Andy Staples
Monday July 11th, 2016

The official unofficial kickoff to the 2016 college football season takes place Monday in Hoover, Ala., as the SEC opens bloviating season by holding the first set of conference media days. Over the next three weeks, you'll be treated to dozens of narratives manufactured to convince you—and possibly your school's athletic director—that your team is going to go undefeated because of the changes made in the off-season.

I've personally subjected you to dozens of these stories through the years, and for that I'm deeply sorry. Beginning this season, I refuse to write any more features about a new coordinator's "attacking defense" or about a new strength coach who is a 100% upgrade over the old strength coach whose workouts apparently consisted of popping in a Billy Blanks VHS tape and leaving the room. I'm just not going to do it anymore.

Starting today, you are.

Campus Rush is proud to present this series of Preseason Feature Mad Libs. With these, you can write your own story about why your wunderkind coordinator's offense will score 7,000 points a game. Then you can share that story with the world. Simply fill in the blanks at the bottom of the page and click the button. Then you can take a screen shot of your story and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Happy writing. I can't wait to read your stories*.

*This is obviously parody, and anyone who uses the name of a real person followed by some ridiculous detail that couldn't possibly be true is obviously doing so in jest. So don't sue, college football luminaries. As we mentioned last week, Uncle Luke already won this fight.

Your team hired a new head coach: Click here

Your team hired a new defensive coordinator: Click here

Your team hired a new offensive coordinator: Click here

Your team hired a new strength coach: Click here

A random ranking

Today, we rank the Brady Bunch kids. Not ranked: Cousin Oliver.

1. Marsha

2. Greg

3. Bobby

4. Cindy

5. Peter

6. Jan

First-and-10

1. Michigan and Notre Dame announced last week that they will renew their rivalry in 2018 (in South Bend) and '19 (in Ann Arbor). Though the teams have met only 42 times, this is one of the best rivalries in the sport—in part because of one of the reasons why they've only met 42 times. Michigan coach Fielding Yost's order to the rest of the Western Conference (now the Big Ten) to boycott Notre Dame forced Notre Dame to play a nationwide schedule. Yost's team had lost to the Fighting Irish in 1909, and he contended that two players on the 1910 Notre Dame team were ineligible. Yost cancelled the 1910 game and encouraged his conference-mates to avoid Notre Dame, as well. Games against powers from across the country turned Notre Dame into the nation's most famous Catholic university. The teams played again in 1942. By that meeting, both were national powers.

2. The only negative about the renewal of Michigan-Notre Dame is that the Wolverines had to bail on a previously scheduled home-and-home series with Arkansas. Michigan will pay $2 million to get out of the contract, but it leaves Arkansas scrambling to find replacement games. The SEC requires its teams play at least one opponent from a Power 5 conference—or Notre Dame, BYU or Army—on their non-conference schedules each season. In an e-mail to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wrote that the Razorbacks would be able to seek a waiver because of the circumstances of the cancellation.

3. For watchability's sake, it would be nice if Arkansas could schedule games that fulfill the requirement. But there aren't many possibilities. Still, a quick perusal of the future schedules stockpiled at FBSchedules.com reveals a few options.

  • BYU has two openings on its 2018 schedule and four open slots on its 2019 schedule.
  • Iowa, the alma mater of Hogs coach Bret Bielema, has an opening in 2019. ESPN could probably help Arkansas make a one-off, neutral-site game against another Power 5 team in 2018.
  • Texas Tech needs another game in 2018, and even though these teams just played, it's always nice to hear Bielema and Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury discuss offensive philosophy.
  • If all else fails, Kansas has openings in 2018 and 2019. That's somewhat shocking. I figured the Power 5 scheduling requirements in other leagues would make Kansas one of the most in-demand opponents in the nation.

4. Where will quarterback Jarrett Stidham land after leaving Baylor? Immediately, he could land at a community college, where he can spend the fall semester before enrolling at another FBS school in January. Because he proved as a freshman that he can thrive at the Power 5 level, Stidham will have a multitude of options. Let's look at a few of them.

  • Auburn: The Tigers may or may not need a new starting quarterback in 2017. If John Franklin III or Sean White wins the job and succeeds this fall, there may be no opening. But if senior Jeremy Johnson wins the job or if any combination of quarterbacks has a bad season and the coaching staff gets fired, there will be an opening.
  • LSU: If Brandon Harris fulfills his promise in 2016, there would be no opening. But if quarterback play continues to be the gap between a talented roster and national title contention, the Tigers may welcome a former blue-chip signal-caller.
  • Miami: Current Hurricanes quarterback Brad Kaaya is likely headed to the NFL after this season. Mark Richt runs a very different offense than what Stidham is accustomed to running, but Richt's attack looks an awful lot like the ones in the NFL.
  • Oregon: Who needs to develop quarterbacks when capable starters keep transferring in?
  • Texas A&M: Trevor Knight is a senior, so unless Knight gets hurt and one of the Aggies' young quarterbacks takes over, the job should be open after this season.
  • Texas Tech: Stidham was originally committed to the Red Raiders. Would he go to Lubbock to try to replace Patrick Mahomes after Mahomes goes to the NFL?

