LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The College Football Notebook just keeps getting bigger, but how can it not? Media Days, the start of fall camp, pointspreads being published. We've got it covered like a soft zone. Jump in now, you'll need to stay a while . . .
Oddsmakers: Cards (easy) over Wildcats
The Notebook remembers a time earlier this summer when Charlie Strong's Louisville football team was posted as a 10-point favorite for the season-opener against Joker Phillips and the University of Kentucky.
Made sense. Cards won last year. Cards return more players. Cards are playing at home.
If you're a U of L fan and you gave only 10 points, feel fortunate. If you're a Kentucky fan and you received only 10 points, you moved too soon.
The latest lines on the game at Covers.com as well as at VegasInsider.com actually have Louisville favored by 13. In fact, the VegasInsider consensus number is Louisville by 14 ½ points.
The Cards are a bigger favorite against UK than Alabama is over Michigan (12) or South Carolina is against Vanderbilt (6 ½).
U of L Day 1 practice notes
Freshman QB Will Gardner (knee) and freshman OL Sid Anvoots (back) have injuries that will keep them out for the season. Gardner aggravated a knee injury he sustained in high school, while Anvoots is still nursing a back injury sustained while lifting weights.
Sophomore WR Michalee Harris participated only in light drills and will "take it slow" returning from a knee injury, according to Strong, who wouldn't speculate whether he'd be available for the opener against Kentucky.
U of L's updated roster handed out at practice includes six walk-on players. One of them is former Elizabethtown QB Kyle Todd, who threw for more than 3,000 yards as a senior. His brother, Chris, was a starting quarterback at Auburn.
On the field, the biggest freshman of influence was Keith Brown, who ran with the first-string linebackers and in fact was with the starters at middle linebacker to open practice. That may well answer the question of how much the Army All-American is going to play.
"What Keith was able to do was come in during the spring so he got a jump on the other freshmen," Strong said. "So that's why he's out there. And (James) Burgess too. So that's why they're out there. They understand the calls and the checks."
Burgess, also an Army All-American linebacker, also saw some practice time Friday at fullback.
Let the big Cards eat -- Joey Chestnut Beware
The guys who gather at Coney Island every July 4 for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest might have some competition. Even perennial champion Joey Chestnut.
U of L offensive linemen Mario Benavides and Alex Kupper said the Cards like to compete at the dinner table, too. In fact, sometimes they take their digestive systems to the limit – and beyond.
Benavides said their competitive food of choice has been sushi. Former U of L center Eric Wood set the record several years ago at an East End establishment when he took advantage of an All You Can Eat deal to eat 100 pieces.
Benavides was determined to break the record.
"I tried to do that," Benavides said. "I couldn't even get near it without throwing up. I ate 54 pieces and I got very sick. I didn't eat sushi for a while."
You became ill in the parking lot?
"More like the restroom," Benavides said.
The management of the restaurant was understanding – to a point. They advised Benavides he could take the sushi that remained on his plate home or that he could pay for it.
"I took it home," Benavides said. "It stayed in the refrigerator for awhile."
Joker giving players keys to the facility
At Friday's Media Day, University of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said his team has gotten so into video study that he's had to rework the access system at the Nutter Center to allow his guys into the building after hours and on weekends.
"We've actually had to change our system and how we get into our offices because there are so many of our players wanting to get to watch film on Saturdays and Sundays," Phillips said. "There were numerous times that Max Smith has six or seven guys coaching saying you need to get in. 'Coach, we've got some young guys here. We're all here together.'
"So we've had to change our system of how we enter our building. We're in the process of getting a system where our players can get in at any time. We've never had that. We've never had that where guys just can't wait to get in the building on the weekends, on their off days. I'm excited about that. That's what makes us excited."
While it's a good sign for the Wildcats, it also could be considered another indication of where the program lags behind. The Joe Craft Center has round-the-clock key-card access for basketball. And most football programs around the country today -- including U of L -- not only have some sort of key-card access, but also video systems that players can access anywhere.
At U of L, players are given DVD copies of key video to review, and can access some videos on servers via their laptops.
Phillips tells players to say goodbye to Twitter
Phillips said that for at least the duration of training camp, his players will be banned from the social network Twitter. He gave freshmen the news on Friday morning and was to give his veterans the word that night.
"Why? We've got better things to do," Phillips said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We don't have time. I told our freshmen, say goodbye tonight to your Twitter fans, okay? Say good night. I'll see you guys August 15th. Hope you show up for fan day, but we'll tune back in on August 15th. We'll say the same thing to our varsity guys. We don't have time for it, first of all. If you see our schedule, we're up at 7:00, we're in bed at 11 and there is no time to relax, no time to Twitter. When do they do it? From the walk from the Nutter Center to the Commons Dining Hall. That's the only time they have, and I want that time spent visiting with their teammates. We'll give big brothers to the young guys. I want that time spent getting these young guys understanding how we do things."
Phillips would like to name QB sooner than later
In the quarterback competition between Maxwell Smith, Morgan Newton and freshman Patrick Towles -- plus freshman Jalen Whitlow -- Phillips is hoping to see a timely and clear resolution.
"I want to make the decision at the quarterback position as fast as we possibly can," Phillips said. "I wish the decision was already made. It's not. The reason it's not is because of the competition that we have here. Patrick Towles figures into this. He figures into it a lot. He's a guy that we've got to find out how much he can do he can make plays with his leg, with his arms. He's a smart guy who only threw 46 touchdowns last year and one interception. It's unbelievable. So we've got to find out how much he can do for us.
"We will give him an opportunity he and Jalen Whitlow, an opportunity to be live at times because that gives them the best chance to compete, okay? Sometimes Donte Rumph runs by him and thinks he's tackled him and the play is over. You've seen the great quarterbacks that have the athleticism and ability to elude tacklers, get away from some of those tacklers.
"So we'll get a chance to compete as a live player in our offense for at least one scrimmage. To see how he can play under fire. I think you need to do that also for freshman quarterback because they don't understand the speed which the game is played at this level. So we'll give him every opportunity to compete for the position also."
Glass: Building football fan base one student at a time
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass wasn't happy with the Hoosiers' 1-11 performance during Kevin Wilson's debut season a year ago. Glass has marketed IU football aggressively across multiple media platforms. He's played with ticket prices. He's worked overtime to recruit more students and children to come to the renovated and upgraded Memorial Stadium.
But in the end, Glass knows that every program must win to generate fan support. And Glass worried that IU season ticket sales would decrease after the Hoosiers also went 0-8 in the Big Ten.
As of Thursday, Glass said that Indiana had sold 26,033 season tickets. That's an increase of nearly 19 percent over the 2011 total of 21,961. Most of the increase has come from students.
"The student part is spillover in the interest in basketball," Glass said. "Also the football experience is increasingly becoming part of student life."
Indiana averaged 41,380 per home game last season. That ranked 58th in FBS football.
Still waiting for the next Joe Montana at Notre Dame
Notre Dame hasn't been a legitimate contender in the national championship debate for several years, but the Fighting Irish quarterback job remains one of the most glamorous positions in the game, especially with NBC televising every Notre Dame home game.
Who is going to quarterback for Brian Kelly's third Notre Dame team?
It appears there will be an open competition, especially in the aftermath of the news that returnee Tommy Rees has been suspended for the season-opener against Navy in Dublin after Rees was arrested at an off-campus party last May.
Three guys will have their chance to take the job from Rees: junior Andrew Hendrix, sophomore Everett Golson and true freshman Gunner Kiel, who enrolled at Notre Dame last January after first committing to Indiana and then to Louisiana State. Kiel played at Columbus (Ind.) East High School and is the younger brother of former IU quarterback Dusty Kiel as well as the nephew of former ND quarterback Blair Kiel.
According to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Kelly said this about the Fighting Irish quarterback spot during a radio interview:
"It's now incumbent on the other three quarterbacks to be ready. But the whole camp is not going to be about Navy, either, so Tommy's going to get some reps. We need to keep him sharp, as well. Clearly, as we move through camp, we'll make a decision."
The Sun-Times also reported that 40,000 fans have booked inter-continental flights for the game in Dublin, which will be played at 9 a.m. (EDT) and be televised nationally by CBS.
Carparelli offers spirited defense of Big East at Media Day
In case you missed the speech of Big East Associate Commissioner Nick Carparelli at the Big East Media Day in Newport, R.I., you might want to take a quick look at it here.
Carparelli, one of the finalists for league commissioner, gave a spirited defense of the league's football side -- the kind of defense the league is going to need as it fights for respect from a national tide of dismissal.
The Big East provided Carparelli's prepared remarks to WDRB.com. A key excerpt:
"I will say with absolute certainty that the Big East will continue to be one of the most competitive conferences in college football. And by every empirical measure ... any objective criteria you choose ... the Big East has been ... is today ... and will continue to be one of the top conferences in the nation. The history of this league includes All-Americans, Heisman Trophy winners, major bowl champions, NFL draft picks, Super Bowl champions and elite coaches. That will continue. There is nothing in the sport that can be done in any another league that can't also be done in the Big East.
