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Big 12 football: Texas coach gets help from cheerleaders

DALLAS - Mack Brown brought backup to Big 12 media day Tuesday. The Texas coach showed up with an eye-catching entourage and a plan for how to use the cheerleaders from most of the conference schools.

"I asked the ladies to come in," he said. "If I had any hard questions, I would let them support me. So we'll just ask them to step up and answer any questions that we need here."

Right away, Brown was asked what appears to be the most popular question in the Big 12.

"I'd like to ask the cheerleaders who they want to quarterback the Longhorns this year," asked Berry Tramel, of The Oklahoman.

Brown ended up fielding that one on his own.

"They would want the worst one, I think that would be without question," he said. "There aren't any Longhorn cheerleaders in that group there."

*  *  *

WHEN THE five Big 12 coaches were pressed for thoughts about Penn State on Monday, the reactions were restrained and no one addressed the sudden availability of transfers who the NCAA will grant immediate eligibility.

Tuesday welcomed the second half of the coaching roster and those five had a day to assess the situation, which generated a new variety of replies about transfers.

"Well, we don't take a whole lot of transfers," West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "I think the biggest thing is you take transfers if you need immediate help.

"That's what transfers are all about. I think it can be beneficial if you identify what your needs are."

Holgorsen said his team may need help, but he won't know until he sees the freshmen during camp next month.

Kansas Coach Charlie Weis preemptively addressed Penn State to start his press conference and said "everybody loses. There's no winner in that situation."

Still, other schools are going to try to benefit from it by acquiring Penn State players.

The first-year coach admitted he had already looked at the Nittany Lions roster just in case.

"You have to be respectful to Coach (Bill) O'Brien and the people who are trying to make good of a bad situation," Weis said.

"But at the same time, the rules are the rules and there are several players that, when the dust settles, I think will entertain the thought of going somewhere else, especially the way it was presented to them.

"So I think that any program that didn't do homework prior to this decision coming out was behind on that one."

*  *  *

HOLGORSEN ANSWERED 13 questions during his 20-minute press conference. The first had to do with WVU's fit in the Big 12. Three more that basically wondered about the same thing followed.

Four hours and separate stops with radio, television and the Big 12 website later, Holgorsen had a 30-minute breakout session with the print media. He was again peppered with questions with about how the Mountaineers will assimilate.

"The culture is there, the support's there, the fan base is there," he said. "We're going to fill up our stadium. Our team is used to winning, and that exists at the other nine universities in the Big 12 as well.

"So the best way I can describe it to the people of West Virginia and the best way I can describe it to the Big 12 is that what exists in the Big 12 exists in Morgantown, W.Va., as well."

While Holgorsen said he believes the Mountaineers are ready and worthy of their second-place spot in the Big 12 media's preseason poll, he acknowledged there are challenges his team will face that others will not.

 "The difference is probably just the region geographically," he said. "The state of Texas and the state of Oklahoma do a great job with their youth. They do a great job with summer activities. High school coaches, there's spring football. There are plenty of opportunities to get better.

"From an East Coast standpoint, we don't do that on the East Coast. There's not as much spring football. There aren't as many youth activities. And I think probably the differences are from a skill standpoint. They may not be as developed yet."

He carefully picked apart the alleged non-competitive issues the Mountaineers will encounter. Travel, for example, isn't much of a factor because "you're going to jump on a plane and fly a couple of hours no matter where you go."

Yet that just covers the players and not the fans, who will have to travel farther than ever before to see conference games. Holgorsen had a solution for that one, too.

"The fan base is worried about travel. I've got news for you: You're not going to road games anyway," he said. "There are no tickets. The days of us sending 15,000 people to Pitt, Cincinnati, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers don't exist. The Big 12 has no tickets because they all support their team at home. So support your team at home, then pick a game and travel and eventually you'll hit all the spots."

*  *  *

HOLGORSEN RETURNED home Tuesday afternoon and today what he called "the biggest meeting of the year" at the Puskar Center. The coaches have been on vacation, but will bring one another up to speed on a list of items at the meeting.

Part of that will include finding out who from the freshmen class won't make it to campus. Holgorsen confirmed linebacker Sam Lebbie won't. Lebbie previously announced he would go to a prep school this year. Running back Roshard Burney and receivers Dee Joyner and Deontay McManus are also missing. Holgorsen said he'd be "surprised" if everyone made it.

It appears freshman quarterback Ford Childress, linebacker Terence Garvin and safety Darwin Cook will participate fully on practice and when it begins Aug. 4 and miss no game time afterward. Childress was arrested for driving under the influence in April and Cook and Garvin were arrested for shoplifting in May. Asked if they would sit at all, Holgorsen said the matter was being handled internally

*  *  *

THE ORANGE Bowl remains a popular topic for people talking to the Mountaineers and Holgorsen was asked if scoring 70 points was something a coach would enjoy. Holgorsen slowly turned his head to the left, widened his eyes and smiled.

"That may be the dumbest question I've had all week," he said. "That was the only time at halftime we sat in there and said, 'Well, I guess we don't have any adjustments.'"

That was curious timing. Halftimes are longer than normal for Bowl Championship Series games.

"I went out and listened to the concert," he said. "I'm a big fan of Train."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.

 


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