New Texas coach Charlie Strong prefers not to talk about national championships. (Erich Schlegel / Getty Images)
Dallas — Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game.
The new coach toned down his honest assessment in future stops, then said Tuesday in his first appearance at Big 12 media days that he prefers not even talking about championships.
“’I’ve been part of two national championships. The place (Florida) that I won it at, we never talked about going and winning a national championship,” Strong said. “You expect them to have expectations at the University of Texas because you’re at a premier program. But it’s all about our players and just making sure we go compete. I don’t ever want to put pressure on our team, on our players at all. I just want them to go out and just go to work each and every day.”
The Longhorns haven’t even won a Big 12 title since the 2009 season, when they made it to the national championship game, which is the primary reason Mack Brown is no longer the Texas coach.
Oklahoma is the preseason favorite to win its league-high ninth Big 12 title. Texas, which appeared with the Sooners, West Virginia, Kansas State and Iowa State on the second day of media days, is picked fourth.
Strong said his national championship comment on the first stop of the spring tour came as the Longhorns had just finished spring practice.
“We were not a healthy football team at that time,” Strong said. “I can’t say just how far off we are and that we will not know that until we go compete this fall. But we still have work to do. Now, we’re not as bad as we used to be.”
Strong said quarterback David Ash played “very well” when healthy last season and is the starter. Ash has been cleared to participate in contact drills after missing most of last season with concussion symptoms and part of spring` drills with a broken left foot.
Oklahoma coach Bo Stoops sounded hopeful about possibly adding two proven offensive players this season, and not having to wait until 2015 for former Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and quarterback Baker Mayfield, a true freshman starter for Texas Tech last season when he threw for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games.
Green-Beckham was dismissed by Missouri in April after several off-field incidents, and this month got to Oklahoma, where Stoops and receivers coach Jay Norvell had personally recruited him out of high school. The Sooners have filed an appeal seeking for him to be able to play this season, a year after 59 catches and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore at Mizzou.
“Through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well and be great for his future,” Stoops said.
Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury referred to “just team policy” for a decision blocking Mayfield, who wasn’t on scholarship at Texas Tech, from being able to play immediately at Oklahoma without losing a season of eligibility.
“A guy that you haven’t invested a scholarship in, I don’t know why it would be an issue,” Stoops said. “It’s something that we’re working through.”
Bill Snyder will turn 75 during the upcoming season, his 23rd as Kansas State’s coach. Told by one reporter that there have been 48 coaches at other Big 12 schools since he was first hired at Kansas State in 1989, Snyder chuckled.
“There’s a variety of different reasons. Sometimes people move on,” Snyder said. “The age factor, I can’t negotiate that. … I’m as old as time, and that’s not going to change.”
Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads hired former Kansas coach and Oklahoma offensive coordinator Mark Mangino. Rhoads said Mangino has a proven record as a play caller and brings a tough mentality.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said he has never been more excited about going into a season than he is about the Mountaineers’ third in the Big 12. They were coming off an Orange Bowl victory before getting to the Big 12 and going 6-12 in conference games the last two years.
“I think our players in our locker room understand what the Big 12 is all about,” Holgorsen said. “They understand how challenging it is.”
Former Illini dies
Campus officials say a football player at Winona State University who recently transferred from Illinois has died while working out with teammates.
Winona State said in a news release that 22-year-old Shawn Afryl died Monday during a workout at Maxwell Field on campus.
Information about his cause of death was not immediately available.
School officials said the 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive lineman had recently enrolled after his transfer.
Illini coach Tim Beckman said in a statement that his players were saddened to hear of the death of a “great teammate.”
Winona State coach Tom Sawyer said Afryl had shown maturity and leadership in his short time at the Division II school.
Afryl is a graduate of Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs.
Rape charge at BGSU
A Bowling Green football player has been charged with attempted rape.
Court records show 19-year-old William Houston was arraigned Monday in Bowling Green Municipal Court and later released on bail. The records show no attorney for the sophomore running back.
Houston is from Dublin and there was no phone listing for him.
Bowling Green police report Houston was arrested Sunday after a female told police she was asleep at a home where other people were staying, and she awoke to find a man atop her trying to engage in sex. Police say others reported the man was Houston.
University spokesman Dave Kielmeyer says the school is conducting its own investigation.
Houston scored 11 touchdowns last season and rushed for 211 yards.