Arizona Football

What was said during Day One of Big 12 Media Days

LAS VEGAS — After Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark took the stage at Allegiant Stadium on Tuesday morning, eight head coaches and 35 players took part in discussions with the media during the first day of the Big 12 Media Days.

The lineup of coaches included TCU’s Sonny Dykes (Arizona’s offensive coordinator from 2007-09), Kansas State’s Chris Klieman, Cincinnati’s Scott Satterfield, Texas Tech’s Joey McGuire, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Arizona State’s Kenny Dillingham, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell.

Arizona’s Brent Brennan is among the Big 12 coaches who will speak to media on Wednesday. Colorado’s Deion Sanders starts the press conferences Wednesday and Brennan will complete the day.

Here are some of the more interesting comments from Tuesday’s Big 12 Media Days:


Dykes has the perspective of coaching in the Pac-12 and Big 12. He was part of the Pac-10 and Pac-12 while he was Arizona’s offensive coordinator and then Cal’s head coach.

He also coached at SMU against former American Athletic Conference opponents now in the Big12, such as Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston.

“I think I’ve coached against all 16 current members of the Big 12,” Dykes said. “Every team has its own personality and every team has its own niche in the way they have to be successful and developing their program.

“I think what makes the Big 12 unique is parity. If you look at the Big Ten, you look at the SEC, you look at the ACC, the same teams have represented those leagues year in, year out in the conference championship games. In the last three years, six different Big 12 teams have been in the championship game. So I think right there that speaks to the parity of the league. It does remind me a little bit of the Pac-12 when I was at Cal; every team in the league is good. Every team in the league is capable of beating any other team on any given Saturday. I don’t know that that’s the case in some of the other leagues.”

Dykes spoke of the challenges Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will bring to the existing members of the Big 12.

“It’s going to be a great league to watch week in, week out,” he said. “Obviously, we’re adding some very successful teams. You look at Utah and the success they’ve had over the last 20, 25 years, it’s been on par with just about anybody in college football.

“You look at the (10-3) team that Arizona had last year. You look at the history of Arizona State football and the potential of that program and obviously Colorado. So there’s four quality teams that all have their own niche and they’re all very unique and very different.”


Klieman addressed the non-conference game with Arizona at home on Friday the 13th in September, scheduled by the programs a few years ago when Greg Byrne was the Wildcats’ athletic director. Klieman said it was too late in the process to remove the game from the schedule after Arizona joined the Big 12 last August.

“I’m glad that we’re playing Arizona,” Klieman said. “They’re a terrific football program, and it’s a great early-season game for the Big 12 to get on national TV on a Friday night. So that excites us, and I know it excites Arizona. There’s really good talent on both teams.

“I’m hoping that we ultimately get to an even number of conference games so that we’re not in the nine, five away, four at home, that it’s more of a four and four split of eight games, or even a 10, because if you have to play a Power Five, you might as well play it in your league and get five and five. … It’s going to be a great game. It’s going to be a great showcase for the Big 12 in early September.”


Satterfield and the Bearcats are only one year longer into the Big 12 than Arizona.

Cincinnati was 3-9 overall and 1-8 in its first season Big 12 last year — Satterfield’s first after Luke Fickell moved on to Wisconsin.

Cincinnati is only three years removed from playing in the College Football Playoffs semifinals.

“We’re obviously still relatively new,” Satterfield said. “It’s the second year, and we’re playing some teams that we didn’t play last year, and you’re going to some places that you haven’t been to. We’re going to Texas Tech, didn’t play them … Kansas State. Of course some of the new teams as well.

“Last year, we brought in four teams that basically were a group of five teams (BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF), where now the teams we’re bringing in have already been playing at the Power 5 level. … It’s exciting. I think the opportunity — we’re going to Colorado this year — that’s going to be awesome. (We) go to Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State. We’re getting to see some great parts of the country where they have outstanding fan base and great coaches and players.

“It’s a great challenge and it’s fun. It’s fun for our players and our student-athletes that get to experience this, the fact that college football opens up so many doors for our players and our coaches to be able to experience everything this country has to offer. And I think that’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s certainly something that we look forward to.”


Texas Tech super senior running back Tahj Brooks was recruited by former Arizona running backs coach AJ Steward in 2020 but Brooks said he backed off after the Wildcats got commitments from two other backs — Frank Brown of Houston and Jalen John of Lake Oswego, Ore. Brown is no longer playing and John transferred to UMass.

Brooks, 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, rushed for 1,538 yards on 290 rushes with 10 touchdowns for the Red Raiders last season. He has 3,052 yards rushing in his career on 593 carries with 28 touchdowns.

He opted to return for a fifth season rather than enter the NFL draft.

“My goal is to break the Texas Tech all-time rushing record (Byron Hanspard with 4,135 yards), winning the Big 12 and then hopefully taking it one game at a time and winning the national championship,” Brooks told me.

What can Arizona fans expect from him and Texas Tech come October?

“They can see a guy that’s willing to win against all competition, somebody who really wants to win for his team and it’s gonna be tough game for them playing against us,” he said.

Arizona and Texas Tech are former Border Conference rivals. The Red Raiders have dominated the Wildcats overall in the series with Arizona trailing 5-26-2. Texas Tech is 13-1-1 against Arizona in Lubbock, Texas, with the lone loss occuring way back in the 1935 season by a score of 7-6.

