The College Football Notebook winds its way through Louisville media day, Kentucky ice cream day and a special memorabilia collection at Indiana. Jump on the train right now . . .
Who is the fastest Cardinal?
Bushell figures to be the guy returning kickoffs for the Cardinals this
season. He returned nine last season, averaging 30.7 per return, taking
one 100 yards for a touchdown against Connecticut. Bushell is a threat
to go long any time he gets the necessary blocking.
The Notebook asked Bushell if he was the fastest player on the team?
"That's tough," Bushell said. "I want to say yes, but we've got some guys who can run."
So which players deserve to be in the final heat?
Bushell named four guys – receiver Charles Gaines, cornerback Zed Evans, cornerback Stephan Robinson and himself.
On your mark, set …
U of L Media Day: 'The train' didn't leave the station
Vance Bedford is nothing if not self-controlled. He told himself before speaking to the media that he wasn't going to reprise his spirited, "Get on the train," speech from media day a year ago. But he did get rolling a time or two, and those riffs are worth reading in their entirety. So the WDRB Notebook presents the best of Bedford, 2012 Media Day edition.
After running through the defensive front and the team's athleticism, he started to pick up steam:
"We're better right now than any time since I've been here," he said. " . . . We have depth, we have competition. But the biggest thing is on game day, when the lights go on, can they show up? See, any of us can go to practice and run around and look good. But when you have a young football team, and you get out there, before the University of Kentucky game, in front of 57,000 strong, they're outside trying to get in -- I'm not going to say get on the train, 'cause you're trying to set me up. My coaching staff said I should've patented that. Somebody's using my line, it's too late. But the biggest thing is, we don't know. On paper, on video, after four practices, you like what you see. But when we get out there, we don't know what we're going to see. Why? Because they're young. When the lights come on and fans start cheering and bands start playing, we hear "Old Kentucky Home" out there, you don't know what's going to happen. They might start crying. Might have to bring some Pampers out. I have no idea. I don't know what they're going to do. But right now, they're doing a solid job for us."
When asked what the staff decided when the NCAA ruled that other teams could go recruit Penn State players:
"That was an easy decision, we stayed in our office because we like what we have. If they had called us, that's great. But for me, personally, I would not want to do that. I just wouldn't. I was not raised that way. Coach Strong wasn't raised that way. We never gave it a second thought. I'm not saying anything bad about anybody else or what they did. If a kid called us and wanted to take a look at us, sure. We'd be happy to do that. But we like our team that we have here right now, and we're not going to go sit on somebody else's doorstep and try to get something that falls from the tree. The University of Louisville stands for a lot more than that. It stands for integrity. That's what we're all about, that's what our staff is all about, that's what Tom Jurich is all about."
On the competition between U of L quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals' receivers against his experienced defensive backfield:
"Teddy B is looking good. Receiving corps, looking really good right now, which means sometimes our defensive backs don't look really good. So the thing I'm trying to get these guys to understand is if we can get close to these guys, on game day we can cover a lot of guys. I really believe we have an outstanding receiving corps and an outstanding quarterback. So each day we're looking for those things. Today, I told our defensive backs, if they put up the football, lets go get some receivers. Coach Strong might be a little bit upset, but life goes on. So Teddy, don't throw a ball where you hang a guy out to dry. That's not my defensive back's fault. That's your fault, and the receiver's fault for going for the ball. So, we had a couple of receivers that dropped the ball, two of them didn't finish practice. That was the receiver's fault. It's a beautiful thing when you have pride, isn't it?"
Daniel Brown evaluates the change in U of L's program
With only nine seniors, the Cardinals don't have many players left who can remember the pre-Charlie Strong days. But Daniel Brown is one of them. When asked what has been the biggest change in the program since his first year on campus, Brown didn't take long to answer.
"I think it's more of the guys really, really buying into it," Brown said. "(Steve) Kragthorpe was here. It wasn't that he was a bad guy. I don't think the players actually bought into the program. But coach Strong has really got guys to play for him."
Ice cream! Ice cream! Phillips trucks in sweet motivation
University of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips called in an ice cream truck at the end of a practice session earlier this week, just to lighten the mood of things and to give the players a bit of a pick-up after the first few days of work.
That move got the minds over at The Notebook to thinking. And that is a dangerous thing.
