Skip to comments.The College Football Czar's 2012 Season Preview
Posted on 07/22/2012 10:16:52 PM PDT by Daniel Clark
The College Football Czar 2012 Season Preview a sports publication from The Shinbone by Daniel Clark
Welcome to the 2012 season preview issue of The College Football Czar, a seasonal sports publication by the author and editor of The Shinbone. In the coming months, you will find weekly analyses of upcoming college football action posted at this site. To find out more, please see the Ground Rules.
This issue contains the Czar's rankings for all 124 teams in Division I-A football, as well as conference preview capsules, potential upsets to watch for, and a guide to help you locate head coaches on the move. Most importantly, it includes early nominees for the Lardhead of the Year Award, which the Czar never gets around to actually awarding, but for which he dispenses nominations copiously.
New coach .. arriving at .. previous position .. former coach
Terry Bowden .. Akron .. head coach North Alabama (D-II) .. Rob Ianello
Rich Rodriguez .. Arizona .. head coach Michigan ('10) .. Mike Stoops
Todd Graham .. Arizona State .. head coach Pitt .. Dennis Erickson
John L. Smith .. Arkansas .. head coach Weber St. (I-AA) Bobby Petrino
Gus Malzahn .. Arkansas State .. off. coord. Auburn .. Hugh Freeze
Jim McElwain .. Colorado State .. off. coord. Alabama .. Steve Fairchild
Carl Pelini .. Florida Atlantic .. def. coord. Nebraska .. Howard Schnellenberger
Tim DeRuyter .. Fresno State .. off. coord. Texas A&M .. Pat Hill
Norm Chow .. Hawaii .. off. coord. Utah .. Greg McMackin
Tony Levine .. Houston .. spec. teams coach Houston .. Kevin Sumlin
Tim Beckman .. Illinois .. head coach Toledo .. Ron Zook
Charlie Weis .. Kansas .. off. coord. Florida .. Turner Gill
Justin Fuente .. Memphis .. off. coord. TCU .. Larry Porter
Bob Davie .. New Mexico .. head coach Notre Dame ('01) .. Mike Locksley
Larry Fedora .. North Carolina .. head coach Southern Miss .. Everett Withers
Urban Meyer .. Ohio State .. head coach Florida ('10) .. Luke Fickell
Hugh Freeze .. Ole Miss .. head coach Arkansas State .. Houston Nutt
Bill O'Brien .. Penn State .. off. coord. N.E. Patriots .. Joe Paterno
Paul Chryst .. Pitt .. off. coord. Wisconsin .. Todd Graham
Kyle Flood .. Rutgers .. off. coord. Rutgers .. Greg Schiano
Ellis Johnson .. Southern Miss .. def. coord. South Carolina .. Larry Fedora
Kevin Sumlin .. Texas A&M .. head coach Houston .. Mike Sherman
Matt Campbell .. Toledo .. off. coord. Toledo .. Tim Beckman
Curtis Johnson .. Tulane .. WR coach N.O. Saints Bob Toledo
Garrick McGee .. UAB .. off. coord. Arkansas .. Neil Callaway
Jim L. Mora .. UCLA .. head coach Seattle Seahawks ('09) .. Rick Neuheisel
Mike Leach .. Washington State .. head coach Texas Tech ('09) .. Paul Wulff
ROLLING HEAD WATCH The following coaches will have a difficult time hanging onto their noggins through the 2012 season:
Frank Spaziani, Boston College In his three years since taking over for Tom OBrien, Spaziani is only 17-19 against Division I-A opponents, and his teams offensive output has gotten more pathetic each season. Against major-college competition, theyve averaged 18.9 points per game during his tenure, with that number dwindling to 15.7 in 2011. The longtime defensive coordinator hopes he has found an answer on offense by hiring former Kent State skipper Doug Martin, who spent last season as offensive coordinator at New Mexico State a unit whose style in no way resembles that of the Eagles. If the change doesnt start to show promise immediately, Spaziani could find himself roasting over an open fire, up there on Chestnut Hill.
David Cutcliffe, Duke What was supposed to be a breakthrough year for the Blue Devils started with a 23-21 loss to the Division I-AA Richmond Spiders, and didnt get much better from there. It was Cutcliffes second consecutive 3-9 campaign, which drops his four-year record in Durham to 15-33. With promising QB Sean Renfree entering his senior year, and a nonconference schedule that ought to yield three victories, theres no excuse for another dismal finish in 2012. Cutcliffe, who was unjustly fired from Ole Miss in 2004, has given his current employers far better cause already.
Robb Akey, Idaho Two years removed from an improbable 43-42 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Bowling Green, Akeys team tumbled to 2-10 in 2011, leaving him with a career mark of 19-53. Aside from that record, what ought to trouble him is the latest round of conference realignment, which is likely to leave the Vandals out in the cold, without a league to play in after the almost inevitable folding of the WAC. If they opt to downgrade, and return to the Division I-AA Big Sky Conference, they might as well hire a new coach and start from scratch. If they somehow survive at the I-A level, Akey could soon be replaced by his new offensive coordinator, Jason Gesser, the popular former quarterback from neighboring Washington State.
Joker Phillips, Kentucky The fans in Lexington have got to be wondering when Joker is going to deliver the punch line, and mercifully end the tasteless joke thats been Wildcat football for the past two seasons. If it seems like Phillips has been there longer than that, its because hed been tabbed head coach in waiting as early as 2008, for which he was given the laughably grandiose title, head coach of the offense. In truth, there was no doubt at that time that cantankerous head coach Rich Brooks was still in charge. It is not quite so clear to what degree Phillips is today. His 11-14 record as the actual head coach isnt all that much worse than his 14-12 record as HCOO had been, but the way his offense atrophied last season is troubling to say the least. In SEC play, the Cats averaged just 11.8 points per game, in a watered-down conference schedule that included neither Alabama nor Arkansas.
