Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Southeastern Conference Order Of Finish
1. Florida- Tim Tebow may be the best college football player ever, if not also the most decorated. He lead an amazing Gator team that returns all 11 starters on defense and 10 second stringers. Brandon Spikes is a dynamic LB who makes plays all over the field. The Gators did lose Percy Harvin, who despite injuries led the team in rushing and was usually the second best player on the field with Tebow. Anything less than a National Title would be a huge disappointment for this team.
2. Georgia-AJ Green tries to be a leader on offense after the Bulldogs lost QB Matthew Stafford (1st Overall Pick, Detroit Lions) RB Knowshon Moreno (12th overall pick, Denver Broncos) and WR Mohamed Massaquoi (50th overall pick, Cleveland Browns). The Bulldogs have the best offensive line in the conference, and that could be enough to lock up second in the SEC East. LB Rennie Curran is an all conference candidate. A big bowl game will be in store for the Bulldogs.
3. South Carolina- Year 5 of the Steve Spurrier Experiment is underway. An Outback Bowl bid for the Gamecocks was a nice end to a disappointing season. QB Stephen Garcia could be the signal caller Spurrier needs to run the fun 'n gun. SS Darian Stewart is a leader on defense, something vital when you play in the SEC 8 times a year.
4. Tennessee- Lane Kiffin is going to be the Rick Neuheisel in the SEC this year. His allegations of recruiting scandals in the conference and declaring how a certain school's graduates have less than stellar careers have made some fellow SEC Coaches upset. All that is being said, his team is just flat out less talented than most of the SEC. He brought his dad Monte to handle the defense and install the Cover-2, and hopefully lead the Vols to a bowl game. SS Eric Berry is a probably top 5 pick in the draft next fall.
5. Vanderbilt- After winning the Music City Bowl in a wonderful season in Nashville, the Commodores look to build on that success. Vanderbilt has an awesome defense, but a offense that was third worse in the NCAA. RB Jared Hawkins might need to shoulder more of the load as QB Larry Smith is still a sophomore. A bowl game is in the cross hairs for Vanderbilt.
6. Kentucky- The Wildcats were hurting after QB Andre Woodson graduated, as the passing attack dropped to 96th in the nation. This year could be different as JR QB Mike Hartline gets his job back after winning the Liberty Bowl for Kentucky. He lost his job midway through the season. Converted QB Randall Cobb looks to be a spark plug at wide out. This could be a tough season for Kentucky and they may miss out on a bowl.
1. LSU- RB Charles Scott leads the Tigers back to the elite football fans have been used to for the past decade. Despite churning out first round draft picks every year, the Tigers reload and compete. Les Miles is a great coach and gets the most out of everybody, even when the offense is hurting for talent. WR Brandon LaFell looks to jump start the Tiger attack. The defense should do enough to win the West.
2. Alabama- The Crimson Tide surprised the SEC by winning the West and competing with the Gators for most of the SEC Championship. The defense might be the best in the country. But it is not the defense that concerns me, but the 7 new starters on offense. RB Glenn Coffee graduated as did game manager QB John Parker Wilson leaves too after 4 years. The offense will rely heavily on WR Julio Jones, who is just a sophomore but has amazing talent.
3. Ole Miss- QB Jevan Snead has plenty of hype around him. Since transferring from Texas to avoid holding a clipboard behind Colt McCoy, he has even been part of Heisman hopeful talk this off season. Underrated RB Dexter McCluster leads the running attack to balance the offense. Snead may leave this year for the NFL (maybe not to avoid the McCoy-Bradford-Tebow QB battle) but Houston Nutt has this team on the way to winning the SEC West soon enough.
4. Arkansas- Head Coach Bobby Petrino tries to have Hog fans forget last year as the Razorbacks missed out on a bowl. Michigan transfer QB Ryan Mallet (second best QB prospect out of high school) tries to lead the offense back to a bowl. RB Michael Smith is only 5'7'' but dominates games and should only get better with a passing attack in front of him. DT Malcolm Sheppard is a tad small at defensive tackle but is dominant.
5. Auburn- Gene Chizik was not a great coach at Iowa State but will get his shot at Auburn. Last year was a tough one for Auburn after Tiger fans have taken a lot already (national championship snub, offensive turmoil). It is only going to get worse, as the Tigers will miss a bowl game and are at least two years from contending. They need to find an identity on offense.
6. Mississippi State- Sylvester Crooms had this team looking up after a bowl berth but came crashing down soon after and was let go. RB Anthony Dixon is one of the best in the SEC but the team needs more talent around him to do well and make a bowl. An tough non conference (Houston, Georgia Tech) makes things worse for the Bulldogs. Maybe Dan Mullen can have this team in a bowl and sustain the success.
SEC Championship game: Florida over LSU
Corbitt's Gutsy Guarantee: Florida will win the national title. Tebow and Urban Meyer has this team pumped for another title run and has all the depth and talent to keep up with any team in the nation. They even held Oklahoma to only 14 points, something no one else can claim. They may not go undefeated, but will be lethal in January nonetheless.
Brett Favre left another door open for the newly reinstated Michael Vick to join a team. It looks as if the Vikings could be the front runner offering Vick three things that appeal to any free agent QB. One, he will have a good chance to play this season. All he has to do is beat out Rosenfels and Jackson and convince Roger Goodell that he is a changed man and deserves to play week 1. Two, they offer him a good system he is familiar with. The West Coast system that the Vikings run is similar to the Falcons he had played in. Three, he will get decent money to play in a good organization. He will have a chance to win over disgruntled Vikings fans that had their hearts set on Brett Favre. It seems like a few other teams are interested, including San Francisco, Jacksonville and St Louis. Never count out the Raiders for signing questionable characters with great talent.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Brett Favre confirmed the reports today that he told Coach Brad Childress that he will stay retired and not join the Minnesota Vikings. The circus finally ends and the NFL and Minnesota can return to normal and open camp. Personally, I would have liked to see him come back and play and see if he can return to the high standard he is used to. A Super Bowl run would have been likely with a ready-made contender he could have walked into. I think this is it for Favre, as he usually takes a long time to prepare for a season and a mid season signing seems unlikely. The Vikings know what they have in Rosenfels-Jackson-Booty (not a lot) and to wait and see makes no sense. Looks like another one and done in the postseason for the Vikings this season.
On a sad note, Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson died today after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 68. Johnson’s defenses were always powerful and attacking and fun to watch. The NFL lost one of their best.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Conference USA Order of Finish:
1. Southern Miss-Brett Favre U has a dynamic offense and an all conference RB in Damion Fletcher. This could be the most solid team in C-USA. The defense is lacking (a running theme in smaller conference football) but the offense could be good enough to propel them to a second consecutive bowl win. QB Austin Davis is a rising star, probably the best Southern Miss QB since, well you know.
2. East Carolina- Head Coach Skip Holtz got this team up in the beginning of the season. After huge upsets against Va Tech and West Virginia. Although a lot of people downed the Pirates, they went on to win the C-USA and narrowly lose to Kentucky in the Liberty Bowl. QB Patrick Pinkney returns to leads the offense with a solid team around him. Holtz will skip town sometime soon, so the time is now for the ECU Pirates.
3. Central Florida- UCF has a pretty good defense, but the offense is awful. We are learned how vital Kevin Smith was to the UCF attack a year after he left for the NFL. QB Rob Calabrese leads a young offense (one SR starter) with no where to go but up. Head Coach George O'Leary will need the offense to jump start a bowl trip this winter.
4. Memphis- The Tigers have some pieces to build around, but will still be a work in progress. RB Curtis Steele will be the workhorse, and WR Carlos Singleton is 6'8''. They have made 5 out 6 bowl games in the last six seasons, but with a tough non conference and tough C-USA road contests, Memphis could just miss out.
5. Marshall- I just saw We Are Marshall. Awesome. I just thought about the Thundering Herd this year. Not so Awesome. Ever since the move ("upgrade?") to the C-USA from the MAC, Marshall is 16-31. This year, probation problems devastated the lineup with the best players on the team, RB Darius Marshall and CB DeQuan Bembry are in hot water. This could be the beginning of more tough times for Marshall.
6. UAB- QB Joe Webb is an all star. Sadly, a lot of the other Blazers aren't. The 6'4'' SR threw for 2,367 yards and ran for 1,021. The offensive line and running back returns, but the WR is a little under talented for the possible NFL Prospect. The won 2 out of 3 games to end of the year, and must build on that success to have a chance at a bowl game.
1. Houston-The best C-USA offense and team are the Houston Cougars. QB Casey Keenum leads a dynamic passing attack and RB Bryce Beall balances the attack. The number 2 passing attack plays Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Mississippi State to display how good they can be. The defense should be decent enough to win the C-USA and possibly go undefeated, earning Houston the BCS Buster label.
2. Tulsa-Only lost by 3 in the C-USA Championship game, and crushed an unmotivated Ball State in the GMAC Bowl. The offense is always good, so the losses do not affect the Golden Hurricanes as much as you would expect. They are too far behind Houston to challenge for the West Division Crown, but should go bowling. Expect lots of passing and scoring.
3. UTEP- After Jordan Palmer left school, the Miners found his replacement quickly. QB Trevor Vittatoe leads an awesome offense that should propel them to a bowl bid. The defense leaves something to be desired, but the offense is explosive. They are a fun, growing team. Play with them in NCAA Football 2010, they are more fun digital.
4. Rice- When they weren't scoring points or destroying my WMU Broncos in the Texas Bowl, Rice was playing with reckless abandon. They ran and threw the ball well. Sadly for Rice, they need to rebuild and find a starter at QB. They lost a lot, and for a program that is not as strong as other C-USA schools, reloading could prove difficult.
