Big XII Media Day: Day Two News and Notes

See inside for the latest rumblings from Big 12 Media Day Wednesday in Houston, inlcuding quotes from Nebraska coach Bill Callahan (pictured above center) on his comments after last year's game in Norman. Also, OU head man Bob Stoops on a number of different issues from the quarterback issue to how instant replay would've helped OU pile up more points on Texas last year in the Cotton Bowl. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Day Two of the Big 12 Preseason Football Hurricane watch event from Houston came off with a bit more flavor than yesterday's menu. It had to be better just by the fact that OU and Nebraska were both on within an hour of each other.

Bill Callahan and Co. got it going with a confident pitch about year two being so much easier than year one. And ye,s he was asked about the '&^%$# Hillbillies' comment.

"I was emotionally drained. I was tired and frustrated. but that's no excuse. I should not have said anything. My comment was directed to people giving me a hard time, not to the school, city, or state. I admire the job Bob has done at Oklahoma. It's a pattern for what I'd like to do at Nebraska."

Now back to football. We agree that the Scarlet version of the Big Red will be better, but not quite ready for primetime. Oh, the Nibblets will go bowling, much to the relief of folks in Scottsbluff and Hastings, but that's due to a pastry shop non-conference schedule that looks more suited for Okie Light or a K-State.

Looks to us like next year the Huskers will challenge for serious contention in their division while this year, partly due to a schedule, (NU plays OU; CU plays UT; ISU plays neither) it's looks like they'll finish at least one game out, probably two.

Mizzou's Gary Pinkel was obviously hurting over the shocking death of Aaron O'Neal. Pinkel is still distraught over it and it was almost cruel to require that Mizzou attend due to the fact that Memorial services are tomorrow in Columbia.

Once he got past that, he spoke about a not-so-serious tragedy, the disappearance of Brad Smith last year. Smith was transformed into a shadow of himself, presumably in an effort to make him a total dual threat.

It took a year, but Pinkel now realizes that a spontaneous Brad Smith is what made him so hard to contain, not a scripted Smith. But Smith promised a return to the old BS and guaranteed that Mizzou would avenge three of last years' losses, two of which were to KU and OSU.

Bob Stoops stole the show as he and three Sooners were next up. Stoops dismissed the formalities ‘thank yous' and political statements and cut right to the point. As he was handed the mike he began.

"This year, our expectations will not change. We feel we have a talented and strong team coming up. We have a number of guys, when you look at the board — 16, 17 guys — that have started two or more games. Many have started five or six games returning, and we are looking forward to competing again for the Big 12 championship. That's where everything starts with us. And if things go right, hopefully be in the national championship picture and have an opportunity there at the end of the year."

Look out Little Rock! Stoopsy served notice that the premature burial of the Sooner giant would only occur if and when the giant was defeated and dead, and Stoops said that simply was not going to happen anytime soon.

On the quarterback situation.

"Our quarterback situation for us, we are excited about it. It would be a problem if we had three guys and you didn't feel they were talented enough, that would be a problem. These guys are all very talented, very skilled in that position, and they are hard workers. They have the respect of the teammates. They are reliable guys. They all throw the ball well. Really, they are more athletic as far as feet go than anybody we have had in the last five years, all three of them. So all of that together, we feel, in the end, that's going to be a strong position on our team. The bottom line is we haven't had enough opportunity for any one of them to earn it."

"Everybody wants it to be finished. We at Oklahoma, have never appointed anybody in that position or any others, and for these players to respect whoever is behind the center, they need more time to earn their way on the field. Twenty-nine practices leading up to the first game is twice as many practices and scrimmages as you get in spring ball, so we will work it out. As time goes, we will find the right guy, and who makes the most positive plays and avoids the bad ones. I believe, in the end, it's going to be a good position for us."

On how much pressure the uncertainty at quarterback will put on Adrian Peterson to duplicate what he did last season.

"We are not going to sit here and put more pressure on Adrian. I think the most success we have had, offensively, has been a lot because of the balance we have been able to have. We have thrown it well, and we have run it well. I think they compliment one another, so I believe we will give Adrian more to do, involving him more in our passing game. He will be able to handle more of that this year, and it will be an advantage to us as well."

"Outside of that, you know, he ran the ball a good number of times a year ago. We are not going to sit there and run him 40 times a game. We are going to do our best to have the kind of balance we have had.

On what he thinks of the the perception that OU's expectations may be down this year with all of the talent lost to the NFL.

"I don't know if it's fair to say I like it. I am a little bit disinterested in it. It doesn't really matter to me whether we are picked favorites or not. You know, we have been in both situations and we found our way in other years to championships and other years where we have been picked favorites and not been. You have to earn your way.

"I say it a lot, or every year, as long as they are going to let us play, it doesn't much matter. Whoever it is, they are going to earn their way and fight for it. I feel great that we have an opportunity to be in there with anybody."

On if he feels his team isn't as invincible since the loss to USC.

"Nobody is invincible, everybody knows that. It didn't much matter the year before, Kansas State beat us and everybody said that was a recipe, this is how everyone will do it now, and we were fortunate enough to go through and win 12 football games and a Big 12 championship, so that wasn't the case.

"Each year is different, each team is different. I have said it a bunch of times. You earn your way every time. You are going to line up every time and nobody thinks you are invincible. That's just talk out there. I don't think it much matters. We are going to go play and compete like we always do."

