DALLAS — Defending Big 12 champion Baylor plays SMU, Buffalo and Northwestern (La.) State in the non-conference. And don’t expect the Bears to beef up their schedule anytime soon. Baylor does not have a game scheduled in the future with an opponent from a fellow major conference.
“The way I've looked at it is, you want to get in the Final Four and win the Big 12 and go unscathed,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “You do that, you go 9-0 in the Big 12, you're going to be in the Final Four because you're going to beat probably two top-10 teams, probably two others in the top 20, and maybe another top 25, which is what we faced last year. That's a resumé that's good enough to match any other conference.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he wouldn’t comment on any specific schedule “but everyone has heard me say that if you’re sitting on a No. 5 ranking and you had a weak non-conference schedule, you’ll be in real jeopardy of not making the playoffs. They’ve all heard us talk about that.”
Bowlsby said the Big 12 is not likely to set a mandate of at least one game against a fellow major-conference opponent.
FEMALE OFFICIAL TO WORK KU GAME
For the first time, a female official will work a Big 12 football game. Catherine Conti is on the crew for the Sept. 6 Kansas-Southeast Missouri State game.
“I'll try to watch my language,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “I believe in the old-fashioned way, so I'll try not to use as many bad words, but it means nothing to me. It's great that a woman is put in position where she'll be on equal footing with the men, and if I said (anything) other than that I'd be in trouble with my wife.”
Bowlsby said Conti earned her way to the assignment.
“She is not there because she is a female,” Bowlsby said. “She is there because she’s paid her dues and because she is a really outstanding football official.”
Conti worked a Southland Conference game last year. This year, she’ll be a regular in the Southland, becoming just the second female official to be on the roster of officials for a Division I league. Conference USA’s Sarah Thomas is the other.
BIG 12 HOSTING FORUM ON STATE OF COLLEGE ATHLETICS
The Big 12 is hosting the “State of College Athletics Forum” in New York on Aug. 6. Bowlsby said the forum is “intended to be a more thorough and robust vetting of some of the issues that are currently in place in college athletics.”
NBC broadcaster Jimmy Roberts will moderate the forum. The panel will include athletic directors John Currie of Kansas State, Steve Patterson of Texas and Oliver Luck of West Virginia; media members Kevin Blackistone, Armen Keteyian and Juliet Macur; Baylor president Kenneth Starr; Donna Lopiano, founder of Sports Management Resources and a pioneer in women’s sports administration; and former Texas tailback Selvin Young.
“We have tried to assemble a group of individuals as panelists that have widely divergent views, and we think that there will be a lively debate on the issues,” Bowlsby said.
TECH’S WEBB ENTRECHED
Davis Webb battled fellow true freshman Baker Mayfield for the Texas Tech quarterback job last August — and lost. Mayfield started the first five games but then was injured and Webb took over.
Webb started five games then was injured himself and Mayfield started the final two regular-season games. But Webb started the Holiday Bowl, a 37-23 victory over Arizona State, and returns in 2014 as the entrenched starter.
“I've been excited for Davis, to watch the progress he had,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Having not been named a starter, he never pouted, never shut it down, just kept working. He knew he would get his chance. When he did, he made the most of it.”
Davis completed 62.6 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
“Statistically as a true freshman he had a pretty amazing year,” Kingsbury said. “Just have to cut down on the turnovers. And that's something that he really did a good job of in the spring. He's earned everything he's gotten.”
TCU GETS 5 HOME GAMES
Thanks to a scheduling quirk, TCU has had just four conference home games in each of its first two Big 12 seasons. Now the Horned Frogs finally get five conference home games.
TCU coach Gary Patterson actually is more fired up that TCU has 10 games in the state of Texas. The Horned Frogs leave the state only for games at West Virginia and Kansas.
“For us, the thing is most teams when they go into a new conference they struggle on the road, and that's where we play the best,” Patterson said. “So for us, we've got to get back to controlling and protecting the Carter (Stadium) and being able to play at home and win. I think it’s a big deal for us and play 10 in the state of Texas this season where your fans can all travel to.”
In two seasons, TCU is 5-5 on the road in conference play but 1-7 at home, with the lone victory over Kansas.
ALTERNATIVE CAREER FOR GUNDY
Kingsbury has been the league’s heartthrob since becoming the Texas Tech coach 18 months ago. But TCU’s Patterson said watch out for OSU’s Mike Gundy.
“I told him he looked so well, I knew what he could be doing later on,” Patterson said. “He could model, he looks so good. He’s in the wrong business. I think he’s trying to keep up with Kliff, to be honest with you.”
BRILES BACKS OFF
Last season at Big 12 Media Days, Briles said the Big 12 was “the best league in America without question.” Monday, Briles wasn’t near as certain, though he was certainly positive about the league.
“I think it’s great,” Briles said. “Name me two leagues that are better. You might could name one, but on a week-in, week-out basis with the top-ranked teams and then, although we didn’t do well in the bowl game, but bowl outcomes. Name me two.
“I ain’t got them. I might could throw one out there and then if those people round-robin’d it, there’d be a bunch more bruises on some bodies. I can tell you that right now.”
WEIS: DROPBACK QBS ‘EXPOSED’
Weis entered the college coaching ranks at Notre Dame with a superiority complex, intimating that he could outfox defenses with his New England Patriots background. But after two seasons at Kansas, during which the Jayhawks have gone a combined 4-20, Weis is surrendering. He’s going to a spread offense and in the spring named sophomore Montrell Cozart the Jayhawk starter.
“I think with the nature of the offense we've been running the last couple of years, I think the true dropback quarterbacks have been exposed,” Weis said. “And that's one of the reasons why I changed what we're doing. When you have a true dropback quarterback when you're playing with marginal offensive line, playing with marginal wide receivers, when you're playing marginal every position except for running back, you get exposed.
“And I think that changing the mentality on offense. Going to a more spread out, wide‑open offense with an athletic quarterback, hides a lot of sins. And I think I've seen a lot of other people do it with high efficiency and I know the bottom line is if we don't score more points, we're not going to win games. “
BOWLSBY COOL ON 4-YEAR SCHOLARSHIPS
The University of Southern California recently announced it would offer four-year scholarships to athletes. NCAA scholarships historically have been one-year agreements. But Bowlsby said the Big 12 is not quite ready to commit to such a policy.
“I don't know that we want to get out in front of it until we know what some of the court cases are going to dictate and once we see a few more of the cards on the table,” Bowlsby said. “I think a multiple‑year scholarship is a mutual commitment. It's one that I think we will get to. I doubt that we get to it on a conference‑by‑conference basis. I think we'll end up with a more national rule than that.
“But I think there certainly is a case to be made for multiple‑year scholarships. There's also a case to be made for individual responsibilities, too. And I think part of that has to be a well‑enunciated process by which the institution can say: ‘Young man or young woman, you're not meeting your obligations.’ So there needs to be an opportunity for extrication on both ends of that.”
WIDE RECEIVER U.
Baylor is fast-becoming Wide Receiver U. The Bears’ Kendall Wright had a 1,000-yard receiving season for the Tennessee Titans. Terrance Williams had a promising rookie year with the Dallas Cowboys. Josh Gordon had a monster season for the Cleveland Browns, though he’s been suspended for the 2014 NFL season. Tevin Reese was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in May.
Now Baylor returns all-Big 12 receiver Antwan Goodley, who had 71 catches and 1,339 yards for the Bears last season.
Goodley says the Baylor receivers want to uphold their new tradition.
“They made a name for themselves in the league, they’ve been producing,” Goodley said of his predecessors. “So who wouldn’t want a Baylor receiver?”