5. SMU- June Jones work your magic. When he was not shattering NCAA passing records or producing 3rd string NFL QB talent, June Jones was building a WAC Dynasty in Hawaii. Although the Mustangs went 1-11 last year, Jones has another year of work and recruits to run his system. They should win more than 1 game, even more is QB Bo Levi Mitchell learns the offense quicker.
6. Tulane-The offense struggled and the returning secondary did not return anybody with an interception. This could be a tough hole for the Green Wave to dig out of, after tough years with Hurricane Katrina. They have a tough road C-USA schedule, but a lighter non conference schedule should help the team gel. They could compete, and maybe go bowling in 2010.
C-USA Championship: Houston over Southern Miss
Corbitt Gutsy Guarantee: Houston will not make a BCS Bowl. The Cougars do not have enough overall talent to play an Alabama or West Virginia in January. They are explosive and paired with Southern Miss, SMU, UTEP and Tulsa, could make the C-USA into the next bowl busting, pass happy WAC 2.0. The Cougars might be a year away. Casey Keenum needs to play 2 more years to see the Cougars potential.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Pacific-10 Conference Order of Finish
1. USC- Death, Taxes and USC winning the Pac-10. Its automatic. USC just replaces one 5 star recruit with another when a starter (or backup) goes for greener pastures in the NFL. The defense did lose 9 starters, but we have seen this happen before. QB Aaron Corp will be the starter if he can beat out transfer player Mitch Mustain. FS Taylor Mays is probably the best player in the nation on defense, and the Trojans are lucky he did not leave too. Should be another year where USC plays in the BCS, but not the national championship.
2. California- RB Jahvid Best is making a huge case for the Heisman and the NFL. He added 15 pounds of muscle to withstand a long season of hits. The Bears get USC at home, and if they run the table they could win the Pac-10. A lot has to happen but they have a lighter non conference schedule and all their tough Pac-10 games at home. I do not think they have enough to overcome USC, but they will put up the biggest challenge the Trojans have had in a while.
3. Oregon-Jeremiah Masoli could be the best QB in the conference this year. He looks to lead a Ducks attack that has not had a lot of spark since Dennis Dixon graduated. RB LeGarrette Blount will balance the attack. Oregon has to travel to Boise State and play Purdue and Utah for non conference.
4. Oregon State- James and Jacquizz Rodgers are the foundation of this offense. Although they both stand at 5'7'', their production is huge. The Beavers beat USC on a Thursday night prime time game, but there might not be enough defense to compete for the Pac-10 crown.
5. Arizona State- A new offensive line and Quarterback could mean a tough year for the Sun Devils. They were disappointing last year with only 5 wins, but Dennis Erickson is building a solid team. They have the pieces in place but could need a few more years to put it together. A light non conference schedule helps out ASU, and they get Cal and USC at home. This team has spoiler and a bowl written all over it.
6. Stanford- Coach John Harbaugh is starting to get his team built in his image. Highly touted RFR Andrew Luck looks to bring more than a game manager under center. The defense was awful last year but was young and should be able to build and get better. They face a brutal back end of the schedule (Oregon, USC, Cal Notre Dame), so they must have at least 6 wins before that. Harbaugh has done a great job so far and should continue to build on his success.
7. Arizona- The Wildcats went to a bowl game for the first time in a decade under Willie Tuitama but he has graduated. The Wildcats still have WR Delashaun Dean and TE Rob Gronkowski to help the new QB. In a loaded Pac-10, they could be the odd man out for a bowl game.
8. UCLA- Rick Neuheisel looked like a genius early in the season. The thrilling win against Tennessee (which turned out to be a terrible Volunteer team) made Neuheisel look like his bold predictions would come true. The homecoming for him did not last long. They barely won 4 games last year and USC continued their dominance by winning by 3 touchdowns. This should be a better, but still tough year for the Bruins.
9. Washington- A new coach replaces the disappointing Ty Willingham in Steve Sarkisian. The former USC offensive coordinator looks to use QB Jake Locker to resurrect a program fallen on hard times. They could be a very quick turn around (0-12 last year so any wins is an improvement) and could be in a bowl in a year or two. Sarkisian brought with him defensive coordinator Nick Holt from USC with him, as the Huskies could not stop anybody last season.
10. Washington State- They could not score enough points, but made up for it by giving up a ton. Second year Head Coach Paul Wulff looks to improve his defense in its second year of its 4-2-5 system. With no D-II school on the schedule and traveling to an improved Washington team, they could struggle to get a win.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarentee: Arizona State will beat either USC or Cal. Sure Cal and USC are far more talented than the Sun Devils, but ASU gets back to back home games against the best teams in the Pac-10. Both teams will be looking for the Pac-10 title and beyond (maybe a national championship) but will be shocked mid season by ASU.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
- The Lions Traded WR Ronald Curry to St Louis for DT Orien Harris. Harris has played for the Brown, Steelers, Bills, Saints, Bengals and Rams in his 4 year NFL career. He is 6'4'' 300 pounds and adds depth and size to the defensive line that desperately needs it. Schwartz worked with some incredible (Albert Haynesworth is the most notable) magic with defensive lineman and maybe he can get something out of Harris. Curry could have provided some depth and is young, and I would like to see the Lions either sign someone or have someone like Adam Jennings or John Standeford step up.
