Paul Petrino got a taste of the Sun Belt football media day last summer after Idaho accepted an invite to the New Orleans-based conference. But on Tuesday, with the Vandals an official football-only member of the Sun Belt, Petrino and the rest of the UI contingent traveled to the Superdome for a more full-fledged media day experience.
Petrino was joined by center Mike Marboe and defensive end Maxx Forde in New Orleans to talk to the media. Check out below for some comments from Petrino on the dismissed Dezmon Epps, what he expects in 2014 and more. You can also watch an interview with Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson here. Benson referenced the addition of Idaho and New Mexico State -- two of the four new teams in the conference -- as a way to get to 12 teams so the SBC could have a conference title game. But it fell short of that goal and wound up with 11 football-playing members for 2014.
Read on for quotes from Petrino.
On Dezmon Epps' dismissal
"It was just team rules. And they weren't followed, and he's no longer with us." (For our reporting on Epps' petty theft charge on Sunday, read here).
On handling the loss of Epps
"That's one position where I think we have a lot of talent, the receiver position. We moved Josh McCain, who was a quarterback last year, to receiver this spring. He had a great spring. Deon Watson's a big, physical reciever who had a great spring. Jacob Sannon is a kid who played for us last year as a freshman and has great speed. Reuben Mwehla redshirted last year ... . I think if there's one position that has the most depth and most talent, it's receiver, so we'll be OK."
On joining the Sun Belt
"You know, I think it’s just a great football conference. We’re excited to come into it. A bunch of outstanding coaches and players. … I think it’s really a benefit to be in a conference first of all so we can go try to win a conference. We’re just really excited for it. Build some rivalries and some traditions — its going to be exciting year."
General team comments
"We got more competitive in the second half of the season (last year) and were close to people. Now we’ve got to take that next step and be read to win in the fourth quarter.
"Our talent’s improved. It will be a lot better this year than it was last year."
"Got way better this spring. .. He’ll be one of the better centers in the league; I’m pretty confident in that."
Vandal Nation had more comments from Petrino in a separate interview with ESPN3.