Some people may think the NFL news earlier today meant the return of football, but for Big 12 diehards, the season started in a Dallas hotel ballroom this morning.
Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas kicked off the festivities by having their head coaches appear on stage with select players answering questions to various print, radio and TV media. Not surprisingly, questions about the internal strife within the conference dominated the day's action, even though most coaches tried to steer the conversation back to what's happening on the field. (Interesting to note that one reporter tweeted that the A&M and Baylor contingent refused to speak to the Longhorn Network. HT: Land Thieves.)
Most coaches spouted the usual:
- We're happy to be here.
- We had great workouts this summer.
- We're looking forward to a great season.
The evening festivities were highlighted by an outsourced show held by conference commissioner Dan Beebe – a pep rally party for administrators, guests and invited reporters. In case you hadn't guessed, the show stressed conference unity and members' commitment to a long term-partnership.
The league took the opportunity to unveil its new slogan: "How We Play." (Criticism won't be offered here, but suggestions for a better option will be taken in the comments. Please take a shot; it's almost too easy.)
Other important notes from the first day:
*Every coach was asked his opinion of the Longhorn Network, and each typically toed the company line. Almost all used some variation of "I trust (Athletic Director) and (University President) to work things out."
Except Gary Pinkel, who had this gem: "To me, there's no common sense there."
*At the end of the evening reception, all of the head coaches were brought out in a show of unity. Nine of the 10 coaches were present, the lone exception being Tommy Tuberville. Interestingly, everyone wore a suit but Mack Brown, who sported a burnt orange polo.
*Beebe commented that the league is not looking at re-branding its logo or considering expansion at this time.
Baylor coach Art Briles is really high on new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. The former head guy at SMU should give the Bears D a big boost this fall. Briles mentioned him more than a few times in his interview.
*The Longhorn Network question was beat to death, but Mack's thoughts were actually most interesting. Texas' head coach said he was having a tough time drawing the line between exclusive access and giving away too many secrets. I wonder if this comes back to bite him the butt after conference foes get a look at his practices and scrimmages through the LHN.
*More Mack. On needing better quarterback play: "We want somebody who can get the swagger back." Wonder who that will be?
*Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman reminded the media that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has really only started six games in his career. No word on whether or not he's on the replacement plan that the last three Aggie quarterbacks (Jerrod Johnson, Stephen McGee, Reggie McNeil) have subscribed to.
Tomorrow Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech will face the media with the Sooners finishing things off. We'll finally hear from Bob Stoops and player representatives Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones and Travis Lewis.