The Hybrid: College Football Is Back, Fools
College football kicks off tonight, so now seems like as good of a time as any to bring back TUP's weekly college football column, The Hybrid. This column was started last year to replace the Big Ten Rambler column from 2007... and the rest was real history. But enough bio, let's do some quick hits on some of the storylines I'm thinking about the most going into the 2010 college football season...
The Top 5 teams are all strong but have different flaws: I'll save these five thoughts for my ranking quick hits. But let's just say this: the top five teams all have a weakness -- some flimsy, some not -- which keeps any of them from immediately getting recognized as thee absolute pre-season title threat.
Notre Dame is BACK, like, MAYBE: They lost Clausen and Golden Tate but gained a "better" coach, and, as it usually is with the Irish, people are buzzing. What is this team's ceiling? How much of an impact can Brian Kelly truly have on this squad? People seem awfully confident in a team with an unproven QB, which I really don't understand. But who knows. Where there's talent, there's potential.
USC sanctions: I know most casual fans hate USC because most casual fans are against warm weather, fun, dominance, and beautiful women, but man, I am going to miss The Dynasty. I really am. The best case scenario is they go undefeated this year and make it really awkward when they aren't allowed to play in the title game. Did you see the Matt Barkley interview after USC got sanctioned? He was on the verge of tears, saying how they'd just have to just go undefeated without getting a chance to play in the post-season. I felt so bad for him... all because Reggie Bush had to be cool and take sweet money. Such a shame. As for the current players? The upperclassmen could just go pro or transfer, but as a true sophomore, Barkley is basically locked up with this team -- for better or worse -- until his senior year, when they can actually compete for the national title again. Stay patient, young man.
John Brantley, do we hate you?: What are we supposed to do with the new Florida QB? Are we to rejoice this team's potential regression without Tebow? Are we to hope he plays well so people forget about Tebow? I'm so torn. This is the plan...
We have to root for him to either a) suck, or b) be historically outstanding.
No middle ground here. He's got to either ruin this team's season or break all of Tebow's records. So yeah, just do one of those.
Michigan. Michigan.: This is a Bobby-centric thought, but man: this season could decide the next three to five years of the program's success. If Michigan loses too many games and the idiots fire Rich Rodriguez, the setback could be devastating. Especially because they'll probably hire a pro style coach, negating all of the spread recruiting Rodriguez has done over the past few years. It could be a travesty. So, I mostly spend my the bulk of my days thinking about this man...
Denard Robinson. He who decides my future. Denard's one of the fastest quarterbacks you'll ever see, but last year, his rawness as a passer kept him from being a true threat. After having one of the most legendary spring games you'll ever hear about, all signs point to him being Michigan's starter in a potentially threatening three quarterback platoon. I'm trying to talk myself into it, but they very well could lose to UConn this week.
Have I begun illegally downloading full games from Michigan's 1997 season as a way to prepare for some sort of season long mental breakdown once the losses start to weigh on me? Well yeah.
Just know this: I care more about this season than any season for any other team I've rooted for, ever. More than Bulls '96 or Pats '07. Those teams were great. They didn't need me to care. This Michigan team is flawed, and they'll be in all kinds of trouble of things turn sour early. I'm terrified in every way possible. Especially because the '96 Bulls could have probably fielded a better secondary than this year's Michigan team.
THE HYBRIDQuick, Selective Hits On The AP Top 25
(unbeaten teams = every team so far)
1) Alabama: Aright, the random flaws of the Top 5. 'Bama? Ingram has that short recovery from surgery, and their offense really wasn't that explosive to begin with. I know last year's team won the title, but everybody knows that was a bit fraud-y. What, just me? I know Ingram's backup is supposed to be the bee's knees, but this team always comes back to defense. How great can the D be, and can it carry the O when the O starts to blow?
2) Ohio State: They've got horrible (pretty good) Terrelle Pryor, and their defense looks as fierce as ever, but even if they go undefeated in the regular season, no one will believe a thing about this team's legitimacy until they win the national title outright over a team from the Big Twelve or.... ESS EEE SEE!!!!!!
(This column is officially back.)
3) Boise State: We all want to see it. Really, we do. But their flaw is being perpetually small. But we'll see what kind of momentum they get if they're able to beat Va-Tech this week...
4) Florida: Loaded to the brim with talent, but Brantley's got to prove himself. He seems beyond capable. This team could potentially be a world-beater if it all clicks.
5) Texas: See: Florida's storyline, but replace John Brantley with Garrett Gilbert. Both QBs have the skillset to have terrific years despite never starting regularly before. My brain is with Brantley, but my heart's with Gilbert. His emergence in last year's title game was inspiring. I think I'll be in his corner forever.
8) Nebraska: So they lost Suh and never had an offense to begin with, and they're Top 10? Can someone explain this to me?
