LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- American Athletic Conference. American Athletic Conference. American Athletic Conference. Oh, hello there. The 'Book is getting ready to attend American Athletic Conference Media Day in Newport, R.I., and in an effort not to say "Big East," we're doing some exercises.
Media Day Tour 2013 is nearly over. Perhaps you heard about some of the other media days that went on last week, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12.
Most likely not. Right now in college football, there's the SEC, then everyone else.
Not to worry, the 'Book has highlights from all, plus more news and notes from college football as the start of camp approaches in August.
American Athletic Conference. American Athletic Conference. American Athletic Conference . . .
UK DRAWS BIG CROWD IN LOUISVILLE
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot played to a packed house of more than 800 at the Greater Louisville Alumni Club on Friday, answering a host of questions. Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal has an exhaustive rundown on his blog here. Two highlights. Each coordinator was asked what his biggest question mark is heading into camp. The responses. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown: "I think the biggest thing — and it's no secret — is wide receiver. We don't have a single guy back who's caught a touchdown pass in a game. I think our leading receiver has in the upper-20s in catches. So I think that's the biggest concern. I'm excited about those guys. It's been a fun experience getting to go back and work with a lot of youth. We're going to have four guys back who are no more than a sophomore on scholarship and we brought four guys in, so it'll be a trying time, but it'll be a lot of fun. I think those guys are going to be a live group from what I saw, but I think that's probably the biggest question mark without question." Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot: "Well, we've got to figure out how fast we can get these guys developed for the first game. That's a big question mark at certain positions. And we need to make sure we're playing physical, we're in the right position, and that our guys are giving 100 percent effort."
BARNHART TALKS COMMONWEALTH STADIUM UPGRADE
UK announced on Monday that it has hired the architectural firm of Ross Tarrant Architects for its $110 million upgrade of Commonwealth Stadium. The school released some conceptual plans, but won't have actual plans until the architects are finished with their studies.
Still, Barnhart said Wednesday that having the project moving forward is a big deal for UK and its football program.
"It's a start. It's a long process. These things are lengthy. You go through schematic design, design phases, then you've got to go through the bid process, construction, all those pieces," Barnhart said. "It's a long process. As things are playing out, hopefully we'll be able to start moving some dirt around at the end of this season and people will see some progress. What that means long term for 2014 and then ‘15, not real sure right now because the architects and all those folks have to come back with us and tell us what things will have to happen in stages. So it's like a giant Erector set, Legos, whatever you want to call it. So we've just got to find a way, figure out what the next thing is."
LOUISVILLE STILL MUM ON MICHAEL DYER
Even if former Auburn running back Michael Dyer were to commit to Louisville, coaches would not be able to comment on him until he enrolls in school. But Cardinals' coach Charlie Strong laid the groundwork during the Governor's Cup press conference on Wednesday.
As you might expect, Strong said the key is whether to give a player a "second chance" and whether the program can "help the young man."
"Lots of times you say to people that you're going to give a kid a second chance," Strong said. "What you want to do as a coach is have an impact on a young person's life. That's the only thing you're trying to do, whether it's a good player or its not. That's the only thing you're trying to do. You want to make sure with any player you bring into your program that he's going to become a part of your program, you're not going to become him. That's what I always say. They're going to become us, we're not going to become them. Anytime we're looking to bring anyone into this program, it's all about wanting to change that young man's future and give him a chance to go be a productive citizen."
Dyer was a very productive citizen at Auburn. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 BCS National Championship game. He rushed for more than 1,200. He left Auburn later after the next season when he failed a drug test. He went to Arkansas State, where he also left among rumors of a drug and gun problem.
The quotes from Dyer were telling. A firearm of his, purchased legally, was used in a robbery he had nothing to do with and was not charged with. He failed a drug test, and there have been rumors of other drugs. But in the end, Dyer questions why his image is as bad as it is.
"If I'm a thug, where are my charges?" Dyer told Curtis. "I've got not one charge. I've got some speeding tickets. I'm sure a lot of people have speeding tickets."
Beyond that was the question over his leaving Auburn. He was suspended for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2012 after testing positive for marijuana. He admitted in the story he could've stayed. But he decided to leave for an interesting reason.
