NEWPORT, R.I. – For the seventh consecutive year, the Big East held its annual football media day about 40 minutes south of its relatively new downtown Providence headquarters in this seaside resort, long home to old New England money and a city famous for its mansions, and the home of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The event is staged at the Hotel Viking, a quintessential (aged but fancy) New England hotel opened in 1926, shoehorned in on a busy corner at one end of the famed Bellevue Avenue, with bellhops constantly scurrying out front to meet guest needs. The interior matches the tight space, yet it is comfortable and serves its purpose well, capping off two days of golf, a lobster bake, some sightseeing and meetings.
The Big East loves playing host to its biggest sponsors and bowl game partners to show off Newport (and New England) in its finest summer glory, so don’t expect the locale for media day to change anytime soon.
It was strange looking around the room at media day and seeing Paul Pasqualoni under the blue and white Connecticut banner and not the blue and orange Syracuse sign. Dressed in an appropriate summer suit with a little hint of blue, the former longtime Orange boss looked older than when he left in 2004, but was tanned, relaxed (for him that’s a relative term) and ready to embark on what he calls the start of likely “the last phase of his coaching career,” and it’s back in his home state to boot.
If the number of media members around each school’s table interviewing the eight head coaches for a 45 minute period is any indication, than we certainly know where the Cuse program stands in the minds of the regional and national media.
Recently profiled as the “Friendliest Football Coach in America” by ESPN The Magazine (July 25, 2011 issue), Doug Marrone was consistently being interviewed the entire time, something that could not be said for Cincinnati, Louisville (in fairness, travel mishaps stranded three UL players from attending) and Pittsburgh, whose coaches were at times virtually alone at their respective tables.
Also spotted in the Viking hallways; TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. The Horned Frogs join their Eastern brethren next year and he got a taste of The Ocean State’s hospitality; and BCS executive director Bill Hancock who politely talked to several media members, but kept a low profile.