Saturday, Aug 14 at 4:29 PM
This morning I got into WHAS to perform my regular TV Director duties on Good Morning Kentuckiana and I decided to stream a little music as me and my green tea tried to shake off the early morning fog. I went to Pandora, a site which I had heard about, but never tried before. It’s totally addicting. First I type in The Beatles. Bam. Here Comes the Sun, a perfect morning song.
So anyway, I spent 30 minutes adding artists and songs I like to my radio station. Any of you tried this yet? I imagine like most consumer technology, I am near the end of the curve, but it is totally cool. Eminem playing now, my music tastes are both wide ranging and specific at the same time. (Side note, Pandora is not “radio” versions. Plugging in headphones now.)
OK, the un-researched football blog. I have purposely been avoiding becoming too informed so I can write this. Normally I would be like Adam Lefkoe is now, nose buried in all of Phil Steele’s wonderful information, knowing just enough about the major teams to be dangerous. Not this year.
This year I have been going out of my way to stay mildly informed. Of course working at the TV home of the Louisville Cardinals and living around so much Kentucky Wildcat (wife and her family) and Ohio State Buckeye (me and my family) love, it has been entirely impossible not to engage in some info sharing with friends and co-workers. I watch college Football Live; I listen to Vanetti and Lachlan when I’m driving.
So I know something, and as discussed yesterday I am a huge football fan, but I want to write this with my thoughts before they get too confused with the thoughts of the Phil Steele’s and Pat Forde’s out there.
Here goes in no particular order:
Put me in the corner of a believer in a mild turnaround for the Cards. Here’s why.
1. I think Vic Anderson and Bill Powell are excellent runners and further, I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t “ridden” to victories the past 2 seasons under Kragthorpe. I see great potential with those guys.
2. I think Adam Froman was under-utilized last season as well. His mobility is strength and with Coach Strong coming from an Urban Myer background, I think this team will know how to use him. Justin Burke and Dominique Brown are good back-ups, with Brown a possible future stud. And if needed, Trinity guy Will Stien showed he could play well in a pinch last season.
3. And yes, I know Strong is said to be “hands off” with the offense. OC Mike Sanford is a Utah guy, so I expect the team to run some spread and I think Froman and Brown and Anderson and Powell will work it quite nicely.
4. I like the receivers. Who doesn’t like Doug Beaumont? I guess I like Chichester as well. Nice depth beyond those guys too. I was more excited about the receivers before I talked to some folks in the newsroom who pointed out that Beaumont has 0 TD receptions in his career at UL and Chichester is a drop machine. (I actually knew that second one, but I believe he can improve this.)
The rest of the team I am not at all excited about, but that right there (above) is more than I would have said last year.
So, I look for the Cards to be improved immediately under Charlie Strong. They were in a lot of games at halftime the last few years, and I believe that coaching could pay immediate dividends. I still only see 5-7 though.
I am a little less sure what to expect from the Cats this season. On the one hand, I Love Morgan Newton and Randall Cobb, I think these two are true SEC talents. On the other hand, I am mild on the O-line and Mike Hartline. And the defense? I just don’t know that it stacks up to the past couple editions.
So what does this mean for the Cats in the SEC? Well, the East is down this season, so I could see UK knocking off a Tennessee or Georgia, but ultimately, I look for a step back this season for the Cats or at least a plateau effect. 6-6 and a bowl for UK.
So who wins that first Saturday in September? While Kentucky’s talent may not stack up in the SEC, I certainly think it stacks up well with their in-state rival’s. Kentucky wins on the strength of Cobb, but man I could see Louisville winning this one at home, in the grand opening of the stadium remodel, Strong’s emotional debut etc. So yeah, I’m picking Kentucky for now, but I am hedging.
Thoughts on the Big East overall. It has been reported that Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said at media day that he thinks the Big East is “stronger today than it’s ever been.” While I certainly think some of the Miami/Virginia Tech Big Easts were stronger, I generally agree with his assessment. I know, surprising.
I already stated I believe in Louisville, but I also believe them to be among the worst in the conference (thus the poor 5-7 prediction). Syracuse is the only other potentially horrid team and I also think they are improved. The next tier up sees Rutgers and South Florida, but really they both were pretty good last season. They will be hard for Louisville and Syracuse to catch this season and could move into the upper tier in my opinion.
That leaves Pitt, Cincinnati, West Virginia and U Conn as that “upper tier”. I am not ready to hand the title to Pitt. They are breaking in a new QB. Cinci lost their QB and coach from the league’s dominant squad the last few seasons. West Virginia and Connecticut return boatloads of players. The Big East Champ will not be a National Title contender, but they will have won a very competitive conference.
I think West Virginia surprises Pitt in the Big East. Oh and Dion Lewis. A section on the Big East is incomplete without mentioning the league’s best player and really a fun guy to watch.
