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Big 12 Football: Baylor content to stay with soft non-conference schedule

BIG 12 NOTEBOOK — Baylor coach Art Briles responded to a question on whether he planned to upgrade the Bears’ non-league schedule in light of the College Football Playoff selection process by citing the need to “go unscathed”
by Berry Tramel Published: July 21, 2014

photo - Baylor head coach Art Briles looks at a helmet while speaking to reporters during the NCAA college Big 12 Conference football media days in Dallas, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Baylor head coach Art Briles looks at a helmet while speaking to reporters during the NCAA college Big 12 Conference football media days in Dallas, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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