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Big 12 Media Days, Day 1: KU media guide unveiled; Pinkel says prep games on Longhorn Network 'ludicrous'
5:30 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
We're going to wrap up our Day 1 coverage from Media Days here in Dallas.
Check back Tuesday morning for live blog posts, videos and photos from KU's day in front of the press.
5:12 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Just in case anyone was wondering, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon has no problem with Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles.
You can see for yourself in the video below.
So why would there be bad blood between this year's two preseason Big 12 first-team selections at receiver?
Turns out that last week, OU receiver Kenny Stills tweeted that Blackmon "is all about big bodying people and sloppy routes."
That should add a little fire to the Bedlam Series this year, which already has the potential to be a top-10 matchup.
4:58 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Last year, Missouri receiver T.J. Moe made headlines before the KU-Missouri game with some bulletin-board material.
“I hate them,” Moe said of the Jayhawks. “I’ve been a Mizzou fan my whole life. From day one. Every time I see a [KU] shirt I just want to burn it.”
Moe told me Monday that his strong feelings about MU and KU came from growing up in St. Louis.
“Mizzou was my team,” Moe said. “I don’t care if we’re losing 62 to zero against Oklahoma, I’m still a diehard Mizzou fan when I’m 8 years old.
“So I just went, ‘We hate Kansas. OK, so do I then.’ I did what I was told, because that’s what we did. We’re Tigers. That’s what happens.”
When I asked Moe if he’d rather play the KU-MU game at Arrowhead or on the campus sites, he interrupted me before I could even get the question out.
“I don’t ever want to play at Kansas,” Moe said. “And they probably never want to play at Missouri. So let’s play at Arrowhead.”
Moe, like his teammates in videos below in this blog, said the KU-MU rivalry hasn’t been hurt by the Jayhawks’ recent struggles.
“Not in our minds. In fact, I don’t even know what their record was last year. I’m not worried about that,” Moe said. “As far as I’m concerned, we’re playing Kansas, and we’re both 0-0 and we’ve got to figure out a way to beat them.”
Right before the interviewed ended, I asked Moe specifically about his comment about wanting to burn KU T-shirts when he saw them.
“I’m not supposed to talk about Kansas,” he said.
4:39 p.m. update: By Matt Tait
One of the things that always amazes me at these things is how well players from different teams know each other. It's probably foolish of me to be amazed by that seeing how many of the players in the league are from Texas AND many of them played with or against each other growing up. However, it always gets me.
Today's one-on-one sessions with the players are finished and here are a few of the "amazing" highlights that came from them.
• Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright said he's great friends with new KU linebacker Malcolm Walker. Wright, one of the top targets in the league, said he was looking forward to playing against Walker this fall in Lawrence but still kind of bummed that the Bears weren't able to sign his buddy. They tried and Walker was interested, but the juco transfer chose Kansas instead, a move that he'll probably be glad he made considering the fact that Walker's in line for serious playing time this fall.
• Trent Hunter, of Texas A&M, said he had committed to Kansas State before getting an offer from the Aggies.
• Kenji Jackson, of Mizzou, said he visited Kansas, Missouri and TCU out of high school and nearly picked the Jayhawks. In the end, Jackson said MU was the best fit for him but, surprisingly, he doesn't seem to have anything against KU. I doubt his teammates will be too happy about that.
• Another Sunflower State note of interest comes from Markelle Martin, of Oklahoma State. Martin, a Texas native, said he always used to play with the Wildcats on the old college football video games growing up because he liked the look of the Powercat. Outside of that, Martin admitted to not knowing a single thing about Kansas.
While all of those tidbits struck me as interesting, by far the most surprising moment came from Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray, who said that KU legend Gale Sayers is his favorite running back of all-time.
When asked how that happened, Gray proved he knew his stuff. He admitted to knowing Sayers more as a Chicago Bear than a Kansas Jayhawk but gave big-time props to the Kansas Comet for being the first true home run threat to ever play the game. Gray said he modeled some of his game after Sayers and is hoping to meet him face-to-face when the Jayhawks head down to College Station, Texas, later this year to play A&M.
Continuing with the theme of this entry, Gray and teammate Tony Jerod-Eddie both grew up playing little league football with KU's Lubbock Smith (see Jesse's update below) and Jeremiah Hatch.
More to come...
