The 2017 edition of Big 12 Media Days took place in the Dallas Cowboys practice facility in Frisco, Texas. A new site for a conference attempting to break into a new era of football.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby did his part to show the conference is taking the necessary steps to achieve the top status, while acknowledging the work done, while balancing out potential policy changes down the road on player safety and recruiting.
“Last season, we were first in scoring defense,” Bowlsby shared with the media. “For a league that is reported to be all offense, that speaks volumes.”
Certainly, a conference that has been on the outside looking in twice in the initial three years of the College Football Playoff will have a reputation building task on their hands.
The new venue was also symbolic of the Big 12’s addition of the conference title game.
“I can tell you that it (the decision to add the title game) was 100 percent on our ability to optimize the likelihood of getting a team into the CFP,” Bowlsby said.
The fear will always be that the Big 12 could play itself out of a playoff entry if the higher ranked team loses in a rematch late in the year.
“For the record, 33 of the championships games have been rematches,” Bowlsby revealed. “So the rematch is not aberrational.”
With 7 of the 10 quarterbacks returning in conference from last season, the Big 12 has the ability to not only return to the playoff, but have a special year.
On the topic of player safety, Bowlsby said that helmet technology, situational examples such as the kicking game and re-evaluting strength and conditioning coaches were the top priorities.
“We know that the incidence of injuries is much higher in the kicking game than it is in any other part of the game of football,” Bowlsby said. “We are doing some experimentation and looking at ways we can make it a safer game.”
The rumors of the outright removal of the kicking game over the past few seasons will certainly pick up steam with that.
Perhaps the most interesting thought posed by Bowlsby was the concept of the recruiting “window.”
“I think you could end up with a. signing window where… you can issue a letter of intent in the spring,” Bowlsby posed.
Considering the statistic that Bowlsby brought up — the average FBS program makes 233 oral offers but can only sign 25 — the idea of a recruiting window makes sense. As Bowlsby pointed out, however, it took the conferences quite a while to come to the early December signing period.
As July slowly turns into August, there is an optimism that hovers around Big 12 Media Day. The conference not only needs it but must take advantage of it in order to do what Bowlsby wants.
“This isn’t about making the CFP, this is about winning national titles. That’s what we are about.”