While I know the season technically started last night with the two crapfests on ESPN and assorted small-college ball (I'm talking about you, Iowa State), the real fun begins tomorrow. We sit on the precipice of a season that will take the college game to even greater heights, with countless dramas and storylines that will unfold over the course of the next four and a half months. Two Heisman trophy winners coming back, and for the first time in history all three finalists from the previous year's balloting will again vie for the trophy.
Here are the stories I'll be paying close attention to in the following months:
-The hope for resurgence among three of college football's heavyweights. In Tallahassee, the vibe coming out of Florida State is that they finally have a QB and offensive line that will put them back to where they belong. In South Bend, Charlie Weis is officially out of excuses at Notre Dame with a cupboard stocked with playmakers at the skill positions. And in Lincoln, Bo Pelini is looking to make the Huskers into a team that competes for national titles, not Big 12 North ones, with a more confident defense and re-emphasizing of the running game.
-Tim Tebow will attempt to lead one of the more stacked teams in recent memory to it's 3rd national title in 4 years, a feat not accomplished since Nebraska's glory days in the 1990's. Though it should be pointed out that the Husker championship teams were all undefeated, and Florida has yet to have one of those.
In addition to chasing a crystal ball and another Heisman, Tebow will also cure cancer, defeat terrorism with one hand tied behind his back, and end the economic recession. Coinciding with this effort by Tebow, ESPN will launch a new network devoted entirely to covering him in all his glory. In case you haven't noticed by now, I'm sick of hearing about Tim Tebow.....and he hasn't played a game yet this year.
-ESPN will declare the Gators the best college football team of all time in week 5. That went real well the last time they did, when they called USC that in 2005. Oh wait, that team didn't even win the national title that year? Oh....well maybe, just maybe, ESPN should stop with the hype and just report the scores. I get so damn sick of watching these roundtable discussions with analysts shouting over each other when all I want to see is some highlights.
-Colt McCoy will win the Heisman trophy, and it will be well-deserved. In addition to the leftover sentiment from last year, I believe few voters want to give a second Heisman to Tebow. Only Archie Griffin has two, and I don't know if people are ready for another two-time winner. Taking that into account, along with Sam Bradford playing behind a new offensive line, and I think McCoy has not only the weapons at his disposal to win, but also the support of most college football fans.
- The only thing stopping USC from winning another Pac-10 title (and assuring another Big 10 beatdown in the Rose Bowl) is wildfires. Oregon looked woeful against Boise State, and I think Cal will continue to falter when the pressure is on. Here's my question: If you were a USC player, wouldn't you get really sick of having to play all your bowl games 20 minutes away? I mean, obviously you want to win the conference title, but wouldn't it be sad knowing that you have to go to the national title game or you're assured of going to Pasadena again?
- Boise State, with their most difficult game already a W, will run the table and "crash" the BCS, leading to another year of bitching and moaning by WAC officials. Look, I get it. It sucks for the Broncos that the system is stacked against them and they have a shot for a 3rd undefeated season and have no national title to show for it.
That said, if the Broncos just manned up and scheduled Oregon, USC, and Cal for their non-conference games instead of teams like UC Davis, Bowling Green, and Tulsa, maybe they would get the shot they are looking for. If teams from the WAC want the respect given to BCS teams, then they should try to schedule as many teams like that as they can.
Perhaps those teams wouldn't want to face Boise State, but the effort has to be made on Boise State's part, because as long as your playing in the WAC, you have to have a brutal-and I mean brutal- non conference slate to get the voters to put you in the title game. Either that, or call the Pac-10 and see if they'd be interested in adding a 12th team to their league. Which they wouldn't because the Pac 10, much like it's Big 10 counterpart, is so stuck in the past they can't see that making some changes might help them, and college football as a whole, to solve some lingering issues about the game.
-Speaking of Boise State and BCS berths, it doesn't help the WAC teams of the world when Notre Dame can fall ass-backwards into 9 wins and snatch BCS invites away from more deserving teams. I don't understand the media infatuation with them....I mean, when was the last time they won a national title, 1988? And if the whole country hates Notre Dame (which that seems to be the case), why do they keep getting the publicity they do? Because they were a juggernaut during the 40's?
Being a Nebraska fan, believe me, I respect tradition, and ND will always rank as one of the all-time greats. But Nebraska has received almost no attention the past few years while they stumbled through the Callahan era. Meanwhile, Weis and the Golden Domers get brought up nearly every damn telecast. And that's not jealousy, that's just me being sick of hearing about them. Can we just hold off on talking about them until they go into the USC game undefeated? Or are we going to do the standard operating procedure for Notre Dame, which is boost them to #9 in the rankings when they start 3-0?
Oh, and while I'm on the topic of Notre Dame, can someone please do something about Lou Holtz? I mean, I like the guy for the most part because he's an old timer and has a lot of respect for the programs that were dominant back in the day (and yes, I'm talking about Nebraska). That said, since when is it OK to have such blatant homerism on what's supposed to be an objective show? Look Lou, we know you love Notre Dame. You had a great run there, and nobody is saying you can't root for them. But could you please stop slobbering through another pro-ND rant on College Football Live? Because quite frankly, I can't take much more of it.
- The Big 10 will be a three team league this year instead of the usual two. Michigan State, the whole conference is counting on you to bring some shred of respectability to it. Um....good luck with that. Let's just say I have my doubts.
-I thought initially was disappointed that Michigan hired Rich Rod to be their coach, because I feared he would fast-track them back to national relevance, and I didn't want to see that happen, because the weaker the Big 10 is, the easier it is for me to live in Minnesota and deal with these idiotic fans. However, its looking like he's going to need a good season to cool off a fan base even more upset now that he's brought NCAA investigations looking into practice-gate.
So I just realized that my "bold predictions" was more of a rant about different college football topics with only a couple of predictions mixed in.....but really, do you expect anything different? We're only 24 hours away from the real kickoff of college football, you can't expect my attention span to be that good with Christmas only a day away. Good luck to everyone's teams this year, and for the Husker fans, I'll be back tomorrow with a game-by-game season prediction.