The dust has settled in Dallas on day one of the 2015 Big 12 football media days and feathers for the most part have been left unruffled.
1. The Big 12, as of now, will keep it cool regarding expansion and adding a championship game.
The 2014 postseason didn’t quite go as Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the rest of the Big 12 hoped with both co-conference champions TCU and Baylor left out in the rain in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
“Ohio State’s performance in a 13th game gave them a quality win over a highly ranked team,” College Football Playoff committee chairman Jeff Long said, after the 2014 season was all said and done.
The Big 12’s lack of a championship game cost the conference a possible bid at a chance to net their first football national title in 10 years.
During the offseason, many have wondered how the conference would respond. Would they add a conference championship, will they find two teams for expansion so they could return to the glory years of a legitimate Big “12” conference?
Bowlsby shed some light on both issues earlier today.
“We are the only league that plays a full round robin. We go into this year again with no championship game,” Bowlsby said. “The deregulation process is moving its way through the system. I fully expect that the postseason rules regarding having to have 12 members and regarding having to have six ‑‑ two six‑team divisions and play round robin in the division, I think those will be deregulated. So whether we end up with a championship game down the road or not, we aren’t going to have one this year. We think that full round robin is the right way to determine it.”
And as for expansion?
“It is my understanding at the present time that the majority of our presidents and chancellors believe ten is the right number for us,” Bowlsby said. “There are those that believe we should get larger, and they feel strongly about it. There are those who believe we should stay at ten, and they feel strongly about it. And there are probably four or five in the middle who are persuadable one way or the other. I think that’s exactly where we’re at. At the present time, I don’t think there’s critical mass for expansion.”
Regardless of the reason, the Big 12 heads into the second year of the College Football Play off era, as a 10-team conference that is without a championship game.
2. It’s still unknown who or what might be able to save KU from college football damnation, but why can’t it be David Beaty?
Instead of associating the Jayhawks with waving the wheat and Gayle Sayers, KU football might as well be a living embodiment of the rim-shot, a pratfall and car accident.
It’s just been disaster after disaster for the Jayhawks ever since Mark Mangino and his team beat Virginia Tech in the 2008 Orange Bowl.
Now it’s David Beaty’s turn to try to guide this runaway train back to some kind of tracks before it cascades even farther off of a cliff.
While Beaty definitely has his work cut out for him, earlier today marked his first chance to endear himself to the national media and show that he was the right man for the job.
And, honestly, he didn’t disappoint.
“We don’t control what makes us different. We only control what we make different,” Beaty said. “The way that we approach it is everything.”
Beaty then praised previous coach Mark Mangino.
“I was fortunate enough to be there when Kansas was a really, really good football program under Mark Mangino,” he said. “He won National Coach of the Year and went to the Orange Bowl, and that environment that he created, sometimes it’s hard to break bad habits, but it’s just as hard to break good habits. The good thing is some of those things are still there. I like our kids, and I like our team.”
Beaty seemed honest, humble, and confident during his roughly 20-30 minute Q&A with the media. Beaty originally was on Mangino’s staff and saw KU rise all the way to being ranked number one in the country (for one week, but still).
That previous knowledge of Lawrence, and Kansas in general, has been helpful to him so far in his first year.
“There’s no doubt that it gave us a head start, understanding the culture that is the University of Kansas,” Beaty said.” And not really just the university, but the great state of Kansas and the people of it and what those people are like ‑‑ the humble, hard‑working, blue collar people that make up that state. As we began to build the blueprint for what we want our team to look like, we look no further than the people of our state. The example that they set for us every day.”
Whether KU can pull it’s back up to even being a mildly respectful team is unknown but at this point, the Jayhawks lost all room for error several years ago. They need Beaty to work so badly, they could scream.
So until we see actual results, at this point, there’s no reason not to believe that David Beaty might be the man to turn around the Jayhawks.
3. Like always, Bill Snyder is keeping his cards close to his chest.
Coach Snyder didn’t pull out anything from the new album today. He didn’t do any hidden bonus tracks and he didn’t do any covers. He did what any classic band still out there in the twilight of their career does and play the hits.
He got the chance to bring up how the K-State football program was about to be brought to division two or dropped entirely before he was hired. He mentioned Wildcat fans and their unwavering devotion. And he brought up his Pete Carroll story, his “Don’t Stop Believing.”
He politely played his way around questions that he didn’t want to answer. He didn’t shed any light on the highly competitive quarterback battle that had another wrinkle thrown into it with the addition of four star JUCO quarterback Jonathan Banks several months ago.
“It’s hard to get all the repetitions you would like with four guys sharing the opportunities, so it will be significant for us to be able to pare that down as quickly as we possibly can,” Snyder said. “I don’t know how fast that will be. Right now they’re all on equal footing. Three of them went through spring practice. The young guy that you mentioned, Jonathan Banks, just recently joined us, a very athletic young guy. We haven’t seen him in a practice environment yet. So that remains to be seen. But he will be one of the four probably that will be certainly in competition for the position.”
However, Snyder was able to shed a little light on his short stint in retirement during the abhorred Ron Prince years.
“When I retired, I missed football probably for about six months, and after that, I didn’t,” Snyder remembered. “I truly didn’t. I mean, I was enamored by it, but I didn’t miss it.”
Finally, some poor soul tried to get Snyder, who has always been an advocate for a 12-team, Big 12 with two six team divisions and a championship game, to name who he thought were worthy candidates for expansion for the conference.
“I hear the schools that are mentioned from time to time, and I think all of them are mentioned for a reason,” Snyder said. “Obviously, they have fine programs, good universities. But I don’t have a favorite or two favorites, and I don’t know where all that would go.”
Snyder explained before dropping this bit of insight.
“I would say this. I think there is probably some universities out there that haven’t necessarily been mentioned for maybe some obvious reasons that might have an interest in being a part of our conference. But I don’t know that for a fact.”
Much more to come tomorrow as 2015 Big 12 Media Day wraps up on Tuesday.