Randy Edsall, Maryland Okay, so hes only been there for one season, but what a season! After an encouraging Labor Day victory over Miami, the Terrapins could only muster one win for the rest of the season, and that against Division I-AA Towson. Edsalls predecessor, Ralph Friedgen, was fired over a 2-10 finish in 2009, despite the facts that he rebounded to go 8-5 in 2010, and that hed had three 10-win seasons earlier in the decade. The second-year coach has already jettisoned both coordinators, a classic cry of desperation that is traditionally shortly followed by the athletic directors vote of confidence -- which is traditionally shortly followed by the axe.
Mike Riley, Oregon State When Riley returned to OSU to take the reins from Dennis Erickson, the Beavers figured to fight on even terms with rival Oregon for the foreseeable future, and surely expected by now to have played in their first Rose Bowl since 1964. Rileys teams were poised for conference titles in 2008 and 09 before falling to their hated foes from Eugene, and havent since been able to compete. His career record stands at a respectable 72-63, but with so many other Pac 12 teams making aggressive coaching hires, one more losing season could convince the folks in Corvallis that theyve fallen behind the curve.
Derek Dooley, Tennessee It would hardly seem fair considering the state of the program when he took over two years ago, but this could be the end for Coach Eb and his orange pants, if he doesnt improve significantly on last years 1-7 SEC record. Dooley did an admirable job reviving Louisiana Tech during a three-year stint, but he still only had one winning season there, which means that his teams have been under .500 for four years out of five. The Volunteers overall record for 2012 may not be as important to Dooleys future in Knoxville as his struggles to establish a ground game, and he seems as far from finding an every-down back as hes ever been.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech Like some of the other coaches on this list, Tuberville took over under less-than-ideal conditions, and has only had two years to prove himself at his current school. Nevertheless, the Red Raiders had gotten used to the idea of being nationally competitive after a 9-0 start in 2008, and last year they dropped their last five games to finish 5-7, their worst record since 1990. You could say all sorts of unpleasant things about his predecessor, Mike Leach, and many of them would probably be true. Nevertheless, Leach finished above .500 in each of his ten seasons in Lubbock, and the circumstances of his firing were nowhere near as clear-cut as they would be for Tuberville.
WHAT'S NEW IN 2012
* Division I-A adds four new teams Major college football expands for the first time since 2007, adding Umass, South Alabama, Texas State and Texas San-Antonio, increasing the number of teams to 124. All it has to do now is add about 24 more, and teams will need to be competent in order to qualify for bowl games again.
* Wussification invades the college game Following in the pussyfootsteps of the NFL, the NCAA has moved kickoffs up five yards to the 35-yard line, in order to decrease the number of kickoff returns by causing more touchbacks. How thrilling. In addition, the ball will be moved forward five yards to the 25 after a touchback, in hopes of deterring kick returners from bringing the ball out of the end zone. It turns out that people can get hurt on kickoff returns, you see. Inevitably, this philosophy will create a never-ending series of new most-dangerous-plays-in-football. Punt returns are dangerous too. Will the NCAA solve that by devising an automatic fair catch rule? Fumbles create a lot of hazardous situations also. From now on, when a player loses possession, lets just whistle the play dead, and decide which team gets the ball by viewer text message vote. They could try making football a non-contact sport altogether, but as weve all seen, non-contact injuries are often the most gruesome kind. Even making the players run onto the field can be dangerous. It seems that the only safe part of the game is in putting on the uniforms, so lets just let that be the entire competition. Whichever team is adorned with the most items of awareness flair will be deemed the winner.
* No mo Disco Joe In the wake of the Freeh Reports conclusion that Joe Paterno covered up accusations of sexual abuse against former assistant Jerry Sandusky, Penn State University has removed the unintentionally comical statue that the Czar has nicknamed Disco Joe, depicting the coach with his jacket open and index finger thrust into the air. The university has announced that the statue will now be placed in storage. Its only a matter of time before some enterprising art professor has Disco Joe put back on display, and then pelts it with fistfuls of dung. Then, it would qualify for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
* Lack of Insight The game that was originally known as the Copper Bowl, but which had been called the Insight Bowl (or some variation thereof) for the past 15 years has lost Insight as a sponsor, and has set out to find a replacement. In the meantime, the game will not revert to being called the Copper Bowl, but will instead call itself the Valley of the Sun Bowl. The Czar sees a lawsuit in the offing, since of course there is already a game called the Sun Bowl in El Paso, which surely must have copyrighted the phrase Sun Bowl. One other change is that the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando will now be called the Russell Athletic Bowl. These games illustrate why the Czar is opposed to having a corporate sponsor supplant the traditional name of a bowl game. If the Insight Bowl had been known as the Insight Copper Bowl, the transition to a new sponsor would be done in such a way as to maintain the continuity of the games tradition. Ditto that for the game that was once called the Tangerine Bowl. If it were now the Russell Athletic Tangerine Bowl, fans would know what it was, where it was played, and what great games had been played there in the past. Naturally, a sponsor wouldnt pay as much in that case as it does to own the title of the game, and the difference could be enough to cause a few of the lesser bowls to go under. But would that be such a terrible thing?
* Yovis is back! So what is Yovis, and what does it have to do with college football? Why, its only the favorite hot dog shop of the legendary Beano Cook, which had sadly closed several years ago, but has recently reopened in its new location in Pittsburghs Market Square. The College Football Czar, who once saw Beano give Yovis an unsolicited plug on TV, frequents the shop for inspiration, as well as for the great dogs, sandwiches and fries. Youd be well-advised to do the same, if you happen to live in the Czars hometown, or if you just happen to be passing through. After all, if you believe the old proverb that you are what you eat, and you eat the same stuff that Beano does, that means that you and Beano are the same. Hows that for delusions of grandeur?
WHAT'S NOT NEW
* The annual cupcake feeding frenzy In fact, it's even worse than usual, due to the scheduling problems that have arisen on short notice from conference realignment. Few teams resist the temptation anymore to fatten up on lower-division opponents, which leaves a relative dearth of quality games during the first two weeks of the season. The worst offender is Florida State, which opens with consecutive games against Division I-AA teams for the second time in five years.
