Skip to comments.The College Football Czar's 2013 Season Preview
Posted on 07/31/2013 8:11:53 PM PDT by Daniel Clark
The College Football Czar 2013 Season Preview
a sports publication from The Shinbone by Daniel Clark
Welcome to the 2013 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 conference preview capsules, potential upsets to watch for, bowl projections, 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
Bret Bielema .. Arkansas .. head coach Wisconsin .. John L. Smith
Brian Harsin .. Arkansas State .. off. coord. Texas .. Gus Malzahn
Gus Malzahn .. Auburn .. head coach Arkansas St. .. Gene Chizik
Steve Addazio .. Boston College .. head coach Temple Frank Spaziani
Sonny Dykes .. California .. head coach Louisiana Tech .. Jeff Tedford
Tommy Tuberville .. Cincinnati .. head coach Texas Tech .. Butch Jones
Mike MacIntyre .. Colorado .. head coach San Jose St. .. Jon Embree
Ron Turner .. Florida Intl .. QB coach T.B. Buccaneers .. Mario Cristobal
Paul Petrino .. Idaho .. off. coord. Arkansas .. Robb Akey
Paul Haynes .. Kent State .. def. coord. Arkansas .. Darrell Hazell
Mark Stoops .. Kentucky .. def. coord. Florida St. .. Joker Phillips
Skip Holtz .. Louisiana Tech .. head coach S. Florida .. Sonny Dykes
Brian Pollan .. Nevada .. sp. teams coach Texas A&M .. Chris Ault
Doug Martin .. New Mexico State .. off. coord. Boston Coll. .. DeWayne Walker
Dave Doeren .. Nc State .. head coach No. Illinois .. Tom OBrien
Rod Carey .. Northern Illilnois .. OL coach No. Illinois .. Dave Doeren
Mark Helfrich .. Oregon .. off. coord. Oregon .. Chip Kelly
Darrell Hazell .. Purdue .. head coach Kent St. .. Danny Hope
Ron Caragher .. San Jose State .. head coach San Diego (I-AA) .. Mike MacIntyre
Willie Taggart .. South Florida .. head coach W. Kentucky .. Skip Holtz
Todd Monken .. Southern Miss .. off. coord. Oklahoma St. .. Ellis Johnson
Scott Shafer .. Syracuse .. def. coord. Syracuse .. Doug Marrone
Matt Rhule .. Temple .. OL coach N.Y. Giants .. Steve Addazio
Butch Jones .. Tennessee .. head coach Cincinnati Derek Dooley
Kliff Kingsbury .. Texas Tech .. off. coord. Texas A&M .. Tommy Tuberville
Matt Wells .. Utah State .. off coord. Utah State .. Gary Andersen
Sean Kugler .. UTEP .. OL coach Pittsburgh Steelers .. Mike Price
Bobby Petrino .. Western Kentucky .. head coach Arkansas (11) .. Willie Taggart
P.J. Fleck .. Western Michigan .. WR coach T.B. Buccaneers .. Bill Cubit
Gary Andersen .. Wisconsin .. head coach Utah State .. Bret Bielema
ROLLING HEAD WATCH
The following coaches will have a difficult time hanging onto their noggins through the 2013 season:
Troy Calhoun, Air Force The seventh-year Falcon coach has led his team to a bowl appearance in each of his first six seasons, but this has largely been the product of namby-pamby scheduling. Considering that the AFA has played in a weak conference, and must use two nonconference games to schedule rivals Army and Navy, theres no excuse for facing seven lower-division teams in six years. Despite this, Calhoun posted his first losing season in 2012, at 6-7 with a dismal showing against Rice in the Armed Forces Bowl. During last years campaign, they fell to lowly UNLV and Army, while their win over 7-6 Nevada was their only victory over a winning Division I-A team in the past two seasons. If the Air Force slogan Aim High still applies, another 6-6 regular season with a win over I-AA Colgate wont be enough.
Terry Bowden, Akron The former Auburn skipper, whose 1993 team famously went undefeated while on probation, basically promised more of the same when he arrived to coach the roos last season. Bowden bluntly admitted that he had no qualms about building his program with castoffs that the bigger programs didnt want because they werent exactly model students or citizens. Despite this win-at-all-costs attitude, the season was heavy on costs and light on wins, at 1-11. His predecessor, Rob Ianello, coached the Zips for only two seasons before being fired, with a record of 2-22. If Bowdens name and his band of mercenaries cannot improve on that mark, theres no reason he should be any more deserving of patience. Rumor has it his old partners at ABC are already hiding under their desks with the lights off, in case he comes knocking.
Rich Ellerson, Army The Black Knights finished his second year as head coach by winning a bowl game for the first time since 1985, but two years later, the former Cal Poly coach is losing his grip. The Cadets are now 17-32 on Ellersons watch, and theyve extended their losing streak against Navy to eleven with four more defeats. Presiding over an entire class that has never beaten the Middies is one thing thats sure to generate calls for the coachs head on West Point.
Lane Kiffin, USC The Czar cannot recall ever seeing a coach do as little with as much as Kiffin did during last years 7-6 collapse. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley publicly received much of the blame for that outcome, but just look how totally inept the SC offense was after he was injured late in the season. Kiffins NCAA head coaching career has consisted of four winning seasons, for what thats worth, but a 7-6 record at Tennessee, followed by the downfall of a once-dominant Southern Cal program, can hardly be deemed successful. Neither can the 5-15 record hed previously posted as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Never mind competing with Pac 12 North powers Stanford and Oregon; if Kiffins club cant at least win its own division, his A.D. may decide to do a little subtraction.
Bobby Hauck, UNLV There arent many sure things in Vegas, apart from knowing that Wayne Newton will sing Danke Schoen like a drag queen. The odds sure seemed to be in Haucks favor, though, after hed won back-to-back Division I-AA championships at Montana, where he compiled a record of 80-17. So far with the Rebels, however, he has won just two games in each of his first three seasons, for a combined mark of 6-32. This is largely due to his inability to find a reliable quarterback, as well as a lack of stability from having already fired three offensive coordinators. When the Rebs hired Hauck, they had also interviewed journeyman coach Dennis Franchione. Now that the man they passed over has made Texas State competitive during its first season in Division I-A, they may be looking to correct their mistake.
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest During his 12 years in Winston-Salem, the veteran coach is 73-74, but he has at this point endured four consecutive losing seasons. Grobe is now trying to get back to the kind of versatile, misdirection rushing attack hed brought with him from Ohio U. The question is why hed ever strayed from it after winning the ACC in 2006. Last season, Grobes team barely averaged 100 rushing yards per game, while scoring just 18.5 points. With six seniors starting on each side of the ball, and an early schedule consisting of I-AA Presbyterian, BC, UL-Monroe and Army, hes got to come through with his first winning season since 2008, or else he can pack his bags and go Grobe-trotting.
WHAT'S NEW IN 2013
* New rules Most of this years rule changes are minor, but theres one big one that is sure to create plenty of controversy. If a player is determined to have intentionally hit a defenseless opponent above the shoulders, he is to be ejected from the game. If the infraction occurs during the second half or overtime, the ejection will carry over through the first half of the following game. If consistently properly called, this could be a great idea, but the College Football Czar fears that officials will initially enforce it overzealously, in order to create a point of emphasis. In particular, he expects to see lots of highly questionable ejections late in games, against teams whose next opponent just happens to be Notre Dame.
* NCAA rebellion brewing In what NCAA president Mark Emmert is calling a Division I governance dialogue, the organization has met with major conference commissioners to discuss fundamental changes in how their athletic programs are required to operate. Few details have been made public, but one of them is a proposal that athletic scholarships should include a small full cost of attendance stipend in addition to tuition, books, room and board. The Czar is all in favor of that idea, which would make it easier for those athletes who are inclined to play by the rules to do so. If those commissioners really want to fix the NCAA, however, theyll also demand that it start resisting the onerous and outright illegal Title IX enforcement regulations. Perhaps then, the organization could devote itself to actually promoting college athletics, or something.
* Fox Sports 1 If youve been annoyed in the past by missing football games because they havent been carried by your local Fox Sports affiliate, those days are over. Starting on August 17th, FS1 hits the airwaves, as a national channel comparable to NBC Sports (formerly Versus) and CBS Sports (nee, CSTV). If youre reading this prior to that date, and youre not sure if your cable or satellite system is carrying it, check and see if you have a Fox-affiliated racing channel called SPEED. That is the channel that is going to become FS1. Its coverage will feature games from the Pac 12, Big XII and Conference USA, and will begin with Utah hosting intrastate rival Utah State on Thursday, August 29th.
* The P-word For a while there, the Czar thought the NCAA had finally gotten something right by opting for the plus-one championship format. Alas, the Powers-That-Be-Stupid have instead set the eventual implosion of the college football universe into motion, and theyve done it through their injudicious use of semantics. As long as the plus-one which begins in 2014 was perceived only as a single, additional game, matching the winners of the two biggest bowl games, everything would have worked out fine. Now that the NCAA has agreed to call it a playoff, however, it has established the premise for its endless expansion.
We can guess what will happen by having already seen it in the lower divisions. Almost immediately, there will be a #5 team that is outraged at having been snubbed. This would be irrelevant under the plus-one paradigm, because the point is to get the best teams in the championship. There is usually a good argument to be made that a third team might really be the best, but never a fifth. The playoff mindset, on the other hand, cares less about getting the best teams in the title game than about chasing some elusive concept of fairness.
Lets say, for example, LSU goes 11-1, having lost only to Alabama, and is therefore the fourth team in, whereas #5 Oklahoma State is left out, also with a record of 11-1. OSU fans would argue that their team, being champion of a major conference, is more deserving than an LSU club that didnt even win its own division. The way a playoff would resolve this, as it has at every other level, would be to expand the field to eight, so that every apparently deserving team gets in. Of course, this would inevitably create the next controversy, about which team is really the legitimate #8.
To be fair to the little guy, every conference champion would have to be invited. Since there are 10 conferences, the field would quickly swell to 16, with six at-large bids. Obviously, these would not be the 16 best teams, so a ruckus would ensue about why Northern Illinois and Arkansas State should be included, but not a Georgia team that is clearly superior. Then, a handful of play-in games would be added, or else the field would simply be doubled again, to 32.
The idea that such an extended playoff can coexist with bowl games is balderdash. The bowls would be so badly downgraded that their sponsorships would dry up and theyd blow away. If you dont see a problem with that, then ask yourself, on the week between Christmas and New Years, what game do you plan to watch on Wednesday night? The answer would be none. In a playoff, the games could only take place over weekends, meaning that the phenomenon of Bowl Week, which actually runs closer to two weeks, would be no more.
The greatest postseason in college sports would be dead. Instead of having at least one great football game on every night, the fans would only get four games one weekend, followed by two games the next weekend, and one the week after that. Not only would that make for an inferior postseason, but by lowering the bar for championship contention, big regular season games would be devalued by the knowledge that both teams would probably qualify anyway. Most people who had been clamoring for a playoff would come down with the worst case of buyers remorse of their lives, but itd be too late to go back for an exchange.
Everything that makes college football stand out from other sports will have been destroyed, and all because the NCAA had to placate a bunch of cantankerous rattlenoggins by agreeing to call the plus-one a playoff.
