MORGANTOWN — This past week the Big 12 held its annual media gathering in Dallas and served up a heaping portion of optimism for the 2014 season that is now upon us, West Virginia opening its preseason practices on Thursday.
This is a time of year when no one has lost a game, not even Charlie Weis at Kansas, and it’s a time of year when opinions are more plentiful than tattoos in an NFL locker room.
So, without further ado, here is some of the best that was offered up this week:
• Baylor coach Art Briles on coming out swinging for the fences:
“I guess we’re batting lead-off today.
“Well, the thing that’s a little different is 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.”
On his quarterback, Bryce Petty, not being invited to New York last year as a Heisman finalist:
“You know, honestly, personally and professionally, I’m a little upset about the way it all transpired last year. I certainly felt like he should have been in New York without question.”
Petty is the preseason Offensive Player of the Year in the Big 12.
• Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops on Charlie Strong, the new coach at rival Texas:
“I think Charlie’s a great coach. He’s an excellent person. We’ve really enjoyed the times I have been around him. So I gotta be careful. I can’t wish him too much luck, but I know he’ll do a great job and he’s a great coach.”
On the “Belldozer,” quarterback Blake Bell’s move to tight end. Will he be tempted to use him at quarterback at all?
“Not at all. That’s funny, it keeps coming up. Blake was recruited definitely as quarterback. But when you look at him now after three years, he is the pro type at tight end. He’s got great hands, great size, 6-foot-6, he’s almost 260. He can run. Natural spacing as far as where to be in his routes.
“And I go back to even it’s in his genes, his dad was an NFL tight end for eight years. So he fits the bill perfectly and it’s a position that we want to continue to make stronger. So I think he’s really going to impact us in a great way at the tight end position.”
On setting up non-conference schedules over the next decade that include teams like Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan and LSU. Does he think the playoff committee will look more with human eyes than the BCS did with computers?
“I would think so. But I think it would open the eyes of a computer as well if it had eyes at the end of the day. (Athletic director) Joe (Castiglione) has worked hard on our schedule. He has always confided in me, and we’ve been in agreement on who we were to play in the out-of-conference schedule. And we’re proud of that. We just came off the last four years series with Notre Dame and Florida State.
“Now, like you said, we’ve got Tennessee and Ohio State coming with Nebraska and Michigan, on and on down the road. And it’s been intentional, that in the BCS formula, and even now with a playoff formula. When all things are equal with records and whatnot, if someone has played a tougher nonconference schedule, to some degree it would usually benefit you. Otherwise, why play?
“Otherwise, you might as well just schedule three yawners that no one will pay attention to and not put yourself at risk of losing that game.”
• Kansas State’s Bill Snyder: On quarterback Jake Waters and what encourages you he will improve between his fine junior season and his senior year.
“Jake, as I mentioned before, is one of those young guys that has a tremendous value system. He’s a young guy that understands what our program is truly all about. He’s a young guy that works diligently to improve his plight in life and on the football field on a very regular daily basis.
“He had a rocky start in the first half of the season. But at no time did he ever stop trying to improve his plight. He’s a bright, young guy. He works well. But it was just a new environment for him and just having the experience, we all do that in whatever our routine is.
“His level of confidence I think has grown immensely. I think that experience from last year has benefited him greatly, as it should, with any young guy. And he's embraced it.
• Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury on how he plans to replace all-everything tight end Jace Amaro:
“I don’t think you ever replace a guy like that. But I think it will be a faster wide receiving crew, which will help. At times I thought we had to play within a box. We’ve got to be able to take the top off, and I think with some of these younger guys they haven’t played as much but they can really run.
“That’s exciting for us as an offense. A guy like that 6-6 and 250 and can dominate blocking and has 100 catches, I don’t think you replace him. You do the best you can as a group to try to get close to that productivity.”
• Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy on his first decade as head coach at Oklahoma State:
“I’ve said all along that Oklahoma State football has been built on our players and their commitment to the game and the people that have stayed with us through and through.
“So from a personal standpoint, I couldn’t be any more proud of who we are and the direction that we’re going. But it has changed considerably, just like walking in right now, I felt like Britney Spears walking in here with all the cameras and the pictures. And when I walked in the first year, I’m not sure that a lot of people didn’t think I wasn’t just working at the hotel.
“So it’s changed considerably, but the players have made it happen and I couldn’t be more proud of them and what they’ve been able to accomplish.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel