Now that Big East media day is closing in and the list of players who will be there has been revealed, let us take a sneak peek what we can expect from the annual gathering.
As you all know, this will be my first media day, so I am looking forward to meeting everybody and getting started on the new season. Also, I heard something about a lobster eating contest at the clambake. Now that is going to be a sight to see. I think.
What else should we look forward to on Aug. 2 from Newport, R.I.?
1. All eyes on Dana Holgorsen. Something tells me the new West Virginia coach is going to have the most media members at his table for the duration of his one-hour availability. I am expecting some more questions about the Bill Stewart mess that dominated the summer headlines; more questions about what has prepared him to be a head coach; more questions about whether he has changed the way he handles himself when he is not on a sideline or in the office; and more questions about what makes his offense tick. Holgorsen certainly is one of the most interesting storylines not just in the league, but nationally as well. How will he handle all the attention?
2. Expansion. I am more interested in what Holgorsen has to say than the topic of expansion because I expect nothing of consequence to be said on the matter when John Marinatto addresses the media. But expansion certainly will be a question that will be asked of Marinatto, along with more inquiries into the future media rights deal. Lots of chatter has had Temple being in play, based on comments recruits have made to a few scouting services. Could Villanova still be in play? Or will the league stay with nine for now? All important questions that I think will remain unanswered for now.
3. National relevance. Can the Big East become nationally relevant after a down season in 2010? What the league needs is to have big nonconference wins, as I have repeatedly said, but also more than one team ranked in the Top 25. The national perception of the league is that there are just a bunch of mediocre teams. Having a wide-open league makes for good competition and plenty of surprises, but it does not make for a national perception on par with the leagues at the top of college football.
4. QB play? Six of the eight teams return their starters at quarterback, but only three are scheduled to be at media day -- Zach Collaros of Cincinnati, Geno Smith of West Virginia and Ryan Nassib of Syracuse. Still, Collaros and Smith are the two headliners at the position in the league and are sure to draw plenty of interest. It is Smith who has gotten most of the national attention aimed at players this offseason thanks to the addition of Holgorsen. He is the only Big East player with any Heisman odds on him, and he has been named to two watch lists for national player of the year.
5. More offense. Sticking with the quarterbacks theme, one of the big questions is whether the offenses in the league are going to take flight this season. With Holgorsen and Pitt coach Todd Graham coming into the league, the thought is yes. Add in Cincinnati and the potential at Rutgers and there could be some fireworks. The big question I have gotten from fans is whether this league needs some more offense in order to get more national attention. What it needs is more big nonconference wins first and foremost, but dynamic offensive players will help.