Oregon coach Chip Kelly may or may not be getting a private hot tub with a waterproof video center in the Ducks' new football facility, but it hardly would be breaking new ground. Dr. Bo had that written into his WDRB contract from the get-go. So settle back into the bubble jets and enjoy the latest and greatest College Football Notebook from WDRB.com. It's waterproof. . . .
Kupper scouts the Cardinal offensive front
University of Louisville offensive lineman Alex Kupper says he's 100 percent rehabbed from a torn meniscus suffered during the spring game -- and subsequent surgery. One year after the offensive line was viewed as a weakness heading into the season, he says it's ready to go.
It's anchored by Rimington Award candidate Mario Benavides in the middle, with Jake Smith at right guard and John Miller at left. Kupper is at left tackle with Jamon Brown at right. Miller, Smith (a redshirt sophomore) and Brown form a talented trio of sophomores expected to make big strides, but Kupper said that's not taken for granted.
"The coaches have drilled in their heads, if you do nothing, you'll just be a sophomore," Kupper said. "If you don't move ahead, if you don't put the hours in, if you don't do that, you'll just be a second-year guy. So they've all worked hard. I try to lead by example and talk about how I've developed over 4 or 5 years. But they've all put in the time.
"I feel really confident," he said. "We all have game experience. We all have a lot of confidence that we know what we want to do. We just have to gel as a group during training camp."
Brown showed up in the just-released media guide as 340 pounds, but Kupper said he's shaved some off of that number.
"He's trimmed probably 15 pounds off," Kupper said. "He's running great. John, the same, trimmed a little bit off. It's the freshmen that came in, they're in the 340s now."
Kupper said the biggest difference in the team's talent now and what he saw when he started his U of L career is overall team speed. And he said he thinks Teddy Bridgewater is growing into the kind of leader the offense needs.
"He's a natural born leader," Kupper said. "He leads by example. He's not a rah-rah guy, but when he needs to say something, he says it. His play dictates how he leads. He's earned a lot of respect after those games last year. He'll hang in there, make a throw when he has to, that's something you look for. But we don't want him getting hit. There were a couple of times that the pocket breaks down after four seconds, and he goes and makes a play. That takes a lot of guts, and it really adds something."
Carter hands superlatives to running back corps
Running backs coach Kenny Carter called his current crop of Cardinal running backs the best group he's ever worked with during a couple of Cardinal Caravan stops last week.
Coming from Carter, that's pretty strong. He coached Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey at Florida. Still, he likes the depth and versatility of his current bunch.
"I've had several guys from others schools who have played in the league for a number of years," Carter said. "The thing I like better about the guys I have now, they are great after contact, and you can interchange them. Plus, with the transition to the West Coast offense it's a heavy two-back offense. We can have two tailbacks in the game and they can block like fullbacks."
FURTHER READING: The past week's U of L football coverage from WDRB.com
One of the storylines coming out of SEC Media Days was a purported refusal of UK players to respond to some brash talk by U of L players via Twitter. They said UK coach Joker Phillips has told them not to engage in any kind of back and forth.
"Talk is cheap," senior guard Larry Warford is quoted as saying.
Of course, that quote comes just days after another from Warford, saying, "They are not going to beat us again. I'm not going to let that happen next year. What happened last year should not have happened at all."
And then there was LaRod King: "(Last season's) loss (to U of L) hit deep. It's real personal for me. It's not just the game, it's not just the team, it's just Louisville. It's either you're Louisville or you're Kentucky. There's no in-between. There's no gray area. . . . Hate, there's no other word I can use but hate. I absolutely hate them. That's all I'm going to say is I hate them. It's that simple."
U of L receiver DeVante Parker has been serving up read meat on Twitter, sending out, "Sept. 2, the game shouldn't even be close," and responding to a UK fan with, "Kentucky sucks, end of discussion."
UK offering mini-season ticket packages
Having heard from some fans who didn't renew tickets that the economy was a factor, UK has responded by offering some smaller ticket packages.
