Big 12 Media Day Storylines: Rest of conference
FIRST APPEARANCE FOR NEW COACHES
There is two new coaches in the Big 12 after Kansas replaced Les Miles with Lance Leipold and Texas hired Steve Sarkisian. With the new hires, the Jayhawks are picked to finish dead last once again in the league and the Longhorns were slotted at third.
I'm always fascinated by the first appearances in Arlington by new head coaches in the conference, as it can sometimes tell us a lot about the new hire.
Two years ago, Les Miles fumbled his words repeatedly and issued a prepared statement about Pooka Williams that couldn't have went any worse and Matt Wells was unprepared and seemed to know very little about his own roster.
Neal Brown was a new coach at the time, too, along with Chris Klieman. Klieman was more calculated and comfortable in his own skin. Neal Brown also came off impressive, but he was a bit more nervous at the same time.
As a matter of fact, it will be the first appearance for Dave Aranda, too. Last year was his first season at the helm for Baylor but Big 12 Media Days was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I anticipate him being as professional as they come.
HOW CYCLONES HANDLE EXPECTATIONS
Matt Campbell and Iowa State return a ton of contributors and starters from a team that advanced to the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington and defeated Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. That includes the likes of Brock Purdy, Breece Hall and Mike Rose.
Rose was even named preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Hall was a first-teamer. They had the second amount of other all-Big 12 selections, too, only to Oklahoma.
That pedigree and star power has the Cyclones picked to finish second in the Big 12 once again according to the media.
It is the first time that they enter a season with that kind of spotlight and those high of expectations. How will they handle it? Will they embrace it or dismiss it? Our first answers will come this week.
In my estimation, the only seat really on the hot seat entering the 2021 season is Matt Wells of Texas Tech. In fact, if rumors are to be believed, he was almost replaced this past offseason.
Year three is an important one for him and it will have to be respectable if he doesn't want to suffer the same fate as many Red Raider coaches before him, most recently being Kliff Kingsbury.
What will his demeanor be in a year that could determine the direction of his career and will the Texas Tech contingent alongside him feel the same pressure? It's bound to be an interesting season in Lubbock.
MORE OF THE SAME FROM THE SOONERS
As alluded to earlier, once again Oklahoma is picked to win the Big 12. They lost a lot of talent, but they still return a lot, too. Actually, some believe this year's squad could be the best assembled by Lincoln Riley, yet.
Kennedy Brooks is back in the backfield and some have Spencer Rattler listed as the favorite for the Heisman trophy. It should also be the best defense they've constructed since forming a new staff on that side of the ball.
I know there's hype around Iowa State, but there is no team in the league that comes close to the talent level of the Sooners. The team that is closest to their caliber might actually be TCU, but they've been poorly coached the past couple seasons and have also had some locker room problems of their own.