Three new head coaches, one who has served his institution continuously for the longest, one elder statesman and one on the hotseat highlighted this year’s Big 12 Media Days.
As for the remaining four, they are just like the others — trying to win the conference, create competition and depth in all positions, and get ready for a competitive league.
Who was the most impressive? Who was the most intense? Who was the most accessible? All 10 in his own way stood out.
But we’ll start with the three new coaches.
Tom Herman, Texas — Herman is in his first year as the head coach of the Longhorns but returns to Austin for his second stint after being a graduate assistant in the late 1990s. Herman was by far the most intense of the coaches. He had a clear answer for questions, wanted to make eye contact with reporters, and even called upon some of his players to help clarify facts. Herman was more Bob Stoops during his session than he was Mack Brown.
Matt Rhule, Baylor — Before he was asked, Rhule told reporters why he wanted the job. He saw the opportunity in the difficulty. Since arriving in Waco and completing his staff, Rhule made it clear that he’s been traveling to speak to various Baylor alumni chapters and has tried not to turn down an opportunity to talk. He made himself available for interviews of all sorts, from printed stories to videos and social media web sites, even when some news teams didn’t have him scheduled to speak. While winning games is still a priority, Rhule doesn’t have a win-at-all-costs mentality about him. It also helps that Herman has said nice things about him to Texas high school football coaches that will assist in recruiting.
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma — Riley took over the Sooners after Stoops’ sudden retirement last month. It was clear very quickly why Oklahoma brass tabbed Riley to be the new head coach. He sounds very much like the guy he’s replacing. He was direct in his answers and offered insight on what he’s looking for from his team.
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech — In a time when Kingsbury should be riding a wave of excitement, he finds that people are wondering if this will be his last season in Lubbock. After all, Kingsbury’s former pupil, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Kingsbury doesn’t dispute that the Red Raiders defense must be better in 2017. The question is does Tech have the players and scheme to get it done?
Gary Patterson, TCU — The two objectives in Fort Worth, without question, is a stingy, nasty defense and a confident Kenny Hill at quarterback. Patterson expressed nothing but confidence that Sonny Cumbie will be able to keep the offense revving. Now it’s up to the defense to get enough stops to allow the Horned Frogs to win. Patterson is considered a defensive guru and is motivated to get that side of the ball back to where it was.
David Beatty, Kansas — He’s a former Texas high school coach and assistant at Texas A&M. Beatty continues to be a positive-thinking, positive-speaking individual who has emphasized the importance of capitalizing on the Jayhawks’ overtime win against Texas. Beatty also showed his forward thinking when he hired TCU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham for the same spot in Lawrence.
Bill Snyder, Kansas State — The elder statesman was as calm and gathered as ever. He said he is feeling fine after battling throat cancer. Snyder acknowledged his players are aware the Wildcats are picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. The last time that happened? In 2012 resulting in a league title.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia — A year after spectators anticipated Holgorsen wouldn’t make it to 2014, he returned for Big 12 Media Days with a smile and eager to get started.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State — Gundy is now the longest-continued-tenured coach in the league with a quarterback who is as seasoned as they come. Gundy was relaxed with reporters, even kidding about the length of his mullet hairdo and how the players enjoyed seeing it. The Cowboys are expected to challenge for the league championship.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State — Year two for Campbell is about sustaining the culture he wants in Ames. The Cyclones have a Thursday night game against Texas and traditionally have played well during those contests. Will Campbell get a signature win this season? Stay tuned.