IRVING, Texas -- Solid three days here in Irving with a chance to visit with plenty of folks around the conference. Nobody really embarrassed themselves -- players or coaches -- this week, but I'd say I was most impressed with Texas' Mack Brown, Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville and Paul Rhoads at Iowa State, though I'd suppose it's no surprise that those three are among the best in the conference at handling the media.
Honest, lean, insightful and slow with the cliches. All three follow that path pretty closely. On to more notes, thoughts and quotes from the final day of the conference's powwow outside Dallas:
Brown had a great response to a question about the now-edited Red Out Around the World video from Nebraska that caused a ruckus earlier this summer. It was pretty truthful, he stayed away from further inciting the Huskers, but still professionally incisive. If I'm a Nebraska fan, his words have to make me a little furious. Chalk this point up for Brown: "I really think that's a compliment to us, very honestly, for a program like Nebraska to be talking about Texas this time of year and they should be. They're good. They've gotten back. They're in the mix and on the national scene." I don't think he could have handled the issue more adeptly, and he followed it up with lavish praise for the Nebraska fans and way of life, including an often-used anecdote about the Nebraska fans chanting "Heisman! Heisman! Heisman!" at Ricky Williams as he left the field at Memorial Stadium after a Longhorns win.
I really think Stoops' comments about his offensive line are a big deal. He wasn't shy about criticizing the line last year, and if they still weren't up to his standards, he'd have no reason to stop. If Oklahoma's offensive line is as good as Stoops thinks it is...look out. "We have -- year in and year out -- a fairly good defensive line, and I thought they were toe-to-toe with them all the time and competed with them well,” Stoops said. “So the way they finished the year a year ago. I think all of that together gives us an opportunity to be optimistic.” Before that quote, he mentioned their work ethic in the offseason workouts and praised their efforts during the spring -- the exact opposite of what he said after the spring of 2009.
On the subject of Oklahoma's defensive line, it sounds like DT Adrian Taylor is right on schedule after suffering an unspeakably gruesome leg injury in the Sun Bowl. Stoops says they plan on him being cleared to play for preseason camp. I wouldn't have bet on that a day after the bowl game, but if Taylor can be healthy and return to his form from last year, Oklahoma's interior should be very, very good with Taylor and former blue-chip recruit Jamarkus McFarland.
Texas tight end Blaine Irby suffered a bad injury of his own -- to his knee -- two years ago, but Brown didn't sound too optimistic about his return this season. I had heard he was progressing well and looking impressive in voluntary team 7-on-7 workouts, but Brown says he hasn't been cleared to practice yet with camp only a little over a week away. Brown praised up-and-comer TE Barrett Matthews, who you can read more about in our Texas Fresh Faces post from earlier this month.
Brown mentioned that Texas will schedule some more "Ohio State-type" games in the future. Not much more to say than this: good idea. Should serve as a nice replacement for the strength-of-schedule bump that traditionally came with the Big 12 championship.
Not media days related, but Texas A&M is apparently a bit uneasy after commissioner Dan Beebe's comments about the $20 million the Aggies were told they would earn by 2012-13. "A key part of Texas A&M's decision to remain in the Big 12 earlier this summer was the Commissioner’s commitment that Texas A&M would receive a minimum of $20 million annually in future conference distributions," Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement. "We remain committed to the conference and fully anticipate that the Big 12 will honor its commitment to Texas A&M." Texas A&M would have regretted leaving the Big 12 for the SEC on their own -- at the very least in the short run -- but I don't make much of his comments yet. All I see now is a concrete possible future spark for future realignment -- along with a theoretical invitation for Missouri from the Big Ten after the conference concludes its expansion study. That is, unless the appropriate amount of money is indeed there when they believed it would be."
One final note: Former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson has -- by far -- the strongest handshake of any athlete I've ever met, but I ran into a possible future contender on Wednesday: Texas defensive end Sam Acho. I'm not going to do any psychoanalysis, but you notice that sort of thing quickly, even when you're not looking for it.