9) Iowa: As an Iowa alum and (/sigh) fan, I'm pretty happy with this ranking. It seems completely appropriate.
10) Virginia Tech: Beat Boise and we'll all hate you.
11) Oregon: A true enigma. Is the offense really going to be dominant again? Is the Oregon QB position going to become the new Denver Broncos RB slot? Just plug and play?
12) Wisconsin: Ha. Sure.
13) Miami (FL)
14) USC: Never forget 6/10/10.
16) Georgia Tech: A perennial Hybrid favorite. Gotta love that triple option. And now they're sympathetic because Iowa embarrassed them in the Orange Bowl last season.
17) Arkansas: I really haven't reconciled my Ryan Mallett feelings. Whatever, I hope he does good... I guess.
18) North Carolina: I thought I saw something on Clay Travis' Twitter about this team not fielding a bunch of players in their opener against LSU? That could seriously ruin everything.
19) Penn State
20) Florida State
21) LSU: Ah, Penn State, Florida, and LSU. What a great cluster of boring, overrated, semi-talented teams. I'll give Florida State and (to an extent) LSU a chance, but I would be blown away to see Penn State trend upward this year. Also, is Jimbo Fisher funny? Can someone look into this?
24) Oregon State
25) West Virginia: The 25th ranked team is always funny. Good to have you here, you couch burners you.
Any Sweet Games This Weekend?
No, not really. Most of them are pretty bad. We do have a few, though!
Oregon State (24) at TCU (6): This should sort things out quickly, no? But honestly, this is just a diet version of the real game of the week.
LSU (21) at UNC (18): A potentially terrific LSU loss could now be in jeopardy if UNC isn't playing their dudes. I'm worried.
Boise State (3) at Virgina Tech (10): Boise gets a chance to show something right away, and I love it. They should be ranked No. 1 if they win this game. And if they're the most talented CFB team -- like many think is possible -- they certainly should be able to prove it against a beatable Hokie team. It's not an easy test, though.
Big Ten Rant
Two things to think about here...
1) The new Big Ten divisions: The new divisions of 2011's Big Ten just leaked yesterday, and I'm quite torn on most of it.
Division 1: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Division 2: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern
My two biggest beefs? 1) Why split Michigan and Ohio State? They're right next to each other. Aiming for competitive balance is pointless. Why not stack a sweet East division and have it be impossible to get out of? It certainly has worked for the Big 12 South these past couple of years. Geography rules. And yes, I'm aware that these alignments are almost North-South, but a) they're not, and b) East-West would be ideal. And would I name the hypothetical East-West divisions after 2Pac and Biggie? Yes, yes I would.
2) Iowa and Michigan to now play each other every year. As a fan of both, I really hate this. The off years were my time to forget they played in the same conference.
The divisions do have one serious upside: hater teams like Illinois and Penn State who claim to have "rivalries" with schools who don't care about them are sure looking stupid now. Illinois is now opposite of two of its biggest "rivals," Iowa and Michigan -- and they don't have cross-divisional rivalry protection with either school. Same goes for Penn State, constant claimers of having Michigan and Ohio State as their "rivals." It's pretty great to see those two schools get hard reality checks. So maybe the divisions aren't all bad.
2) Forgetting about the new Big Ten divisions: As cool as the Nebraska thing is and the division things are, it's still one more season of the crap ass, no championship game, 11-team Big Ten. Can we just skip to 2011? No?
College Football Bandwagon
Every year, once my actual favorite teams have been eliminated from the national title picture (by, you know, losing just one game), my buddy Ryan and I create what we call the "College Football Bandwagon" which mostly consists of a list of all the undefeated BCS conference teams minus Notre Dame (and sometimes others). The goal of the CFB is to fake feel good about yourself when your "team" makes the national championship. Plus it gives you invested rooting interests.
College Football Bandwagon 2010
Iowa, Michigan, Washington State are all still alive. But the season is infantile.
Tim Tebow Pro Check-In
After some ripping of Shanoff last year, we're going to take it easy on him -- after all, he's, like, the nicest sports blogger ever. Instead, we'll focus on Tim Tebow as we root against his NFL success for no reason other than no reason.
Pre-Season Game 3: The Broncos played the Steelers, and doucher went 5 for 10, threw for 72 yards, and completed his first NFL touchdown pass*. Fortunately, he also threw a pick.
* - It's pre-season! People need to stop acting like that shit counted.
What They Said -- A Take On Others' CFB Takes
- A lean week. Just make sure you watch the vid of the Iowa center getting hit by a car while riding one of those shit-banger bikes. It happens in the first three seconds, and it's insane.
Random Picture I Came Across While Googling Stuff For This Post
Wrapping It Up...
This week really is all about Boise-Virginia Tech. Please give that game your attention because it completely matters.
Bobby Loesch is the assistant editor of Tremendous Upside Potential. He can be reached at bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy.