Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cincinnati gets preseason nod in American

Munchie Legaux, coming off a grotesque knee injury that Coach Tommy Tuberville called the worst he ever has seen, will pressure Gunner Kiel for Cincinnati's starting quarterback job. [AP photo]

Munchie Legaux, coming off a grotesque knee injury that Coach Tommy Tuberville called the worst he ever has seen, will pressure Gunner Kiel for Cincinnati's starting quarterback job. [AP photo]

NEWPORT, R.I. — Cincinnati, which returns 16 starters and appears stocked at the offensive skill spots, has been picked to win the American Athletic Conference title by the league's media.

The preseason poll was released Tuesday morning before the start of the AAC's media day. Cincinnati received 17 of 30 first-place votes, with UCF (seven) and Houston (six) the only other teams to appear first on a ballot.

USF, which returns 16 starters from a 2-10 team, was picked sixth.

Cincinnati, 9-4 last season, returns myriad proven targets for whoever emerges at quarterback. Notre Dame transfer Gunner Kiel, who had a sparkling spring, will be pushed by veteran Munchie Legaux, coming off a grotesque knee injury that coach Tommy Tuberville called the worst he ever has seen. The offensive line will be anchored by three-time all-conference LT Eric Lefeld.

"It will be a challenge for me," Tuberville said. "I've really in 19 years of being a head coach never been predicted to win a conference championship. That's one piece of experience I'll have to go through."

SEIZING 'POWER': Citing Lincoln, Churchill and Michelangelo, commissioner Mike Aresco opened the media gathering with an assertive, defiant speech insisting his league is every bit the "power" conference as those five seeking legislative autonomy.

As evidence, Aresco cited UCF's Fiesta Bowl win against Baylor, the national titles won by the Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams, and Houston's appearance in the College World Series.

"We're not going to take a back seat to anyone," Aresco said. "We see the landscape as five-plus-one and we're knocking on the door. Our goal is to be in the conversation as the sixth power conference. I believe by virtue of our performance that we already are."

The 65 schools in the five most prestigious conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — are asking the NCAA's Division I board of directors to approve legislation next month that would grant them "autonomy," essentially the right to make some of their own rules. Creating a new division for those schools — Division IV — also has gained traction.

"I will admit I do not care for the 'Power Five' designation," Aresco said. "We do not accept the notion that we're not a power conference or this 'have-not' tag that some people use. We have resources. We have enormous potential. Make no mistake, we'll remain an integral part of the … college football fabric."

GOOD TO GO: With the exception of WR Tommy Eveld (torn ACL), USF coach Willie Taggart said everyone has been physically cleared for Monday's opening day of practice. Even LB Reshard Cliett, who missed spring drills due to shoulder surgery, said Tuesday that he's "stronger than I've ever been."

ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart said he intends to name a starting quarterback — sophomore incumbent Mike White or junior Steven Bench — after two weeks of preseason camp. … Tuberville said Bearcats TE Travis Johnson, a former Jesuit High two-sport standout, has left the program. … Cincinnati doesn't open its season until Sept. 12. By contrast, Houston will have played three games — in a 14-day span — by then. "Somebody dropped the ball," Tuberville said of the Bearcats' slate.

AUDIBLE: "I actually thought that was an alphabetical listing when I first saw it." — Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, on his team being picked to finish last in the conference.

AAC preseason poll

First-place votes in parentheses:

1. Cincinnati (17) 311 points

2. UCF (7) 296

3. Houston (6) 268

4. East Carolina 262

5. Southern Methodist 158

6. USF157

7. Memphis 133

8. Temple 105

9. UConn 98

Tulane 98

11. Tulsa 94

Cincinnati gets preseason nod in American 07/29/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dave Andreychuk going into Hall of Fame (w/photo gallery)

    Blogs

    Dave Andreychuk said Monday began "business as usual."

    Dave Andreychuk battles Calgary's Andrew Ference during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
  2. UPDATE: Rays finalizing deal to get SS Hechavarria for 2 minor-leaguers

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 4:27: In making the deal, the Rays add an elite-level defender to an infield that could use the help. But it also raises a number of questions, such as will they now move Tim Beckham to 2B? Does this mean Matt Duffy is not coming back this season? Is Daniel Robertson or Taylor Featherston going to …

    Adeiny Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.
  3. Timmy Claus is coming to town

    Blogs

    The circus is coming to town.

    Well, close enough.

    Timmy the Tebow is coming to Tampa Bay.

    It’s true. At least it could be. St. Timothy has been promoted by the New York Mets to high Class-A Port St. Lucie. If he stays promoted, Tebow should be in Tampa Bay for eight games beginning August 10 …

    Coming soon: Tim Tebow will hit Tampa Bay in August.
  4. Ranking Malik Zaire among 2017's top transfer quarterbacks

    Blogs

    The Florida Gators' Malik Zaire is among many transfers who could become starters at their new school. Here's how he stacks up in our rankings of top transfer quarterbacks:

  5. Lightning re-sign Yanni Gourde to two-year, one-way deal

    Blogs

    Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fightning to stay in pro hockey.

    Yanni Gourde seized his moment with six goals in 20 games as a callup last season.