LOUD NOISES!!! My friend Ben and I have an annual tradition of making five off-kilter predictions before the start of the season. In the interests of preserving a historical record, here are our efforts from 2007, 2006, and 2005. There have been some gems - Ben picking Arizona State's ascent last year, me picking Notre Dame to be good in 2005 - and some duds - Ben picking Tommy Bowden to win a conference title, me picking Notre Dame to be good last year. With that in mind, read on with caution:
Ben's HOT SPORTS OPINIONS!!!
1. The SEC retains 11 of their coaches after the season. All are safe, but lo and behold, the Ol' Ball Coach steps aside. He has a good year by SC standards, but still finishes fourth in the East. He is fed up with the inability to win there and steps down at year's end coming off an 8-win season.
[Ed. - This seems plausible. I don't see Spurrier having the frustration tolerance to be the South Carolina head coach. I'd bet that deep down, in places he doesn't talk about at parties, Spurrier was shaken by the impact of the injuries to Jasper Brinkley and Captain Munnerlyn last season. This didn't happen at Florida.]
2. West Virginia loses 6 games this year and Bill Stewart gets replaced as coach by...the man who should have got the job in the first place: Butch Jones from Central Michigan.
[Ed. - I'm not so high on West Virginia, but six losses seems strong. The effect of losing an alpha male head coach isn't usually that severe in year one, although there are a number of Louisville fans who are anxious to chime in with their disagreement.]
3. Colorado is back as a player on the Big XII scene. They win 8 games and finish second in the Big XII North as they miss Oklahoma and get Texas at home. They begin to contend for the Big XII and BCS bid starting in 2009.
[Ed. - This is an annual prediction for Ben, most likely because Colorado was good when we started watching college football. You know what they say about always loving the music you were listening to when you first got laid... I'm excited to see what Dan Hawkins can do with Darrell Scott and I also gave some thought to Colorado over Texas as my upset of the year.]
4. Clemson rolls through the ACC and regular season undefeated only to lose in the ACC Championship game. Because "Tommy can't win the big one." Mind you, the other 12 were all big.
[Ed. - This won't look so good, come Saturday night at 11:30.]
5. This is not so outlandish, as I think others are saying this, but the biggest game in the country on November 22, 2008 will be undefeated BYU at one loss Utah. BYU has two Pac-10 teams on the schedule, and they should be able to handle both. If they win, they crash the BCS, and not just as an after thought. There will be folks who scream that they should be in BCS NC game because I don't think two other teams get through unscathed. Gameday will go there, and Utah will beat them because that is what happens in rivalry games when one team, here BYU, looks past the rival and onto the big stage.
[Ed. - I doubt that BYU is going to look past Utah any time soon. I don't doubt that we could have a 1984 redux, although there is such confidence in the consensus top five this year that it will be hard for BYU to convince voters that they are on the level of Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC. BYU is going to give up too many points for that to happen.]
Michael's EDGY COLLEGE FOOTBALL COMMENTARY!!!
1. Ole Miss wins eight games and finishes third in the West.
2. North Carolina wins the ACC...whatever their division is called. (I know the other five teams in the division, but I can't keep the names straight.) Sean Glennon surrounded by suspect skill position players is not a recipe for success and the rest of the division is not good. Great coaches tend to break out in year two at a school. Butch Davis might not be a great coach, but he's close and he has a ton of players coming back. The ACC is generally the place to make crazy picks because the elite of the conference is so non-elite.
3. Cal has a resurgence and finishes second in the Pac Ten. They will be 7-1 or 8-0 when they play USC. A pro-Tedford pick is also an annual occurrence.
4. Upset of the year: East Carolina over West Virginia. I was tempted by the idea of Arkansas over Florida because of Petrino's passing game against that secondary, but the game is in early October. If Arkansas is going to pull a big upset, then it will be later in the year.
5. The major coaching casualty this year: Ralph Friedgen. It pains me to say this because I really like Friedgen, but he made the mistake of winning too much too soon and Maryland fans are not accepting of 6-6 anymore. Ferentz would be my guy for this spot if not for a massive buyout that will scare frugal Iowans. I'm tired of picking Phil Fulmer for this spot every year, only to be let down when he saves his job with convenient false starts from his offensive linemen and opponent's field goals bouncing off the iron.