Kliff Kingsbury expressed real concern about the offensive line. I asked him how comfortable he was with the situation at right tackle and he said, "I'm not comfortable at all." He then proceeded to indicate that the only position on the line with which he was really comfortable is left tackle where Le'Raven Clark holds sway. I think it's safe to say we can expect the offensive line to struggle, at least early in the season.
Kingsbury certainly has the proper appreciation of the need to create turnovers. When I asked him if this was a focus, he said it is the defense's "number one priority," and went on to express amazement that last year's team won as many games as it did without generating any turnovers. Kingsbury wants to at least double the number of turnovers created in 2012.
Kingsbury seems disappointed that the current players on the team in general don't have as much pride in Texas Tech and the football program as did the players when he was in the program a little over 10 years ago. Kingsbury and his staff will make it a point of extreme emphasis to inculcate that pride in the players. And given the passion for Tech that this staff has, that shouldn't be a problem. But it may take some time.
Kingsbury admitted that Kirby Hocutt was concerned with the youthfulness and inexperience of Kingsbury's staff. When Hocutt asked Kingsbury about this phenomenon, Kingsbury responded that he wanted true Red Raiders who were passionate about Texas Tech. He also stated that it is easier to sell Texas Tech to recruits when you truly believe in the university and the program.
It is rather apparent that Kingsbury holds virtually all Big 12 head coaches in high regard, and they seem to reciprocate the sentiment. Kingsbury expressed his respect and admiration for Art Briles, Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Bob Stoops, Bill Snyder and Dana Holgorsen. Kingsbury was particularly touched by the fact that Snyder sent Kingsbury a hand-written letter of encouragement after the Wildcats took it to Tech in Kingsbury's sophomore year. Charlie Weis and Gundy had good things to say about Kingsbury, too.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had several interesting remarks. Among them was his mention of something called the "RF Chip" that will be installed in the shoulder pads of Big 12 players this year on an experimental basis. These chips will calculate the players' speed and their movements on the field. Bowlsby said that he didn't even know how the data collected by these devices would be used. Is the NSA involved? Will drones be circling the skies over Big 12 stadiums this season? Most peculiar indeed.
Bowlsby discussed the fact that the Big 12 will deploy an eighth official in games whose job will be to mark the ball ready for play after the conclusion of the preceding play. In theory, this will allow the remaining officials to more effectively monitor the action as the next play commences. Opinions of the effect of the eight official are varied. Mike Gundy believes this will quicken the pace of the game, and that will benefit offenses predicated on a quick tempo. Gary Patterson, on the other hand, thinks it will allow the officials to hold offenses to book and force them to line up legally on pain of penalty. Kingsbury is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Bowlsby indicated that the Big 12 is taking a very aggressive stance with regard to the new penalty for "targeting." He said that in the interest of player safety, Big 12 officials will err on the side of penalization when targeting is observed. This means that many players will be ejected, at least until they learn their lesson. You can bet that the fear of lawsuits plays a large part in animating the Big 12's position on this issue.
Relatedly, Bowlsby suggested that regulating helmet-to-helmet contact in practice could be the next step in the seemingly limitless safety movement.
Bowlsby showed the attendees the new Big 12 logo as it currently stands. Honestly, it doesn't look radically different from the old logo. And, really, how much can you do with a couple of Roman numerals and the words "big twelve conference"? Not a great deal. And yet the Big 12 has contracted an Austin firm to spend colossal man hours--at Lord knows what expense--to revamp the logo. Frankly, it seems rather silly to me.
Bowlsby indicated that there is growing fractiousness between the schools of the five major conferences (ACC, Big 12, SEC, PAC 10, Big 10) and the remaining D1 schools. The bone of contention is the desire by the former for fundamental reforms in how the NCAA addresses its core competencies and the desire of the latter to maintain the status quo. The big guns are convinced that the NCAA cannot continue conducting business as usual, but are not calling for new organization. Not yet, anyway. But Bowlsby did not rule out the possibility of an eventual secessionist movement by the schools of the five major conferences