1) How will Michigan perform this year, and who will lead the Wolverines out of the tunnel on opening day 2011?
HOWEVA, the 2010
Looking at the schedule, I’m thinking 6-6, with 7-5 or 5-7 as real possibilities. We’ll know quite a bit about how the season will go in the first two weeks – UCONN at home and ND in
Matt: I think Doug alluded to this earlier in the year, but hasn’t the Rich-Rod tenure at
Is it possible that Pat White made Rod look a lot better than he was? I mean that White – Slaton combo was deadly for a few years and singlehandedly won
As for this season, to me it boils down to one game – the home opener against UConn. As every ND fan now knows, UConn is a frisky well-coached team that is more than capable of walking into the Big House and winning. If UM loses that game, then goes on the road to
Doug: Hands down the most intriguing story of the 2010 college football season will take place all fall in
To just make a bowl game,
I have come to think that hiring Rich Rodriguez was the wrong move, and that the situation is unredeemable. I don't think he can win a Big Ten championship at
That's why I think
Harbaugh is the guy. He embraces the pro style, he's a great recruiter, he's got the bloodlines and NFL pedigree, he's smashmouth, and he's got the passion and fire and bravado to be another Bo Schembechler. He would call out Jim Tressel on the very first day and embrace the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Rodriguez couldn't be less interested in embracing the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. I get the impression he'd rather just drop
Jim Harbaugh vs. Brian Kelly would be a fascinating rivalry if we retain the
Jimmy: Ann Arbor's stuck-in-the-mud syndrome isn't going away this year. While I think Dick Rod is a capable coach and will find success at his next stop, fate has frowned on his tenure. It would take a tsunami-type shift for Rodriguez to convince the fanbase (and more important, the UM powers-that-be) that he can rise to Michigan's standards. Anything short of 8 wins should be lights out for the R.R. Era. In a way, Michigan fans should hope the end comes soon in hopes to lure Jim Harbaugh back to his alma mater before the NFL lures him away from Palo Alto. Michigan is probably Harbaugh's only destination job in the college ranks.
2) Thoughts on the post-Tim Tebow era at Florida. Business as usual or a step back?? Do you think Tebow made Urban or Urban made Tebow??
Jeremy: Someone from NDNation clipped and posted the 1st series from the 2000 Stanford game the other day. Why is this pertinent? If you watch the clip closely, you’ll see a young Urban Meyer stalking the sidelines and congratulating Matt LoVecchio after the freshman led the Irish right down the field to score on the first possession of the game. Meyer famously scripted the first drive, which didn’t at all resemble any previous iteration of a Bob Davie/Kevin Rogers offense. During the drive, Meyer and LoVecchio show flashes of what’s become the famous Urban version of the spread – some read option, QB runs/draws, quick throws, etc. Granted, this was a Willingham/Baer Stanford defense, but LoVecchio (a lightly recruited QB making his first collegiate start) went through it like a hot knife through butter.
If this clip tells us anything, its that Urban can turn anyone into a serviceable QB. And John Brantley was one of the highest rated signal callers in his HS class. We might not see as many QB sneaks with Brantley, but I have no doubt that Meyer will have the Gator offense running on all cylinders by mid-October. Although Tim Tebow may have been a perfect fit for his offense, Urban Meyer is the one who makes it all click. I don’t think they’re going to miss a beat.
Matt: At this point, don’t you kind of have to give the benefit of the doubt to Urban? I mean he’s won everywhere he’s been, with all kinds of talent around him. On the other hand, he has ALWAYS had a great QB to go along with him. Even at
If I learned anything in business school, it’s the value of the two words: “it depends.” You can look at the question either way and justify it. Urban gets the best out of his quarterbacks in a stat-friendly college system that appears to leave the guys unprepared for a bright NFL future. I mean the people who could look at tape and say that Tim Tebow was more NFL-prepared than Jimmy Clausen was are nuts. JC made all the throws you need to make in the pros, while Tebow was bulling people over like he was Jerome Bettis and throwing those ridiculous jump passes. If you want to project Tebow long-term, or you value his versatility, that’s fine, but don’t say with a straight face that he is a better pro prospect than a guy like Clausen.
On the other hand, there is no denying the pure talent that Meyer recruits at QB, guys who fit into his system. That’s why this year will be interesting because John Brantley appears to be a more traditional QB who will look to pass more than run. I say it’s business as usual for
Doug: Urban Meyer's greatness in college football can be summed up in two words: Alex Smith. Look no further than that to get a feel for why Urban Meyer has won 2 national titles and a slew of BCS bowls/conference titles, etc in a very limited time span as a head coach. He turned Alex freaking Smith into the #1 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. One of the more bizarre picks of all time in retrospect. A guy who had one huge year under Urban Meyer and parlayed that into a $50 million contract. More power to him, but that pick was insane. He was just some dude who got great coaching and played in an offense conducive to his run/pass skills. He should write Urban Meyer a thank you letter once a week for coming into his life when he did.
