Big 12 coaches eye new season

Monday, August 25, 2008 | 11:01 p.m. CDT; updated 12:23 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 26, 2008

COLUMBIA — In 2004, Auburn finished the season 13-0, including two wins over Cotton Bowl champion Tennesseee and one over Capital One Bowl participant LSU. Despite starting the season in the top 20 and going undefeated, LSU couldn’t leapfrog Southern Cal and Oklahoma and were denied a chance to compete for the national championship.
Most blamed preseason rankings, and four years later, coaches are still complaining about what they view as educated guesses being given too much weight.
“I think they’re just absolutely foolish,” Texas coach Mack Brown said in the Big 12 Conference teleconference Monday. “I wouldn’t rank a team until at least midseason, probably about October. Rankings are fun for people, they’re a beauty contest. I wish people that rated you high and were wrong got fired, that’d be better than the coaches getting fired. We don’t get to say a thing about (rankings), all we have to do is sit and wait.”
In 2006, the Longhorns entered the season ranked No. 2, but a pair of losses late in the season dropped the Longhorns to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll heading into their bowl game.
“We were starting a redshirt freshman quarterback (Colt McCoy) who had never taken a snap, so usually that’s not a one or two ranking, but...” Brown said.
But Brown didn’t stop there. He detailed his plan for who would get a say and who wouldn’t.
“What we should do is, at the end of the year, (coaches) take a poll of everybody who screwed up the rankings, and then not let them have a ranking the next year,” Brown said. “I think that’s best. We’d probably have as much turnover then as we do among coaches.”
BRILES NOT RILED UP: Returning from a winless season in the Big 12, first-year Baylor coach Art Briles says his team’s biggest obstacle for the 2008 season is uncovering the unknowns.
“Getting on the field with our guys and learning how to react to certain situations are the things we’re going to have to work through,” Briles said. “We’re gonna have to grow together on that. As far as the other stuff, shoot, we’re just gonna play hard and we’re gonna expect good things to happen.”
Briles, one of three new coaches in the Big 12, amassed a 34-28 record in five seasons at Houston before arriving in Waco, Texas.
CHIZIK READYING TWO QBs: Iowa State coach Gene Chizik said his team will start Austen Arnaud and play Phillip Bates, both sophomores, at quarterback this season. The two will  share time in the opener against South Dakota State on Thursday, and that will be the situation as long as necessary.
“Things can change as the game goes on,” Chizik said. “We’re prepared to make adjustments as we go, but they both know that they’re going to play.”
Despite the apparent uncertainty,Chizik said he’s confident in both quarterbacks’ abilities.
“I think it’s a situation where we feel like we’ve got two starters,” Chizik said. “Austen’s got a little more experience under his belt, and only one guy can be there to take the first snap, so he’s going to be the guy to do that.”
MANGINO FOCUSED ON 2008, NOT 2007: Coming off a one-loss season in 2007 culminating in an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech, it would make sense for Kansas to feel confident heading into 2008. However, coach Mark Mangino doesn’t see things that way.
“Last season has no bearing on this season,” Mangino said. “It’s a completely different team. Each team develops it’s own personality, it’s own chemistry. I can tell you we have a confident football team, but these are smart kids, and they know we have a lot of areas we need to improve to become the kind of team we want to be.”
PELINI NOT CONCERNED ABOUT RULE CHANGES: Bo Pelini arrived at Nebraska in 2008 after spending three seasons as one of the most respected defensive coordinators in the South Eastern Conference at LSU. The NCAA Football Rules Committee enacted a pair of rule changes that explicitly affect defenses for the 2008 season, eliminating the five-yard facemask penalty, and banning horsecollar tackles. Pelini, however, isn’t scared of the possible effects on his future defenses.
“We don’t teach that,” Pelini said of the horsecollar.. “If it happens, it’s usually by accident.”

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