LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Latest sign that football is close: Conference Media Days, which fire up this week with the Southeastern Conference (all right, actually the Sun Belt is before that) and then proceed steadily.
As a public service, The 'Book provides you a bit of info on the various events, and a schedule.
SUN BELT (Monday, ESPN3) -- For the second straight year, the Sun Belt will get full coverage online from ESPN, including the coaches' press conferences, and interviews with coaches from the four programs that will enter the league next season. The live look-ins begin at 1 p.m.
SOUTHEASTERN (Tuesday-Thursday, Hoover, Ala.) -- Nobody does media days quite like the SEC, with four teams per day over three days. ESPN's College GameDay will be in Birmingham for the event, and will be on the air live from 3:30 to 4 each day. Not to be outdone, WDRB will have Rick Bozich and John Lewis in attendance, two of the more than 1,100 reporters expected to attend. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is scheduled to speak Wednesday at 8:30. Stoops is bringing defensive tackle Donte Rumph, running back Raymond Sanders and linebacker Avery Williamson with him. Steve Spurrier speaks Tuesday afternoon, so UK should have plenty of time to craft its response to whatever insult Spurrier throws out this season.
ATLANTIC COAST (July 21-22, Greensboro, N.C.) -- Coaches, administrators and media take part in a golf event the day before the media day gets under way, but the University of Louisville's new conference (next season) gets plenty of football talk in. Full coverage is available at www.theacc.com.
BIG 12 (July 22-23, Dallas) -- Only two quarterbacks have been picked to represent teams at Big 12 media days. Where have you gone, Johnny Manziel? Oh, that's right, to the SEC. Special event on the night of the 22nd? Sitting around and blaming each other for not taking Louisville instead of West Virginia.
BIG TEN (July 24-25, Chicago) -- The Big Ten doesn't credential as many media as the SEC, but it probably could. This year's drama? Listening to Urban Meyer lecture on the impropriety of questioning him about Aaron Hernandez and his time at Florida. The event concludes with a Kickoff Luncheon afterward that is open to the public for $100 per ticket. See the Big Ten Network for coverage.
PAC-12 (July 26, Los Angeles) -- Quick and dirty, that's the Pac-12 way. Just a single day of media talks, get in, get out, get done. You do have to admire the economy.
THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (July 29-30, Newport, R.I.) -- The Catholic basketball schools are gone and the headquarters no longer is in Providence, but the AAC will still hold its football media day/clambake in Newport, because what says football more than that? The conference hasn't yet released names of athletes from the schools who will be attending. In reality, while the SEC holds its media days over three days in Alabama, The American gives you three hours in Newport. But the seafood is first-rate.
STRONG VISITS RECREATION CENTER NAMED FOR HIS FATHER
Charlie Strong was in Luxora, Ark., on Friday to attend Kids Day Festivities at the Charles Strong Recreation Center. Mississippi County proclaimed the day to be "Charles Strong Day" in honor of the longtime educator and coach's contributions.
"I'm just so happy to be back home and come back to Mississippi County and come back to a community that my father was such a big part of," Strong said, according to the Blytheville Courier News. "He was a coach and educator here. . . . It's such a special day. . . . It's just so special that I could have a mentor like that. Someone that you can follow and continue in his legacy."
Strong said that he wants his team to "feel like (it's) still the hunter" in the upcoming season. But mainly, he wanted to talk about his father.
"He was an important part of this community," Strong said. "It's so good when you come back to the community and you share the stories with a lot of people and (hear) what they have to say about him. It just makes you proud."
KENTUCKY SETS KICKOFF LUNCHEON FOR AUGUST 2
THe University of Kentucky will hold its annual Kickoff Luncheon in the Hyatt Regency Lexington's Patterson Ballroom at noon on August 2. Head coach Mark Stoops, offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot will speak. Fans will be able to submit questions for the program, which will be emceed by Tom Leach.
Seating is limited. Reservations for the event, at $40 per person, are available by emailing Elizabeth Briggs at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is July 24.
LOUISVILLE SEASON TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE
U of L still has season tickets available both in the lower bowl and upper decks at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium for the coming season. Cost for lower bowl seats is $336 or the discounted rate of $287 if reserving four or more. For the upper deck cost is $168 or the four-or-more discount of $140.
"With the momentum of our football program and expanded ticket sales team, it is good to be around a 92% renewal rate eight weeks before kickoff, while adding thousands of new season ticket commitments thus far," said Brent Seebohm, associate athletic director. "Several hundred good seats are still available before we near capacity for years ahead, and our group outing tickets and students demand also remain popular."
Fans interested in purchasing 2013 football season tickets can log on to My Cardinal Account, by calling (502) 852-5151 to speak with a U of L Ticket Office representative, or by visiting the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Ticket Office located at Gate 2 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Cardinals return 19 starters from a team that went 11-2 last season and defeated Florida in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
CINCINNATI VS. LOUISVILLE RATED 12TH BEST GAME OF 2012
ESPN is burning up the football-free months by looking back over last season and identifying the Top 25 football games, for broadcast on ESPNU.
While U of L's win at Rutgers probably ranks in the minds of most Cardinals' fans as the most memorable of last season (second, perhaps, to the Sugar Bowl win), ESPN ranks the best game as U of L's 34-31 win over Cincinnati.