- Detroit News did an awesome article on the underrated WMU QB Tim Hiller. He is preparing for the upcoming Bronco football season despite surgery on his torn ACL and missionary work.
- One of my favorite sports writers Michael Silver has an insightful article on the Michael Vick situation.
Mountain West Conference Order Of Finish
1. Texas Christian University- DE Jerry Hughes leads a stellar defense for the Horned Frogs in TCU's best chance for the MWC Title in years. Utah and BYU look to be on the downswing and TCU's defense and experience could put them over the top. WR Jimmy Young and QB Andy Dalton lead a steady attack.
2. BYU-The popular pick for BCS Buster last year but disappointed with an awful defense that looks like could be just as awful this year. QB Max Hall should be the best QB in the conference, but he lost reliable target Austin Collie early to the NFL. He still has TE Dennis Pitts and RB Harvey Unga. They should play in a big bowl game, but the high expectations are not there.
3. Utah- QB Brian Johnson graduated but LB Stevenson Sylvester leads a defense that should well make up for it. They have to travel to Fort Worth to play the Horned Frogs, in the most important game in the MWC. If the offense can find a leader and produce. this could be a very good team once again.
4. Air Force- After legendary coach Fisher DeBerry left many questions came up on how the most successful military academy would continue its winning ways. Enter Troy Calhoun who kept the triple option foundation. QB-RB combination Tim Jefferson and Asher Clark are a tad small but lead the attack masterfully despite just being sophomores this season. They return the entire offensive line, consisting of only seniors. Should be another productive season in Colorado Springs.
5. Colorado State- After having a winning season last year the Rams need to build on that. Dual Wideout threats Rashaun Greer and Dion Morton should lead the offense and LB Mychal Sisson and CB Gerard Thomas will lead the defense. It will hurt losing RB Gartrell Johnson but they can make up for that with a more balanced attack.
6. New Mexico- The Lobos are coming off a 4-8 season and have a new Head Coach for the first time in 11 years after Mike Locksler (former Illinois Offensive Coordinator) replaces Rocky Long. A lot of questions must be answered like the QB battle but at running back they have nice depth with James Wright and AJ Butler. Changes on defense include ditching the 3-3-5 for a more traditional 4-3. It could be a tough few years for Lobo Fans.
7. Wyoming- QB Karsten Sween needs to bring production and consistency for the Cowboys to be anywhere successful this year. Former Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will try to bring spark to a sputtering attack. A tough non conference schedule featuring Texas and Colorado could lead to another losing season in Laramie.
8. UNLV- The Rebels have QB Omar Clayton coming back from injury and that could instantly help a club that just missed a bowl game last fall. Coach Mike Sanford is on the hottest of seats after only going 11-36 in his tenure. A terrible defense does UNLV no favors this season, who have to overcome a lot to even be bowl eligible.
9. San Diego State- Coach Brady Hoke left a pretty good situation for a total rebuilding job in San Diego. I can not really see how this was a job upgrade, but the Aztecs look to build a solid foundation. WR Vincent Brown is the only outstanding player on the offense. The defense is switching to the 3-3-5 set which will be tough for the first part but probably better for the long run.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarantee: TCU will not go to a BCS Bowl. It seems like every year the MWC produces a BCS Buster, but this year I do not see it. Trips to BYU, Clemson and Air Force could be too much, and an undefeated season is the only way the Horned Frogs would sniff a prime time bowl.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Big East Season Preview
1. West Virginia- A lot has changed in Morgantown since 2006. Rich Rodriguez has moved on to Ann Arbor and Pat White has graduated and moved on to the Miami Dolphins. Jarrett Brown now is the QB for the Mountaineers, and has Noel Devine to hand the ball off too. Brown has played well in spot duty and has size White did not. WVU should still be able to take the Big East crown.
2. South Florida- Every year it seems South Florida shoots up the polls only to implode and limp into a bowl game. Matt Grothe has been the face of the program for the last 3 years and should continue this year. He has a great arm and can run for yardage. Defensive End George Selvie should be the Defensive MVP of the league and high draft choice next fall. The Bulls should make a nice bowl game at the end of the year. Quite a leap for a team that started a football program less than a decade ago.
3. Pittsburgh-Although losing LeSean McCoy to the draft, the Panthers should be loaded enough to have a few surprises in them. Dave Wannstedt has been a better coach the last few seasons and could have the talent assembled to take them to the top. The defense will be top three in the Big East but the offense could take time to retool.
