2023 Conference Media Days will draw many questions

Kirby Smart

July truly marks the start of the college football season, even with games still nearly two months away.

Why is that?

Because July is the month that the Power Five conferences all hold their annual media days and things get started off this week with the Big 12, or should we say the “Bigger 12” as the conference welcomes four new teams and is in the final year with both Texas and Oklahoma.

The SEC will be on its own stage the following week in Nashville with its annual media days and plenty of questions if Georgia can repeat again, if Kirby Smart has overtaken Nick Saban as the top coach currently in the game and so much more.

The Pac-12 will do its conference media days in just one day in Las Vegas the end of the week with no shortage of topics as the league looks to lock down its media rights deal for the future and prepares to say goodbye to USC and UCLA after this season.

And then the Big Ten and ACC take the stage the following week with the B1G in Indianapolis and the ACC in Charlotte. Each league will have plenty of issues to tend to as the Big Ten still is rumored to have an eye towards expansion and potentially the ACC while the ACC looks to hold on to its Grant of Rights, even if some of its member institutions are less than thrilled with things.

Big 12July 12-13Dallas
SECJuly 17-20Nashville
Pac 12July 21Las Vegas
ACCJuly 25-27Charlotte
Big TenJuly 26-27Indianapolis

We will have coverage of each of the events but what are some of the major storylines for each league going into their media days?

There will be plenty of time to dive into who the top players and teams in each league are but with so much more going on as the world of college football sees the pieces get arranged and then rearranged, what are we most looking forward to seeing and finding out?

Big 12 Conference

  • Four new teams join the league, who will stand the tallest as BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF all join the league? Three of these teams have come over after successful runs in the AAC, but how steep with the learning curve be? BYU is coming over from independent status, will it be a smooth transition back into conference play?
  • This is a final year for Texas and Oklahoma in the league. Many feels that this is Texas’ year to win the conference but with one eye on the SEC in 2024, can the Horns keep focus after many years of being “back” only to come up short? Can Oklahoma surprise the establishment as Brent Venables has found the road as a head coach to be a little bit more difficult than being a coordinator?
  • With new entries and departures, how will the rest of the league react? TCU won the league and went all the way to the championship game before running into a UGA buzz saw. Can the Horned Frogs follow that up with another league title? Kansas State is being considered a darkhorse to win the league, can the Wildcats of Manhattan (Kan.) shock the world in the final year of this league’s current membership?

Southeastern Conference

  • Georgia is coming in with back-to-back national championships and appear to be the betting favorite for 2023. With Stetson Bennett and others moving on, what will it take for UGA to reload and continue its dominance? Is there a downside to having a weak schedule?
  • Alabama also has to replace a highly-decorated quarterback with the loss of Bryce Young. Will Tyler Buchner be able to step into a room after transferring from Notre Dame, even with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees well aware of his work with the Fighting Irish? Is there enough offense left in this ride to carry the Tide across the finish line?
  • LSU is the team that everyone wants to see as Brian Kelly enters a new season with the Tigers. LSU quietly went 10-4 last season, 6-2 in the SEC West, where can improvements come from?
  • After the shocking passing of Mike Leach, how does Mississippi State react going into this new season?
  • Lane Kiffin has said plenty in his time with Ole Miss, will this be the year that they show results in an ultra competitive SEC West?
  • Texas A&M came into the SEC with plenty of pomp and circumstance, but Jimbo Fisher’s teams have just not fared quite as well as one would expect. With plenty of NIL spending, will the Aggies finally see a return on the investment of others?
  • Tennessee was a darling last season but with Joe Milton at the quarterback position, can the Vols have the same high-flying offense that they did last season or will the defensive have to make major strides to keep this team competitive?

Pac 12 Conference

  • Deion Sanders. That’s the entry. It should be must-watch TV to see what Primetime will say after taking over the Colorado job and being tasked with taking a team that has been an afterthought for many years and turning the Buffs into a contender.
  • The media rights deal. Sure, this probably should have been bullet point number one, but that just goes to show how large of a shadow Deion casts. It seems somewhat questionable if a deal will be in place prior to the event, is one presented to the world at the one-day event? Is it enough to quiet the whispers of discontent from many league members including Colorado, Arizona and others?
  • Short-timers USC and UCLA will be in the final year with the Pac-12 before moving over to the Big Ten. Lincoln Riley had USC in the College Football Playoff mix right up until the last moment before the defense failed the Trojans. UCLA had a quiet 9-4 season but it appears that Chip Kelly has things headed in the right direction. How are each team regarded with just one season to go by their soon-to-be former conference mates?
  • Washington and Oregon will say all the right things but as they are constantly identified as teams that would like to jump conferences, is anything spoken or misspoken at this event that could fuel the fires of conference realignment more?
  • Caleb Williams is the defending Heisman winner and it is well known that there has been only one repeat winner. How does he prepare for this upcoming season and can he breakthrough to do something that was only accomplished in the 1970s? And will he have any swear words on his fingernails?

Atlantic Coast Conference

  • Is the current Grant of Rights deal as airtight as some attorneys are saying? Is there a number of teams that would have to attempt to leave the league to change the outlook of things? With ESPN cutting back its spending, could the network in an attempt to save some money look to step into this entire mess?
  • Is Clemson back? Yes, Clemson went 8-0 in league play last year but the Tigers didn’t really feel like they were at the same level as other CFP contenders. Could a move outside of Dabo Swinney’s circle on the coaching staff pay off big dividends as many expect the Tigers to rule the league once again?
  • Drake May at UNC is right there in the Heisman mix but the Tar Heels have not been able to parlay some top players into a league title in football. Is UNC king of the ACC Coastal or is someone else waiting in the weeds?
  • Mike Norvell has had his Florida State Seminoles looking solid at times in 2022, is this the year that FSU tries to restore balance to the ACC Atlantic?
  • Miami goes into each season with plenty of promise and a nice ranking and then seems to fade as the year goes on. Is it same as it ever was or does Mario Cristobal finally have the roster to make some noise?

Big Ten Conference

  • New faces in the league with Matt Rhule, Luke Fickell and Ryan Walters taking over Nebraska, Wisconsin and Purdue respectively. All three coach teams in the Big Ten West, in the final year of division in the league. Who is in the best shape to bring home a divisional crown?
  • Of course this league is about Michigan and Ohio State with the Wolverines getting the best of Ohio State in the past two seasons. What is Ohio State going to do differently this season to break the streak and what can Michigan do to stay ahead of the Buckeyes?
  • James Franklin has had his Penn State team close for many years in the Big Ten, often having the Nittany Lions as the 2nd or 3rd best team in the league, depending on how Michigan has done that season. With a new quarterback and a returning stud linebacker in Abdul Carter, can the Nits finally breakthrough?
  • Outgoing commissioner Kevin Warren took the Big Ten to the two-yard-line with its new television deal but it appears didn’t cross the goal line. Where do things stand now as his replacement has had to pick up the pieces. What does a future on FOX, NBC and CBS look like and a future without ABC/ESPN look like as well?
  • Is the league really done with expansion? What would it take for more dominos to fall?