Mike Strange: As usual, much has changed heading into the 2013 college football season

Mike Strange

If you’ve been studying up on the 2013 college football season, tell me who’s going to win the WAC?

Ha. Trick question.

There is no more WAC. The Western Athletic Conference has turned out the lights, a victim of realignment mania.

There’s no Big East, either. At least not for FBS football.

Say hello to the American Athletic Conference, in which Louisville and Rutgers are expected to contend for the title before they bail in 2014 for the ACC and Big Ten, respectively.

Kickoff is barely two months away, and, as usual, much has changed since 2012. I thought it might be a good time to offer a few reminders.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh moved to become also-rans in the ACC. A block of Conference USA has moved to the American Athletic Conference. And those Conference USA slots were replaced by a block from the Sun Belt.

Boise State and San Diego State are staying in the Mountain West after all, rather than jet across the continent to forge rivalries with UConn and South Florida.

Here in the SEC, it’s business as usual. No expansion this year. Texas A&M and Missouri know the secret handshake.

But business as usual means there is a defending national champion swaggering around and a posse of new coaches to clean up the dashed dreams of their predecessors.

One of the new coaches is named Butch Jones. You may have heard something about him. He’s pals with Erik Spoelstra, who’s pals with LeBron James.

Jones is one of four new coaches in the SEC, the biggest surprise among them being Bret Bielema. After three consecutive Rose Bowl losses at Wisconsin, Bielema deduced there was no possible scenario in which Arkansas could get to Pasadena.

All told, there are a staggering 31 new head coaches at 125 FBS schools. That’s one of every four.

The new coach most likely to win a crystal football this year is Oregon’s Mark Helfrich. He inherits a loaded team from Chip Kelly, who doesn’t have to worry too much about his 18 months of NCAA show-cause banishment as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Among the familiar names in new places, Skip Holtz takes over at Louisiana Tech, where being the son of a coaching legend apparently carries great clout.

Two coaches who are not in a new place — namely Tennessee — are Charlie Strong and Mike Gundy and both have potential top-10 teams at Louisville and Oklahoma State, respectively.

Bill Curry, meanwhile, has joined Phillip Fulmer and others in retirement. I thought Arkansas had retired John. L. Smith, but he turned up at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. The man still has bills to pay.

On the other hand,

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, 73, looks forward to hanging 50 on Charlie Weis and Kansas again.

Coaches on a seat that could get hot are headlined by Mack Brown at Texas and former Tennessee legend Lane Kiffin at USC.

I’m not sure of the temperature on Bo Pelini’s seat at Nebraska, but I read the Huskers haven’t won a conference title since 1999.

As far as the top players go, we’ll have to get by without SportsCenter standbys Matt Barkley, Denard Robinson and Manti Te’o. The All-Name team will need a new captain to replace Barkevious Mingo.

Johnny Manziel is poised to win the second of four potential Heisman Trophies at Texas A&M. That’s provided he can keep peace with the parking-meter patrol in College Station.

If Manziel falters, don’t rule out Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville is on an all-sports roll. Or what about Tajh Boyd, erstwhile Tennessee commitment, at Clemson?

Maybe this is the year a defensive player wins again. Jadeveon Clowney won’t pad his résumé by returning kicks, but he can make a big last impression on Nov. 30 by posterizing Boyd.

Before you know it, bowl season will be here.

But as to whom the Vols might play in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on New Year’s Eve in Shreveport, that’s a column for another day.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at Strangemike44.

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Comments » 14

movol53 writes:

And to think; if UT had had any kind of defense at all Dooley would still be at Tenn because would have had a winning record and it would have appeared that he had "turned the corner".
But we see all of the behind the scenes damage he had done like NOT working to build relationships within the state with high coaches.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Blah blah blah?
Blah blah blah.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Question........check out the first post. Is this once again the "I want to be banned again for the umteenth time" Wilted Flowers?

This is the only time I'll read this idiot's comments, but the usual red flag is something about Dooley and Dave Hart.
As we know, those usual, whining comments are off-topic. That gets you removed.

Next qx is when will this troll check into a hospital and get help?

This we do know.........yawn........he'll be banned again, again, and again.

GerryOP writes:

Coach Butch, you have your dream job, you've convinced many that you are the answer, you have proved that you and your boys can recruit, now prove it all on the field this fall. Time to bring home the wins.

It's great... to be... a Tennessee Vol!

Snapshot writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wow benchwarmer, is that the best you got? Your second grade name calling is worn pretty thin. Think you might be able to come up with something besides blah..blah..blah..yada..yada..yada?

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to Ed_Fullerton_Shined:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Give it a rest loser.

rockytopwestone writes:

in response to movol53:

And to think; if UT had had any kind of defense at all Dooley would still be at Tenn because would have had a winning record and it would have appeared that he had "turned the corner".
But we see all of the behind the scenes damage he had done like NOT working to build relationships within the state with high coaches.

Praise the Lord he is gone, he is a idiot !

movol53 writes:

should have said "high school coaches" in that lat phrase.

orangecountyvols writes:

in response to KnoxVegas88:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

KnoxVegas,

You are absolutely correct..........and we know you're a true Vol.

As a matter of fact, this troll just recently was banned, and managed to sneak back in with yet another screen name. Out of curiosity, just this once, I did in fact check to see who it was, knowing fully well it would probably be Wilted Flowers since it was all about Dooley and Hart...........grounds for being banned, since he was off-topic again, with his sickening hankup.
Yes, since he just got back in on June 28, we know who it is. And yes, we now know we can ignore his posts, since he has been reported.

Someone said recently, what a sad existence someone like this must have. Really sad, and sick.

Am utter disgrace to the University of Tennessee.

antonio14313 writes:

...I don't think that Missouri knows the secret handshake just yet. ;)

Go Vols.

t

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Louisville in the AAC is a total JOKE!!!What a sorry conference..Too make matters worse with that cupcake schedule we will have to listen for 4 weeks about undefeated Louisville should be in the BCS championship even though they will playd NO one in the top#20..Hopefully Cinncy knocks them off..Cats had them beat last year but lost when Butch tried to ice the kickr

lahvolman2 writes:

Can't agree with all the accolades put on Bray lately.... I still remember the Kentucky game he mailed in... and all those passes he airmailed into the stands.... don't wish him any ill will, but I'm certainly happy he chose to leave....BTW, whatever happened to the other lineman who decided to leave early then disappeared?????

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to licknpromise777#651578:

Louisville in the AAC is a total JOKE!!!What a sorry conference..Too make matters worse with that cupcake schedule we will have to listen for 4 weeks about undefeated Louisville should be in the BCS championship even though they will playd NO one in the top#20..Hopefully Cinncy knocks them off..Cats had them beat last year but lost when Butch tried to ice the kickr

It's the same garbage we heard when BSU upset a porous Okie defense in the Fiasco Bowl a few years ago. Louisville will be pushed down our throats because they beat UF like a rented goat. Everyone knows (including the national media) that UL wouldn't compete day in and day out in the SEC, it's smoke & mirrors perpetrated by ESPN types to wrestle the crystal ball away from the SEC.

TommyJack writes:

At least Butch is not a lazy-arse like the last mope we had.

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