Live: Big 12 Media Days

07/22/2014 10:49 AM

07/22/2014 11:03 AM

The College Football Playoff selection committee will protect the No. 1 seed by allowing it to play close to home or avoiding it from playing in front of a hostile crowd.

That was a point that CFP executive director Bill Hancock relayed to media members Tuesday during his session at the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

Hancock ran through a series of hypothetical situations to show how the 13-person selection committee will consider not just semifinals games for the four-team playoff, but also the other four bowls included in the playoff’s rotation.

The Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl will serve as the semifinal locations this year, with both games played on New Year’s Day, in addition to the Cotton Bowl. The Peach Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve. The championship game will be played Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

One example Hancock ran through was if Ohio State finishes No. 1 in the selection committee’s top-25 poll and LSU finishes No. 4, matching the two teams in the semifinal. The committee, in that situation, would send those two teams to the Rose Bowl, avoiding an overt home field advantage for lower-seed LSU in New Orleans.

Another situation Hancock outlined was if a West Coast team, like Boise State, qualified for a one of the four non-semifinal bowls, which each team in the top 12 of the committee’s poll will qualify if they don’t make the semifinals. Boise State would likely be paired in the Fiesta Bowl, keeping travel in mind for fans and players. But if the Broncos finished in the top 12 again, the next year, they wouldn’t return to the Fiesta Bowl, avoiding a back-to-back trip.

Hancock said the goal of the new format will be to preserve the importance of the regular season and the prestige of the bowl season, while also implementing a bracket-style championship.

“We feel like this give us the best of both worlds,” Hancock said. “This will change the paradigm of New Year’s Eve parties in our countries. They better have a TV or we won’t go.”

The selection committee will be release updated rankings on Tuesday nights six times throughout the season before announcing the final selections on Dec. 7.

New rules

Big 12 officials coordinator Walt Anderson introduced a series of new rules Tuesday morning during Day 2 of the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.

Two notable changes for the upcoming season are that recoveries of a loose ball will be reviewable anywhere on the field, and that hits at or below the knees of the quarterback will be a penalty.

Anderson used a controversial call from the Oklahoma-Oregon game in 2006 to illustrate the first change. At the time, Oklahoma claimed it had recovered an onside kick. The play was reviewed, but only the question of whether Oregon had touched the ball before it traveled 10 yards.

“In the past, anytime we had a loose ball on the field of play, it was not reviewable unless the end zone was involved or the sideline,” Anderson said. “And what you can end up seeing is although the touching of the kick at this point [in the OU-Oregon game] has been reviewable for quite a number of years, the other aspect of this play that in the past that has not been reviewable is who actually recovered the football.”

The introduction of the penalty for hitting a quarterback at or below the knees will come with three exceptions: When the quarterback exits the pocket on a run, when the defender simply wraps up the quarterback and when the defender is blocked into the quarterback.

Anderson said a rash of “high-profile” injuries to quarterbacks finally led to the rule change, which had been in discussion for nearly a decade.

Another change of note includes the review process for targeting. Booth officials will be able to not only review whether a defender should be disqualified for targeting, but also whether the targeting call should have been called at all. Under the previous rule, the on-field official would flag for targeting, a 15-yard penalty that would remain whether the defender would get ejected or not. This year, if the defender isn’t disqualified, the 15-yard penalty will be erased.

Out of 823 games last year, 92 targeting calls were made, 32 of which didn’t result in disqualification, according to Anderson.

Mack Brown led the Longhorns to 158 wins in 16 seasons, but for the first time since 1997, there will be a new face leading the charge in Austin.

Texas

Charlie Strong is coming from Louisville, where he went 37-15 in four seasons, and is ready to make Texas into a legit national title contender once again.

“I’m really excited to be at my first Big 12 media day. I had a chance to talk to coach Stoops, coach Synder, people I have respect for and am impressed with what this conference is about.”

Strong has developed a five-phase system in Austin and just completed phase-three ... summer conditioning.

“We have a lot of work to do. I can’t say how far off we are, but we look much better compared to the spring and we’ll continue to move forward,” Strong said.

Strong says that it’s very challenging to come in and produce wins, the key is to surround yourself with “good people.”

“It’s good to watch this team play together. You can’t become a team without toughness and you can’t trust your teammates without first trusting in yourself,” Strong said.

