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Big 12 notes: Stable staffs, TCU’s speed, Charlie Strong’s mandate

Christopher Brashers/Icon Sportswire

Two FBS staffs enter this season unchanged for at least the third consecutive season. Northwestern is tops, having the same staff since 2011. Kansas State has the same staff for the fourth consecutive season.

“It’s very significant to have that kind of continuity where you don’t have to go through the re-teaching or changing of things that you firmly believe in,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “It goes without saying, the greater continuity with great people is significant.

“You hear some players get up and talk and say, ‘Well, I’ve gone through four coordinators in four years.’ That’s kind of tumultuous, or it can be.”

Snyder’s players see the benefit of the coaching continuity.

“I think it’s cool to have the same coach for your career because you build a relationship,” said Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner, who is going into this third season with the program. “If the O-line had a new coach come in, it would be tough to adjust. We have a really strong coaching staff that has been together for a long time.”

Kansas and West Virginia, for instance, each underwent significant offseason changes in their staffs. Over a three-year period, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made some major changes to his coaching staff that resulted in last year’s banner season.

For the first time since 2006, Oklahoma State didn’t make any staff changes in the offseason.

“I haven’t had to spend some time with a new guy this year explaining what we do and why we do this,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “They know the culture, and they know me. We’ve got a great room. We’ve got guys that all pull the rope in the same direction.”

No gray area for TCU veteran receiver

Deante’ Gray, TCU’s senior wide receiver, missed last season with a knee injury. He’s the “old man” of the receiver corps that needs to adequately replace big-play threats Josh Doctson and Kolby Listenbee.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior was a standout in 2012 as a freshman. That was TCU’s first season in the Big 12. In Year Two, the Frogs stumbled to a 4-8 record and then bounced back to go 12-1 and share the Big 12 championship. Gray’s experience is something co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie sees as a valuable asset.

“He’s seen a lot,” Cumbie said. “That’s where I would really like to see him grow, as more of a mentor and leader for these kids and let them know that it’s not easy. Sometimes the thing you battle against when young kids show up and you go 12-1, 11-2, they’re like, Hey, we’re just going to show up and win 11 games. That’s not the case, and Deante’ hopefully can share that with these kids.”

If Gray’s knee is healthy, he’s one of the fastest receivers on TCU’s roster. In high school, Gray was fourth in the 100-meter dash at the Texas 5A state meet in 2012.

“When he gets the ball in his hands, that boy has speed,” TCU running back Kyle Hicks said. “Speed, man. Speed kills. He’s deadly with the ball in his hands.”

26 November 2015: Texas head coach Charlie Strong during 48 -45 loss to Texas Tech at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photograph by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire)

26 November 2015: Texas head coach Charlie Strong during 48 -45 loss to Texas Tech at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photograph by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire)

A writer’s take on Charlie Strong

Kirk Bohls, veteran columnist with the Austin American-Statesman, wrote this about Charlie Strong’s future as Texas’ coach:

“In all likelihood, Charlie Strong needs to win at least seven games and not have any humiliating blowout defeats – “no TCU-type losses,” one huge booster said – to keep his job. He has the total support of the school president and athletic director, but some big hitters are restless. I fully expect Strong to survive and enter Year Four as a favorite to win the Big 12.

“The trick will be his contract. If he wins big this year, say nine or 10 games, Texas should consider a fully guaranteed two-year extension. If he barely scrapes by, add one or two years on his contract but no new guaranteed money. If Texas fires Strong after this season, it owes him $10 million.”

Quick slants

  • Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman Trophy candidate. He starts his campaign on national television against Kansas State Friday. In 1998, the Wildcats faced Texas and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, who went on to gain 2,124 yards rushing. In K-State’s 48-7 victory in Manhattan, Williams was limited to 43 yards on 25 carries.
  • Sunday’s game with Notre Dame will also be the debut of Bevo XV, the school’s new Longhorn mascot. Bevo XV succeeds Bevo XIV, who passed away in October 2015. This is the 100th anniversary of Bevo’s debut. Over the last three decades, new Bevos have coincided with great UT seasons. Bevo X in 1977: 11-1, played for national title. Bevo XI in 1981: 10-1-1. Bevo XII in 1983: 11-1. Bevo XIV: 2004: 11-1, beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
  • Texas Tech’s practice Tuesday was interrupted by a lightning delay, the third such interruption this month. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has tried to use the weather delays to the team’s advantage. “It’s good practice in case those things happen in a game: You have lightning, you have to go in the locker room and come back out and be ready to go,” he said. “So we just kind of spin it that way.” Texas Tech is in the final stages of fundraising to build an indoor practice facility for football.
  • Iowa State’s first game of the Matt Campbell Era is a big deal in Ames, but the game with Northern Iowa has a wonderful co-star story. Senior defensive end Mitchell Meyers will run on the field at Jack Trice Stadium as a team captain (voted by his teammates) and a starter. It was 18 months ago that he was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “One of the best stories in college football,” Campbell said. We agree. Read more about Meyers here.

Audible

Kansas coach David Beaty on the Jayhawks’ season opener with Rhode Island:

“The hardest thing, as a staff, is, these guys have worked extremely hard, probably one of the toughest, most rigorous and productive offseasons that I’ve been a part of in my career. But we can’t be caught thinking just that’s gonna get you a win. All that does is help you pay the price of admission to the ballgame and have a chance to win it. So we’re guarding against that – the fact that you think you worked hard so you just deserve to win.”

Big 12 notes: Stable staffs, TCU’s speed, Charlie Strong’s mandate

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