It may not be the biggest spectacle in college football's offseason, but Big 12 Media Days heading into the 2019 season is definitely going big by hosting it at "Jerry World" in Dallas on Monday, July 15 and Tuesday, July 16. (For the record: Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech go Monday; Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas and West Virginia headline Tuesday.)
Media days are a good time to hit on all the major talking points for the upcoming season. After all, this is approaching the end of TALKING SZN, so get the takes and predictions in while you can. From Texas' expectations to the arrival of Jalen Hurts along with four new coaches, there's plenty of ground to cover. Here are some of the bigger storylines to watch when the Big 12's 10 teams take the podiums this week.
1. The mystique of Jalen Hurts: The former Alabama quarterback actually won't be at media days representing Oklahoma, but that doesn't mean he'll be out of sight, out of mind. Hurts was named the conference's College Football Playoff berth potentially on the line. But without hearing from Hurts himself, his coach and teammates will have to paint a picture for media members on hand., and you can bet there will be plenty of questions for coach Lincoln Riley and Co. regarding Hurts' addition to the Sooners offense. Specifically: How does his skill set fit? What adjustments will Riley make to the offense to better suit those skills? How is he developing with his new teammates? Hurts is used to winning, having led Alabama to two straight national title games. Expectations remain high for the Sooners, too, with another
2. Texas-sized expectations: While Oklahoma may be the runaway title favorites, Texas has its own brand of hype. After quarterback Sam Ehlinger declared the Longhorns "back" following their Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia, there's no retreating. At the very least, Tom Herman's team won't be able to overachieve anymore following a 10-4 season; it's back to the days of realistically believing in Big 12 titles -- if not more. Ehlinger, the Big 12's preseason Offensive Player of the Year, will be at media days, and there's a good chance he'll garner the largest crowd of any player in attendance. Between his possible Heisman chances and Texas' playoff hopes -- not to mention that Sept. 7 game against LSU -- there will be major talking points existing for Ehlinger and this team.
3. Who are the dark horses? Oklahoma and Texas are the top two teams according to the preseason picks, but can any others break through? Iowa State is generally considered the most reliable third option, and there's merit to that argument. The Cyclones return quarterback Brock Purdy, who elevated ISU's offense after taking over last October. This team also returns just about everyone from arguably the conference's nastiest defenses a season ago. We know Matt Campbell can coach, so is this finally the window for Iowa State to do what was previously unthinkable and get to the Big 12 title game?
Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU make up the mid tier in the preseason poll. Obviously, they all have questions, from Baylor's defense to quarterback battles with the Pokes and Frogs. But they have playmakers, too. Baylor's Denzel Mims, Oklahoma State's Tylan Wallace and TCU's Jalen Reagor are first-team All-Big-12 caliber types, and they'll all be welcome additions to media days.
4. First-year coaches make their entrances: Three coaches will make their first Big 12 Media Days appearances: Kansas State's Chris Klieman, Texas Tech's Matt Wells and West Virginia's Neal Brown. Kansas coach Les Miles previously coached at Oklahoma State from 2001-04, so he's a bit more familiar with the scene. Still, Miles is a character, and this will be the most intrigue surrounding the Jayhawks in at least a decade.
But there are storylines for the other three coaches as well. Klieman is coming off of his fourth NCAA Division I national championship at North Dakota State and replaces the legendary Bill Snyder at K-State. Wells succeeds Tech's favorite son, Kliff Kingsbury, and Brown is getting his first taste at heading up a Power Five program. Most of these guys have strong, engaging personalities. They're trying to build their programs, too, so don't be surprised if one or more of them come away as big media days winners.
5. Will expansion resurface as a talking point? For a few years there, the Big 12 couldn't get out of its own way on the expansion/realignment offseason front. Thankfully, those rumors began to quell recently. And truth be told, nothing's really on the horizon as it pertains to expansion. The Big 12 remains strong, rich and has gained access to the playoff in the past two years; that, in and of itself, is another huge bullet point for the conference. But UConn's upcoming departure from the AAC may stoke the embers for expansion questions during Big 12 Media Days. Not that the conference has its sights on UConn or any of the other AAC teams in the immediate future, but it would be surprising if this wasn't at least addressed by commissioner Bob Bowlsby at some point during the week.