* Team #125 The Georgia State Panthers started up their football program in 2010, and already, theyre making the climb to Division I-A to join the Sun Belt Conference. Last year, GSU went 1-11 in Division I-AA, and now, theyve graduated to the top division, with a nonconference game at Alabama? Dont look for the Atlanta-based school to light a fire under its fans for quite a few seasons yet. In recognition of this, theyre keeping the upper levels of the 71,000-seat Georgia Dome closed, so that as far as theyre concerned, the capacity is only 28,000. Theyll surely average nowhere near that, what with their games being like watching paint dry in a bleak, depressing, miserable cave that makes for really crappy TV.
* Oregon ducks sanctions and rightly so, regardless of the desire of the usual football Commies (you know who you are) to see every successful program brought to its knees. According to the NCAA rulebook-in-a-blender, it is perfectly legal for a program to hire a scouting service like the one operated by Willie Lyles. Its just that the scouting service is not allowed to actively recruit a player to choose a particular school. Lyles engaged in that sort of illegal recruiting, and the NCAA concluded coach Chip Kelly didnt know about it, but should have. Thats so picayune, its questionable whether UOs three-year, one-scholarship penalty is even warranted. Yet the prevailing opinion among ESPN analysts (with the notable exception of Ivan Maisel) has been that the Ducks should have been slapped with the same penalty that Ohio State was, including the bowl ban. The two programs circumstances are worlds apart, but all the football Commies can see is that Ohio State is a great program and therefore must be destroyed, and Oregon is another great program and therefore must also be destroyed.
So, Ivans the lone non-Commie? Go figure.
WHAT'S NOT NEW
* Conference realignment The ACC continues to pillage the Big East, which does the same to Conference USA, which does likewise to the Sun Belt. The Big East is now known as the American Athletic Conference, because the name Big East has been bought by the breakaway Catholic 7 basketball schools. The WAC is now known as um nothing. As a football conference, the WAC is no more, with all of its better teams having been subsumed by the Mountain West, and Idaho and New Mexico State left to fend for themselves as Independents. Both schools will eventually rejoin the Sun Belt Conference.
The Big Ten will remain at 12 teams for this year, but in 2014 it expands to 14 with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. There is still no plan to rename the conference, but they will upon expansion rename the divisions. No longer will the league try to contrive a championship game between its pet teams Ohio State and Michigan, but instead will divide itself geographically, in a move that will be welcomed by traveling fans. Therefore, this will be the last year for the confusing and dopey Leaders and Legends divisions, which will be replaced by the more conventional and sane titles of East and West
* Cupcake competitive-eating The College Football Czar declares this years winner to be Vanderbilt. The Commodores biggest nonconference game is their season finale against woeful Wake Forest. Aside from that, they face Division I-AA Austin Peay, Umass, which is in only its second year of I-A play and is far from competitive, and UAB, which has had virtually no success since joining the big leagues in 1996. A vast majority of teams have scheduled a lower-division opponent this year, with Georgia Tech and Clemson having slated two apiece.
* Rainbow returns In the year 2000, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team jettisoned the Rainbow from its title, thinking that the symbols prominence in the gay activist movement might inhibit recruiting. It seemed a peculiar decision at the time, considering that they were being coached by a man named June who wore flowers around his neck. By now, UH has surely seen the value of the positive media coverage the Warriors will receive by coming out, even if they were never in. Besides, their voluntary reversal of the decision may spare them the otherwise inevitable thought crimes trial a few years down the road. If only theyd explained their previous decision by claiming that Rainbow was hostile and abusive to the bacon, lettuce and tomato community, the issue would have ended right there.
* Cringe-inducing cliches For the sake of humanity, we must ban the following phrases from all future college football broadcasts: signature win, unanswered points, offensive guru, old school, who wants it more.
There are two cliches in particular that help lardheaded gamblers convince themselves that their system would work, if only the refs would stop ripping them off. One of these is it all depends on the spot. Over the course of a game, youll probably question a few spots, but for the most part, this is one thing that the officials do consistently well. They are not just deciding where to put the ball arbitrarily. It doesnt depend on the spot; it depends on whether or not the ball-carrier picked up the first down. A far worse offender is the claim that if they wanted to, the officials could call holding on every play. No, they couldnt. The idea that the offensive line holds on every down was made up by retired defensive linemen who are now in the announcers booth. Its one thing to complain about a blown call, but youd have to be a pickled posterior to whine that a call you know is correct should not have been made.
LARDHEAD OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES
* Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla for tweeting his belief that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, perpetrated by the gubbmint in order to disarm us and impose tyranny. Worst of all, he added that, The parents of the kids that supposedly died in the sandy hook [sic] situation are liars. Lyerla would later apologize to his teammates for having created an unnecessary distraction, but he apparently still clings to his preposterous conspiracy theory. It just goes to show that some people are willing to buy anything, just as long as theyre only paying for it with Montana Freemen dollars.
* Ohio State president Gordon Gee During a speech this past May, Gee took playful swipes at several other universities, including Notre Dame. In explaining why the Fighting Irish had never joined the Big Ten, he said, The fathers are holy on Sunday, and theyre holy hell the rest of the week. You just cant trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday. He retired shortly thereafter, for reasons he pretended were wholly unrelated. The Czar was amused by academics and media feigning outrage that Gee had offended Catholics, when under normal circumstances, theyd have given him a medal for that. He could have said the same thing about another Catholic school, like Boston College, and it would have barely even made the papers. His real offense was in criticizing Notre Dame, the only university with its own anti-defamation league.
* ex-Pitt running back Rushel Shell The sauntering sophomore had been a highly sought-after recruit, even drawing interest from Alabama and Ohio State, but he decided to play at Pitt so that he could stay close to his infant twin daughters. Although he would have been the Panthers featured back this season, he left the team abruptly for reasons unknown, and decided to transfer to UCLA. He never bothered registering for classes there, however, but instead tried to return to Pitt, for the reason that he hadnt adequately appreciated how far Los Angeles is from Pittsburgh. No, really. Coach Paul Chryst declined to take him back, leaving Shell only a couple nearby options, from which he has now selected West Virginia. Of course, hell have to sit out this season, and hell probably change his mind several more times before the fall of 2014. His departure may turn out to devastate the Panthers 2013 season, but who could question Chrysts decision to move on without him?
* Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison who was arrested this summer for barking at a police dog. To be fair, the College Football Czar isnt sure why thats illegal, but who would bother to find out?
* Texas head coach Mack Brown who actually awarded his players rings, not for winning a national or conference championship, but for having defeated Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. Brown explained that he was rewarding his players in this way for having created momentum for the 2013 season. If the Longhorns go 0-12 this year, do they get participation trophies like in the pee-wees? At least these momentum rings cant be valuable enough to produce a scandal. After all, Ohio State players got caught selling Big Ten championship rings in exchange for discounted tattoos. Not even free tattoos, but discounted ones. Compared to that, what can a momentum ring be worth? A staple in the forehead?
THE CZAR DECREES
If the College Football Czar could issue proclamations changing college football, these are some of the things he would do:
* De-dome the championships In its latest demonstration of its total disconnect from football fans, the NCAA has chosen the six stadiums that will be part of the championship game rotation, and four of them are indoors. Whatever other criteria were taken into consideration, it is perfectly obvious that domes were given preferential treatment, in spite of the facts that they artificially remove the elements from the game, and they look miserable on TV. The only two real football stadiums that are part of the rotation are the Rose Bowl, and Miamis Sun Life Stadium. If the Czar had his way, Jerry Jones House of Inadequacy would be replaced by the venerable, 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl. Also, theres no reason to hide from the Arizona sun, the championship being a night game, so University of Phoenix Stadium would be out, and Sun Devil Stadium in. Rounding out the six would be San Diegos Qualcomm Stadium, and the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
* Turn off the spotlight The fact that unsportsmanlike conduct rules are actually enforced in the NCAA is Exhibit A in proving the superiority of the college game over the pros. It would be nice, though, if the enforcers would patrol the entire field, instead of only the end zone. Theres no reason for a player, after making a big tackle or catch, or otherwise doing just what hes supposed to do, to run ten yards away from everyone else on the field so that he can strike a pose or play to the crowd. If touchdown dances are unsportsmanlike which of course they are then so is this. Unsportsmanlike conduct is already illegal, but in order make this penalty all together now a point of emphasis, the officials could refer to it as spotlighting. After all, the fans are tuning in to see the Michigan Wolverines, not the Michigan Rag.
* Keep the BCS ratings You heard it here first, and probably only. The makeup of the new playoff committee has not yet been finalized, but it will supposedly be comprised of somewhere between 12 and 20 members, five of which will be athletic directors from schools in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big XII and Pac 12. Furthermore, it will apparently determine the four finalists on an almost entirely subjective basis. This is an atrocity waiting to happen. Even if the committee chooses correctly every year, the lack of a quasi-objective rating system is going to cause extreme and unnecessary controversy. Heaven help us the first time the committee, however correctly, selects four one-loss teams from major conferences, while leaving an undefeated Mountain West team out in the cold.
As maligned as the BCS has been, it has usually succeeded in matching the two best teams in the championship game, and would certainly manage to place the two best among the final four. If you look back at some of the great championships that never happened in the pre-BCS era, the BCS would probably have matched Nebraska against Penn State in 1994, Georgia Tech against Colorado in 1990, Brigham Young against Washington in 1984. Okay, so lardheads wont stand for the existence of anything called BCS anymore. So change its name to the Dewey Dumbkopf System, or something. For the good of the game, do not let a small, insular club of elitists perennially declare their own schools to be the most deserving.
American Athletic Conference
1. Louisville Cardinals troubles are over thanks to Bridgewater, if they can protect him
2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights QB Nova imploded into dwarf star late in 2012
3. Cincinnati Bearcats ex-Red Raider coach should plunder poor schedule
4. South Florida Bulls Willies hand jive will add some wit to withering offense
5. Central Florida Knights QB Bortles thanks his linemen for their support
6. SMU Mustangs Can whole herd of offensive coaches pull together as a team?
7. Uconn Huskies new lineup must prevent C from parting on defense
8. Houston Cougars likely to D-sintegrate against tough late season slate
9. Temple Owls repositioned players say, Who. What. Where.
10. Memphis Tigers still inviting foes to knock them down, step on their face
Outlook: This reconstructed not-so-big, not-so-east conference should be dominated by Louisville, which hopes to hang onto head coach Charlie Strong as it prepares to join the ACC in 2014. Most of the rest of the conference will be marked by the same maddening parity that characterized the Big East ever since its first wave of ACC defections. This new leagues opener between Houston and Temple may be entertaining, but it will hardly have the nation riveted.
Atlantic Coast Conference (atlantic)
1. Florida State Seminoles* offense must work hard to make up for lost Manuel labor
2. Clemson Tigers opener vs. Georgia will tell if theyve been D-clawed at DB or not
3. Nc State Wolfpack rebuilding job forces them to start buying wolves by the case
4. Syracuse Orange OU transfer QB Drew Allen draws a hand full of nuthin
5. Boston College Eagles new coaches must steady Rettig to make their O go
6. Wake Forest Demon Deacons senior-studded team has experience, but at what?
7. Maryland Terrapins offensive and defensive lines are thin as turtle soup
Atlantic Coast Conference (coastal)
1. Miami Hurricanes forecast is for prevailing winds through most of the season
2. North Carolina Tarheels need a runner to complement QB Renner in backfield
3. Virginia Tech Hokies/Gobblers must be bulimic, the way they cough the ball up
4. Georgia Tech Ramblin Wreck QB Vad Lee can do no vurse than his predecessor
5. Pitt Panthers not a Shell of their former selves, after unexpected RB defection
6. Virginia Cavaliers passive defense reverts to London blitz of coachs rookie season
7. Duke Blue Devils That D on their helmets is only a ruse
* projected conference champion
Outlook: FSUs Oct. 19th visit to Clemson should ultimately decide the conference title, although both are likely BCS teams. The Czar gives the nod to the Noles, based on big plays allowed by the Tiger defense. Well see how good this enigmatic Miami team is capable of being, now that theyve finally got something to play for. Pitt and Syracuse sneak in to their new league largely unnoticed.