4:35 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
If you remember, in a feature last year about KU safety Lubbock Smith, we had a photo of Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray and Smith in a photo together.
The two played on the same youth football teams growing up in Dallas.
When I talked to Gray — a preseason Big 12 first-team selection this season — he said he still talked to Smith at least once a week and referred to him as his "brother."
"He's been on a team where they've won, and I've been on a team where we lost. It's kind of reversed right now," Gray said. "We just talk about finishing out strong."
Gray — whose older brother actually dated Smith's sister a while back — said he didn't rag Smith at all following the Aggies' 45-10 victory over KU in Lawrence last year.
"When I saw him, I hugged him after the game," Gray said. "He was just like, 'Man, I didn't play my best.' I was like, 'Hey, what I want you to do is get in that film room and just learn from that.'
"I know that's what Lubbock's going to do."
4:30 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
While here, I wanted to make sure to ask Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden what he thought about recent Kansas City Royals first-round draft pick Bubba Starling.
For those that don't know, Starling — from Gardner-Edgerton High School — has not yet signed with the Royals and has a scholarship offer to Nebraska to play football. Soon, he'll have decide which sport he wants to play.
Weeden comes from a similar situation. He was drafted in the second round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. He spent five years in minor-league baseball before an injury ended his baseball career.
"I know what I would do," Weeden said about Starling. " ... I don't know what his situation is or what he's thinking, but that's a lot of money as an 18-year-old kid. You can always go back to school."
After baseball, Weeden chose to play college football at Oklahoma State, where he is now a senior. He is 27 years old and — it's hard for me to believe this — just 41 days younger than me.
"I was able to enjoy minor-league baseball for five years. Enjoyed every single minute of it," Weeden said. "I get to flip the script, turn the page and do something completely different, and enjoy every single minute of this.
"I feel pretty fortunate. I'm lucky to have the opportunity."
3:53 p.m. update: By Matt Tait
Though the Kansas University football team won't officially be a part of the 2011 Big 12 media days until tomorrow, the Jayhawks have arrived in Dallas and are currently getting settled into their rooms in preparation for tomorrow's big day.
One element of the KU program that came along with head coach Turner Gill, player reps Steven Johnson, Jeremiah Hatch and Tim Biere and athletic director Sheahon Zenger, was the 2011 media guide, unveiled for the first time around 3 p.m. Monday afternoon.
We'll flip through it and try to bring you the best notes and nuggets at some other time. For now, though, here's a photo of the cover. Not bad.
More to come...
3:35 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
I asked Missouri safety Kenji Jackson and offensive lineman Elvis Fisher whether the KU-MU game had lost any luster with KU's recent struggles.
Their responses are below.
2:27 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
I have to give credit to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.
While most coaches have dodged questions about the Longhorn Network, Pinkel has been the most honest with his thoughts.
Below, Pinkel says the idea of having high school games on a college network is "ludicrous."
A lot of coaches seem to be thinking that, but Pinkel is the one, so far, that has had the guts to say it with the cameras rolling.
2:07 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
We'll have a few Missouri videos up in a few minutes, but for now, here's another video of Texas coach Mack Brown.
Below, he says that he thinks that the impact of potentially having high school football games on the Longhorn Network is "overplayed a little bit." Very interesting ...
12:50 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Texas coach Mack Brown was asked about the Longhorn Network and said the added exposure could actually work against his program.
"I can tell by the work that we've put in in the first six months, it's not going to be an easy partnership, because they're (ESPN) paying us $300 million for access, and we gotta figure out how much access we can give them and not hurt our chance to have an edge to win the game," Brown said. "So Dave Brown (of ESPN) called me mid-summer and said: 'We want to have your first scrimmage online. Everybody's going to want to see it.' And I said: Yeah, Oklahoma, A&M, Kansas, Texas Tech, they're going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can't do that."
Brown also joked about UT's disappointing 5-7 finish last season.
"My wife told me most hotels don't have a 13th floor. And (2010) was my 13th year, so I should have skipped it. Some people thought I did (laughter). But it didn't work well. So we're starting over on year 14."
The Longhorns were picked fifth in the Big 12 in the preseason media poll.
"You all (media) make our players mad daily," Brown said. "And you motivate them first. One of them told me last night: 'Do you know they picked us fifth in the league?' I don't know that. I do now. Thank you for reminding me."
