Is Louisville a legit national title contender? Ask Purdue coach Darrell Hazell
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Here is a list of the college football personalities who will speak into every working microphone at ESPN Monday:
Larry Fedora, David Cutcliffe, Paul Johnson, Paul Chryst, Dave Doeren, Mike London and Teddy Bridgewater.
You can start the Monday Rewind with 75 bonus points. Here's how: Pick one personality that differs from the others on that list from ESPN's "Car Wash."
OK, it wasn't that difficult. It's my first day back from two weeks in Tuscany. (Actually, it was a few days in Chicago, but I'm not complaining.) The first six names are coaches from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The seventh is the starting quarterback at the University of Louisville.
The media gathering for the American Athletic Conference begins Monday night in Newport, R.I. with a clambake – the only tradition worth stealing from the crumbled Big East. Newport is about two hours from Bristol, Conn., home of ESPN.
Apparently, several AAC cars are not getting washed. But Bridgewater is.
The network is reportedly bringing 50 coaches to Bristol before the start of the 2013 college football season. Last week was Southeastern Conference Week, although if you listen to Big Ten coaches, they'll tell you that every week is SEC Week in Bristol – and they have a point.
For Bridgewater to crack the list is impressive. It also leads to the second Monday Rewind item.
Can Louisville Contend For Big, Big Things While Playing In The Not So Big AAC?
I dropped that question on Purdue coach Darrell Hazell last week. Initially, he balked. I don't blame him. He's a first-year Big Ten coach. Nothing to gain by touting a team from another league. You might make Brady Hoke upset.
"I don't know much about their football team," Hazell said "I watched them play Cincinnati last year. That was the only game I watched them play."
OK, coach. Here is the Cliff's Notes version of the Louisville outlook: The Cards return 19 starters from the team that knocked Florida into Biloxi, Miss., at the Sugar Bowl. That list includes Bridgewater at quarterback as well as 12 guys who have started games on defense.
"The quarterback is really good. Very calm. Very poised."
I'm not sure if Hazell has a vote in the coaches' poll. But consider him a fan of Bridgewater and Charlie Strong. And if he has a vote, Louisville will get the 75 bonus points.
Even Alabama Fans Worry About Their Team – Ask Jake Peavy
I don't need to call Nate Silver to predict the team that the writers and coaches are going to rank Number One before the season. Neither do you.
It's Alabama, right Nate?
It doesn't matter how loudly Nick Saban growls in protest, Saban's team will remain the pick until the Crimson Tide are defeated.
Some believe that could happen Sept. 14 when Alabama visits Texas A&M. But I found at least one Alabama fan who is more confident about the Crimson Tide winning in College Station than he is about another Bama game – White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy.
Forget Johnny Football. The guy Peavy fears is Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, whose Hokies open the season against Alabama on Aug. 31 in Atlanta.
"I like that Texas A&M matchup for Alabama," said Peavy, who grew up about 30 minutes from Tuscaloosa. "I really do. I just think the guys will be really motivated.
"The thing that I'm a little concerned about is it's a big game against Virginia Tech. I know Alabama is a big favorite in the game. A&M has games they should easily handle (to start the season) and it feels like they're preparing for Alabama now.
"It takes a great program to get ready for a Frank Beamer team. You can go in and get beat. That's one thing that I'm not crazy about. You have such a big game to start the season and then have to turn around and play at College Station, but I'm sure that Saban will have the guys ready."
How important is Crimson Tide football to Peavy?
Helmets from a string of college programs are lined up across one wall of the Chicago White Sox clubhouse – Texas (for Adam Dunn), Georgia (for Gordon Beckham), LSU, South Florida, Notre Dame and several others.
One helmet sits on shelf by itself – an Alabama helmet, delivered by Peavy.
Heads up. If you bump into Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, it's going to hurt because Fitzgerald looks as if he could still play linebacker for the Wildcats. He's the most football ready coach I saw at SEC or Big Ten football media days.
But it's going to hurt you even more if you ask this question:
What are his thoughts on where Team A, Team B or Team X are sitting in the pre-season magazines?
Fitzgerald does not care. Not one bit. Not if the magazines are ignoring the Wildcats. And not even if they're including Fitzgerald's team among the 25 best.
"Any ratings before the season are overrated," Fitzgerald said. "I think it's about sex appeal. Some guys get ranked because all of a sudden they brought in three top recruits. They have eight guys coming back, you add that to three and that's 11. I don't know what that means.
"I wouldn't rank anybody until we've played three or four conference games. Then you'd really know what teams are legit. I'll go back to when we went to the (1996) Rose Bowl when I was a player and we were unranked. For us to get up to Number 3 in the country, I don't think it could happen today. From unranked to three? I don't think you have a chance right now with the current structure to have that happen."
Sorry, coach. The rankings go on. And I've seen your team cracking the Top 25 in a couple magazines.
Penn State 16, Indiana 0
Indiana made its way into the Phil Steele's college football yearbook as his pick for the third most improved team in the country (behind Marshall and Southern Miss). The Hoosiers were also the pick to finish fourth in their Big Ten Leaders Division, ahead of Purdue and Illinois, in a poll by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
For Indiana to sprinkle some credibility onto those predictions, Oct. 5 will be an important day. The Hoosiers open their season with five straight home games. That day will be their fifth. Penn State visits.
Indiana has played the Nittany Lions 16 times. Indiana has lost 16 times. Even Kevin Wilson's players have a difficult time explaining that one.
"The first time I heard that was maybe a couple of years ago," Indiana defensive back Greg Heban said. "When Coach (Kevin) Wilson first said it, I never realized that. I thought, ‘It's definitely an interesting stat.'
"It's definitely one of my goals to beat Penn State, something IU has never done before."
For the record, Penn State's average margin of victory the last five seasons has been nearly 17 points.
Indiana-Purdue Trash Talk, Shots Fired
Last season Purdue won six regular-season games and then got walloped by Oklahoma State (by 44 points) in some forgettable bowl game that didn't save Danny Hope's job.
In 2011, Purdue won six regular-season games and then walloped Western Michigan (by five points) in a more forgettable bowl game.
Well, the Boilers are tired of that pattern. At least defensive back Ricardo Allen is.
Indiana is a team you're supposed to beat 16 in a row, not one you need to beat for bowl eligibility.
"We're tired of playing for a bowl game against Indiana," Allen said. "We want to play for a bowl game in the middle of the season. We don't want to have to beat Indiana to be eligible for a bowl game."
For the record, Indiana was picked ahead of Purdue in that media vote, Ricardo.
Indiana coach Kevin Wilson, while talking about Hoosier fans who are content to celebrate before home football games:
"I made a comment about a fan T-shirt that said we've never lost a tailgate.
"Well, the places I've been to when you win those games, the tailgates are actually a little bit better than when you lose those games. I don't care how much food or music or celebration you've got, the teams that win have a lot more fun."