By: Flint Harris Follow Flint on Twitter, Join us on Facebook
Monday morning I had the opportunity to talk with my favorite college football radio host, Bill King. Bill hosts a show on Sirius 122 and XM 143 that talks college sports, primarily football and basketball, every day. For those of you following Bill, you know he is in the middle on a contract negotiation and hopes to be back on the air soon. Bill was gracious with his time this morning.
Flint: How long have you been on the radio?
Bill: I graduated from college in 1984 with a degree in Biochemistry from Lipscomb after starting at Tennessee. I took a job because I could not go to school anymore (passing on medical school). Some of the old guys in the office listened to talk radio. In the late 80’s I was talking sports on the radio. The Sirius/XM show started the day after USC beat Oklahoma in January 2005 for the 2004 national title that everyone thought Auburn should have played for.
Flint: Then, are you a Tennessee fan?
Bill: For a while every move they (Tennessee) made I would track. I had emotions like every fan, but since I started a family and the national radio show one team did not seem to matter as much. Deep down I want Tennessee to do well, but I look at the big picture.
Flint: How do you watch games on Saturday?
Bill: I have been to so many games historically, but to go to one game now would be a waste of time for what I do. I have about four TV’s set up and a laptop or two. I keep a scoreboard up too. I don’t really take notes, just absorb it. When you enjoy it, it is easier to remember. I don’t want to be in a sports bar or around anyone. I need to concentrate. So, I am walled off.
Flint: College football continues to increase in popularity, why is that?
Bill: I think MLB tried to murder itself with labor issues and poor leadership. The NBA is hard to watch. NASCAR continues to deteriorate while college football gets stronger. Every Saturday has energy. ESPN deserves a ton of credit by showing more coverage. There is more media tailored to college football now. When we started our show, we were the only people talking college football every day. Now, College Football Live is on ESPN every day. College football is an everyday conversation piece. There is a beauty to the sport, and it is fun.
Flint: If the NFL locks out, do you think it will affect college football?
Bill: It will be interesting to see if college football moves games to Sunday? Prime time teams may not move to Sunday, but some smaller teams and conferences may prefer Sunday to other days of the week (Thursday, Friday, etc…). Would the MAC rather play on Sunday than another non-Saturday day of the week?
Flint: You have said you are pro-BCS. Why?
Bill: I am anti-NFL. I don’t want college football to look like the NFL. College football doesn’t need a bracketed format. The BCS makes for the best conversation, and I am unquestionable biased because it makes for good radio. From August 1st-through the conference title games in early December, college football captures people’s interest day in and day out. I do not want to ruin four months for a bracket/playoff. The BCS makes schools off the radar more important. Smaller programs like Boise State and TCU do not have the depth year in and year out to win in a playoff. Winning a Rose Bowl and finishing third is as good as it gets.
DT studs like Auburn's Nick Fairley garner Bill's attention.
Flint: When you look at a team, what do you look at?
Bill: Defensive tackles! I love watching the position. It is hard to have two good defensive tackles. Some schools cannot even get one good defensive tackle. I look at everything. I look at schedules too.
Flint: Who do you like in the 2011 season?
Bill: Oklahoma. On offense they can be as good as 2008 even though offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson left (to be the head coach at Indiana). Defensively, they will not be as good as 2008. Ohio State, if they can survive the suspensions. Will Braxton Miller (4-star #1 rated dual threat QB in 2011 class) play quickly? The Oregon defense will struggle, but they have the Black Mamba (5-star 2011 commit De’Anthony Thomas from Crenshaw in Los Angeles) who is like a little Reggie Bush. Southern Cal has a lot of talent, but it is young talent. As far as the SEC, LSU and Alabama are the two best looking teams. South Carolina is going to be pretty good again. There are not a bunch of 12-0, good looking teams right now.
Flint: Who is on your early Heisman list?
Bill: I have a vote. I think probably Andrew Luck at Stanford is the overwhelming favorite. He will have to lose it. The conversation starts and stops with him. Last year, I voted Cam Newton, LaMichael James, and Tyrod Taylor third.
Flint: How big is Nebraska’s move for the Big 10 and Big 12?
Bill: A huge boost for the Big 10. They are better and deeper right away. They also get an explosive personality in Bo Pelini. It helps the Big 10 Network in the biggest year ever for the Big 10. It obviously weakens the Big 12.
Texas controls the Big 12.
Bill: I think we will have a lull for now without any more big name expansion. Everybody from summer 2010 forward will be looking at Texas. They (Texas) own a league (Big 12) and control life or death of that league. The deal with ESPN allows Texas to be anywhere. Right now they (Texas) are an independent with a football agreement with the Big 12. Texas A&M does not like the little brother treatment. The Aggie fan base wanted to get away from Texas and the Big 12. A&M’s AD Bill Byrne took a lot of heat for staying in the Big 12. And Missouri would go to the Big 10 on a moments notice.
Flint: What is the ceiling for Art Briles at Baylor?
Bill: I am a huge Art Briles guy since his days back at Stephenville. I think he can win seven or eight games a year, consistently. Recruiting is going to be tough every year. The league is tough. Where does Baylor fit into the Big 12 landscape?
Flint: Arkansas fans want to be relevant nationally, why should Bobby Petrino give them hope?
Bill: Bobby P is at the top of the list of offensive minds in all of college football. I cannot stress enough how brilliant he is. He could take a box of rocks and get 420 yards in a game. He has better personnel than he did at Louisville. His defense is getting better. He cannot recruit well-enough on defense to be LSU or Alabama on defense, but he can flirt with 10 wins often. For Arkansas, I would not trade Bobby P for anyone.
Flint: Why do fans love recruiting so much?
Bill: It is an extension of the season, another way to keep score. Fans do not want to give up. Thy want to hang on to the passion. Coverage of recruiting has grown exponentially since the late 80’s because more people cover it. Newspapers used to joke about it, but they must cover it now or be left out.
Flint: Finally, you have a unique lexicon Chip Kelly=Quackmaster C, Baby Kif and Half Monte at USC, The Pontiff-Urban Meyer, and my favorite is Lesticles for Mr. Miles. Are the nicknames planned?
Bill: I am a horrible planner. The names come to me by the seat of my pants. We have had a few, very few quick meetings for words or phrases, but it doesn’t work. They just happen. You cannot plan it.
Bill was incredible generous with his time and enjoyable to talk with. He will be back on the air soon, and we know you like college football if you are reading this. His show is The show to listen to on Sirius 122 and XM 143 from 6-9am CST.
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