Assuming Urban Meyer is healthy and motivated (more on that in a second), there isn't even a doubt in my mind that the Florida Gators are going to remain a dominant program. The guy is 57-10 in five years at
Is Tim Tebow a legend at
Urban Meyer's secret is an obsessive attention to detail.
The ONLY thing I would throw out there that gives me pause is that Urban Meyer loses his edge because of this health/nervous breakdown stuff. He is wired so tight that he really can't be this relaxed, mellow guy. If he tries that, then he's not Urban Meyer. It's like Tiger Woods. Tiger has to be "super intense, live hard, play hard, practice like an animal and be super competitive about everything from golf to gambling to women" Tiger to be a champion golfer. Anything less, and he's just another guy out there on tour. Same with Urban. If he tries to dial it back, it won't work. So that could be interesting. Guess we'll find out this year how he approaches things.
Jimmy: I expect a small step back for the Gators because Tebow's leadership at the most important position was out of this world. It permeated through the whole team, without question. But talent flocks to Gainesville like the salmon of capistrano. Urban need not worry. He's proved he can build winners with multiple QBs (see: J. Harris, A. Smith, C. Leak). 'Bama is ahead of them in the SEC, but that's probably it. Florida probably just misses out on a BCS game because of a couple close losses, but punishes whichever school they face in a New Year's Day bowl.
3) Who do you like the most as an NFL QB prospect: Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet or Andrew Luck??
Jeremy: At gunpoint, I suppose I’d go with Locker, but I don’t feel terribly confident about that pick right now. Another year with Sarkisian should help immensely, but he’s still pretty rough around the edges, and his completion %’s aren’t anything special. But he’s better than the alternatives – Mallett’s got a cannon, but a ten-cent head. What has Luck done to garner all this hype? He’s got great size and a good arm, but he spent most of last year turning around and handing off to one of the best RBs in the country.
Matt: I’ve got to be perfectly honest. Andrew Luck is a complete unknown to me. I guess the guy was ok against ND last year, but my lasting memory of that game was Toby Gerhart tearing up the ND defense, not anything that Luck did. (Looked it up – 0 TD’s, 0 INT’s). Outside of that, I haven’t seen him play. I’m just skeptical that he could be another Trent Edwards, so for now I’m going to leave him out of this discussion.
So now the question is Locker vs. Mallett. And the answer is clear as day. Ryan Mallett, Ryan Mallett, Ryan Mallett. He is the traditional drop-back pocket passer that thrives in the NFL. Seriously, when was the last dual threat QB that has thrived in the league? Michael Vick? I don’t know, maybe I’m overstating it, or underestimating Locker’s ability. But it seems like every Locker highlight I saw he was making plays with his legs, not his arm. He threw 22 td’s and 11 int’s last year. Decent, but nothing jaw-dropping. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen enough of Locker to buy into all the hype that he is the #1 pick, but if you’re forcing me to pick, I’ll go Ryan Mallett
Doug: Well, I'm torn on a couple of these guys, but not all three. I'll eliminate Andrew Luck for one reason. I don't know anything about this guy!! When did Andrew Luck start getting so much hype?? I don't even remember him at all last year, and ND played Stanford and gave up 45 points to them. I admittedly had a few cocktails in me that night, so I went back and looked at the box score to see how Andrew Luck performed:
14 for 20 for 198 yards, 0 tds, 0 INTS.
I know Toby Gerhart destroyed us that day, but those are really pedestrian numbers. In fact, Andrew Luck's numbers are pretty pedestrian all the way throughout the year. I'll need to watch this guy in 2010 more closely to see what all the fuss is about. Kiper seems to think he could be the #1 overall player. I'm cautious about him for now.
I really enjoyed watching Ryan Mallett and that
I guess I'll go chalk here and go with Jake Locker just because I was impressed with him against ND last year (note that people said this about Jamarcus Russell, so that could be a bad sign). I just liked how he carried himself, and I thought he made a ton of big plays against us. He also made some great plays where guys dropped balls right in their hands. His INT numbers worry me I guess, but I like Steve Sarkisian as a coach. I said last year that Locker reminded me of the right-handed Mark Brunell. A really strong guy who can move but also can throw accurately. I consider that comparison to be a compliment as a Bengals fan who watched Brunell a lot back in the 90s.
Jury is out on this question though for me. I'm glad we get another year to watch them before the NFL Draft.
