Hi, everyone. Let's go. The season's a week away and there's a lot going on.
Ivan, the Big 12 getting a lot of hype and some of it comes from adding WVU and TCU. WVU lost by 4 touchdowns to LSU, 4 touchdowns to Syracuse, lost to Lousiville and barely beat Cinn., South Florida and Pitt last year. Defense was weak and they have to replace a lot of them from last year as well as learn a new 3-4 defense. I think their big win over Clemson is giving them way to much attention. Not sure losing Nebraska and Colorado and picking up WVU and TCU makes them stronger. Your thoughts
I think, and Dana Holgersen says the same thing -- in fact, that's who I heard it from -- that it took WVU most of last season to get comfortable with his offense. Once the 'Eers got comfortable, they got very, very good. Most of those examples from last season happened in the first two-thirds of the season.
Ivan -- Do you think the public perception of Paterno et al is likely to shift as 1) people move beyond their initial, visceral reactions to the Sanduksy case; 2) Posnanski's book offers another perspective; and 3) Spanier (this morning) and Curley/Schultz (at trial) present a "defense" rebuttal to counter Freeh's "prosecution" argument?
I think so. I hope so. That's what should happen. I believe Paterno's 61 years of coaching, and all that he stood for, shouldn't be forgotten. His former players haven't wavered in their belief in him. I hope everyone, when the emotional sea calms, will consider the whole man.And the Freeh Report didn't exactly come down on stone tablets, either.
Please tell me Notre Dame won't use those ugly helmets in the Shamrock Series game!
I'll tell you that if you would like to hear it. To be honest, when I read all the reaction, I was prepared for the worst. I didn't think they were so bad.
Ivan, I listened to your Big Ten podcast and the ESPN bloggers seem really impressed with Michigan State. There are some tough challengers (Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin) but do you agree that the Spartans are the team to beat in the Big Ten this year?
I perenially underestimate the Spartans so I'm not the one to ask. But as you heard Monday, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett believe there's a lot of good going on in East Lansing. That's good enough for me. That, and I am not sold on the Badgers.
Ivan, I am really nervous about the Michigan game. I have read how the Bama offensive and defensive lines should dominate the game - but I remain concerned. Tell me that I am worried for nothing (or not!) Thanks so much.
I was surprised that Alabama started out as a 12-point favorite. Stunned, really. But Alabama does have an advantage at the line of scrimmage, on both sides. It will be great fun to see how much Denard Robinson can get done when plays break down, and to see what Nick Saban and Kirby Smart scheme to try to slow him down. I expect big things from Robinson this year.
Everyone is downplaying Boise State this year because of the loss of Kellen Moore. Why can't the program get more respect? We consistently win. Will people be back on the bandwagon when Boise beats Sparty?
No one remembers when Kellen Moore didn't play for Boise. No one remembers that Boise State won before Kellen Moore. Are there any shorter memories than the ones belonging to college football fans?
Will the Irish ever be a 10-win or better team with Brian Kelly as their coach?
Brian Kelly succeeded at every previous stop in a long coaching career. I can understand why Jack Swarbrick and the good fathers at ND hired him. He has made some curious decisions since he got there, but I don't think anyone is ever ready for that spotlight. I don't think ND wins 10 this year. Let's discuss this time next year. I want to see the young players and how they progress over the course of this season.
Why aren't you sold on Wisconsin? Back-to-back Rose Bowls not enough for you?
As I said in Three-Point Stance this week -- and I'm now posting it every day again -- you've got six new assistant coaches (out of nine), only six senior starters, a transfer quarterback who is not Russell Wilson (Danny O'Brien played decently at Maryland but there were questions about his leadership, an area in which Wilson thrived). I just have a lot of questions about the Badgers.
Ivan, some of the playoff talk has quieted down, but there is something that was never addressed during the debate. The SEC was a staunch supporter of a "best teams" system rather than a conference champion requirement. What bothers me is he SEC failed to address that they use a division champ method for the SEC championship. Thus, last year we saw #16 Georgia face #1 LSU. Shouldn't the SEC put their money where their mouth is and use a best team format to help assist the selection process. This would have placed LSU vs. Bama in the SEC game and possibly avoided imposing upon college football the worst championship game in history.
Bren, you're looking for consistency in an argument in a quasi-political debate. Um, good luck in your search.
They're not going to do that because Georgia won the SEC East. What the SEC suggested is sort of a wild-card format. And that's what we ended up with in a way. As long as it's not champions only, then someone could be a wild card.
Ivan, Rick Rilley's article on ND caused quite a stir. What is your take?
As with most columns that Reilly wrote, I wish I had written it.
Can you list the new coaches in the Pac-12 in which you think will be be most successful to least successful in year one and explain why.
