Big 12 Media Days: Briles Talks National Title for Baylor

The Baylor Bears are coming off their finest football season in history last season, winning the Big 12 Conference and making it to the Fiesta Bowl. They are currently 32-1 to win the National Title in 2014. Art Briles, entering his fifth year as Baylor coach, turned down several offers to coach elsewhere and may just be a lifer at Baylor. He speaks here at the Big 12 Media Days news conference.

Moderator: We’re now joined by Coach Art Briles, the head coach at Baylor University.
Coach, your thoughts on the up coming season.

Briles: Pleasure to be here. Very inspiring, intimidating. Everything else that goes along with it. I guess we’re batting lead-off today.
Well, the thing that’s a little different is I don’t know what the commissioner expected, but we’re not going to try to bunt or get a single. I promise you that. We’re swinging for the fence.
So maybe he should have put us fourth because that’s just the way we approach the game. But it’s been a pretty productive ’13. It’s over. We’re very excited about 2014 without any question, because our guys have learned how to win at the highest level and have worked diligently on and off the football field to keep our name good and that’s what it’s all about.
You ask me, Coach, are you defending the Big 12 title, protecting it? 2013 is gone forever. That title is ours. We’re attacking 2014 just like everybody else. That’s our mindset with our players, and that’s the way they’ve been approaching everything.
So we’re just kind of geared up and ready to go. It’s that time of year. The hiding’s over. It’s time to come out of the shadows and play.

Question: You talk about batting lead?off, but really today you guys are the heavyweights here on day one of Media Day. When you think about where the program has come under you the last few years, what do you count as the reasons for that?
Briles: You know, I appreciate that perception. And that’s something that we’re working on, because we certainly don’t perceive ourselves that way. We still see ourselves, me, personally, our team, we see ourselves as the guy fighting hard, scratching hard to try to get some recognition and some respect. And so that’s something we’re having to deal with a little bit as perception, image of Baylor football, it’s a little different than what it has been in the past thanks to our players.
We have to learn how to prepare as the hunted as opposed to the hunter. We’ve always been the hunter. And I don’t want to lose that edge and that attitude and that’s something that we’re working hard to maintain.
So heavyweight, you know what I mean, I try to eat as healthy as possible, so I don’t know about all that. But we certainly don’t feel that way as a program.

Question: You said you don’t perceive yourself that way, but I think the highest Baylor has ever been picked in the preseason poll is fourth back in’96, the first year of the league. Is there just a different feeling, though, for you and your team heading into this season knowing that people outside of the program in the country as a whole sees the expectation level risen for you guys?
Briles: Yeah, it’s entirely different and the thing that’s really good about it is I don’t know what the preseason polls have been. I haven’t looked. I did notice we were picked second in the Big 12. As far as national polls, I haven’t seen anything. I don’t know if they’ve come out yet.
But the advantage of that is that like last year I don’t think we started the top 25. I could be wrong. But I don’t think we did. But you get on a hot streak and you start No. 8 to 12 in America. And you win your first eight games, you’re a hot football team. You’re hot as anybody in the United States of America. The next thing you know you’re No. 2. Might be No. 1.
If you’re a hot football team and you start at 27 and you’re as hot as anybody in America after eight or nine weeks, you’re No. 12 or 13.
So the advantage with our perception, our image nationally is we have a chance to fulfill faster, to get to where we want to get faster, which is getting in the Final Four this year.
I think if you ask any coach in America what would be a pretty good starting place, that would be getting in the Final Four.
So that gives us a better opportunity to get there because of our national image today as opposed to four, five years ago.

Question: Coach, last year I asked you about Bryce Petty, who of course was going into his first year as a starter, and you said expectation is for him to be the best quarterback in America, set every Baylor record. As he comes back now, a year under his belt, a Heisman contender, what’s the expectation now?
Briles: You know, honestly, personally and professionally, I’m a little upset about the way it all transpired last year. I certainly felt like he should have been in New York without question.
I mean, your first-year starter you win 11 football games, win the Big 12 Championship for the first time in school history, throw 4200 yards, 33 TDs, three picks, and you sit at home in December? Do those numbers again this year, he’ll be in New York. Might win it.
But that’s the whole deal. His perception, his image is different than a year ago because he had nothing. Now he’s got substance, he’s got something people can believe.
What he can bring this year is an attitude of when I talk, people are going to listen a little bit. Like I tell the players you want to be listened to, produce. He’s produced. He’s got a chance to be heard. When he speaks, now people listen. As far as what he can do this year just win football games, win games with his national name, everything will take care of itself.

