DALLAS, Texas — Sporting a smile that boasted some serious hang time, Nick O’Toole enjoyed every second of his media day experience.
It’s not often a punter commands such limelight.
“I’ve had a blast talking to all the reporters,” O’Toole said late Tuesday afternoon. “I’m a punter so they don’t really ask me a lot of questions about football, which is fine.”
A more pertinent topic was his mustache, which has evolved from bold and bushy last season to handlebar haughty this summer. (What does a fellow on the Ray Guy watch list use to style his boomstache? Why it’s all there in a tin of Uppercut pomade.)
This trip to Dallas culminated a long-shot dream O’Toole first dared to ponder last summer, when he enrolled at West Virginia in time to watch online as Quinton Spain and Karl Joseph did their interview tour.
“I thought to myself that would be awesome, but there’s no way a punter will ever go,” he said.
Welp, Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen flipped the field on conventional wisdom—and caught O’Toole unaware—by announcing last month that the punter was actually among the three-player contingent headed to media days.
Holgorsen explained he chose O’Toole based on charisma, the eye-grabbing ‘stache and the fact that “we had to punt a lot last year, so he was one of our better players.”
STOOPS WANTS MAYFIELD ELIGIBLE
Bob Stoops said Oklahoma is pursuing an NCAA transfer waiver for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the talented-but-troubled Missouri castoff who enrolled this summer. The coach also strongly advocates the immediate eligibility of quarterback transfer Baker Mayfield, who enrolled this spring after a walk-on season at Texas Tech.
“I think it’s one thing if you’ve invested a scholarship in an individual and he decides to leave,” Stoops said. “But a guy that you haven’t invested a scholarship in, I don’t know why that would even be something, why it would be an issue.”
CYCLONES MAKE DUE ON D-LINE
Paul Rhoads laments the lack of elite defensive interior linemen on the recruiting trail, noting they’re even more scarce at programs such as Iowa State.
“You walk through the shopping mall, you don’t see a lot of 6-6, 290-pound guys that can run really fast,” he said. “The numbers of those guys, they just don’t exist and we all want them. So every time you find those guys, the haves in this game of college football—the traditional college programs—they’ll get first crack at those guys.”
“We’re going to take guys that on occasion are 230 pounds and develop them to be that 290‑pound guy.”
Rhoads, recounting his days as a defensive assistant, cited the fortuitous story of Jordan Carstens, recruited to Iowa State in 1999 as a walk-on who nabbed the 105th and final roster spot.
“I had to talk (then-head coach Dan McCarney) into bringing him in as 105, and he goes on to the National Football League with Carolina. He was about 210 pounds coming out of high school and ended up being an All-Big 12 player. You gotta get lucky at places like ours that that high‑profile athlete doesn’t usually have a lot of interest in, quite honestly.”
STILL SORE OVER TEXAS FUMBLE
Perhaps no Big 12 play during 2013 was more controversial—and more inconclusive on replays—than the potential game-saving fumble Iowa State recovered (or rather, didn’t recover) in a 31-30 loss to Texas.
The no-call fueled Rhoads to deliver another impassioned postgame monologue, and sent the Cyclone spiraling toward a 3-9 season. Yet the coach has come to accept that replay officials simply didn’t have a camera angle to overturn the call on the field.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve lost faith in (the replay system), because of that,” he said. “(But it) doesn’t make it any easier to swallow that loss, because it’s a game we certainly thought belonged to us as it played out on the field.”