My "bug", and other college football items

August 30th, 2007

There's been some talk on this site about "the bug"...the feeling that college basketball is just around the corner. Well, even though I love college hoops (if I didn't then why am I here?), I'd like to get this fact off of my chest:

College football, you are my crutch.

There. Tonight is the beginning of a college football season that if you go by what some are saying, we should just fast-forward to a USC/LSU national title game in the Superdome. Not here. Given the number of skilled players throughout the nation, I'm not sure that we'll see one of these two do what Ohio State was able to do last season: stay at the top of the polls until the regular season's end. But you never know. Here are my picks to win the respective conferences:

ACC- Virginia Tech
Big East- West Virginia
Big Ten- Wisconsin
Big 12- Oklahoma
CUSA- Southern Miss
MAC- Central Michigan
Mountain West- TCU
Pac-10- USC
Sun Belt- Troy
WAC- Hawaii

Unlike Boise State's run in 2006, I don't see a non-BCS member joining the party, primarily because of Hawaii playing two opponents from the Championship Subdivision (this could kill their strength of schedule) and while TCU will scare Texas I don't see them winning that one.

Quick non-football note: I agree 100% with the recent post by Shawn Siegel on Stephon Marbury's comments. Deer are cute animals too. Why hasn't anyone stood up for them? As for this quest to end dogfighting and cruelty to dogs, it looks like USC assistant Todd McNair will have to answer some questions regarding a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge...from 1996. Yes, a crime for which he has already paid the price for is being brought to light on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" tomorrow. I'm sorry, but if McNair is punished for this now there's something seriously wrong. Funny, but no one's asked aloud if either Leonard Little (his drunk driving killed a woman) or Ray Lewis (obstruction of justice in the stabbing deaths of two people) should have to answer for their crimes from years past. I understand that people want animal cruelty stopped (believe me, I do too), but digging into people's past for transgressions which they've already paid a price for is wrong.

On to the Heisman race, and I don't think people are talking enough about Rutgers' Ray Rice and his chances to win the award. Yes, his name has been mentioned. But unlike the other candidates, he's got the New York City media market. I'm not sure how many voters reside in that area, but last season was just a taste of what that market can do for a school in terms of publicity. The Empire State Building lit red for the big game against Louisville could be multiplied if fans in the area sense that an area player could win college football's most prestigious individual honor. This media advantage is something that probably only John David Booty at USC can come close to matching. College football fans in the NYC area have a team (and a player) to get excited about for the first time since who knows when (maybe the 50s with those last great Army teams), and it just may carry Rice to an "upset" win for the Heisman.

Tonight's LSU/Mississippi State game will be interesting to watch. Seeing Sylvester Croom's speech at the MSU pep rally last night had me ready to suit up and sprint out of the tunnel. They may not have the depth to hang with an LSU for four quarters, but the fans in "StarkVegas" will be ready with cowbells in tow. It's the fourth year for Croom at MSU, and some are talking that he needs to win more games to avoid the hotseat. How soon we forget just how bad this program had it when he arrived. Scholarship reductions due to NCAA sanctions made it nearly impossible for a school that already has it tough recruiting in the SEC to make some headway. When probation is involved, that normal four-year "now he's got his kids in the program" blueprint has to be slowed down some. Of course, given the youth of last year's bunch the Bulldogs should improve on their four wins from a year ago. But give Coach Croom some time.

Speaking of the SEC, if LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pellini an Florida co-defensive coordinator Charlie Strong don't have head coaching jobs going into next season, something is seriously wrong.

Enjoy the games tonight, and look for more coverage in the coming days at