* Conference realignment The SEC expands to 14 teams this year, by adding Texas A&M and Missouri. The Big XII compensates for its losses by picking up West Virginia and TCU. The Big East has swallowed what little pride it had left and invited Temple to return from the MAC. The Mountain West continues to raid the WAC by taking three of that leagues perennial contenders: Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii. Theres no end in sight, either, as next season will see Pitt and Syracuse enter the ACC, and the WAC all but dissolve with the loss of Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State. The proposed Conference USA-Mountain West merger having fallen through, the Big East takes advantage of the opportunity by adding an entire Western division, which would include Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, and perhaps Air Force, among others.
* Dish vs. Disney Theres still no resolution between the satellite provider and the Family of Networks, which means that Dish subscribers still cannot get ESPNU or ESPN Classic in HD. As a result, Steamboat Willie looks like a more technologically advanced video production than the average Thursday night Sun Belt game on The U.
* Domes still stink If youre a college football fan, you had to be excited when you saw that defending champion Alabama was scheduled to open against Michigan, but your enthusiasm also had to be dampened by the fact that the game is being played at bleak, miserable Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and not at The Big House or Bryant-Denny Stadium. Theres no getting around the fact that domes are depressing. Watching college football being played indoors is kind of like watching it from a real football stadium, while playing Bonnie Tyler CDs in the background.
LARDHEAD OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
* Hypocritical playoff-mongers If youve been wailing for decades about the need for college football to have a legitimate championship, but you would have excluded Alabama last season because you say that no team should qualify that hasnt won its own conference or division, then congratulations, you are a lardhead. Ditto that if you become outraged by Big East teams with 8-4 records playing in BCS bowl games, but you want a playoff system that would give those same teams a shot at the national championship. You cannot have a multi-round playoff format, and also have a system that produces a title game between the two best teams with any reliable frequency. By adopting the plus-one model starting in 2014, the NCAA has done exactly the right thing, perhaps for the first time in its history. Quit trying to screw it up.
* Google-bombers The ill-fated Senate campaign of former SMU running back and ESPN analyst Craig James was doomed from the start by a Google bomb which caused anyone who did a search for James name to bring up dozens of citations containing the phrase Craig James killed five hookers. Its a completely ludicrous and fabricated accusation, of course, but as long as there are millions of rattlenoggins out there who believe people like Michael Moore and Jesse Ventura, we can be sure that this smear will follow James for the rest of his life. This slime job was perpetrated not by a political rival, but instead by Texas Tech fans loyal to coach Mike Leach, who was fired in part for his alleged mistreatment of James son. If only James had belonged to the same political party as 99 and eleventeen-tenths percent of the sports media, they might have been a fraction as judgmental about this story as they were last year about the Alabama tree poisoner.
* Franco Harris The Czar didnt want to have to nominate the Steeler legend, but what else can he do, after Francos most recent defense of his former coach, the late Joe Paterno? After I read the Freeh Report, I feel even more strongly about Joe and about his non-involvement in any type of cover up, he told WPXI-TV. No way would Joe ever cover up anything like this. No way would Joe protect Sandusky or protect the football program. How in the world could he have reached that conclusion after reading the Freeh Report? Did he think it had been written sarcastically? Okay, so Harris is loyal to his old coach. Up to a point, thats commendable, but by now hes starting to sound like a child whos still in denial after his parents have told him theres no Easter Bunny. I mean, if theres no Easter Bunny, then how could Franco have had a pancake breakfast with him at the mall? Try splainin that one, Louis Freeh, since you think youre so smart!
* Louisiana-Lafayette strength and conditioning coach Rusty Whitt for going throughout his teams New Orleans Bowl victory over San Diego State with a stream of blood trickling down his face. I head-butted one of the younger players in the tunnel before we ran out onto the field, he explained, according to an article in The Independent Weekly. The blood running down my face was a symbol for all of the blood, sweat and tears that we all gave for this season. It was fitting, it was perfect, and I wasnt going to clean it up. Of course, any sports fan knows that what he was really doing was playing the role of the Charlestown Chiefs team bus (Makin it look mean!). Say what you will about the motivational value of the stunt, but the Czar suspects that every time the ESPN cameras focused on Whitt on the sideline, a few more parents of potential Ragin Cajun recruits scratched that school off their lists.
* Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen Theres got to be a special place in lardhead purgatory for those who try to drum up support for the home team by insulting its fans. The Czar didnt think it could get any worse than West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsens I dont know about this town remark, but Bowen is giving him a run for it. I keep hearing these are great fans, the incoming A.D. said. To that I say, oh, really? Prove it! Come out and fill the Liberty Bowl for one game. Join us September first against UT-Martin. No, Tom. The way it works is that you first start building a competent program, which in part means that youre scheduling quality opponents, and then, maybe, the fans will fill the stadium. Do you seriously expect them to fill the 61,000-seat Liberty Bowl to see one of the most dismal teams in Division I-A football, in a tune-up game against a mediocre I-AA club like Tennessee-Martin? Fill it with what? Puke?
* Virginia safety Joseph Williams The junior alarmed his coaches by going on an eight-day hunger strike in support of the Living Wage Campaign, which considers it to be social injustice that entry-level workers are paid entry-level wages. In a February statement he posted on the left-wing crackpot Huffington Post, Williams likened the plight of low-paid university employees to (yawn) slavery. That is, theyre like those slaves who are paid for their services, and who are free to go elsewhere anytime they wish. But then, who can afford to be a stickler for accuracy, when trying to suck up to Communist professors? Williams rails against those who laud the virtue of the Free Market Economy, which he fruitbattily describes as discriminatory language. According to the Washington Post, Williams said that the hunger strike had taken a toll on his mental state. It cant help but have been an improvement.
