DALLAS — The miracle workers still believe in defense.
Mike Gundy, Kliff Kingsbury and Charlie Weis will have a problem with that characterization, and yet, believe me, take the Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas coaches at their word and they’re being treated fairly.
Monday, the first five met the masses for Big 12 football media days: OSU, Kansas State, TCU, Texas Tech and KU.
As always, the season still more than a month away, it wasn’t a great chance to learn too much about anybody’s team. Still, taking a program’s temperature can be an interesting thing and, as Monday again confirmed, if you want a coach to go deep on a subject, the after-lunch media days breakout sessions are your very best chance (unless you’re talking to Weis, who’ll tell you what he really thinks every second of every day).
At issue was defense.
Will it always be playing catch-up to so many high-powered offenses in our midst?
Has what we think of as dominant defense been left to antiquity?
Have we reached the point that giving up 400 yards and 25 points per outing against quality competition might be considered terrific?
So you know, Oklahoma allowed 398.3 yards and 25.5 points per game last season (but those numbers were 37.7 and 515 against the best teams on the Sooner schedule: K-State, Notre Dame, Baylor, West Virginia, OSU, Texas A&M).
Only Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and TCU’s Gary Patterson came down defensively, believing the pendulum will swing back toward the defenders at some future point (Snyder) or that good coaching and good players on one side of the ball can still shut down a good offense on the other side of the ball (Patterson).
Though in Monday’s minority, Snyder and Patterson demand your attention. One produced the Manhattan Miracle and the other has very nearly done the same elsewhere, though it’s hard to work Fort Worth into a memorably miraculous phrase.