4. Cincinnati- Brian Kelly is a rising star in the coaching ranks and every season the Bearcats have him is a blessing. Mardy Gilyard is a top flight wideout who will stretch defenses all season, and is an elite returner as well. The Bearcats made a BCS Bowl last year, but another one is not probable. A bowl game should be in the cards, and continue growth for this program will be steady.
5. Rutgers- After shooting up from obscurity a few years ago, Rutgers has fallen back to Earth. Anthony Davis leads the best offense line in the Big East. Although QB Mike Teel, WR Tiquan Underwood and WR Kenny Britt graduated, the Scarlet Knights should be ok. This will be a tough year but Rutgers should make a bowl and try to become contenders in the Big East in a few years.
6. Louisville- A prolific offense and sparkling records are long gone. Steve Kragthorpe will try to resurrect some magic to lead the Cardinals to a bowl game, but the schedule is so tough with games against Southern Miss, at Kentucky and at Utah, it will be a challenge. RB Victor Anderson should lead the offense and a big season from him could lift the team.
7. Conneticut- After RB Donald Brown left early for the NFL Draft, the Huskies will be in a hole. The defense is solid led by LB Scot Lutrus, DB Jasper Howard and Robert Vaughn and could lead the team to a bowl. QB Zach Frazier must step up and make the offense respectable.
8. Syracuse- This team has struggled for the last decade. The last time they had success, Donovan McNabb was the QB. This team will continue to struggle for the next few years. The non conference schedule has Minnesota, Penn State and Northwestern and does them no favors. Duke basketball player Greg Paulus will try out at QB for one year after flirting with Michigan, so at least there will be a good story to follow.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarentee: West Virginia will continue to win. Noel Devine is very fast but not very big. Jarrett Brown has more size than Pat White and could be a better pro prospect. This has been the number one program in the Big East for a decade and it will continue at least till South Florida can win in November.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Western Athletic Conference Order of Finish
1. Nevada- The WAC is fun and the offense drives this conference. The Wolf Pack run a pistol run based attack led by QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua who both rushed for 1,000 yards. It will be hard to dethrone Boise State, and the de facto WAC Championship will take place on Smurf Turf in late November.
2. Boise State-The Broncos have owned the WAC, even winning a BCS Bowl game with trickery over the Sooners and a couple of undefeated seasons to their credit. But in a semi-rebuilding year after losing face of the program RB Ian Johnson this could be a down year for Boise State.
3. Louisiana Tech- They are returning 16 starters who won 9 games and a Bowl last year. The Bulldogs have perhaps the best defense in a defense challenged conference. The most east team of the league gets Boise State at home but a brutal non conference schedule.
4. Fresno State- Annual BCS party basher has taken a turn for the worse these last few years. Dynamic Kick Returner AJ Jefferson could be the most potent weapon they have. The defense gave up too many rushing yards and they are starting a new QB for the first time in three years.
5. Hawaii-Long gone are the days of the pass happy warriors. They ran 46% of the time, more than anytime under the June Jones regime. The program is trying to find a new identity and have never had a good enough defense. Sorry Hawaii fans, you may have to wait in a rebuilding season or two.
6. San Jose State- This team will be led by seniors. Many senior will start, including Kyle Reed a pass happy quarterback who will look to throw the Spartans into a bowl game, which they did qualify for this year. This could be a last chance for this team to go anywhere.
7. Utah State-They have a new coach in Gary Andersen and a decent running game. QB Diondre Borel is under sized but can make plays with his feet and arm and RB Robert Turbin is solid. The O-Line returns 4 starters but this team has a long way to bowl eligibility.
8. New Mexico State-This team is going from a typical WAC pass happy attack to a more standard pro style one. 5’8’’ WR Marcus Anderson lead the offense but many starters on offense and defense need to step up for the Aggies need to improve on 2008’s 3-9 record.
9. Idaho-Basement dweller Idaho has struggled to do anything in a long time. They have a decent running game and a veteran QB Nathan Enderle who has good size. The Kibbie Dome will not be welcoming for the Vandals as another tough year looms in Moscow.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarantee: Nevada will win the WAC. Boise State has long run the WAC but losing Ian Johnson could be too much for the Broncos to handle. Nevada’s running attack can keep Boise State on the sideline and make up for the Wolf Pack’s lack of defense.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Atlantic Coast Conference Order of Finish
1. Florida State-In what could be Bobby Bowden’s final season, the much improved Seminoles could finally compete for the ACC title for what seems like forever. QB Christian Ponder needs to step up and be a top three ACC signal caller.
2. North Carolina State-Russell Wilson is a very underrated and talented QB that has a chance to do something special. Now is the time to put it together to what seems to be a down year for the ACC Atlantic.
3. Clemson-CJ Spiller has the chance to shine for last year’s most disappointing ACC squad. The defense should be good and the offensive line improved.