On Davin Joseph's role on the offensive line.

"Davin has been a great leader on our offensive line for the last couple of years, maybe not as a true freshman, Davin, but sophomore and junior year definitely. Davin is a very sharp young man and has a great football mind, as well as being a great student. He is a guy that, up on that front line, if we have a dummy count or a late count where he can see a blitz coming, he can see the defense, and he has a great knack for telling guys next to him whether it's center, tackle, relaying it down the line, hey, you are going here, I am going here. He sees what the defense is doing and who he needs to pick up, but also who everybody else needs to pick up. He does a great job of communicating it across the group.

On using the USC loss as motivation in the offseason.

"I don't buy into a whole lot of that. It may some to these guys on a tough, hot day, it may jump in there. We are not sitting around talking about that. You know, each year is different. We have a different team. Whether you have won it, it isn't going to help you the next year, and what you lost isn't going to help you the next year.

"Our guys work, and these guys will chuckle about it, but it doesn't much matter to us. The way we work, we work hard, and get ready, and win or lose, I am just not much into that false motivation or, you know what I mean, that superficial stuff. That's gone. We have to go fight our way back this year regardless of what would happen."

On Dusty Dvoracek's rehab.

"His rehab has been excellent. The trainers told me, as much as three weeks ago that they felt he was two or three weeks ahead of schedule. He has been doing virtually all of the lifts. There is just, with the muscle, there is just a certain few minor lifts that he is not able to do. All the major lifting, benching and squatting, and all the major movements that we do, he has been able to do probably 90 percent of them."

"From talking to Dusty, he feels great, and I felt all along he probably would be ready right off the bat. I think he will be. That's not a definite. It will surprise me if he is not."

On adding more wrinkles to an offense with a mobile quarterback.

"Sure. You never stay on the same path. We look for what fits what we do and what our talent is. These guys are all very capable. You have seen all the quarterbacks running plays, everybody else has, and we will have them, too. But we are not going to the triple option. Those guys would be more of a threat, definitely, than what we have had."

And with that we adjourned to the back of the room for some more comments in small groups. In this setting, Stoops was asked about instant replay and if he favored it.

"Sure. Why not?" he replied.

Then he was asked if he could recall a play last year where a reversed call would have made a difference in an OU game."

"I can think of one," he said.

Of course, the media bit and Stoops hit one out of the park with this follow-up.

"Well the so-called interception in the Cotton Bowl against Texas. That was a big play as we were about to score. That ball hit the ground and a replay would show that it did. So give us seven more right there in that game, and we go home early."

Ouch. Well, they DID ask.

What does he do to prepare his team for Texas.

"Nothing different than anyone else."

What does he say to get them fired up?

"We honestly don't talk about Texas until the week of the game. We really don't. And after the game's over, we celebrate for a few hours and get to work on the next week's opponent."

Will he vote in the coaches poll?

"Yes, but I'll not say who I'm voting where until the final week."

On the QB race and if he has a pick at this point in time.

"No, but we have three great ones to pick from. We'll pick the best guy."

Does Paul Thompson have an edge because of experience?

"No, considering that he didn't play last year. If you want to go by that, Tommy Grady was 12-of-14 last year. I'd take that in a game every day. You'd have to give him the edge if you going by last year."

On why he doesn't yet have a starter.

"We'd have a better feel, but honestly in spring there's was not enough time. No one really separated themselves. Again, we have 29 practices before the season starts. That's the equivalent of two springs. So, yeah, we have time. We're certainly not panicked about it. I mean these three guys are all very good, very mobile. I think by season's end it will be a strength."

Is he more energized by a younger team?

"No, not really. It's just different. I like knowing who's going to start, but at the same time the young guys can catch fire quicker and do amazing things. When we won the championship in 2000, we had 23 freshmen or sophomores on the two deep. We struggled early. We were behind KU at halftime. Then suddenly the young guys figured it out and got better fast. That could happen this year and that possibility is what makes me excited and anxious for the kickoff against TCU September 3rd. I can't wait."

After that Mike Leach rolled up, and although entertaining, it did not deliver the electricity of Stoops and the Sooner contingent.

Leach did say the biggest difference this year were more physical receivers.

"We used to rely on those little guys. Quick, fast, and that's fine. But I like quick big guys better that can wrestle the ball away from you. That's what we have this year, and we've never had that before.

I would love to report on what else Mike said, and I could, but heck if I know what it meant. He talked about Donald Trump, vacationing in Hawaii and Geronimo. So I'll have to pass on an in-depth Texas Tech report.

Now, we have eight teams in our conference race and here's how they stack up.

1. Oklahoma – Younger, faster, different, but a chance to be just as good.
2. Colorado – Klatt & Barnett make the difference.
3. Texas Tech – Cal win provides confidence and national attention.
4. Iowa State – Most underrated. QB Bret Meyer is a rising star.
5. Nebraska – At least a year away from Husker Power.
6. A&M – Most overrated team. Reggie McNeal is a great talent, but inconsistent.
7. Missouri – If Brad Smith is the old Brad Smith, move Tigers up one. If not, down one.
8. Kansas – Scary, but probably not good enough to challenge.

Tomorrow we'll add Texas, Oklahoma State, K-State and Baylor to the race.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories