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Plenty of storylines to follow as Big 12 media days begin

MORGANTOWN — There will be no shortage of talking points and angles when the Big 12’s annual football media days begin this morning in Dallas.

There just don’t figure to be all that many regarding the actual football that will be played in the league this fall.

When the conference’s administrators, 10 head coaches, selected players and others gather at the Omni Dallas Hotel today and Tuesday, X’s and O’s figure to take a back seat to politics and personnel. That’s not unusual, of course, but this year some of the storylines are fairly intriguing.

For starters, there will be today’s starter — Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby. A year ago at this event, he was among the first to sound the public warning from the power conferences that they were mad as heck and weren’t going to take it anymore. That began months of public posturing that resulted in the NCAA at least opening the door to more autonomy for those leagues.

When Bowlsby takes to the podium for his annual address and question session this morning, how that autonomy could play out figures to be a prime topic.

There are others, too. Texas arrives for the first time since 1997 without Mack Brown. Charlie Strong has replaced Brown as the coach at arguably the most prominent program in the league. He’s the only new coach in the conference and the one certainly under the biggest spotlight, but he’s not the only one under a microscope. Among others, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen figures to be faced with plenty of questions about his own future given the six wins his team has earned in the last 20 games. Ditto Kansas’ Charlie Weis.

This is also the first year of the College Football Playoff, and executive director Bill Hancock will be on hand Tuesday. The Big 12 is the only one of the five power conferences without a championship game — but also the only one with full round-robin scheduling — and how that difference plays into playoff selections will certainly be discussed.

There will be football talk, too. Much of it will center on quarterbacks like Bryce Petty of Baylor and Trevor Knight of Oklahoma. Petty figures to once again have Heisman-quality stats (he threw for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns and just three interceptions a year ago) and Knight showed the potential to do that in a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The question is whether he can do it consistently. And the answer could go a long way toward determining if Oklahoma can live up to its billing as the league’s preseason No. 1.

The league’s 10 teams are split for media day events, with Baylor, Kansas, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech appearing today, and WVU, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State Tuesday. In addition to Holgorsen, West Virginia will be represented by cornerback Daryl Worley, receiver Kevin White and punter Nick O’Toole.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or or follow @dphickman1 on Twitter.

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