The coaches from the Big 12 (as well as the Pac 12, Mountain West, and MAC) are gathered this week at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix for spring coaches' meetings. So far there hasn't been a great deal to come out of the desert, but there was one big news drop as the matchups for the Big 12/SEC challenge were announced.
The Wildcats play on the final day of the inter-conference face-off, visiting Tennessee on Saturday, December 6 while Oklahoma State visits South Carolina. The series kicks off the preceding Wednesday, the third, with Auburn trekking out to Lubbock to commiserate about their experiences with Tommy Tuberville before playing some basketball. Thursday night sees the heaviest action with four games, each conference hosting a pair. Arkansas travels to Ames and LSU heads to West Virginia, while Vanderbilt hosts Baylor and TCU drops in on Ole Miss. Friday, we get the highest-profile matchups as Florida tries to chomp off a bit of Jayhawk in Lawrence, Missouri relives old times by heading to Oklahoma, and the Longhorns pay a visit to Rupp Arena to face Kentucky.
Our friends at Campus Insiders are in Phoenix, and they managed to corral some folks for short interviews. There's chats with Charlie Strong of Texas and Texas Tech's Tubby Smith, but there are three items of more direct interest to us.
Big12Sports.com's Wendell Barnhouse talks with Jeff Mittie about Mittie's decision to come to Kansas State and his local ties, how moving within the conference might be easier than changing conferences, and his ability to recruit Texas.
There's some other content of note; Kristen Keith of Campus Insiders chats with Big 12 coordinator of football officials Walt Anderson about rule changes coming in 2014, including a ban on hitting a quarterback below the knees when he's in the pocket, the removal of the 15-yard penalty when a targeting ejection is overturned, and how the Big 12 came up with the concept of the eighth official.
Also, Barnhouse returns, engaging in a post-mortem of last year's rule changes with Curtis Shaw, the Big 12's coordinator of basketball officials. Shaw seems to think everything was peachy keen, which is a little disturbing, but notes they're going to tweak some things this year, and by 2016 we may see things like widening the lane or shortening the shot clock. According to Shaw, the emphasis, in broad strokes, is to reduce the physical nature of what he notes is not supposed to be a contact sport.