Question: We all know, of course, football is a contact sport so I want to get into some of the NCAA guidelines as far as helping to prevent concussions. What role do you do as the Baylor head coach to help keep those down?
Briles: Just follow all the guidelines that are set before us. Player safety is always foremost in our minds from the way we work out to how many days we go on the road to the time we spend on the field to how much contact we do in practice to monitoring every single athlete we have every single day.
So, I mean, this game has been going on a long time, and I’m glad the advances we’re making to protect our players. So whatever the guidelines are we’re going to do maybe and then some. That’s what we’re going to do.

Question: How anxious are you to getting to the new stadium and what do you feel like it’s going to do for Baylor football?
Briles: Anxious, excited, I don’t know. My whole deal you can’t get excited without preparation. So our goal right now is we’re just going to prepare. We can’t go over and slap each other on the back and hug necks and smile and grin and then go out there and not perform.
So our goal right now is we’re preparing to play 60 minutes to win a football game August 31st. That’s our goal, that’s our objective, that’s the way we’re approaching it.
The stadium speaks for itself. What can I say get on the Internet and look, drive down I-35 and look, get in a boat and go down the Brazos River and look. Show me something better.
It’s going to be as unique stadium as there is in the United States of America. What it has done in my mind is that those 44 to 60 million people that drive down I-35 every day, some eight-year-old girl or boy is going to be sitting in the back seat buckled up hopefully and look out the window to the right or the left, depending on which way they’re going, they’re going to say, Momma or Grandmother, man, look at that place. That place is beautiful. Where is that? And she’s going to say, Baylor. And then so for the rest of their lives they’re going to associate Baylor with excellence. And that’s hard to come by and the only way to get it through the production of image.
So our image is good.

Question: I noticed on your roster you’ve got a lot of great talent here from the Metroplex. How big is that, because you’re going to be able to get the key players from DeSoto and Allen, one of the top regions here in North Texas to come to Waco, like Ahmad Dixon did from Central Texas?
Briles: The great thing about where Baylor is at is the location. We’re hour and 15 minutes from Austin and Dallas and two hours 15 minutes from Houston and two, two thirty from San Antonio. Location is a key. Now we recruit DFW area really hard. We go Central Texas really hard, East Texas and we go down in the triangle area in Houston very hard.
So anytime we can score some big guys from this area, it’s a big deal because it’s just so convenient for the families. And we’ll always have a real good influx of Dallas Fort Worth kids without question.

Question: Coach, of course one of the big keys to your season last season was resurgence of your defense. How do you feel about an inexperienced defense this year? Who do you think is going to be able to step up?
Briles: You know, the thing that really helps us last year we played great defense in the Big 12 without question. And I think we had more three and outs than any school in America. Anytime you do that, you give the ball over to defense and you’ve got a pretty good chance for pretty good outcomes. They did a pretty good job over there.
And those guys really were the catalyst of our football team. We lost a lot of good football players without question, but we got a lot of guys back that we have a lot of confidence in. It’s like Petty coming in last year. Only one way to get experience; that’s to get on the field and play.
So we’ve got a lot of good football players that we’ve recruited that have been there two or three years that have been waiting to play and this is their opportunity.
So I feel very comfortable on that side of the ball. I think up front we’ll be as talented and dominant as possibly anybody in the United States of America and those guys can do a great job keeping pressure off the back end.
So feel good about it. I like our style I like our people and I like our concept and schemes.

Question: To piggyback on the question about the defense, you’re talking about Bryce Petty. Who is going to be the Bryce Petty on the defense that steps up? Is it going to be somebody like Shawn Oakman or give us another name.
Briles: You hit it right. Bryce, he’s certainly a catalyst for us. He went down about the seventh or eighth game last year didn’t get to finish for the season. And he’s here today. He’s on all the awards lists. And he’s got great bloodlines. His dad was a great player in the NFL for many years.
So he’s a kid?? Shawn Oakman is just mammoth. I mean, if you are looking for a friend he’s a good one to have, if you like winning.
So I’m anxious about him. But to let him be loose and play but we got a bunch of other guys. I mean, Andrew Billings, great freshman. Jamal Palmer, another defensive end, great player. Our two corners we feel really good about coming in, Terrence Singleton and X?man from Houston. And then Terrell Burt did a good job for us last year. And Orion Stewart, spot player playing a bunch. Terrell started, and Orion, middle spot, played.
We feel really good about the whole nucleus of them without question.

Question: I wanted to talk to you more about your success in being able to recruit in the east Texas area. You’ve had a lot of gems come out of this area.
Briles: We’ve always hit east Texas hard every time I was at Houston. They had a pipeline when I was playing back there in the ’70s, a lot of good kids, east Texas kids, I saw then these guys are talented and they can play. And most of them are small town kids, and I like small town kids to a certain degree because I like people that are used to having people look at them. So you have to be responsible.
But, yeah, we’ve hit it hard. One of the big hits just since I’ve been at Baylor is Kendall Wright’s. He’s kept that name alive out there. This guy came in here played high school quarterback, 20th pick in the draft, had a phenomenal season last year over Tennessee, over a thousand yards receiving. So he’s a big name out in that area, and like I said those kids all keep up with each other. And we’ve got some big-time players from east Texas. There will be more Kendall Wrights on the table before it’s over, too, I promise you that.