THE CZAR DECREES
If the College Football Czar could issue proclamations changing college football, these are some of the things he would do:
* Penalize the poor sports The College Football Czar loves last seasons new rule that makes unsportsmanlike conduct a spot foul, so that a player who taunts his opponents on his way into the end zone has the touchdown called back, and the ball marched back 15 yards from where he committed the offense. The rule seemed to have the desired deterrent effect, in that the players didnt give the officials that many opportunities to call it, but there were several instances in which obvious violations went unpunished. When the call is made, youre sure to hear an announcer whine about the officials influencing the outcome of the game, but its actually the opposite thats true. If they allow a touchdown to be scored which by rule should not have been, then theyre influencing the outcome of the game. If they flag a player for taunting, and its the correct call, thats no more meddlesome than if theyd correctly called someone for pass interference or holding.
* Eight (conference games) is enough Part of the reason for the increasing weeniness of nonconference schedules is that the Big XII and Pac 12 have expanded their schedules to nine conference games. This leaves only three nonconference games, which is not enough. Major conference teams usually try to pump up their season ticket plans by playing seven home games. When a team only gets four home conference games out of nine, it is under considerable pressure to schedule all three nonconference games at home. This means rather than playing a home-and-home series against, say, Purdue, it would be inclined to schedule home games in consecutive seasons against teams with names like the Southeast New Mexico Tech &M Hustling Geese. In fact, the nine-game Pac 12 slate has been cited as a major reason why an agreement for a series of games between that league and the Big Ten had to be scuttled. The result will be fewer Oregon-Michigan blockbusters, and more atrocities like this years game between UO and Division I-AA Tennessee Tech.
* No TOs in OT Every season, the rules committee studies ideas for preventing the games from running too long. With that in mind, what justification could there possibly be for each team to be granted a timeout for each overtime period? Does anyone think adding one more opportunity to ice the kicker makes the game more exciting?
*Get a new GamePlan The following is ESPNs response to the Czars e-mail, dated 5-24-12: ESPN is looking into providing GamePlan in HD for next season however no announcements have been made at this time. Since there has still been no announcement by the date of this publication, the Czar assumes that 2012 will be another long season of trying to watch great football games on a shrunken, fuzzy, pixilated, virtually unlookatable picture. If you subscribe to GamePlan, youre far better off watching it on a non-HD set. The minute you upgrade to HD, the value of this pay-per-view package is diminished. Those Disney geeks need to start investing less of their technological might in cryogenics, and more into providing a quality product to their soon-to-be dwindling number of subscribers.
TEAM RANKINGS, 1-124
[Omitted for technical reasons -- Please refer to original article for rankings]
Atlantic Coast Conference (atlantic)
1. Florida State Seminoles youthful O looks awfully soph in the middle this year
2. Clemson Tigers were beaten to a pulp in the Orange Bowl, 70-33 by WVU
3. Nc State Wolfpack must be starved, having lost so many LBs since last season
4. Boston College Eagles Can ex-Kent Stater add some Flash as offensive coordinator
5. Wake Forest Demon Deacons one-dimensional O in no rush to climb the standings
6. Maryland Terrapins They and their funny unis flagged after an inspiring opening win
Atlantic Coast Conference (coastal)
1. Virginia Tech Hokies/Gobblers* -- With a roster this thin, theyd better gobble real good
2. North Carolina Tarheels Soph RB Bernard might be sainted at Chapel Hill
3. Virginia Cavaliers Londons blitz will pose problems to Penn State, TCU
4. Georgia Tech Ramblin Wreck bee-boys suffered hive collapse after 6-0 start
5. Miami Hurricanes not many prevailing winds in this seasons forecast
6. Duke Blue Devils played like they had blue dresses on in 2011
* projected conference champion
Outlook: FSU and Clemson have complained that the ACC is too basketball-oriented, but perennially disappointing showings by those same schools football teams is largely responsible. They will compete for first place in the decidedly weaker Atlantic division, with VT and Carolina, who boast the leagues most formidable rushing attacks, contending in the Coastal. The Gobblers face a challenging season opener against Georgia Tech, which would immediately vault into contention with an upset.
Big East Conference
1. Louisville Cardinals Last years green redbirds are ripe to pick for a league title
2. Pitt Panthers Can Chrysts pro-set offense settle Sunseri down?
3. Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive surge pushes SUNJ toward top of the standings
4. South Florida Bulls plodding team tends to step in it when the chips are down
5. Temple Owls wise guys return to the same gang that whacked them 7 years ago
6. Uconn Huskies Conn Men persuade several transfers to add some needed offense
7. Cincinnati Bearcats cupboard is tragically bare for new starting QB Munchie
8. Syracuse Orange Theres more pork in pork n beans than carriers in Carrier Dome
Outlook: Parity once again rules in a league that hasnt had a legitimate powerhouse since the Rich Rod era at West Virginia. Louisville and Rutgers appear to be the most powerful defensive teams, with the Cards getting the nod here based on the rapid development of QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Panthers, who have fallen just short of a conference championship repeatedly in recent years, try to capture their first outright title in their final season in the league.
Big Ten Conference (leaders division)
1. Wisconsin Badgers cheeseheads fill another hole with an ACC transfer at QB
2. Ohio State Buckeyes Can Urban renewal plan succeed in the big city?
3. Purdue Boilermakers Hopes team believes, but are they just drinking the Ross-Ade
4. Illinois Fighting Illini ex-Rocket coach tries to light fuse under fizzling offense
5. Penn State Nittany Lions white-out not enough to erase the stain from this program
6. Indiana Hoosiers them going to Indianapolis is like you and me going to the moon
Big Ten Conference (legends division)
1. Michigan Wolverines* -- Toussaint runs Froot Loops around the opposition
2. Nebraska Cornhuskers Bo better kno defense, with brother Carl gone to FAU
3. Michigan State Spartans hope they have an identical Cousins in QB Andrew Maxwell
4. Iowa Hawkeyes Do tailback troubles leave them anyone to dot the eye?
5. Northwestern Wildcats fans of defense will think theyre in Ell this year in Evanston
6. Minnesota Golden Gophers better go pher in Sept., before their schedule stops them
* projected conference champion
Outlook: Former Maryland QB Danny OBrien will certainly be an asset to the Badgers, but he is not Russell Wilson. Bret Bielemas team will need to be stronger on run defense and kick coverage in order to repeat as conference champs. The Wolverines would immediately become a favorite for the BCS championship with an opening win over Alabama, but theyd still have to face Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State, all on the road. The Buckeyes are bowl-ineligible due to NCAA sanctions, which ought to leave first-year coach Urban Meyer plenty of room to experiment.
