We are pretty much at the end of the annual parade of conference media days. Each year all of the coaches and national media spend a day or two together telling lies and half-truths to get people to start thinking about college football again. Most of what we hear from the gatherings is pointless – at least from a betting perspective. Once in a while, though, we hear something that could prove to have some value down the road. Here’s a quick gathering of some of the more interesting things that came up in this year’s media days:
– There is a lot of love for Virginia Tech. At least two opposing coaches talked about Virginia Tech as a serious national championship contender without being asked about them first. That seems a bit ambitious to me, but they are a loaded team – especially at running back – and outside of one big game the schedule is certainly winnable. That one game is a doozy, though – they open against Boise State in a game that will ruin the season before it starts for one of those teams. Boise State is current a 2.5 point favorite according to the College football odds makers.
– Ralph Friedgen is a dead man walking. He spent far too much time talking about his job security, and his story wasn’t as convincing as it should have been. If the Terps don’t jump out of the gate this year the his future will be even more of a distraction than it already has been.
– In a procedural change, the Big East will now require all teams to report injuries weekly in an NFL style injury report. Players will be listed as Probable, Questionable, Doubtful or Out. The Big East has always seemed to be particularly bad at disclosing things, and there is nothing worse than betting on a team then discovering a key player is absent, so this is a very welcome advance in my eyes. It certainly has been nice in the ACC.
– This isn’t an important note, but I include it because it is entertaining. The Big East is definitely the runt of the six major conferences, and they can’t seem to get out of their own way. The day before the media day, which was being held in Rhode Island, they had a clam bake for coaches, media, and key players. Noel Devine, the West Virginia star who is potentially the biggest star in the conference this year, got food poisoning at the event and was unable to attend media day. The conference just can’t win.
– Michigan still doesn’t have a quarterback. It’s not quite as bad as it sounds – Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are both legitimate options with upside, and freshman Devin Gardner is a real talent, though he will likely redshirt. The problem, though, is that neither Forcier nor Robinson has established themselves as the clear choice. Coach Rodriguez was asked about it repeatedly, and had no good answer for it. If things don’t clear up quickly on this front then it could be an issue as the season progresses.
– Joe Paterno isn’t going anywhere. There were signs of failing health the last couple of years, but they seem to be far in the past now. Paterno was as feisty as ever, and he gave no signs that he is nearing the end, or that he is less than effective. Paterno gets compared to Bobby Bowden a lot, but his career won’t end like Bowden’s – at least not now.
– Texas A&M QB Jerrod Johnson got a whole lot of attention on the day. He’s not really a top level Heisman candidate now, but more than one coach talked about how he should be. Of course, he won’t get any national love until he wins some games, and it’s no certainty that the Aggies will do that. There is a fairly positive feeling around them, though.
– Bob Stoops was surprisingly honest about his offensive line. It was essentially a disaster last year, and a big part of the reason why they lost five games. He says that the experience of last season, a strong offseason, and strong performance during the spring against a very good defensive line has him feeling much more optimistic about this season. That’s what you would expect any coach to say, but his forthrightness made it believable in his case. The line will have to be good if the team hopes to live up to their high expectations.
– The conference is serious about gaining respect. The change in leadership for the conference didn’t have quite the result that it was hoped to – 12 teams instead of 16 – but it still has an obviously aggressive new feel to it all. The media days were held in New York and Bristol, Connecticut instead of in a Pac-10 market, and they were a slick and well managed affair. This is a conference to take more seriously than we have recently – the professionalism and hunger for respect will trickle down onto the field.
– Jeff Tedford has a swagger about him this year. Cal’s coach is normally a bit withdrawn and even surly, but he was outgoing and even playful at the media days this year. That’s a bit surprising given that there isn’t obviously a lot to be highly optimistic about with Cal right now. It’s hard to predict what the cause of the change is, but it’s worth keeping a closer than normal eye on the program.
– If you believe the hype then there is no reason to be too concerned about Georgia redshirt freshman QB Aaron Murray. He’s had a very strong spring and summer, and the players around him are very confident in him. He’s the only starter on the offense who isn’t returning, so he’s going to have a lot of experience around him to fall back on and build up his confidence.
– Vanderbilt seems to be in good hands – at least at first glance. New coach Robbie Caldwell took over from Bobby Johnson just a week before the media days, but he was confident and commanding seemed firmly in charge. Johnson was a good coach, but the change should bring the team some more outward confidence and aggressiveness.
The season opens up on Thursday September 2nd and Maddux Sports is ready for another winning season handicapping the games. If you haven’t done so already get on board with our college football spread picks and enjoy a profitable season while enjoying the games along the way.