July 22, 2008

Pokes face media in KC

Today is the unofficial kickoff to the 2008 college football season.

Yes, it's still only late July, but when the Big 12 Media Days roll around, its time to start really preparing for the new season.

And Oklahoma State's first opponent?

The media.

This morning, from 10 a.m. until around 1:30 p.m. in Kansas City, head coach Mike Gundy, quarterback Zac Robinson, linebacker Andre Sexton and safety Ricky Price will face journalists from every medium.

While there, they'll face a whole host of questions. Here are some examples:

Hey Zac, how good can you be this year without a pesky quarterback controversy around?

This one is for either Andre or Ricky… Do you guys think you'll be less Swiss-cheesy on defense this year?

Oh coach, I forget… how old will you be this season?

Okay, so maybe not that last part, though he can add ESPY-winner to his trophy case. But you can bet, the questions will be mundane, interesting, stupid and repetitive. That's just how these things go.

Anyway, you get the idea. Yesterday, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M and Texas Tech took to the podiums. Today, the Cowboys will be joined by Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State. On Wednesday, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas close out the rounds of questioning. From there, all of the dirty dozen can start focusing in on getting the players back on campus and beginning practice for the fall.

But the questions batted around today will only be the tip of the iceberg of what the team will face this season.

For starters…

Can OSU improve on 7-6 performances the past two seasons?
Granted, each of those seasons were really .500 finishes, but winning two bowl games is always a positive way to end a season for a program and those wins over Alabama and Indiana cannot be ignored. Still, getting to seven or eight (or nine?) wins this season is paramount for the continued growth of this program and to keep the seat of Gundy's on the cool side.

Just how much can the D improve?
Anyone from fan to media type can prognosticate all they want about this one, but until the unit proves itself, it's hard to say just how much better it can be. Even a small improvement could mean a couple of extra wins this year.

Will the offense suffer without Larry Fedora running things?
It might not suffer, but there will likely be a hiccup or four. But then again, maybe not. After all, the offense didn't miss a step against the Hoosiers in the Insight Bowl, did it? Then again, IU was just a marginal Big 10 team.

Can OSU fans come close to selling-out the now-60,000-seat Boone Pickens Stadium this fall?
And the answer can't be "Sure, Bedlam is in November." This should be an interesting dynamic throughout the course of the year. The Booneyard is looking mighty fine these days, fully enclosed and nearing completion (from the fan perspective, anyway). But will there be wall-to-wall orange out in the West End Zone or will it look like a Montreal Expos game?

Will the Cowboys get to a better/bigger bowl this year?
The Big 12 South is its usual beast self and OSU's schedule doesn't lend toward many visible gains, so it's tough to say. This team could be loads better than the 2007 version and only put together a 7-5 regular-season mark.

Like I said, tip of the iceberg. There will be more questions and ones thrown out about situations from last year and who knows where else. Later today, we'll all hear the answers from Gundy and Co. and the countdown to NCAA 2008 will begin in earnest. And while we're still a few months away from having all the answers surrounding the season, the questions start coming hot and heavy today.

Justin Wilmeth is the Editor of OStateIllustrated.com. He can be reached via e-mail at justin@ostate.com.

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