The Big 12 unofficially officially opened the 2022 college football season on Wednesday, the first day of its 2-day media days event, and the first of 10 across the FBS landscape.
The Big 12 event takes place at AT&T Stadium, the site of the last official Big 12 event -- a rip-roaring conference title game, capped by a classic ending.
Trailing 21-16 with 3:14 to play, Oklahoma State took over at its own 10-yard line. The Cowboys methodically put together their march to win the Big 12 title: 17 snaps, none traveling further than 13 yards, and only three moving more than nine. With 1:19 to play, OSU had a 1st-and-goal from the 2. Then a 2nd-and-goal from the 1. Then a 3rd-and-goal from the 1. And then a 4th-and-goal from the 1.
And for any head coach feeling insecure about their level of combobulation in the game's biggest moments, take comfort. Baylor head coach Dave Aranda recalled Wednesday that his Bears were highly discombobulated in the goal-to-go situation.
"I thought there was a timeout and we didn't have a timeout," Aranda said Wednesday. "We thought it was this personnel and it was a different personnel."
For as highly complex and consistently chaotic as football can be, the Big 12 championship was decided by the simplest of athletic contests -- two guys in different shirts racing to a spot.
"I'm glad all of it worked out in the end," Aranda said in his trademark understated fashion.
As Aranda explained, the player who made the tackle was the ultimate Program Guy. Jairon McVea walked as Baylor hit rock bottom, joining the team in 2016 under interim head coach Jim Grobe. He played primarily on special teams for his first three seasons, part of the effort under head coach Matt Rhule as Baylor rose from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019. He joined the 2-deep in 2021, just in time for Baylor to slink from 11 wins to two in Aranda's first year. He started 2021 as a back-up and finally joined the starting lineup in November of his fifth season, then made the tackle that secured Baylor's return to the Big 12 mountain top.
In many ways, McVea was the perfect player to make that play.
"The guy that has always kind of been there, through the good and the bad, from turning stuff in, to dressing the right way, to being on time, to showing up at the right time on that particular play. It's funny how the off-the-field can drive what happens on the field," Aranda said. "He's a great example of that."