The uncertainty surrounding the Big 12 hasn’t diluted the brand power of
Doug: Truthfully, I thought about saying USC here because I still think USC is the most glamorous program in college football. The talent in
I also thought about
I even gave consideration to Notre Dame. Say what you want, but I still think coaching at ND can be the best job in the country if you can do it the right way. No coach gets more attention than the ND coach. Look at ESPN. They've been airing all kinds of Brian Kelly stuff all offseason even though we've been 15-21 the last three years.
I'll go with
7 straight WAC Championships, dating back to 2002, and 2 Big West titles before that in '99 and '00. Since '99, Boise St has lost a total of 5 conference games. Their home record in Bronco Stadium over that same period is an astonishing 64-2 (Yes, I realize no power conference teams in their right mind are clamoring to square off on that imposing blue turf, but that's an impressive mark regardless). Building on the foundation laid by Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins, Chris Petersen has established a remarkable program that's become the nation's darling. He's 49-4 in 5 seasons at the helm with two Fiesta Bowl feathers in his cap and a pair of top 5 finishes.
Boise St. joins the Mountain West next year in their swift ascent up the power conference ladder. They're not afraid to play anybody, beefing up their non-conference slate to compensate for the dearth of MWC talent. They've become the Gonzaga of college football, a west coast hidden gem that still surprises people. Because they're well-coached, they win every game they should and enjoy taking their best shots against top teams. There's zero shame if they fall short against the Virginia Techs & Oklahomas - they're supposed to lose. But when they win, it's huge news. They may not draw the daily (hourly? minutely?) attention the usual suspects attract, but that's not a bad thing. It means Petersen has more time to do his job and keep finding ways for David to beat Goliath, even if this David squats 500 lbs. and has a 42 inch vertical. Not a bad gig, I say.
7) Will USC remain the power program in the Pac-1o over the next five years under Lane Kiffin?? If not, who??
Jeremy: I’m pushing a serious stack of chips to the middle on Chip Kelly and the Ducks. He got off to a rough start last year, but sure enough, by the end of the year,
I’m loving the conspiracy theories surrounding the SC program right now. For example, Haden quietly pushing for Kiffin to be hired as HC, so that Haden (as AD) could then turn around and clean house after one year under the guise of “reform.” I don’t believe that the Trojans are going to fall apart, but even that program can’t keep up the pace with all those scholarship reductions. The next few years in
Matt: I think the days of USC being a national championship contender every single year could be done for now. Part of the allure of USC was their
The other part of the equation is that Lane Kiffin is a huge unknown. He can’t get out of his own way, and this has been going on for a few years now. The latest blowup with USC alum and universally respected Jeff Fisher is just another black mark on his somewhat tarnished resume. And on top of all that, the GUY HAS NEVER WON ANYWHERE! So forgive me if I take a wait and see approach before I declare that the Trojan dynasty will just march on under Kiffin’s watch.
Doug: No. I can't see USC having another Pete Carroll type run under Lane Kiffin. I think he'll recruit well, probably have good defenses, but they won't have that aura and magic that Pete Carroll's teams did. Kiffin is a poor man's Pete Carroll. Maybe even a homeless man's Pete Carroll. Even though he has put together a good staff with Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin, you need that straw to stir the drink.
Plus, the probation will probably be damaging over time. Once you start losing numbers, it takes away from the "culture of competition" and all that. I see USC being much more up and down under Kiffin. Probably in the 8-9 win range with maybe a Rose Bowl in there somewhere, but also easily capable of being a 5-6 win team as well.
I think the Pac 10 is going to muddle through another decade like the 90s where no one takes the crown for any extended period of time. Maybe
Ultimately, the Pac 10 needs USC to be USC. This is not good for the Pac 10 for USC to be down. Maybe for a little while because new programs rise to the forefront, but USC is the anchor program in that league. If USC isn't relevant, people don't really pay attention to the Pac 10. Imagine the attendance for an Oregon State-Stanford Pac 10 championship game in a couple years if you put that thing in
I expect USC to resurrect, but not in the Lane Kiffin era. Always good to be "the guy after The Guy."
Oregon is the early favorite to wrestle the Pac-10 belt away from Troy. They could very easily settle into a nice little dynasty, but I see more of a parity-driven conference over the next decade, and beyond. Utah will contend immediately upon entering the conference with Washington and UCLA in the mix at the top as well. USC will compete, don't get me wrong, but their alpha dog status has been neutered for the time being.
8) Which of these slumping SEC programs is most likely to win an SEC championship in the next five years: Auburn, Tennessee, LSU or Georgia??
Jeremy: I was tempted to choose
Matt: Great Question! To me, winning in the next five years comes down to a few things. Is the right coach in place, and is the program already on the right path to contending a few years down the road. Obviously winning an SEC banner would mean taking out the big boys in
Coaches: Two contrasting groups of coaches with the old and the new.
On the other hand, we have the grizzled veterans in Les Miles and the highly debated Mark Richt.
Momentum: Since the question is the next five years, I think that what trajectory the program is currently on most definitely factors into if they will be contending for a championship banner. As I mentioned above,
Outcome: I think this is a two horse race between
Doug: I really can't say
LSU continues to crank out elite talent year after year after year, but I've lost the faith in Les Miles. He’s lost his grip on that program, and the Nick Saban era is firmly in the rearview mirror at LSU. Maybe it's unfair to Miles, but the standard at LSU is the same standard at
My bold prediction for 2010 is that Les Miles resigns as head coach at LSU. Just feeling that coming. I see them going 7-5 this year. Sort of hope I'm wrong because I like the LSU program.
That leaves me with
I haven't really studied
In fact, bold prediction here.
