Media days set to usher in new season
Nearly 200 days have passed since Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19 in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.
Who would have ever imagined the Ducks and a BCS executive would be in more trouble than the Tigers nearly six months later?
Bloggers: I can't wait to see
Conference media days are set to get underway, meaning the 2011 season is just around the corner. After an eventful and scandal-filled offseason, what are we looking forward to in the coming weeks? Blogger roundup
As college football's offseason unofficially comes to an end this week with the start of conference media days, we can finally close the doors on another summer of controversy.
Since Auburn put the finishing touches on its perfect season Jan. 10, here's what has transpired in college football:
• Ohio State coach Jim Tressel resigned under a cloud of controversy, after quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a handful of other Buckeyes sold their jerseys and other memorabilia to a tattoo parlor owner.
Tressel was initially suspended but later resigned after it was revealed he withheld information from NCAA investigators. Pryor, who would have been suspended for the first five games this season, left OSU to enter the NFL's supplemental draft. The Buckeyes will start the 2011 season with a new coach (interim coach Luke Fickell) and a new quarterback (Joe Bauserman or Braxton Miller).
• Oregon, which came within a field goal of defeating Auburn to win a national championship, is neck-deep in its own NCAA mess. The Ducks are accused of paying a Texas man, Willie Lyles, for recruiting scouting reports, although NCAA investigators are trying to determine whether Lyles was actually paid to steer recruits to Oregon.
• Georgia Tech was placed on four years' probation by the NCAA in what might have been the best-kept secret in recent NCAA enforcement history. The Yellow Jackets' crimes were largely misdemeanors -- two former players received improper benefits -- but their alleged cover-up caused the NCAA to hammer them.
• West Virginia coach Bill Stewart resigned June 10, handing the reins to former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen a year early. Stewart resigned after he was accused of trying to sabotage his coach-in-waiting. The Mountaineers were placed on two years' NCAA probation about a month later for violations committed under Stewart and former WVU coach Rich Rodriguez.
• Fiesta Bowl president and CEO John Junker was fired in late March, after a 276-page independent report found the BCS bowl game improperly encouraged its employees to make political contributions to specific candidates and then reimbursed them for their donations. The bowl was also accused of improper spending on perks such as golf memberships, travel to relatives' weddings and late-night junkets to strip clubs.
With another offseason of scandal behind us, we can finally look ahead to the 2011 season. When SEC media days start Wednesday, followed by the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big East in the next few weeks, we might need name tags to recognize everyone.
Nebraska is headed to the Big Ten. Colorado and Utah are going to the Pac-12. Boise State joins the Mountain West, which loses TCU to the Big East after this coming season. The biggest surprise: BYU left the MWC to become an independent.
There were coaching changes at some of the sport's heavyweights, too. Former San Diego State coach Brady Hoke replaced Rodriguez at Michigan, and vows to return the Wolverines to their blue-collar roots. Former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp replaced Florida's Urban Meyer, who retired for the second time in as many years. Al Golden took over at Miami, and David Shaw replaced Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, after Harbaugh left for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
CONFERENCE MEDIA DAYS
|SEC||July 20-22||Hoover, Ala.|
|ACC||July 24-25||Pinehurst, N.C.|
|Big 12||July 25-26||Dallas|
|Pac-12||July 26||Los Angeles|
|Big Ten||July 28-29||Chicago|
|Big East||Aug. 2||Newport, R.I.|
Other teams enter preseason camp trying to replace departed star players. Freshman Kiehl Frazier, junior Barrett Trotter and sophomore Clint Moseley will battle to replace 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson will try to fill Ryan Mallett's big shoes, and E.J. Manuel is the new quarterback at Florida State.
Among the biggest storylines heading into preseason camps:
• Quarterback Russell Wilson moves from NC State to Wisconsin, and the Badgers might now be Big Ten favorites with the short-time minor league baseball player under center.
• Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd remains suspended from the team, but is now participating in football-related activities. If Floyd returns to action, the Irish -- who still haven't settled a four-man quarterback race -- might be talented enough and deep enough to contend for a BCS bowl game.
• South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, who was suspended for a fifth time this spring for off-field problems, is earning his way back into coach Steve Spurrier's good graces. With running back Marcus Lattimore and receiver Alshon Jeffery coming back, the Gamecocks might be favorites to win back-to-back SEC East titles.
On Wednesday, we'll begin to get some answers.
On Sept. 1, we'll get to put a summer of scandal in the rearview mirror for good.
Mark Schlabach covers college sports for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.