’s what we’re doing to fix it.”
That level of responsibility taken on for things he had no part of is why Rhule is winning over Texas again, slowly but surely. His recruiting wins are evidence of this, of a willingness to go after the demons that still haunt Baylor.
It was a different vibe at Big 12 Media Days this year with all the first year head coaches, the absence of Bob Stoops, and the general situation at Baylor. It had some fun parts and some serious parts, and more so this year than in others, you left feeling like you had an actual window into some of the programs, like Baylor and Texas.
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