On the other hand, Auburn is the only SEC team to return its entire coaching staff this year. Malzahn will be a hot candidate for a head coaching job at the end of the season, especially after we win the SEC title this year--but for the time being, he is light years ahead of any OC in the conference and now he has the talent to run his system.
2. Players - Auburn not only got a top 5 recruiting class last year, and set up to do it again this year, but they got players to fill needs and this coaching staff knows how to use the talent it has. Gone are the days of Tommy Tubs moronically letting studs like Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jacobs, and Kenny Irons rot on the bench for silly reasons. This coaching staff has specific plays drawn up for the personnel that they have brought in..
If you cannot tell, I have huge aspirations for this year's team...i think it will all come together and we'll have the showdown of the century vs Bama the day after thanksgiving."
9) Who feels like they have been in college football longer: Jacquizz Rodgers, Noel Devine or Fill-in-the-blank Player on the Honorary Jess Settles Graduation Track??
Jeremy: I’ll go off the board and choose Greg Jones, LB from Michigan St. Guy’s been the leading tackler in
Matt: Quizz and Devine are two great names that seem to have been around forever. I really have nobody else to top those other than two QB’s: Ricky Stanzi and Tyrod Taylor. Doesn’t it seem like those guys have been under center for a long time? Stanzi, incredibly is a redshirt, so we could be seeing more of him in 2011.
Doug: My Warrick Dunn Award winners for guys who feel like they have been in college football forever:
Terence Toliver (are you kidding me?? He's still on LSU?? Verne has been saying his name since the 90s)
Armando Allen (just assuming other fans feel that way)
10) Who is your Heisman pick and a sleeper Heisman candidate(s) to watch out for?
Jeremy: I seriously considered Locker, but the Huskies are going to lose a couple games this year, and it seems that the Heisman has become simply an award for the best player on the nation’s best team. For that reason, I’ll go the boring route and take Terrelle Pryor. He’ll be the lead horse after a big performance in Week 2 against
For a sleeper, give me Tyrod Taylor of Va Tech. Ryan Williams might be the more likely candidate on that team, but the Hokies could be very powerful on offense this year, and
Matt: This Heisman field is wide open, with only last year’s winner Mark Ingram returning from the Top 5 last year. Prepare for a screwy year of voting with it being so wide open, and the obvious thing to do is just predict a repeat winner. But I am going to go out on a limb and pick Kellen Moore from
Some sleepers to keep an eye out for: John Clay, RB from
Doug: In terms of a frontrunner, I'm not sure who to say at this point. I mean, I'm just tempted to say Mark Ingram because he's the lead back on a great team that loves to run the ball. Why wouldn't he just do big things again this year?? Maybe Trent Richardson will steal more carries from him, but I think Ingram will have a good year.
I'm intrigued by Mallett. Could put up huge numbers, but probably won't win. Ditto for Locker. I can't see him as a legit candidate if
I see Garrett Gilbert and John Brantley emerging as stars this year. But probably not Heisman caliber.
Gotta throw out Christian Ponder as a sleeper as well. Throwing all my chips into the Florida State Seminoles bandwagon this year.
As far as a pick, I feel like there is one guy who has a combination of high-profile status on a top ranked team, and that's Terrelle Pryor. I honestly am not sure what to expect of Pryor at this point, but isn't there reason to think that he'll have a great year in 2010?? Look at how he performed in the Rose Bowl against
23 for 37 for 266 with 2tds and 1INT, 20 rushes for 72 yards
Just a monster game, and he looked like a completely different player. If he's cranking out 300-350 yards of total offense a game and making big plays, he'll be right in the mix.
Pryor has the pedigree. He was the #1 recruit in the nation. You can see the talent. People are sort of waiting for him to break out. Now it's just a question of whether he can consistently perform at a high level like he did against
Pryor was barely a functional player the last month of the season. I'm not sure he even had 150 yards of total offense in any game. His role was hand the ball off, run the clock, throw on 3rd down once a drive, and don't turn it over under any circumstance. Tressel went to what he does best down the stretch. Grind out wins, play great defense, and run the clock.
It all depends on which Terrelle Pryor we see in 2010. He's got the talent. Will he seize it?? And more importantly, will he get the opportunity?? Is Tressel going to loosen the reins and let him make plays??
Should be a fascinating season in
DeMarco Murray - Honestly, how many gamebreaker RBs take a 5th year? He says he's got unfinished business and is chasing 2,000 yards. With Bradford, Iglesias and Gresham out of the picture, expect Stoops to lean heavily on #7, provided his body is up to the challenge.
Evan Royster will be Penn State's go-to guy for offense as they break in a new QB. Huge numbers at a prestigious school are a good recipe for an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club.
Big John Clay - I have an affinity for THE man in Madison. Recent history tells us it's happened before. Why not again?
A couple names filling big shoes that should have successful campaigns, but will make more noise in a couple years: Blaine Gabbert stepping in for Chase Daniel at Missouri and LaMichael James now that LaGarrette Blount is gone. He's sure to make a LaRun for the LaHeisman in 2011.
Sleeper: Case Keenum will put up the gaudy Tecmo Bowl numbers that clouded voters' judgment in the past. He'll hang around and may get a token invite if Houston fares well.
Deep-Sleeper: Michael Floyd. I said it. The man-child flashed his prodigious unstoppability for the first 2.5 games last year, sat out 5 games, then returned as if nothing happened and posted 3 100-yard games out of the last 4. Everyone is curious to see what Floyd will do over an entire healthy season. He'll draw plenty of Randy Moss parallels.
Stay tuned for the Roundtable conclusion next week...