If you want to relive the game, ESPNU will re-air the broadcast on Saturday, July 20 at 9 p.m.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL STUMPS JEOPARDY! CONTESTANTS
It was a simple enough category. The Jeopardy! screen threw up two alums of a school, and the contestants needed only to provide the school
On Monday's episode, they sailed through the first two answers -- Joe Theismann and George Gipp went to Notre Dame and Lynn Swann and Marcus Allen to Southern Cal.
Then came the final three clues. Test yourself. The 'Book will give you the players, you supply the school. (Answers at the bottom). Let's hope you fare better than the Jeopardy! contestants, who whiffed on all three:
Archie Griffin and Eddie George.
Bobby Layne and Earl Campbell.
Johnny Rodgers and Grant Wistrom.
KENTUCKY TWEETS FOOTBALL WITH THE BEST OF THEM
Emory University's Sports Marketing Analytics teams tracked Tweets about college football by state for the past six months. (Yeah, tedious, but somebody had to do it, right?)
What it found about the states who had the heaviest penetration wasn't surprising at the very top, but one so-called basketball state was right with the big boys. The school said Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee ranked 1-2-3 in its index, with South Carolina and West Virginia rounding out the top five.
But the others on that lead lap of college football Tweeting are the interest here: Arkansas and Georgia you'd expect. Nebraska you'd also expect. Idaho and Kentucky you wouldn't expect.
Give an assist to Bobby Petrino's showing back up at WKU and Mark Stoops getting the social media engine going at UK, and some credit goes to U of L's Sugar Bowl run last season.
Also give an assist to a low population -- and perhaps high unemployment.
BIG TEN RELEASES 2016 and 2017 SCHEDULES
The Big Ten Conference is ahead of the game. Last week, it released its schedules for 2016 and 2017. A look at what Indiana University is facing in those seasons:
INDIANA'S 2016 BIG TEN SCHEDULE
Oct. 1 - Michigan State
Oct. 8 - at Ohio State
Oct. 15 - Nebraska
Oct. 22 - at Northwestern
Oct. 29 - Maryland
Nov. 5 - at Rutgers
Nov. 12 - Penn State
Nov. 19 - at Michigan
Nov. 26 - Purdue
INDIANA'S 2017 BIG TEN SCHEDULE Sept. 2 - Ohio State Sept. 30 - at Penn State Oct. 14 - Michigan Oct. 21 - at Michigan State Oct. 28 - at Maryland Nov. 4 - Wisconsin Nov. 11 - at Illinois Nov. 18 - Rutgers Nov. 25 - at Purdue
AUBURN SID PRINTS 'GAME NOTES' FOR WEDDING
You can't tell a groomsman or bridesmaid without a program, perhaps, but at Auburn assistant SID Wes Todd's wedding, you got a bit more help than that. Todd printed up a set of "game notes" for his wedding, complete with a wedding party roster, wedding schedule and background on the union.
Give him points for creativity. Sports Information Directors regularly print up notes, facts and statistics for upcoming games (most are available to the public now, as well as media, through schools' websites).
Todd included in his notes, "Setting the stage, about the couple, the wedding, the reception and transportation" on the opening-page highlights.
Well done, and best wishes.
A CALL FOR MORE SPECIFICITY IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOXES
Pete Roussel of coachingsearch.com wants more information. Everybody likes box scores. Baseball has gotten them down to a science, and seems to tweak them every few years so that they provide more information.
The average college football box, however, hasn't changed in a while. Roussel nominates five new stats he'd like to see in college football boxes:
1. Red zone summary: This is already provided in most extended boxes published by teams in its full postgame book.
2. Sudden change possession outcomes: Roussel calls it the first thing that former Oregon coach Chip Kelly would look at after every game.
3. Average starting field position: Again, you have to dig a bit, but this is available in most teams' final books -- in the drive chart.
4. Number of offensive snaps per team: Also available by adding the number of pass attempts with the number of run attempts.
5. Number of blocked kicks/punts: This might be useful. You already can find blocked kicks or PAT attempts. A notation for blocked punts could be of use.
THE LIST: LEAST EXPENSIVE TEAMS TO WATCH
Collegespun.com has tallied the least expensive college football teams to follow in person this season, based on home and road ticket prices for the games scheduled.
Bad news -- none of the local programs is on this list. But in the interests of a deal, here are your best college football deals this season:
15. Iowa State – $461 total - $38/game 14. Syracuse – $459 total – $38/game 13. Maryland – $458 total – $38/game 12. Duke – $455 total – $38/game 11. Northwestern – $426 total – $35/game 10. Purdue – $380 total – $32/game 9. Boston College – $373 total - $31/game 8. Miami (FL) – $353 total – $29/game 7. Baylor – $348 total – $29/game 6. Georgia Tech – $342 total – $28/game 5. Arizona – $341 total – $28/game 4. Kansas – $318 total - $26/game 3. Illinois – $308 total – $26/game 2. Pittsburgh – $300 total – $25/game 1. Virginia – $284 total – $24/game
BONUS: JEOPARDY! ANSWERS
Don't worry, we haven't forgotten the answers to the trivia question above. For those who didn't get them right off (drop and give us 20 right now, in fact, if you didn't), the correct responses:
Griffin and George, of course, went to Ohio State. (Or, as Alex Trebek called it, THE Ohio State.) Layne and Campbell played at Texas. Rodgers and Wistrom? Nebraska.