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Big 12 Media Days: Assessing the state of the conference

Taking a look around the league at what the Media Days revealed about each coach and program.

The winner of Big 12 Media Days
The winner of Big 12 Media Days

With the more broad focus of Big 12 Media Days as reporters ask similar questions of each coach -- the theme this year was the tempo around the league and how it impacts offenses and defenses -- the actual information that trickles out about each team is pretty insubstantial, especially from the press conferences.

However, there are aspects of each coach's personality that came through and helped provide insight into how they interact with their teams and the state of their programs.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State -- Perhaps because of his infamous "I'm a man" outburst, Gundy isn't widely known as one of the top offensive minds in college football. In fact, Baylor head coach Art Briles seems to get more credit even though he hasn't experienced the same degree of success that Gundy has in Stillwater.

Maybe it's because Gundy hasn't been entirely involved in the play calling as much as some other offensive-minded head coaches, but he's still helped implement a system with an ever-changing cast of offensive coordinators, never seeming to experience a drop off.

But rest assured that the people who matter around college football have taken notice, as Gundy has been connected with various jobs over the last several years. In Dallas, Gundy was candid in talking about that interest and his own role in it all, apologizing for his own role in those rumors and noting that there is a business aspect to all of this. There's also the business aspect as it pertains to those higher above him as well and it sounded like there had been some friction between Gundy and the administration, as he noted that at times he merely does what he's told.

Whatever is happening behind the scenes, though, Gundy's program has been consistently closing the gap between the Pokes and the 'Horns and the Sooners. He may have fully closed it, actually.

Bill Snyder, Kansas State -- The venerable Purple Merlin didn't even take the opportunity to say, "I told you so," when asked about the media severely underrating his teams the last two years, in sharp contrast to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who went out of his way note that if reporters had the same record as coaches as they did in predicting SEC champions, they would be unemployed.

But Saban feeds off of that type of things and Snyder exists in a different place as a head coach -- his answer to that question was philosophical, noting the dynamic nature of college football because the composition of each team varies so much year to year.

And in response to a question about his first assistant coaching job, he revealed that he taught four units of Spanish in high school despite not knowing language. Would anyone bet against those kids learning the language anyway?

Gary Patterson, TCU -- The Horned Frogs are big boys now -- they're all potty-trained. Or most of them, it seems, as Patterson did say that they're buying fewer diapers, but not that they are altogether done buying diapers as a team that was even younger than the Longhorns last season grows up. Yeah, he was really talking about buying diapers.

He also referred to himself once in the third person, for what that's worth. Otherwise, there wasn't much to take from his press conference. It's not that he's bland, it's just that, well, his comments were kind of bland on Monday. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs he's a much better coach than Media Day personality.

Charlie Weis, Kansas -- What type of head coach is Charlie Weis? He's the type of head coach who not only uses the "look at that pile of crap" line as a recruiting pitch to prospects as a way to point out the opportunities for early playing time, but then is willing to share with the media the fact that he thinks his current talent level resembles a pile of crap.

Being an asshole tends to be a good attribute for a head coach, but some coaches take it too far -- it seems like a line that Weis walks, probably consistently. He's not afraid to be the bad guy and it doesn't seem hard to imagine that his players like to succeed to prove him wrong rather than because they love playing for him.

And those type of coaching tactics involve playing with fire. Don't get burnt there, big guy.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech -- In talking about the new Texas Tech head coach, it's almost impossible not to make a reference to his preference for V-necks or Oakley wayfarers or his looks:

It's all style and no substantial context for Kingsbury right now -- that's not to say that there's no substance, but the substance (his success at Houston and Texas A&M) isn't contextual because it doesn't suggest how he's going to perform as a head coach other than looking the part of a movie star, which no doubt helps in personal relations, but doesn't do so much for the X's and O's of the game.

Bob Stoops, Oklahoma -- The Sooner head coach is combative these days. Aggrieved. He clearly feels more than slightly embattled, even though his track record is superlative when taken as a whole. But those pesky expectations that are beyond his control? He's not meeting them and he seems to find some pleasure in taking it out the press corps.

He stopped short of glowering and growling down from the stage, but he wasn't far off:

Stoops corrected the assumption of a media member that Blake Bell is the starting quarterback, but he did have to deal with some stupid questions. How about asking if Stoops has moved away from coaching the defense personally because the offenses in the league are so good? Homeboy might as well have asked him if he's a coward, though he did at least manage to ask an actual question.

However, it was clear overall that the state of the Oklahoma football program was written clearly across its head coach's demeanor. The talent level is down in Norman, but that fact only makes the situation all the more combustible in what will be an important season for the perception of Stoops and his legacy as the Sooner head coach -- there's restlessness across the Red River.

Mack Brown, Texas -- His press conferences are what they are at this point. And that's fair.

Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia -- At one point in Holgorsen's press conference, he dropped a reference to a "cougar for life." Unfortunately, he wasn't swilling a Red Bull talking about an attractive older woman with his skullet resplendently messy.

Instead, he was Red Bull-less, with his hair as neat as it gets, talking no doubt about his time at Houston. In other words, his press conference was a complete disappointment. Please live up to our most ridiculous memes about you, Holgo. Thanks.

Still, Holgo did have a little something for coaches like Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema who think that no-huddle offenses are responsible for increasing injuries. "Get over it," was the take from one of the nation's kings of tempo. Take that, SEC.

Art Briles, Baylor -- There seemed to be no debate among those assembled at the Omni or watching via live stream online -- Briles won the press conference handily. There were his typical folksy comments, the type of stuff that outsiders love to point to as typically Texan, but it was really more than that.

Briles was deeply and comfortably himself. It's not an act, it's not contrived. If there's an important difference between being honest and being genuine (and there is), Briles is unquestionably the latter. A lot of recruits talk about the family atmosphere that he creates and how he identifies with them personally, a talent that is readily apparent from watching him speak. One that he backs up, as well:

Briles also had some revealing comments about the Bears brand and why they are debuting the shiny new gold helmets this year:

Well, there's two shiny things up here, that helmet and my head probably. To me, that's what it's all about. You got style, you got attitude, you got effort. You have an image, and our image is we're going to play fast, we're going to be fearless, and we're not going to worry about what other people think because we know who we are and we know what we're going to do.

So the new uniforms and all that stuff, it's tied in with presenting the image that we are at Baylor, and that's being really good football players, really good students, at a really good university.

On Lache Seastrunk's goal of winning a Heisman:

I'd much rather have players wanting to win the Heisman than clap for the one that does.

And then there was this exchange:

Q. Art, you said yourself the experience is not really there in the receiving corps, and obviously with Bryce that you've had in recent years, how much is the offense going to predicate on Lache and Glasco really getting going early and often?

COACH BRILES: That's a good question, that's an intelligent question, and it's a sensible question, but I'm not a sensible man. We're not going to predicate anything on anything that should be predicated.

If you show your cards and then your other guy's holding five and he's looking to see if he wants to fold or play, the mystery is gone.

So we're going to do what we do, and what we do is try to make yards and score points, and however we do that is how it's going to happen.

He also fired back some verbal barbs at an SEC beat writer who seemed to be there simply for the purpose of trolling the Big 12 about their defenses. Art Briles wasn't having any of it, all without going all Bob Stoops intimidator on the guy. Art Briles is the best.

Paul Rhoads, Iowa State -- A shame really that Rhoads had to follow up the virtuoso performance by Briles to end Tuesday's morning session. There is this, though:

And that is really all there is to say about the Rhoads and the Cyclones.