"We can say this for many reasons, but chief among them is the product on the field. What separates the Big East from every other league in the country is that there are no automatic wins on our conference schedules. The two teams that tied for last place in our league last year were a combined 8-2 in non-league games. The team that won our automatic BCS bid last year defeated the ACC champion by 37 points in the Orange Bowl. That same team also lost to one of our last place teams by 26 points and needed a field goal as time expired to beat the other.
"That kind of competitiveness has translated into compelling television, particularly late in the season. In each of the last three years, the Big East's BCS bid was not won until the final week of the season. Just last year, with two weeks left in the regular season, six of the eight teams still had a shot to earn a share of the league championship and four had a chance to win the BCS bid. When you couple that kind of drama with the desirable media markets of the participating teams, you have an attractive product for your television partner.
"Now if I were following my Twitter feed here from the podium, I'm sure I'd see more than one question along the lines of, "But what happens in two years, when everyone's automatic qualifiers go away." And I'd have an answer for you, though I'll take the liberty of using more than 140 characters.
"Since the announcement of the new postseason structure for college football, we've seen a number of stories - both in print and on television - that have been critical of the Big East - or pessimistic about our future in light of announcements other conferences have made with bowl partners. I will remind you, though, that we are roughly three months along into a process that won't be in effect until two-and-a-half years from now. The BCS Presidential Oversight Committee has affirmed that there will be a place for all deserving conference champions and that there will be a fair distribution of revenue with the new format ... and we have every confidence that they will follow through. It is premature to evaluate our position in the 2014 postseason today, when major details of the new format have not been decided yet. I would ask that you wait until the process is complete, take a look at it, then evaluate where we are. I think you're going to find that we will be in very good shape."
Ranking the best college football helmets
Spencer Tracy (without consulting Katharine Hepburn) delivered an essay on the 25 Best Helmet Designs in college football. This Mr. Tracy did it for Yahoo! Sports, not for Hollywood.
This is a topic that is always certain to inspire fierce debate, but a debate is a good thing until we actually have fresh game tape to analyze. The Notebook won't share all of Tracy's selections. You can find them here.
If you're looking for Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana or Western Kentucky, don't bother. None of the locals made the cut, even though UAB (seriously?), Penn and Illinois did.
But here are his Top 10: 10. Louisiana State; 9. Princeton; 8. Penn State; 7. Alabama; 6. USC; 5. Miami (Florida); 4. Michigan; 3. Florida State; 2. Notre Dame; 1. Texas.
The Notebook couldn't let Mr. Tracy's list go unchallenged. So for The List this week, Mr. Bozich and Mr. Crawford were eager to opine on their top fives.
5. Iowa – Yellow hawk looming on black helmet. Fierce, angry, attacking. Unique.
4. Syracuse – Distinctly orange with the contrasting blue "S." Inspires memories of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little. Nicely done.
3. Georgia – Bright red with a crisp block "G." The Bulldogs' have modernized their look without clutter.
2. Alabama – Plain red with white stripe and number. You can still see Bear Bryant patting one of his guys on the head. Wonderful.
1. Michigan – No mistaking the Wolverines' classic winged stripes. You know you're watching Michigan as soon as these helmets cross the TV screen.
(I couldn't let this pass without local division winners -- the block Cardinal "Red Rage" helmet at U of L and the power "K" or block "K" helmets used by UK in the late 1970's. Long may they live.
5. Florida State -- By the time the players get all their Tomahawk decals for good plays put on the helmets, these can be a mess by the end of the season. But I think the spear and feathers helmet logos is one of the more distinctive in college football.
4. Florida -- I know I'm going to catch some heat over this one, but where a lot of newer college football helmet logos tend to look like they were designed in some corporate boardroom, I like the script "Gators" as distinctive. And the orange and blue scheme fits the color of Florida perfectly.
3. Miami -- Karl Schmitt of Louisville was working at Miami when officials wanted to re-do the helmet design with the now iconic "U." Schmitt went to Howard Schnellenberger and told him school officials were concerned that people wouldn't know what the "U" stood for. He said Schnellenberger's response: "If we win enough games, they'll know what it means." Score one for the Pipe.
2. USC -- Simplicity with the gold Trojan on a Cardinal helmet. I tend to favor helmets that have stood the test of time and this one has been constant pretty much for 30 years.
1. Texas -- Another longstanding design, in place basically for 50 years. I'm partial to white helmets, and this one is clean, with the Longhorn logo being one of the most distinctive in sports.