Let's see just exactly what did we learn in Dallas at Big 12 Football Media Days?
The first day we learned that when you combine alcohol, drugs, raging hormones and the experiences of 18- to 22-year-olds it's probably unrealistic to think the kind of things that happened at Baylor are never going to happen. That gem came in the opening address of the Media Days from none other than the Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. I'm going to guess it is something he'd like to take back. It is true that those circumstances can cause bad actions, but I'm not sure that is something you want to advertise when you are an advocate for major college sports and the Big 12 Conference.
Day two was as bad or worse as new Baylor head coach Jim Grobe tried to put some of the Mary Kay cosmetics that were missing from that massive convention that seems to occupy the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas every year the same time the Big 12 is there.
"Unbelievably, I've had people tell me they don't think they dealt with it strongly enough," Grobe said of the issues and the way Baylor has suffered since from the rash of sexual assaults on campus that were dealt with poorly or not at all and that in several cases involved football student-athletes. Just on Wednesday former Baylor defensive end Charles Oakman was charged with sexual assault.
"But I think going forward, do we want to learn from our past mistakes? We absolutely want to learn from our past mistakes, and we're doing that. Baylor University right now is better than ever because we have confronted some problems and made changes in the way we deal with problems going forward and I'm talking about serious problems. I'm not talking about missing class and late to weights and those type of things."
Grobe also passed off that other universities have to be dealing with the same problems as Baylor. The difference is we either aren't hearing about them or when we do they are dealt with seriously and immediately. That is a difference of what happened at Baylor.
The Baylor situation permeated both days, and even after as the major news of the Big 12 seeking expansion at the direction of the Board of Directors (Big 12 presidents and chancellors) was mixed with the fact that the Board met with Baylor officials on Tuesday to find out more information and to be briefed on the actions that Baylor has taken other than firing President Ken Starr, having athletic director Ian McCaw resign, and firing head football coach Art Briles.
Expansion was the other major story that broke just in time to cause reporters from newspapers, the internet, radio, and television to amend their stories from football angles to which schools are attractive for the mathematically maligned league. Now everybody is guessing which schools will make the cut and be asked to join the Big 12. Will it be a pair or a foursome?
Sure, we learned that the Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy has a mullet or something related to a mullet for a hair style. We found out that new Iowa State coach Matt Campbell is some kind of swashbuckler or as one rival coach said, he is hip. Kansas State AARP member and head coach Bill Snyder told us that former Big 12 members Nebraska and Colorado want back in or is it that Snyder dreaming of a North Division reunion?
Where was the football? Any football?
It was there but you had to look hard for it. I know that there was a lot of coach speak, but I still was able to cut through it. I still feel like Texas is doomed and Charlie Strong did not look like he was having any fun. On the other hand, I found OU head coach Bob Stoops seemed more relaxed than normal.
I thought the party from West Virginia, led by head coach Dana Holgorsen, and the group from Texas Tech, led by head coach Kliff Kingsbury, seemed confident. I would look at the Mountaineers and Red Raiders as the surprise teams. I also think that Oklahoma State and TCU sure seem poised to be good. They exude that confident feeling I like to see in coaches and players.
I got a lot of questions answered but two I really wanted to hear about were how Oklahoma feels about a meteoric first week match-up with Group of Five and Big 12 expansion candidate Houston. This is a must win for OU and the Big 12.
"We have a long time to work," Stoops said. "We've been looking at Houston last winter and spring and on in to the summer. You can only watch somebody so much, but sure, once we get on the field there is stronger emphasis to it. I like to think we are always working hard going into a season."
"I'm watching tape and I'm getting ready for them," quarterback Baker Mayfield said. "I know it's going to be a big game and will kind of set the tone for our season. We'll know what we have and what we are made of in the first game of the year. We'll be ready to show out."
I also asked the only experienced Baylor quarterback in Seth Russell when he will feel confident that he is back physically. I can't get out of my head the hit he took, the injury, and seeing him on the sidelines with a halo screwed into his skull.
"I wouldn't say get the crap sacked out of me, I would say maybe try to give a hit or take one that is not full blown, just something that I know I'm fully stable," Russell said when asked about how he'd know he is back and the same. "I know I am but from a physical and mental standpoint to just take a hit. I would rather it not be a complete blindside, full blown hit, but if it is, then it is. I'll get right back up."
Just a little football from Big 12 Football Media Days. Kickoff is just 43 days away in the Big 12.