The Most Interesting Things Heard On Day One At Big XII Media Days

Big 12 Big XII

The start of the college football season is littered with checkpoints, and the first major milestones are the respective conference media days. The Big XII kicked off the first of their two-day media affair on Wednesday. The head coaches from Baylor, BYU, Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Texas all took to the podium on day one, answering questions and providing updates on their respective teams.

The topics ranged from expansion, NIL, depth charts, and a whole bunch more. Here are the most interesting things each of the seven head coaches who spoke on Wednesday had to say.

Dave Aranda – Baylor

On the recent passing of his father Paul: “I went and saw my dad when I first heard that he had cancer, and my dad and I have always – it’s always been a great relationship. He was never really someone that would say openly, ‘I love you.’ I always knew that he did, though.

“I remember when he called me and told me that he had pancreatic cancer and it was stage 4, I told him that I loved him and he didn’t say it back. I don’t know if he heard me. So I wanted to go and say it to him face to face. I was able to do that. He gave me a big hug. I don’t know, when you’re hugging and everything, you feel like, hey, this is a good hug, and he wouldn’t let me go, and he kept [holding] really strong and he told me that he loved me. I’m so glad that we had that moment because I know a lot of folks don’t have that.”

Kalani Sitake – BYU

On the adjustment of moving to a conference from being an Independent: “I mean, I’ve been through this before, and so have our offensive coordinator and our defensive coordinator when we were at Utah. So we went through that transition from Mountain West Conference team to the Pac-12, and I’ve also seen other teams that have made the transition. Like you look at TCU and what they’ve done.

“There’s information and things that you can see that are out there that people that have done it before, and what you try to do is you try to do what they did well and then lean on the experiences. I know we’re at BYU so it’s a little bit different and unique, but I need to find ways to turn that uniqueness into a strength for us and make sure it’s a competitive advantage when we get on the field.”

Dana Holgorsen – Houston

On the current quarterback battle between Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith and sophomore Lucas Coley: “Yeah, it’s funny, I was talking with Case Keenum the other day, and I asked him about competition. Back when we were here in 2008, Blake Joseph and Case Keenum were battling back and forth. I asked him the importance of when you name a starter, and he goes, ‘I wouldn’t. Just let them compete, because if they compete, it makes them better, and then it should take care of itself.’

“I’m not concerned with it right now. They’ve been 50/50, and we knew they were going to be 50/50, and they’re going to continue to be 50/50 until one just makes it clear. So I think that’s going to naturally take care of itself. I’m a big proponent of letting kids compete.”

Lance Leipold – Kansas

On starting quarterback Jalon Daniels and his gradual return to full health and what he brings to the program: “He’s making all the throws, everything that we need him to be. I think the one thing we sometimes forget about Jalon and everything he brings to our program, he’s an Academic All-American. What we put on his plate and what we ask him to do and whether it be just things in our offense, retaining the information, verbalizing it back to others, getting others lined up, I think he does an outstanding job.

“As we know, everybody has had a chance to see when he’s healthy what he does as a dual-threat quarterback. I think the other thing is his leadership abilities, his charisma. He’s a guy that doesn’t get too high or too low. Again, I’ve said it from the start when he burned his redshirt our first year, he’s a special man and a special individual.”

Mike Gundy – Oklahoma State

On if he would entertain playing Oklahoma in a non-conference game when the Sooners leave the Big XII after this season: “No. We have nine conference games scheduled, and then we have, I think, through 15 years, we’re scheduled all the way up, and we’re full for the most part, and we have Power Five teams. I’m going to go back to what I said earlier. Oklahoma State is not going to change what we do because Oklahoma chose to go to the SEC. They need to change what they do because they’re the ones that made their mind up to go to the SEC.

“So with all the talk from administration and people saying that Oklahoma State needs to do this and that, all Oklahoma had to do was not go to the SEC. So it is what it is. We can cut right to the chase. For me, I want to listen to the board. I’ll listen to the president. I’ll listen to the AD if that’s something they want to do. I’m good. But I don’t think it’s going to happen based on the way the scheduling is. Everybody needs to realize, it didn’t have to happen if they didn’t change leagues.”

Sonny Dykes – TCU

On the process of hiring Kendall Briles as TCU’s offensive coordinator and the due diligence he did regarding the decision: “You know, you go back and you look at kind of what happened at Baylor. I was a young head coach when those things were happening, and so I followed it.

“I had worked with Art prior at Texas Tech as an assistant and knew him a long time as a high school coach. The thing that I always try to do is learn from situations. So when all that happened at Baylor, the thing I tried to do was, okay, let’s make sure this never happens in my program, and how can I go about doing that, how can I learn from mistakes that were made. I think that we all want to do that.

“I think that colleges across the board, whether it’s Title IX, reporting, everything has gotten better because of what occurred there. I did a lot of homework in that, and I talked to a lot of people that were directly involved in that situation to learn from it, and that was a number of years ago, and then had a chance to see guys move on from there and see how they did, if they had any issues that plagued them moving forward. Certainly all of those things were things I considered when I hired Kendall.

“I knew it was going to be an unpopular hire in some ways because of some things that had happened, but at the same time, I was very confident from knowing Kendall from the time he was 13 years old and just talking to people that were directly involved in that situation. There was a tremendous amount of due diligence. A number of years ago when I was at SMU I did a lot of due diligence, as well, talked to a lot of people that were directly involved at Baylor and saw it and tried to learn from those mistakes, and then obviously as we got down the road hiring him. I feel really good about the hire.”

Steve Sarkisian – Texas

How does this team compare to his first team now that he is in Year Three with a couple of his own recruiting classes on the roster: “Yeah, something that in my opinion we’ve got now going into year three is I think we’ve got really quality competitive depth on our roster across the board. That our players know when they go to practice every day, the guy in the same line as them, whether he’s behind them or in front of them, is probably as equally talented as him, if not better.

“So now how do I continue to work to strive to be motivated to continue to get better, because I think when you’re surrounded by like-minded people, that’s what pushes you to become even better. Then ultimately when you go to practice, that the guy lining up across from you is a quality player and a quality opponent, and so again, that’s pushing you to be the best that you can be but that you do it out of respect.

“I was talking to the team earlier today about how proud I am of the culture they’ve developed. It’s one thing for me to come in and have an idea of a culture and what I want it to look like and for them to buy into it. It’s another to not just buy into it but to elevate it. I think that’s what they’ve done. This team is different. They have a different look in their eye. They look different on the hoof.”