Monday, July 16, 2019
Arlington, Tx. – Five of the Big 12’s ten head coaches addressed the media from the midfield stage at AT&T Stadium throughout the day Monday. Of the five, two of them made their debuts at the conference’s media days, with the remaining two new head coaches taking the stage at midfield Tuesday.
The new Kansas Head Coach Les Miles took the stage immediately following the remarks from Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. It goes without saying that this is not Coach Miles’s first rodeo for media days, albeit he’s had a few yers off from the limelight (minus his foray into podcasts briefly). Coach Miles started off by saying how appreciative he was to be in back coaching in the Big 12 and here in AT&T Stadium, given its rich history and presence in the football world.
Coach Miles addressed arguably the biggest elephant in the room for his Jayhawks team, the Pooka Williams situation. “First of all, there is no proper way to put it, there is no violence, violence will not be accepted with women, period,” Coach Miles stated. “Action was taken immediately. We felt like a strong point was the made not only with Pooka Williams Jr, but with the team . . . We’re thankful to have him back, and, again, no violence against a woman is okay. I did not make this decision, but I stand by it and see it as a right one.”
Coach Miles went on to say that he is ready and eager to take on the task of coaching the Jayhawks and was later asked how it felt being back in the game at 65 years old. Coach Miles gave a touching response referring to his family’s love of the game, including his daughter who traveled to Arlington with him.
“Last few years on Saturday afternoons, my eldest daughter who is here, we would run from bedroom to bedroom and living room to den to see different games that were played and talked about decisions that were made . . . it put me in a constant touch with the game I truly love,” Miles said. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt better in my life than when I took a team to the field . . For me it was go get yourself a good job, go out there and win some games and we will be right alongside and that’s one of the reasons.”
TCU Horned Frogs Head Coach Gary Patterson took the stage as one of the veteran Big 12 coaches making their appearance Monday morning. Coach Patterson opened with a joke regarding the proximity of AT&T Stadium to his office, thanking Jerry Jones for his approximately 17 minute commute, turning serious for the crowd as he stated that he and his team are excited for the start of the season.
Coach Patterson is eager to make improvements upon where his team was last year as he looks toward this season, stating “Watching them and how they’ve grown up. I think you will see that with the young guys I brought with me today. I think when you go through what we had to do being 3-5 and being able to win four out of five at the end of the season, it wasn’t pretty. So held a lot of those guys out in the spring,” Patterson said. “I think we had 11, 12, 13 starters that didn’t go through spring, so I’m probably as excited about it as anybody as far as getting back into it.”
Taking the stage next was the hairstyle everyone was most eager to see, Oklahoma State Head Coach Mike Gundy. Coach Gundy’s eagerness and enthusiasm for his upcoming season was prevalent right from the start. “I’m more excited and looking forward to a season than I ever have been before in a long, long time. So can’t wait to get started.”
Coach Gundy went on to relate coaching a team to the similarities of raising children, and how his older children feel the youngest gets away with more; a parallel to how at times last season the mullet-donning coach let more slide in practice, or a game, than he did in years or seasons past.
Finally, Coach Gundy rounded out his session with some light humor, highlighting his personality at its best when asked about the talent opponent Oklahoma has seen at quarterback over the last several season,
“They’ve got good players. The last couple of years they’ve had average quarterback play and they’ve overcome it,” Gundy remarked. “So they’ve been very successful and somebody’s got to take it from them.”
New Head Coach Matt Wells of the Texas Tech Red Raiders was the second to last to take the stage on Monday. Coach Wells is making his Big 12 coaching debut this year alongside Miles, Klieman and Brown as new coaches on the block.
Coach Wells took the stage with an overall sense of excitement and readiness to take on the new season. “Our players, I respect our players and the changes that they have gone through since December first when we got there. The biggest thing for us is we get into August for us is a brand new program, transitioning into our program, taking it from one level to the next and the work that we have done over the summer,” Coach Wells said. “I know we’ve worked hard but 18 days from now, August 2nd needs to be practice 16 coming out of spring ball and I’m excited about the work that we got coming up in August.”
Coach Wells went on to tell the media that Alan Bowman is fully cleared, ready to go and healthy for the fall. “Full, completely cleared, healthy, went through all of spring. I’m looking forward to coaching Alan these next three years. He’s a football junky. He’s passionate about what he does. I respect his grind,” Wells said. “He’s got a great attitude, first player I met there about the minute we touched down in Lubbock and was wanting to watch cut-ups of Utah State and what we were going to do on offense.”
Rounding out Monday’s forum of coaches was Oklahoma Sooners Head Coach Lincoln Riley. Coach Riley took the stage and followed suit by pointing out his excitement and eagerness for the upcoming season. Coach Riley pointed out that his team has a few changes going into the fall.
“A lot of changes on our football team obviously that have really got us reenergized and primed to make a run here in 2019. Start with the defense, probably the biggest change in our defensive program is bringing in Alex Grinch as our defensive coordinator, new scheme defensively,” Coach Riley remarked. “A lot of new faces on the offensive side of the football with obviously having a new quarterback this year, four new offensive linemen, but return quite a few skilled guys around those players. Should be a great year.”
Coach Riley was asked about the first game of the Sooners season come fall, a game that many Mountaineers fans will look to with mixed emotions; the Sooners face Houston and former West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “Houston is a really good football team. Has been a really good program for the last several years, have a lot of respect for the players they have, one of the best returning quarterbacks in the country, without a doubt, and a lot of talented players around him,” RIley said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Holgorsen. We have known each other for a long time. We’ve coached against each other here for a number of years. He does a tremendous job.”
Coach Riley’s conference closed out the morning session of day one of Media Days. The afternoon brought about breakout sessions with each of the teams and their respective players who traveled to AT&T Stadium. Day two will bring the remaining five teams and West Virginia’s own Coach Neal Brown and his players.