As Bear Bryant used to growl with that Chesterfield voice of his, "I don't care what the last BMOC promised you. We're gonna review now."
25. That the warmest, fuzziest, soft-as-cashmere story in college football this season will take place in the semi-obscurity of the WAC, on a team that won only three games a year ago, and, if all goes well, at a modest 30,456-seat stadium that hasn't had a sellout since 1990.
If he does make it -- and given his determination, we're guessing he will -- BMOC might have to violate the sacred, no-cheering-in-the-press box rule.
24. That Division I-A athletic directors and university president will continue to take well-deserved PR body blows for their unwillingness to hire minority head coaches.
What a joke: 117 D I-A football programs and only four minority head coaches -- down from six two years ago, down from five in 2001. This season's foursome of Michigan State's Bobby Williams, San Jose State's Fitz Hill, New Mexico State's Tony Samuel and Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham must feel like the last of the football Mohicans.
The only program that actively pursued a minority coach was Michigan State, which made a longshot, but admirable run at Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis.
23. That the five most overrated teams in the country will be Miami, Nebraska, USC, Kansas State and Notre Dame.
We figured Miami didn't deserve the preseason No. 1 because of 11 players lost to the NFL. We've got lip burns from sucking on that gas pipe.
Nebraska was a gimme. In fact, the Cornhuskers' plunge into mediocrity is worse than we thought.
Carson Palmer told us at season's beginning that this was the most talented USC team he had seen since arriving at Troy. We ignored him. Dumb.
Who knew K-State, along with USC and Iowa, would be playing the best football of anybody in the country by season's end? Not us.
How Tyrone Willingham squeezed 10 wins out of this team is as mind-boggling as my preseason rip job. Do you accept apologies?
Our overrateds finished a combined 49-12.
22. That the five most underrated teams will be Oregon, Maryland, Michigan State, Auburn and Middle Tennessee State.
We were mesmerized by a preseason trip to Eugene where a half dozen Oregon players all but guaranteed a Pac-10 championship. So BMOC joined the honk wagon and watched the Ducks quack their way to a 7-5 record. That's OK, fellas -- you made us look good last year.
Ralph Friedgen has won 20 games in two seasons, and could win another one if the Terps beat Tennessee in the Peach Bowl. If I ever say a Friedgen-coached team is underrated, please smack me with a canned ham.
Michigan State suffered the biggest collapse since the bridge on the River Kwai. The Spartans (4-8) had six games where they gave up 42 or more points. Time for a CAT-scan.
We started the season as an Auburn honk. We finish it that way. Given the Tigers' schedule (four games in 18 days, including a season-opening trip to USC), two new coordinators, a quarterback change, and a season-ending injury to tailback Cadillac Williams, Tommy Tuberville's 8-4 team did itself proud.
We're all about the kids, so we threw a bone to MTSU. It threw back a 4-8 record. Bad, MTSU. Bad.
21. That the seven people with the most to prove this season are USC's Palmer, USC running back Justin Fargas, Miami running back Jarrett Payton, Texas quarterback Chris Simms and Nebraska quarterback Jammal Lord, Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Florida offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher.
Fargas eventually won the starting job and got the happy football ending he deserved.
Payton had hoped to earn the starting tailback job. But some guy named Willis McGahee beat him to it.
Simms will leave Texas with all sorts of records and wins, but no conference championship or national title appearance. Did he have some stinker games against top 10 opponents? Sure. Was he one of the classiest acts we met during the last four years? Absolutely. We're going to miss the blond lug. He plays hard. Doesn't make excuses. Says what's on his mind.
Lord did what he could as Eric Crouch's replacement, but Nebraska's problems went much deeper than who said, "Hut."
Paterno can double his win total of 2001 with a win against Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. Now if he could just quit with the hissy fits about Big Ten officiating.
Zaunbrecher's offense had its moments, but all in all, it looked as if too much freedom was given to quarterback Rex Grossman. The Gators were inconsistent and scored 21 or fewer points in half their games.
