There was a new face on stage at the first day of the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Dallas.
Making the short trip from Fort Worth, Texas Christian University was the first of the two new schools to meet the media Monday.
“We’re excited about our first inaugural year in the Big 12,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Obviously it’s been a long journey for us. We’ve been through a lot of different conferences along our way.
“And so my biggest job, as a head football coach, is to make the Big 12 proud of inviting us into the league and make sure we have a (good) product on the field — which is what I’m in control of.”
With the new teams joining the league, it was no surprise that many of the Big 12 coaches welcomed their new opponents into the league.
“I think as evidence as it relates to football, when you look at the preseason rankings and the two incoming universities, they’re ranked right up in the top 10 or top 12 in the country,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “So it would indicate that there’s a national perception that they are quality programs as well.”
“I think it’s fair to say our league, when you add West Virginia and TCU — two teams coming off bowl wins, two ranked football teams — you put them with the rest of what we’ve been doing here in the Big 12, that our league is every bit as strong as it’s ever been, if not stronger,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “... It's made the league really difficult. But at the same time it's exciting.”
As for the TCU players, moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12 Conference is an exciting venture.
“Any time you can raise your level of play it makes your team better and you can reach higher levels,” said TCU senior defensive end Ross Forrest, a native Texan. “... You get to play against teams that pack the stands and have sold out stadiums. That’s the most exciting thing for a player.”
Patterson said the transition for his players and staff shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, many of the players in the league are from Texas and had more than likely been recruited by Texas Christian.
“Most of those teams we’re talking about have Texas players. We recruited them. We had them in camp,” Patterson said. “We understand the kind of players they have. It’s no different.”
West Virginia and its head coach Dana Holgorsen, the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, will meet the media Tuesday, along with Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas and Baylor.
“I would expect them to come in and compete for a conference championship, they’re that level of program and always have been,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, who was a defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh in the Big East for seven years. “They have a high quality of players, they’ve got great coaching and they’ve got an offense that will compete in this league. They’ve got a defensive coordinator who thoroughly knows this league, and I would expect big things out of West Virginia in 2012 and beyond.”