Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Silver Celebration & Football Fiesta

A week ago, I told everyone to watch out for announcements coming from the Big South. Hopefully you've seen the stories by now, but it's time for a SHOUT recap of what's going on out there...

First of all, welcome to the 25th Anniversary Season of the Big South!

That's right--the Big South Conference began back in 1983 and now celebrates 25 years of competition with a year-long series of special events. The festivities launched Thursday night (7/24) with the official release of the Big South Anniversary logo (pictured) and the announcement of the "Best of the Best," a list of the top 25 people and performances over the Conference's first 25 years.

As it stands now, the "Best of the Best" is in no particular order--and that's where you come in! The voting is now open--enter your choice for who or what YOU think is the very BEST from a quarter-century of competition. Trust me, it's not an easy call given the many extraordinary student-athletes and their accomplishments. Do you pick a dynasty or a national champion? Olympian or record-holder? Drama or dominance? Team or individual? Whatever your call, cast your vote--the results will be tabulated all year long, resulting in a ranked Top 25 list to be announced in May 2009. You can vote as many days as you like, but only one vote per day will be counted (the extras will be discarded).

The Anniversary Banquet went wonderfully, with many of the honored athletes attending, and most of the 25 "moments" represented by someone affiliated with each historic feat. In addition, the Big South announced its new Leadership Award and the inaugural recipient: Dr. Dick Singleton, the first Big South Commissioner. The Award has also been named in Dr. Singleton's honor as a tribute to his efforts in building the Conference through its early years.

A "Best of the Best" video debuted at the banquet, highlighting the full collection of the 25 moments from 25 years. In the coming weeks and months, individual video vignettes will appear on with details and first-hand accounts of each moment from the list. All the articles, videos, and voting for the 25th Anniversary can be accessed at the Anniversary Media Center on the Big South website. It should also be noted that many Big South partners have stepped up to help with the campaign, especially Royal Purple Synthetic Oil, the presenting sponsor of the 25th Anniversary Season.

Now the Anniversary launch was hardly the only major event for the Conference in the last week...don't forget about Football Media Day: a little fun, a little frantic, and all football.

If you want to get caught up on what happened, you can again turn to The EDGE for the day's highlights: the Preseason Football Video and the Web Interview Session (with coaches and players from every Big South football school). Just as with the Anniversary Season, a special landing page "Media Center" has the articles, videos, and more conveniently located in one spot for you.

The coaches ranged from soft-spoken to outspoken, humorous to cantankerous, and eager to subdued...I leave it to you to figure out which ones might have fit in what categories. The players covered a similar gamut, from perfectly comfortable handling the media to notably shy or quiet, and from happy enthusiasm to dead seriousness.

As for the Conference announcements...
Liberty topped the preseason poll, picked to repeat by the designated voters.
The Preseason All-Conference Team (29 total players named) was led by 8 from Liberty and 7 from Gardner-Webb (plus 5-CCU, 4-CSU, 4-SBU, 1-VMI).
LU's Rashad Jennings (at right) was named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.
GWU's Mario Brown was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Of the players, Brown (at right) in particular seemed to win over the crowd with his smile and easy-going manner in front of a microphone. I exchanged e-mails with his mother this week--she was looking for the video of her son--and I told her she had plenty to be proud of, considering how well Mario represented himself, his team, and his school. Certainly all seven young men selected to be the face of their respective teams handled the spotlight well overall: Brown, Jennings, Tim Webb (PC), Ryan Ard (CSU), Andy Viola (VMI), Lawrence Lovell (SBU), and Britt Leggett (CCU).

The coaching dynamics should be interesting this year--it's a strong group: Jay Mills at CSU, David Bennett at CCU (pictured), Steve Patton at GWU, Danny Rocco at LU, Bobby Bentley at PC, Chuck Priore at SBU, and Sparky Woods at VMI. The addition of Woods has drawn some extra interest this season, and he naturally earned attention at Media Day. They've been getting anxious in Lexington for Sparky's era of Keydet Football--his first press conference was one of the most viewed On Demand clips The Edge has ever offered!

No great bombshells or revelations, of course, as football teams play things pretty close to the vest this time of year--Media Day is about general preview info and it's unlikely any reporter will get a "scoop" there. One subject getting talked about around the meeting rooms was definitely the names on the out-of-conference schedule this season. Seems like the roster of high-profile opponents gets more significant each season, doesn't it? This year, the Big South takes on the likes of Penn State, Miami (FL), Miami (OH), and Georgia Tech, plus the best the FCS has to offer from Appalachian State and other powerful programs. Add that to the fact that any Big South team can beat a Conference foe on any given weekend (League parity being a real buzz topic among the coaches), and you have some pretty tough slates to play through.

Okay, I'll step aside for now...July's almost done, so we'll have to SHOUT a little louder in August as we countdown to kickoffs across the Big South Conference--thanks for reading the Big South SHOUT!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no luv for vmi rb howard abegesah.....ok big south, c'mon