20. That no one will be able to adequately explain why the NCAA has a playoff system in place for Division I-AA, Division II and Division III football, but keeps stepping on its chin strap when it comes to a Division I-A working model. In fact, D-II commissioners recently proposed a plan that would incorporate bowl games as part of their playoff schedule. Yet, when the same thing is mentioned for D I-A, you can hear the shrieks from Pasadena to Miami.
Yeah, the BCS "worked" this season, but only because Ohio State and Miami were the only two unbeatens. Had either the Buckeyes or Hurricanes lost in their final regular season games, there would have been BCS bedlam.
Memo to Myles: build a playoff consensus by the time the BCS expires after the 2006 bowl games.
19. That George O'Leary will get a phone call from a major college program by season's end.
Dennis Franchione lied. . . and he got hired by Texas A&M.
O'Leary has served his one year of probation. Time for that phone call.
18) That the 2002 national champion won't go undefeated.
17. That by midseason you'll know these five names (NFL scouts will):
Gross finished in the top three of Outland Trophy voting
Williams was on his way to a memorable season before he got hurt.
Same for Jones.
You'll see White on Sundays.
16. That these five players will be sitting in New York City come time to pick a Heisman Trophy winner: Florida quarterback Rex Grossman, Oregon's Onterrio Smith, Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser, Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich, Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey.
OK, how do we explain this one? We don't.
Grossman had the thing won after the Tennessee game, lost it after losses to Ole Miss and LSU.
Smith got hurt.
Gesser and Leftwich got hurt (though, we would have added Leftwich to the list of invitees -- maybe Gesser too). All you needed was two more chairs at the Yale Club.
Flyer pick Wallace was on his way until the second-half semi-meltdown.
15. That it might be in the following coaches' best interest to win plenty of games this season. . . or else: Duke's Carl Franks, Baylor's Kevin Steele, Clemson's Tommy Bowden (normally you wouldn't stick Bowden on this list, but in this case you have to allow for the Clemson impatience factor), and Mississippi State's Jackie Sherrill.
Baylor was in better shape when Steele left than when he arrived. If Morriss succeeds, he'll have Steele partly to thank.
Bowden finished with a 7-5 record and a Tangerine Bowl invitation.
Sherrill, whose team finished 3-9, will be back in 2003. But some of his assistants won't be joining him.
14. That the second-most soft-as-cashmere story will involve Midshipman 3rd Class Scott Lieng.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound wide receiver doesn't get much mention in the preseason outlooks on Navy. In fact, he doesn't get any attention, thanks to his third-string status on the Middies depth chart. But you root for someone like this because of his sense of honor and loyalty -- and because of the remarkable journey that took him and his mother from a Khmer Rouge labor camp in Cambodia. . . and ended years later, incredibly enough, with Lieng in Annapolis at the U.S. Naval Academy.
13. That the 12-game regular season schedule is here to stay.
12. That Duke will avoid surpassing Northwestern's record for football futility. Please.
11. That BMOC won't be the only one with some explaining to do when it comes to preseason predictions. A sampling:
South Carolina's Holtz: Zook will win at Florida ("Florida's going to be Florida, Georgia will win the SEC.")
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti: If Onterrio Smith can stay healthy and trouble-free, he'll attract a lot of attention. Translation: Smith is gone early to the NFL.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville: No way will the Tigers go in the tank, as they did in last season's 31-7 loss to Bama in the Iron Bowl.
Wisconsin star receiver Lee Evans: If the rehab on his surgically repaired knee continues as planned (he tore his ACL in the spring game), Evans says he wants to be back, at the latest, for the first Big Ten game -- Oct. 5 vs. Penn State.
Rivers was 2 for 2: NC State beat FSU, but the Seminoles still won the conference championship because the Wolfpack lost three of its last four ACC games.
Smith didn't stay healthy for the whole season, but we'll bet a nickel he's still bolting for the NFL.
Auburn beat Bama.
Evans never played a down.
10. That the media hack who recently conducted the following interview at the Big Ten get-together in Chicago is feeling a little silly.
Hack: "Coach Turner, can you win the Big Ten?"
Problem was, the coach was Minnesota's Glen Mason, not Illinois' Ron Turner.