4. Boston College-They lost their head coach Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing for the NY Jets head coaching job, their QB and 9th overall pick DT BJ Raji but never count out the Eagles. They rebuilt well enough in one year to go bowling after Matt Ryan graduated so we could see them come December.
5. Wake Forest-After losing LB Aaron Curry and CB Alphonso Smith, this looks like a down year for the Demon Deacons after 3 seasons of improvement. QB Riley Skinner returns so there is hope for this season.
6. Maryland- Darrius Heyward-Bey was the surprise player taken in the first round by the speed hungry Oakland Raiders, but the Terps have more problems than replacing there speedster. RB Da’rel Scot should at least keep things interesting.
1. Georgia Tech-A little of a surprise, I pick the Yellow Jackets to take the Coastal Division. QB Josh Nesbitt and RB Jonathan Dwyer have another year in the option system and can run it to perfection this year.
2. Virginia Tech-The Hokies have dominated this division for a long time, but this could be the year they drop to number two. Although they snapped the ACC’s BCS Bowl losing streak, Junior QB Tyrod Taylor and company could need another year to come out on top.
3. North Carolina-Butch Davis has this team on the upswing and has the QB to lead them to the top. TJ Yates has problems with consistency and playing big time talent, but could drop in production after the wide receiver core was decimated by the NFL Draft.
4. Miami-The slow climb back to the top starts with consistent winning to build on. After reaching the Emerald Bowl, the Hurricanes could compete within the Coastal Division in a year or two. This is a loaded division but Miami will go bowling and could put a damper on a team’s season.
5. Duke-Yeah Duke. Not in last place. This is not a joke. QB Thaddeus Lewis is a solid dependable starter in his Senior year, and DL Vince Oghobasse should be a beast on defense. A lucky break here and there and Duke could go to a Bowl game.
6. Virginia- The Cavs will be implementing the spread offense this year, but the defense led by junior CB Ras-I Dowling should keeps things respectable. The offense cannot be much worse than it was last year only averaging 16.1 points. There is a chance for bowl eligibility.
ACC Championship Game
Georgia Tech over Florida State-The Option lives on! After being cast away by Nebraska and being a thing only of military academies, Nesbitt and Dwyer could be awesome for the Yellow Jackets and lead them to a BCS Bowl game. If the passing game improves only a little bit and the defense is stingy, look for Georgia Tech to be pitching the ball on primetime.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarentee: Duke will make a bowl game. They have watered down their schedule just enough to win six games and become eligible. Thaddeus Lewis is a good talent and can lead the team. A few breaks here and there and the Blue Devils will be selling tickets for a game in December that is not coached by Coach K.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sun Belt Conference
I personally must have something against this conference, because I think it is the weakest in major college football, but they always seem to beat good major conference teams. This year they have some solid players and could contend in more than a few matches.
Order of Finish
1. Troy-Has a great defense led by LB Boris Lee and Bear Woods. Defense seems to be at a premium in smaller college football conferences, and this alone could carry them.
2. Florida Atlantic- Rusty Smith is a good QB prospect who could be drafted next April. The face of the program should lead them to a good season and a bowl, with Schnellenburger roaming the sidelines.
3. Arkansas State-RB Reggie Arnold should be the workhouse of the league and propel ASU to a winning record and a possible bowl berth.
4. Florida International- They have come a long way and should be a season or two away from .500. WR T.Y. Hilton was looked over by every other team in the Sunshine State, and he will make them regret it soon. Coach Mario Cristobal won't be around for long.
5. Middle Tennessee State- Defensive Back U has two more good ones, Alex Suber and Jeremy Kellem, but it will not be enough for a bowl bid or to compete in the Sun Belt.
6. Lousiana Monroe- After beating Alabama in 2007, this team got some respect, but that does not carry over an off season.
7. Lousiana Lafayette-6-6 last year, Coach Rickey Bustle on the hot seat and losing starters at RB and QB? Defines rebuilding year and a coaching search to me.
8. Western Kentucky-The Hilltoppers complete their voyage from D-II to independent to full time Sun Belt member. They have some familiarity with these teams but will take a few more years to start competing. The Red Blob will be a football games now!
9 North Texas- LB Tobe Nwigwe leads this perennially basement dwelling team into play next fall. They have cleaned up some disciplinary problems, but now its time for the Mean Green to start winning ballgames.
Corbitt’s Gutsy Guarantee: The Sun Belt will win at least two more games against big time competition. SEC and other conferences now travel to Sun Belt sites and will find an upset here and there. The best Sun Belt teams can beat almost anybody except the elite teams in the nation. More respect for this up and coming conference.
For my analysis of college football, I will give it in 12 posts. First I will lead off with the D-1 Independents and look at all the conferences in major college football leading up the season which is quickly approaching.
D-1 Independents Order of Finish (most wins):
1. Notre Dame
1. Notre Dame is in ultimate put up and shut up mode with Charlie Weiss well past his 3 strikes your out Notre Dame usually allows. They have had the big recruiting classes, big QB's and flashy offense Weiss promised but only amounted to a 7-6 record in 2008 with a win in the Hawaii Bowl. This year they have a stellar offense led by Junior QB Jimmy Clausen and WR Golden Tate. If the defense makes strides like it has the last few years, then this could be a BCS team.
