BYU goes independent, more mail (cont.)
Let me just make sure I read this right -- you've picked Georgia ... GEORGIA ... to be in the Sugar Bowl and you have Florida in a non-BCS bowl. Seriously? I mean ... SERIOUSLY?!! Pray tell based on what? That means you have Georgia winning the SEC East. Ahead of Florida. Florida coming in behind Georgia. Do me a favor, print that again, because I can't believe my #@!*^%$ eyes.
-- Tom, Lakeland, Fla.
Ah, bowl projections. As if it's not futile enough to attempt to predict records for 70 teams before the season, you then get to plug them into a postseason lineup that, as most of you well know, is based only partially on wins and losses.
To clarify, I do believe Florida will win the SEC East, but with at least one or two losses. That means if the Gators lose in the SEC title game, they'll have two or three losses. And after Florida fans' meager turnout to last year's Sugar Bowl, I figure the New Orleans game will take a different SEC team this year, in this case Georgia, which I project to go 10-2. Obviously, I'm making a whole lot of presumptions (most notably Alabama reaching the BCS championship game), but bowl projections are nothing if not one big presumption.
Can you explain why the Rose Bowl is obligated to take highest non-AQ team if it loses a team to the national championship game? Is it actually true? If so, why would they agree to that (was it some kind of deal that allowed them to get a favorable matchup in a past game or something)?
-- Bruce McKinley, South Riding, Va.
It is indeed true. Here is the exact clause from the BCS' media guide:
For the games of January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the NCG and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl.
It was a compromise the Rose Bowl quietly and reluctantly agreed to some time back due to resentment from the other bowls over the fact that the Rose, with two conference partners, would never have to pick lower than second among at-large teams and therefore would never be stuck having to host a non-AQ team. While I'm sure some traditionalists will still vomit at the prospect of an orange-and-blue Broncos end zone, I think most of the public would enjoy seeing Boise in Pasadena more than they did that 9-3 Illinois team a few years ago. Personally, I'm still rooting for Temple.
Is there no International Bowl in Toronto this year? I've gone to all four of them so far.
-- Don, Newmarket, Ontario
Wow. I hate to break this to you, Don, but the International Bowl is indeed no more. But you deserve some sort of medal for going to all four of them. At least you'll always have the memory of having attended Jim Leavitt's last game.
Pete Carroll left a team that was going to win at least 10 games. Lane Kiffin left a team that was going to win at best six games. So the question is, which coach, USC's Kiffin or Tennessee's Derek Dooley, will do more with the team he was given?
-- Rick, Chattanooga
I can see why that would be a topic of interest in Chattanooga.
First of all, I think those are both realistic numbers for each team's general expectation level. However, if you read my coaches primer last week, you know I have lower expectations for the Vols (much to the indignation of several folks who sent e-mails from the Volunteer State last week). The 4-8 prediction isn't an indictment of Dooley as much as of the depleted talent level in Knoxville. A new quarterback playing behind a new offensive line, in a season when the defense is rebuilding, is not a recipe for success in the SEC. To me, he will have gotten the "most" out of his team if it wins more than two conference games.
As for Kiffin, last year he basically achieved the exact record (7-6, 4-4 SEC) I would have predicted going into the season. I believe he'll do the same with the Trojans his first year -- they won't overachieve, but they won't fall apart, either. One big advantage Kiffin has over Dooley (besides the overabundance of former five-star recruits) is a talented quarterback (Matt Barkley) with a year's experience under his belt. That's a nice piece to have when you're dealing with depth issues at a lot of other positions. That's why I have more confidence in his prospects than Dooley's going into this particular season.
Stewart, on paper WVU and Pitt are basically equal coming into the upcoming season. The Mountaineers return more starters (16 to 11) and they are both starting new quarterbacks. However, Geno Smith has actually seen meaningful playing time, unlike Tino Sunseri. Also, WVU won head-to-head a year ago. So why is Pitt getting all the preseason hype? Does the difference come down to a total lack of confidence in Bill Stewart?
-- Ryan, Oak Hill, West Va.
Well when you put it that way ... it doesn't make much sense, does it?
The perception for a few years now, based both on recruiting rankings and NFL exports, is that Pittsburgh is the most talented team in the Big East, but just hasn't put it together. The Panthers have four All-America candidates in running back Dion Lewis, receiver Jon Baldwin, defensive end Greg Romeus and tackle Jason Pinkston, whereas West Virginia really only has one household name, Noel Devine. I think if you were to ask 100 people, maybe 40 of them would remember who won the Backyard Brawl last year, but 99 remember Pitt coming within a point against Cincinnati in that winner-take-all game the first Saturday of December. And then there's the fact that the Panthers won their bowl game against North Carolina, while the Mountaineers lost theirs to Florida State.
Count me among those who don't have a lot of confidence in Coach Stew -- but I'm not a big believer in Dave Wannstedt, either. I think both teams will be about the same as they were last year, losing at least one league game they have no business losing. And the only reason either is getting more hype than Cincinnati is because of the Bearcats' coaching change. The one guy in that league I truly have confidence in at this point is Connecticut's Randy Edsall, which is a major reason I went with the Huskies as my Big East pick even though both Pitt and WVU are probably more talented.
And now, for a brief aside. I received a ton of responses to the Jersey Shore college football casting call, but none that I considered 8-for-8. So I culled together a full-cast lineup from several different e-mailers.
The Situation = Larry Scott. Always going after the hotties (Texas and Oklahoma) but usually brings home an OK-looking girl (Utah) and her grenade friend (Colorado).
-- Bill, Pocatello, Idaho
Clearly Snooki is Tennessee, because she gets arrested weekly and is an unnatural shade of orange.
-- Rob, Washington D.C.
Ronnie: Texas. Flirts and "creeps" with the Pac-10, but eventually returns home to the security of the Big 12 (Sammi).
-- Dave, Minneapolis
Sammi = Oregon: Reinstated LeGarrette Blount (Ronnie).
-- Aaron, New York City
J-Woww = Big 12. Texas! Oklahoma! You only need two assets to grab peoples' attention. Angelina = Notre Dame. No one seems to want her there, but there she is, collecting a nice, fat paycheck.
-- Sean, Hartford, Conn.
Vinny = Vanderbilt. Seems to be the most level-headed member of the house, but the show wouldn't be drastically different without him.
-- Mario Contreras, New York
I definitely think Pauly is Army, because both promote grenade free Americas.
-- John, Worcester, Mass.
Nice work. All I have to say is, Sammi better not reinstate Blount again or I'm going to stop watching.
Stewart: What's your Appalachian State-esque pick for Week 1? See any possible earth shattering upsets on the horizon?
-- Brandy, Toronto
I don't see anything quite that earth-shattering on the horizon, though there will inevitably be at least a couple of FCS over FBS victories. The most likely: Richmond giving former coach Mike London a tough start to his UVa tenure.
your bowls that u picked r nuts......i dod't think u put a lot of thought into this. AND IT SHOWS
-- Lionel, Belle Chasse, La.
Well, then, that makes two of us.
#DearAndy: Big Ten football, Baylor Bears, and bacon
Spring football primer: Big 12
Flyers sweep home-and-home from Penguins
Canadiens put together big comeback to beat Senators 5-4 in OT