"Let me put all this together," Dyer said. "You offer me a scholarship. I go out there and play 12 games for you. Do the best I can for you. Get grades. Win you a national championship, MVP, Bo Jackson's record. I do all this for you. Then at the end, what did you do for me?
"I win you millions of dollars that I don't see a cent of," he continued. "I put my neck on the line for you. And then I'm sitting over here in the corner? That's telling me you don't really care that much about humans. You don't care that I'm someone's child. That I have a mother and I have a little girl. You don't care about that."
He left. He went to Arkansas State. He was pulled over and the officer tried to talk sense into him. When portions of the video tape got out, he left there, too.
Dyer is a fascinating case, and Dyer and Strong could be an interesting pairing. Strong clearly has no appetite for repeat offenders on drug and alcohol crimes. Darius Ashley, after a second DUI arrest, never played football for U of L again. He also remained with the program and Strong saw to it that he got help.
Part of Dyer's makeup is that he's someone unapologetic for his transgressions. Strong won't tolerate guns. It's one of the principles he puts on the meeting room walls. It's not that he thinks his players are all packing. There's a bigger reason. He wants the word out in the community. He realizes that his program, at an urban school, can set a bit of a tone with others. He needs Dyer to say and do the right things from the start, or it's not going to work.
Dyer would appear to be a player who needs that relationship built out of trust. That doesn't get built in a hurry. It's possible a feeling-out period is still going on.
Strong, who once was a young man from Arkansas himself, might present Dyer with his best hope. The decision, according to Grantland, already has been made. If the two come together, it'll be interesting to see the outcome.
Kevin Wilson met the media last week at Big Ten Media days in Chicago. He talked on various topics, including the team's relative youth, despite having a high number of returning players.
"We're still maybe a sophomore‑junior team," Wilson said. "And we probably just signed on paper ‑‑ you don't play the game on paper and you can't believe every recruiting service and recruiting rating until guys really perform -- but we probably have got the most gifted class showing up as day one freshmen when we show up next Friday. But we're really a junior team. Offensively, we a chance to be pretty solid. If you look at it, you've got Kofi Hughes and Duwyce Wilson. Kofi is here with us, a senior. Duwyce Wilson, a receiver. Ted Bolser, tight end. Stephen Houston as running back. That's the only four guys that crack the two deep. Defensively, our best players will be our young players, freshmen and sophomores. So we're building. We're growing. We are, though, a veteran team. I think we're going to be fifth or sixth in the country with returning guys with starts. So we do have guys that are battle tested. We have guys that are getting more mature, but I do think we're a young team growing and there's a lot of growth potential with our football program in these next few years."
Wilson also talked about the challenge -- and importance -- of choosing the right quarterback among three potential starters.
"My first year, I didn't know if we could throw it in the ocean and whatnot. Last year we were kind of young and unproven. And Tre (Roberson) had played a little and we had those young guys," he said. "And the difference, I think Tre is ‑‑ Tre's back healthy and I think better than he was. But with Cam Coffman getting ten starts, which is actually our most ‑‑ he's played more snaps than anyone, and Nate Sudfeld being extremely gifted, it's a pretty unique deal. We need to play ‑‑ for our program to win, have the year we're capable of having, we need to be dynamic at quarterback. We can't be average and let the complementary pieces give us the victories that we need for our program and our fans and alums and school. So our quarterback's gotta be a difference maker. Those three guys are capable, but who is going to be different and take it to the next step? We'll be a lot more mobile at quarterback.
"We were going to be mobile with Tre. We were mobile with the other two guys. But when Tre got hurt and we just had those two guys left, that was really all we had, we had to be very smart last year as young players protecting them. The amount of hits they take and the exposure we put them through, the contact, and really just for confidence so they don't get out there and get shell‑shocked and get battered. So we played a little left‑handed and weren't able to play with a full deck.
"We also did not handle the adversity of losing our starting quarterback. We led the league in passing, blah, blah, blah, all that junk. Once our quarterback got hurt, we lost five straight games. A good football team needs to play with more than one running back and we need to have more than one capable quarterback. And this year we will see if we can because our quarterbacks are talented, but we haven't proven we're going to win a lot. So the criteria is we need someone that's going to be a difference maker, be dynamic and help us win."