Big Twelve Conference
1. Oklahoma Sooners Can QB Landry Jones take the heat without Broyles?
2. TCU Horned Frogs leaping lizards enter their fourth conference in 17 years
3. Kansas State Wildcats team from the Little Apple played with big onions last year
4. West Virginia Mountaineers Wholl they sue for letting them join this league?
5. Texas Longhorns may be steer-ing by committee, with unsettled question at QB
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys offense must avoid the doldrums in Stillwater
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders foes TTd off on nations worst run defense in 2011
8. Baylor Bears Do the Waco kids need any help? Oh, all they can get
9. Iowa State Cyclones wish they could clone a whole team from their linebackers
10. Kansas Jayhawks Can the Offensive Goo find their get-up-and-go?
Outlook: The Mountaineers are a popular pick to contend during their first year in the conference, but the Czar has two serious reservations: (a) The Big East may be better than its reputation, but it certainly doesnt have the offensive firepower that WVU will now face on an almost weekly basis; and (b) The conference road trips for this geographically mismatched team will wear on them over the course of the season. Speaking of which, was it really necessary to add to their travel schedule by playing a neutral-site game against Division I-AA James Madison? The Sooners appear to be head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league, although they probably lack the consistency to reach the national title game.
Conference USA (east division)
1. Central Florida Knights* -- Its a new dawn in Orlando, after a rare losing season
2. Southern Miss Golden Eagles must pull a rabbit out of Hattiesburg to win this race
3. East Carolina Pirates got looted last year, for minus-14 turnover margin
4. Marshall Thundering Herd their moo is worse than their whatever else it is cows do
5. UAB Blazers games shouldnt drag-on with new, up-tempo offense
6. Memphis Tigers need lots of rebuilding, while implementing a new pyramid scheme
Conference USA (west division)
1. Tulsa Golden Hurricane new QB Green will be less so when big Nov. games arrive
2. SMU Mustangs red with embarrassment after Junes bug-out backfired
3. Houston Cougars for first time in forever, a new QB is on the case
4. Rice Owls D cant be so Krispie, if they are to return to the postseason
5. UTEP Miners schedule strength makes them an unpopular pick in 2012
6. Tulane Green Wave Tulane to lose too many to count
* projected conference champion
Outlook: Expect a lot more parity in this conference in 2012, as several of the lesser teams are improving, while theres nobody comparable to last years Houston team. As a whole, the league is a lot thinner at quarterback that it has been in recent years, which could give Southern Methodist an upperhand with the addition of Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert.
1. Brigham Young Cougars on a mission to road games at Utah, Boise St., ND & Ga. Tech
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Will they lag behind after overseas opener in Dublin?
3. Navy Midshipmen Gee Gee Greene becomes the new goat-to guy in their backfield
4. Army Black Knights Raymond Maples runs more than a little bit faster than syrup
Outlook: Notre Dames schedule always looks tough before the season starts, and this year is no exception. With road games against Michigan St., Oklahoma and USC, theyd have to consider anything better than 7-5 to be a successful year. If the Cougars get some consistent QB play, they could plausibly be in the running for a BCS bowl. A key game for the Middies will be in Week 4, when they face the same San Jose State team that eliminated them from bowl consideration a year ago. The Cadet program continues to slowly solidify, but its difficult to plot a path to the postseason for them through this years schedule.
Mid-American Conference (east division)
1. Ohio Bobcats* -- veteran club could inflict further punishment on PSU in opener
2. Miami OH RedHawks Coach Treadwell needs some RBs who will do the same
3. Kent State Golden Flashes new coach Hazell hasnt got it maid with this team
4. Akron Zips Terry needs some of his dads gum to hold this team together
5. Umass Minutemen will take hours to get to home field, cross-state in Foxboro
6. Buffalo Bulls blue oxen arent as big as many seem to think they are
Mid-American Conference (west division)
1. Toledo Rockets having 2 of leagues best QBs gives them a needed boost
2. Western Michigan Broncos the animals will run wild this year in Kalamazoo
3. Northern Illinois Huskies with few big dogs left, offense could turn to mush
4. Bowling Green Falcons Michigan transfer WR Stokes adds fire to offense
5. Eastern Michigan Eagles EMUs are no longer down under in the standings
6. Ball State Cardinals kept hanging round at .500 despite dismal defense
7. Central Michigan Chippewas need to start getting chippier with their old rivals
* projected conference champion
Outlook: The presumptive decline of NIU leaves OU and Toledo as the dominant powers in a conference that has taken great strides over the past two seasons. With the departure of Temple, the divisions are unbalanced in terms of quality as well as quantity, with the Bobs being the prohibitive favorite in the East, whereas the Rockets should receive a challenge from at least three of their divisional foes.
Mountain West Conference
1. Boise State Broncos breaking in a whole new herd, on both sides of the ball
2. San Diego State Aztecs ex-Beaver Katz is eager to start at QB after transfer
3. Wyoming Cowboys Pokes chop defensive coach after awful showing in bowl
4. Nevada Wolf Pack favorable schedule brings top teams into their den
5. Fresno State Bulldogs Old dogs must learn lots of new tricks in a hurry
6. Air Force Falcons not exactly the stuff that dreams are made of
7. Hawaii Warriors Norm Chow sinks his teeth into first head coaching job
8. UNLV Rebels Fans are tiring of watching so many crap games
9. Colorado State Rams buttheads think new coaching hire doesnt suck
10. New Mexico Lobos Davie must be a Daydream Believer to have taken this job
Outlook: The MWC is starting to look an awful lot like the WAC of a few years ago, starting with the Broncos occupying the top spot. The fiercest competition will be for second place, and its accompanying berth in the Poinsettia Bowl against BYU. The AFA will again succeed in scheduling its way into the postseason, but is clearly a cut below the top five teams in this conference.
