Straight from the source
For picks and opinions, we went to 119 'experts'
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2007 10:51AM; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2007 11:48AM
The college football season is a little more than three weeks away, and as we countdown to kickoff, you will read no shortage of "expert" opinion and analysis -- including on this Web site -- about how the various conference and national-title races will play out.
You'll be able to turn on the tube and watch Kirk, Lee and the gang list their potential sleeper teams and favorite Heisman candidates. And you'll be able to hear coaches across the country offer their perennially optimistic yet cautious evaluation of how their team is coming together.
The one group of people you probably won't hear much from, however, is the players themselves.
So we decided to go straight to the source.
Over the past month, our reporters conducted telephone surveys with a starter from every Division I-A team. It is believed to be the most comprehensive player survey -- 119 different schools are represented -- to ever appear.
We wanted to know their thoughts on the upcoming season. Who do they think will win the national title? Or the Heisman? Which coaches do they most admire?
But we also wanted to get a window into the true experience of today's college football player. How much time do they put in? Do they feel their scholarships are adequate compensation? And, since we've already heard everyone else's opinion about the subject -- do they want to see a college football playoff?
Each player was asked the same set of questions and was assured anonymity to encourage honest and forthright answers. They were also asked to explain their choices. The aggregated data as well as a sampling of their elaborated answers appear on the pages that follow.
So what did we learn from our little experiment?
We discovered that players across the country hold much the same adulation for Pete Carroll's USC program as do writers and broadcasters. The Trojans were their overwhelming choice to win this year's national title, and, when asked, "Which coach besides your own would you most like to play for," Carroll received nearly three times as many votes as any other coach. "I've heard a lot of good things about him," said one ACC player, "and that there's a fun and exciting atmosphere there."
We learned that if the players were Heisman voters, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden would carry every region. "He seems like an unbelievable player," said one Big Ten admirer. "He's got everything you need in a running back."