Five Poyntz: Big 12 Media Day recap
ARLINGTON - Let's cover Big 12 Football Media Days Five Poyntz style.
KANSAS: LES MILES STUMBLES
Unfortunately, the story isn’t about what was said but how it was delivered.
New Kansas head coach Les Miles brought a notebook full of tips on what to say and how to proceed through his opening statement. However, they weren’t the solution to his approach and presentation.
Miles began, wisely I might add, by addressing the situation around his star running back Pooka Williams. Williams was charged with battery towards a woman. Although the Jayhawks’ head coach reiterated multiple times that violence towards women would not be accepted, his long pauses and fumbling of words multiple times really made it seem sloppy and not nearly as genuine as he likely intended.
To conclude, Miles mentioned that he did not levy the penalty on Williams, twice stating it was not his decision, but that he stood by it and supported what was decided.
A couple other notes add to the discomfort of the session was when Miles stated that the Jayhawks were in the playoff mix the year they advanced to the Orange Bowl following the 2007 season. However, as folks reading this can immediately acknowledge and recognize, there was not a playoff system 12 years ago. Furthermore, that observation by Miles didn’t address the question at hand, as he was asked specifically asked how long it would take to be in a position to compete for a New Year's Six bowl. Miles, in his answer, never began to answer that question.
The messages Miles did seem to want to send to the public, but was unable to do so because of the distractions, was that his football squad had a team GPA of 2.81, and believes he inherited a more talented roster in Lawrence than he did his previous Big 12 stint at Oklahoma State. OSU, for the record, went 4-7 in Miles' first year.
Not only that, Miles doubled down and said that the Jayhawks were much more talented than their previous records had indicated.
Miles' time at the podium immediately became a buzzworthy topic throughout AT&T Stadium.
TCU: PATTERSON EMITS CONFIDENCE
Last year I walked away from head coach Gary Patterson’s time at the podium probably a bit more down on the Horned Frogs than I had entered. He was very concerned about his team, it felt like, this time in 2018, and it seemed to be supported by their 3-5 start to the season.
They did seem to find an anecdote, evidenced by their 4-1 finish.
The script was totally flipped this year. I entered Monday pretty pessimistic and not really impressed by TCU’s outlook. Patterson did everything he could to squash that. While he sent out warning signs in 2018, he flashed confidence and swagger in 2019, all the way down to the flashy watch he was sporting on his right wrist.
He bellowed about his team’s maturity, his excitement about them, their chemistry, his freshman class and finished by saying “TCU is ready to go.”
They may not have the answer at quarterback just yet, and as many as six guys are still in the mix, but more likely four.
However, one of those is Alex Delton, whom he credited with saving them this spring due to injuries, and someone who seems to have made a difference off the field in terms of leadership and preparation. The other threats to claim the starting role under center are Michael Collins, true freshman Max Duggan and former top recruit Justin Rogers.
OKLAHOMA STATE: LEARNING FROM LAST YEAR
As soon as Mike Gundy took to the podium, he began evoking accountability repeatedly. The Cowboys underachieved last season, and he was shouldering all the blame and stating how they’ve responded by making everything in their off-season about correcting those errors and learning from those mistakes.
Gundy believes it was similar to what he was told about his parenting by his oldest two children. They told him he let so many things go that were done or said by his third child that he never would have flown when it came to them. He feels he fell into that trap during his 14th season as head coach in Stillwater. His impression and assessment of last season’s failure is it was a result of letting things go in meetings, in practices and in game prep that he typically wouldn’t have.
This year, according to Gundy, Oklahoma State is reviving the discipline and toughness they built the program off of, and that they are excited to see how those results will differ.
TEXAS TECH: WELLS SHOWS HE HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
I was able to make two readily apparent observations from Matt Wells’ first time ever at the podium of Big 12 Media Day in the Lone Star State.
The first was how much he differed from the other first-year head coach who went on Monday. Unlike the boss in Lawrence, Wells was well-versed about his own roster in an impressive fashion. It seemed like he named nearly half his squad by name and position. Not only that, Wells rattled off coordinators from his opponents and knowledge of the Big 12.
Wells showcased a lot of knowledge, planning and organization by how he presented himself and the breadth of information he was disseminating. Perhaps he benefited from following Miles and the bar being lower, but he came off as extremely sharp for someone being a Big 12 rookie.
The other conclusion easily come to is how much his style seems to differ from his predecessor, Kliff Kingsbury.
While Kingsbury was about the sexy offense, throw it around the field about 50 times a game and be a regular participant in offensive shootouts, Wells showed up insisting on conversing about the importance of the tight end, running the football and playing championship-caliber defense.
All three of those things have been non-existent in Lubbock for a number of years.
OKLAHOMA: COMPLACENCY IS STIFFEST CHALLENGE
How do you avoid complacency? That is the challenge the truly great teams always face, and the Oklahoma Sooners are presented with that dilemma now.
They’ve never failed to win the Big 12 since Lincoln Riley was hired to be their head coach to replace Bob Stoops.
That’s four conference championships in a row.
Riley knows complacency is OU's toughest opponent, currently. They have to worry about not feeling like they’ve already arrived every single year. They have to worry more about themselves rather than their upcoming opponents. It’s probably true. They’ve won the last four years because they’ve been the far superior team each league contest.
The Sooner head coach did explain those high standards placed on them due to prior accomplishments have aided them when fighting the instinct to rest. In Norman, it’s always about what they have accomplished lately. It’s not about recognition of those accomplishments. It’s more about what’s next. As Riley put it, “The last four were great, but what about a fifth one?”
That can force one to remain hungry.
A last note worth shining a light on is a back and forth Riley had with a local reporter. It’s mainly just because I enjoyed the response.
The reporter asked, “With Kyler Murray leaving and four offensive linemen to replace, I assume your offense will take a dip. Can your defense rise up more than the offense will dip?”
Riley’s response, after a long pause in which you could tell he was trying to think of a polite way to answer, was perfect, “We don’t expect our offense to dip.”
BONUS: THE TIGHT END IS MAKING A COMEBACK
We’re all well aware of how important and crucial of a role tight end will have in Manhattan moving forward. It is one of the main staples of the offense designed and coordinated by Courtney Messingham. The Wildcat staff has emphasized that ever since arriving at Kansas State, wanting to add reinforcements since the moment they were hired.
That isn’t the only place. Miles has always instituted a power attack that involved the tight end as well, stemming back to his days at both Oklahoma State and LSU. Gary Patterson even made note of it today, how the league seemed to want to get bigger and heavier on offense. He didn’t just acknowledge that KU would do this, but also that his offense in Fort Worth would, as well.
Furthermore, Wells probably described his tight end usage for his answer to about three or four different questions, even when it wasn’t the subject of what was being asked. Iowa State has done so a little more each year under Matt Campbell.
Look out folks, 2019 could be the year of the tight end in the Big 12.