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Big 12 Media Days, Day 1
7:25 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Be sure to check out our latest Big 12 Soundoff podcast, which gives our thoughts from the first day of Big 12 football media days.
5:12 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson was sold on new defensive coordinator Bill Young before the coach even arrived in Stillwater, Okla.
That's because Robinson could remember playing against Young's defense at Kansas in 2007.
"Coach Young has been helping us out a ton," Robinson said. "The track record that he has and the defenses that he's coached — even when he was at Kansas and we played against them. They weren't the most talented group, but they were the most fundamentally sound defense we played all season.
"I know if our defensive guys buy into his stuff that we're going to be just fine."
When OSU coach Mike Gundy was asked why he chose Young as his new defensive coordinator, I thought his answer was pretty interesting.
"We were looking for a defensive coordinator that could give us some sort of commitment to years," Gundy said. "There are a lot of guys out there that are good defensive coaches that were interested in the job. I was trying to avoid bringing a guy in that I thought maybe in a couple of years, if we had success, would bolt and become a head coach. ...
"I don't think there's any question he understands defensive football. And we'd like to think he'll coach at Oklahoma State until he retires."
Nothing against Young, but I always got the impression he left KU so that he could be in a warmer climate and maybe retire in Florida.
But here we are, two years later, and Young is back in the Big 12 again.
It's just interesting to hear that Gundy is thinking that Young will be with the Cowboys until he retires when Young has had three different jobs in the last three years.
4:30 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
I felt like I was having a "Roy-Williams-is-leaving-for-North-Carolina" deja vu moment when listening to Iowa State defensive lineman Nate Frere talk about the departure of former ISU coach Gene Chizik.
Remember the feeling of disappointment and sadness and anger that players like Wayne Simien felt when ol' Roy left?
I could hear the same tone in the voice of Frere.
After last season, Chizik left ISU to become the head coach at Auburn. The Cyclones then hired Auburn defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads, as their new head coach.
Let's just say Frere and his teammates weren't too happy with Chizik. Frere went as far as to say that he and his teammates "got burned."
"When someone says they're going to stay, then you have to learn from the media that they're leaving, then they come in after the fact to say something, you kind of feel a little bit cheated," Frere said.
As a fourth-year senior, Frere will be playing for his third coach at ISU.
Rhoads, though, seems like he might be a guy that stays awhile. He was born in Iowa and was an assistant at ISU from 1995-99.
"Chizik's where he wants to be, Rhoads is where he wants to be," Frere said, "and I'm still here where I want to be."
Frere had high hopes for his final season. Remember, the Cyclones led the Jayhawks, 20-0, at halftime last year.
"The goal for next year is a bowl win," Frere said. "Anything less than that would be a disappointment."
3:13 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
One of the more underrated defensive players to keep an eye on in 2009: Texas A&M hybrid defensive end/linebacker Von Miller. He wasn't at this year's Media Days, but sophomore cornerback Trent Hunter elaborated:
"The Matrix Man," Hunter said of Miller. "He does things that you just don't see every day. You see guys with a great pass rush that get off the blocks. Well no, blocks don't touch him. He's coming off the edge with 4.4-(second, 40-yard dash) speed. He's big, I think he's like 245 pounds now. He's coming off the edge like nobody I've ever seen. I could see him getting as many sacks as anyone in the Big 12. I'm excited to see what he's going to do this season."
The 6-foot-3 Miller was only listed at 214 pounds last season, so he's apparently put on close to 30 pounds.
Sergio Kindle at Texas is a more prominently-known name and plays the same hybrid position as Miller. But don't sleep on Miller this season. He's a realistic candidate for double-digit sack totals this season. This is a welcome sign to a Texas A&M team that ranked 100th in the nation in sacks with only 16 all of last season.
2:44 p.m. update: By Dugan Arnett
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is the Cowboys' all-time leading passer. He still holds school records for career completion percentage (58.3) and interception avoidance (36 in 1,035 pass attempts), and led OSU to back-to-back 10-win seasons during his four-year career as the team's starting quarterback from 1986 to 1989.
But give him the choice between his 20-year-old self and current Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson, and he doesn't hesitate as to which signal-caller he'd rather have under center.
"If I could go back, I’d recruit Zac Robinson," Gundy said. "I wouldn’t recruit Mike Gundy, to be honest with you.”