Big Ten Conference (leaders division)
1. Ohio State Buckeyes* Will Braxtons hype prevent Hyde from getting enough carries?
2. Penn State Nittany Lions freshman QB Hackenburg gives glimpse of OBriens future
3. Wisconsin Badgers Why would Bret Bielema leave this program? Allergic to cheese?
4. Indiana Hoosiers Theyre winners in Coach Dales book, for whatever thats worth
5. Purdue Boilermakers little train shouldve beaten ND, OSU, but couldnt
6. Illinois Fighting Illini I cannot tell Illi. They stink.
Big Ten Conference (legends division)
1. Michigan Wolverines cultivating a more versatile offense with QB Gardner
2. Northwestern Wildcats Northwestern territory becomes more expansive by the year
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers run defense got its ears boxed in a year ago
4. Minnesota Golden Gophers finally seeing the light at the end of the burrow
5. Michigan State Spartans 300 Spartans are vying to take over as starting tailback
6. Iowa Hawkeyes need some Hawk other parts to improve their air attack
* projected conference champion
Outlook: The College Football Czar cant believe OSU is about to make the same mistake Michigan made with Denard Robinson, by forcing Braxton Miller to throw from the pocket more often. A season-opening three-game suspension to RB Hyde gives them a chance to back out of that decision gracefully. If the Buckeyes dont descend into a long season of second-guessing, they should help give the league the championship matchup it has long desired by putting them in a separate division from Michigan. The team most likely to foil that plan is the Wildcats, whose 10-win season was no fluke.
Big Twelve Conference
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys glad to find Spencer for hire as D-coordinator
2. TCU Horned Frogs Is QB Pachalls return to Fort Worth worth it?
3. Baylor Bears Whats not to Lache, with RB Seastrunk leading the way?
4. Texas Longhorns Coach Mack thinks Big Moo is on their side
5. Oklahoma Sooners just OK, after sustaining losses on both sides of the ball
6. Kansas State Wildcats no core remains in the Little Apple
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders Coach K.K. makes good initial impression at TT
8. Iowa State Cyclones nothing to get Cycd about this season
9. Kansas Jayhawks Jake and the Fatman try for a successful weekly series
10. West Virginia Mountaineers bad year in Morgantown, unless youre a couch
Outlook: With several of its highest-profile teams going through rebuilding projects, this could be the weakest of all the BCS conferences, at least insofar as its ability to produce a national contender is concerned. The most notable exception is OSU, which should benefit from relative stability at QB. About that Texas momentum: the Horns had lost their last two regular season games before playing one great quarter in the Alamo Bowl. Whats there to carry over, really?
Conference USA (east division)
1. East Carolina Pirates veteran squad sends shivers through conference foes timbers
2. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders want a bowl to match those MT-heads of theirs
3. Marshall Thundering Herd Can new assistant Heater light a fire under the defense?
4. Florida Atlantic Burrowing Owls dig holes for themselves with ambitious scheduling
5. UAB Blazers still playing blazer tag in a tackle football world
6. Southern Miss Golden Eagles laying that goose egg in 2012 must have really hurt
7. Florida International Golden Panthers ex-Illini coach Turner looks to flip 3-9 record
Conference USA (west division)
1. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs* must overcome own A.D., along will new league opponents
2. Tulsa Golden Hurricane league-leading rushers leave foes chasing dust in the wind
3. Rice Owls veteran team has more Rice coming back than a bad Chinese buffet
4. Tulane Green Wave Orleans Darkwa is still the one at RB, despite injury-plagued 2012
5. UTSA Roadrunners Larry Cokers having a smile, as if he ate the canary
6. UTEP Miners finally decided theyd picked a loser in Mike Price
7. North Texas Mean Green another year of apologies at Apogee Stadium
* projected conference champion
Outlook: This weak, diluted league gets a needed dash of Tabasco with the long-overdue addition of instant contender LTU. The Pirates will be challenged by an angry MTSU team that was snubbed by Sun Belt bowl affiliates in 2012 Tulsa tries to win another title before coach Bill Blankenship gets hired away.
1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish media made Mount Everett out of a molehill
2. Brigham Young Cougars LB Van Noy continues to vannoy opposing QBs
3. Navy Midshipmen should have smooth sailing over watered-down schedule
4. Army Black Knights West Pointers could use a little more north-and-south
5. Idaho Vandals Potatoes may pluck out their eyes, rather than watch this team
6. New Mexico State Aggies Youve got to marble at their streak of futility
Outlook: The bowl picture for the Irish is unclear, since they cant currently weasel themselves in on any conference tie-ins. Inevitably, some at-large bids will open up, however, and some bowl committee will arrange a big game for them. The Czar predicts theyll wind up in the Poinsettia Bowl, opposite MWC champ Fresno State. A small offensive boost would be big for BYU, which went 1-4 last year in games decided by less than a touchdown. Ex-WAC members Idaho and NMSU are in a transitional phase, en route to the Sun Belt Conference.