Strong adds that academics and motivation is what he’s trying to establish in Austin. He has set up a Hook ’Em logo in the middle of the locker room and the players aren’t allowed to walk on it until game day. He wants the players to be able to throw up that sign and be proud of it.

Oklahoma

Bob Stoops is back and started Day 2 of the Big 12 Media Days talking about how his team had a great summer and are building off its Sugar Bowl win against Alabama in January.

“We’re really excited. We had a good winter and spring, and a fabulous summer ... one of the best I’ve seen,” Stoops said. We were fortunate enough to build off something positive and it made the players inspired with their chemistry and willingness to work.”

Stoops got a big win against Alabama and will try to do the same in the Red River Rivalry Game this year against Texas, despite not seeing Mack Brown on the opposite end, a first for quite some time.

He’ll face the Longhorns’ new head coach in Charlie Strong, who he has a lot of high praise for, but doesn’t want to wish his newest competitor too much luck.

“Charlie and I have known each other for a while now. We have background together, being both defensive coordinators. He’s a great coach and an excellent person,” Stoops said.

As for the offense, Stoops gets a much different running back group, a more experienced Trevor Knight at quarterback, as well as a new tight end, former starting quarterback Blake Bell. He says he doesn’t plan on using Blake at quarterback and that it’s funny it keeps coming up.

“Blake is the prototypical tight end. He has great hands and great size. He can run and has natural spacing,” Stoops said. “It’s a position that we’re trying to make stronger and Blake will impact our offense.”

Iowa State

Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads has several new coaches to work with this year.

Offensive coordinator Mark Mangino is new to Iowa State but not to the conference. Before serving as Kansas’ head coach from 2002-2009, he served as an assistant coach and coordinator at Kansas State from 1991-1998 and Oklahoma from 1999-2001.

“His proven track record as a play-caller, as a tough-guy type of coach and what he could bring to our offensive mentality that way, but at the very top of the list was the simplicity with which his offenses have had success, and that was something that our program needed,” Rhoads said.

After a 3-9 season where the Cyclones went 2-7 in Big 12 play, Rhoads highlighted the two-game win streak at the end of the season.

“There’s no question,” Rhoads said. “That devastating loss (to UT) affected our football team, but we came back the next week and fought like heck and lost a game by a touchdown but then our butts started to drag a little bit lower, and we suffered some bad defeats.”

He credited his players for continuing to train and finish the season with a winning streak.

West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers are entering their third year in the Big 12 and couldn’t be more excited. West Virginia opens against Alabama and Holgorsen and his players are up for the challenges that are ahead of them.

“Never been more excited going into a season. Our players understand what the Big 12 is all about,” Holgorsen said. “We’re ready to go, the players have been working hard and they’re up for the challenges this season.”

Biggest issues coming in were the quarterback position and getting better on defense. Clint Trickett enters his second season under center after transferring to Morgantown in May 2013.

“Clint joined our team with a lot of knowledge of the position, but zero knowledge of our offense. It took him a while to understand that,” Holgorsen said. “He had a tremendous game against Oklahoma State last season, got hurt and never was the same again. He needs to stay healthy, that’s the biggest thing. Leadership was missing, but he’ll be able to take that to another level this year.”

Holgorsen continues to make his defensive unit better saying that “you need to prove defensively in order to win in this league.” He added that the conference is much different than West Virginia’s old conference, the Big East, and that you must “play the offenses in the Big 12 quickly.”

“The days of rolling through the Big East are long gone. It’s a whole different ball game in the Big 12. In the two years I’ve been here, we haven’t been dominant,” Holgorsen said. “We’ve been competitive each and every week, but we need to stay the course, develop our talent, recruit better and put together a season that we can be proud of.”

Kansas State

Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder saw improvement over the course of the 2013 season. The Wildcats started 2-4 after a 24-21 loss to North Dakota State. The team finished 8-5 including a win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

“I thought 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 towards the end of the season,” Snyder said.

Snyder said his major concern is his players not taking their performance level, talent level, preparation for opponents and workouts for granted.

“I can’t make projections in regards to what kind of a football team I know we have capabilities of being,” Snyder said. “Whether or not we can reach that level or not is dependent upon a lot of things. The biggest thing is not taking anything for granted.”

 

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