WESTERN KENTUCKY REVEALS NEW UNIFORMS
The 'Book is going to approve of Western Kentucky's football uniform change, but with the note that it believed WKU's old uniforms were among the best looking in NCAA Division I-A for simplicity and style.
Nonetheless, times change, and Russell Athletic's new unis for WKU only heighten the anticipation for the Hilltoppers' first season under new head coach Bobby Petrino.
WKU held a big "reveal" program on Thursday night to show off the new threads. From the school release . . .
"We are really excited about the new look," Petrino said. "We appreciate everything that Russell Athletic has done to make this happen. They worked closely with our equipment manager Drew Hampton and our staff to put together a look that will be a point of pride for our football team. The uniforms are another great selling point for our coaching staff to be able to share when we are on the road recruiting young men to come to our university."
WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said that the uniforms maintain WKU tradition but add a few modern twists.
"The new uniforms that we unveiled tonight are another sign of the positive momentum surrounding our football program," said Director of Athletics Todd Stewart. "These uniforms, along with our new helmet, will represent the bold and aggressive mindset that symbolizes the WKU football program."
The Hilltoppers can wear red, white or black uniforms in multiple combinations.
WKU's jerseys are constructed of the new Russell Athletic M.S.C.® fabric that is exclusive to the brand. Numbers on the front, back and shoulder pads of the jerseys are made of RussTwillTMweighing .25 pounds lighter than the standard twill decorations and feature the imprint of the Western Kentucky University seal. The pants feature side panel inserts of the M.S.C.® fabric, providing a cooler and lighter fit for WKU players. Russell Athletic's M.S.C.® fabric is the strongest yet, made with mesh construction for breath ability and enhanced abrasion resistance for durability.
WKU previously released new chrome helmets featuring the traditional red towel logo on March 29, 2013 at the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Coffee Hour at the Corvette Museum. The chrome helmets will be paired with the new uniforms for use by Petrino's 2013 Hilltopper squad. The helmet features a reflective, chrome finish and is paired with a red stripe across the crown of the helmet and a red facemask. You can see the new uniforms here.
WKU will debut the new uniforms and helmet on the field on Aug. 31 when the Hilltoppers face Kentucky at LP Field in Nashville at 6:00 p.m. CT. TV SET FOR WKU-TENNESSEE: The SEC announced last week that the Vols and Hilltoppers will kick off at 12:21 Eastern time on Sept. 7 in Knoxville. The game is set for the SEC Network.
STANFORD'S SHAW: COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYERS "AREN'T STARVING"
Stanford coach David Shaw is fast becoming one of The 'Book's favorite college football coaches, and not just because he stepped into Jim Harbaugh's shoes at Stanford and kept the ball rolling with back-to-back top-7 national finishes.
At Pac-12 media days this week, Shaw wasn't having any of the argument that says players need to be paid a stipend by their schools. In fact, he said that colleges need to worry more about graduation rates than paying players more. He told CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman that "our players aren't starving." And on the podium, his comments were pointed.
"If the NCAA does pass this rule, we will comply," Shaw said. "But my big comment is we're also giving these guys a $58,000 per year education and unbelievable contacts and summer jobs and great opportunities as well, and it's our job to make sure that these guys take advantage of these opportunities.
"I like to say that our job is to teach these guys how to make a living and not have them make a living in college."
Not that anyone will listen, but someone ought to.
THE LIST: NATION'S YOUNGEST TEAMS
Bleacher Report has compiled a listing of the nation's youngest college football rosters. A look at the results:
1. UAB 2. Houston 3. Colorado 4. Kentucky 5. Michigan 6. Nevada 7. North Carolina 8. Army 9. UCLA 10. Texas Tech 11. Texas A&M 12. Miami (Ohio) 13. Indiana 14. UNLV 15. Auburn 16. West Virginia 17. Georgia 18. Washington 19. Miami 20. Maryland 21. South Carolina 22. Wyoming 23. Temple 24. Toledo 25. Tulsa