Saturday, July 20, 2024

Big 12 football media days 2024 updates: What Colorado coach Deion Sanders said on Day 2

Must read

play

LAS VEGAS — The 2024 Big 12 football media days will conclude Wednesday, but Colorado coach Deion Sanders opens Day 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Follow along for updates:

More: USA Today preseason All-Big 12 football team 2024: Ollie Gordon II is Player of the Year

West Virginia coach Neal Brown is excited about the future of his receiver group and part of that is an Oklahoma kid, Jaden Bray, who transferred from Oklahoma State in the offseason.

A Norman native, Bray spent three seasons at OSU, but was limited by injuries. He entered the transfer portal last December and quickly received multiple offers, including the Mountaineers.

“Jaden, he scored a touchdown against us last year, so once he went in the portal, we figured we couldn’t beat him, so we needed to get him on our team,” Brown said. “Jaden is really talented. I thought he was slowed by injuries last year. He had a couple really big games. 

“He’s a tremendous human being, first of all. He’s been a great addition to our locker room. The type of character he has, the way he was raised, those are all real positives.”  

 — Scott Wright, Staff writer

More: Colorado’s Deion Sanders looking forward to facing Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State football

BYU’s Sitake excited for reunion with Utah

Long before Kalani Sitake was BYU’s coach, and even before he was a Cougar running back, he was a fan of the program. 

And he loved watching BYU-Utah games, so it just makes sense to him that the rivalry will be renewed in the Big 12 with Utah’s addition to the league this year. Utah is set to host BYU on Nov. 9.

“I remember when BYU was playing Utah in the WAC and then the Mountain West, and then we went through some realignment in the conferences, and BYU tried to continue to play that game when we were in the independent era,” Sitake said. “Now that we’re in the Big 12, makes sense that they’re in the same conference and also on our schedule. 

“So we’re looking forward to that game. We’re looking forward to getting up to Salt Lake City and playing that.”

 — Scott Wright, Staff writer

Houston’s Willie Fritz focusing recruiting efforts locally

The Houston area is well-known as a fertile recruiting ground for college football, luring programs from the Big 12, SEC and others into the area in search of talent.

Now that he’s in his first year with the University of Houston, coach Willie Fritz is emphasizing his team’s need to win recruiting battles close to home as he begins to build his program.

“We’re going to recruit locally as much as we possibly can,” he said. “I really feel like my experience, going on 33 years as a head coach, it seems like kids are a little happier when they’re closer to home. Parents are able to come see them play.

Fritz comes to Houston after a successful run at Tulane, so the Louisiana area could be a beneficial area as well.

“I was there for eight years at Tulane, know a lot of people over there,” Fritz said. “We’re really trying to make every kid that we recruit have it be drivable distance for them. I think Houston has got the greatest recruiting in the nation.”

 — Scott Wright, Staff writer

‘Speed dating’ built bond with Arizona’s Brent Brennan, players

Arizona rocketed up the rankings last year, in part, thanks to young quarterback Noah Fifita. And while it was widely anticipated that he would leave via the transfer portal after coach Jedd Fisch was hired at Washington, Fifita stayed in Tucson.

New coach Brent Brennan credited Fifita’s teammates for giving him reason to stay, and thus, keeping the majority of the Wildcats’ core from 2023 together.

And Fifita led a push to help Brennan connect with the players.

The quarterback convinced around 25 players to meet with Brennan as a group shortly after he was hired last winter.

“I thought it was important I give them an opportunity to get to know me, like who I was, what I was going to be about,” Brennan said. “And it was speed dating. They asked me 1,000 questions in a two-hour span. Some of them were silly and fun and we were laughing and smiling and joking, and some of them serious. 

“It was a really great kind of icebreaker for all of us to get to know each other. And I think Noah spearheading it was a huge part of that.”

The meeting went so well, Brennan offered to do it again the next day.

“The same group, plus or minus a few, got together, and we had another two-hour conversation just about my philosophy, how I coach, what I believe in, what my family is like, what color cleats we’re going to wear,” Brennan said. 

“It was all over the map. But it was a really great opportunity for us to get to know each other and for them to have an understanding that… I want them to have input in what we’re doing.”

 — Scott Wright, Staff writer

Looking for a jolt to his offense, Baylor coach Dave Aranda hired a former head coach with a strong track record of producing yardage in Jake Spavital.

The 39-year-old Tulsa native spent the 2023 season at Cal, following a four-year stint as the head coach at Texas State. He has also been an offensive coordinator at West Virginia and Texas A&M.

“I think he’s gonna allow our speed and our skill to play fast,” Aranda said when asked about Spavital. “To be able to have those markers where a quarterback and a receiver can get in sync, and then have tempo, where stuff’s happening fast and we’re on the ball fast… I think all of those things add to points and add to confidence in an offense.”

 — Scott Wright, Staff writer

Lance Leipold recognized the situation. 

He took the stage immediately after Sanders had exited, pulling a lot of media with him.

“I think everybody went to ask the harder questions elsewhere,” Leipold joked during his opening statement.

But on the field, the Jayhawks are being taken more seriously, viewed among the top group of contenders for the Big 12 title this season. 

