It always seems like college football "news" tends to slow down once camp kicks off. Perhaps that is because everyone is actually gearing up for the season vice realigning conferences, getting hammered by the NCAA or hiring and firing coaches.
It could also just be that I allow myself to get so boresighted on what is happening in South Bend this time of year that I am not quite as vigilant in keeping an eye on the rest of the country as I tend to be the rest of the year. In reality it is probably a little of both. Throw in a splash of real life being busier than normal and the next thing you know the week in news becomes a bi-weekly feature. There could be worse things. With that here are the college football stories that I found the most interesting the last two weeks.
We won't be without Mike Leach quotes this fall. Instead of laying low in Key West Leach will be spending his Saturday afternoons providing color commentary for CBS College Sports broadcasts. The thought of Leach sitting in the booth and rambling on about whatever pops into that quirky brain housing group of his for three plus hours is very intriguing. I suppose I might have to reconsider my standard Saturday multi-TV arrangement to get volume on a few more WAC and CUSA games. There is no way this scenario doesn't bear fruit.
On the CBS note Gregg Doyel wrote a scathing piece slamming several SEC Coaches for oversigning recruits and jettisoning current players to make room for them. He slams Les Miles, Nick Saban, Houston Nutt and even catches Randy Shannon in the shotgun spray. Nice work.
The NCAA wants to talk to Bryce Brown about the recruiting practices at Tennessee under Lane Kiffin. I wonder why?
Mack Brown is of the opinion that 16 team superconferences are in the near future. I had to double check the date on this one to make sure it wasn't from June.
On that note it appears that BYU is rapidly drawing closer to football independence. This is an even more intriguing development than the superconferences. If the Cougars are competitively and financially successful in this endeavor I would have to think that traditional greats like Texas will have to give the independent route an even closer look than they might be already. Amongst all the national clamoring about how Notre Dame will have to join a conference to survive I would rather enjoy watching teams jumping out of conferences in favor of independence.
There is a great article by Wadlington on the FanTake home page this week Intelligence: The Ultimate Athletic Handicap? As a Notre Dame fan I found it particularly interesting. Is a smarter roster an advantage or a disadvantage? Chew on that one for a while.
Fall camp rolls on in South Bend and Wednesday was media day. There have since been what seems like 1000 different articles and posts dissecting every word that was uttered by a coach or player. I will freely admit that I at least attempted to digest most of it myself. That said these are the quips that I found the most enlightening.
Defensive Line Coach Mike Elston had this to say about the Defensive Line rotation.
"I like the guys," Elston said. "I like the guys. We’ve got eight guys we’re working with from Ian Williams, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Ethan Johnson Emeka Nwankwo, Hafis Williams and Sean Cwynar — those are our top six right now. Those guys will play. They’ll rotate in every three, four, five plays. You’ll see a lot of guys cycling in."
"We won’t have the ones in there and sub in three new guys," Elston added. "It’ll be a rotation with a couple of guys that you saw started the game, with a guy or two of the backups. But you’ll see guys staying fresh. And you might see three new guys in there at once, but we’re going to try and prevent that from happening. The seventh and eight guys will continue to develop. Tyler Stockton and Kona Schwenke, we need to develop those guys."
It sounds like the defensive line depth is coming together nicely. What happened to Brandon Newman? I am also a bit surprised to hear that about Stockton. It sounds like Nix, Heggie and perhaps Schwenke will all retain a year of eligibility.
Head Coach Brian Kelly commented on the competition between Anthony McDonald and Carlo Calabrese to start next to Te'o at inside linebacker.
"We'd like Mac to play more physical and we'd like Calabrese to play with more finesse," Kelly said. "If you met Carlo, he's a strong, physical kid. He wants to knock that guard out every time. The problem is the tight end runs down the middle of the field, he's got to be covered by you once in a while.
"Mac on the other hand can cover that tight end down the middle of the field all day long. Once in a while, that guard knocks him back five yards. It's a combination of both of those. We want Mac to be more physical at the point of attack and maintain his really good pass coverage skills, and we want Carlo to be really physical at the point of attack like he is, but he's got to be able to relate to number two."
I will freely admit that the comment about McDonald needing to be more physical caught me off guard. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. Will they rotate situationally?
Chuck Martin also commented on the position battle at safety to start next to Harrison Smith.
"I think it’s still up for grabs," Martin said. "I think Jamoris Slaughter is doing some real nice things back there. Zeke Motta has come a long way in the spring and has athletic ability — size, strength, speed and toughness and some things that we’ll really need and hope that he’ll be a major impact in not only defense, but special teams. Dan McCarthy is a guy who we think is a pretty good football player. We don’t have a lot of numbers back there, but the four guys we have, we feel are capable of helping us win football games."
I expect to see both Slaughter and Motta on Sept 4th.
Here is a link to the full transcript of Kelly's presser if you missed it.
Enjoy the weekend. Two more weeks and we will be back to discussing actual games!