DALLAS (AP) — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game.
The new coach toned down his honest assessment in future stops, then said Tuesday in his first appearance at Big 12 media days that he prefers not even talking about championships.
“‘I’ve been part of two national championships. The place (Florida) that I won it at, we never talked about going and winning a national championship,” Strong said. “You expect them to have expectations at the University of Texas because you’re at a premier program. But it’s all about our players and just making sure we go compete. I don’t ever want to put pressure on our team, on our players at all. I just want them to go out and just go to work each and every day.”
The Longhorns haven’t even won a Big 12 title since the 2009 season, when they made it to the national championship game, which is the primary reason Mack Brown is no longer the Texas coach.
Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win its league-high ninth Big 12 title. Texas, which appeared with the Sooners, West Virginia, Kansas State and Iowa State on the second day of media days, is picked fourth.
Strong said his national championship comment on the first stop of the spring tour came as the Longhorns had just finished spring practice.
“We were not a healthy football team at that time,” Strong said. “I can’t say just how far off we are and that we will not know that until we go compete this fall. But we still have work to do. Now, we’re not as bad as we used to be.”
Strong said quarterback David Ash played “very well” when healthy last season and is the starter. Ash has been cleared to participate in contact drills after missing most of last season with concussion symptoms and part of spring drills with a broken left foot.
Oklahoma coach Bo Stoops sounded hopeful about possibly adding two proven offensive players this season, and not having to wait until 2015 for former Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and quarterback Baker Mayfield, a true freshman starter for Texas Tech last season when he threw for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games.
Green-Beckham was dismissed by Missouri in April after several off-field incidents, and this month got to Oklahoma, where Stoops and receivers coach Jay Norvell had personally recruited him out of high school. The Sooners have filed an appeal seeking for him to be able to play this season, a year after 59 catches and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore at Mizzou.
“Through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well and be great for his future,” Stoops said.
Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury referred to “just team policy” for a decision blocking Mayfield, who wasn’t on scholarship at Texas Tech, from being able to play immediately at Oklahoma without losing a season of eligibility.
“‘A guy that you haven’t invested a scholarship in, I don’t know why it would be an issue,” Stoops said. “It’s something that we’re working through.”
Bill Snyder will turn 75 during the upcoming season, his 23rd as Kansas State’s coach. Told by one reporter that there have been 48 coaches at other Big 12 schools since he was first hired at Kansas State in 1989, Snyder chuckled.
“There’s a variety of different reasons. Sometimes people move on,” Snyder said. “The age factor, I can’t negotiate that. … I’m as old as time, and that’s not going to change.”
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads hired former Kansas coach and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. Rhoads said Mangino has a proven record as a play caller and brings a tough mentality.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he has never been more excited about going into a season than he is about the Mountaineers’ third in the Big 12. They were coming off an Orange Bowl victory before getting to the Big 12 and going 6-12 in conference games the last two years.
“I think our players in our locker room understand what the Big 12 is all about,” Holgorsen said. “They understand how challenging it is.”
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