Mid-American Conference (east division)
1. Ohio Bobcats* round on both ends, but still with two good corners
2. Bowling Green Falcons seasoned squad could have beeg year at BG
3. Miami OH RedHawks need air attack to break barriers in Yager Stadium
4. Kent State Golden Flashes trying to stay in the pan, and out of the fire
5. Buffalo Bulls Bunyanesque blue oxen are far from legendary status
6. Umass Minutemen umassed eleven losses in first year of Division I-A play
7. Akron Zips fittingly named after the sound of a body bag
Mid-American Conference (west division)
1. Toledo Rockets still plenty of offensive punch in the Glass Bowl
2. Ball State Cardinals easily-red D allowed 20 pts. or more each game for two years
3. Northern Illinois Huskies QB Lynch delivers frontier justice to conference foes
4. Western Michigan Broncos take their pony show on the road vs. three Big Ten teams
5. Central Michigan Chippewas have yet to C something from prospective QBs
6. Eastern Michigan Eagles lots of splainin to do in Ypsilanti
* projected conference champion
Outlook: The MAC is ready to make a racket this year, with highly productive senior QBs playing at NIU, Ohio, Toledo, Ball St. and BGSU. The depth basically ends there, however, as defending East division champ Kent State is the only other team with any chance of competing with those five.
Mountain West Conference (mountain division)
1. Boise State Broncos must play most big games on that distracting green turf
2. Utah State Aggies Now in tougher league, is it Last Day for brief run in Logan?
3. Air Force Falcons Lightning Eleven are starting a whole new front seven this year
4. New Mexico Lobos RB Kasey Carrier doesnt need quite so many totes
5. Wyoming Cowboys head coach Christensen takes the reins of his own offense
6. Colorado State Rams already weak defense has got mutton on its front line
Mountain West Conference (west division)
1. Fresno State Bulldogs* With Carr behind center, that V must stand for Vroom!
2. San Jose State Spartans QB David Fales rarely did so during successful 2012
3. San Diego State Aztecs look to build on pyramid scheme by throwing deeper
4. Nevada Wolf Pack Will UNR unravel without innovative coach Chris Ault?
5. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors Real fighting men would schedule 13 games if they could
6. UNLV Rebels not brother-against-brother, with Tim Hauck as Bobbys new D coach
Outlook: FSU was unable to beat Boise when they were rivals in the WAC. Their first meeting in MWC play didnt go much better for them, but that was on the road. BSU plays its four biggest games away from home this year, including Sept. 20th at Bulldog Stadium. Coaching changes could be crippling for USU and Nevada.
Pac 12 Conference (north division)
1. Oregon Ducks* webfoots kicking game cost them consecutive title shots
2. Washington Huskies can only win showcase games if QB Price is right
3. Stanford Cardinal national sack leaders must carry incomplete offense
4. Oregon State Beavers should buzz through schedule until mid-October
5. California Golden Bears Dont expect Coach Dykes to plug up porous defense
6. Washington State Cougars few warm bodies on which for Leachs O to subsist
Pac 12 Conference (south division)
1. UCLA Bruins looking for Mora the same after winning division for real last year
2. Arizona Wildcats Rich Rods got an embarrassment, but not of riches, on defense
3. USC Trojans coach Lane is quickly beating a path out of town
4. Arizona State Sun Devils flamethrowers in front 7 take heat off suspect secondary
5. Utah Utes too many chiefs, with Dennis Erickson added as offensive assistant
6. Colorado Buffaloes The chips are down, and they keep stepping in them
* projected conference champion
Outlook: If not for the uncertainty created by Chip Kellys departure, the Czar might have picked the Fighting Ducks to upend Alabama for the national title. The Cardinal, who won 8 games by 7 points or fewer last year, will have a tough time replacing their star tailback and two excellent tight ends. USC doesnt face Oregon or Washington this year. Anything short of 10 wins for them, and its time for a change.
Southeastern Conference (east division)
1. South Carolina Gamecocks only DE Clowney can fill his own big shoes
2. Georgia Bulldogs you can run on these big dogs, with 3 defensive starters returning
3. Florida Gators Muschamp needs more chomp from his offense to win division
4. Vanderbilt Commodores still enough star power to reach another bowl game
5. Missouri Tigers didnt do much Show Me to SEC in league debut
6. Tennessee Volunteers watching this team has Old Smokey up to two packs a day
7. Kentucky Wildcats new coach Stoops must do just that, to pick up this lowly lot
Southeastern Conference (west division)
1. Alabama Crimson Tide* repeat champs make it easy for elephants not to forget
2. LSU Tigers Coach Miles must learn to do with Les on defense, until line solidifies
3. Texas A&M Aggies better be up-and-aTm for Week 3 battle with Alabama
4. Ole Miss Rebels looking to restore that Eli-era Miss-tique
5. Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Bielema cant scrape up enough of his kind of players
6. Mississippi State Bulldogs muddled through 8-5 season without any quality wins
7. Auburn Tigers AUffense wont be so AUful with return of coach Gus Malzahn
* projected conference champion
Outlook: With less turnover for the Tide than a year ago, theres no reason they shouldnt win it all again. It helps that their East division opponents are Missouri and Tennessee. Carolina faces a more favorable road schedule than last year, when their only losses were in consecutive games at LSU and Florida. Once again, the nations best conference disgraces itself by scheduling lower-division opponents in November.
Sun Belt Conference
1. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks belligerent birds fighting mad after bad bowl debut
2. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns fans will jusswanna keese QB Broadway
3. Arkansas State Red Wolves leading Sun Belt defense loosens by a notch
4. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers hope ex-Hog coachs pig years are behind him
5. Texas State Bobcats timely transfers mark-up value of defense in San Marcos
6. Troy Trojans not enough footsoldiers to shield QB Corey Robinson
7. South Alabama Jaguars Team USA had better believe in miracles
8. Georgia State Panthers tiny Georgia Dome crowds will be a-GAST at what they see
Outlook: This league finally gained a measure of national respect in 2012, only to have four schools defect to Conference USA. Still, defending champion ASU and the two Louisiana schools remain capable of beating marquee opponents. The fall of Troy remains a mystery, while WKU takes a chance, but one with great payoff potential, by hiring Bobby Scooter Petrino.
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.
