If these rants were “great literature”, a student would call this next thing a foreshadowing. Since these rants are anything but “deathless prose”, what follows is an announcement of things to come.
Yes, I will be doing Mythical Picks for college and NFL games again this year. However, glancing at the travel and the social schedule that my long-suffering wife has put together for us between now and Thanksgiving, I can tell you that I will not be able to do them every week. In addition, I will not be able to do my NFL Pre-Season Analysis where I predict the record of every team in the league this year. Given some of my past performances, I suspect that will be no great loss.
To relieve some of the timing pressures, allow me to make some broad predictions for college football teams for 2012. I will start with what some folks consider “major conferences” even though in football they are not.
The Big East: If you refer to it as “The Big Who Cares”, you will not be very far off. A couple of pre-season polls and rankings – - and you know just how important and valuable those things are – - say Louisville is one of the Top 25 teams in the country. If they are, they will dominate this conference.
The ACC: Florida State and Clemson look like the class of the Atlantic Division. No news there… Va Tech looks like the class of the Coastal Division but UVa could be a sleeper here.
The Mountain West: Boise State – - of course. The Broncos open their season against Michigan State this year. In previous years, they have opened with Oregon and Va Tech. Boise State may have a creampuff conference schedule, but they do go out and sign up some worthy out of conference opponents.
Now let me move to the real “Big Boy Conferences”:
The Big 12: Oklahoma, TCU and perhaps Texas look to be best teams in the league – - but do not count West Virginia out just yet. In addition, if you want a dark horse in this conference to sneak in on the four teams mentioned here, check out Kansas State.
The Big Ten: Wisconsin is a shoo-in for the Leaders Division since Ohio State is not bowl eligible or playoff eligible. In the Legends Division, Michigan and Michigan State should battle it out.
The PAC-12: Games here should be exciting and high scoring. I like Oregon, Washington and Washington State in the North Division. Yes, that Washington State. With Mike Leach’s offense, they could double their win total from last year and win 8 games. In the South Division, USC should dominate. If anyone is going to sneak up on USC, it might be Utah – - however, the gap between USC and Utah might be as big as the Grand Canyon, which is also between Utah and Southern California.
The SEC: In the East Division, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina will be good. Maybe South Carolina will be the best of the three. Meanwhile, the West Division gets “straight As” for Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn – - and LSU is there too. Wow! Remember, this is the conference and division that Texas A&M bought their way out of the Big 12 to join.
I am not going to pick teams from the Sun Belt or the MAC or the WAC. Frankly, those teams represent a level of college football between Division 1-A and Division 1-AA. However, I do want to mention something about the WAC, which looks as if it will implode at the end of 2012. At the moment, only Idaho and New Mexico State will remain in the WAC once the season ends; the other teams are off to “somewhere else in college football”. This year, just so they can have 7 teams in the conference, they will have two new programs graduating from Division 1-AA in the WAC. UT-San Antonio and Texas State are in their first season in Division 1-A and neither school had a winning record in Division 1-AA last year. Mazel Tov!
In the last paragraph, I named 4 of the 7 teams in the WAC. If I double-dog-dared you to name the other three – - without Googling – - could you do it?
[Answer is a couple of paragraphs down…]
Gregg Drinnan had this on-the-mark comment in the Kamloops Daily News recently about NCAA football players:
“Indeed, Silas Redd has left Penn State for USC. College footballers as free agents? Now that’s a novel idea. Next thing you know, college players will have agents. What’s that? They already have agents. Shhhhh.”
With the Olympic Games out of the way for 2012, Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe is retiring – sort of. Bob Ryan started working for the Globe as a summer intern fresh out of Boston College in 1968 and has been with that paper ever since. Given the state and the dynamics of the newspaper industry today, I doubt that any “fresh-outs” will spend 44 years with the same paper. I have always enjoyed reading his columns particularly when he wrote about basketball. The reason I said he is “sort of retiring” is that he will be a Sunday contributor to the Globe on an aperiodic basis and he will continue to be part of the ESPN family. Here is part of what he had to say in his farewell column:
“My goal is to gain personal life flexibility and to eliminate obligation. I still have the Globe part-time gig and I still have a bit more TV shelf life, how much I really don’t know. I want to do what I want to do and not do what I don’t want to do. And my wife of 43 years, the former Elaine Murray, is the perfect companion with whom to do or not do whatever it is we’re going to do or not do.”
Professor Ryan needs to make himself a sign and hang it on the wall of his office at home. The sign should read:
I Don’t Want To!
I Don’t Have to!
You Can’t Make Me!
I’m Retired !!
One more thing regarding the ending of the Olympics, it will definitely be 4 years at least until I accidentally happen upon any telecast of synchronized swimming or diving. Therefore, I will no longer be asking myself the rhetorical questions:
Is it OK to watch synchronized diving alone or do I need someone else in the room with me?
For synchronized swimming, do we all have to munch pretzels in unison?
Here is the promised answer to the Quick Quiz above. The other three WAC teams for 2012 are:
San Jose State
Finally, here is one last Olympic telecast comment from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot:
“NBC knows its Olympics audience, but women’s (girls) gymnastics is exploitative. How can anybody say it isn’t?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………