For college football fans, Conference Media Days is like the week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday if you’re one of those people excited for Christmas. After the media days, August practices get ready to start, and we know kickoff is near. This year there are some interesting things we want to know at every media day. Here is a list of the media days schedules for each conference and the most interesting story-lines for each one as well.
SEC: July 14-17 (In Hoover, Ala. at Wynfrey Hotel)
With the SEC network beginning this Fall, Alabama looking to find a new starting quarterback, Tennessee and Florida attempting to restore their places among national powers, Georgia and South Carolina returning nearly everybody except their quarterbacks, and Johnny Manziel gone, there is plenty to discuss when SEC Media Days begins. This year Johnny Manziel vs. Alabama won’t be able to dominate the headlines the way it did last summer, but his impact on leaving is still a point of discussion. We are waiting for the Tennessee-Florida rivalry to mean something again. And the East could be a battle between Georgia and South Carolina, again.
ACC: July 20-21 (In Greensboro, N.C. at Grandover Resort)
Can Jameis Winston stay out of trouble? Will he repeat his amazing season last year? Can FSU as a unit repeat? This would seem to dominate ACC media day news stories, but there are other stories to focus on as well, and major ones at that. Replacing Maryland with Louisville is a story, and Bobby Petrino back at Louisville is another story on its own. Whether or not Duke can replicate the success it had last year and build upon the improvements its made over the last three years is another topic. And can Miami get back to power the way Florida State has, or will it continue to be rocked by scandals? Also, can Virginia Tech return to, well, being Virginia Tech?
Sun Belt: July 21 (New Orleans, La. at Superdome)
How prepared are Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to move into FBS? Georgia State is now a full-time member which will also be interesting, and although the conference lost Western Kentucky, it’s now expanded to 11 teams by adding New Mexico State and…Idaho? They surely don’t fit with the rest of the conference, but it’ll be interesting to see this new, larger conference and how it compares to Sun Belt years past.
Conference USA: July 22-23 (Irving, Texas)
Hello former Sun Belt. The transition from the C-USA to the Sun Belt is almost complete, as the conference took another hit by losing ECU, Tulsa, and Tulane and adding Western Kentucky and Old Dominion. That change will be the most talked about topic, but there are also a few coaching changes that took place at Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, and UAB. All of those will be interesting to focus on at the conference’s media days.
MAC: July 22-23 (Detroit, Mich. at Ford Field)
Coaching changes took place at UMASS, Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green, and Eastern Michigan over the past year, so that will be a focus as well. The conference is also wide open because of departing talent, with Ball State and Northern Illinois losing signal callers that carried them through the season in Keith Wenning and Jordan Lynch. In NIU’s case that carried them to a 12-0 start. However, the conference’s champion, Bowling Green, still returns enough talent to be the favorite again.
Mountain West: July 22-23 (Las Vegas, Nev. at Cosmopolitan Hotel)
Coaching changes are the focus for the Mountain West this year. Most notably, Chris Peterson is gone and has been replaced by Bryan Harsin at Boise State, and whether or not the Broncos are prepared to continue their dominance with the change will be a topic of conversation on its own. Also, one of the most successful coaches in FCS history now comes in to take over Wyoming. For Criag Bohl, the move is not too bad since he came from North Dakota State, and how he’ll fare in FBS is worth discussing. Another interesting point of conversation will be if the conference can prove itself to be more worthy of being a power conference than the AAC.
Big 12: July 23-24 (Dallas, Texas at Westin Galleria)
Charlie Strong at Texas has dominated Big 12 news this offseason, and it should dominate Big 12 media days, especially after he’s come under fire for not recruiting as well as he should in Texas and appearing to not kiss up enough to the boosters. His appearance at the media days is a way to make a new first impression on the conference. Other points of interest are whether or not Oklahoma is prepared to build off of last year and the outlook for Baylor, which might also be looking to be in the national championship picture with their potential Heisman candidate, Bryce Petty, at quarterback. He’s already drawn a lot of comparisons to RG3. What will Art Briles say about it?
Pac 12: July 23-24 (Los Angeles, Calif. at The Studios at Paramount)
The flavor of the year for the Pac 12 will be quarterbacks, as the conference could potentially have the best combined batch of returning quarterbacks in college football history with Marcus Mariota, Cody Kessler, Connor Halliday, Brett Hundley, Kevin Hogan, Sean Mannion, Jared Goff, and Taylor Kelly all putting up good numbers last year and back again. There’s also a couple of big coaching changes with Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian to USC and Chris Peterson to Washington, the USC-UCLA rivalry could mean something big this year for the first time in a while, and Oregon will be in the news with a Heisman candidate in Mariota and a potential shot at a national championship.
AAC: July 28-29 (Newport, R.I. at Hyatt Regency)
Just as the Conference USA is the old Sun Belt, the American Athletic Conference is now what was once the Conference USA, well without Louisville, the conference’s best team. The additions of Tulsa, Tulane, and East Carolina will be a story in itself, as will a coaching change at Connecticut and the departure of Blake Bortles from Central Florida. With Louisville gone and UCF expected to take a step back, the conference is wide open since those were the top two teams last year, and they both finished the year 12-1. Who is prepared to take the leap?
Big Ten: July 28-29 (Chicago, Ill. at Hilton Chicago)
There’s plenty to talk about at Big Ten Media Days. First, there will be the welcome of Maryland and Rutgers and talk about how that affects the Big Ten Network’s marketing as well as how competitive they can be. Then, there’s returning talent at Michigan State and Ohio State, which opens the question this year on who among the two is most prepared to get into the playoff. Michigan’s outlook with Brady Hoke will also be a topic of conversation, as will Penn State, whose new head coach James Franklin had now made a major splash in recruiting and is quickly winning over the fan base. Whether or not Penn State is fully prepared to be back could take on a life of its own, and Bo Pelini’s reign at Nebraska will also be talked about.