July 23, 2013
by Kelly McHugh, K-State Sports Extra/k-statesports.com
College football is in the air.
At least that’s the feel at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Tex., where the Big 12 Media Days began Monday morning.
Every mascot in the conference was up bright and early welcoming media members from around the nation with energetic high fives and awkward hugs.
But while it may have been all fun and games for the mascots, the coaches and select players from each team of the Big 12 came well prepared to answer whatever questions were thrown their way.
Attending the 2013 Media Days for K-State were head coach Bill Snyder, Safety Ty Zimmerman, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, offensive lineman B.J. Finney and linebacker Tre Walker.
After arriving in style with their customary suits and ties at the Omni Dallas Hotel on Monday morning, the group was sent to interview with national media. In waves, the players were sent back and forth between interviewing rooms and photo shoots with the nation’s top sports networks. By the end of the morning the four K-State captains had spoken to and posed for ESPN, ESPNU, CBS Sports, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Southwest, Sirius XM and the Big 12 Network.
“It’s pretty cool to get out here and meet some new players, people you’re going to be competing against,” Zimmerman said. “It kind of makes it more real. Everything is right around the corner, so (Media Days) kind of gives a kick start to the rest of the year.”
After breaking for lunch, Snyder and the captains were sent to the hotel’s ballroom for breakout interview sessions.
By the end of the day, the guys had heard it all. They heard their share of funny, lighthearted questions, but they also answered their share of heavier ones.
Lockett said one of the funniest questions he was asked came from an interview with ESPN.
“They said, ‘What do you smell when you think of College Football?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re saying.’ I said, ‘I think I just get a hunger,’” Lockett explained.
Finney, sitting across the table from Lockett, piped in, “I think that smell question actually originated with me. They asked me about the game atmosphere and I said, ‘When you first walk out of the tunnel, the crowd sounds like thunder and once you get on the field you can smell the concessions and stuff and it really makes it a part of the game.”
Everyone laughed at Finney’s remark.
“B.J. and I are definitely bringing different dynamics,” Lockett smiled, “I don’t think about concessions when we’re out there!”
While not all interviews are alike for these guys, there are many questions that wind up in almost every interview they faced.
The most popular question asked, they all agreed, was: What do you think about being picked sixth in the preseason polls?
“What I say is, those people are looking at stats and who’s returning,” Finney began. “They’re not in the program so they have no idea what kind of people we have, how hard we’re working or how hard anyone’s working. So we don’t place a lot of weight on it because it’s out of our control. We control our performance and that’s all we focus on. That sums it up.”
Lockett also talked about how a very popular point of conversation was the preseason poll.
“(The preseason poll) was something that was very common because a lot of people wonder how we are going to respond to it,” Lockett said, “but at the end of the day just because somebody has an opinion doesn’t mean that that’s how it’s going to be. It’s great to be able to stand up and say, ‘We actually proved to you that we did what you said we couldn’t do,’ and I think a lot of people live for that. It’s a great experience, and I think that we can do it again.”
Once the day was over, the K-State football crew was on its way back to Manhattan, ready to get back on the field and back to preparing for preseason camp.
“It was a lot of fun, it just gets you excited for the season,” Walker said. “It’s a good experience to see everybody before the season starts up.”
As for Snyder, well, he was ready to get back to Manhattan to continue preparing for the 2013 season too. However, just like his players, one of his most common questions was also about the preseason poll.
“I think I said last year that, if I were given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th,” Snyder said. “As I look at it this year, right now where we stand, I'd probably echo the same thought. It's precarious trying to make those kinds of decisions as the season gets started. Even during the course of the season, it becomes difficult to pick winners and losers…I know it has to be done, but it's an awful difficult task to make those kinds of decisions.”