What's hot (and not) for 2011
What's hot in college football in 2011?
Florida State, the SEC, conference realignment, Oklahoma and the Iron Bowl.
Brawls in Baton Rouge, scandals at Ohio State and Miami, Nevin Shapiro and Legends & Leaders.
Here's a look at what's hot and what's not heading into the 2011 season:
WHAT'S HOT AND NOT FOR THE 2011 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON
HOT NOT 1. FSU: The Seminoles are ranked No. 5 in the preseason coaches' poll -- their highest preseason ranking since 2002 -- and are favorites to win the ACC. In his second season, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles back in the BCS national championship race. 1. LSU: The Tigers' promising season might be derailed by a late-night brawl, which allegedly involved senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson. LSU faces three ranked opponents -- No. 3 Oregon, No. 20 Mississippi State and No. 24 West Virginia -- in its first four games. 2. Transfers: A handful of transfer players are expected to make big impacts for their new teams this season: QB Russell Wilson (NC State to Wisconsin); LB Jarvis Jones (USC to Georgia); RB Zach Brown (Wisconsin to Pitt); OL Dan Wenger (Notre Dame to Florida) and QB Barry Brunetti (West Virginia to Ole Miss). 2. Exits: Bad decisions and poor behavior prematurely ended the college careers of a handful of players this summer. Among the talented players we won't see this season: Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, Florida CB Janoris Jenkins, Auburn S Mike McNeil, Arkansas OT Anthony Oden and Michigan WR Darryl Stonum. 3. SEC: The league goes for a sixth consecutive BCS national championship this season, and eight of its 12 teams are ranked in the preseason coaches' poll. 3. ACC: The league has never sent two teams to BCS bowls in the same season and hasn't won a BCS national title since FSU won in 1999. If recent transgressions are any indication, the ACC can't even cheat well, either. 4. Comebacks: A handful of impact players are coming back from injuries that caused them to miss all or a significant part of the 2010 season: Houston QB Case Keenum, Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist, Northwestern QB Dan Persa, Oregon State WR James Rodgers, Arkansas WR Greg Childs and Purdue RB Ralph Bolden. 4. Injuries: Injuries already have sidelined a number of expected starters for all or a significant part of this coming season: Arkansas RB Knile Davis, Alabama RB Dee Hart, Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis, Arizona State CB Omar Bolden, Boston College RB Montel Harris and Missouri OT Elvis Fisher. 5. Iron Bowl: Alabama won the 2009 BCS national championship. Auburn won the title in 2010 after rallying from a 24-point deficit to beat the Crimson Tide 28-27 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. As if the sport's hottest rivalry needed any more intensity. The teams meet again on Nov. 26 at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium. 5. Toomer's Corner: Harvey Updyke, a 62-year-old Alabama fan and former Texas state trooper, was charged this past spring with poisoning the beloved oak trees at Toomer's Coroner in Auburn. Updyke, who faces multiple felony counts for the act, has pleaded not guilty for reasons of mental disease or defect. 6. Kickoff games: The opening weekend of the 2011 season gives us a doubleheader of matchups involving ranked teams. No. 7 Boise State plays No. 22 Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome, and No. 3 Oregon plays No. 4 LSU at Jerry's World in Arlington, Texas. 6. Kickoffs: New rules changes prohibit teams from forming wedges on kickoff returns in an attempt to curtail concussions and violent collisions. Teams can't have players standing within 2 yards of one another on returns, and a handful of coaches have even proposed eliminating kickoffs altogether for safety reasons. 7. OU: The Sooners, who bring back eight starters on offense and seven on defense, begin the 2011 season ranked No. 1 in the preseason coaches' poll. Led by its high-powered offense, OU will be shooting for its first BCS national title since 2000. 7. OSU: Ohio State starts the season without Pryor and former coach Jim Tressel, who resigned this summer after he hid knowledge of NCAA rules violations. Four other starters, including RB Boom Herron and WR DeVier Posey, are suspended for the first five games. 8. Realignment: A number of FBS schools have new addresses this season: Boise State moves from the WAC to the Mountain West, Utah from the MWC to the Pac-12, Colorado from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, Nebraska from the Big 12 to the Big Ten and BYU from the MWC to independence. 8. Contraction: Because of concerns about the Longhorn Network and other perceived concessions given to Texas, Texas A&M is threatening to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012. SEC presidents took no action during a recent meeting, but the Aggies' potential exit threatens the Big 12's long-term health. 9. Interim coaches: Ohio State and North Carolina go into the 2012 season with interim coaches. Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell replaced Tressel, who resigned in late May. UNC also promoted defensive coordinator Everett Withers to interim coach after Butch Davis was fired in late July. 9. Coaches-in-waiting: The recent trend of hiring a coach's successor before he retires has apparently come to an abrupt end. West Virginia handed its program to coach-in-waiting Dana Holgorsen a year early after former coach Bill Stewart was accused of trying to sabotage his eventual successor. 10. Hello, again: A trio of former head coaches were given second chances at new schools. Former Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni was hired at Connecticut; former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney was hired at North Texas; and former New Mexico coach Rocky Long landed at San Diego State. 10. Goodbyes: A few of the coaches we'll miss this season after they resigned, retired or were fired: Dan Hawkins (Colorado), Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Urban Meyer (Florida), Randy Shannon (Miami), Rich Rodriguez (Michigan), Bill Lynch (Indiana) and Butch Davis (North Carolina). 11. Landry & Luck: Quarterbacks Landry Jones of Oklahoma and Andrew Luck of Stanford enter the season as Heisman Trophy favorites along with Oregon RB LaMichael James, Alabama RB Trent Richardson, Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon and Boise State QB Kellen Moore. 11. Legends & Leaders: The Big Ten was criticized for the names of its new divisions and deservedly so. Because of the 12-team league's geography, East and West and North and South wouldn't work. But given the conference's postseason and offseason, Losers and Liars might have been more appropriate. 12. Miami (Ohio): The RedHawks have a new coach, former Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, and 17 starters coming back from a team that went 10-4 in 2010. The RedHawks were the first team in NCAA history to go from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons. Plus, it's Miami, Ohio and not Miami, Florida. 12. Miami: NCAA president Mark Emmert says the death penalty isn't dead after all. If there's a shred of truth to Miami booster Nevin Shapiro's claims, the Hurricanes will really be sweating in front of the NCAA infractions committee sometime soon. UM also might enter the 2011 season without 12 players, including several projected starters. 13. Thanksgiving Day weekend: We'll see Texas at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day night. On Black Friday: Pitt at West Virginia, Iowa at Nebraska and Arkansas at LSU. On Saturday, Nov. 26: Alabama at Auburn, FSU at Florida, Notre Dame at Stanford, Oregon State at Oregon and Ohio State at Michigan. 13. Halloween: There might be a few tricks, but not many treats on Oct. 31. We get five straight days of college football from Oct. 25 to Oct. 29, but none on Oct. 30 or Oct. 31. You'll need the extra rest for Nov. 5, when Texas A&M plays at Oklahoma and LSU plays at Alabama. 14. Al Golden: Under the collar, after not being informed that Miami had a potential NCAA issue when the Hurricanes lured him away from Temple. 14. Denard Robinson: Under center, where the most mobile quarterback in America will take more snaps this year in a change of offensive philosophy under new Michigan coach Brady Hoke. 15. Andrew Luck: He won legions of fans after bypassing being the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL draft to return to Stanford for his junior season for another shot at the Rose Bowl or BCS title game. 15. Oliver Luck: The West Virginia athletic director -- and Stanford quarterback's father -- hasn't made many friends at his alma mater after hiring Holgorsen and bringing beer sales to Milan Puskar Stadium. 16. Big Blue: Michigan hasn't beaten Ohio State in more than 2,800 days, but you wouldn't know it. The Wolverines are excited about Hoke's arrival from San Diego State; the Buckeyes are dreading their NCAA infractions committee hearing. 16. Blue turf: The Mountain West Conference has banned Boise State from wearing its blue uniforms during conference games on the blue artificial turf of Bronco Stadium. Opponents claimed the blue uniforms gave the Broncos a competitive advantage. 17. Miami parties: Court documents indicate that Shapiro showered Miami football players with prostitutes, cash and liquor during parties at his $6 million mansion and on his $1.6 million yacht. Shapiro also entertained players at high-priced restaurants and strip clubs with the money he scammed from investors. 17. Celebrations: New anti-taunting rules give game officials authority to take points off the scoreboard if a player starts celebrating before crossing the goal line on a touchdown. What used to be a dead-ball penalty is now a live-ball infraction and one that is certain to leave coaches steaming mad. 18. New stadiums: Florida Atlantic and North Texas open new on-campus stadiums this season, and both have capacities around 30,000 seats. FAU Stadium will showcase coach Howard Schnellenberger's final season; Apogee Stadium will showcase McCarney's first season with the Mean Green. 18. New trophies: Who would have ever imagined that a trophy featuring a family circled around a bushel of corn would spark such outrage? The new Cy-Hawk Trophy is being redesigned by the Iowa Corn Growers Association after fans from Iowa and Iowa State complained about the new design. 19. TV monitors: New NCAA rules allow coaches to have TV monitors in the coaches' box to determine whether a play should be challenged. Only live feeds of games are allowed -- no rewinding is allowed -- and visiting coaches must have equal access. 19. Twitter: Boise State's Chris Petersen, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and Kansas' Turner Gill have banned their players from using Twitter and other social media. It might be a smart move after Twitter sparked the NCAA's investigation of UNC.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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