LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- That's not just the return of humidity you're feeling in the air. Be still, breathe deeply, and see if you can catch the faint whiff of college football, unmistakable as an apple pie cooling on the windowsill.
If you can't, just read the following items, and you will. Some signs college football is closer than you think:
1. SEC Media Days begin one week from today, in Birmingham. Yes, the annual reunion of every blogger and podcaster in the southeastern U.S., plus the heavy hitters from around the nation, take part in a four-day Q&A extravaganza that is the single longest media-centered sports event in the nation. This nation has gone to war with shorter media sessions. The coaches who will speak made a combined $46.285 million last season. Add in the salaries of assistants from all of the staffs and you could buy every man, woman and child in the host state, Alabama, a Chick-Fil-A sandwich every day for a week. Except Sunday, of course.
2. ACC media days begin July 20 in Greensboro, N.C., the first for the University of Louisville program. WDRB will be in Birmingham and in Greensboro to cover both for television and online. One bonus: This is the first conference media day within driving distance for U of L since the Conference USA days. Down side: No clam bake in Newport. Worse food, better football. I'll take it.
3. U of L has announced that its annual Kickoff Luncheon (presented by Visionworks) tickets will go on sale to season-ticket holders July 16 at 10 a.m. through their My Cardinal Account. Season-ticket holders will be allowed to purchase only two tickets, at $45 each, to the luncheon. Any tickets left over will be made available to the general public. But don't hold your breath.
The luncheon is will be held at noon on Thursday, Aug. 14, at the Louisville Marriott Downtown.
4. U of L released an updated football roster on Monday, with the key change being numerical in nature. Running back Michael Dyer will try to fill Teddy Bridgewater's number, if not his shoes. Dyer will wear No. 5 for the Cardinals. Tyler Ferguson, a transfer quarterback from Penn State, also is listed with the number, which he figures to move into when he becomes eligible to play next season.
5. The new watch lists are in! The new watch lists are in! All right, maybe you're not familiar with Naven Johnson or the movie lines he made famous. Still, the appearance of preseason watch lists for the various football awards is yet another signal that kickoffs can't be too far away.
U of L was represented by a trio of players. Wide receiver DeVante Parker made the list for the Maxwell Award (a college football player of the year award). Lorenzo Mauldin was named to the watch list for the Bednarik Award, given annually to college football's defensive player of the year. And Charles Gaines made the list for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to college football's most versatile player.
UK had senior defensive end Bud Dupree named to the Bednarik list. IU senior wideout Shane Wynn was named to the Hornung Award watch list.
6. UK has put its single-game tickets on sale for various home and away games. Season-ticket holders have been in a priority window to order tickets, but that ends Wednesday morning at 9 when they go on sale to the general public.
Tickets may be ordered online at Ticketmaster.com, by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000, or through the UK Ticket Office. Tickets are $45 for the UT Martin, Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe games, and $50 for the Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Georgia games.
Fans may purchase tickets for road games through the UK ticket office. UK’s away games include trips to Florida, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisville. All away game tickets should be purchased by calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or ordering online through My UK Account. Seats will be assigned in the Kentucky fan sections. 7. The NCAA released new guidelines for concussions, hitting and contact drills on Monday. They aren't set in stone, and could be changed at any time. The NCAA arrived at these guidelines through consultation with many parties, including medical professionals, training staff, coaches, administrators and conference commissioners.
Because the guidelines are important at all levels of the sport, I'll share them all here. The main change is that the NCAA is recommending only two full-contact practices per week during the season for football players, and only 12 full-contact practices during the preseason. The full recommendations:
Year-round football practice contact:
Preseason: For days when schools schedule a two-a-day practice, live contact practices are only allowed in one practice. A maximum four live contact practices may occur in a given week, and a maximum of 12 total may occur in the preseason. Only three practices (scrimmages) would allow for live contact in greater than 50 percent of the practice schedule.
Inseason, postseason and bowl season: There may be no more than two live contact practices per week.
Spring practice: Of the 15 allowable sessions that may occur during the spring practice season, eight practices may involve live contact; three of these live contact practices may include greater than 50 percent live contact (scrimmages). Live contact practices are limited to two in a given week and may not occur on consecutive days.
Independent medical care for college student-athletes:
Institutional medical line of authority should be established independently of a coach, and in the sole interest of student-athlete health and welfare.
Institutions should, at a minimum, designate a licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.) to serve as medical director, and that medical director should oversee the medical tasks of all primary athletics health care providers.
The medical director and primary athletics health care providers should be empowered with unchallengeable autonomous authority to determine medical management and return-to-play decisions of student-athletes.
Diagnosis and management of sport-related concussion:
Institutions should make their concussion management plan publicly available, either through printed material, their website, or both.
A student-athlete diagnosed with sport-related concussion should not be allowed to return to play in the current game or practice and should be withheld from athletic activity for the remainder of the day.
The return-to-play decision is based on a protocol of a gradual increase in physical activity that includes both an incremental increase in physical demands and contact risk supervised by a physician or physician-designee.
The return to academics should be managed in a gradual program that fits the needs of the individual, within the context of a multi-disciplinary team that includes physicians, athletic trainers, coaches, psychologists/counselors, neuropsychologists, administrators as well as academic (e.g. professors, deans, academic advisors) and office of disability services representatives.