If TCU had another shot at Baylor last season in a Big 12 conference championship game, would it have made any difference in making the College Football Playoff cut?
TCU head coach Gary Patterson doesn’t know.
“After last year, I don’t’ feel confident about anything,” he said Monday at Big 12 Media Days.
That being said, he still stands with the conference’s decision to let round-robin play decide who is the Big 12’s top candidate for the four-team playoff.
After all, winning or losing a conference championship isn’t the only criteria for playoff selection, it’s about a full body of work, he said.
“I thought the whole thing about the college playoff was they would pick the four best teams and you didn’t have to have a championship game,” Patterson said.
“That’s how you’re supposed to find the top teams, not about money, not about revenues or anything else. It’s just about who are the best four teams,” he continued.
That is exactly what Patterson believes is the committee’s motivation after the first year under the new system, but he too is looking at a larger body of work.
“I can’t judge a group until I see a couple more years,” he said.
Kansas coach staying true to roots
How does the cliché go?
You can take the Texas high school football coach out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas high school football out of the coach.
New Kansas head coach David Beaty, who was a head coach at North Dallas and Irving MacArthur, might be in Lawrence now, but he plans to continue to conduct much of his business in the state of Texas.
“I’m proud to be a part of that brotherhood and I will never relinquish that title,” Beaty said Monday at Big 12 Media Days. “It’s a big deal for me to know that I was and still am a part of Texas high school football coaching.”
Beaty high-tailed it to Dallas from the Texas High School Coaches Association Convention in Houston to make his Day 1 appointment for his conference media availability, making sure the recruiting pipeline is still strong from Texas to Kansas before he left.
Much of that lies in his assistant coaches, including former Arlington Bowie head coach and TCU defensive backs coach Kenny Perry, who now serves as a co-defensive coordinator for the Jayhawks.
“Kenny Perry, that guy’s got unbelievable talent,” Beaty said. “He’s adored and loved by the guys in this area and in this state. He works tirelessly at creating those relationships. They know that when they come to Kansas, they’re going to be taken care of.”
And he can look to the examples of two Texas schools, Baylor and TCU, as a guide to building a program from the ground up using, sometimes underrated, Texas talent, referencing in particular one of his coaching heroes, Baylor head coach Art Briles.
“I watched that guy win state championships right over there at the old Texas Stadium. Phenomenal. Been successful wherever he’s been,” he said.
Cutting mistakes key at Tech
Last season, Texas Tech was tired for 116th in the country in turnover margin at minus-13, which included 18 interceptions.
So, making a decision between junior Davis Webb and sophomore Patrick Mahomes will come down to minimizing mistakes, head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
“We've been historically bad the last two years at that position with turnovers,” Kingsbury said.
“So whichever guy can protect the football the best and continue to take shots, take chances but protect the ball is going to be our guy,” he continued.
Web saw a slight advantage in games, throwing for 2,539 yards and 24 touchdowns in 8 games, but threw 13 interceptions. Mahomes played in seven games, throwing for 1,547 yards and 16 touchdowns with just 4 picks.
Kingsbury said he wants to name a starter early in fall camp so they can have more time to develop chemistry with the first-team offense. That player will get Kingsbury’s strong vote of confidence through the season should he falter early, he said.
“I think it will just have to — it will be a feel situation because both — if we name a starter, we're going to ride with that guy knowing that we have a great insurance policy behind him, but I wouldn't expect a quick hook on whoever we name the starter.”
What does the former quarterback turned head coach look for in a spread-offense quarterback?
“I think recently it's the ability to extend the play,” Kingsbury said. “I know at Houston, coaching Case Keenum, he was great at extending a play when it wasn't there. Obviously, Johnny [Manziel] at A&M. You look at what Trevone Boykin does at TCU in a very similar system, moving around making plays.”
Still airing it out
With veteran running backs Rushel Shell and Wendell Smallwood returning to West Virginia this season, head coach Dana Holgorsen will lean more on the run game to carry the offense, right?
“Hope not,” Holgorsen said. “I still like to throw the ball a bit.”
West Virginia finished ninth in the country in passing offense, averaging 317 yards per game, but ran a balanced offense onto the field this year, running the ball 50 percent of the time, Holgorsen said.
Shell and Smallwood combined for 1,510 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground last year.
“We’re getting to where we our run game where people have got to respect it,” Holgorsen said.
The Mountaineers finished 43rd in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 182.8 yards per game and posting 18 touchdowns on the ground.
To have continued success in the passing game, West Virginia will need to replace Clint Trickett, who throw for 3,285 yards and 18 touchdowns in 11 games played.
His replacement will be Fort Worth Brewer grad Skyler Howard, who saw action in four games last season, throwing for 829 yards and 8 touchdowns, including 346 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Liberty Bowl versus Texas A&M.
“That’s just what our philosophy is and that’s the way it’s going to be,” he said. “The more success we have running the ball we’re going to do it, but if they put too many people up there to block, we’re not going to do it.”
Remembering the old days
Naturally, with coach Bill Snyder at the helm of the Kansas State football program, the Wildcats set the standard for old school.
Kansas State was the only program to have just one style of helmet displayed on the podium during the head coach’s press conference.
As far as Big 12 is concerned, Snyder opined for the old days Monday, when things were just better.
“I have always favored the way it was at one time,” Snyder said. “I favor a 12‑team conference, I favor two divisions, and I favor a championship game. You might remember that, when we had that format, we were one of only two teams that played a game in December, and that was one of only two conferences.”
However, Snyder admitted he’s all about problems and not much in the way of solutions. He declined to offer any possible options for the two teams needed for the conference to move to 12, saying his coaching responsibilities keep him from really investigating the subject.
“I hear the schools that are mentioned from time to time, and I think all of them are mentioned for a reason. Obviously, they have fine programs, good universities,” he said.
“I would say this,” Snyder continued. “I think there is probably some universities out there that haven't necessarily been mentioned for maybe some obvious reasons that might have an interest in being a part of our conference. But I don't know that for a fact.”