Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Big Bid-ness

So Football Media Day is behind us, and the calendar page has turned to August...so grab onto whatever glimmers of summer you have left, because we are on the stretch run to the fall sports blitz now.

There were plenty of discussion points from the sessions last week in Charlotte for all our football members and attending media representatives, but the number one topic was clear: THE BID.

In case you've been ignoring the football talk thus far, this is the big turning point year for the Big South as a football conference: the season that the Conference champion is assured of a position in the FCS Playoffs. The Big South doesn't even have ten years under its belt when it comes to play on the gridiron and does not yet have the championship pedigrees established by some of its neighbors, but now a seat at the table is reserved for the Big South Conference Football Champion, and that is indeed a big deal.

Coastal Carolina snared an at-large berth a few years ago. More recently, Liberty has seen a couple of well-deserving squads get snubbed when the invites went out. In all, it's not much on which to hang one's helmet, but a new game begins now.

The coaches and players had a variety of reactions to the new scenario, but all echoed one sentiment--this will be good for the Big South Conference. That is to say, not just good for this year's teams, but in perpetuity. The new FCS playoff format includes 20 teams (up from 16), and for the first time, it's guaranteed that at least one will be from the Big South. Yes, read that carefully, I said "at least one"...it may seem like a leap of faith, and that may likely be true for year one, but with more teams involved and one team locked, it actually creates greater possibilities of an additional qualified at-large team making the field (like the scenario last year with Liberty & Stony Brook). A whole new line of thought, right?

Among the interesting takes on the new dynamic...
GWU Coach Steve Patton suggested this was a "put up or shut up" time for the Conference, that after years of working to get this qualifier, the Big South needs to demonstrate its worthiness.

CCU Coach David Bennett said that rivals wouldn't be able to use the lack of a bid against Big South teams anymore, but added that getting a game is just a step--that hosting a game would be the next rung on that ladder.
CSU Coach Jay Mills believed that it wouldn't change week-to-week readiness or emphasis for teams, but that the automatic bid would have a lot of impact on the thinking and preparations in the off-season.

LU Coach Danny Rocco assured us that the goals of his team were no different than ever--that the Conference title is always their main target, but that the validation of the playoffs would make it that much sweeter if reached.

And still more from all the coaches and players involved...you can hear them share their thoughts on the automatic bid and the season ahead, the preseason poll and All-Conference team, last year's results, and other stories of life on and off the field, with our Media Day video coverage. Right now you'll find the Media Luncheon speeches from all the coaches at the Big South YouTube page, plus the Streaming Interview Room sessions from each team on the Big South Network (on the "Press Box" channel). The Preseason Preview videos with team capsules and All-Conference team selections can be found in both locations!

If you're still looking for more once you've finished going through all that, don't worry, we collected more great sound from all our visiting coaches and players: thoughts on role models, leadership, and more--and we'll be revealing more of those interviews as we approach the season and progress toward the 2010 FCS Playoffs. Should be a fun year...

Many thanks to everyone from our football schools for making the Media Day event a success--the coaches, the players, the athletics directors, the sports information staffs, and also a special nod of gratitude for the football-hungry fans who have been following all the Big South developments. Blow the whistle--let's go! And that's SHOUT...out...

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