The SEC Spring Meetings draw to a conclusion today in Destin and with it we come to the end of our college football year. And what a year it has been. It just doesn’t seem that long ago that we were complaining about officiating on an hourly basis and wondering if Florida could possibly get through a stressed filled season unscathed. We watched Alabama celebrate its first-ever Heisman Trophy winner (Mark Ingram) and later watched the Crimson Tide win the SEC’s fourth straight national championship.
We watched Georgia Tech win an ACC championship as coach Paul Johnson proved a lot of people wrong—again. When are people going to figure out that this guy just knows how to win?
We’re going to take our annual June break in order to get our batteries recharged and to do all the chores that Mrs. College Football has on her list. We’ll resume our daily efforts on Monday, July 5 when we’ll start getting ready for what is already shaping up to be another wild season.
Now, if all hell breaks loose on this expansion situation, I’ll put down my paint brush and jump back into the fray for a little while. In that vein, I’m going to leave you with five story lines that should keep us buzzing through the summer:
1. Expansion: A lot of smoke or college Armageddon? Based on the reports coming out of the Big 12 meetings yesterday, that league may be getting ready to completely disintegrate. The Pac-10 has reportedly decided to go on the offensive and not wait on its Big Ten brothers by asking as many as six teams from the Big 12 to form a super conference. It’s hard for me to imagine that the Big 12 athletics directors want to pay to send their women’s softball teams to Pullman, Washington (home of Washington State), but in an atmosphere like this, people start losing their minds. But I will say this: I can’t imagine Texas looking at the Pac-10 and then looking at the SEC and thinking that going West would be better. It’s an easier conference to win, that’s for sure.
2. Can the SEC make it five straight? The league has won four straight BCS football championships and Alabama, the 2009 champ, will be No. 1 in most of the preseason polls. The odds are certainly against the Crimson Tide because so many things have to fall into place. Nebraska repeated as champions in 1995 with the best college team I have ever seen in person. Alabama won’t have to wait to get a good barometer on its chances as Penn State comes to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 11.
3. Monday’s MLB Draft could change everything in the ACC: The Major League baseball draft is Monday and most of the time that is not a big deal to college football. But Dabo Swinney, the head coach at Clemson, will be watching very closely. His quarterback, Kyle Parker, tied for the ACC in home runs this season with 19 and was second in the league in slugging percentage (.709). If he goes in the first round and the money is good enough, Parker could give up football. “I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to the baseball draft in my life, but I’ll be watching this one,” Swinney said. Swinney believes that Parker is coming back and if he does, Clemson will challenge Florida State for the ACC Atlantic title. Without Parker Clemson will still be a pretty good team but it will be difficult to beat the Seminoles, who have a Heisman Trophy candidate at QB in Christian Ponder.
4. Will the USC investigation finally come to an end? I guess the NCAA is trying to set some kind of record in the USC/Reggie Bush case. How many presidential terms can this thing last? For several weeks now there have been media reports that the final decision of the infractions committee is just days away. They have been false alarms. Now into its fifth year, this is a big case for the NCAA and people in the South are interested. Alabama is interested because it got hammered back in 2002 because of the actions of a booster. The Crimson Tide faithful want to see if the NCAA will punish the pretty boys from the Left Coast or if their moral outrage is reserved just for teams from the South.
The folks at Tennessee, they are just hoping for some Karma now that their buddy, Lane Kiffin, is the head coach of the Trojans.
5. Mark your calendars for Sept. 11: The early TV schedules are out and Sept. 11 will be an important day. First of all, Georgia goes to South Carolina for a Noon game at Williams-Brice Stadium on ESPN or ESPN2. That is a monster game for both programs. Georgia needs it to get things off to a good start after a disappointing 2009. Georgia has gone to Columbia with some pretty good team and had to fight just to get out with a win. Steve Spurrier needs a big win to jump start his program again and prove that he can compete for the SEC East title.
That night Alabama hosts Penn State in the renewal of a great intersectional game. It will be the first test of Alabama’s rebuilt defense and the Crimson Tide’s first chance to prove if its offense is as good as we think it will be. If Alabama can win that one, then it has to go to Arkansas on Sept. 25 and then host Florida on Oct. 2. After that stretch I think we will know if Nick Saban’s team has the right stuff to repeat.
As always, I want to thank all of you for making Mr. College Football so successful. It’s you and your humor, insight, knowledge and criticism (yeah, that’s important because it keeps me on my toes) that makes this so much fun and such a rewarding experience.
Enjoy your June. Because when we get back we’ll be putting our head down and getting ready for SEC Media Days, which start July 21 in Birmingham. Then, my brothers and sisters, it will be on.
See you in July (or sooner).
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