With 24 teams participating in their first practice and another 17 teams reporting for camp, Friday was a busy day around college football. The defending champions took the field, Florida tried to cobble together a full offense and Norm Chow already fired a coach.
The Crimson Tide rolled out for their first practices Friday, with veterans going through drills in the morning and freshmen in the evening. After the early session, head coach Nick Saban played his now-annual game of reducing expectations (via the Associated Press):
"You're probably going to ask me about [the preseason polls], and I'm just going to say this once: Any preseason poll really doesn't mean a lot relative to the season,'' he said. "We appreciate the recognition. We understand the reason that we have these things, to enhance the entertainment business. So you guys have something to talk about and write about.
"But the fact of the matter is, every team is doing exactly what we're doing right now. Everybody can get good results or bad results based on what they do. And there's not any teams in the country that have really accomplished anything as a team this year. They're really not entitled to anything. The achievements that we have are going to be determined by what we do.''
The Tide are a near-unanimous No. 1 in the preseason USA Today coaches' poll, released Thursday.
Saban announced a handful of personnel moves. Tight end Malcolm Faciane is suspended indefinitely for undisclosed "behavior reasons," and incoming defensive lineman Darius Paige is not medically cleared to participate after failing a preseason physical.
The Gamecocks returned to action Friday night, with an open practice attended by hundreds of fans. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney did not waste any time, toppling a blocking sled with the help of teammate Gerald Dixon. Otherwise, it was an uneventful beginning to South Carolina's fall camp. Head coach Steve Spurrier called it "so-so":
"Usually after the first one I always talk about how fast the team is. The team is in good shape. There's no question our strength coaching staff has done a super job with them throughout the summer. We've got a ways to go. It wasn't anything spectacular. Nothing special happened. We've got a ways to go and we need a lot of practice."
South Carolina holds another open practice Saturday night.
The Gators opened camp Friday night. Coach Will Muschamp told reporters that he would prefer to hold a separate practice for younger players Friday morning, but injuries and illnesses forced Florida to keep the team together, according to GatorZone.com's Scott Carter. The Gators are missing quarterback Jeff Driskel, running back Matt Jones, right guard Jon Halapio and left guard Max Garcia. Junior quarterback Tyler Murphy took snaps with the depleted first team offense Friday night.
Brian Kelly held his preseason press conference Friday. According to One Foot Down, the Fighting Irish head coach shed some light on the pending quarterback battle, indicating that senior Tommy Rees is the number one signal-caller heading into camp:
Coach Kelly is very comfortable with Tommy Rees as quarterback. All reports suggest that Tommy had an excellent summer and is bigger, stronger and faster. Cab drivers in the South Bend area, you are warned.
Kelly gave the impression that heading into camp Rees is number one, Hendrix is number two and Zaire is number three. When discussing splitting reps he said they would find a way to get Zaire some reps.
CBK also indicated that Rees had only been named the starter for the Temple game. This suggests the QB pecking order is not set in stone.
Rees, senior Andrew Hendrix and freshman Malik Zaire are competing to replace Everett Golson, who was dismissed from the team for an academic violation. Kelly indicated that Notre Dame expects Golson to return to the program in January, following the season.
Twenty-four teams started fall practice Friday, but none had a more eventful first day than Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors, coached by legendary offensive guru Norm Chow, fired their new offensive coordinator after just one practice:
Hawaii coach Norm Chow says offensive coordinator Aaron Price has been dismissed from the football program.
Chow announced the decision Friday at the start of fall practice, but did not give details or a reason for Price's departure.
Chow says the decision was difficult, with unfortunate timing at the start of fall camp. Chow says "some issues have arisen" and the team is choosing to move forward without Price.
Price, who joined the program in February after nine seasons at Texas-El Paso, is the son of former UTEP, Washington State and Alabama head coach Mike Price. He was also expected to be Hawaii's wide receivers coach. Chow will likely act as coordinator and receivers coach this season with some help from his graduate assistants, and fill the vacancy after the 2013 campaign is complete.
The Hoosiers opened camp Friday a little lighter than expected. Redshirt senior cornerback Antonio Marshall, top wide receiver recruit Taj Williams and freshman defensive tackle Maurice Swain are no longer with the program. Via The Crimson Quarry:
This season, three notable players will not be joining the team in camp. According to this article at the Hoosier Scoop, starting CB Antonio Marshall was dismissed due to a violation of team rules. Cuts are not limited to the veterans; freshmen Maurice Swain, a DT, and wide receiver Taj Williams were kicked to the curb due to not meeting academic requirements.
These losses definitely hurt; all 3 could have provided quality depth to a team that could definitely use it. I was especially excited about the possible addition of Williams given his impressive list of offers. However, I'm also glad that the football program holds these kids to a high standard on and off the field. Hopefully we won't be seeing too many more dismissals from the team.
Marshall made seven starts last season after transferring to Indiana from Georgia Military College. Williams, who curiously did not sign a Letter of Intent on Signing Day, eventually chose the Hoosiers over offers from the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and USC. Third-year coach Kevin Wilson did not close the door on Williams eventually joining the team, should his academic credentials improve. Swain signed with the Hoosiers in February.