FLASHY BAYLOR HELMET CREATES BUZZ
Baylor's glittering new stadium, which opens in 2014, was a popular topic with coach Art Briles Tuesday.
But before the stadium even came up, the Bears' new metallic-gold helmet created plenty of buzz.
The new lid could be viewed as a meaningless piece of equipment. But in the day and age of wild college football uniforms, Briles is pleased his team remains on the cutting edge.
“I've seen people up here hurt their neck looking back and wondering what was coming at them,” he said. “That's huge. And thank goodness we have people bold enough in our administration and our board of regents that they're not saying, ‘Coach, I don't know…'
“We don't have people walking on glass and wondering if it's gonna break or not. We've got people who are visionaries … that are proactive about being trendsetters. Nobody's gonna follow somebody that did it 15 years ago, not a 16-year-old. But they'll jump on board today if they like what's happening.”
Of course, the shiny stadium and shiny helmets come at a perfect time. Baylor is coming off three straight bowl seasons, including 10-3 and 8-5 records the last two years, and now the Bears are picked fifth in the Big 12. They received the first two first-place votes in the Baylor's Big 12 history.
“I don't know how many people vote, I guess 25,” Briles said (actually 43). “I was wondering why those other 23 didn't believe in us. It just shows, I think, that we're gaining some respect. We're certainly not where we need to be or want to be or going to be, but we got one foot out of the water and on the land. We're gaining ground.
“That's what we'll continue to keep doing by recruiting good kids, coaching them hard, and letting them play hard on Saturdays.”
IOWA STATE BENEFITTED FROM UNORTHODOX SCHEDULE
Iowa State has a funky schedule to open the season. Until Oct. 12-19, the Cyclones have no back-to-back Saturday games.
But ISU coach Paul Rhoads isn't complaining too loudly. He knows what a game on a non-Saturday can do for a program's profile. His 2011 Cyclones upset second-ranked OSU 37-31 in double overtime on a November Friday night that still is paying dividends for Iowa State.
“It was a national stage that recruits, that fans of the game, that fans of Iowa State got to see in all parts of the country,” Rhoads said. “What that really did for us is gave us instant national recognition.
“I don't think some folks in some parts probably recognized Iowa State football as being capable of playing on the national stage, and then I would say, without a doubt, it's the biggest victory in the history of our program.
“So now to walk in as a recruiter or just an ambassador of the university has been magnified several times fold with that victory.”
This season, Iowa State hosts Texas on a Thursday night, Oct. 3.
“The national exposure without a doubt is fantastic for our university, for recruiting efforts, and so forth,” Rhoads said. “Here in 2013, it's what it is. There's some trade in there, and you've got to trade the good for the bad, so to speak, but it is going to create challenges.”
TEXAS SWITCH TO UP-TEMPO OFFENSE TO BENEFIT…DEFENSE?
Texas has switched to an up-tempo spread offense, with Brown highlighting Ash's experience allowing the Longhorns to run that style of system.
But Brown actually thinks the change will most benefit his defense.
“Last year I saw, during the season in our league, defenses having trouble getting defensive calls in the game because nobody was substituting and the ball was being snapped so quickly,” Brown said. “I also saw that players were getting very tired across our league on defense, big guys were having trouble rushing the passer, they were having trouble getting out of the game because people weren't substituting.
“We felt like it was a real disadvantage to our defense that they didn't get to see tempo at any time during practice. They handled it much better this spring because they saw it every day.
IOWA STATE'S WASHINGTON TRIMS DOWN
Iowa State senior defensive back Jacques Washington has transformed his body since the end of last season.
“I've cut my body fat down,” Washington, the senior from Owasso, said. “I've lost a lot of weight, taking care of my body better, stretching and just really trying to stay healthy.”
Washington started all 13 games last season, finishing with 90 tackles and three interceptions.
Washington was one of two former Rams standouts at media days, joining Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin.
“It shows what type of team we had,” Washington said. “Owasso is becoming a powerhouse in Oklahoma. Hopefully they'll turn the corner and win a state championship.”