Texas Longhorns: Steve Spurrier

Media days season has arrived, with the SEC getting us started Monday. The Big 12 won't begin until next Monday, but we're opening up a preview here Monday on ESPN.com. Here's what you can expect for the Big 12.

When: Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24. TCU, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech will be up on Day 1. Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas and West Virginia will be speaking to the media on Day 2. Here's the full player roster.

Where: Westin Galleria hotel, north Dallas. The players could wander outside the hotel and hit up the skating rink at the Galleria mall, but they'll probably be a little too busy to strap on skates or go shopping.

Big names in attendance: West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones top the list of guys who will be hounded by media from start to finish. The same goes for Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, last season's breakout star.

Big names not in attendance: The biggest will be Oklahoma State quarterback Wes Lunt, who's staying home per Mike Gundy's rule against first-year players speaking with the media. He'll be sticking to it, even though he named the true freshman his starting quarterback in the spring. Texas also won't be bringing either of its quarterbacks, including likely starter David Ash. West Virginia is leaving its leading receiver, Stedman Bailey, at home, and Texas star defenders Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro are banned from representing the team to media after an offseason incident. Oklahoma stars and two-thirds of the California trio -- safety Tony Jefferson and wide receiver Kenny Stills -- won't be representing the Sooners, either.

What to watch for:
  • Media days are traditionally full of mostly fluffy fodder, but the TCU players in attendance will face some pressing, difficult questions. Coach Gary Patterson withheld his players from media interviews for the entirety of the spring after an offseason campus drug sting that resulted in four player arrests and removals from the team. The players haven't been asked about anything surrounding the incidents since, and they're bound to come up in the first interviews since.
  • Look out for a debate on which Big 12 quarterback is the best. You could make a case for Smith, Jones or Klein, but this blog's readers are firmly in the "Smith" camp.
  • This year expect the main topic of conversation to center around "How will TCU and WVU adjust?" It's already been talked about plenty, but for the Big 12, that's better than "Is the league really stable?" or "Will Texas A&M leave?" -- a few of the simmering topics of conversation last year.
  • Each coach gets 15 minutes at the podium before a break for lunch and a return to the breakout room. Players will be available in the afternoon, too. Last year, Art Briles stole the show on the podium, and expect him to do the same with a few one-liners this year. Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Texas' Mack Brown are also usually pretty entertaining, but West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen might have a few cracks up his sleeve too, as he looks to make a name for himself in his first Big 12 Media Days.
  • Expect Kansas' Charlie Weis to be disarmingly honest, a refreshing change from his predecessor and the majority of coaches in attendance. Expect Oklahoma's Bob Stoops to drop an "in the end" more than a few times. Kansas State's Bill Snyder will be frivolous in referring to his players as "youngsters."
  • It'll be civil. The SEC has a few coaches who love to prod each other -- mostly Steve Spurrier. The Big 12 coaching fraternity is largely a boring one when it comes to feuds. Everybody looks up to Snyder, respects Stoops and Brown, and gets along with everyone else. If anybody's going to spice it up, it'll be Tuberville or Holgorsen. There aren't many issues or opportunities, unless they want to go out of their way to stir the pot.
  • Here's hoping Paul Rhoads shows up and is so proud of a thick beard. The Big 12 doesn't have a coach with any facial hair, and Rhoads has been rolling with one of the greatest beards in existence all offseason. Please, let it live. This is my plea.
  • We may get a little talk on what the coaches think of bringing in new teams, whether it be Florida State, Notre Dame or Louisville. For now, it's a little early, but realignment is always in the back of any college football fan's mind.
The Big 12 hasn't done a great job when it comes to membership longevity, but the guys on the sidelines in a headset? Few leagues have been better when it comes to the game's longest-tenured coaches.

The two coaches who have been in the league the longest? They're the guys who happen to be among the best and among those blessed with the greatest amount of resources, too.

Mack Brown came to Austin as John Mackovic's replacement in 1998. The former North Carolina coach had a solid pedigree as the head Tar Heel, and set out to man one of college football's sleeping giants.

A year later, a young whippersnapper named Bob Stoops left his post as defensive coordinator on Steve Spurrier's staff to grab the reins of another sleeping giant in college football: Oklahoma. Not bad for a guy who'd never been a head coach before, eh?

Both inherited losing teams and quickly turned them into contenders. More than a decade later, they're still doing it.

Along the way, each collected a national championship (and a loss or two in the title game). Stoops conjured up some Sooner Magic for an unbelievable turnaround in 2000, winning a national title after going just 7-5 in his first season. His quarterback from that team? Stoops has been around long enough to see Josh Heupel climb the coaching ranks and become his co-offensive coordinator and playcaller.

In 2005, it was Texas' turn. Transcendent star Vince Young, the greatest player to put on a jersey in Big 12 history, carried the Longhorns to Brown's only national title, but he did it in the middle of one of the most impressive stretches in college football history. From 2001 to 2009, Texas won at least 10 games every year in the midst of a growing league that also boasted powers like Nebraska and Oklahoma.

They've been around the block a few times, but only two coaches in all of college football have been at their current posts longer: Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer and Troy's Larry Blakeney.

Care to get less than technical about the issue? Kansas State's Bill Snyder trumps them both, having held his post for two decades, the only head-coaching job he's ever held since leaving Hayden Fry's staff at Iowa back in 1989. Snyder retired in 2005, but returned to "calm the waters" at K-State after a rocky three seasons with few highs and more lows under Ron Prince.

His first time around, Snyder did the impossible, turning "the worst job in America" (according to a now infamous Sports Illustrated story) into a place you could win a Big 12 title and play in BCS bowls. Snyder did the former in 2003, upsetting Stoops' highly favored Sooners, and played in the Fiesta Bowl in 1997 and 2003.

Snyder's break technically disqualifies him for the title of longest-tenured, but everyone knows what he's done for the program.

Stoops, Brown and Snyder have proved over the better part of the past two decades that you can make a comfortable, secure home in the Big 12. No other league in America has a better, more durable trio of coaches who have become the faces of their respective programs.


Texas Longhorns Show Out On Pro Day
The Texas Longhorns produced several eligible NFL Draft athletes who participated in Pro Day Tuesday afternoon in Austin, Texas.