If you were to come up with a flavor of UK football ice cream, what would it be? The Notebook's best early entries: Cherry Claiborne and Nutter Pecan.
Or, if you want to restrict it to the current team: Martavius VaNeloms, Bookies and Cream, and Mint Chocolate CoShik.
Surely, you people can do better. Hashtag it at #UKFBicecream and let 'em fly on Twitter.
Cats on edge heading into first scrimmage today
Phillips said after Friday's practice that it was easy to see his team was building up a head of steam before today's first full scrimmage of the season. In fact, he commented that a few players went a little too far in blowing off steam.
"It wasn't real smart, the way we practiced. We had guys on the ground, and that's not how we do things here," Phillips said. "We had a little pushing and shoving afterwards and we don't do those type of things. We're trying to get those things corrected today. Not tomorrow, today."
Phillips said it wasn't the enthusiasm, it was the extracurricular activity he was taking issue with: "I like the fire, now. The thing we have to do is send a message that it's not what we want to see after plays. . . . Especially against us. Kentucky cannot beat Kentucky."
Phillips also said he'd like to be able to make a quarterback decision after today, but that will depend on what he sees on the field.
"We've got to make some decisions, hopefully some of those are made (in the scrimmage)," Phillips said. "I would like to see everybody 100 percent. ... In a perfect world, (the QB battle) would be over after (the scrimmage). But the thing is, if you don't separate yourself enough, got to give it another week. But I would love to see somebody come out and separate himself enough for us to say, that's it, there's the starter."
Wilson showed players some staff bling before practice began
The Notebook's own Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford co-hosted the Bob Valvano show on ESPN 680 in Louisville earlier this week, where they were joined by IU basketball coach Tom Crean. Crean has been a big supporter of IU football and was at the team's first practice of the season.
"I love their energy," Crean said. "And there's a plan there, and we've been able to get to be on the outside looking in from a pretty good view, because they asked us to be a part and I volunteered to be involved in the recruiting, so we've got a chance to share notes and thoughts on recruits. And it's really easy for us, and for myself and my staff, to sell Indiana, to sell the experience of being an Indiana student. And now as you watch what's going on in their program, it's very easy to sell them. I think they are high, high level coaches."
In fact, Crean said IU coach Kevin Wilson did something to illustrate the level of his coaching staff's background for his players before the season began.
"He did something really smart," Crean said. "Before he started camp, he showed all of his team all the different successes that his staff had experienced. So now you start to see the watches, the rings, the jerseys, the posters, the team pictures, the game balls, all these different things, and it's amazing. It was like walking into a Hall of Fame on the fourth level of the football complex, and the players go through and see that. He invited my wife and I to come over and look at it, and it was impressive, and it's just another example of how good these coaches are, and I just think it's a matter of time before they have this going. They're fearless. They're going to ruffle some feathers and they'll be involved in some recruiting battles. And they're already in some. And that's what Indiana has got to have, and there will be a lot of people taking shots at them just like they take shots at us, and that's the way it works, but that's how you get good."
Billboard Wars, JV division
Louisville and Kentucky have been flirting with each other with billboards for years. It's never been difficult to find UK football billboards in Louisville, and it's impossible to miss U of L's signature "We're Miles Ahead," billboard on the north side of I-64 next Frankfort.
Texas A&M and Texas are getting into the spirit of the billboard rivalry, too. It's about time. The word is that A&M has rolled out at least one "You're In SEC Country," billboard in Austin, home of the Longhorns. It's also the home of the Longhorn Network, which was the final act that inspired the Aggies to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC.
When is Lane Kiffin lying? When his lips are moving
The Notebook expects college football coaches to stretch the truth. In recruiting, it's part of the business. In job hunting, it's not unusual.
But why would USC coach Lane Kiffin lie about where he voted his team in the USA Today coaches' pre-season college football Top 25 poll?
Don't know. But he did.
USA Today made the unusual announcement of calling Kiffin on his lie this week. Kiffin was told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez voted USC Number One in his poll. This was Kiffin's response: "I would not vote USC No. 1, I would tell you that."
Ooops. Votes in the coaches' poll are supposed to be confidential, unless coaches' volunteer false or misleading information. Then USA Today reserves the right to correct the record.
USA Today corrected the record by announcing that Kiffin had indeed voted USC first on his ballot.
