• KCAC MEDIA DAY TODAY — Today is one of my favorite events of the year.
It’s KCAC Football Media Day in Wichita.
From its humble origin in cramped quarters at various Wichita restaurants before spending a really nice run at Salina Country Club (my personal favorite), the event has grown into a full-blown spectacle, complete with wall-to-wall media coverage. Most of the 10 schools are covered by either radio or print and it’s our day. We get to put the coaches on the grill and can’t wait to hear what they’ve been up to since the end of last season.
For the second year in a row the event will be held at the Wichita Courtyard Marriott in Old Town. In its inaugural year, the surroundings proved to be a major hit with all those involved and there still was the cinnamon ice cream which has become a dessert staple on the menu.
We in the media also are presented with the various press guides that are assembled by each schools’ sports information directors. They vary in size, some just the barebones and others, like Kansas Wesleyan’s that is put out by longtime SID David Toelle, are like the old days when schools used to go all out.
I can remember back in my days as a cub reporter at The Independence Daily Reporter in the 1970s when we used to receive media guides from schools like KU, K-State and Oklahoma that were 200 to 300 pages. I used to pour through those guides and there seemingly was a race to see which school could produce the biggest and the best.
Of course economics (both production and mailing costs) soon came into play and the number of media guides distributed was greatly reduced.
I believe the KCAC SIDs do a good job of providing us with the information. The first thing I’ll do when I get home today is go through all of the guides, more out of curiosity than anything else.
I’m also curious to see what new McPherson College coach Steve Fox has added to his team for the upcoming season. Mac is coming off a 5-6 record in 2013, but it closed the season on rousing uptick with back-to-back 37-7 victories over county rival Bethany College and Southwestern, respectively.
I watched the Bulldogs during the spring and it was clear to me they were tilted more toward the defensive side of the ball. Defenders Trent Forrester and Grant Narcisse recently were named to the All-KCAC preseason team in a vote of coaches. Hopefully Fox and his staff worked hard to upgrade the secondary, because the front seven should be pretty solid. Offensively, there definitely needs to be depth added to the line and in the backfield.
I’ll also be curious to see what kind of numbers Bethany College coach Manny Matsakis is going to have. I’ve heard rumors he could be returning to the Ted Kessinger glory days when the Swedes regularly had 130 to 140 players on the roster, as Kessinger’s program blueprint resembled that of Nebraska when the Huskers were the Big 8’s strong boy in the 1970s and 1980s. Matsakis has recruiting tentacles that go from the East Coast to the West Coast and I’m sure he’s left no stone unturned in trying to return the Swedes to the days when they won 16 KCAC championships in 28 years. They have not, however, won a KCAC championship since 2001.
Be watching Thursday for a column about Media Day.
• COZART MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER FOR KU — The Lawrence Journal-World recently published a countdown of the most important football players for the Kansas Jayhawks this fall from 25 to 1.
The most important player for KU, as determined by the L-JW sports staff, is quarterback Montell Cozart.
That was pretty much a no-brainer.
Since Charlie Weis has been at the helm, quarterback play for the Jayhawks has been practically unbearable to watch. He has whiffed on highly decorated transfers Dayne Crist (Notre Dame) and Jake Heaps (Brigham Young). Stunningly, both were among the top quarterback prospects in the country coming out of high school and had decent careers at their first schools, only to crash and burn at KU.
I'm really not sure how talented Crist and Heaps were, but their chances of succeeding were polluted by the fact that KU's linemen (other than Tanner Hawkinson) couldn't block and its receivers were on the All-Butterfingers first team. Watching last year, I've never seen a more inept group of college football wide receivers.
Cozart's chances of succeeding, quite frankly, are minimal. He displayed a lot of athleticism last year in running for his life and hopefully now he's learned not to heave the ball to the other team. But he's still raw and his decision-making is questionable. His accuracy reminds me of Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham.
If redshirt receiver Nick Harwell is half as good as he was at Miami of Ohio, that should help. Harwell caught nearly 100 passes in 2011 and has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff. But that could be because there simply wasn't another receiver on the team who could start for any other team in the Big 12.
For those curious, the rest of the Top 5 included hybrid receiver-running back Tony Pierson at No. 2, Harwell at No. 3, defensive end Michael Reynolds at No. 4 and linebacker Ben Heeney of Hutchinson at No. 5. I would have rated Heeney at No. 2, given the fact he's the heart and soul of a defense that had better get a whole lot better if KU is going to match last year's three victory output, which I think could be difficult.
Strangely, No. 6 is offensive tackle Larry Mazyck, a newcomer that nobody really knows too much about but is reportedly a mountain of a man. If he's as good as the coaches think, why would he have joined the Jayhawks?