Big 12 Media Days wrapped up in Dallas Tuesday, and I’m (almost) finished sorting through numerous interviews from OSU and the other Big 12 teams.
Here are some random observations from OSU’s time going through the media gauntlet:
The Cowboys did not walk in basking in their Big 12 championship glory. They did not wear their rings, much to Richetti Jones’ disappointment. They also were asked more about replacing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and having a true freshman at quarterback than anything that happened last season. Cooper Bassett was fine with that, deflecting reigning champs talk by saying they hadn’t yet made any tackles or posted any wins in 2012. But he also noted that, if you go off of the preseason Big 12 poll, the Cowboys overachieved in both 2010 (when they were picked to finish second-to-last in the Big 12 South) and 2011 (when they were picked to finish third behind Texas A&M and Oklahoma).
“We have a knack and thoroughly enjoy proving people wrong,” Bassett said. “So this year, we hope to prove a lot of people wrong that say we’re going to finish in the middle of the Big 12.”
Joseph Randle is ready to be the spokesman of this team. He was part media trained, making sure teammates got credit when any reporter brought up his gaudy stats from a year ago. But he was still candid and honest when describing (read: raving about) Lunt’s performance during summer 7-on-7 workouts. He was even entertaining. He imitated fans he encountered at K-State in 2010 who were mad he didn’t stay home for college. And during one of the local television interview sessions, his side of the room busted out laughing. I don’t know what he said, but it must have been funny. His ESPN appearance on Friday is going to be a big moment for him, and I think he’ll handle it well.
Bassett and Lane Taylor also both proved to be great quotes, as usual. They shared some fun stories about their summer, which I will share with you later this week on this blog.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen talked about being a head coach of the offensive side of the ball when he was a coordinator. Less than an hour later, Mike Gundy used the exact same term in describing his offensive and defensive coordinators. Something tells me that’s not a coincidence.
Gundy had some hilarious moments involving mascots. First, the West Virginia Mountaineer started yelling loudly in the middle of Gundy’s print press conference. The coach didn’t flinch and later said, “That was a pressure situation. I hope Wes Lunt handles it that well.” Then, he got a fist bump from the TCU’s SuperFrog during a side session with reporters. Gundy thought it was “Wally” (Willie, actually) the Wildcat from KSU.
On Monday, almost every coach was asked about the NCAA sanctions at Penn State that had come down that morning. By Tuesday, the topic from that incident had switched to how coaches will handle recruiting those players, who are now essentially free agents. Gundy gave a mixed answer, saying most of those kids are likely from the East Coast but that if an opportunity presented itself, he’d probably consider it.
A bit lost in the Media Days madness was that OSU commit Luke Del Rio was named an Elite 11 Quarterback Sunday night, the highest honor for a high school signal-caller. Then on Tuesday, the Cowboys got a commitment from Jaxon Salinas, a two-star offensive lineman from Irving, Texas. OSU is now up to 15 commitments.
I didn’t hear a word come out of Charlie Weis’ or Art Briles’ mouth, because I was chasing Cowboys all day. But after that super-awkward situation with Mack Brown bringing a ton of the cheerleaders into his presser to “answer the tough questions,” I was OK with getting out of that room for much of the day. That was just weird.
On a total personal note, I had forgotten how entertaining it is to take a road trip with Berry Tramel. On the way back to the 405, we somehow started sharing wedding stories. He claims he’s been to 200 of them. As he would say, “Can’t make this stuff up.”
More to come later…