STAPLES: No need for NCAA to punish Baylor—scandals already crippling program

5. You had one job. (Side note: Do we need another addendum to Cheating for Dummies?)

6. Bleacher Report keeps upping the ante on commitment videos. This week, the site filmed Virginia Beach, Va., tailback recruit Khalan Laborn announcing his commitment to Florida State by rolling up to The Opening in a Lamborghini.

7. In lower sticker price but higher production value commitment news, Bleacher Report also made a Walking Dead-themed video to announce Plantation, Fla., offensive lineman Kai-Leon Herbert's commitment to Michigan.

8. If you haven't been reading Lindsay Schnell and Chris Johnson's excellent series on the recruitment of quarterbacks, now is a great time to catch up. Start with this examination of private quarterback coaches and their role in recruiting.

9. Last week, quarterback Trevor Knight wrote a column for Campus Rush explaining how and why he wound up at Texas A&M.

10. The Meyer family of Columbus, Ohio, apparently has to deal with a beastly homeowners' association.

What's eating Andy?

I spent the past two years learning about Pokemon against my will, but I figured once my son got into Star Wars that I'd never need to remember that Charmeleon evolves into Charizard. Now it seems everyone with a smartphone is wandering around chasing these things. Great. You're a full-grown adult celebrating because you caught a Wartortle. Congratulations.

What's Andy eating?

The mechanics of this job require me to fly to Atlanta and drive west on Interstate 20 relatively often. Nearly every time I've done that, I've been hungry. If I'm headed that way, I'm usually facing too much of a time crunch to go into Atlanta and eat, which eliminates a bevy of wonderful places and leaves a long corridor of chains.

I don't eat much fast food—except on this particular drive. When Wendy's introduced the pretzel bun, I tried it on this drive. When Chick-fil-A began selling grilled nuggets, I tried them on this drive. But every time I pulled through a drive-through, I longed for a better meal from a local spot. I just never took the time to look.

Sunday, I had an hour to kill. As the Atlanta skyline grew smaller in the rearview, I clicked on the Yelp app and pressed "Nearby." For a while, it kept pointing me back to places in Atlanta. But that wasn't the goal here. The place had to be outside the perimeter. After a few minutes, the app told me I was two miles from a place called Taco Prado. Good tacos rarely fail to make me happy, so I pulled off the interstate near Six Flags Over Georgia and headed a few minutes north to Mableton, Ga.

Taco Prado sits next to a transmission shop on a stretch of Mableton Highway. It looks like every local Mexican restaurant in every small town in the South—Casa Kitsch. It does not, however, serve tacos like every local Mexican restaurant in every small town in the South. Most small-town Mexican places in this part of the country still concentrate on the lunch or dinner plate. Some carbohydrate is filled with a protein, smothered in cheese and served with a side of rice and beans.

Taco Prado serves those plates but is first and foremost a taqueria. This is a common concept in every city in the southwest and most of the larger cities throughout the country, but it still isn't common in the small-town South. Thanks to places like Austin-based Torchy's Tacos, the taqueria is the next wave of fast casual. Once every city in America gets a Panera Bread, the next step will be a chain taqueria.

Mableton won't need one because Taco Prado already has tacos covered. For less than $14, I got six tacos and a large drink. I ordered two of the al pastor (pork), one of the carne asada (grilled steak), one of the chorizo, one of the barbacoa (shredded beef) and one lengua (beef tongue). At those places I mentioned above, this probably would have cost me twice as much.

Andy Staples

All of the tacos came on grilled corn tortillas—flour was an option, but why bother?—and I had a cup of a the fiery house-made salsa at the ready in case any of them needed rescuing. Only one did. The rest required no adornment, though a drizzle of that salsa certainly didn't detract. The al pastor featured juicy chunks of pork simmered in a tangy sauce. The barbacoa was moist and packed serious heat even without the salsa. The carne asada took the salsa the best. Meanwhile, the lengua tasted like the best part of a great beef stew. Except it came in taco form, which made it infinitely better. The chorizo was the only taco I wouldn't recommend. The meat was dry and overcooked, so skip that one and triple down on the al pastor or double down on the tongue.

Before you leave, spend the extra $1.50 and grab a mango pop from the freezer. You'll be full. Your sweet tooth will be satisfied. You'll have spent less than $20. You'll be back on the interstate in five minutes.

So sorry, fast food chains on I-20 between Atlanta and Birmingham. We won't be seeing much of each other anymore. Unless you can find a way to make a better tongue taco for less than $3, we're through.

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