Thoughts on SEC overall. In the SEC east, much has been made about Florida being “down” this year and there is a groundswell for underdog South Carolina as a possible winner. If Florida is “down”, there are probably 110 other FBS teams that wish they were so down. Yeah, Tebow’s gone, but Florida will have no problem finding a talented QB to play there. I think they win the east.
It does get very interesting in the East beyond them though. Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina? Meh. I already discussed my doubts about the Cats, and I’m sure not about to step out on the Vanderbilt limb. Should be competitive at least.
As for the West, this is where the defending national champs reside. What’s not to like about a QB who’s never lost (in HS or college) and the Heisman winner in the same backfield. Yes I am a Buckeye fan, and yes I think they will be excellent this year, but how could you not have Bama number one heading into the season?
LSU will again be very good, and would win the East in my opinion. I know Bobby Petrino coaches in this division and I expect him to field a top 20 Arkansas team this season. Oh my, this Auburn QB, Cam Newton? They got to play this kid. I have seen the high school highlights and some stuff for practice. Dang. The Mississippis aren’t all that, but did you know ole Miss has a player 6-11 390? He is raw and may never play a down, but goodness 6-11 390???? I want to see him play.
Obviously I like Alabama over Florida in the SEC title game.
The rest of the country quick hits:
Best conference: SEC. Until someone else steps up and beats them.
Worst BCS conference: This is a tough one. The Big East seems up, but still not as strong as the Pac 10 or ACC. I think the Big 10 and Big 12 are solidly out of consideration for this. I guess the Big East, but the ACC is in a similar boat.
Big Ten: I already revealed my Buckeye fandom. They are seriously loaded though, and Terrelle Pryor showed signs of becoming the monster that sparked that recruiting war a few years back. I could double the size of this blog writing about my Buckeyes, nut let’s leave it at I think they will win the conference and be in the national title hunt. I think Iowa and Wisconsin will also be very good and are capable of winning the Big 10. Penn State will have to replace their quarterback and may regress slightly. Most of the rest of the conference does not stand out one way or the other.
I suppose I should put in a word about the Hoosiers here. I just don’t see any improvement coming for the crimson and cream. What’s not to like about their QB and WRs, but that’s just not enough to become consistent winners in the Big 10. I see another 4-6 win season, with 1-4 wins in the Big Ten. And truthfully, if pressed, I’d say they need to pull off some upsets to get there.
ACC: I have seen Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech all ranked in the top 10 of my passive internet reading this off-season. I see the arguments for each of these teams, and I like Georgia Tech’s power running game to keep them very competitive as well. Outside of those four teams, only North Carolina (one of Lefkoe’s dark horse teams for 2010) looks like they have much to offer. North Carolina of course is now in the middle of NCAA investigation controversy and may not have all those NFL-ready defenders this season. So I am a little down on them.
Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma. I prefer Texas, Oklahoma is getting a late surge of positive press the past week or so though. Wouldn’t it be something if Nebraska won the league on their way out? They could, they are rebuilding nicely there. Texas A&M has an outstanding talent at quarterback in Jerrod Johnson, and I look forward to tuning in to watch the big senior this season.
Pac 10: This one is a total crapshoot in my mind. As I thought about the Pac 10, I counted no less than 5 teams I thought could win it: USC, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington. I realize Washington is a long shot, but they have Jake Locker. USC is probably still the most talented team, but they are all probationed out and have a new coach etc. Oregon and Oregon State are the pre-season pollsters darlings, but outside of excellent featured runners and good QBs, (something USC has as well) I don’t see what makes them any better than these other teams on paper. Stanford may have the best QB in the Pac 10 in Andrew Luck, and it is difficult to count out teams with that kind of talent at QB.
Oh yeah, and I can’t count out Arizona, Arizona State, Cal or UCLA either. But I WILL go on record that Washington State will not win it.
Others: Should probably say something about Boise State here. I am very impressed with QB Kellen Moore’s career numbers. Boise State will go 11-1 or 12-0. I still don’t think they deserve to play in the title game. I guess I am a BCS conference snob.
Best Player: Terrelle Pryor and Jerrod Johnson (mentioned above) will do a whole lot for their respective teams. Mark Ingram is the defending “best player.” And I know I am discounting about 20 excellent players that will make us all watch every Saturday. I will talk more about them during a more researched blog.
National Championship prediction: I see this season as wide open, which also seems counter-intuitive to me when the defending champs return so much. I will predict Alabama over Ohio State in the title game. OK, big BUT time, I do think the title game participants will come from the group consisting of: Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Boise, Texas, Oklahoma, and Va Tech. The next level of teams that could get there and not surprise me includes LSU, Miami Fla., Iowa. Anyone else will be a surprise to me.
At least for now. Now the fun begins. Now I get to read that annual my son got me for Father’s Day finally and see where my general impressions may have been wrong. I will be an internet junkie. I will call and harass Vanetti with my knowledge and badger Danielle Santoro and Matt Hobbs into admitting me as sports department college football king. At least that’s the plan. Just happy its football season.
Would love to hear your thoughts and discuss the upcoming college football season with you, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org