Yet they won’t play a single game on the home turf of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, which is undergoing a makeover this year. All of Kansas’ Big 12 games will be played at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Arrowhead has a grass surface, as opposed to the artificial turf Kansas typically plays on.

“We’re practicing on grass more than we ever have,” Leipold said. “We’ll continue to find ways to do that. All our home games — the first two are at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. That’s going to be different.

“I think we have an outstanding relationship with the Chiefs, and any other nuances that we need to be aware of, we’ll be educated on.”

—Scott Wright, Staff writer

Colorado coach Deion Sanders was excited to take the stage at Allegiant Stadium, but perhaps his expectations of the media were a bit high.

“I need a little more energy if you want some energy from me, because this is horrible,” Sanders said, his sunglasses still on. “If I was in church, I’d get up and walk out right now.”

Sanders’ arrival in the Big 12 has been as intriguing as expected, and Wednesday was no different.

Sanders doesn’t fight the media attention, which has surrounded him for nearly four decades. He welcomes it. But it requires a level of focus from his team, particularly if it wants to improve on last year’s four-win mark.

“You keep the main thing the main thing,” he said. “The main thing never should transfer itself. Winning is what we’re here for. As far as the focus and the attention, ever since I stepped into Florida State in ‘85, it’s been like that to me. This ain’t new to me. I’m not new to this. 

“This is new to some of you all and you want us to change. We’re not gonna change. We’re gonna try to do things being smart, tough, fast, disciplined with character. That’s what we’re relaying to all our young men.”

While more traditional coaches might try to guard against the attention the Colorado players face with Sanders at the helm, that idea goes against his natural modus operandi.

“The cameras and the lights — I haven’t seen one kid here today who said he didn’t like that,” Sanders said. “He may not like the process, but he likes the package that you wrap him up in and you put him out there. 

“All these kids are excited about the EA Sports game, right? Their scores, their levels. They want attention, they want affection, they want love, they want adulation. Yeah, we give you that, but you gotta work first, so you can understand the consistency thereof is gonna take you where you wanna go.”

—Scott Wright, Staff writer

Rich Clark’s wife had one question for him after he was hired as the executive director of the College Football Playoff.

“Why did they hire you?” she asked.

Fair question.

One month into his new job, Clark took the stage Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days at Allegiant Stadium.

When he was hired to run the CFP, Clark was wrapping up a 38-year career in the Air Force, where he retired as a Lieutenant General. His final post was as the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, officially retiring last month and stepping in to fill the void of former CFP director Bill Hancock.

Clark hadn’t been directly involved in college football since his senior season as a defensive lineman at Air Force in 1985. He served three combat tours and received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

So even though his experience is outside of the college football world, Clark comes into the job as a proven leader and decision-maker with the passion of a lifelong fan of the game.

As the CFP is set to move into the 12-team playoff era, Clark is a central figure in college football.

“This is the biggest change in college football since the forward pass in my opinion,” Clark said. “My main concern is to make this year spectacular. We can’t muddle into this. We gotta hit it with a bang, so that people go, ‘OK, this was the right decision. This is what we needed to do.’

“Then what we really have to do, in good military fashion, is after that operation happens, we have to step back and evaluate. We have to look and see what other changes, or what else might we do. As spectacular as it’s gonna be, we gotta keep taking it to the next level to where people go ‘This is the best sporting event in America.’”

—Scott Wright, Staff writer

More: Oklahoma State RB Ollie Gordon II doesn’t hide from arrest questions at Big 12 Media Days

2024 Big 12 Media Days schedule

Tuesday-Wednesday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. All times CT.

Tuesday, July 9

  • Noon: Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark
  • 1 p.m.: TCU head coach Sonny Dykes
  • 1:20 p.m.: Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman
  • 1:40 p.m.: Cincinnati head coach Scott Saterfield
  • 2 p.m.: Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire
  • 2:20 p.m.: Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham
  • 2:40 p.m.: Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham
  • 3 p.m.: Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy
  • 3:20 p.m.: Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell

More: USA Today preseason All-Big 12 football team 2024: Ollie Gordon II is Player of the Year

Wednesday, July 10

  • 1 p.m.: Colorado head coach Deion Sanders
  • 1:20 p.m.: Kansas head coach Lance Leipold
  • 1:40 p.m.: West Virginia head coach Neal Brown
  • 2 p.m.: BYU head coach Kalani Sitake
  • 2:20 p.m.: UCF head coach Gus Malzahn
  • 2:40 p.m.: Baylor head coach Dave Aranda
  • 3 p.m.: Houston head coach Willie Fritz
  • 3:20 p.m.: Arizona head coach Brent Brennan

More: Oklahoma State football opens Big 12 Media Days: What to know about Ollie Gordon, Cowboys

Where can I watch Big 12 Media Days?

Big 12 football media days will be on ESPNU at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. It will also be streamed on ESPN+.

More: Who will win the 2024 Big 12 football championship? USA Today Sports Network predictions

Big 12 football media days updates

More: How many teams are in Big 12? Conference gains four members ahead of 2024 college football season

We occasionally recommend interesting products and services. If you make a purchase by clicking one of the links, we may earn an affiliate fee. USA TODAY Network newsrooms operate independently, and this doesn’t influence our coverage.

Latest article