Thursday, December 17, 2009
Revisiting preseason picks
By Brian Bennett
I meant to get to this last week but never did because there was so much news going on. But with the regular season over and bowls approaching, it's time to look back at some of the preseason predictions I made for the Big East and laugh at how dumb I was. (I'll also be revisiting my best case/worst case scenarios for each team starting later today).
Yes, I picked Rutgers to win the league, which should subject me to ridicule in the public square. Here are some other wonderfully naive preseason prognostications from yours truly:
Offensive player of the year: Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike. "... I just get the sense that Pike is dialed in and ready for a monster year."
Well, Pike almost certainly would have won this award had he stayed healthy. And he did have a huge year when healthy. Nothing wrong with this pick.
Defensive player of the year: South Florida defensive end George Selvie. "This year, the Bulls have a deeper, more talented defensive line that should take some pressure off their senior pass-rusher ..."
Well, that sentence was true, as Jason Pierre-Paul added a lot to the defensive line. But Selvie was never able to really put up monster numbers even with that help. I went with the safe pick and got burned.
Newcomer of the year: Cincinnati receiver Jamar Howard. " ... This 6-foot-4 junior-college transfer has the size and speed to provide a compelling target for Pike."
Oy, vey. Howard had three catches on the year. My reasoning was that somebody would step in for Dominick Goodman and provide big stats. I was right about that. It's just that Armon Binns was the tall guy who did it, not Howard.
Comeback player of the year: Syracuse receiver Mike Williams. "After missing all of last year because of academic problems, the Orange's top playmaker from 2007 returns and will be the go-to guy in the passing game."
Can't blame me for this one. Until mid-October, Williams was clearly fulfilling every possible expectation. Until he went and, you know, quit the team. I guess that makes him the Go-away player of the year.
Freshman of the year: Pittsburgh running back Ray Graham. "Clearly, a freshman is going to have a huge opportunity to run behind the Panthers' offensive line, as true frosh Dion Lewis is battling Graham for the top spot on the depth chart right now."
This is the classic case of out-thinking yourself. I saw in person in the spring how good Lewis was, but I had heard reports of Graham's big-play ability coming out of fall camp. I projected Graham would take over instead of going with the safer pick in Lewis. So close.
Breakout player of the year: West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown. "Mountaineers fans already know what Brown is capable of doing, but the rest of the league and the country will finally see ... "
Brown had a few ups and downs, but he was pretty solid for the most part. With a do-over, I'd probably award this to Dorin Dickerson.
Most exciting player: Noel Devine. "The West Virginia running back can seemingly turn any play into a home run and is a threat to reverse field and run by 11 defenders at any time."
Arguments could be made for Lewis, Jonathan Baldwin, Mardy Gilyard and others. But nothing wrong with this pick.
Coach of the year: Greg Schiano. "If Cincinnati's [Brian] Kelly wins this award a third straight time, they should just rename it after him."
And they should.
Game of the year: West Virginia at Rutgers, Dec. 5. "This could turn into the de facto Big East championship game that league officials try to set up every year."
Well, at least I had the date right. Sigh.
Surprise team of the year: Connecticut. "Simply because no one is talking about the Huskies, and Randy Edsall always fields a solid team."
I count this one as a win.
Team that will disappoint: South Florida. "This is a program that, while loaded with athletes, still has to prove it can compete beyond September."
At least I can correctly peg disappointments. Like my own predictions.