Just getting ready to leave the Hotel Viking but wanted to share a few notes and quotes from the Big East’s annual Media Day in Newport:
— As expected, UConn coach Randy Edsall wasn’t overly excited to hear the Huskies had been picked fourth in the preseason media poll.
“My comment is the same as last year,” Edsall said. “Who cares?”
“I don’t get too enthusiastic about where we’re picked in any preseason poll,” Edsall continued. “It’s a matter of what we do on the field.”
The No. 4 placement doesn’t change what the players or coaches expect from the season. But the talent on the roster kind of does.
“We’ve always had high expectations,” Edsall said. “But I think this team has set the expectations even higher for themselves.”
— Edsall said he wasn’t sure about DE Greg Lloyd yet. His injured left knee may or may not keep him out of the upcoming season.
“I’ll find out. I’ll probably get an update on him (Wednesday) when I’m back in the office,” Edsall said. “But it’s all going to come down to how he plays once we see him on the practice field.”
“If he’s ready, we’ll go with him. If not, we have other options,” Edsall said.
— The newest Husky, RB D.J. Shoemate, has been in Storrs for about two-and-a-half weeks and is already taking classes as part of the “intensive” session at UConn.
He spent the first few days of that stint in the apartment shared by FB Anthony Sherman and LB Scott Lutrus.
“He’s a good kid. He fits in great,” Sherman said. “He put that USC stuff behind him and now he’s on his UConn chapter.”
Sherman said Shoemate isn’t talking about how much he’ll play this season or what he’ll do on the field.
“He just wants to help the team win,” Sherman said. “If he plays third downs and that’s all he comes in for but we win the Big East, he’s happy with it. He’s one of those kids that just wants to contribute in some way.”
How much will Shoemate play this season?
“I really couldn’t tell until we actually get him on the field and see him,” Edsall said. “I’ll have a better idea after the first five days.”
— Rutgers coach Greg Schiano says former Bunnell High WR Mark Harrison could do big things this year.
“Mark has done well but Mark has had some health issues that have slowed him down,” Schiano said. “But Mark is a freakish athlete. And as he understands more and more what we’re doing, his abilities will shine.”
Harrison caught five passes for 83 yards in eight games as a freshman at Rutgers. His lone touchdown catch came in the Knight’s win over UConn.
“He’s playing among a great group of athletes,” Schiano said. “Two things happen there: competition and they can’t double cover Mark. I think he can really contribute and improve.”
— Big East commissioner John Marinatto said, among other things, that a Big East television channel is a possibility.
Marinatto said he’s glad the ACC got a big new TV deal and that it could help the Big East in its future negotiations.
“We may create a television network of our own or maybe a hybrid of the two,” Marinatto said. “Everything is on the table.”
The league has been consulting with former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, in part to figure out how to best market itself and structure its television deals.
“We’re undergoing an exhaustive study of ourselves to determine how we can grow and advance ourselves _ through technology and innovation _ while at the same time remaining true to our history, our tradition and most importantly our values,” Marinatto said.
— Pitt is the preseason favorite but isn’t taking that as the gospel truth.
“Our guys are smart enough to know that they’re one of maybe five teams in this room that can win the conference,” coach Dave Wannstedt said.
— New Cincinnati coach Butch Jones isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel when it comes to taking over for Brian Kelly.
“You’re going to put your own stamp on it. You’re going to do the things you think can elevate the program. That’s what we’ve tried to do: not just change to change,” Jones said. “It’s ‘How can we elevtate the program?’ ”
On QB Zach Collaros:
“I think last year he played a lot on his instincts,” Jones said. “The big thing now we’ve stressed to him is the functional intelligence, understanding the offense inside and out including all the small details.”
— Syracuse coach Doug Marrone on the high number of defections/ejections from the Orange program: “All I know is players left for a lot of different reasons. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t help them to overcome whatever those reasons may have been.”
— The Big East will begin to release an injury report twice a week this season.
On Mondays coaches will report to the league which of their players are due to have surgery or are out for the season.
On Thursdays (or two days before a game) they will give the league a list of players who are injured for that week’s game (though not necessarily the specific injury) and provide a status of out, doubtful, questionable or probable.
It’s similar to what the ACC began doing last season.
— What’s the one thing Sherman wants to do most this season: beat West Virginia.
“That’s all I want to do before I leave,” Sherman said. “If we can get that out of the way we can get going with everything else.”
West Virginia is the only current member of the Big East UConn has yet to beat since joining the league in 2004.
— All four of UConn’s captains have something of a role on the team. What is OG Zach Hurd’s?
“Zach’s kind of the enforcer,” Edsall said. “He’s the guy who will take a hold of somebody if he has to.”
Pitty the young man whom Hurd is forced to “take a hold of.”
— Former UConn coach Skip Holtz, now USF’s head honcho, still smiles when he thinks about how far his old school’s football program has come.
“I think there’s a lot of people from the outside that maybe stood there with their arms crossed and said ‘Well, this should to be interesting to see if they can make it work, if college football will succeed in New England,’ ” Holtz said. “That was the knock in the five years that I was there. Everybody talked about ‘Well, this is basketball country and it’ll never work.’ But the vision of Lew Perkins and Jeff Hathaway and a lot of people that were in that program…made it work.”
Holtz apparently has a great deal of respect for what his successor did at UConn.
“I think Randy Edsall’s done an incredible job over the last 11 years building that program from where it was to where it is today,” Holtz said. “I sit here from afar with great pride to see where that program is today.”
“We played some small role. We built the pea to get it rolling. He’s got it into a huge snowball rolling down hill at this point.”