"Zac is a special person," the coach added. "He's not necessarily concerned about notoriety. I think that he's as good as anybody in the country for what we ask him to do in our system, and that's the only way you can compare him to anybody else. Not taking anything away from Colt or Sam Bradford or whoever else may play in this league, but we ask Zac to run a spread system efficiently, understand where the advantages and disadvantages are of our offense and how we're going to attack the defense."
2:36 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Nebraska center Jacob Hickman was asked about heading to the atmosphere of Columbia, Mo. in past years. Apparently, some of the Tigers fans weren't exactly welcoming to the Huskers.
"Obviously, they are a bit rambunctious, the (MU) fans. I got spit on a couple of times I went up there, but that's beside the point. If anything, it encourages you. I mean, it makes you angry and want to win more. If anything, if you're proud at all, it's going to instigate you. You can take it two ways, but I think you really have to go in and take it the right way, and if you do that, it can propel you in the game."
Nebraska has lost to Missouri the past two seasons by a combined score of 93-23. The Huskers last beat Missouri, 34-20, in 2006.
1:52 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
NU running back Roy Helu, Jr. had some interesting comments when asked if he thought it was a disadvantage for the Cornhuskers to have to play at Kansas and at Missouri this season.
"Absolutely not," Helu said. "I don't believe in home-field advantage, that type of stuff. It's all a mentality. I don't really look too much into it."
When asked to size up KU, Helu said he was most impressed last year by one player.
"Kansas has got a sweet quarterback in (Todd) Reesing," Helu said. "He's a competitive guy. The way he went at us last year was interesting. He bounced off of a sack and threw the ball downfield. That just showed how much he is tough."
1:39 p.m. update: By Dugan Arnett
It appears that Nebraska second-year coach Bo Pelini takes the same approach to preseason accolades as Kansas' Mark Mangino.
Asked whether he's needed to keep his players grounded since the Huskers were picked as the preseason favorite in the Big 12 North, Pelini said, "Believe me, if they start talking about being the North favorite, I can ground them pretty quickly."
1:16 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
As our own Eric Sorrentino pointed out in his summer gridiron report, Nebraska made great strides defensively last year under first-year coach Bo Pelini.
The coach said there's still a long ways to go.
"We're not in the same galaxy as I want to be defensively," Pelini said.
NU gave up 349.85 yards per game last year, which was 55th in the nation and second in the Big 12.
Still, it seems that the coach wants more.
"We're not going to be satisfied until we are a dominant defense," Pelini said.
1:11 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini all but announced that junior Zac Lee will be his starting quarterback this season.
"Zac came out (of camp) as the clear-cut favorite," the coach said.
Pelini did leave himself a little wiggle room, though.
"No one's won a job yet, because we still have a whole camp ahead of us," he said.
12:50 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Should be interesting to talk to Iowa State later today about what coach Paul Rhoads expects in his first year in Ames, Iowa. I haven't seen the Cyclones picked to finish any higher than last in the North.
KU fans, remember the Iowa State game last year? Scary. This game was somewhat forgotten because the Jayhawks pulled it out in the end, but they were down, 20-0, at halftime. Here's the play that started the KU outburst in the second half. How wide open was Jake Sharp on this play? Wow:
Iowa State put up the dreaded goose egg in the Big 12 last year at 0-8. If the Cyclones win this game, I wonder how that would have changed the rest of their season. It was the first game of conference play. Should be a question worth asking the Cyclones today.
12:37 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
It's not big news, but Iowa State and Texas A&M will be switching time slots today (ISU was originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m.; Texas A&M was set for 3:15 p.m.). The Cyclones were delayed in their travels because of the recent storms.
11:35 a.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Welcome to our live blog of the Big 12 Football Media Days in rainy Irving, Texas. We'll be posting live updates throughout the day on the four teams that are scheduled to appear for Day 1.
We're in Big 12 South country, but North preseason No. 1 Nebraska will be the first team to make an appearance on the podium at 1 p.m. today. Surely, Nov. 14 will be brought up to coach Bo Pelini and his players. That's the date the Cornhuskers travel to Lawrence to take on the Jayhawks in a game that could decide the Big 12 North champion.
The Cornhuskers are going for their first North crown since 2006 and their fifth overall title in the Big 12 era. Kansas has never won the Big 12 North outright.
If you guys have any questions you'd be curious to ask, post them in the comments section below. We'll do our best to have them answered today.
Other than that, as always, discuss. KUSports.com online editor Jesse Newell and KU football beat writer Dugan Arnett are also on hand and will be posting updates, too. Talk to you guys soon.