AAC Media Days: Louisville notebook

NEWPORT, R.I. – A few notes from the University of Louisville football teams stop at American Athletic Conference Media Day on Tuesday at the Viking Hotel. The Cardinals were the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the league title. Cardinal Authority was on hand for the event and has these notes:

BRIDGEWATER NOT THINKING ABOUT DRAFT

University of Louisville junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater answered a wide-array of questions in a 45-minute interview with print reporters on Tuesday morning at American Athletic Conference Media Day at the Viking Hotel.

And it wasn't shocking one was about the NFL Draft.

Bridgewater, who has taken out a $10 million insurance policy to guard against a career-ending injury, said he has not made a decision on his future.

"I haven't said anything about that," Bridgewater said. "I'm focused on the upcoming season and I can't predict the future.

"I've heard my name out there (in mock drafts) but I haven't taken a snap in the 2013-14 season yet. Only my play can dictate the future."

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound Bridgewater led the Cardinals' to an 11-2 mark and win in the Sugar Bowl last season. He's projected as one of the top five picks in next year's NFL Draft by virtually every mock draft.

STRONG TALKS ABOUT AGENTS

Because of players like Bridgewater and some of the other top returnees for the Cardinals, head coach Charlie Strong sent a strong message recently.

The fourth-year head coach told sports agents to stay away from his players, warning the agents not to contact the players or their families.

Strong said the agent chatter "becomes a problem when you start to win."

"I just wanted to get the message out to them," Strong said. "It wasn't so much the players but agents were contacting the families and that disrupts their lives. Any time you get agents involved, there's some ego.

"I just wanted to get the message out and tell them not to do it with our guys or with their families."

CARDS NOW HAVE LEADERSHIP

The message from Strong last year at the Big East Conference media day was about needing some leaders to step up. In fact, it was the preseason topic last season that Strong talked about more than anything else.

But that's not the case this time around.

Louisville, which had just nine seniors last season, now has 18 seniors listed on the roster heading into the preseason this year.

"We have a lot of leaders now," senior linebacker Preston Brown said. "We have guys who have been around the program for a while and then we have guys like (junior) Teddy (Bridgewater) who is a leader."

Strong said he can trust those guys this season with the leadership, noting because there were so few seniors last season some of the other stepped up.

"We have so many guys now who have been on the field, they're older and more mature," he said. "It's a lot easier to get that leadership part down."

'UNREALTIC' EXPECTATIONS SAYS STRONG

Strong called the expectations the Cardinals' have heading into the season "unrealistic' with some folks calling for an undefeated season.

But at least one player – Brown – didn't totally agree with the coach noting, "everybody wants to win a national championship."

"I wouldn't say they're unrealistic," Brown said. "We all want to win every game we play. We just have to stay focused on ourselves.

"We have to come ready to get better every day and it can all work out."

STRONG TALKS ON RULES OF SAFETY FOR GAME

Strong said even as a defensive coach he's all for the new NCAA rules that will protect the players and make the game safer.

In a move designed to improve player safety the NCAA recently implemented a new ejection rule. Players who hit defenseless players above the shoulders will now be ejected from the game. The previous 15-yard penalty will also remain.

"I'm all about the safety for the players," Strong said. "I won't have to say anything to our players. I don't believe we've ever had a kid who would have been ejected (under the new rules).

"But I am so glad we are looking at safety. With that new rule, I believe anybody who is ejected will be because they deserved to be. If the ejection happens, it will be a no doubt (hit)."

NEW SPIKE RULE NOT A BIG DEAL

The NCAA also has a new rule regarding spiking the ball, which says there must be three seconds as the minimum amount of time required to be on the game clock in order to spike the ball to stop the clock. If one or two seconds remain on the clock, there is only time for the offense to run one more play.

Strong said that new rule "won't be a big difference" for his offense.

"You just have to do a better job of managing the game," he said. "If you are in that position, manage the game so it doesn't become a big deal."

AMERICAN RECORD BOOK BARE?

American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco said he expects the new league to start with a blank record book.

Aresco, the commissioner of the Big East last year, was asked about the record book issue in a Q&A session with the media. Six of the 10 teams who played in the Big East Conference last season.

"We're analyzing that now," Aresco said. "We looked at what other conferences have done. Obviously schools will keep their individual records and schools will have their history and heritage. But as a conference we think ultimately it might be cleaner and better to have our own record books start from scratch."


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