Why Georgia could be a national sleeper in 2010; more Mailbag
As a longtime observer of -- and former participant in -- preseason rankings, it's a great mystery how certain teams seem to garner a universally agreed-upon spot in the preseason hierarchy as early as January.
Is it crazy to think that the editors of
There are only a handful of teams apparently unpredictable enough for the consortium to agree upon. This week, we examine one of them:
I don't know whether Georgia will finish No. 3 or No. 33. All I know is that for all the ludicrous talk about
So after that rather harsh assessment, you're probably assuming I fall into the 8-4 camp. Not so fast. Count me as part of the Georgia/national sleeper crowd -- and the reason is Richt. Last year was his first truly "down" season since his first in Athens, and his best seasons have come when preseason expectations were low. His two SEC championship teams (in
I don't see Georgia beating Florida in the East, but a 10-2 record seems entirely plausible and may just be enough to sneak into a BCS bowl over the SEC title-game loser (presumably the Gators or Alabama).
No question, safety will continue to be one of the hot-button issues for the sport over the next decade, and Andy and I tossed around a couple of related ideas. The problem was, we were supposed to make "predictions" about the next 10 years, and I honestly have no idea what officials will end up doing about head injuries. Most people I talk to around the sport are similarly concerned but perplexed. They know the way the sport is played needs to change drastically, but at the same time you can't change the fact that football is by nature a contact sport, and players are only going to continue getting bigger, faster and stronger.
One thing I don't buy is this notion that kids will stop playing football. Maybe you'll see a decrease in the pre-teen rank, but the fact is the sport is only getting more popular, which means more kids will want to play it, and while some parents will get scared away by the various studies, as many or more will be enticed by the possibility of scholarships and NFL paydays. The sport will be affected by greater concussion awareness, but probably not in the way you described.
Two of them joined the I-A head-coaching ranks this year. I expect good things from
The other is
No, Watch Lists are a relic from the 1960s, when voters didn't have access to cable or the Internet and maybe did need somebody to tell them who was playing quarterback for Texas that year. Now, these lists basically just give sports information directors reason to send out puffy press releases in July. Any player can still win the awards -- as long as he makes
Clearly, you haven't watched the show, Shawn. I've seen no evidence of gender divide among
Under your scenario, once the Champs Sports Bowl exercises its Notre Dame pick, the Irish become bowl free agents in subsequent years, much like they were two years ago when they wound up in the Hawaii Bowl, and much like they would have been last year had they chosen to play a bowl. I don't think they'll ever have to worry about every conference filling its allotment. There were 71 eligible teams the past two years and there are now 70 bowl berths (plus USC is ineligible). There's no way the Big Ten is going to qualify nine teams every year, or the Big 12 is going to fill eight once it drops to 10 teams.
However, we're still talking about the bowls at the bottom of the leagues' pecking orders -- the Little Caesars Bowl, not the Gator Bowl. That fate may have been deserved for the past two 6-6 Irish teams, but not a 9-3 team that plays the schedule Notre Dame does. It will be interesting to see how the school reacts if this becomes a regular occurrence. If the Irish go to the BCS twice in the next four years, the topic is moot. But if they don't, you're seeing yet another negative consequence of remaining independent. It's literally BCS or bust for these guys.
It's not that OSU "can't win," but that it's incredibly difficult for the Cowboys to beat Oklahoma and Texas, both on the field and in recruiting, when those programs are both humming. They simply have more prestige, a better track record of success and more accomplished coaches, factors that carry far more weight with recruits in those two states than
In terms of the Boise State comparison, you've honed in on an interesting "loophole" in the BCS. As much as fans from the non-AQ conferences gripe about the unfairness of the system, the reality is they have a much more advantageous path to the BCS than do Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Ole Miss or any number of other AQ schools. Whereas those teams have to compete against the entire Big 12, Big Ten or SEC, Boise is competing against one or two such schools per year. The downside, obviously, is that the Broncos have to go undefeated to reach a big game, and even then are not guaranteed of anything. But at the end of the day, they've made it to two more BCS bowls than Oklahoma State, with a fraction of the resources.
You are, in fact, the 10th person to send this to me, but you may want to send a more pressing memo to the Radio Shack on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, which I walk by several times a week and which, as of this writing, has showed no evidence of a rebranding.
Nevertheless, my opinion about the Big Ten's name hasn't changed. And why have I heard no such outrage over the fact that the Atlantic 10 has 14 teams? Hypocrites.
If only it were that simple, Eli. While I'd love to see an exciting, competitive game befitting the history of those teams and the iconic coach whose days on the sideline are nearing their end, pretty much every possible factor is working against the Nittany Lions. The only way someone's going to get Alabama this year is in a shootout, as the Tide's young secondary will definitely be vulnerable to a balanced offense with a dangerous quarterback. But Penn State's bringing a new quarterback and a suspect offensive line that got absolutely mauled by the two best defensive fronts its faced last season, Ohio State and Iowa. And while those new Alabama starters may be young, they're all former four- and five-star recruits with at least some game experience.
The Nittany Lions will probably rely heavily on their running game and try to keep Alabama's offense off the field, but inevitably,
If you are in fact a Notre Dame fan, Shawn, then you're presumably aware that one of the Irish's recruits,