Big 12 Media Days - Day 1 notebook

Plenty of notable points during the first day of the conference

It’s not uncommon for a major conference head coach to disagree with the media, but TCU coach Gary Patterson took it to a new level Monday at the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

The media voted Horned Frogs’ defensive end Devonte Fields as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Patterson was pleasantly surprised.

"I was kind of surprised Devonte Fields was (the pick) because he hadn't played a year ago," Patterson said. "I haven't watched him since you watched him."

Fields was the conference’s defensive player of the year and named as a freshman All-American by multiple outlets two years ago but played just three games last season. Clearly, the media believes that Fields will return to his freshman form – count me as one. But the coach still seems in doubt. Although, he knows how much better the Horned Frogs could be with Fields at full strength.

“We were still one of the top two defenses over two years without him,” Patterson said. “If he’s able to play and do the things he needs to do, then obviously, I think we’ll have a chance to be better any time you have that kind of player.”

Staying a-head of the curve

Much of the talk during the off-season has been about on-field safety and the concussion issue and discussion that has dominated the entire sport – from youth football to the NFL.

That topic didn’t slip through the cracks Monday as nearly every coach commented on the situation of growing concern.

“We’ve had a lot of talks at length about making sure we minimize, as best we can, the helmet-to-helmet type of thing,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “Unfortunately, getting ready to play football, you need a lot to tackling to be able to practice fundamentals of the technique.”

Currently, teams are only allowed two days of full contact every week. Weis has his defensive coordinator walk through the proper way to tackle, which might sound simple but there is a plague of poor talking all over the country because of poor technique early in players’ lives.

TCU, which is considered by many to be a hard-nosed type of team, takes a different approach. The Horned Frogs don’t put on pads Thursday or Sunday because Patterson wants the pads on for another day of the week.

“We’ve got to get our good players to Saturday,” he said. “… It’s one of those situations where it’s a violent game played by violent people and you have an opportunity (to get hurt). But I think coaches want to protect our players. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got to get your best players to Saturdays.”

Well, he’s not on the list

Oklahoma State running back Devon Thomas was no longer listed on the team’s roster, and coach Mike Gundy didn’t give a clear reason why.

“The rosters that we handed out today are the players that will report next week,” he said. “And if there’s a player that’s not on that roster, then he’s not a part of our team.”

Thomas is clearly off the team, but the reason is unclear.

If Gundy has the same policy as Oklahoma coach Mike Stoops, it’s a good sign for the Sooners. Frank Shannon was on the roster that the Sooners distributed Monday.

He said what?

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy – “I felt like Britney Spears.”

No, he didn’t mean in appearance or demeanor. Instead, he was talking about all the hoopla that followed him Monday.

Gundy was asked about his first decade as Oklahoma State coach, and he cited the difference between his first year, when he said people might have confused him for a hotel employee, and this season, when he was followed to the stage by flashing bulbs hundreds of watchful eyes.

“It’s gone really fast,” Gundy said. “It seemed like we were just getting started.”


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