It’s been just a week since our last College Football Nation, but plenty has happened in sports, from the most exciting Home Run Derby I’ve seen in years, to our own Marcus Mariota taking home the “Best Male College Athlete” award at the ESPY’s. In this week’s edition of CFN, I highlight the key points going into each conference’s respective “Media Days.” With only 46 days until the college football season kicks off, let’s dive into the weekly roundup.
It only makes sense to start with the Southeastern Conference, as the annual four-day convention known as SEC Media Days took place from Monday through Thursday this past week, and brought forth a slew of interesting questions and concerns across the conference.
The number one recurring theme this past week was simple: Quarterbacks. Questions and uncertainty at the quarterback position are prevalent among several SEC teams including Ole Miss, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida.
The media’s vote resulted in a rather interesting verdict, as they predicted Alabama and Georgia to win their respective divisions, but voted Auburn as the favorite to win the SEC Championship.
Although the reason for this disparity can be attributed to a partially convoluted voting system, the idea is that in the West division, despite Auburn earning the majority of votes, they did not accrue enough points to beat Alabama in the vote.
One of the more interesting results to me in the voting was that of Mississippi State. Despite finishing the 2014 regular season in second place in the SEC West with a 10-2 record, and returning Heisman-hopeful quarterback Dak Prescott this season, the Bulldogs were not only voted to finish last in the SEC West but also in the entire conference.
All in all, a lot of questions linger for supposedly the “best conference in college football.” Perhaps that is because even the media is having a tough time predicting a winner this year, or because we don’t see an absolute “superstar” as we did in years past such as Johnny Manziel or Tim Tebow.
The two first-team all-SEC running backs are sophomores hoping to replay last year’s successes, and the best player in the conference might just be a cornerback in Vernon Hargreaves.
With all due respect to cornerbacks, what we learned from SEC Media Days is that there just isn’t enough solidity in the SEC to say that they are anywhere close to being guaranteed a spot in the championship this year, as they were felt to be in previous years.
While the Atlantic Coast Conference is getting set for their own version of media days, known as the ACC Kickoff, there is little doubt as to what sort of questions will be heading toward Jimbo Fisher.
Within a matter of weeks, the Seminoles football team has had two players independently arrested on similar charges. Freshman running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback De’Andre Johnson were both charged with battery against two different women at different Tallahassee bars.
Johnson was kicked off the team while Cook was indefinitely suspended. While these off-field incidents kick dirt on the Florida State program by themselves, combine them with the allegations of rape against Jameis Winston and Karlos Williams from last year’s team, and Fisher better get ready to answer some serious questions.
On a different note, an underlying theme among ACC teams this year is “coaches on hot seat.” Coaches such as David Cutcliffe, Mike London, and Al Golden surely find themselves in positions where an unsatisfactory season could result in them looking for new jobs.
Meanwhile, the University of Miami ended their 27-year run with Nike, deciding to be sponsored by Adidas and hinting at an unveiling of new uniforms via the Twitter pages of both Adidas and Miami Football, and releasing a preview of the uniforms on ESPN’s college football page.
— Hurricanes Football (@CanesFootball) July 18, 2015
The Big Ten media days aren’t for another few weeks, but the questions for Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes have been coming since January. Meyer has yet to name a starting quarterback and it seems as though he will take as much time as he can to make that decision.
With Braxton Miller choosing to stay, the three-way competition might be one of the best in recent memory.
Other news starts with Penn State removing last names from the back of their jerseys. When the NCAA sanctions were handed out in 2012, Bill O’Brien wanted to celebrate the players who chose to stay with the program by putting last names on the back of their jerseys, a break from previous Penn State tradition.
However, it was recently announced that James Franklin would once again remove the names from Penn State jerseys, in hopes of revitalizing the great tradition of the past.
Media Days for the Big 12 are slated to begin next week on July 20th in downtown Dallas. On July 16th, the Big 12 preseason media poll result and all-conference team were released, with TCU and Baylor running away with first and second place, respectively; also, the only two teams to receive first-place votes (with that being said, I’d highlight the November 27th meeting on my calendar between these two at TCU).
The All-Big 12 team was led by Heisman hopeful Trevone Boykin and preseason defensive player of the year Shawn Oakman.
The Pac-12 published their 2015 football media guide this past week, with our own Royce Freeman on the cover, and it’s full of valuable information for any college football fan, and especially Duck fans.
The most interesting table to me was on the fifth page, reporting how many starters each team in the Pac-12 is returning this season. UCLA led the way with a strong 19 starters returning, followed by Arizona State with 17, and California, USC, and Utah all tied with 16.
You can view the rest of the Pac-12 Media Guide here.