Pac 12 Conference (north division)
1. Oregon Ducks Key offensive players have yet to get their feet wet
2. Washington Huskies ex-Duck Justin Wilcox fits the bill as D-coordinator
3. Stanford Cardinal finally out of Luck, but are they out of contention?
4. Oregon State Beavers The life of Riley may be flashing before his eyes
5. California Golden Bears back in the comfort of their own renovated cave
6. Washington State Cougars Wazzu and coach Mike Leach are a perfect match
Pac 12 Conference (south division)
1. USC Trojans* -- cant afford to worry about shielding QB Matt Barkley
2. Utah Utes There is only one John White IV
3. Arizona Wildcats natural fit for coach who failed to change Michigans stripes
4. Arizona State Sun Devils The Czars relieved Grahams gone from Pitt
5. UCLA Bruins hunting for pick-a-nick basket, after losing the food fight bowl
6. Colorado Buffaloes Fans of these Buffaloes must be a Loyal Order
* projected conference champion
Outlook: One look at the Trojans starting lineup makes it difficult to believe that anyone but them could win the national championship. They do lack depth, however, and an injury to either Barkley or RB Curtis McNeal could mean big trouble. The Fighting Ducks uncharacteristically namby-pamby nonconference schedule gives them plenty of time to settle on a new starting QB before they clash with Arizona in Week 4. Conference rivalries are about to get a lot more heated, thanks to the introduction of a trio of new head coaches with prickly personalities and unorthodox offensive schemes: Arizonas Rich Rodriguez, Arizona States Todd Graham, and Washington States Mike Leach.
Southeastern Conference (east division)
1. South Carolina Gamecocks* -- Spurrier should get win #200 vs. UAB in Week 3
2. Georgia Bulldogs dont face Bama, LSU, Arkansas or A&M this season
3. Florida Gators new offensive coordinator aims to Pease
4. Missouri Tigers Can QB James Franklin shoulder the burden after spring surgery?
5. Tennessee Volunteers still need a few good men to step up in their backfield
6. Vanderbilt Commodores Star-V-ing for first winning regular season since 1982
7. Kentucky Wildcats Jokers offense has got the SEC laughing itself silly
Southeastern Conference (west division)
1. LSU Tigers Baton Rouge must be French for weenie nonconference schedule
2. Alabama Crimson Tide Will it be Crimson, over and over, for the championship?
3. Arkansas Razorbacks The show must go on, after stupid Petrino tricks
4. Texas A&M Aggies Games are four quarters long in this here league, fellas
5. Auburn Tigers situation isnt Dyer, despite losing leading running back
6. Mississippi State Bulldogs These dogs will have their D-days again this year
7. Ole Miss Rebels Old Dixie has already been driven down as far as it will go
* projected conference champion
Outlook: The West division is by far the deeper of the two, which improves the chances of East frontrunners Carolina and Georgia to win the conference title. Newcomers Missouri and A&M should be immediately competitive, but will not contend for first place in their respective divisions. The wild card in this race is quirky coach John L. Smith, who takes over for Bobby Petrino on short notice at Arkansas. Smiths teams have traditionally lacked on-field discipline, yet hes had his share of success at Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State.
Sun Belt Conference
1. Arkansas State Red Wolves QB Ryan Alpin alps himself to another conference title
2. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns writing on the wall now says yes, pepper games
3. Florida International Golden Panthers will labor on long field with retooled return game
4. Troy Trojans went to Helen back during a tormenting 3-9 season
5. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks belligerent birds open against Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor
6. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders MT-heads hope to have no memory of 2-10 debacle
7. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers LB Andrew Jackson takes Old Hickory to ball carriers
8. North Texas Mean Green will long for mean, green grass of home, after opener at LSU
9. Florida Atlantic Burrowing Owls Carl Pelinis hiring was not a FAU-pas
10. South Alabama Jaguars did this long season really need a thirteenth game in Hawaii?
Outlook: ASU introduces former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn as head coach, although ex-Tiger tailback Michael Dyer cant join him there until after sitting out a year during transfer. ULL is the only team in the league with an offense that can keep up with the Red Wolves, which could make Week 9s Tuesday night battle at Cajun Field one of the biggest little games of the season.
Western Athletic Conference
1. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs QB Colby Camerons the Big Cheese after late-season streak
2. Utah State Aggies Who will propel the offense without departed tailback Turbin?
3. New Mexico State Aggies defense continues to get its signals crossed in Las Cruces
4. San Jose State Spartans loss of fickle transfer Forcier forces a shaky hand at QB
5. Idaho Vandals hoping new O-coordinator Jason Gesser has the right answers
6. Texas State Bobcats Coach Dennis Franchione bobs to the surface yet again
7. UTSA Roadrunners Theyre One (1) Acme Long-Term Project
Outlook: In what is almost assuredly the final season in the 51-year history of this conference, defending champion LTU ought to be able to go out as top dog. USU is poised to reach consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 1960 & 61 Sun and Gotham Bowls. NMSU coach DeWayne Walker may hit postseason paydirt, at the end of a long and rugged four-year trail.
The College Football Czar has no idea who he will end up picking to win the following games, but he highlights them now as possible upsets which threaten to ensnare some of the nation's most prominent programs. The favored teams appear in bold face.
Central Florida at Ohio State The lumpy nuts may have some trouble getting things rolling in their second game under coach Urban Meyer, when they clash with the Knights, who boasted the #9 defense last season, in both scoring and total yardage. OSU averaged a meager 127 yards per game in the air last season, and Meyers scheme does not offer the best chance for sophomore scrambler Braxton Miller to develop into a productive passer.
