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Big 12 notebook: Conference will debut 8th official, other innovations

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• The Big 12 is promising more innovation for college football. One experiment, as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby called it, is using an eighth official. The official will be in the offensive backfield and will place the ball in play. It also will have RF chips embedded in players' shoulder pads, as part of a partnership with Sportvision, that will allow it to track their velocity in a real-time basis. As a response to declining attendance nationwide, especially student sales, Bowlsby said, schools will show in-game highlights from other conference members during timeouts in its stadiums this season. “I really think it's going to be a terrific thing for our fans, and I think it will be one item that will keep people from staying home in front of their television or watching on a PDA or, in one way or another, saving time and money and staying home,” Bowlsby said.

• Oklahoma State was picked to win the Big 12 by media who cover the conference. The Cowboys received 15 first-place votes and 365 points. Oklahoma was second, with eight first-place votes and 355 points, followed by TCU (nine votes), Texas (eight), Baylor (two) and Kansas State (one). West Virginia was picked to finish eighth.

• TCU defensive lineman Devonte Fields, who had 18 12 tackles for loss and 10 sacks as a freshman, was a preseason pick as Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was the lone unanimous selection for its All-Big 12 team. Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, who rushed for 1,012 yards and seven TDs last season, was named the Offensive Player of the Year. No WVU players were selected to the all-conference team.

• West Virginia running back Charles Sims, who transferred from Houston, was selected Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. He rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns and had 37 catches for 337 yards and three TDs in 2012.

— Kevin Gorman

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