“It’s easy for our fans to get to,” Texas Tech coach Joey Maguire said of the short distance between Tucson and Lubbock (638 miles). “When they come to us, it’s easy for their fans to get to. It’s got a chance to really be a rivalry.”

Maguire added that the Oct. 5 game has magnitude as the Texas Tech’s first Big 12 road game. The Red Raiders play four of their first five games at home including conference games against Arizona State and Cincinnati before traveling to Tucson.

Texas Tech could very well be 4-1 or possibly 5-0 (the road game in Week 2 is against Washington State). Arizona, on the other hand, plays at Kansas State and Utah before hosting Texas Tech. If Arizona is 3-1 or 4-0 heading into that game, it certainly will be a matchup of two ranked teams.


Utah coach Kyle Whittingham commented about former Arizona receiver Dorian Singer, who is with the Utes after leaving the Wildcats for USC before last season.

“Dorian has been a great fit,” Whittingham said. “He had a terrific spring. Very easy to understand how he was able to have over a thousand receiving yards at Arizona a couple years ago. What he did in spring was impressive.”

Singer had 1,105 yards receiving on 66 receptions with six touchdowns for the Wildcats in the 2022 season.

Whittingham hinted that his coaching career (now at 20 years) could end before the 2027 season, when Utah is slated to play Miami (Fla.) in the Las Vegas Kickoff Classic.

“It’s been a great opportunity to be able to play here as much as we have,” Whittingham said, referring to two Pac-12 championships earned at Allegiant Stadium. “We’re going to open here in ’27 against the Miami Hurricanes. I probably won’t be sitting here, but somebody will be, and that’s going to be a great opportunity again to come to Vegas and play a game.”

That “somebody” will be defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, who is already deemed the head-coach-in-waiting by the program.


Arizona State coach Kenny Dillingham used a food reference when talking about trust within his program.

“What I learned is I’ve got to trust the people around me to do football more, and I’ve got to remove myself a little bit from that and not get as involved in game weeks,” said Dillingham, who was 3-9 in his first season with the Sun Devils, who were under a self-imposed one-year bowl ban because of recruiting improprieties by the Herm Edwards’ staff.

“Just because I love it so much, it’s why you start coaching. But now that my role is different, that’s one thing I learned, I’ve got to remove myself a little bit. I have to trust if I ask someone to make Italian food and he makes chicken parmesan, that I’m going to like the chicken parmesan; I didn’t want him to make meatballs, and if I wanted him to make meatballs, I should have told him to make meatballs. And I have to trust that. I think that’s the biggest thing I learned is I’m not the smartest guy in the room and to trust people.”

The Sun Devils are using their last-place predicted finish in the Big 12 by the media as motivation.

“Definitely looking forward to playing everybody,” offensive lineman Levi Fautanu said. “Coming here, we’re picked last in the media poll. It motivates us to show everybody what we’re about. We’re definitely trying to prove people wrong.”


Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy told the media that bringing embattled running back Ollie Gordon II to the Big 12 Media Days ln Las Vegas was a form of having Gordon face problems head on stemming from his DUI arrest last week.

“We brought him here today so you guys could ask him that question,” Gundy said during the press conference. “That was one of the reasons that I wanted to bring him here. It’s hard for me to speak for Ollie. I can only give you some indication on what I’ve seen over the last week.

“I sit back and thought about what I thought was best for Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma State football and Ollie as we move forward, and we made decisions. The other thing I shared with Ollie yesterday was, after he decided that he wanted to come to today’s event, that I told him, when this is finished today at 4 o’clock, it’s over for me. I’ve already made the decisions that I think what’s best for you and this team, and you need to make the decisions and the comments what you think is best for yourself and the team. And then after today it’s over with. And that’s what our goal is, and I think we’ll be able to get that accomplished.”

Gordon mentioned that “actions have consequences, and, you know, I’m here to deal with them.”

“I’m just thankful that Coach Gundy and my team could forgive me, and my family stuck by my side the whole time. So, I really appreciate them.”

Gordon rushed for 1,732 yards on 285 carries last year. He ran for 21 touchdowns.


Iowa State coach Matt Campbell was mentioned as a potential candidate at Arizona when the Wildcats transitioned from Rich Rodriguez to Kevin Sumlin in 2018.

He was at Toledo when Rodriguez took over Arizona’s program in 2012.

He is entering his ninth season at Iowa State.

An oddity — his long time associate head coach and defensive coordinatory Tyson Veidt left after last season to conference rival Cincinnati to handle the same roles. Campbell, Veidt and Satterfield all have a Toledo coaching background.

“I would just say, for me, one of the responsibilities that I feel like as a head football coach is not just to your players and getting them to reach their full potential and be their best, but I feel like it’s equally my responsibility of our staff members and continuing to help them get to their goals and aspirations,” said Campbell.

“Tyson was such a great anchor for us defensively at Iowa State and what we became and what we’ve been able to do. Tyson has been with me for nine years. Our nine years at Iowa State and then prior to that was with us for the three years at Toledo. And obviously Scott and I were together at the University of Toledo. It felt like, number one, close to home back home for Tyson, and, number two, utmost respect for the Cincinnati football program. And, number three, the utmost respect for Scott. I just felt like it was a great opportunity to maybe at least help bridge that gap. Tyson, to his credit, did a great job interviewing for the job, and Scott I think made a great hire. I think they’re going to make a great team together, for sure.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top