Toledo at Florida The mighty Gator defense will have a tougher task than it did a year ago, when it struggled past the Rockets arch rivals from Bowling Green. UT handed Cincinnati its first loss last season, and nearly knocked off Northern Illinois, even as QB Terrance Owens had a subpar season while fighting through a high ankle sprain. The mystique of the Swamp has dissipated slightly in recent years, and Toledo is used to big road games, having lost at Arizona by seven last year, and at Ohio State by five in 2011.
San Jose State at Stanford Last year, SJSU rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit to tie the game, before a fourth-quarter field goal lifted the Cardinal to victory. Stanford tailback Stepfan Taylor was the only offensive star of that game, but hes gone, and there will be no obvious replacement for him heading into this season opener. The Spartans had the nations sixth-rated passing game last season behind QB David Fales, which gives them a chance to exploit the only slight flaw in David Shaws defense.
Tulsa at Oklahoma OUs decimated defense must contain the Hurricanes versatile senior quarterback and former Cornhusker Cody Green. The key will be whether the Sooners new read-option offense will be prepared to take advantage of a TU defense that has lost most of its starters also.
Ohio State at California If close really counted in The Horseshoe, Cal would have derailed OSUs undefeated season early last year. The Buckeyes prevailed that day, 35-28, despite allowing an uncharacteristic 512 yards and committing 11 penalties. The Golden Bears feature back this year will apparently be junior Brendan Bigelow, who low-bridged the Bucks for touchdown runs of 81 and 59 yards.
Notre Dame vs. Arizona State The Irish always try to play a great schedule, but their traditional rivals dont tend to be proficient passing teams like ASU. Sun Devil coach Todd Graham now has the players he needs to run his spread offense, unlike his only season at Pitt, when he lost his only previous meeting with the golden domers 15-12, thanks to a sputtering short passing game. Assuming Graham actually sticks around at his current school long enough for this Week 5 neutral-site game in Arlington, it should be a far different game.
Georgia at Vanderbilt The Commodores got off to a very poor start last year, when they were routed 48-3 in Athens. The defending divisional champs cant afford to let the ease of that victory deceive them. Vandy finished the year with seven consecutive victories, and boasted the nations #19 defense by seasons end. The Bulldogs have dropped just four of their past 26 games, but all of those have been away from home.
LSU at Ole Miss The Rebels 35 points were by far the most anybody scored on Louisiana State last season, and they did it in Baton Rouge. Mind you, that would be a much bigger deal, had they not given up 41. This trip to Oxford could be a Tiger trap, immediately following their big grudge match with the Florida Gators.
Boise State at Brigham Young Is Boise poised to return to national contention, or does the increased degree of difficulty of last seasons wins indicate the start of a decline? It wouldnt take much of a drop-off for them to fall past BYU, which nearly defeated them in an ugly 7-6 slog last year in the Tater State. The Cougars expect a more stable situation at quarterback with a healthy sophomore Taysom Hill. The turnover on the BSU defense leaves holes you could drive a B-U-S through, but fortunately, theyll have had plenty of time to close them up by this Week 9 matchup.
Miami at Duke The Blue Devils failed to stick a fork in the U again last year, when they fell in a 52-45 shootout, but the fact that they keep coming so close makes that Canes logo stand for uh-oh. Miami is 8-0 in the series since joining the ACC, but only two of those games have been the kind of blowout that one would expect. The Hurricanes could have trouble keeping their intensity up after consecutive games against Florida State and Virginia Tech, and, depending on the outcomes of those games, may feel that they can coast to the division title. If the Devils are to succeed in transitioning to a run-based offense, they will surely have done so by this point in the season.
Michigan at Iowa This is a classic land mine game for the Wolverines, who head back out on the road after what figures to by a donnybrook for the division title at Northwestern, and just a week before hosting hated rival and conference favorite Ohio State. The Hawkeyes have a soft early schedule, and may still have a shot at a bowl game by the time these teams meet. If they are already eliminated, coach Kirk Ferentz could be fighting for his future in Iowa City. Anyone who says he wants to face him under those circumstances is full of fertilizer.
Oregon at Arizona 2005: The Fighting Ducks are headed for a BCS bowl bid when they visit Tucson in late October. QB Kellen Clemens suffers a broken leg as his team limps off with a narrow 28-21 victory and a significantly lower rating. 2007: The Ducks are still entertaining thoughts of a national championship at 8-1 when they go to Tucson in mid-November. QB Dennis Dixon leaves the game with a torn ACL, and they lose 34-24, not to win again for the remainder of the regular season. 2009: UO is on its way to a Pac 10 championship when it arrives in Tucson in late November, and has to rally from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 44-41 in double-overtime. Is it any wonder that they should be leery of this visit to a Wildcat team that could be in the running for a division title?
Louisville at Cincinnati The Bearcats could drive a Keg O Nails through the heart of the Cardinals national championship aspirations. Louiville won last year. 34-31 in overtime. One wonders how much differently that might have turned out if UC had yanked exciting but erratic QB Munchie Legaux in favor of the far steadier Brandon Kay a couple weeks earlier. Tommy Tubervilles team might not simply be playing spoiler, however. Its not unlikely that an upset would give them the inaugural AAC title and its accompanying BCS bid.
Just for fun, the Czar takes his best preseason guesses at how the postseason might turn out.
Bowl .... Date .... Matchup .... Projection
New Mexico .. Dec. 21 .. MWC vs. Pac 12 .. San Diego St. vs. Arizona St.
Las Vegas .. Dec. 21 .. MWC vs. Pac 12 .. Boise St. vs. USC
Famous Idaho Potato .. Dec 21 .. MWC vs. MAC .. Air Force vs. Ball St.
New Orleans .. Dec 21 .. Sun Belt vs. C-USA .. Arkansas St. vs. Rice
Beef O Bradys .. Dec. 23 .. American vs. C-USA .. C. Florida vs. Marshall
Hawaii .. Dec. 24 .. MWC vs. C-USA .. San Jose St. vs. Middle Tenn.
