This is an exciting time of year for football coaches across the country. They’re excited to get back to the grind, excited to meet with their players and excited for the first game to arrive next month. We know for a fact how excited they are, because they told us over and over and over again at their respective conference media days over the last two weeks. Media days which, of course, they were all excited to be a part of.
“We’re excited about the season. We have a great group of young men. Back to work for a week, and players will be in here and get started.” – Mike Gundy
“The thing I was excited about more than anything is I’m looking forward to August 4th, getting ready to roll with my players.” – Bret Bielema.
“An opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl, something that’s pretty special, and I’m just excited to be a part of it, excited to be part of Cal.” – Sonny Dykes
“Got a couple of younger players on our roster. Excited to see how they perform in August and some incoming players, too. We’re excited.” – Kirk Ferentz
This isn’t a criticism of coach-speak as it is a comment on the surface-level football conversation that occurs at the podiums of hotel ballrooms across the country. (Who wouldn’t be outwardly optimistic when there’s still a zero in the loss column and nobody’s blown an assignment yet?) But when you get national writers, local TV outlets and the ever-increasing fan blogs together in one place, the questions tend to lean toward the obvious. Instead of a breakdown on the merits of the one-back offense, you tend to get quotes that could apply to any team at any level of football. Stuff like:
“Our guys worked really hard this summer.”
“The freshmen seem to be fitting in great.”
“This team really wants to win.”
We poured over the transcripts from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC media days and found that the 48 head coaches uttered the word “excited” a combined 167 times. That’s nearly three and a half times per coach.
To put some context on the 167 number, we picked out a couple generic football terms out of the hat and counted them as well. For this experiment we chose “touchdown” and “blitz”, but really any of them would have worked. The same 48 coaches that told the media they were excited 167 times combined to say the word “touchdown” a total of six times. “Blitz” was uttered just once, by none other than Gus Malzahn.
Big Ten coaches proved to be the most excited as a whole, telling us they were excited an average of 4.25 times per coach. The Pac-12 seems to be heading for a particularly dull season, as its dozen coaches averaged only 2.25 excited’s per coach.
Will Muschamp is officially the most excited head coach in the country, checking in with 12 excited’s during his time at the podium. Tim Beckman followed closely with 11, while Bob and Mark Stoops each registered 10 excited’s.
Seven of the 48 coaches apparently are not at all excited for this season, as they could not bring themselves to speak the word even once. They are mostly long-timers with multiple decades of media events to their credit and thus can’t be expected to get excited for another one – Bill Snyder, Art Briles, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban – or Urban Meyer, who was understandably not excited to meet the media given the news of last week.
The other two, Mark Helfrich and David Shaw, leave us with only two conclusions. Their teams are either headed for shocking downturns, or they just happen to have big vocabularies.
Either way, we’re excited to find out.