With all due respect to everyone else, the biggest college football story in the nation this weekend may be in the media. We kick off another week of WDRB's College Football Notebook with news out of ESPN . . .
Erin Andrews leaving ESPN, reported headed to FOX
ESPN announced Friday night that Erin Andrews is leaving the network, amid reports that she's being aggressively pursued by FOX Sports. In fact, in announcing her departure, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys told USA Today that Andrews is heading for FOX.
Andrews began her broadcasting career as a freelancer at Fox Sports Florida, and joined ESPN in 2004 as a reporter for ESPN National Hockey Night. Since 2005, she has become a staple of ESPN's college football coverage, both on its signature College GameDay series and as a sideline reporter.
Her presence has become nearly iconic in college sports. She's been on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Andrews contract with ESPN was to expire on June 30.
"She did great work for us and we made an aggressive offer to keep her," ESPN said in a statement. "We wish her the best on her next chapter."
If her next chapter is with FOX, it is in keeping with that network's aggressive moves to counter ESPN and to deal itself back into the lucrative college football landscape. FOX entered a 12-year deal with the Pac-12 earlier this year, and has a new 13-year agreement to 40 football games per season with the Big 12.
FOX last year hired Gus Johnson as it's No. 1 play-by-play voice for college football, and Andrews would give it two highly popular personalities in the college game.
Little movement on conference horizon for Cardinals
The news remains mixed for the University of Louisville in the conference realignment game of musical chairs. The Oklahoman newspaper in Oklahoma City secured a copy of a memo that former interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas distributed to athletic directors across his league last winter.
First, the good news for Cardinals' fans pushing for a move to the Big 12: Neinas wrote that in December 2011 Big 12 athletic directors were split on the subject of adding another team. But he said there was "strong support," for making Louisville the league's 11th member.
Now, the bad news: Neinas said that in discussions with representatives of ESPN and Fox Sports that both television networks said they preferred a 10-team league to an 11- or 12-team conference.
Neinas also wrote this: "Our television partners agreed that the only new member that would enhance the Big 12 value for television was Notre Dame."
Notre Dame, of course, continues to prefer life as an independent in football. Would the Irish take their other sports from the Big East to the Big 12 or ACC? Good question.
Big East interim commish talks playoff picture
In an interview with ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson, interim Big East commissioner Joe Bailey said, "certainly the new four-team playoff gives every team from every conference equal opportunity to compete for the national championship."
The Big East lobbied against a selection committee. There will be a selection committee. Now, Bailey says he'll lobby that the committee be given marching orders to give preference to conference champions.
"The sense in the room was in the best interest of college football, that conference champions should really get a high degree of deference when it comes to that selection. That's in recognition of three, four, five months of achievement. So while the specifics haven't been worked out, we're clearly going to express our opinion to the degree they can to plays an emphasis on Conference champions."
Cards have 10 recruits in the fold already
According to Scout.com, Louisville has already secured 10 oral commitments from the high school Class of 2013. The group includes a pair of players who are ranked four-star prospects – Trinity defensive back Ryan White and Kyle Bolin, a quarterback from Lexington Catholic.
The Cards current group of commitments is ranked 44th nationally by Scout. Only Pittsburgh (36th) and Rutgers (38th) are ranked ahead of Louisville in the Big East – and Pitt won't be playing in the Big East after this season.
Benavides says rehab is right on schedule
U of L center Mario Benavides says he's upbeat as he rehabilitates from shoulder surgery.
"Knock on wood but I feel as good as I've ever felt," he said earlier this week in an interview with U of L's CardsTV. "The shoulder's not 100 percent, but the rehab as going better than planned and I should be 100 percent in a couple of weeks."
Benavides says he's been able to take place in all the running and workouts his teammates are involved in this summer. He said, "I'm running well, probably as well as I ever have."
Benavides said the tone of the workouts has changed a bit from the past two seasons. Not considering the increased expectations outside the program, he said he's beginning to see evidence of greater expectations from within.
"Expectations are a little higher just amongst ourselves," he said. "We expect to be at a better lever, to be bigger, to be strong and fast. . . . When we started workouts back this summer, it was night and day (to what it used to be). Usually when guys come back from a break, you can tell they were home on a break. With these guys, you can tell everybody was taking it very seriously."
Benavides says he's dropped 20 pounds, "something I've needed to do the past three years, and I feel good about it. . . . It feels like I'm in high school again."
Wildcats have ground to make up in recruiting
The early recruiting results are not as encouraging for the Wildcats. UK received its seventh 2013 commitment this week – defensive back Blake McClain from Winter Park, Fla., a two-star prospect, according to Scout.
Kentucky has one four-star prospect – defensive end Alvonte Bell from Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla. The Wildcats' group is ranked 59th nationally, but 14th in the Southeastern Conference.
Texas A&M and first-year coach Kevin Sumlin currently lead the SEC with the second-ranked class nationally, behind only Michigan. Three others SEC programs (Alabama, Florida, Georgia) are ranked in the Top 10.
Wilson: Program doesn't have to 'Climb Mount Everest'
The Hoosiers finished 1-11 last season, failing to defeat a single Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. Indiana never led during the second half in any of the Hoosiers' eight Big Ten Conference games.
Dramatic improvement is not expected from the Hoosiers this season, who open against improved Indiana State on Sept. 1 at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. Indiana's four Big Ten home opponents are Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin. Some pre-season magazines are predicting another winless Big Ten season.
Kevin Wilson, starting his second season as the Hoosiers' coach, believes Indiana will be improved, but he is not certain how the improvement will translate in IU's won-loss record.
"The challenge is to continue to build," Wilson said. "Don't make it sound like it's Mt. Everest. We've got to keep this group plugging along, gaining on it.
"We can still make strides and still not be where we want to be. That's just a fact when you're 1 and 11. We're not trying just to win a couple of games and say it's better. We need some serious, significant improvement.
‘We look forward to seeing what we're up to. I do think we're going about this the right way. I like what I see. I'll just be interested to see if that's going to translate into, ultimately, that scoreboard."
RECRUITING UPDATE: Indiana has only a single commitment for the 2013 class – Isaac Griffith, a wide receiver from Fort Wayne, Ind. IU's class ranks 97th nationally and last in the Big Ten.
Boise State has incentive to stay with Big East
The dismantling of the Bowl Championship Series has stirred speculation about the significance of conference ties, and how much a place in the Big East Conference is worth.
Boise State is committed to join the Big East Conference in 2013. The agreement to move to the four-team college football playoff in 2014 kicked up the debate about how much Boise had to gain by following through on the move. Some wondered if the Broncos would be better served by remaining in the Mountain West Conference.
Brian Murphy, a sports writer for the Idaho Statesman, believes that Boise will remain Big East-bound.
The first reason is the BCS system will remain in place for the 2013 season, which would position Boise to play for a spot in a BCS game next year. Boise covets BCS exposure.
The second is that Boise would make between $6-8 million per year in TV revenue in the Big East, a significant jump from the $1.2 million it expects to earn in the Mountain West.
Top Five Quarterbacks in the Nation
1. Matt Barkley, Southern California – Has been spotted posing for the Heisman Trophy. 2. Denard Robinson, Michigan – Passed for 20 touchdowns and ran for another 16. 3. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas – How much is he going to miss Bobby Petrino? 4. Aaron Murray, Georgia – There's not one thing to change in his throwing motion. 5. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville – True freshmen are not supposed to complete nearly 65 percent of their passes. Bridgewater did.