Conditions are bleak in Big 12 country. A drought of defense has affected the entire region from Texas to Nebraska. The big money conferences have colluded to force the best recruits to other parts of the country. Some talk of leaving, thinking that things will be better in California where there will be enough passing yards for everyone, and the fat cats of the SEC won't be able to reach them. Others talk of joining the SEC but worry that joining up with the east coast syndicates will ruin their way of life forever. With seemingly nowhere to turn, a meeting was held by several prominent Coaches from the Big 12 and other conferences to discuss the state of their livelihoods and the consequences of conference expansion.
Dawgsports was there, and was able to take part in the meeting. What follows is the transcript:Dawgsports: Coaches, thank you for your time and for allowing us to speak with you today. My first question, some people say that the SEC, the Big 10, the BCS, ESPN, and the NCAA are working together to keep the Big 12 down. With those odds, talk about the courage, the nerve it took for this group to come together and do something:
Tom Joad Bob Stoops: Takes no nerve to do something, ain't nothin' else you can do.
Dawgsports: Well that's an admirable stance you've taken, and as an Georgia sports blog let me say we respect an eyes wide open appraisal of a difficult situation. I wonder if I could get your reaction to ESPN's coverage of conference expansion in general and the potential absorbtion of the Big 12 into the PAC 12 and the SEC specifically?
Tom Joad Bob Stoops: Seems like the government's ESPN's got more interest in a dead man conference than a live one.
Dawgsports: Understood, with the transformation of college football from a seasonal sport with a regional fanbase to a national year round obsession controlled by TV contracts and advertising revenue, ESPN has an interest in generating college football stories year round. Could we turn to your thoughts on the state of the Big 12 conference as it currently stands and could you comment on what we as a national college football fanbase stand to lose should the big 12 be forced to California? I mean this isn't the Conference USA, in terms of Defense, recent national championships, and fan support, the big 12 is prosperous....
Tom Joad Bob Stoops: Sure don't look none too prosperous.
Dawgsports: Don't be so hard on yourselves, I realize Texas is a little down, and the northern division has struggled, but...Vince Young? and what about everything Bill Snyder was able to at Kansas State after years of futility, surely that has to count for something right? By the way, can you comment on how you think conference expansion might affect coaches who are particularly entrenched at a given school say those who have been there for many years such as Bill Snyder, or to go outside the Big 12, Joe Paterno? Do they have a prayer of adjusting to this drastic of a shift?
Casy Mike Gundy: I wouldn't pray just for a old man that's dead, 'cause he's all right. If I was to pray, I'd pray for folks that's alive and don't know which way to turn.
Dawgsports: Coach Gundy, good to hear from you, I feel like that's a little harsh and I'm nearly certain both Coach Paterno and Coach Snyder are still alive. We'll come back to you shortly, I see that Oklahoma Defensive Backs Coach Willie Martinez has been able to join us....
Casy Mike Gundy: You don' know what you're a-doin'.
Dawgsports: Coach Gundy, I know you had some success against Coach Martinez, but I will ask you to wait your turn. Coach Martinez, could you take a moment to update our readers on how you've been adjusting from being a coordinator at UGA to a position coach at Oklahoma?
Casy Coach Martinez: Tom, you gotta learn like I'm learnin'. I don't know it right yet myself. That's why I can't ever be a preacher coodinator again. Preachers Coordintors gotta know. I don't know. I gotta ask.
Dawgsports: We appreciate your honesty. So it sounds like it must be a good fit working with Coach Stoops then since he's such an expert on defensive play. Could you comment on some of the differences between your defenses at Georgia and what you're seeing with Coach Stoops at Oklahoma?
Gasoline Attendant Coach Martinez: You and me got sense soft zone. Them Okies got no sense soft zone and no feeling. They ain't human. Human being wouldn't be able to live tackle in the open field the way they do. Human being couldn't stand to be so miserable dive at a wide receiver in the open field and only end up grabbing dirt.
Dawgsports: Bryan, nice to see you, I don't know how you got in....while we're on the subject, what's Mark Mangino doing there with you?
Grandpa Joad Coach Mangino: I smell spare ribs. Somebody's been eatin' spare ribs. How come I ain't got none?
Dawgsports: Now coach, I was clear about this, we ordered the catering based on the RSVP's we received, you did not respond. Back to coach martinez if we could, Coach, what are your thoughts on how the coverages being run at Oklahoma, will adapt to the high powered offenses of the PAC 12, will your coverages be good or bad for this style of play?
Casy Coach Martinez: Maybe there ain't no sin good coverage and there ain't no virtue bad coverage they's just what people does. Some things folks do is cover nice and some ain't so nice, and that's all any man's got a right to say.
Dawgsports: I think that many people in Athens Georgia would argue that there is bad coverage, but you're entitled to your opinion. One last question I've got a map of the United States, can you discuss your new recruiting assignments in a PAC 12 superconference? Will you still be in the Southeast, and has your dismissal from the University of Georgia made it awkward to be in that part of the country selling defensive football? Given your time as a coordinator in Georgia, where will you recruit?
Ma Joad Coach Martinez: There, gramma! There's California. Grandma Joad Coach Mangino: Phbbtt!
