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Sun Belt Media Days, Part I

Now that I'm back from The Jetsons' Publix, where I seemingly willed the PA to play Joni Mitchell's "Help Me" by thinking it was time for the White Woman playlist on my iPod, then had this post wiped out once, I shall ruin a good night of sleep by reconstructing stuff from day 1 of Sun Belt videoconference/teleconferences.

Second out of the box Monday were FIU head coach Mario Cristobal and wide receiver/kick returner/blood pressure raiser T.Y. Hilton. Predictably and smartly, Cristobal dismissed FIU being chosen as the Sun Belt's Most Likely to Succeed by the conference's coaches. You can read most of it here:


As I said, the big shrug is the only proper response. Even so, I've lived down here long enough and covered sports long enough that part of me wished Cristobal would channel his former University of Miami teammates' tendency for talking brash trash. Media from anywhere else might've hated those teams and the NCAA is still creating killjoy rules to stop college kids from enjoying the game the way those teams did, but everybody who covered them day-to-day misses them at least a little. All you had to do was ask the right question, have the pen or tape recorder ready and shut up.

When I asked him what he expected to see this year from defenses targeting him more so than last year, Hilton said he expected teams to bang him around more on his way into pass patterns with the outside linebackers and defensive ends.

Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill came up with an interesting solution to the question of paying players. Usually, coaches preach the NCAA gospel of hypocrisy or do a Michael Jackson Motown 25 moonwalk away from the subject. Stockstill, instead, said, "I'm in favor of players getting something. Whatever it is, we should put something on the player. Not just "You're on the football team, you get $1,000.""

Stockstill didn't think it would be fair for a player who just sucked up campus air and resources elsewhere to get the same jack as a player with a 4.0 and good citizenship. So, he said, maybe schools could tell players they have to pass all their classes, maintain a 2.0 average, stay out of trouble -- no arrests, dorm fights, discplinary problems -- and at the end of the semester, they get, say, $1,500. Then, do the same thing for the second semester.

"That's a way to give them $3,000 or so," Stockstill said.

Yes, Stockstill's plan has holes that invite even more extortion and overall corruption than already occurs. But it's a better alternative to a system that's increasingly unfair based on the mushrooming profits created by some programs on the backs of labor paid with tuition for classes football programs all but discourage them from attending.

First-year North Texas coach Dan McCarney invoked the "Troy Davis" name when talking about Lance Dunbar, the preseason co-Offensive Player of the Year with Hilton. McCarney's first two years as Iowa State head coach, he stacked the offense on Davis' stocky legs and ran the Miami Southridge High graduate enough for two 2,000-yard rushing seasons. Dunbar, who at 5-9, 203, looks like he could've grown up at the Davis' family dinner table, ran for 1,553 yards on 274 carries last year.

And guess who'll be the first one to test FIU's suspect defense?

Give McCarney candor points when discussing North Texas' standing in most preseason rankings. "Who are we kidding? When you have one NFL player drafted in 15 years; eight wins in four years; and no player here has experienced a winning season, what do you expect? That those guys are going to pick us in the top 20?"

To close this post at such a late hour, a video from a song I used to hear on WIBC 1070 AM when my 12-year-old butt stayed up into the wee hours each summer 1980 night listening to the radio. 




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