2. Navy does what Navy does, and they do it well. They will run options at you all day till you fall asleep, but when you wake up you have given up 350 yards rushing and 35 points. I always like a team with a strong identity and they may have it more than anybody in college football. Navy will make another Bowl Game this year, and will win the Commander-In-Chief trophy.
3. I always will have a special place in my heart for service academies. They can not promise redshirts to help playing time and adjusting to college football. They can not promise the NFL or big contracts and students must live a rigorous lifestyle and then serve in the military. Army continues its development to the option offense, which caught on last year. They are still getting where they need to, but I can see improvement for the Black Knights.
Corbitt Gutsy Guarantee: Army will make a bowl game. With a weaker schedule and another year in they option system, Army will go bowling and hopefully resurrect this team.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Amani Toomer has been a solid, steady wide receiver for the New York Football Giants for 14 years. Before that, he was a Wolverine, and now I'd like him to be a Lion, at the right price of course. At a low cost contract at 1 or 2 years, Amani Toomer could be helpful to the Lions. The Lions have lacked a veteran possession receiver since Herman Moore was in the twilight of his career (which he left Detroit for a failed comeback with the G-men) and it could be valuable to someone like Calvin Johnson or Derrick Williams. How often can you find a veteran wide out with a great work ethic, team first mentally and is pretty durable. He could come in and give around 500-600 yards and a few touchdowns. He would be valuable on third down and take defenders away from Johnson and Pettigrew, who will be blanketed by defenders. We already pried away Larry Foote because he was a Michigan man, why not Toomer? Northcutt was traded for to provide depth, but he is not the same caliber wide out. Toomer could also play in the slot if needed, and is more versatile. He is the type of stop gap player teams need to transition to basement dwellers to playoff teams.
Marvin Harrison is a different story. Although possessing a team first mentality, he is more of a loner and would not be as great of a teacher to all the young wideouts on the team. He has been struck harder by injuries lately and is not the same player he was a few years back. Him asking for a release and his legal trouble make him less attractive. It is a good bet he would want way more money than Toomer, as he passed up $13 million with a contender in the Colts. I do not think it would work out with either party, and I hope Mayhew lets Harrison explore other options than Detroit, if he even comes back to the NFL.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Everybody from Politicians to any fan by a water cooler have debated over this fact. Does the BCS work? Does it award the National Championship to the best team in Major College Football? Lets look at it this way:
Pros: The BCS does make every game a playoff game. Rarely do we see teams with 2 losses play for the national title, and only 1 loss teams with the best record with a quality loss will make it. Lets face it (Utah, Auburn) teams who go undefeated usually do not deserve to play for a national title. Definitely a big bowl game (Sugar, Rose, Orange) but who wants to see USC throttle Boise State. Utah beat an unmotivated Alabama team with little offense, but I would like to see anybody tell me that Alabama was better than Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.
Cons: Sometimes good teams are left out, like USC every year (beat all your Pac-10 opponents Trojans), Texas last year or Auburn in 2004. They did create a new National Title game (awesome) but also hurt the importance of some other Bowl games. With the title game taking place after the other bowls for a prime time Monday night kickoff, most teams have almost a month off (or more, another disadvantage for the beleaguered Big Ten) and we might not be seeing the high level of football we could be. Sure, people can come back from injury but it seems like too long of a layoff.
Pro Playoffs: You can use the Bowls to set up as playoff games, (Rose and Orange Bowl serve as semifinals, National Title after that) and not take any money from the bowl committees. Money may be the biggest reason this process has been tied up. Another argument that makes me upset is saying that the students can not handle the time devoted to football. Student-Athletes in lower division football can seem to handle studying and finals during their run, and many times those schools are harder academically.
Con Playoffs: It hurts the anticipation and buildup to the big game. It could make the Bowls more watchable but take away from the tradition with teams being lined up by playoffs. You would only need 4 teams to go for the Championship, so the other Bowls quality may suffer.
A Playoffs system would work in my opinion. Lets take last year for example. In the Semifinal, have Florida play USC and Texas rematch Oklahoma. Then, the Texas or Oklahoma debate would have been settled, and USC could have redeemed themselves for a mid season loss to Oregon State. Florida lost to Ole Miss, but after all the other wins they got in the brutal SEC they deserve to be the number one seed. Would that not have been awesome to watch?
A Playoff would do nothing but reduce controversy and improve the entertainment value of NCAA football. Maybe controversy can be a good thing driving up money and viewership, but the National Champion will be truly the best team at the end of the season.
- Pedro Martinez is going to work out and possibly sign with the Phillies. He has been battling injuries these last few years, but could be a good mid season upgrade for the world champs. You can never have enough pitching, and his veteran presence could help out the Phillies in a pennant race.
