Tonight marks the beginning of college football (can I get a Woo!!!), thus ending the purgatory of baseball exclusivity. Unfortunately, we still have two more days to wait until the Vols hit the gridiron in earnest, but I'm sure that's not going to stop any of you from enjoying real, non-scrimmage, non-preseason football.
In the anticipation of the first season under Lane Kiffin for the Tennessee Volunteers, we haven't spent much time thinking about the rest of the college football landscape around here. But with tonight's games serving as the official welcome into the 2009 season (and serving as the opening act for the Volunteers on Saturday!), we'd like to share a few of our non-UT hopes for this year in football.
- No more Lou Holtz. At least not in a might-be-taken-seriously-by-casual-observers role. What Holtz is doing is comedy, intentional or otherwise. And as such, he can be entertaining. Just stop propping him up next to others who are supposed to be giving their "expert" opinions.
- 10 SEC teams go bowling. It's the unrealized dream: the SEC has 8 bowl tie-ins, plus the champion goes to the BCS. So if the conference can land two teams in the BCS via an at-large bid and then get 8 other teams eligible, they would do what no other conference has ever done by placing 10 teams in the postseason. And with apologies to Dan Mullen and the loser of Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt, it's a real possibility this year.
- Broken Strangleholds. Someone other than OU/Texas wins the Big 12. Someone other than USC wins the Pac-10. Someone other than Ohio State/Penn State wins the Big 10. Say what you will about the strength of the Gators in our beloved conference, but seven different teams have played in Atlanta in the last five years. By contrast, either Texas or Oklahoma has won the Big 12 South in each of the last eleven years. USC has won the Pac-10 seven years in a row. Ohio State and Penn State have won/shared the last four Big 10 titles. The best thing that ever happened to the SEC was the rest of the conference catching up to Florida and Tennessee once this decade rolled around. If the rest of these leagues want to be like the big boys, they need greater parity and greater competition to follow suit. So let's hear it for Oklahoma State, Oregon & Cal, and...well, looks like five in a row for OSU/PSU, but two out of three ain't bad.
- The Big East gets its act together. I'm all for the Mountain West being good, but not at the cost of another conference being lousy. We want college football to be as good as it can be, which means we need the Big East to pull its own weight. It seems like just yesterday when Louisville and West Virginia had the nation's full attention on a Thursday night. Now they have zero teams ranked in the preseason polls. They don't need one team to beat up the rest of the league for an inflated 11-1 finish. They need the whole conference to win out of conference, and then make some noise in January. Get it together.
- End Zone Camera Angles. The Doc got it right on this one, as well as almost every football video game not named Tecmo Bowl. Heck, even the video games have given up sideline views for standard playing action, reserving such cameras for replays. So if the networks insist on the sideline view for normal action, they could at least give the replays from the end zone, especially for running plays. All of a sudden, line play is understandable, we can see what the quarterback sees, and explaining football to novices becomes much easier. Just compare the standard angle to the end zone angle for the same play.
- The end of cheap Erin Andrews blog links. Yes, she's pretty. She talks sports. She's pretty. What more does a guy want? But to be honest, I'm beyond tired of having my feed reader loaded up with a dozen articles with ERIN ANDREWS typed all over the place for the sake of ginning up cheap site visits. I ignore them, and I've basically quit reading a couple feeds because it got to be too much.
- The end of Notre Dame overhype. This might actually be in the works, finally. With ESPN now sporting SEC apparel, they have a little less interest in droning on about NBC's favorite overrated team. Even if that means they'll be too forgiving of the SEC's faults, at least they'll be praising a conference that consistently places multiple teams in the top 10 versus a single team that can only achieve high rankings through a diet of handpicked cupcakes off the day-old bakery rack. We'll still hear about Notre Dame, and that's fine, but I'd like it to be in perspective for a change.
An undefeated mid-major. Again. I have to tell you, I'm really digging the success that Boise State and parts of the MWC have had, and I hope it continues. Eventually, people will catch on that BYU, Utah, and TCU actually have really nice facilities to go with well-funded programs and understand that there's no reason these teams can't be esteemed alongside the majors. Since the dissolution of the WAC Super
fiascoconference, the MWC has consistently made great decisions and they'll be in-line for the mythical seventh automatic qualifier in 2012 if they bring Boise State into the conference at the right time.
- Auburn's offense. Okay, so Gene Chizik is as interesting as dry white toast on a paper plate, but it will certainly be interesting to see if Gus Malzahn, whose offense at Tulsa in 2008 was first in the nation, can have success with the same system in the SEC. Plus, Trooper Taylor's on the sideline, and, well, I'm a fan.
- LSU's defense. If it wasn't for John Chavis, the Season of Constant Sorrow could have easily been the Never-Ending Season of Unimaginable and Infinite Distress So Intense It Makes You Want to Rip Out Your Intestines with a Fork. Even the acronym gets a bit unwieldy with that one. Anyway, Chavis landed on his feet at LSU (isn't he just like a cat?!), and I'm anxious to see what he can do with all of that local talent right in his back yard. Um, swamp. Whatever.
- The Red River Rivalry. I don't often get into non-SEC rivalries, but this one's always sort of been on the radar, and this year, chances are that it will not only be a major conference rivalry that gets national attention, it will likely involve two top five teams.
- More Lou Holtz, continued strangleholds and Big East and mid-major FAIL, excessive Notre Dame hype, boring camera angles, and ERIN PAGEVIEWS ANDREWS. Hmm. I am learning that I feel exceedingly contrary between 11:22 and 11:24 in the evening when both my router and modem give up the ghost.