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Monday, May 20, 2013
Updated: May 21, 10:11 AM ET
The joy of spring punditry

By Ted Miller
ESPN.com

Want a good laugh? Last year ESPN.com's SEC blog predicted in the preseason that Arkansas would beat either Alabama or LSU.

Ha!

Not to be outdone in prognosticative tomfoolery, the Big Ten blog picked Michigan State to win the conference. What were those guys thinking?

But here's the best one. One of the doofuses running the Pac-12 blog -- name slips me -- typed this:

Everyone in the country knows the program and conference that is going to end the SEC's run. Shoot, it's practically a done deal, at least since Matt Barkley stood in front of a Christmas tree and announced that he was coming back for his senior season to crush his enemies, see them driven before him and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery
So about that idea that Arkansas would be LSU last season ...

That's priceless, though perhaps the silly writer can be treated charitably for dropping in a "Conan the Barbarian" reference. No? Oh well.

If you can pause your guffawing, think of your May 20, 2012 self for a moment. Who did you foresee winning the national title? Or the Heisman Trophy? How did you expect the season to play out?

It was pretty darn crowded on the USC/Barkley bandwagon a year ago. Yet when the Trojans' broken, burning and then-empty cart -- almost mercifully -- went all "Thelma & Louise" during a Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech, a curious suffusion of "I told you sos" appeared from the mist. But, really, the naysayers in May of 2012 were few and far between. Most were just partisans of other programs and conferences who see college football through [insert team color] lenses.

The lesson is that much of what you think you know in the college football preseason ends up being hooey, which is part of the fun.

Who predicted Johnny Manziel, an unknown redshirt freshman at Texas A&M, which was supposed to get pushed around during its first SEC go-around, would win the 2012 Heisman Trophy? The list of top candidates behind Barkley last preseason included a lot of perfectly reasonable names -- Denard Robinson, Montee Ball, Laundry Jones, De'Anthony Thomas -- none of whom finished in the top 10. And which lists included finalists Manti Te'o and Collin Klein?

Three of the 2012 preseason AP top-four failed to end up in the postseason AP top-10 (USC, LSU and Oklahoma). Seven teams in the preseason top-15 finished with at least four defeats.

If you went through the 2012 preseason power rankings of each of ESPN.com's conference bloggers, you would find a very, very wrong pick in the top three, in addition to the aforementioned USC and Michigan State: Virginia Tech! West Virginia! South Florida! Arkansas! Each of which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.

You get the point. There's a lot of wrongness in so-called punditry, which seems to provide great joy to many of you.

So where will your gentle and well-meaning college football writers fall short this fall?

The top-five of Mark Schlabach's Way Too Early Top 25 at the end of spring practices went like this: 1. Ohio State; 2. Alabama; 3. Oregon; 4. Louisville; 5. Stanford. Your bloggers picked Clemson to win the ACC, Louisville to win the Big East, Oklahoma State to win the Big 12, Ohio State to win the Big Ten, Stanford to win the Pac-12 and Alabama to win the SEC.

Someone -- probably a couple of someones -- is going to face plant with said pick. Thankfully, you will be here to tell us.

Barkley
Matt Barkley's Heisman campaign flamed out quickly as USC faultered down the stretch.

What about the Heisman? Most would write Manziel at the top, with Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, Georgia QB Aaron Murray, Alabama QB AJ McCarron and South Carolina freakazoid Jadeveon Clowney among the favorites.

A good list. But it's just as likely the field would be a better bet. And you can count on a few of those above guys having hugely disappointing seasons.

Because that's the way college football goes.

Of course, sometimes the punditry nails one.

Our friends at the SEC blog last year proved to be too optimistic about post-L'Affaire de Bobby Petrino Arkansas. But that wasn't their No. 1 prediction. That was: "The SEC will make it seven in a row."

Winner!

Here's a prediction that the SEC blog will look into its crystal ball this August and project No. 8.