Warning: This post is solely related to college football. The craziness of today will be in the next post, once I get home and have the opportunity to deconstruct what happened... In the mean time:
KU Football: KU made the best hire over the off-season in naming Turner Gill as their head coach. While he doesn't have the NFL pedigree of Lane Kiffen, he's also not crazy or conceited :). Seriously though, Turner Gill created expectations for success at Buffalo. Buffalo? The team that went 10 - 79 as a D-1 A team prior to Gill's arrival on campus, yet in his third year were at a bowl game?? Not only are his results on the field impressive, but also his mindset for how to go about coaching 17-22 yr old males. Throughout the Big 12 Media Day, Gill discussed the importance of educating the entirety of the college athlete and for teams to be successful they must be able to relate on a much deeper level than Xs and Os. The first days of KU football practice involved sharing responses to questionnaires that dealt with athletes personal lives. Gill is embracing his role as an educator, and all educators must teach relationship building and other ways to negotiate interpersonal interactions. What happens out of the classroom or off the football field matters, just ask UNC, USC, UConn and others, demanding proactive instruction. Kansas was blessed to get Turner Gill and I hope, for all the good guys out there, that his team succeeds on the field as well! (Judgement Day: week 2 against Georgia Tech. How will Kansas fair after Mangino and Reesing?)
Pitt Football: Pitt has the opportunity for a break-out season to showcase the program that Dave Wannstedt has built or have another pedestrian year in the Big East. The opportunity for national recognition arises from one of the most difficult non-conference schedule's in all of college football (at Utah, home against Miami, and at Notre Dame - who under Brian Kelly should be markedly better; Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati, the common denominator there is winning, and A LOT of winning) Additionally, their Big East schedule is about as difficult as they come since they have to play the Backyard brawl at West Virginia and they also have tough road games at UConn (and Rich Rod had better watch out, the campaign to fire him will begin week 1 when UConn goes to the Big House and surprises the nation - the team is returning 16 starters), South Florida (I'm interested to see how the Bulls do under Skip Holtz. I wouldn't sleep on South Florida because they are probably the most talented team thank to Florida recruiting and QB B.J. Daniels was able to get a lot of experience and leadership growth while Groethe was out), and Cincinnati (and when Pike was out, Collaros filled in really nicely). Pittsburgh has a lot of talent, a growing sense of swagger and a very capable coach. Tino Sunseri's ability to prove the on-the-field leadership is essential, but after years of not living up to expectations with Bill Stull, there is potential for an upgrade in the QB position. Additionally, now that Dion Lewis has the target on his back, how will he fair in his sophomore season? Either way, as a product of Big East country, I hope this is the year Pitt pulls it all together and provides the justification of Wannstedt going about things in the right way; returning to his alma mater and building a program on a reliance on hard work and discipline rather than flashy recruits. (Judgement Day: week 1 at Utah. If they get the ball rolling in the right direction, the sky's the limit!)
Overall, I'm really looking forward to the college football season and seeing how a lot of these stories play out!