TCU head coach Gary Patterson expressed enthusiasm about his team joining a new conference.
DALLAS — The West Virginia and Texas Christian football teams found themselves in an unfamiliar situation this week, as they got their first taste of the Big 12 Football Media Days.
The two schools officially joined the conference on July 1 and hope to bring a lot of talent and competition to their new league.
“It’s good to be a part of the Big 12 from a coaching standpoint, player standpoint and a fan-base standpoint,” Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “I can assure you everybody in West Virginia is excited about the opportunity that’s in front of us.”
TCU head coach Gary Patterson also expressed enthusiasm about his team — formerly of the Mountain West Conference — joining the Big 12 this season.
“We’re excited about our first inaugural year in the Big 12,” he said. “Obviously, it’s been a long journey for us. We’ve been through a lot of conferences along our way.”
West Virginia, coming off a 10-3 season in the Big East, was picked second in the Big 12 Preseason Poll. TCU, picked fifth in the poll, recorded an 11-2 mark last season as a member of the MWC.
Patterson said even though the Big 12 is a different environment for his team, the aspirations are the same as they’ve always been.
“Our goal has always been to win a conference championship no matter what,” he said. “And that’s going to be our strive in this league, and also someday play for a national championship.”
While Patterson is new to the Big 12, Holgorsen is quite familiar with the conference. He spent time coaching at both Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, and knows what difficulties his team will need to conquer.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Holgorsen said. “Nine of my last 12 years have been in the Big 12 and [I’ve] had a lot of big games, played in a lot of different venues, and it’s — we understand it’s going to be challenging.”
Although the competition may be tougher than what they’ve been facing recently, many other coaches in the Big 12 believe WVU and TCU can have an impact in the race for the conference title.
“I believe with these guys coming in, they’re both teams that are used to winning championships,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “It’s made the league really difficult, but at the same time, it’s exciting.”
The Mountaineers enter the 2012 season with high expectations, due in large part to their quarterback, Big 12 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Geno Smith.
Last season, Smith threw for 4,385 yards with 31 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. It’s that kind of production that has many people confident WVU can be a factor right away.
“They’ll come in and compete immediately,” Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads said. “I would expect them to come in and compete for a conference championship. They’re that level of program and always have been.”
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