I discussed this very topic today on the ESPNU College Football Podcast with Pac-12 bloggers Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell. They agreed that Mike Leach would turn Wash. State around quickly because there is some passing-game talent there. After that, I'd say Mora, if UCLA stays healthy, followed by Graham and Rich Rodriguez. I think Rodriguez will win at Arizona, but the transition is going to be ugly. He hasn't won in Year One in any coaching job. Everywhere but Michigan he won from Year Two on.
Ivan, don't sell yourself short. Overabundant use of simile does not a good column make.
Thanks, Lou. But I meant less style than content. Rick Reilly always has done a great job of pointing a spotlight at the elephant in the room -- and then describing the elephant in all its detail. Notre Dame is the middle of its longest drought of success in the history of the program, so long that today's players have no idea what made Notre Dame special for decades. That's worth writing about.
Where do you see the Gators this year? Are they back. Let me go on record and say LOOK OUT>>>
Florida will be better. I think I underestimated the amount of transition that would take place in going from Urban Meyer's spread offense to the more pro-set style that Will Muschamp likes (see Nick Saban and Alabama). The Gators will be better.
Your biggest sleeper team this year? Who is flying under the radar?
Good question. In terms of national title, I'd say West Virginia. Do I think it will happen? No. But that's the definition of a sleeper, isn't it?
How do you see the NC St/Tenn game playing out in week 1? Should be a great matchup IMO...
Big game. Huge game. Tennessee needs early success, and N.C. State has the most experienced offensive line in the nation protecting a veteran quarterback. I am anxious to see it.
So Michigan will lose to Alabama and not win the Big Ten but everybody has them as a top ten team?
Ah, the power of a BCS bowl win. The memory stretches across eight months. It's powerful stuff.
How many wins over quality opponents (Top 30) should a team have to considered "legit"? Or should we consider a team legit as they continue to rack up 10+ rent-a-wins a season?
Three? Four? As for your second question, I think 10 wins should be respected and is legit. But I think you should get more credit for beating good teams. (Duh.) I love it when teams are rewarded in the polls/BCS rankings for the strength of their schedules. It doesn't always happen but it happens more than it used to.
Ivan, maybe. But your point above regarding Paterno sheds light on your use of style and content - understanding that nothing exists in a vacuum. I don't think Reilly, or very many of your peers get that.
Some of that comes with experience. I've been doing this long enough that I have more to see and to compare to.
Ivan, if u picked one team not in the sec to win the NC....who would it be?
Oregon. Explosive on offense, deep on defense.
Is this the year the SEC doesn't win the national championship. Alabama lost a lot of players, but are still very talented. LSU I dont see as being as strong. Arkansas will be good but not the same if Petrino was there. South Carolina will find a few games to lose. Tennessee, Florida, Miss. State will all be good but not NC contenders. Outside a repeat from Alabama, Georgia seems to be their best chance and with Oklahoma, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin? Oregon? Florida State? (pretty easy schedule) What's your take on this?
To continue the previous question: I still think the SEC has the greatest number of powerful teams that will prepare each other over the course of the season for the BCS Championship Game. South Carolina -- add them to the dark horse list, as long as Marcus Lattimore resembles himself before the ACL tear. LSU may not be what it was last season, but that's the deepest defensive line in the SEC, which makes it the deepest in the nation.
which program would you say gets the most production out of the least amount of talent? and why do you think they are successful?
Boise State recruits players other teams on the west coast overlook. You can say that Boise State wins because its schedule isn't that tough. But those overlooked kids are coached well enough that the NFL ends up drafting them. NFL teams aren't thinking about the Broncos' strength of schedule. They are picking young guys who can play.
If John L. Smith and Arkansas finish 10-2 does he keep the job? If not, who are three names to keep an eye on for the Arkansas job?
I think if Arkansas goes 10-2, and John L wants to coach the Hogs again, he will be the coach.
When will teams stop with the uniform stuff? My Huskers wearing black helmets with N's on the front of the uniform? It's bad enough we lost to Northwestern last year but now this?
Nathan, coaches and athletic directors aren't wearing those uniforms to impress you or impress me. They are trying to get into the heads of 17-year-old recruits. Remember what you wore when you were 17? You've blocked it out of your head, right?
Is Charlie Strong gone after this year and where does he go?
For your sake, I hope not. The guy can coach.
You like Oregon more than SC? The Ducks lost LMJ & multi-year starter in Thomas while the Trojans return Barkley, Lee
I am not on the USC bandwagon. Lane Kiffin told me for a story I wrote last week that the Trojans will have 71 scholarship players. He wants to redshirt nine of them. I don't believe -- and a lot of coaches will agree with me -- that a 62-man team can survive a 14-game season intact.
Hey, everyone. Gotta hop. Thanks. Come back next week.