Player interviews begin at 2 p.m., so stay tuned throughout the day.
12:43 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Baylor coach Art Briles spoke earlier about the Bears, who finished 7-6 last season and made an appearance in a bowl game for the first time since 1994, trying to avoid being a one-hit wonder, like the infamous Vanilla Ice (you're welcome):
12:32 p.m. update: By Matt Tait
Texas A&M Wide receiver Jeff Fuller, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior from McKinney, Texas, was asked about how good the wide receivers were in the Big 12.
He said, in no uncertain terms, that they were great and then mentioned a couple. First, he singled out OSU's Justin Blackmon and OU's Ryan Broyles. He then even mentioned a couple of other guys on his own team.
So where does Fuller fall in? He was asked that very question and wasn't too worried about the answer.
"I kind of leave that up to you guys to decide who's the best."
Color me a Fuller fan.
More to come...
12:20 p.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was asked about the Tigers' new starting quarterback this season, sophomore quarterback James Franklin. He was the backup last season to Blaine Gabbert, who was selected by the Jaguars in April's NFL Draft.
"James is a really good athlete, at 6-3, 225 (pounds)," Pinkel said. "People ask me to compare him to Brad Smith. Brad is a leaner, more extreme athlete. James has great movement, can extend the play, can do damage in running game. We haven't really had that since Brad Smith. He has a good arm, has good touch and has a lot going for him."
Pinkel has done a solid job of molding quarterbacks these last few years between Smith, Chase Daniel and Gabbert. Franklin is young, but MU returns four of five offensive linemen, who should make the transition a smoother one.
11:56 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Interesting tidbit: Texas coach Mack Brown spoke about the Longhorn Network perhaps working against his program. View the video below:
11:47 a.m. update: By Matt Tait
A lot of the talk from Texas A&M camp was about senior QB Ryan Tannehill and his status as the clear-cut starter heading into this season.
Last year, Tannehill split time at WR and QB and started just six games under center. Despite his inexperience, A&M coach Mike Sherman believes 100 percent in his QB's ability and he's looking forward to watching him lead the Aggies on the field.
"He's got all the tools we're looking for," Sherman said. "He's extremely competitive, highly confident in his ability and he's a tremendous leader."
Never was that more evident than during the offseason when Tannehill used his power of persuasion to entice wide receiver Jeff Fuller to return to A&M for another season instead of leaving for the NFL.
"I sent him a text every day just trying to nudge him to come back," Tannehill said. "He's a great player and it's huge for me to have a weapon like that down the field."
Tannehill wasn't the only one sending those texts. Fuller said he heard from several teammates and even his parents on the matter. When asked if he ever asked any of them to leave him alone, Fuller smiled and said, "I'd never tell 'em to leave me alone."
More to come...
11:35 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Below is video of Baylor junior quarterback Robert Griffin speaking about the similarities between him and teammate Robert T. Griffin, a 6-foot-6, 335-pound senior offensive lineman. At one point as a high school athlete, the talented quarterback Griffin wasn't even ranked by Rivals.com:
11:20 a.m. update: By Matt Tait
While a good chunk of the talk has been and will continue to be about the ongoing feud between Texas and Texas A&M and how it will shape the future of the conference, UT coach Mack Brown took time out to answer plenty of questions about last year's rough season in which the Longhorns finished 5-7 and missed a bowl.
Of the challenge of bouncing back, Brown said: "Sometimes you need to get kicked in the face to wake up. We've been one of the top teams in America and last year we weren't. The challenge for us is to get to work and make sure we get there again. It's a fun time for us, a challenging time for us. And it's time to get to work."
Like UT or hate UT, you gotta appreciate the way Mack Brown answers questions.
More to come...
11:10 a.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Not surprisingly, the first question to Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman on Day 1 of Big 12 media days concerned his thoughts on the Longhorn Network airing high school football games. The fourth-year Texas A&M coach didn't really take a side on the issue.
"I've got enough on my plate to get my team ready to play," Sherman said at the Westin Galleria in Dallas. "There will be half a million Aggies watching it. Truthfully, I'm just focused on what I have to do. I'm focused on my job and winning the first ballgame. I'm sure you guys can sort that one out yourselves."
