It's that time of year, the college football season is less than six weeks away which means it's also time for conference football media days. To call it a "circus" may be an understatement. Coaches need police escorts and fans crowd hotel lobbies just for a chance to see players and potentially grab an autograph from a potential superstar in the making.
Anything is up for discussion, from "sleeping in" at passing academies (Mr. Manziel) to usage of an illegal substance (Nick Marshall). Sometimes the answers are interesting and sometimes coaches and players pass on the questions completely. Regardless, the idea of media days is by its very nature incredibly alluring. Not only are all the big names and coaches from each conference in the same place at once, but it touches something deeper within each of us: the feeling of anticipation. For a brief moment before the madness of college football begins, all the teams are on a level playing field, nobody has proven anything yet and every team has the exact same record: 0-0
The 2014 Pac-12 media days begin tomorrow in Los Angeles, California so I decided to go back and listen to what Todd Graham had to say at the 2013 edition of Pac-12 media days and see how what he said about predictions and goals for last season played out.
Graham on what he thinks of the situation at wide receiver headed into 2013: "We feel like Kevin Ozier and Rick Smith have had great springs...Jaelen Strong is a guy who we really feel like is going to be dynamic in our system."
Smith had a rough first half of 2013 with a good amount of drops, but caught 32 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Ozier had a few big play moments but stayed in a minimal role with 23 catches for 354 yards and one touchdown. If Arizona State fans can now appreciate anything its a junior college player that qualifies academically and succeeds at the Division I level the way Strong did in 2013.
Graham on a potentially potent Arizona State offense: "We were No. 14 last year in scoring points and we want to be number one in the country."
Who doesn't want to be No. 1 in the country? It's easy to write this one off as "coach speak" but it's also coincidental that the Sun Devils ended up at No. 14 in scoring offense again in 2013, scoring 499 points and averaging 38.38 points per game.
Graham on the tough four-game stretch last season: "We look at it as a great opportunity...I can tell a sense of urgency obviously, we know the challenges on that schedule."
The four-game stretch was Wisconsin, USC, Stanford and Notre Dame. The Sun Devils were certainly prepared for battle against Wisconsin which included a crazy ending and thrashed USC in a 62-41 victory, but then fell apart at Stanford and didn't perform up to snuff against Notre Dame either.
Graham on how the NCAA can improve the student-athlete experience: "I think giving them or having a little extra money if they want to go get a hamburger or something like that I do think there are things we can do to improve that."
The NCAA did decide to do something this past April when it granted unlimited meals and snacks to all Division I athletes. The new rule also applies to walk-ons who previously didn't get any food at all. The old rule only allowed three meals a day to scholarship athletes, the new rule will go into effect on Aug. 1.
Graham on Will Sutton's potential in 2013: "In 27 years I have not coached a player more passionate than what he is. He's stronger, he's bigger, he's faster so he's put himself in a position to have an even better year than he had last year."
He certainly got bigger, Sutton's weight gain was an issue last season, but teams also began to game plan in order to stop Sutton. He got a lot of double teams from opposing offensive linemen, limiting his production to 48 tackles and four sacks.