EDITOR'S CHOICE: Here we go again...
By Dave Hersh
NationalChamps.net Editor

September 3, 2004

Here we go again…

If you are reading this, you must be hungry for genuine college football action. You are the reason we do this, for you are a fanatical lover of heartily-played pigskin scrimmages only found outside of the professional ranks. This is where the game remains (somewhat) pure, so we get the attraction on this and many other levels.

What is to be expected in this, an Orange Bowl year for the BCS, is the kind of competitive parity and gutsy, non-conference match-ups that recent seasons have initiated. But though it is a golden age for many aspects of the physical game, intellectual and personal dimensions of individual athletes and how THE overseeing body regulates their pursuit are evidently awry.

Speaking of such, there is an excellent article written by ex-Colorado WR/PR Jeremy Bloom that gives his genuine, sardonic insight into the NCAA and its decision(s), namely the one that curtailed his college career.
Jeremy Bloom and the NCAA
He gives a first-person overview of this never-ending battle that affects all players - past, present, and (especially) future.

The season's has now started, which helps to give answers to those months-old questions that will be made evident once December's hindsights roll around. Here are just a few of those that, once played out, will provide the substance sure to make sense of our random curiosities.

Can QB Matt Leinart and Southern Cal take only four returning offensive starters, though sans the absolutely-handed WR Mike Williams, to that highest height again? Upperclassman leadership and experience on all defensive levels says yes.

-Oklahoma will have something to say about that - they return 17 starters, all upperclassmen (but one). So then, their plight is clear - can returning Heisman winner Jason White overcome the late-season Big XII hex that so many recently past Sooner squads have fallen prey to? The conference is tougher than ever, so they will have to earn this one to make me believe - but look for them to do USC if they both make it to the end for the title game, for their tests are cumulatively tougher (OU comes in 41st on NC.net's SOS rankings, USC 64th).

Ohio State's highly-anticipated, multi-sported QB Justin Zwick has his work cut out for him with the Buckeye's (seemingly slipping) Big Ten slate. Can he keep OSU from another no-show campaign after such successes? Too often the Ohio State has letdown years after surges. This turnover should be different. Yet, look for Columbus to be cringing as they anticipate their 11/20/04 home tilt with Michigan - how many times has a promising Buckeye group headed into this biggest of rivalry games, too with strong squads to go along with high bowl expectations, only to…hex, curse - if you haven't cried on the way home while headed east on the 670, you may not know the legendary disappointments of which I write.

Speaking of the boys from Ann Arbor, can they take all of those question marks, notably at tailback, and again make a team that somehow reaches the top tiers of the final polls?

Can the Big Ten's foray into instant replay be the beginning of a new age in college football? Or will the marginally conceived way it is applied permanently drive a stake into the heart of such a game-delaying process? And how will other-conferenced teams play into this scenario - do they become subject to instant replay in those games they play against Big Ten-ers?

While we are on the Big Ten, will Joe Pa keep the Penn State recruiting wheels greased by announcing his four-year extension of tenure? I predict this is a smoke screen as described, and this means Paterno bows out either after this season or next.

Nebraska looks to make some noise after (again) revamping their coaching ranks. How will new head coach Bill Callahan apply players recruited for ex-coach Frank Solich's schemes?

What kind of ominous sign is it when a 'hurricane' (Frances) has already influenced the college football landscape? 1998's meteorological turn of events haunts the delayed games.

Will the playing of the Miami-FSU game again NOT produce one of the teams playing in the national title game? Every year up until the last, this game's winner was in the BCS title game. Swami Sammie says…Pac Ten, Big XII and the SEC are to provide those due (Jan. 4th) in Miami.

We didn't need this past Thursday's wiping of the Aggies by Utah to key many to the Ute's anticipated prowess. But playing the 104th toughest schedule (see NC.net's SOS listings) means they have to run the table to possibly get a BCS wildcard bid.

Even more importantly, will making the BCS formula more heavily weighted by the polls solve things so that a mid-level conferenced success story can legitimately make one of those (now) ten spots? Fairness, though, isn't found so much in this eventuality - the playing field is leveled once the predestined bowl alliances/allegiances are broken up (enough) so these worthy small-but-strong football schools are respected through an increase in post-season destinations. Tell me…in the end, which one would mean a larger bottom line for more programs?

What kind of morally bankrupt scruples does the Colorado athletic department have to allow head coach Gary Barnett to continue his tenure of doom? I really wonder how these people think history can possibly reflect kindly upon them for not cleaning house, especially after the multiple fiascos exposed everything from poorly overseen recruiting tactics to disgusting attitudes (Barnett's) in the face of alleged sexual misconduct(s), namely rape. The lessons taught via Barnett's actions harkin back to the days when colluding 'good-ole boy' networks of administrators were more willing to help each other, regardless of the accusation (and its inherent truth), rather than make their school(s) respected institutions of integrity. Just ask Sylvester Croom's qualified African-American predecessors about cracking such networks.

Unless he has two losses or less, is Ron Zook looking his destiny square in the eye since Steve Spurrier is now unemployed? Being a UF alumni, I can strongly warn - do not underestimate the powers of a proven winner in Gainesville.

Is this the year that Colorado State's Sonny Lubick's balloon bursts? The college game is all about managing the annual turnover, and Lubick has proven to motivate enough squads on this level such that most insiders now expect him to deliver, regardless of the talent levels. New starting-QB Justin Holland's level of play will tell all.

Can LSU's QB Marcus Randall replace the proven Matt Mauck? Mauck made everyone look good, something many of the most talented QBs can never do, despite amassing big personal numbers. Most polls have Saban's crew ranked somewhere in their top five, an overly stellar placement that this prognosticator feels is too high, sorry Todd. That SEC west is too tough to predict.

Will West Virginia's failure(s) again to overcome their Terrapin rivals be their undoing? To ironically answer this, reference Maryland's disappointments against FSU.

What will Pittsburgh do without Fitzgerald if they were 8-5 with him? QB Rutherford being replaced is another hit from which they just cannot bounce back, huh.

Did I forget Georgia? Has everyone forgotten them? Look out for those swamp dawgs…

And just to embarrass myself…Can we finally make it so that when a football player gets a $20 'loan' from a coach (or otherwise), he is treated the same as when a swimmer, wrestler, or rower does this? If 'an athlete is an athlete' for certain circumstances, why make getting free shoes or a meal so different when a football player does it? To mimic the ending message from Devo's "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" video - Oh, that NCAA…

And I digress. As always, expect the unexpected. See you at the Horseshoe November 20th. Mr. Joe will be there, too.