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Big 12 notes: Baylor still swinging for the fences

By Dave Hickman, Staff writer
AP photo
An Iowa State cheerleader poses with team mascots during the Big 12 Conference football media days.

DALLAS — Baylor won its first conference championship in 33 years in 2013 and when the Big 12 media days began here Monday, the Bears were still first.

No, not in the preseason poll. There they were second behind Oklahoma.

But Baylor coach Art Briles was the first of the league’s 10 coaches to appear at the podium in the main interview hall.

“I guess we’re batting leadoff today,’’ Briles said. “I don’t know what the commissioner expected, but we’re not going to try to bunt or get a single. I promise you that. We’re swinging for the fence. So maybe he should have put us fourth because that’s just the way we approach the game.’’

In other words, just because Baylor is fresh off a championship, don’t expect complacency.

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Once again, Kansas was a clear-cut choice in the preseason poll to finish last. That would usually bring some sort of smart remark from third-year coach Charlie Weis, and so when he was asked if he could put a number on the wins that would make his team a success, he was succinct.

“Yes, I can,’’ Weis said without elaborating.

And so there was the follow: But you won’t?

“No, I won’t,’’ he said.

“I agree with you that your team’s expectations must be clearly defined, but we haven’t done a thing in the two years I’ve been here. We won one game two years ago, we won three games last year, we won one game in the conference, we haven’t won a game on the road. For me to get up here and say these are what my expectations are for you, I’m just not very — I’m not very smart. But our team very clearly knows what our expectations are. There’s no hiding it.’’

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Speaking of Weis, his team’s game with Southeast Missouri State will include the first female official to work a Big 12 game. She’s Catherine “Cat’’ Conti.

“She is not there because she is a female,’’ said league commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “She’s there because she’s paid her dues and because she is a really outstanding football official.’’

Conti isn’t a member of a regular Big 12 crew, but during the non-conference portion of the schedule, more officials are needed because of more games.

“It’s significant that she’s doing it,’’ Bowlsby said. “I don’t know that Walt [Anderson, the league’s supervisor of officials] made the selection for gender equity purposes. I think he made the selection because she is just a darned good official.’’

“I’ll try to watch my language,’’ Weis said. “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 a position where she can be put on equal footing with the men. And if I said other than that, I’d be in trouble with my wife. So all power to her. And that’s an honest answer.’’

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Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said that the NCAA-mandated loss of a day’s practice each week because of low APR scores won’t really affect his team because the Cowboys really didn’t use all their allotted 20 hours a week anyway.

“We haven’t used the 20 hours in a number of years,’’ he said. “When you put it down on paper, we end up being about 45 minutes short.’’

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Bowlsby was also asked the requisite question about conference realignment. While there is some minor shifting going on this year — Louisville to the ACC — there has really been nothing among the power conferences in more than a year.

“There’s really not much going on, I’m happy to say,’’ Bowlsby said. “The grant-of-rights have largely resolved that issue. It’s pretty tough to change conferences when you don’t take your TV rights with you.’’

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.


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