DALLAS (AP) – TCU coach Gary Patterson has a completely opposite approach for the Horned Frogs going into their fourth Big 12 Conference season.
Expectations others have for them certainly have changed as well.
“A year ago, you had to prove people wrong. This year, you have to prove people right,” Patterson said Monday when he was the first coach to take the podium at Dallas’ Omni Hotel during the opening session of the conference’s annual football media days. “As a football team, that’s really, from my approach on down, how we’ve tried to handle it.”
The Horned Frogs have been tabbed as an overwhelming favorite in the Big 12, a year after going 12-1 and being declared co-champions with Baylor. With senior quarterback Trevone Boykin among 10 returning offensive starters, TCU got 32 of 42 first-place votes in the media preseason poll.
A year ago, when they were coming off a 4-8 season in 2013, the Horned Frogs were picked to finish seventh.
“It’s a nice feeling, but the bottom line is I’ve been in this business too long to get caught up in it,” said Patterson, going into his 15th season as the Frogs head coach. “If I stay (on an) even keel with how we need to do things, then my team will because it just kind of all reverberates down.”
Of the five Big 12 teams that appeared at the first day of media days, TCU was the only program already completely settled on a starting quarterback for this season.
Boykin, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting last season. He threw for 3,901 yards and 33 touchdowns to set school records in both categories and was named the league’s top offensive player.
Kansas State, whose only Big 12 losses last season were to co-champs TCU and Baylor, has seven quarterbacks on its roster. Three of those quarterbacks competed for the job in spring drills following the departure of two-year starter Jake Waters. Contra Costa College transfer Jonathan Banks signed with the Wildcats in June and will join the competition.
“Probably four of them at this particular point in time, in my eyes anyway, should be competitive for the position,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “Right now, they’re all on equal footing.”
West Virginia has five quarterbacks listed, but the only one with starting experience is junior Skyler Howard, who started twice last season. Kansas has new coach David Beaty, while Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has two quarterbacks (Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes) who started multiple games last season.
“If we name a starter, we’re going to ride with that guy knowing that we have a great insurance policy behind him,” Kingsbury said. “But I wouldn’t expect a quick hook on whoever we name the starter.”
Baylor, which got the other 10 first-place votes in the media preseason poll and was picked second, is among the teams to be featured during Tuesday’s session of the two-day media event. Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas also are part of the second-day program.
Beaty is a first-time college head coach who twice previously was an assistant for the Jayhawks. He spent the past three seasons as a receivers coach at Texas A&M, and his head coaching experience before now was at high schools in Texas.
The Jayhawks have gone 17-55 overall and 4-48 in the Big 12 over the last six seasons. But Beaty knows he can point out to his team how Baylor and TCU have succeeded in the power conference.
“What two great examples are there out there for a program like us,” Beaty said. “Art Briles, former Texas high school football coach, one of my coaching heroes coming up. … Gary Patterson, one of the finest defensive minds in the country, one of the best head coaches in the country, cares truly about kids.”
West Virginia, like TCU, is going into its fourth Big 12 season.
Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen has nine returning starters on offense and nine more on defense, and he feels confident and comfortable with his team. There are 40 juniors and seniors on the two-deep list, and more than 50 guys who have played in Big 12 games.
“So a lot of the guys that are on our team right now are guys that have been there and done that, understand what the Big 12 is all about,” Holgorsen said. “It’s just we’re in a totally different position than we have been in the past.”