The new-look Big 12 is ready for some football.
OK, the conference’s logo is what’s new this year. There are no changes in the makeup or format of the 10-team league, the only power conference with a round-robin schedule that determines a champion without an extra game.
The goal now for the Big 12, last represented in the BCS national championship game five seasons ago, is to get a team in the new four-team College Football Playoff that begins this season. The first championship game will be played in the heart of Big 12 country — Arlington, Texas.
Baylor arrives Monday at Big 12 football media days as the defending league champion for the first time. The Bears should be pretty good again, but eight-time champ Oklahoma is the preseason pick to win another title.
Here are five things to know about media days, which are Monday and Tuesday in Dallas:
■ Different tone? When Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the media during the opening session last year, he was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences — the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC — in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA. Bowlsby’s opening address Monday comes 21/2 weeks before the NCAA board of directors vote Aug. 7 on a formal proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over the college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and student-athletes bigger roles in the legislative process.
■ Who’s picked first? There is much more consensus this year among the media on who will win the Big 12 title. Oklahoma is the overwhelming favorite to win its ninth Big 12 championship. The Sooners got 47 of the 56 first-place votes, with defending champ Baylor getting the other nine. In the same poll before last season, there were 43 total votes cast — and six different teams got picked first. Oklahoma State was then the preseason pick and the Bears were tabbed fifth with only two first-place votes.
■ Strong debut: The last of the 10 coaches to take the podium in the main press conference room at the Omni Dallas Hotel will be new Texas coach Charlie Strong. It is first time since 1997 that Mack Brown isn’t speaking on behalf of the Longhorns. Strong did a 12-city tour last spring, with a message to Texas fans about improved mental and physical toughness. This will be his first appearance before the fully assembled Big 12 media.
■ Where are all the QBs? After leading Baylor to its first Big 12 title, throwing for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and leading the Big 12 with 14 rushing scores, Bryce Petty is an obvious pick to take part in media days. He was also voted by media as the Big 12’s preseason offensive player of the year. But Petty is only one of three quarterbacks set to be in Dallas. The others are Oklahoma sophomore Trevor Knight, who threw four TDs in a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama, and Kansas State senior Jake Waters.
■ New identity: The Big 12 unveiled its new logo July 1 as part of a new set of branding and identity standards. Big 12 football media days will be the first major event for prominent display of the new logo which Bowlsby said “integrates the league’s iconic heritage with a progressive new look.” The new logo still incorporates the use of Roman numerals.