Question: Coach, last year you had a chance to get comfortable at home with a couple of games before you hit the road, Kansas State game you mentioned, one of the bigger wins. This year you have three road games early in the season. How important is it, you and Buffalo and then Iowa State and Texas, to knock out three Ws early on to get some momentum?
Briles: That’s a great question. Of course, as a coach, our mindset is not looking past August31st. I mean, the one thing I do know is that we played three games in 13 days to start the season.
So we’ve got to do a great job monitoring how our team is from the physical standpoint, the mental standpoint, that early in the season, because that hits pretty fast and furious.
And that’s our first little band of games that we’re looking at, because we got 13 days we’re going to play three games. So that’s forges your season right there, get it going.
So after that then we’ll settle down. We’ve got a week off before we get into conference play and we’ll start gearing up for that then.

Question: You talk about ’13 being over. Does the Bowl game motivate you? What did you learn from that game? What do you take from that loss?
Briles: Appreciate you bringing that up. (Laughter) the last couple of words there are pretty strong. But I guess truth hurts. That was actually ’14. So that’s still with us. No, I mean, it was a definite out. We played a good football team. That’s the thing that is paramount over anything else. But I think what we got to see is maybe how we got viewed when we weren’t viewing ourselves that way.
And so we’ve talked about it. We certainly hope that we’ve learned from it. And that’s?? like I said, the only way to get experience is to go out there, feel it, touch it, have a taste for it. And that taste wasn’t very good. So it’s been very motivating for us all spring and summer.

Question: Can you talk about Shock Linwood and what sort of season you think he’ll have? He was pretty darned good last year in his limited playing time.
COACH BRILES. Shock is a great player, another east Texas kid. Just got great balance. He’s got great vision, he’s got great heart. He’s just a really, really good football player. And he’s a very passionate guy about being great.
So we’re very fortunate to have him. He came in there and really helped us last year when Seastrunk got hurt and kind of carried us two or three games there. Got a little overused. Got beat down just a little bit. And so you gotta watch your running backs because those guys are trying to hit them, trying to hit them pretty good every play.
So he got a little bit beat down. But he’s a tough kid. He’s a great inspirer and he plays with a tremendous amount of passion. He’s an excellent player.

Question: With the improvement of your program, the success you’ve had, any plans to upgrade your nonconference schedule, your nonconference schedule is very similar to what you were when you were at the outset trying to build it up.
Briles: You know, I mean, plans, I’m sure there’s plans in the makings. The way I’ve looked at it is, I mean, you want to get in the Final Four and win the Big 12 and go unscathed. You do that, you go 9?0 in the Big 12, you’re going to be in the Final Four because you’re going to beat probably two top 10 teams, probably two others in the top 20, and maybe another top 25, which is what we faced last year.
That’s a resumé that’s good enough to match any other conference, because other conferences with the cross?over games aren’t getting that kind of competition week in/week out like we are in the Big 12.

Question: To follow up on that, are you at all concerned the lack of a conference championship game might cost the Big 12 when it comes to the playoff selection?
Briles: You know, I think time will tell. Honestly, I’m not. I think it’s just going to be down to how the season plays out without question like it would be every year.
But like I mentioned, if you have the ability to go through this league undefeated, which I’m not sure when the last time it happened was, quite honestly.
I know the last previous five champions might not have done it. I don’t know. I know we didn’t. Kansas State didn’t. Oklahoma State before that, I don’t think Iowa State beat them right at the end in there. And then prior to that was Oklahoma probably in 2010. Did they go undefeated? Did you say you’re from Oklahoma, sir?

Question: They did not.
Briles: Then Texas the year before that. So I don’t know. I think they did? Yeah, they ended up in the National Championship game. I think that kind of speaks for itself.
I mean, with what you do going through this league, no, I don’t see that as a problem at all. But who knows. I mean, that’s why they formed the committee. We’ll see how the committee thinks because we can’t think for them. All we can do is do our best on the field.

Big 12 Media Days: Bill Snyder on His Kansas St. Wildcats

The Kansas St. Wildcats, back to prominence over the last few years with the return of former Head Coach Bill Snyder, will open the 2014 regular season as 175-1 longshots to win the National Title. But that doesn’t stop the optimism coming from the program. Here is Bill Snyder discussing his team.