From UK athletics: Four-game and three-game mini-packs are now available. Tickets for both packs are located in the lower level end zones of Commonwealth Stadium. And for a limited time, fans ordering a football mini-pack by August 10th will receive a free Olympic Sports Pass.
The 4-game pack enables fans to choose two SEC games (from South Carolina, Mississippi State, Georgia and Vanderbilt) and two non-conference games (between Kent State, Western Kentucky, or Samford). The pack costs $150.
The 3-game pack includes two SEC games from the list above, plus one non-conference game, at a cost of $115.
UK also has tickets to road games available -- including to the opener at Louisville. For more information see UKathletics.com.
FURTHER READING: UK football coverage from WDRB.com this week
The SEC had its media gathering in Hoover, Ala., this week. The Big Ten moves center stage with its question-and-answer sessions Thursday and Friday in downtown Chicago.
The crowds will likely be largest around new Penn State coach Bill O’Brien and his players. Expect plenty of questions about Joe Paterno. Expect plenty of non-answers. And then expect even more questions about Paterno, the statue, the death penalty and the rest of the mess in Happy Valley.
Urban Meyer will command attention as he begins his first season at Ohio State after winning a pair of national titles at Florida.
Indiana University and coach Kevin Wilson will also be represented. The Hoosiers are taking three seniors to Chicago – center Will Matte and defensive tackles Larry Black Jr. and Adam Replogle.
ESPN's Chris Fowler will emcee the event's Kickoff Luncheon.
Indiana opens the 2012 season at home against Indiana State on Sept. 1. The Hoosiers begin Big Ten play Sept. 29 at Northwestern.
Practice field projects nearing completion
IU says installation of a new FieldTurf Revolution surface at the football practice facility is almost finished. The program also is making improvements to its natural grass practice fields.
Athletic director Fred Glass said he thinks its important to make some kind of visible improvements to football facilities each year to demonstrate commitment.
Eight of the Big Ten's 12 teams now play on some kind of artificial surface.
Who's hot? Who's not?
The Notebook believes that Athlon Sports has its finger on the pulse of Southeastern Conference football from its offices in Nashville. Athlon publishes an annual SEC yearbook and tracks the league daily at its web site – www.athlonsports.com.
With all the SEC coaches gathering in Hoover, Ala., for SEC Media Day last week, the folks at Athlon decided this would be a good time to measure the state of all 14 SEC programs.
Which programs are on the move? Which schools are losing ground? Is anybody running in place?
This is what Athlon determined:
On The Rise: Georgia, Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs are a popular pick to win the SEC East and nobody is picking Vandy to finish last.
Slightly On The Rise: Mississippi, Tennessee. The Vols expect to make a major step forward from 1-7. The Rebels are ga-ga over the arrival of new coach Huge Freeze.
Holding Steady: Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M. The Notebook wonders about lumping Alabama in a group with the Bulldogs and Aggies.
Slightly Declining: Florida, Kentucky, Missouri. The Gators used to chase national titles. Kentucky slipped on the wrong side of .500. The Tigers slipped back to the Independence Bowl.
Incomplete: Arkansas. Bobby Petrino. Motorcycle Crash. Blonde companion. The Hogs are under the microscope.
John L. Smith: One year fix or the answer at Arkansas?
John L. Smith will coach the Arkansas football team for the 2012 season. He has been guaranteed nothing beyond this season. Smith, the former Louisville coach, understands that. He has heard the talk that the Razorbacks will be fishing for a permanent replacement by next December.
He has plunged into the shark tank that it the SEC West Division and will enjoy a favorable schedule that will bring Alabama (Sept. 15) and Louisiana State (Nov. 23) to Fayetteville.
Smith does not plan to be looking for another job at the end of the season. He plans to win – and he plans to stay.
Smith, who will be 64 in November, was asked this week if he believes he needs to deliver a 14-0 record to keep his job.
“That is to be determined, OK, by our athletic director, our administration,” Smith said. “What that number is, if you want to put a number on it, I don’t what that is. I don’t know that he knows at this point.
“Hopefully we’re going to, knock on wood, and make things happen to where we give him no choice but to say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be back here next year.’ “
Smith opens the season with home games against Jacksonville State and Louisiana-Monroe. The Alabama will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. and be televised nationally by CBS Sports.
Delaney's idea for conference sanctioning power gets cool reception
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney made headlines last week when a story surfaced that he had floated the idea of giving conferences the power to fire coaches in extraordinary circumstances, such as what Penn State has seen in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky trial (never mind that he Big Ten was naming its championship trophy after Joe Paterno during some of the investigation.)
The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an 18-page plan The Chronicle posted an 18-page plan titled "Standards and Procedures for Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics," that would have given the conference the ability to levy financial sanctions, suspend school personnel and even fire coaches.
The league nearly as quickly released its own statement on Friday, saying, "giving emergency powers to the commissioner to fire personnel is not under consideration."
It would've been the largest power grab yet by conferences, whose power already is burgeoning with new cash from football postseason agreements. Increasingly, conferences are positioning themselves as "mini-NCAAs," albeit without some of the academic checks in place.
Miami denying new Yahoo! allegations of violations
Miami coach Al Golden moved quickly to deny he or his staff had any involvement in potential violations centered around the involvement of equipment manager Sean Allen -- an associate of jailed Miami booster Nevin Shapiro -- with recruits of the U. The Yahoo! report says Allen "continued improper contact with Miami recruits, which allegedly lasted through his final days working for the Hurricanes in the summer of 2011."
Yahoo! cites an unnamed athletic department source. Golden, in a written statement, said, "“I have been a college football coach for more than 18 years and I am proud of — and I stand by — my record of compliance over that span. As my colleagues and players on all of my teams can attest, I believe strongly in doing things the right way with the best of intentions. The inferences and suggestions in the Yahoo! Sports story that my conduct was anything but ethical are simply false. I, like all of us at UM, have cooperated fully with the joint NCAA-UM inquiry and will continue to do so, so that our program and our University can move forward. Because the process is on-going, I am unable to address any specifics or answer questions on the matter.”
Included in the Yahoo! report are records of eight phone calls between Allen and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former Miami recruit and now quarterback at U of L.
A source at U of L told Yahoo! that Bridgewater had been interviewed by the NCAA in the investigation. Also mentioned in the report are U of L players Eli Rogers and James Burgess. The U of L players are not the subject of NCAA inquiry of wrongdoing on their own part, nor has U of L been notified that it is the subject of any investigation.
Sources at Miami told The Miami Herald earlier this year that they don't expect a conclusion to the NCAA investigation until after the 2012 football season.
Football selection committee could mirror basketball process
We’re still two seasons away from the new four-team college football playoff. There’s plenty of time to debate how the four teams will be selected – as well as the credentials of the people doing the selecting.
But remember this: Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive, who is 72, will have a significant voice in the decision. And this is what Slive said about the playoff in an interview with the Associated Press this week.
“We’ll have to sit down and talk about what would be an appropriate number,” Slive said. “There have been different numbers floated around – 16, 20 (committee members). We certainly want to have enough members of the committee so that when certain committee members have to recuse themselves, we still have a significant group of people considering all the data and evaluating the teams.
“I visualize it working not unlike the men’s basketball committee that I was on and chaired for a year. You have both data and statistics and information, and then you couple that with what you see.”
Joker Phillips is starting his third season as the Kentucky coach. Here are the best third-season records in UK football history:
1. Jerry Claiborne, 1984, .750 (9-3, with victories over Tennessee and Wisconsin). 2. Blanton Collier, 1956 C.A. Wynne, 1936, .600 (6-4). 4. Paul Bryant, 1948, and A.D. Kirwan, 1940, .600 (5-3-2).
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