Through the magic of Google, here are a few notable things that came out from the quick-hit Conference
USA media day (more on “quick-hit” in a minute):
– New Southern Miss Coach Todd Monken had some choice words for the power conference teams bandying about the idea of a “Division 4″ consisting of all big boys.
Here are some of the greatest hits:
Go ahead and do your deal — you guys split all the pie — but don’t go playing anyone else. You just play each other every week. Just have a nice NFL crossover where you play each other. Then when you fire up a nice 7-5, and you’re at a pretty good place and they fire you, they won’t be real excited about it, because you won’t have those games that they’ve been able to win. Plain and simple.
He makes a good point. Even if all the “Power 5″ conferences circle their wagons, there will always be a top of the list and a bottom of the list. And some teams used to being near the top, or at least firmly in the middle, won’t like the view from the basement.
– Monken also mentioned that the quarterback currently atop the Golden Eagles’ depth chart is walk-on Cole Weeks. That fact alone is a reminder of the grease-fire-inside-of-a-dumpster-fire-in-the-middle-of-a-train-wreck that was USM’s QB situation last season.
The Eagles played five quarterbacks last season, Weeks included. He played in two games, completed eight of 19 passes for 106 yards and threw one interception. That’s your current starter. They had homegrown stud freshman Anthony Alford, who started five games, but he transferred to Ole Miss (doesn’t everybody?) after being suspended following an on-campus altercation and after his mother was escorted from the stadium and charged with two misdemeanors after confronting fans she claimed were heckling her son.
Three-game starter Arsenio Favor transferred to Alabama State, two-game starter Ricky Lloyd is returning from an injury that ended his 2012 season and fellow two-game starter Chris Campbell is a redshirt senior who was ineffective last year. Put it all together, and the 2013 season doesn’t look pretty for Southern Miss.
– C-USA Commish Britton Banowsky reiterated his hope to put the conference basketball tournament in Nashville. The tournament was in Tulsa this past season, and allowed me to see that Tulsa is a pretty cool place. Next season’s tournament is in El Paso. And, no offense to El Paso, but putting the basketball tournament in the only C-USA town the Mountain Time Zone isn’t the best idea.
With the SEC basketball tournament slated for Nashville in 2015 and 2016, chances are C-USA won’t be moving its tournament there soon. But with UTSA now in the league, San Antonio wouldn’t be a bad spot. Just sayin’.
– If there wasn’t heat on a Charlotte-Old Dominion rivalry now that both are in C-USA, there is now. Charlotte pulled out of its game this year versus ODU, apparently in retaliation for ODU pulling out the Charlotte game in 2014. Now, some 49ers fans feel the Monarchs are getting what they deserve in this eye-for-an-eye move, but, frankly, it’s not exactly the same.
ODU pulls out of a 2014 game, and that gives Charlotte about 12 months to come up with an alternative. Charlotte pulls out of a 2013 game, and that gives ODU about 12 seconds to solve the problem. So it’s more like eye-for-both-eyes.
– Now, about media day. For C-USA, it’s a one-day deal in Irving, Texas that crams availability for players, coaches and commissioner for both print and broadcast into a very tight window. For the Texas media, that’s great. For the media from places like New Orleans, driving there is doable. For the first-year schools, you spend the money.
For the rest of us? Not that easy to find the dollars for a 36-hour trip to Dallas.
So here’s an idea (because I know the C-USA folks read me with rapt attention … or something): Take media day on the road.
Go to Charlotte. Go to Nashville. Go to Virginia Beach. Throw a bone to the Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic outlets that now make up a big chunk of your media contingent. And consider stretching it to two days, like a lot of other conferences do. Heck, when I covered the ACC, media days were three days — coaches one day, players another and Commissioner John Swofford on the third.
Find a nice golf course (when the ACC was really spending money, media days were at TPC Sawgrass, Reynolds Plantation and Pinehurst) and make an event out of it. Just by making it two days, you allow more time for media to stockpile stories and really put value into the event. You should see the mountain of stories Daily Mail WVU writer Mike Casazza got out of two days with the Big 12. I swear, it’s like he didn’t sleep.
Now, I understand that, just like newspapers have budgets, so do athletic conferences. And all my suggestions cost a healthy chunk of change. But believe me, it would be well worth the cost.