Wake Forest at Florida State The Seminoles have dropped four of their last six against the Demon Deacons, including last years 35-30 upset in Winston-Salem. In 2008, FSU beat up on Division I-AA opponents Western Carolina and Chattanooga by a combined score of 115-7, but that phony feelgoodism meant nothing when they sailed into their first serious game of the season, and were left in the Deacons wake, 12-3. This season, they once again open with consecutive I-AA foes (Murray State and Savannah State) before facing Jim Grobes team in what could prove to be another Wake arudening.
Virginia Tech at Pitt Frank Beamers team takes an uncharacteristic risk in its nonconference schedule, when it faces its former and future conference rival on the road. As a Big East member, Tech went 7-4 against the Panthers, but lost the last three games in the series, two of those at Heinz Field. Its been so long since weve seen the real Beamer-ball that some fans might be wondering why its even called that. The Gobblers have not been nearly as prolific at blocking kicks in recent years as their foes from the Iron City have been, and they enter the season having to choose from a handful of inexperienced punters and kickers.
Rutgers at Arkansas Win or lose against Alabama in Week 3, the Razorbacks will have a tough time giving this intriguing interconference game the attention it deserves. Both schools introduce new coaches this season, but the transition figures to be trickier for the Hogs, who must keep their powerful offense rolling without their unceremoniously departed coach Petrino, and with the question of how effective RB Knile Davis will be upon his return from a broken ankle. Kyle Floods hiring by the Scarlet Knights might qualify as the most boring offseason move in the NCAA, but the former offensive line coach should assure that his team remains tough in the trenches. The Big Easts leading defense returns most of its starters this year, including all three linebackers.
USC at Utah Depending on how badly Stanford misses Andrew Luck, the Trojans could cruise into this game feeling a bit complacent after the first month of the season. The Utes only lost to SC 23-14 on the road last season, and have never been intimidated by their more celebrated big-league opponents in the past. The Ute offense, which languished under once-coveted Southern Cal coordinator Norm Chow a year ago, could get a jolt from the promotion of former QB Brian Johnson to replace him.
Michigan at Purdue A key to this game will be whether a fearsome Boilermaker defensive line can get enough penetration to disrupt QB Denard Robinson and force him into bad decisions. As outstanding a year as Robinson had in most respects in 2011, he did lead the Big Ten in interceptions with 15. On the flip side, the maize and blue have some rebuilding to do on their DL, which should give PU senior quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve plenty of time to operate behind a veteran offensive front.
West Virginia at Texas Tech The way the vaunted WVU defense was picked apart by the mid-range passing games of Syracuse and Louisville last season, stopping Seth Doege and the Red Raiders should prove a daunting task. The game also comes at an awkward point on the Mountaineers schedule, in that theyll have played in Austin a week earlier, and will have either spent the week in the Lone Star State, or else traveled to Morgantown and back in a matter of days.
Florida at Vanderbilt Last years 26-21 setback at The Swamp was one of five defeats the Commodores suffered by a touchdown or less, along the way to a 6-7 finish. VU figures to fare better in close games this season, with nine offensive starters returning, along with seven on defense. Will Muschamps Gators may have trouble keeping their intensity up for this game, a week after clashing with LSU, and heading into battles with East division favorites South Carolina and Georgia. UF lacks experience, and perhaps talent, at all ball-handling offensive positions.
Washington at Oregon If anything can revive this rivalry, its the addition of Justin Wilcox to the Huskies coaching staff. Wilcox, a former Fighting Ducks DB, was Boise States defensive coordinator when he spoiled Chip Kellys head coaching debut, in a 19-8 BSU victory to kick off the 2009 season. If Wilcox can immediately improve the UW defense, the offense may be able to run stride-for-stride with the webfoots, just as it almost kept up with Baylor in last years 67-56 loss in the Alamo Bowl.
Mississippi State at Alabama Throughout last years struggles, MSU still allowed fewer than 20 points per game. In a 24-7 loss to the Tide, they held Nick Sabans team to fewer points than anyone else but LSU did all season. Nobody admits to looking ahead, but Bama travels to Baton Rouge a week after this game. The Bulldogs late-season schedule is brutal, so if theyre not at least 6-1 heading into Tuscaloosa, theyll have to fight for their postseason lives on a weekly basis.
Notre Dame at Boston College As awful as the Eagles were in 2011, they only lost to their rivals in South Bend by a final of 16-14. The Fighting Irish won their last road game in this series as well, but that was only their third victory at BC in seven visits. If new coordinator Doug Martin can come up with a system that better takes advantage of junior QB Chase Rettigs mobility, it will surely have paid off by the time this game rolls around in Week 11. The golden domers have still not solved their QB situation, which could lead to a repeat of last years turnover troubles.
Akron at Toledo In an attempt to rebuild the Zips program as quickly as possible, incoming coach Terry Bowden has done everything but hire a division of Hessian mercenaries. By adding abrasive former Nc State head coach Chuck Amato as defensive coordinator, and unapologetically seeking the transfer of players with disciplinary and academic problems, Bowden is making it clear that he means for his team to compete right away. Its as if hed rented the John Wayne movie Trouble Along the Way for guidance, but fell asleep before the Dukes grand scheme was rent asunder. Nevertheless, his team could become a threat to trip up one of the MAC favorites, like UT. The Zips, who once gave up 63 points in consecutive games in 2011, could be susceptible to Bowdens no-huddle offense, especially if the former Auburn coach finds a ringer to put behind center.
Just for fun, the Czar takes his best preseason guesses at how the postseason might turn out.
Bowl .... Date .... Matchup .... Projection
New Mexico .. Dec. 15 .. MWC (6) vs. Pac 12 (7) .. Fresno St. vs. Oregon St.