Dawgsports: Coach Mangino, while that's not exactly good table manners, I think our readership might be inclined to agree. OK Coach Gundy, back to you, how did your quarterbacks describe playing against Coach Martinez's defenses what did they say?
Tom Joad Coach Gundy: That Casy Coach Martinez. He might have been a preacher defensive coordinator but he seen things clear. He was like a lantern. He helped me to see things clear.
Dawgsports: I see. I'm going to bring in Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman for a quick question, Coach, Baylor has threatened legal action should you leave the Big 12 for the SEC, your thoughts, will you be able to take this opportunity?
Tom Joad Coach Sherman: If there was a law, they was workin' with maybe we could take it, but it ain't the law. They're workin' away our spirits, tryin' to make us cringe and crawl, takin' away our decency.
Dawgsports: I understand, we actually got a similar response from Terrell Pryor regarding his recent suspension by Roger Goodell. These are strange times indeed. Well we're running short on time, let's go to some closing thoughts. Coach Stoops, they say that people have been thinking about there not being a Big 12....
Tom Joad Coach Stoops: I been thinking about us, too, about our people living like pigs high school offenses running the ball in the SEC and completing fewer than 70% of our passes, and good rich land slant rountes with 75 yard runs after the catch layin' fallow. Or maybe one short guy in Alabama with access to million recruits in Texas acres and a hundred thousand farmers spread offenses starvin'. And I been wonderin' if all our folks got together and yelled... Ma Joad Coach Gundy: I'M A MAN!
Dawgsports: We know coach...
Coach Gundy: Oh,
Tommy Bob, they'd string out the slow developing runs and zone blitz you till you didn't know which way was up, drag you out and cut you down just like they done to Casy you in 2003. Tom Joad Coach Stoops: They'd drag blitz me anyways. Sooner or later they'd get sack me for one way or thing if not for another. Until then... Ma Joad Coach Gundy: Tommy, you're not aimin' to kill nobody go under center. Tom Joad Coach Stoops: No, Ma coach, not that. That ain't it. It's just, well as long as I'm an outlaw finesse offense anyways... maybe I can do somethin'... maybe I can just find out somethin', just scrounge around and maybe find out what it is that's wrong with the scheme and see if they ain't somethin' that can be done about it. I ain't thought it out all clear, Ma Coach. I can't. I don't know enough.
Coach Martinez: I don't either
Coach Stoops: Go wait in the car Mike
Ma Joad Coach Gundy: How am I gonna know about ya, Tommy Bob? Why they could kill ya show your games on TBS and I'd never know. They could hurt ya force you to play field position. Force you out of the conference, How am I gonna know? Tom Joad Coach Stoops: Well, maybe it's like Casy Nick Saban says. A fellow ain't got a soul of his own, just little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody, then... Dawsports: Coach I hate to interupt you because that was very well said, but I think that people say that about Nick Saban, that he doesn't have a soul, it's not that he said it....and it's not that he never had one, there was a transaction....you know what it's not important, you'll see soon enough, please continue Ma Joad Coach Gundy: Then what, Tom Bob? Tom Joad Bob Stoops: Then it don't matter. I'll be all around in the dark, the Jefferson Pilot Games, the TBS Night Games, the ESPN 3 games, MAC Games - I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fourth wide receiver taking a slant to the end zone so that years of developing and recruiting lineman to run block and control the clock and filed position don't matter, fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a preseason number one cop beatin' up a conference member that couldn't win four games in the big east and gets credit for being the most prolfic offense in history guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad.
Coach Gundy: I'M FORTY
Dawgsports: Let him finish....
Coach Stoops: I'll be in the way
kids offensive coordinators laugh when they're see a soft zone and know the defense can't bring pressure with the front four, hungry and they know supper's ready,
Coach Martinez: They're laughing at a joke someone told them earlier....
Dawgsports: Same joke for five years Willie...they still laughed every time, er sorry, go ahead coach.
Coach Stoops: and when the people are passing off the years of accumulated bad defensive competition
eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' on in the houses reputation it they builds - I'll be there, too. Ma Joad Coach Bobo: I don't understand it, Tom Bob
Dawgsports: No shit
Tom Joad Bob Stoops: Me, neither,Mike Ma, but - just somethin' I been thinkin' about.
Dawgsports: Well that's all the time we have for our coaches round table on conference expansion, wait, ok, I'm being told we have one more point of view, all the way from State College here's Jay Paterno with his thoughts on potential changes to the Big 10...
Muley Graves Jay Paterno: There ain't nobody gonna push me of my land Conference! My grandpa Dad took up this land Conference, 70 years ago, my Joe pa was born here, we were all born on it. And some of of us was killed on it! ...and some of us died on it.
Dawgsports: Killed and died? Well I guess when Ohio State played an SEC team....little hyperbolic but, sorry go ahead Jay.
Jay Paterno: That's what make it our'n, bein' born on it,...and workin' on it,...and and dying' on it! And not no piece of paper with the writin' on it!
Dawgsports: Well I'm afraid we're out of time. Thank you all for what has been an enlightening day. We'll look forward to future talks.