Moderator: We’re now joined by Coach Bill Snyder, Kansas State coach. Your thoughts about the upcoming season.
Snyder: Probably as any season we’re anxious for it to begin. It will happen very quickly. Summer is disappearing in a heartbeat.
There’s seven of us here from Kansas State University right now. Sean Snyder, my son and associate head coach, special teams coordinator. And we have our five captains: B.J. Finney, our center; and Jake Waters, our quarterback; Tyler Lockett, one of our receivers; and then on the defensive side Jonathan Truman, linebacker, and Ryan Mueller, a defensive end and returning Defensive Player of the Year last year. All people that I’m immensely proud of, people that have had a great impact on our program.
As you visit with them, you’ll realize that they’re quality young men and wonderful people, great representatives of our university and great representatives of the conference.

Question: Looking at this current team, the reports you’ve heard, summer conditioning and the workouts and knowing what you have returning, what kind of signs of optimism do you carry heading into the fall?
Snyder: My degree of optimism is negotiated daily, I think, and the mantra of our program has always been centered around that daily improvement. And when we make daily improvement, then I become a little more optimistic. And when we don’t, obviously I don’t.
I think my major concern and going in the opposite direction but my major concern is always young people taking things for granted. I say young people. I probably can reference everybody in our program, is not taking our performance level, our talent level for granted, not taking the preparation for opponents for granted, not taking our workouts during the course of the summer for granted. Trying to find that way to get better every single day.
And I’m not alone in that. I think that’s probably a feeling that permeates collegiate athletics across the board.
I’m proud of so many of our youngsters, the five that are here and so many more that we have back in Manhattan right now who have really invested themselves during the course of the summer.
I would share a fairly high degree of optimism for today, but tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll see how that goes. I can’t make projections in regards to what kind of a football team. I know what we have capabilities of being and whether or not we can reach that level or not is dependent upon a lot of things, and the biggest thing is not taking anything for granted.
Didn’t tell you anything, did I (laughter)?

Question: Can you talk about how you’ve seen Tyler Lockett mature on and off the field since he arrived at your program?
Snyder: Tyler is a tremendous representative of our program. He has matured greatly, but he was a reasonably mature young man when he came into our program.
We’ve had his uncle and his brother in our program as well. Comes from an amazingly wonderful family. And each of the three that we have had, even though far different skill capabilities on the field, all of them quality players.
But probably more importantly than anything else is the fact that they are truly genuine young people, have a great value system brought forth by their family, their parents.
Tyler has taken perhaps the same road as Aaron and Kevin did when they were in our program. Worked diligently at trying to be better people, better family members, better players, better students, et cetera, day in, day out.
Tyler does exactly that. He’s an extremely hard worker. He’s a young guy that right now?? tomorrow’s another day, but right now I’m so proud of his attitude, his value system, and part of that guides him to do anything and everything that he can to get himself a little bit better every day.
He’s one of those guys that you leave the practice field, you go in your office, you look out the window and you’ve got the equipment managers out there twiddling their thumbs wanting to get the lights turned off and Tyler won’t let them because he’s out there catching balls off the machine and keeping quarterbacks out to throw to him.
So just a young guy that he’s got all his marbles in the right place.

Question: At the safety position, what all did Ty Zimmerman do for you guys in the last few years, and which guys are you going to count on to step into that place?
Snyder: You know, Ty was a quarterback in high school. Father was a high school football coach. They came from just up the road in Junction City.
And Ty was a starter for us as a redshirt freshman and really did grew in the program. He was very knowledgeable. His high school background was beneficial to him in the program. He was a good director of traffic, so to speak. He was quality leader. He was one of those young guys again that had a great value system, promoted well by his family.
He always did the right things. He always tried to do the right things. He was a very caring young guy. He took on a leadership role very early in the program. And when I say was a good director of traffic, he was one of those guys that made most of our calls for us and would be able to get people in the right position.
Very valuable young guy.

Question: I wonder what kind of sense did you get from the group coming back after the way that your team finished winning six of the last seven and especially the Bowl game? What did that do, do you think, for the program?
Snyder: Well, the hope would have been and was that we had learned lessons along the way. And the lessons dated back to the outset of the season in which we were not a very good football team. We were 2-4 the first half of the season and lost the very first ballgame to a very fine North Dakota State University team, but a game that we were supposed to win.
And the result of that game was brought forth I think by what I mentioned a little bit earlier, by taking things for granted, taking our performance level for granted, taking the opponent for granted, certainly some other things, but by and large that led to the charge.
And I think that the way that our young people finished the season allowed them to understand the value of not taking anything for granted because they certainly didn’t toward the end of the season or the last half of the season and preparing yourself that way on a very consistent basis. And we had a lot of dialogue about that during the last three quarters of the season.
And probably the period of time that I was most proud of the young people in our program was the approach that they took to our preparation for the Bowl game.
I don’t know, we’ve been to 16, 18 Bowls at Kansas State, but I cannot recall a preparation that was as pleasing to me as the one that took place this past season.
I thought our young guys were tremendously focused. They brought that value system to the practice field and their preparation off the field and in an environment that’s totally different than what you go through during the course of the season.
And I was just extremely happy and pleased and proud and very hopeful that that preparation and that approach to the preparation would carry over during the course of the out of season, spring practice and the summer, and then our preseason workout starting here in August.
Remains to be seen. I think sometimes they learn valuable lessons, but sometimes when you learn valuable lessons, then you have a tendency to reinvest and taking that for granted that you’ve learned your lesson and everything is in order.
And hopefully we don’t do that. And I think during the course of the summer we’ve been pretty good, at least, grades probably 90 percent. That’s not perfect, but still tells me about 90 percent of the young guys in our program have carried that experience forward and are putting it in place to help them achieve success during the course of this year.

Question: In his first season, Jake Waters reported the highest passer rating of any non?senior quarterback in K-State history. The legacy of your quarterbacks between the junior and senior season has been well documented. What signs from Jake give you encouragement in his further development as he heads into his senior season?
Snyder: Jake, as I mentioned before, Jake is one of those young guys that has a tremendous value system. He’s a young guy that understands what our program is truly all about. He’s a young guy that works diligently to improve his plight in life and on the football field on a very regular daily basis.
He was a young guy that entered our program with very little experience. When I say very little experience, he was in our program for a very short period of time and didn’t have the experience in our program to get started off as he would have liked and I would have liked as well.
And he had a rocky start in the first half of the season. But at no time did he ever stop trying to improve his plight. He’s a bright, young guy. He works well. But it was just a new environment for him and just having the experience, we all do that in whatever our routine is.
The more we do it, the more we do it with the intent of doing it the best we can, the better we get at it. And that’s exactly what has happened to Jake in the last half of the season and began to catch hold and became better and better and finished the season extremely well.
His level of confidence I think has grown immensely. I think that experience from last year has benefited him greatly, as it should, with any young guy. And he’s embraced it.
Like I mentioned with Tyler, he’s one of those young guys that’s always going to do everything he can and try to do the little extra to improve his plight and become a better player and better person, and he does that consistently. And I think we saw the benefits of that towards the latter part of the season and hopefully it continues.
Now, again, there’s always caution that because he is feeling that greater confidence we don’t want him or us to take him for granted and what his capabilities to achieve are.
But he’s just a tremendous young guy that I’m confident up to at least this point in time that he’s done anything and everything that he can to help himself improve and I’m pretty confident that he will continue to do that.

Question: By my count, since you were first hired at K-State, the other schools in the conference have had 48 head coaches. When you hear stuff like that thrown out by people like us, does that make you feel old and how do you sort of fight against the age thing and keep coaching at such a high-pressure, high-intensity job that you’ve got?
Snyder: Well, I don’t pay much attention to what the turnover ratio is from one school to the next. And there’s a variety of different reasons.
Sometimes people move on. The age factor, I can’t negotiate that. It is what it is. And I’m as old as time and that’s not going to change.
Probably the significant thing for me?? and I think I’ve learned this a long time ago?? when I was a young coach, started off in the high school level and moved to a lot of different places, and I was always one of those coaches that I wanted to be someplace else other than where I was.
In other words, I wanted to continue to climb. So when I was a high school assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. When I was a head coach, I wanted to be a college assistant. When I was a college assistant, I wanted to be a head coach. So that went on for a considerable period of time.
And I was half in/half out, so to speak. And consequently I was not a very good football coach at all, probably not a very good person.
And I learned some time ago, probably 30 some?odd years ago, that I needed to do it a little differently.
And my decision was, simply put, that be where you are. And I chose to do that. And that allowed me, I think, to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on. It wasn’t significant to me. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing, and that was kind of the approach that I’ve taken. And I think that’s probably why I’m not one of those 48, I guess, that you’re talking about.
Where do you get those stats, Barry?

Question: I looked it up.
Snyder: What was the end result you were hoping for?

Question: I was thinking 75.
Snyder: Okay (laughter). Dig a little deeper; you might find it.

Question: We were talking about coaches and you have a new one in the Big 12 in Charlie Strong. You have a good rapport with your fan base there, Kansas State. What kind of advice would you give him if he asked you, because he said some things that’s kind of irritated the Longhorn fan base, or was this just kind of a to each his own kind of thing?
Snyder: I visited with Charlie just a little bit ago. I was pleased to hear him talk about his family and daughters moving to Austin.
It’s not easy being a child of a head football coach anyplace in the country for that matter. I think the important thing is just be who you are. And if you indeed do that, be who you are, care about people. I think Charlie cares about people. I think things can work out fine for him.