Famous Idaho Potato .. Dec 15 .. WAC (1) vs. MAC (3) .. La. Tech vs. W. Michigan
Poinsettia .. Dec. 20 .. MWC (2) vs. BYU^ .. San Diego St. vs. BYU
Beef O Bradys .. Dec. 21 .. Big East (6) vs. C-USA (5) .. Temple vs. E. Carolina
New Orleans .. Dec 22 .. Sun Belt (1) vs. C-USA (6) .. Arkansas St. vs. Houston
MAACO .. Dec. 22 .. MWC (1) vs. Pac 12 (5) .. Boise St. vs. Stanford
Hawaii .. Dec. 24 .. MWC (4) vs. C-USA (2) .. Nevada vs. Tulsa
Little Caesar's .. Dec. 26 .. MAC (2) vs. Big Ten (8) * .. Toledo vs. Utah St.
Military .. Dec. 27 .. ACC (8)* vs. Army ^* .. No. Illinois vs. Florida Intl
Belk .. Dec. 27 .. ACC (5) vs. Big East (3) .. Virginia vs. Pitt
Holiday .. Dec. 27 .. Pac 12 (3) vs. Big XII (5) .. Washington vs. Texas
Russell Athletic .. Dec. 28 .. ACC (3) vs. Big East (2) .. Clemson vs. Notre Dame
Independence .. Dec. 28 .. ACC (7) vs. MWC (3) .. Ga. Tech vs. Wyoming
Meineke Texas .. Dec. 28 .. Big XII (6) vs. Big Ten (6) .. Oklahoma St. vs. Illinois
Armed Forces .. Dec. 29 .. C-USA (4) vs. MWC (5) .. SMU vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger .. Dec. 29 .. Pac 12 (6) vs. Navy ^ .. Arizona St. vs. Navy
New Era Pinstripe .. Dec. 29 .. Big East (4) vs. Big XII (7) .. Rutgers vs. Texas Tech
Alamo .. Dec. 29 .. Big XII (3) vs. Pac 12 (2) .. Kansas St. vs. Utah
Valley of the Sun .. Dec. 29 .. Big XII (4) vs. Big Ten (5) .. W. Virginia vs. Nwestern
Music City .. Dec. 31 .. SEC (7) vs. ACC (6) .. Missouri vs. Nc State
Sun .. Dec. 31 .. Pac 12 (4) vs. ACC (4) .. Arizona vs. N. Carolina
Liberty .. Dec. 31 .. C-USA (1) vs. SEC (8) .. C. Florida vs. Tennessee
Chick-fil-a (Peach) .. Dec. 31 .. ACC (2) vs. SEC (5) .. Florida St. vs. Auburn
TicketCity .. Jan. 2 .. C-USA (3) vs. Big Ten (7) .. So. Miss vs. Iowa
Outback .. Jan. 2 .. SEC (3) vs. Big Ten (3) .. Arkansas vs. Michigan St.
Capital One .. Jan. 2 .. SEC (2) vs. Big Ten (2) .. Georgia vs. Nebraska
Gator .. Jan. 2 .. SEC (6) vs. Big Ten (4) .. Florida vs. Purdue
Rose .. Jan 2 .. BCS-Big Ten vs. BCS-Pac 12 .. Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Orange .. Jan. 4 .. BCS-ACC vs. BCS (3) .. Va. Tech vs. Alabama
Sugar .. Jan. 3 .. BCS-SEC vs. BCS (2) .. S. Carolina vs. Louisville
Fiesta .. Jan. 5 .. BCS-Big XII vs. BCS (1) .. Oklahoma vs. LSU
Cotton .. Jan. 6 .. Big XII (2) vs. SEC (4) .. TCU vs. Texas A&M
BBVA Compass .. Jan. 7 .. Big East (5) vs. SEC (9)* .. S. Florida vs. New Mexico St.
GoDaddy.com .. Jan. 8 .. Sun Belt (2) vs. MAC (1) .. La.-Lafayette vs. Ohio
BCS Championship .. Jan. 9 .. BCS #1 vs. BCS #2 .. USC vs. Michigan
* Conference has no more eligible teams to fulfill commitment
^ If eligible
Will there be a Chick fil a bowl or will the bowl folks be intimidated?
LSU vs USC in the National Championship Game.
Bama will be back, next year.
USC vs Michigan in the BCS? That hurts the czar’s credibility. I’ll give a million to one that that’s not the two in the championship.
* Penalize the poor sports The College Football Czar loves last seasons new rule that makes unsportsmanlike conduct a spot foul, so that a player who taunts his opponents on his way into the end zone has the touchdown called back,
NEVER-NEVER take points off the board for a penalty unrelated to the play itself.
Take a page from hockey: suspend the player involved for the next series of downs that he would normally play in. He does it a second time: ejection.
So, this guy thinks Michigan will defeat the Crimson Tide on September 1? He must be a Big 10 fan.
No SEC team in the BCS final?
Ha, aint that the truth. I'm old enough to remember when a team had to be well above average to get in a bowl game. Now, you have to be really awful not to qualify for one.
He’s picking the Gamecocks to win the SEC. I don’t see it happening.
Too much to read, but what I did read, I didn’t like.
Too much to read, but what I did read, I didn’t like.
As for the Gators, frankly, I have no idea what they’re going to do this year...the good news, no more Brantley. We’ll see what Pease can do with the offense, he can’t be any worse than fatso Weis.
And I was not impressed with what Muschamp did last year, we’ll see if he improves this year....they need at least one signature win this year or else he will be on the hot seat.
The penalty in question is for taunting by the ball carrier WHILE he is running for a touchdown. Since the penalty is called BEFORE the touchdown has been scored, the penalty IS related to the play itself.
The players action had nothing to do with his scoring on the play. You don't take points off the board because the player is a no class jerk.
You penalize him so as to discourage future repeats of similar conduct.
Here's what the NCAA Football Rule Book says:
"If a player makes a taunting gesture to an opponent on the way to scoring a touchdown, the flag would nullify the score and penalize the offending team 15 yards from the spot of the foul."
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