The eve of college football season

College football season is almost upon us, and man, am I excited.  This is clearly my most favorite sport.  Being a USC alum, I’m a big USC fan.  No doubt this year will bring another round of ridiculous BCS drama, but the excitement on the field is the best part.  More than any other sport, college football seems to combine the possibility of anything-can-happen with huge stakes.  (One loss, and you very well might be out of contention for the championship.  That said, a 4- or 6-team playoff at the end of the season would not change that).  I hear from friends back in Texas that the UT fans have already penciled them in for the BCS title game, and that Colt McCoy has already won the Heisman.  Obnoxious as always – it’s not even clear they’re the best team in their conference.

Speaking of conferences, I’m sure the SEC and Big 12 will be the media favorites for “toughest conference” yet again.  The SEC may have a legitimate point — the Big 12 pretty much never does.  Those teams always schedule nobodies out-of-conference (I’m sure UT will have quite the challenge against UL-Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP, and UCF), start 6-0 or 5-1, and bunch up near the top of the rankings.  It happened last year with Oklahoma, UT, and Oklahoma State, and I’m predicting it will happen again.  It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Big 12 looks like one of the best conferences in the country because they have inflated records.  Oh wow!  #4 Texas (who has played nobody) beat #6 Oklahoma (who also has played nobody)!  What an impressive top-10 win!

Apparently the trick is to ride your fat record and media campaign to a top-10 ranking, and then whine about being kept out of the BCS championship if pollsters have the temerity to see through your smoke screen.  (At least, that seems to be Mack Brown’s MO.  I was truly moved by his inspired attack on the legitimacy of the BCS system last year, after being utterly silent in 2004 when USC was locked out of the BCS title game despite being ranked #1 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls).  Kansas State perfected the inflated-record-to-undeserved-rankings system in the 90s, but the entire Big 12 seems to have adopted it, and it borders on collusion.  If all the teams do this, and several can manage to get ranked in the top-10, by the time they play each other they’re already in the discussion for the BCS title game.  But who knows, maybe the Big 12 teams can manage to do better than .500 in the bowls against other conferences this year.

Likewise, I’m looking forward to another year of USC being labeled the best team in the worst major conference.  Hey, at least they’re the best.  It’s the reason that USC was never seriously considered for the BCS title last year (whatever, after 2004, I know that any loss almost certainly disqualifies a Pac-10 team), and given the competition, I didn’t have a real complaint with that.  But here’s a little reminder for would-be Pac-10 detractors for 2009:  if your team played a Pac-10 team last year in a bowl game, they lost.

I’d like to think the 5-0 Pac-10 record during bowl season will win the prestige necessary to carry its teams to championship contention if things get tight, but in reality, I’m just most excited about the competition on the field.  I’m skeptical about USC’s true-freshman quarterback.  Recent history shows us that any time the USC QB’s job is described as “managing the game” and “being a caretaker”, they aren’t winning the championship (John David Booty comes to mind).  That, and the star receiver is injured & out for the first four games (that’s gonna hurt against Ohio State).  There are a huge number of questions this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of those answered Saturday.

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.