Roughly 20 months ago, West Virginia's
I assume the "system" Jonathan refers to is Rodriguez's spread-option offense. Not only is it infinitely less complicated than most pro-style schemes, it seems to be working pretty well for Florida and Oregon, whose coaches (Meyer and
It's not the system that's the problem -- it's the players. The three national championship coaches Jonathan mentioned all followed renowned recruiters (
Meanwhile, Michigan produced just two NFL draft picks last spring (fourth-rounder
I watched excerpts from Rodriguez's Media Day press conference last Sunday, and his team's youth caused him to express restraint on several occasions. He made a point of reminding the reporters his freshmen -- a whole bunch of which Michigan will be relying on this fall -- are "still freshmen," and lamented having just two senior starters on defense.
So why would anyone predict the Wolverines will improve by four wins this fall? Simple: confidence in Rodriguez. For one thing, big second-year improvements have occurred everywhere he's been before (Tulane went from 7-4 to 12-0, Clemson from 6-6 to 9-3, West Virginia from 3-8 to 9-4). And because Rodriguez's offense is fairly simple -- long story short: create mismatches in open space -- it's easier for a true freshman quarterback like
(Incidentally, I don't buy Rodriguez's "three quarterbacks" statement. Maybe all three will play in the opener if Michigan builds a lead, but it will likely be the two freshmen from there, with one eventually taking the reins.)
Obviously, Michigan needs at least one more solid recruiting class to return to its customary talent level, but breaking .500 seems like a reasonable goal for this year. A year ago this time, SI predicted the Wolverines to go 5-7, causing my in-box to fill with angry missives from Maize and Blue faithful unaccustomed to such pessimistic forecasts. A year later, apparently we're being too optimistic.
But let's be honest: preseason football predictions are largely a crapshoot. If you hit better than 50-50, you're doing all right.
When it comes to Celebrity Crushes, however, few can dispute the Mailbag has gone 3-for-3 in identifying sweet and beautiful under-the-radar starlets. Will the streak continue?
That, and she's a diehard college football fan to boot.
Folks, meet your 2009 Mailbag Celebrity Crush,
Check that: She
To see more of Katy, download or rent Season 1 of
But mostly, watch
The Shipley exclusion: inexcusable. I deserve the full
Compared to Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and USC, I'm pretty sure someone would ask "why?" about any team tossed into that fifth spot.
I can't say I remember a year quite like this one, where there's a distinct group of four teams that nearly everyone seems to agree are the best -- and then a steep drop-off in confidence after that. Not a single one of the established preseason publications --
Alabama did wind up as the
As for me -- well, I'm no longer a voter. I gleefully handed off my AP ballot to
So Jimmy, the question isn't "Why is Alabama in the top five?" It's "Who would you put there instead?"
As of today, I'm fairly certain he'd be the Trojans' starting quarterback.
Mallett is certainly the headliner. If you believe the hype and the absurd stats coming out of Arkansas' scrimmages, he could be this year's
Others include: Ohio State G Justin Boren (from Michigan), a potential all-conference performer; Georgia Tech running back
Two other high-profile quarterback transfers, Michigan State's
Is too much made of the number of returning-starters? Probably. It's not like there's some specific watermark -- 14? 15? 16? -- that guarantees success, and obviously there are plenty of cases where "new" starters are actually quite experienced. (For example, USC technically returns just three defensive starters this season, but seven other defenders have started at some point in their careers.)
That said, experience/inexperience is generally a pretty reliable indicator of which direction a team is headed -- as Katy mentioned, LSU lost 12 senior starters (including the kicker and punter) from its 2007 national title season, and you saw what happened. The number of returning starters is the most easily decipherable means of assessing a team's experience level.
So you see,
I doubt it, but your question leads to another question: Why do these viruses always seem to affect Duke?
It brings to mind Duke's infamous 1998 game against Florida State, in which a food virus caused half the players to start vomiting all over themselves during the game. In a case that garnered attention from the
What's the deal, health gods? Doesn't Duke football have enough obstacles to deal with? Or is this karmic payback for ...