Questions regarding the Longhorn network probably won't go away today and Tuesday. Stay tuned. More coming soon from coaches who take the podium, including Baylor's Art Briles (11:20 a.m.), Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy (11:40 a.m.), Missouri's Gary Pinkel (noon) and Texas' Mack Brown (12:20 p.m.).
10:44 a.m. update: By Matt Tait
Big 12 coordinator of officials Walt Anderson wraps up rules talk with the following statement: "We will continue to place an emphasis on hits on defenseless players."
We could not confirm whether he was talking directly to KU cornerback Isiah Barfield, but those KU fans dying for football to get here might enjoy looking back at this hit. Flag or no flag.
10:25 a.m. update: By Matt Tait
Day 1 getting off to a slow start. No teams in the print room yet. They're all off doing TV and radio stuff. Our own Jesse Newell is in there with the big boy cameras getting what he can get. Check back throughout the day for videos from Newell. Should be some good stuff.
Texas coach Mack Brown unofficially got things started today by stepping to the podium around 9:40 for a live interview with ESPN's SportsCenter. Brown was pretty loose and personable throughout but I couldn't help but notice how funny it was that Texas cut in line to kick things off. Hey, it's their conference, right?
First team to step to the podium will be Texas A&M around 11 a.m. They'll be followed by Baylor, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas. After that players will be available for one-on-one's from 2-3 p.m. and head coaches again from 3-4 p.m.
Big 12 coordinator of officials, Walt Anderson, is talking now about the rule changes for the 2011 season. Incredibly, and probably appropriately, he kicked off his presentation with a look back at the infamous K-State salute that cost the Wildcats in last year's Pinstripe Bowl.
Anderson said the rule hasn't changed, just the language so that something like that must be made in the direction of an opponent for it to be flagged. Good change. Poor Cats.
Stay tuned for more as the teams step to the podium.
Original post: By Eric Sorrentino
Dallas — Texas A&M and Oklahoma State have plans to dethrone the defending Big 12 football champion Oklahoma Sooners, who have won four of the past five league crowns. Texas is on a quest to prove it belongs back in the race for conference supremacy. Missouri's defense should give it a chance to be in every game as the Tigers attempt to reach double-digit win totals for the fourth time in five years. Baylor, fresh off its first bowl appearance since 1994, flaunts arguably the most electrifying quarterback in college football in Robert Griffin.
Adding to the intrigue of recent Big 12 storylines, Texas A&M already doesn't like how the Longhorn Network is choosing to televise high school football games. Will the Aggies flirt with the pretty girl in the nice dress and think about leaving for the SEC, thus creating another rumor thunderstorm that threatens the Big 12's existence?
Welcome to KUsports.com's live coverage of Big 12 football media days, live from the Westin Galleria in Dallas. College football is back.
The above storylines will surely be addressed and discussed today, when Texas A&M (11 a.m.), Baylor (11:20 a.m.), Oklahoma State (11:40 a.m.) Missouri (noon) and Texas (12:20 p.m.) take the podium at Big 12 media days. Player representatives will speak from 2-3 p.m. today.
The rest of the conference will meet with the media on Tuesday. That includes Kansas and coach Turner Gill, who's scheduled to speak at 11:20 a.m. on Day 2.
It should be interesting to listen to what Texas A&M and Oklahoma State have to say about contending for the Big 12 title. The last time a school not named Oklahoma or Texas won the league was 2003. Remember who that was?
Texas A&M has competed in two Big 12 championships and won in 1998. Oklahoma State has never competed for a Big 12 title. Both have top 10-caliber squads entering the 2011 season. The unfortunate part for the Aggies and Cowboys: OU isn't going anywhere. The Sooners are loaded with talent and could enter the fall ranked No. 1 in the country.
This season, of course, won't have a conference championship game with Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) in different leagues. The formula, then, is pretty simple: The best regular season record in the Big 12 will win the league and earn the conference's automatic BCS bowl berth. The only question left to ask: Who will it be?
I'll be posting live today from the Westin Galleria alongside KUsports.com online editor Jesse Newell (Twitter @jessenewell) and KU football beat writer Matt Tait (Twitter @mctait). All three of us will have fresh updates throughout both days of the proceedings. My Twitter account is @Big12_Spotlight. Hit us up with questions and comments at any time and we'll do our best to get back to you.
Be back on with updates all day, so keep it locked on KUsports.com. And as always, discuss.