In the Back to the Future movie series, the shady Biff Tannen stole something called the Grays Sports Almanac and used it to catapult himself into a life of wealth and happiness. See, the book traveled back in time from the year 2015 along with Marty McFly and contained a complete listing of sports statistics, scores and information from 1950-2000. Essentially, Biff was able to snake his way into a cool fortune by betting on games for which he already knew the outcomes. It was like playing Oklahoma in a BCS game. It was an automatic win.
So, as we enter the new college football season on the heels of the wackiest year in modern memory, you can't help but wish you had that freaking book. Because if you did, not only would you be rich, you'd also be able to predict Bobby Petrino's next job in, say, 2009, the end of the Joe Paterno era in the 2100 and West Virginia's forgiveness of Rich Rodriguez when hell eventually freezes over.
Alas, no such book exists in the real world. But that doesn't mean we can't dream. If a future fact book were to show up on your doorstep in time for the 2008-'09 season, what exactly would it say? Here are seven guesses:
If you'd have predicted six months ago that this year's most popular anti-USC signs on College GameDay sets wouldn't contain "Dirty Sanchez" references, I'd have called you completely crazy. But with news of rampant jock itch among USC football players making headlines this August, we might just see a changing of the guard. The Los Angeles Times reports upwards of one-quarter of the Trojan football team has come down with the ailment, even forcing some, like sophomore Joe McKnight, to miss practice. Yes, it's that severe. You can't make this stuff up.
If this is a legitimate outbreak and not some ploy by Yahoo! to cajole more information about Reggie Bush from school officials, it's the kind of thing that will be worth its weight in gold -- no pun intended -- when it comes to joke-making potential.
Penn State's Jay Paterno didn't spend the summer sunning himself on a white, sandy beach. No, siree. Instead, he was holed up in a dingy laboratory, slaving away with a chalkboard and slide rule, calculating exactly what to inject into the "Spread HD," a new offensive scheme he claims to have invented this offseason. "The whole idea of it," said Paterno, "is to give us the best chance to win."
Well, thanks, Jay. In related news, it's hot in the sun and the sky is blue.
Supposedly, Paterno's innovative strategy -- a variant of the existing spread offense -- calls for the Nittany Lions to throw and run for at least 200 yards each game in 2008. "Innovative," that is, until you realize that Penn State averaged 211 passing and 187 rushing yards in 2007. In which case, the "HD" suffix is just a fancy nickname for a killer 13-yard ground play to complement the Lions' already extensive arsenal of halfback draws and weak-side sweeps. Interesting.
In a move that could best be classified as "ahead of its time," the pioneers behind EA Sports' national marketing campaign took a different approach this year when it was time to launch NCAA Football 09. The tactic: Stick a Jenn Sterger-type Web phenom in your ads and see what happens. Not for any apparent reason, mind you. Just for decoration.
And that's exactly what EA Sports did with Bubb Rubb, whose last cameo earned him a lifetime of YouTube infamy after riffing on the functional value of "whistle tips" on television in Oakland, Calif. This time, that same clip was resurrected and edited into a national television commercial, unleashing a siren call to thousands of Generation X video gamers to buy the latest installment of the game. If EA Sports' profits soar, don't be surprised to see a reality show follow. Hollywood producers must already be trying to find out all they can about Bubb Rubb. You know, like his actual first name.
If you thought he was a man at age 40, just imagine what he could do at 41. Just sayin'...
First, the good news. The Buckeyes seem poised to capture yet another Ohio state championship and edge out perennial contenders like Youngstown State and Ohio University. So, that's a pretty big deal.
Now, the bad.
Ohio State, despite returning a contingent of playmakers, did little to prove it could beat an SEC team after losing the BCS Championship in January to LSU. This remains the biggest question about the Buckeyes moving forward into 2009: Have they figured out how to defend against premiere speed?
With a showdown at third-ranked USC looming on September 13th, the Buckeyes could conceivably cement their spot as a title-favorite early in the season. Assuming they can slip past the Trojans -- and that's a big assumption -- the Buckeyes will benefit from a workable Big Ten schedule and will not be tested again until an early-October matchup at Wisconsin, which makes another BCS Championship berth very attainable.
But the problem, of course, is attaining the actual BCS Championship. And you can't help but wonder how extreme things would get in the C-Bus if another loss were to occur.
At some point over the last 12 months, you may have come to a crossroads with the running joke you had with your friends. You know, that one about Tim Tebow being a "perfect human." Remember that? Well, amidst Tebow's incredible 2007, something remarkable took place: People started actually believing that he was a perfect entity. And, I must say, they might be right.
To be honest, it'd be downright foolish to bet against Tebow in 2008. In anything. Even those things, like elections, that he's legally forbidden from entering. I'm convinced he could still do it. Heck, with the inordinate amount of media attention he's received for his charitable deeds, it's gotten to the point where Tebow wins even when he loses -- almost like he willingly takes the wrath of the football-Gods so others can experience joy and hope. He's a football martyr.
So, with all that said, Tebow must be the pick for everything. For Heisman. For President. And definitely for national champion.
Last year, one columnist's decision -- cough, cough -- to compare the Georgia football team to the legendary Ultimate Warrior was met with, uh, "mixed reviews" among Dawg fans throughout the country. And by "mixed reviews," I'm referring to a month's worth of berating through e-mail, message boards and southern sports talk radio. That was exciting.
So, this year, I've taken all the necessary precautions -- from aliases to fake mustaches -- to protect my livelihood before making a bold announcement: Preseason No. 1 or not, Georgia's brutal SEC schedule will prevent it from reaching the BCS Championship. There, I said it.
(Please don't hurt me.)
Ty Hildenbrandt writes every week for SI On Campus. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.