Jimmy: I'm feelin' Luck(y). Great QBs have a name and vibe to them & Luck has that intangible in spades. He's got an excellent mentor in Captain Comeback bringing him along. He's only a sophomore, so by the time he enter the NFL, he could be special. I like the moxie of Locker and his tutelage under Sarkisian. It's not a stretch to see him as a decent starter in the league, but he didn't make the jump from '08 to '09 that I expected. Mallett has the prototypical frame of a stud QB, but what he has in arm strength he lacks in leadership and managing a game. I think he'll fare better than OfftheMarcus Russell, but that's not saying much. His best case scenario is a Jeff Georgian career, if he can grow the requisite 'stache-mullet combo.
4) How did you feel about conference realignment? What conferences/schools benefited?? Do you think this is the end?? Will the Big 12 exist in five years??
Jeremy: I could really care less, as long as ND stays out of the mess.
The biggest winner was probably
Matt: The whole business of conferences going after schools for their geography rather than performance is a little unsettling for me. I mean the Pac-10 was slobbering for
With that said, I think there were a few clear winners. The biggest is
I’m reluctant to put
Doug: I think the big winners are ND and the Big 10. For ND, the status quo is to our benefit. Independent in football, NBC contract, and Big East for other sports. As long as we stay independent in football, I don't care that much about anything else. I wavered on this subject for awhile, but I've come to believe that our entire identity is wrapped around our independence: our fans, our national profile, our national recruiting, and our ability to schedule marquee games around the country. Without independence, none of that exists.
I also think the Big Ten came out like bandits in this thing. Are you kidding me??
Speaking of the Big Ten championship game, that's another big plus for the Big Ten. How great is that going to be?? For a guy living in
I also feel like the Big Ten dealt a huge blow to the Big 12. The Big 12 has lost a considerable amount of prestige. No more Big 12 championship game, no
If anything, that's probably why
I also think the Big 12 is here to stay for awhile. Where else are
Jimmy: Realignment was inevitable as greed dictates these decisions more than anything. At least the moves made sense for the most part. Nebraska's a good conference fit for the Big 10. Utah and Colorado are solid state school additions to the Pac 10, though the 2 divisions disrupts a good thing with all conference teams playing each other. I like the Big 10 initiative to play 9 league games a year. The Big East is unsustainable - I expect that breakup to start another domino effect in a few years. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of money-grabbing "non-profit" universities jockeying for position in the ever-growing goldmine that is college football. In 10-15 years, the conference landscape will be radically different.
5) Who is your sleeper team in 2010 that is flying under the radar, but could end up a top 10 (top 5?) team??
Jeremy: I don’t think they’re going to make it into the Top 10, but the Middies could be a Top 20 team by the time the Irish roll into the Meadowlands towards the end of October. Ricky Dobbs runs the option as well as anyone not named Tommie Frazier. The schedule doesn’t provide too many opportunities for big wins, but victories over Wake and
Matt: I really thought hard about this one, and I was looking for a few things. Do they have a solid QB coming back? Is the schedule manageable? How was the defense last year? With that being said, my two sleepers for 2010 are…
The USF defense ranked a surprising 24th nationally last year, so they should be ok in that department despite losing manchild Jason Pierre-Paul (watch out for that guy in the NFL). Plus, that roster is just oozing…um athleticism…and dreads and tats. You get my drift.
And finally, the schedule. The nonconference is three cupcakes and a biggie. September 11th, in the Swamp, against the mighty Gators. Wow. You better believe I’ll be in front of a TV for that one. No better chance to make a national statement early in the season. Kind of like what they did against
Second, the defense was a stellar 15th in the country last year, often times keeping them in games they had no business winning, namely against
(Side note: Isn’t it odd that there are two stadiums known as
Doug: I'll start with an overrated team:
I also think Pitt will underachieve. Nice team, but I think they are a little overrated. New QB (admittedly Bill Stull was horrible), they replace some big uglies up front. People are hyping up Pitt this year, but I could see them at 2-3 after five games. BRUTAL nonconference schedule. @Utah,
Here's my super sleeper:
The Florida State Seminoles
Just got a feeling that Jimbo Fisher is about to restore the luster in
If you watched
By the way, September 11 is just an incredible day of college football. Look at these matchups:
Are you kidding me?? That is as good a collection of nonconference games as I've ever seen in one day. If you're really feeling frisky, throw in USC-Virginia at 10:30pm. Might be watching that late into the night at Between the Buns.
I also like Wisconsin. Led by a veteran QB in Scott Tolzien and Big John Clay acting like Ron Dayne incarnate, the Badgers are a sleeping giant. Granted, they're ranked just outside the top 10 to start so they're not exactly sneaking up on people, but they still fly under the radar on the national scene. They get the Buckeyes at home in prime time and don't have Penn State on the schedule. Send the Grateful Red spilling into the streets of Madison with a rousing victory (and avoid a letdown the following week at Iowa) and the Bret Bielema could cannonball into the BCS pool.
Part 2 to come Friday...