GAC Media Day Notebook
August 9th, 2023 12:00pm
The Great American Conference held its annual media day teleconference on Wednesday in preparation for the 2023 season. Here are some news and notes from the day.
- GAC Commissioner Will Prewitt announced the GAC will institute a replay review system through SkyCoach this year. All targeting plays will be reviewed and coaches will have one challenge that they will retain if the challenge is successful. Prewitt mentioned the MIAA’s use of the system a year ago resulted in less than one challenge per game on average, so he doesn’t anticipate an increase in game times.
- Two GAC-specific issues—silo scheduling and no conference network—don’t appear to be changing any time soon. Prewitt did allow for the possibility for change in the future on the football schedule, but said “nothing is imminent.”
- On the field, some of the big storylines include new head coaches at four Oklahoma schools—Southeastern OSU, Northwestern OSU, East Central and Southwestern OSU—and an entirely new coaching staff at Arkansas Tech. Also, half the league’s teams are going through quarterback changes from last year—Northwestern OSU, Southwestern OSU, East Central, Oklahoma Baptist, Southeastern OSU and Arkansas Tech.
- Secrecy was the name of the game on the quarterback battles, as no head coach offered the names of the players competing for the starting job. The CIA has nothing on college football coaches when it comes to divulging intel.
- Nothing new on this fact, but Ouachita Baptist coach Todd Knight is the new president of the American Football Coaches Association. Knight is the first D2 coach to be named president since 2016, when Lee Owens of Ashland University served as president.
- Harding coach Paul Simmons said his team has adjusted well to the new rule implemented before the 2022 season that eliminated blocking below the waist on the perimeter. Simmons said he expects this year’s squad to be well-equipped to handle the differences after a full season and two offseasons playing under the rule.
- At Henderson State, the Reddies have brought in at least four transfers at wide receiver to help replace the 81 percent of lost production from a season ago. Coach Scott Maxfield also said he and his staff brought in five safeties from the transfer portal to help shore up the league’s worst pass defense in 2022. Altogether, the Reddies have 26 defensive backs on the roster currently according to Maxfield.
- Apparently, game night is quite the occasion in Weatherford. New SWOSU coach Ruzell McCoy said team game night is a tradition he held on to from former coach Josh Kirkland, and the players are all in on it. Spades and UNO were a few games mentioned as particularly intense, but can you imagine a bunch of defensive linemen fighting over the last spoon while playing Spoons?
- Oklahoma Baptist went just 1-10 a year ago and one contributing factor, according to quarterback Aiden Thompson was a lack of leadership. The Bison lost a ton of veteran leaders off the 2021 team, including Preston Haire, Josh Arnold, Josh Cornell and Tyler Stuever. Coach Chris Jensen acknowledged that lack of leadership as well and said he has put his players through a lot of leadership training in the offseason, revamping his program’s entire approach to developing leaders on the team. So far, he said the hard work is paying dividends on the practice field.
- Expect a lot of offense at the two Southerns in the conference—Southern Nazarene and Southern Arkansas. The Crimson Storm return All-American quarterback Gage Porter, who led all of college football with 27 rushing touchdowns last year, along with their top two running backs, every wide receiver and four starters on the offensive line. The returning list for the Muleriders is equally impressive, led by quarterback OB Jones and running back Jariq Scales. Yards and points will add up quickly when these two offenses are on the field.
Be sure to check back soon for our GAC preview column, where we break down all 12 teams in the conference and give our predictions for the year. Kickoff is just 22 days away.