9. That Bobby Bowden will surpass Joe Paterno on the all-time victory list this season.
8. That the NCAA ought to listen to thoughtful, bright players such as Ohio State all-America Mike Doss.
Doss could have stiffed college for the NFL, but stuck around for his senior year. But the NCAA should have heard him last spring during a speech class, when he advocated a monthly stipend for scholarship football players. His pitch: the NCAA, its member institutions, TV, advertisers, coaches. . . everybody makes money off the players' sweat and blood except, well, the players. His financial remedy: $300 per month stipend.
7. That few teams will play a more difficult schedule than San Jose State.
The Spartans play 13 games in 13 weeks. They only have four homes games. They'll travel nearly 24,000 miles, including trips to Washington, Ohio State, Hawaii, and Illinois. Only one starter returns on defense -- a unit that finished 115th in total defense last season.
6. That the best games in September will be:
Sept. 6 -- Hawaii at BYU (Cougars will never forget 72-45 whupping by Hawaii in 2001 regular season finale).
Sept. 7 -- Alabama at Oklahoma (Tide better than you think; Sooners will make them prove it with defense for the ages).
Miami at Florida (The Hurricanes come to town for the first time since 1986).
Utah at Arizona (John Mackovic's improving offense vs. Ron McBride's defense-first mentality).
Willingham becomes football folk hero.
Sept. 12 -- Marshall at Virginia Tech (Big TV game for Leftwich).
Sept. 14 -- Georgia at South Carolina (Let's see if Holtz was right).
Washington State at Ohio State (WSU's receivers vs. Doss).
Texas at North Carolina (Mack Brown returns to Chapel Hill).
-- Nebraska at Penn State (Todd Blackledge will remember the last time the Cornhuskers visited State College. The Nittany Lions scored on a last-second TD pass to beat Nebraska. That was the same 1982 season Penn State won its first national championship).
Sept. 20 -- UCF at Marshall (Central Florida makes its MAC debut).
Sept. 21 -- Florida at Tennessee (Miami and the Vols in the span of 15 days).
Colorado at UCLA (Buffs try to go 2-for-2 vs. LA teams -- play USC on the 14th, Bruins the next week).
Sept. 26 -- Florida State at Louisville (Papa John's Stadium will be hotter than a freshly made pepperoni pizza [BMOC hoping for lucrative pitchman deal from Papa John's]).
Sept. 28 -- Duke at Navy (No further explanation needed).
Michigan at Illinois (nice early season indicator of who has what).
Nebraska at Iowa State (NU defensive coordinator Craig Bohl once said of ISU quarterback Wallace: "Geez, he's like trying to tackle the wind.").
5. That nobody at Memphis is holding their breath for an Albert Means triumphant return.
Means, who transferred from Alabama after it was revealed that he was basically sold out of high school to the highest booster bidder, was recently ruled academically ineligible this season. The much-heralded Means, a former Mr. Tennessee of football, played last season for Memphis and finished seventh in tackles. But his heart never seemed in it -- and his offseason conditioning and grades certainly reflected the indifference.
4. That in an effort to diffuse the controversy over Jill Arrington's provocative four-photo layout in For Him Magazine, CBS will institute a revised and stringent dress code for the network's female sideline reporters:
3. That new SEC commissioner Mike Slive will do more interviews in a month than he did in a year as Conference USA commish.
2. That the engraver will be writing these names at season's end:
Heisman Trophy -- Florida's Rex Grossman.
No more Brock Berlin. No more Spurrier occasionally pulling him out of a game. A more confident, relaxed Grossman will put up enough numbers -- and victories -- to give him the Heisman edge over Oregon's Smith and Marshall's Leftwich.
Eddie Robinson/Football Writers Assn. of America Coach of the Year -- Joe Paterno, Penn State.
1. Fiesta Bowl Matchup -- Oklahoma vs. Florida State (FSU wins the matchup).
Other Eight -- Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas, Georgia, Oregon, Miami, Florida, Colorado.
Waiting list: Michigan, Washington State, Washington, Nebraska, Ohio State.
Gene Wojciechowski is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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