Big 12 Media Days: Loaded Sooners Launch Title Run

The Oklahoma Sooners, 13-1 to win the National Championship this season, are once again the favorites to win the Big 12 this year. Bob Stoops talks about his team at this years Media Days.

Moderator: Coach, welcome, and your opening comments.
Stoops: Okay. Great to be here, 2014, starting another year here in the Big 12. We’re really excited, really, about what our team has done through the winter and spring, and we’ve had a great summer. So I know our guys are really anxious to get back on the field here next week.
And I’ve got five great players down here with us. On offense I’ve got senior tackle Daryl Williams, quarterback Trevor Knight. And then on defense I’ve got three seniors, two up front, Geneo Grissom, outside linebacker, and then defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue. And then senior quarterback/nickel back Julian Wilson, who has been a three?year starter, going on three?year starter for us.
So you’ll get a chance to visit with them here soon.
So open it up, I guess, for questions.

Question: Just curious, you were way out in front of the curve as far as playing fast, speed of tempo, all that. Five, six years ago you were ahead. Now a lot of teams are following suit, most of the teams in the Big 12 playing faster. Is there anything we can look forward to how you can even tweak this a little bit more than what you had?
Stoops: I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that you can do to go much faster, to be honest with you. You still have to be able to get lined up yourself and officials to get in place and still snap the ball.
So I don’t know that there’s much more that can be done that way, really, quite honestly. But we’ll keep looking for ways.

Question: Are you still hopeful that Dorial Green?Beckham can play this year? Can you take us through the process of how he came to Oklahoma?
Stoops: Yes, there’s an appeal being processed, so that hasn’t been ruled on yet. But as far as the process of him being a part of our team, through extensive conversations, first of all, I had a close relationship as did Coach Norvell, our receiver coach, from recruiting Dorial personally as well as with his family.
And then through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well and be great for his future and believe in him as a young man and what he’s able to maybe continue to become.
So through that process we gave him the opportunity to be with us.

Question: With the new rule changes and the coaches being allowed to hold mandatory practices during the summer, what benefits have you seen from that? And also if you could comment on maybe some on the freshmen and their development so far.
Stoops: Yeah, the new rule is great in that you just keep players?? we’re so accountable to these young men through the summer and really year?round in what they’re able to do. Just the ability to be able to see them daily, to go into the weight room, put your arm around them, interact with them, motivate them, how is school going, that’s just the positive side of it just to have more interaction with them and to hopefully influence them in a positive way that way.
So it hasn’t really affected or changed the way we’ve gone through our summer working out. Coach Schmidt won’t give me any more time. He uses it. It’s allowed us maybe an hour a week to go over some film study with the players. So that’s really helped the freshmen in particular, your new guys that have come in.
And then the opportunity to watch them work out, and I’m really excited, the freshmen really look strong. Some of the key guys that everybody’s paying attention to really have been impressive in the summer and being able to handle the volume of our running and lifting and just a different level from high school and not everybody can handle it. And a lot of these guys really handled it well and looked to be in position to really affect this year.

Question: Coach, how much do you have to rework things in your coverage of Aaron Colvin going to the NFL and which defensive backs will be building around this year?
Stoops: We really don’t?? we won’t change our coverages at all. The other guys that will be working in there, I already mentioned Julian Wilson was recruited to be a corner, has been working out there along with a good number of other guys, Dakota Austin, and you already have Zack Sanchez on the other side, Stanvon Taylor, Cortez Johnson, all those guys will be battling.
We really like some of our young freshmen that just got in. So there’s talent there. Those guys, we’re just going to see who is the most consistent and making the most plays.

Question: Charlie Strong is a new addition to the Big 12. Could you speak about your familiarity with him and what you expect him to bring to Texas?
Stoops: Charlie and I have known each other for a good number of years now being former defensive coordinators together and even our background back at Florida, all of that together we’ve had a chance through the years to get to know each other some.
I think Charlie’s a great coach. He’s an excellent person. We’ve really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can’t wish him too much luck, but I know he’ll do a great job and he’s a great coach.

Question: Trevor got knocked out of a couple of games last year. Do you look at those situations as just being flukey or are there some things you try to talk to him about that might keep him a little safer this year?
Stoops: Yeah, I think that’s very correct in that there’s always a little bit of both. Some injuries you just can’t avoid that are just going to happen. But at the quarterback position, regardless of how much or little we run him, when he has the opportunity and he is out on the perimeter running, we want him to avoid and take as little contact as possible to step out of bounds, slide, get down if you already got 13, that’s good enough. Someone’s closing in on you, slide, get down, avoid the big hits.
So it’s something that we’ll talk a lot about with him and even tried to a year ago. But I think another year more experience he’ll be more familiar and used to doing that.

Question: One of your weapons this year is Michael Hunnicutt. Talk about how much he brings to the offense and how much easier it is to know you can get points when he kicks it?
Stoops: Michael Hunnicutt is a true guy that has a chance to be a First?Team All?American, was definitely within an eyelash of being that a year ago. Very consistent, very strong leg.
Michael’s been a mainstay for us now going on three years and excited about he continues to get stronger every year.
He really works hard in the out of season, so we’re really expecting Michael to have a great, great year.

Question: A lot of the conversation from the commissioner on down here has been about full scholarships, potential for additional compensation that some people are seeking for student?athletes. Just generally where do you stand on that issue? Do you feel like scholarship is enough?
Stoops: I’ve always been in favor of cost of attendance. So whatever that entails and the more we can continue to support these players in different ways, whether it’s transportation home, on and on, I think it’s always good that that cost of attendance obviously would benefit us in being able to transport players back home and back to school on breaks, that kind of thing is ?? were always positive steps, and hopefully we can continue to take them.

Question: Bob, will you be tempted to use Blake Bell at quarterback some or just at tight end?
Stoops: Not at all. That’s funny, it keeps coming up. Blake was recruited definitely as quarterback. But when you look at him now after three years, he is the pro type at tight end. He’s got great hands, great size, 6’6″, he’s almost 260. He can run. Natural spacing as far as where to be in his routes.
And I go back to even it’s in his genes, his dad was an NFL tight end for eight years. So he fits the bill perfectly and it’s a position that we want to continue to make stronger.
So I think he’s really going to impact us in a great way at the tight end position.

Question: On your other quarterback, Mayfield, the fact that he transferred and he was a walk?on at Texas Tech, do you think he should be eligible to play immediately?
Stoops: Well, I do. I think it’s one thing if you’ve invested a scholarship in an individual and he decides to leave, heck, they even half the time allow them to play immediately. But a guy that you haven’t invested a scholarship in, I don’t know why that would even be something?? why it would be an issue.
But in the end, it’s something that we’re working through.

Question: And how good is he?
Stoops: Baker is really a good player. Through all our scrimmages in the spring, it was obvious to everyone that he played a year ago, that he’s been on the field, in action, the way he handles himself, the poise, the plays he makes, he really does an excellent job.

Question: You lost your big trio of running backs coming back this year.
Stoops: They weren’t that big.

Question: Who do you see emerging at the position?
Stoops: Three bigger guys (laughter). We lost Roy Finch, Brennan Clay, and ?? who was the third? Damien. Damien was pretty big. But these guys are all, when you look at Keith Ford, Alex Ross, and David Smith, they’re all 215, 220. Six foot. 6’2″. They’re really strong, big players.
So those guys ?? you’ve got Daniel Brooks, also a speedster that’s in there that’s a little smaller. But all those guys are very capable.
And of course we’ve got Joe Mixon who is all of 220, 6’2″, runs great, looked really impressive in the summer. And so has Samaje Perine who is about 240 and runs great. So we’ve got some physical guys in there that we’re excited about.

Question: Joe Castiglione has done such a fantastic job with your nonconference schedule the next decade or so with teams like Tennessee this year, Ohio State, Michigan, LSU. Do you think that has eyes for the committee because they’ll be looking at things a little bit more from a human angle than the computers in the past to get the four teams at the end?
Stoops: I would think so. But I think it would open the eyes of a computer as well if it had eyes at the end of the day. Joe has worked hard on our schedule. He has always confided in me, and we’ve been in agreement on who we were to play in the out?of?conference schedule. And we’re proud of that. We just came off the last four years series with Notre Dame and Florida State.
Now, like you said, we’ve got Tennessee and Ohio State coming with Nebraska and Michigan, on and on down the road. And it’s been intentional, that ?? in the BCS formula, and even now with a playoff formula. When all things are equal with records and whatnot, if someone has played a tougher nonconference schedule, to some degree it would usually benefit you. Otherwise, why play? Otherwise, you might as well just schedule three yawners that no one will pay attention to and not put yourself at risk of losing that game.
But in the end we felt, and it’s worked well for us, that it prepares you for a tough season but it also in the formula helps you have an opportunity to be one of those teams competing for the National Championship.

Question: Can you describe how beating Alabama like you did in the Bowl game sustained you in the offseason, an extra pep in your step, I guess?
Stoops: I don’t know. I think, like all experiences, you build off of them. And you build off of some that are negative, you build off some that are positive. In the end we were fortunate that we were able to build, finish recruiting in a really positive way. I think that really did give us a boost in the last week or two of recruiting. And then it also, I think, as much as anything, it inspired our players to really to build on it in the winter in the way we trained, the way we went into spring and we had a fabulous summer. One of the best. I’ve never seen my strength coach, Coach Schmidt, so happy because he can be hard to please and he’s really elated at the way the guys have worked.
So I think it’s just really maybe our guys have built on it in a positive way, just the chemistry and their willingness to work when they see the benefits of it like that.

Big 12 Media Days: Texas’s Charlie Strong, With 63-1 Odds to Win Title, Talks Football

The Texas Longhorns will see some major changes this year, starting with the man on the sidelines. After 15 seasons under Mack Brown, Charlie Strong is now running the show. Strong played football and graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 1983. He had numerous assistant coaching jobs before becoming the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals in 2010. During his four year stint, he led the Cardinals to a 37–15 record, ending each season with a bowl game. The Longhorns aren’t expected to contend for the National Championship this year. They are currently listed as 63-1 longshots to win the title.

Moderator: We’re now joined by Coach Charlie Strong, University of Texas. Your thoughts about the upcoming season.
Strong: Really excited to be at my first Big 12 Media Day. And what’s really great, there’s one true champion in a conference that’s very powerful.
Had a chance to sit out there and talk to some of the head coaches, Coach Snyder, Coach Stoops, guys that I have a lot of respect for. And just looking at this whole conference, looking at the venue, what you’ve got going, really tough home territories, try to go win football games. But very collegiate about this whole conference and what it’s trying to accomplish.
You look at the University of Texas. I have four players here with me today: Espinosa, Cedric Reed, Malcolm Brown, and Quandre Diggs. And the thing about it, these guys have all worked extremely hard. I’ve been very pleased with my football team at just how hard they work and we’ll continue to work.
And right now we’re in phase three. Beginning in a week or so it’s going to be phase four and it’s going to be preseason camp. Now, when you get into preseason camp, it’s all about building a football team and watching this football team come together.
It’s all about putting a team back into Texas. We talk about putting a team back into Texas, you talk about toughness, you talk about trust, talk about togetherness, and you talk about just becoming a team.
You can never become a team until you have toughness to you, and then you look at guys. You can’t trust one another until you can trust yourself. And it’s all just about coming together, just becoming a team that is exciting to watch.
I know this. I followed an icon in Coach Brown 16 seasons at the University of Texas, did an unbelievable job, won a National Championship. The foundation has been laid. Now it’s up to us to continue this foundation and continue to build on it.
And that’s what we’re looking at, excited. Looking at the season, looking at the beginning, the start of the season, the first three games ?? North Texas, BYU, UCLA, three teams that won eight games or more.
It’s going to be very challenging, but we’re looking forward to it. But what’s really great is I don’t have to start that season tomorrow. I have some time. I’m looking forward to that time.
But really excited about being here, and we’ll open it up for questions.

Question: Can you assess personally and then with your coaching staff how you all feel you’ve done in in?state recruiting? Because in your first press conference you said we’ve got to win the state of Texas. How you guys have done in terms of building relationships with high school coaches and with recruits?
Strong: On Friday nights we had a camp, what we called Under the Lights. What we did with that camp is we invited the juniors and seniors within the state. What we tried to do there is just make sure that we get them on campus for one more time.
And recruiting is a year?long process. The great thing about it is Signing Day is not until February. But you always want to build the relationship with high school coaches because that’s where it all starts at. And we have outstanding coaches within the state, and we will continue to build those relationships.
Our coaches have broken down, and each one of them have a part of this state. They know just how critical it is, how critical it is to go recruit the top players and get them into our program.

Question: I’m sure you knew a lot about the job that you were hired for when you took it, but what have you learned about Texas and the job since you have gotten there? And maybe it’s not as big as I would think, maybe it is just coaching football at another school, but what have you learned about the job since you got there?
Stong: Well, the main thing, what’s really key, you can’t look at any job any different than anywhere else you’ve been. What’s been great for me, I’ve had an opportunity to coach at really outstanding programs, whether it be University of Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Ole Miss and been the head coach of University of Louisville coming to the University of Texas. But what’s key is just make sure you surround yourself with good people.
And the mission is very simple. It will never change. We will make sure we graduate our young men. We want to make sure we go compete for championships, but we want to make sure they become a better person than they were when they came into the program.

Question: Besides the Xs and Os, what are some of the other elements that are important to the student?athletes in your program?
Stong: Well, it’s all about academics. And our student?athletes understand it. They’re in college to go get a degree. And it’s our job as a coaching staff. We have a great?? our academics are unbelievable there at University of Texas. It’s second to none. But what’s really critical, they get a degree and they’re going to walk out of there with a degree in their hand.
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