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Five storylines to watch at a Big 12 Media Days that could produce 100

KU's status as a true title contender, the shine of one particular new team & everything in between

5 min read

There are so many storylines surrounding Big 12 Media Days 2024 that it’s hard to come up with just a few to focus on ahead of the event.

But because it’s Kansas that we’re focused on here, I thought it might be a little easier and would be worth giving a try.

So, here it goes.

Five storylines that, in one way or another, relate to KU football that I’m interested to find out more about this week in Las Vegas.

These, of course, will be on top of all of the information we can learn from the KU contingent on hand about how this particular Kansas team looks and is running as preseason camp draws nearer.

• What’s the read on Jalon Daniels?

Last year at this time, Daniels was the conference’s pick as preseason player of the year and he certainly carried himself like it. But then another season mostly lost to injury put him on the back burner a bit and he heads to Las Vegas as a bit of an unknown. We know this: When he’s healthy, he’s great. But the big question is whether he can (or will) stay healthy. That’s sure to get plenty of time this week when the Jayhawks take the stage, both from the Jayhawks themselves and others around the league who aren’t quite sure what to think of Daniels anymore. Like KU fans, I’m sure most of them know he can be a Heisman Trophy candidate caliber of player when he’s got it going. But how convinced are they that he’s going to get to that level again and be a force to be reckoned with in Big 12 play? Toss KU running back Devin Neal into this category, too. Again, KU fans know what he’s capable of and how good he is, but Neal was not on the preseason all-Big 12 squad, so what do others think of the KU back?

Jalon Daniels (6) stands on the sideline in street clothes during a mid-November game in Lawrence last season. [Chance Parker photo]

• Leipold love

He’s been highly regarded as a damn good coach for years now. But based on what he’s done at Kansas, people are starting to look at fourth-year KU coach Lance Leipold as one of the best in the game. Hard to argue. With potential/perennial powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas now out of the conference, there’s certainly an argument to be made that Leipold is the best coach in the conference. K-State’s Chris Klieman, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham are also in that conversation if not slightly ahead of Leipold right now. So much of these Big 12 Media Days events is about the players and the outlook for the upcoming season, but you can’t talk about Kansas and its outlook without talking about the man who leads them. So, it’ll be interesting to hear how often his name comes up and who says what about him.

• Cornerback U?

KU’s had some awfully good cornerbacks come through the program — Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Charles Gordon and more — but having two preseason all-Big 12 picks at the cornerback position is new territory. That’s what Cobee Bryant and Mello Dotson earned this month from the Big 12 media, and both are competitive enough that they’ll want to live up to those lofty standards, if not exceed them, when it’s time to hit the field for real. Dotson will be in Vegas so you can bet he’ll get asked plenty about the honor. But it will be awfully interesting to hear how much others are talking about the KU defense as a result of this and whether they think the KU D can be as productive as KU’s offense. Regardless of what people think, the bottom line is this: If the KU defense can play at that same level, the Jayhawks absolutely will be in the thick of the Big 12 title race.

KU cornerback Mello Dotson brings down a Missouri State ball-carrier during the 2023 season opener in Lawrence. [Chance Parker photo]

• Prime Time, Prime Time, Prime Time!

You don’t have to love Deion Sanders. You don’t even have to like him. But you can bet we’re going to know he’s in Las Vegas this week. While that in and of itself will be a sight to behold — Colorado goes the same day as Kansas (Wednesday) — it will be fun to listen to Coach Prime and hear what he has to say about not only his team but also the rest of the conference he and the Buffs are stepping back into. They were picked to finish 11th in the preseason media poll but also had the conference’s first-team QB, Shedeur Sanders (Deion’s son) and preseason defensive player of the year in defensive back Travis Hunter. In addition, Deion’s other son, Shilo Sanders, will be in Vegas, making Colorado one of the most visible programs of the week.

• Money talks

It’s rare that complete answers and full disclosure is provided at these sorts of things, but it should be interesting to hear what Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark can share with people about the reports surrounding the Big 12 potentially changing its name in a partnership with All-State and what he thinks will happen in the wake of the settlement in the House v. NCAA case, which would allow schools to allocate up to $20 million per year (or so) to pay student-athletes directly in the new era of college athletics. Yormark has not been shy about prioritizing financial gain and money-making opportunities for the conference as the Big 12 moves forward in that new era, and he’s also been pretty unapologetic about it, as well. Whether he provides the full details or not, you know he’ll have some interesting things to say as it relates to this topic, which also includes the potential for a private equity firm to get involved with the Big 12 Conference at some point per reports from earlier this summer. Wild times!

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