Alabama's repeat chances, USC's Pac-10 forecast, more Mailbag
Last year, the Mailbag made a later-than-usual July 1 debut. This year, we're ramping things up by a couple of months to catch the end of spring football -- and, to be perfectly honest, because we need any "edge" we can get.
This begins the eighth -- eighth! -- season of my SI.com Mailbag, and just like any good, paranoid football coach, I'm pounding my head against the wall looking for any possible wrinkle or redesign to keep things fresh. Because let's face it: In Internet years, the Mailbag (which debuted in the spring of 2003) is a dinosaur. It predates Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and 95 percent of the blogosphere, all of which have made the basic concept of this column -- you submitting questions and me answering them several days later -- only slightly less antiquated than letters to the editor. If you've been listening to
I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, I'm counting on the fact that a significant portion of the reading audience still enjoys reading prose longer than 140 characters and can live without telling the world how ****OUTRAGED*** it is over my PATHETIC (!!!) EXCUSE FOR JOURNALISM in some comments section. (Unless, of course, I cut and paste it here.)
A few other housecleaning items before we begin:
1) As always, the more concise and original your question, the better its chance of getting published. Please save your 800-word BCS diatribes for the aforementioned comment boards (or, better yet, e-mail them to
2) Try to avoid the generic "How will my team do this year?" question. There are more creative ways to ask pretty much the same thing.
3) All right ... here it goes. Brace for the backlash. The Mailbag Crush is officially retired.
Many of you will question whether this is a consequence of my forthcoming change in
Shall we proceed with the football?
The Tide have some questions, no doubt. But let me fire a question right back at you: Who in the SEC is going to beat them?
Last year we saw the World's Mightiest Conference That Won't Allow You To Argue Otherwise produce two tremendous teams (Florida and Alabama), one talented-but-flawed team (LSU) and a whole bunch of mediocre 7-5 teams. And that was before losing a league-record 49 NFL draftees last week. (No other conference produced more than 34.) This fall, the league will break in at least six new starting quarterbacks -- and the returnees include
What I'm saying is, Alabama could regress a couple steps from last season and still cruise through what should be a down SEC. I wouldn't discount Florida, which is still plenty talented and which the Tide may have to beat twice this year, but the Gators have significant holes to fill on both sides of the ball. 'Bama, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded on offense thanks to the return of both
There is definitely a lot of blind faith in regard to Saban's ability to reload on defense. 'Bama lost a
But as we've seen, most years, if you can make it through the SEC with just one loss, you're probably going to play for the national championship.
Thanks, Joe. I would be surprised if USC finishes below .500. I would be Northern Iowa-over-Kansas shocked if the Trojans went 14-0. But the reality is probably somewhere in between.
Several developments this spring have affirmed there was nothing fluky about the Trojans' slippage in
The Trojans have a few incoming freshmen who could help right away, most notably running back
I'd say partially because Bo's a little nutty like that, but mostly because he holds his defenses to near-impossible standards. While most of us remember Suh and Co. teeing off on
But he's not completely crazy. On paper, Nebraska's defense
But the biggest reason there's such lofty expectations for this defense is that so many of the returning players were largely unsung when Pelini arrived. Not only has he developed them, but his most talented recruits are only now breaking into the lineup or the depth chart. In other words, he knows his defense is only getting better, which is truly scary considering the way it played last season.
Now if he could just find an offense...
So you're saying that even if a kid really loves college and wants to spend the extra year there to which he's entitled, he should be forced to enter the workforce if he has a plush job offer on the table? That seems like an insult to anyone who's ever gone to college.
That would certainly be an interesting strategy; however I noticed an interesting footnote in the qualifying guidelines the BCS sent out last week. You'll find it at the very bottom of
My guess is the Mountain West has long since studied such a move (the commissioners were aware of this formula well before last week's public unveiling), and would have made a move already if it felt doing so would have worked. The league has actually shown surprisingly little interest in adding Boise State, which tells me that adding the Broncos might hurt as much as help the league. While it'd be adding another highly ranked team, that team would now be playing Utah, BYU and TCU. Somebody's going to lose, which means someone's going to fall or even drop out of the rankings. The pollsters aren't going to be as forgiving of three-loss Utah as they would three-loss Georgia.
No, it does not. As proof, I refer you to this recent
That last sentence pretty much sums it up in a nutshell. The NCAA is basically just a big regulatory agency that the schools rely on to manage all the mundane little details involved in staging college athletics -- academic eligibility requirements, practice limits, recruiting regulations, etc. -- but when it comes to big-picture issues like the BCS, conference realignment, athletic department spending -- the schools are pretty much free to do as they please. It pays to have a regulatory body comprised of the very parties it's regulating.
Great questions, both.
If you were to ask Shannon, he'd tell you that yes, the lack of an extension (which the two sides both insist is imminent) has given ammo to his rival recruiters. "I was getting murdered last year," he told the
While Miami has improved each of Shannon's three years there, it's still nowhere near its glory days of yesteryear. Shannon has churned through a slew of coordinators and assistants (including former recruiting coordinator
As for post-
The taunting rule does not take effect until 2011, but once it does, that could definitely have the most impact if officials really do enforce it as strictly as has been indicated. Can you imagine the first time someone gets a touchdown taken off the board for, say, high-stepping into the end zone, his team fumbles on the next play, then loses the game? The outcry is going to be insane.
The other changes aren't that big of a deal. Teams will find new ways to return kickoffs. Replay officials will still blow calls. And as my colleague
I suppose you could watch the NBA Playoffs, but it'd be a lot more efficient to just record every game and fast forward to the last two minutes. I suppose you could watch baseball, but if you're like my podcast co-host and loyal Baltimore Orioles fan
But I wouldn't worry too much. I have a feeling it's going to be a very eventful summer in college athletics. I'm not buying into
Let the 'Bag begin.