It gets worse. Kiffin continued the fairy tale by telling USA Today that he didn't believe he had misrepresented the situation. What he meant was that he wouldn't vote USC Number One if he coached another team or worked in the media.
This is what he told USA Today:
"We have less players than everybody else. So looking at it from the outside, I wouldn't (vote USC No. 1). Did I? Yeah, I did. That's not based off of 75 vs. 85. That's based off of (USC players) Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When everybody has the same record, I can't go into a meeting with our players and have them say, 'You put that team and that team ahead of us.' That's why I did that."
The Notebook has only one thing to say to Lane: Shut it.
Proof that you can put anything on a T-shirt
In State College, Pa. the following T-shirts have gone on sale -- and been selling. They feature the word NCAA with the hamer and sickle from the old USSR flag forming the "C" and the words "National Communist Athletic Association" beneath. On the back, this message: "Overstepping their bounds and punishing the innocent since 1906." A photo below. Forgive The Notebook for not linking to where anyone can buy.
More love for the SEC
Sports Illustrated announced its pre-season all-American team this week, and guess which league dominated the first team?
How did you know?
Including special teams players, 26 guys were recognized on the top offensive and defensive units – and 11 were SEC players. (Although you can subtract one name now that Louisiana State has booted defensive back Tyrann Mathieu from its team.)
Here is the count: SEC 11; Pac-12 6, Big Ten 3, ACC 3, Independents 2 and Big 12 1. Nobody from the Big East made the first team.
Even with Mathieu dismissed, LSU is still represented by three guys – defensive end Sam Montgomery, safety Eric Reid and punter Brad Wing.
Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short made the first team.
Even love for Vanderbilt
There's no doubt that James Franklin is changing the image of Vanderbilt football. The Commodores trounced Mississippi and Kentucky last season and then rolled Wake Forest, 41-7, in their final regular-season to become bowl eligible.
The Sporting News is also on the James Franklin Bandwagon. In a story this week, Brian McLaughlin wondered if Franklin is on the road to turning Vandy into the Stanford of the South. Please remember that Stanford has played in BCS bowl games in back-to-back seasons. Smelling salts, anyone?
Vandy has 16 returning starters, including quarterback Jordan Rodgers. And The Sporting News says that Franklin has secured 16 oral commitments from what looks like a Top 20 recruiting class for 2013.
Franklin and his staff have recruited guys from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, California, Illinois, Tennessee and Trinity defensive back Ryan White. Vandy is hot.
Don't forget the local FCS programs
Phil Steele puts out a wonderful college football yearbook, and he issued a press release recognizing the top FCS programs this week. Steele like Sam Houston State as the top FCS team in the nation, followed by James Madison and Montana State.
How did the local programs fare?
Eastern Kentucky, which opens its season at Purdue Sept. 1, is ranked 17th. Murray State, which travels to Florida State the same day, is ranked 32nd.
Steele also recognized several local players – EKU offensive lineman Aaron Adams made Steele's first team. The Colonels also placed three guys on Steele's second-team offense – halfback Matt Denham, receiver Tyrone Goard and offensive lineman Patrick Ford.
Murray quarterback Casey Brockman made Steele's third team.
THE LIST There are 28 first-year FBS coaches this season. Here are The Notebook's picks as Five Guys To Watch:
5. Charlie Weis, Kansas. Mr. Warmth is a better coach than he showed at Notre Dame. Just ask him. Of course, nobody has compared replacing Turner Gill to replacing Knute Rockne.
4. Urban Meyer, Ohio State. The Buckeyes aren't bowl eligible. Doesn't matter. The Urbaninator has come to change the culture of the Big Ten. He's already started the process.
3. Larry Fedora, North Carolina. The Notebook thinks Fedora is really good coach. The Notebook also thinks that North Carolina should be a really good job. Plus, the Tar Heels come to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in September. Keep an eye on these guys.
2. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona. Rodriguez can coach. Ask Tulane, where he ran the offense for Tommy Bowden. Ask West Virginia, where he built the best program in the Big East. He was miscast at Michigan. The mojo will return in Tucson.
1. John L. Smith, Arkansas. Last dance for the former Louisville head coach. Win big and he's got a chance to coach the Hogs a few more seasons. Fail to win big and he'll wish he would have stayed at Weber State.
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