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Big 12 notebook: Oklahoma State loses lot of starters in transfer portal; Title game staying put


AP Sports Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma State lost at least eight starters among the 18 players who went into the transfer portal since last season. The Cowboys also added 14 players from the portal.

“I attribute it to the times,” coach Mike Gundy said Wednesday at Big 12 football media days. “We can look across the country in the portal. We’ve got players that are playing on national championship teams that are leaving and going to other schools. We have players that are leaving after one year, players that are leaving after five years.”

Five of the Cowboys that left went to other Big 12 schools, including offensive tackle Caleb Etienne to league newcomer BYU and running back Domic Richardson to Baylor. Long-time starting quarterback Spencer Sanders went to Ole Miss.

“For a while there I thought it was interesting, but I’m almost considering NIL and the portal like religion and politics where it’s not even worth discussing because we don’t necessarily have a rhyme or reason for what’s happening,” Gundy said.


Texas has been tabbed the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 in its final season before moving to the SEC.

“It won’t be awkward for us,” Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian said of the pending move. “We’ve got a roster full of players who quite frankly came to the University of Texas to try to win a Big 12 championship, and we’ve got one more opportunity to do that, and I think our guys are focused on that.”

The Longhorns have won the Big 12 three times, including the inaugural 1996 title. They were also conference champs in 2005, when they were the last Big 12 national champions, and in 2009.

Kansas State, which beat national runner-up TCU in the Big 12 title game last December, was picked second, ahead of departing Oklahoma, Texas Tech, the Horned Frogs, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Texas got 41 of the 67 first-place votes in the media poll, while K-State got 14.

Each of the Big 12’s four newcomers — BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF — were picked to finish in the bottom half of the standings.


The Big 12 championship game will remain at AT&T Stadium through at least 2030.

Commissioner Brett Yormark said the six-year extension announced Wednesday allows the league to host its title game “at a world-class venue in our own backyard.”

Yormark also said that for the first time this year, the game will include a halftime show featuring a major artist and the participating school bands that will be part of ABC’s television broadcast. The artist will be revealed around Aug. 12, when tickets go on sale for the Dec. 2 game.

The Big 12 hasn’t played its title game anywhere else since AT&T Stadium opened in 2009. After games in 2009 and 2010, the conference didn’t have a championship game the next six seasons before resuming it in 2017.


Houston enters the Big 12 with a quarterback with a lot of experience in the league.

Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith, a dual-threat QB, played in 21 games for the Red Raiders over the past three seasons.

“I felt like it was important to bring a guy in with experience, with Big 12 experience. We did that at a number of other positions,” Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen said. “Donovan has impressed me. I think his best days are ahead of him.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean Smith will be the successor to Clayton Tune, who threw for 11,994 yards and 104 touchdowns over 47 games for the Cougars the past five seasons. Houston also has returning backup Lucas Coley.

“They’ve been 50/50, and we knew they were going to be 50/50, and they’re going to continue to be 50/50 until one just makes it clear,” Holgorsen said.


Kansas has eight wins in its first two seasons under coach Lance Leipold. The Jayhawks won only nine games combined the six seasons before that.

They were 5-0 last year and had their first Top 25 ranking since 2009 before quarterback Jalon Daniels got hurt. They finished the regular season 6-6 and made their first bowl game since 2008, losing 55-53 in triple overtime to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl.

Leipold said last year was a big step forward for the program and showed the resiliency of the team. He wants his players to embrace expectations while keeping their focus on now.

“I think this group gets it,” he said. “But at the same time, for a program like Kansas, we need to embrace some of those things, expectations and the positivity that’s surrounding our program.”


Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s father died this week from pancreatic cancer.

Aranda said he had a great relationship with his father, and knew his father loved him without him ever really openly saying it.

“I remember when he called me and told me that he had pancreatic cancer and it was Stage 4, I told him that I loved him and he didn’t say it back. I don’t know if he heard me,” Aranda said. “So I wanted to go and say it to him face to face. I was able to do that. He gave me a big hug. … He wouldn’t let me go, and he kept really strong and he told me that he loved me.”


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