Little Caesar's .. Dec. 26 .. MAC vs. Big Ten* .. Bowling Green vs. W. Kentucky
Poinsettia .. Dec. 26 .. MWC vs. Army^* .. Fresno St. vs. Notre Dame
Military .. Dec. 27 .. ACC vs. C-USA .. Pitt vs. E. Carolina
Texas .. Dec. 27 .. Big XII vs. Big Ten* .. Texas Tech vs. La.-Monroe
Kraft Fight Hunger .. Dec. 27 .. BYU^ vs. Pac 12 .. BYU vs. Oregon St.
New Era Pinstripe .. Dec. 28 .. American vs. Big XII .. Rutgers vs. Oklahoma
Belk .. Dec. 28 .. ACC vs. American .. N. Carolina vs. Cincinnati
Russell Athletic .. Dec. 28 .. ACC vs. American (2) .. Ga. Tech vs. S. Florida
Buffalo Wild Wings .. Dec. 28 .. Big XII vs. Big Ten .. Kansas St. vs. Minnesota
Armed Forces .. Dec. 30 .. Navy^ vs. MWC (5) .. Navy vs. Utah St.
Music City .. Dec. 30 .. SEC vs. ACC .. Missouri vs. Nc State
Alamo .. Dec. 30 .. Big XII vs. Pac 12 .. Baylor vs. Stanford
Holiday .. Dec. 30 .. Big XII vs. Pac 12 .. Texas vs. Washington
Independence .. Dec. 31 .. ACC vs. SEC .. Syracuse vs. Arkansas
Sun .. Dec. 31 .. Pac 12 vs. ACC .. Arizona vs. Va. Tech
Liberty .. Dec. 31 .. C-USA vs. SEC .. La. Tech vs. Vanderbilt
Chick-fil-a (Peach) .. Dec. 31 .. ACC vs. SEC .. Miami vs. Georgia
Gator .. Jan. 1 .. SEC vs. Big Ten .. Ole Miss vs. Wisconsin
Heart of Dallas .. Jan. 1 .. C-USA vs. Big Ten* .. Tulsa vs. Ohio
Capital One .. Jan. 1 .. SEC vs. Big Ten .. LSU vs. Northwestern
Outback .. Jan. 1 .. SEC vs. Big Ten .. Florida vs. Nebraska
Rose .. Jan 1 .. BCS-Big Ten vs. BCS-Pac 12 .. Ohio St. vs. UCLA
Fiesta .. Jan. 1 .. BCS-Big XII vs. BCS (3) .. Oklahoma St. vs. Clemson
Sugar .. Jan. 2 .. BCS-SEC vs. BCS (2) .. S. Carolina vs. Michigan
Orange .. Jan. 3 .. BCS-ACC vs. BCS (1) .. Florida St. vs. Louisville
Cotton .. Jan. 3 .. Big XII vs. SEC .. TCU vs. Texas A&M
BBVA Compass .. Jan. 4 .. America vs. SEC* .. SMU vs. No. Illinois
GoDaddy.com .. Jan. 5 .. Sun Belt vs. MAC .. La.-Lafayette vs. Toledo
BCS Championship .. Jan. 6 .. BCS #1 vs. BCS #2 .. Alabama vs. Oregon
* Conference has no more eligible teams to fulfill commitment
^ If eligible
Unnecessarily complicated. Formula is much simpler: team with most convicts ends up no. 1, team with second most convicts no. 2, and so on.
Dude, it's the Ole Miss Politically Correct Black Bears
At least you didn't mention the Stanford Indian.
Love the post!
Who knows what the Michigan Wolverines will do this fall.
But the Wolverines will remain as the most watched, highest payout team on TV, most winningest team in NCAA history.
Highest winning percentage too, (over Notre Dame) in college football history.
And of course, the biggest stadium in the country that has been sold out for decades, The Big House.
The attendence records at U-M will never be broken, pro or college.
Now if only the GOP could put together a program to win...
The NCAA underlined its terminal ineptitude and spinelessness with the pathetic roll-over ruling on the blatant, institutionalized recruiting violations by the ducks. USC should rightly be furious over the pat on the wrist given the ducks. The USC violation had very little impact on the Trojan’s competitiveness - not so oregon’s paying for acccess to and placement of recruits.
They have lost any semblance of moral authority - the next time any program is hauled before the NCAA, they should cheerfully give them the big finger, and laugh at the pathetic wind-bags.
College football is the most corrupt sport in America; pro wrestling is less corrupt than NCAA BCS football. Teams that don’t cheat, lose, period. Every good team cheats; it’s just so rampant, the NCAA can’t control all of the cheating unless some school is so stupid to get caught (Ohio State, Auburn, USC, etc).
Go, Occidental! Beat Pacific! KO the Boxers! Tiger Roar!
Monopoly breeds corruption. I wish a group of schools would secede and form a rival to the NCAA and give it some competition.
I think A&M will be higher than LSU. However, i’mworried about them in the Alabama game.
Texas A&M 3rd in SEC with Johnny Football...?
I agree with that - I’ve wanted that to happen for some time.
Oxy...! D-3. Go Tigers...!
Thanks for a great article. Go IU! ..... I don’t know where, but Go IU! anyway!
The University of Nike got a love pat because Phil Knight wouldn’t have sued the hell out of the NCAA if there were serious sanctions; and won.
Check out the new Oregon Football office complex. Only cost $68 million.
All I can say is: ROLL TIDE, ROLL.
And a RAMMER JAMMER to Notre Dame, a team I hate far worse than I do Auburn.
Watch whoever goes unscathed from these 3 teams - Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson. Each one of these teams plays the other two, and depending how the rest of their season unfolds could wind up in the BCS title game.
Lane Kiffin should be coaching at a level he can maintain. USC is not it.