- Rasheed Wallace was introduced to the fan of Boston yesterday. After saying he would retire to spend more time with his kids after his contract with Detroit ran out. He looks to be gunning for another ring with a sure contender in the loaded Eastern Conference.
- Lance Armstrong is in third place by eight seconds entering the grueling stage eight tomorrow. He looks to take the lead doing what he does best, mountain stages.
- Jiri Hudler joins Thomas Kopecky, Marian Hossa and Mikael Samuelsson as forward to bolt from Hockeytown. Hudler will join a team in Russia's mega league KHL. The Red Wings should receive some draft picks in compensation and will be well under the salary cap next year. The cap did not change in amount from last year.
This no name head coaching pick is a good call. Not being a fan of Avery Johnson, I am glad the Pistons looked over him and made a Chicago Bulls style hire. The Bulls hired Vinny Del Negro last year and it served them well.
Lets just hope that Detroit did not overpay him like they did Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
- Shane Victorino and Brandon Inge were awarded the final spot on the MLB All-Star teams roster. Two good players were awarded for their hard work, and the fans got it right. I know fan voting is looked down upon by many, but they usually get it right.
- The Vikings sent a trainer to look at the overall health of Brett Favre. He probably already has a deal in place and will soon make a decision about coming back next season.
- College football is gearing up for a return late next month. I will preview all the conferences, with a list of Heisman front runners and bold predictions.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
After the NBA changed their rules so that high school players must play a season after college before being eligible for the draft, most players went to school for one year. A lot of them left after skipping classes and only going to practice. OJ Mayo is being accused of hiring an agent and receiving money while at school at USC, and such events led to the resignation of Tim Floyd. When Ricky Rubio was selected by the struggling Timberwolves, he may opt out of the pick and go play in his native Spain and receive more money, to either re enter the draft next year or continue to play in Europe.
Europe has signed players from hockey and basketball leagues much more often lately. The NBA lost the likes of Earl Boykins and top high school prospect Brandon Jennings for big bucks. Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Federov, Ray Whitney, John Graham and Ed Belfour have all left the NHL for Swedish Elite Leagues and the new Kontinental Hockey League for money and an opportunity to play in a big new league.
The World is certainly catching up to the US in many sports and is challenging the US in supremacy for having the top sporting leagues (besides soccer) in the world.
Friday, July 3, 2009
But even after all the negatives, I tried to take the positives, well the most positives that can be taken from a 0-16 season, and carry them into the offseason. A General Manager can be graded on coaching hires, drafts, free agent signings and trades as a measuring stick of job performance.
Coaching Hires: B+
Jim Schwartz was most likely the best coach available this offseason. We were not going to pry Bill Cowher from his comfy TV gig just yet, and we needed to go in a defensive direction, even if he was a rookie. Schwartz coached with Bill Belicheck and is an up and coming coach with attention to detail. He coached up great players, and handled tougher players such as Pac-Man and has led some of the best defenses in the NFL every year. It is believed he can be a good evaluator of talent as well, as Mayhew and he are going to be on the same page while drafting, something Millen was not the best at. Scott Linehan and Gunther Cunningham are excellent coordinating hires. Linehan was part of the St Louis offensive juggernaut, and if not for injuries and player problems, could still be the coach for the Rams. Cunningham brings years of experience (some of it head coaching) to the Lions from Kansas City but faces a tough challenge of turning around an awful defense. He will attack with speed and try to use the improved linebacking core to turn things around.
NFL Draft: B
Aaron Curry or an offensive lineman would have been nice, but Matt Stafford could be the real deal. If he is your guy, and you think he is special, take him no matter what. He seems to have all the tools and mindset to be a successful Quarterback in the NFL. Pettigrew could be an elite Tight End, with the blocking, catching and size you look for. Derrick Williams could jump start an awful situation the return game, Sammie Lee Hill could be a steal as a developmental project and DeAndre Levy could be a starting linebacker in a few years. Delmas looks to be a starter right out of the gate, bringing a tough leadership style and swagger he had in Kalamazoo. Mayhew got three or four starters at least out of this draft, and solid depth and special teamers with the rest. Millen would reach for positions or names and totally ignore depth in the later rounds. Over half the players he drafted aren’t in the league anymore.
This is where Mayhew does his most magic. Just a few weeks into the job, he sent a disgruntled Roy E. Williams and a 7th round pick to the Cowboys for a 1st, 3rd and 5th round pick. Williams would almost surely have left the Lions that summer in free agency, but Jerry Jones wanted Williams to jumpstart the offense and maybe replace TO in the future. Williams promptly signed a large extension with Dallas but did not make an impact in 2008. In the offseason, Mayhew sent overpaid underachieving Corey Redding packing to Seattle for Julian Peterson. Peterson, although not the player he once was, returns to the state he played college ball in (MSU Spartans) and provides the Lions with an impact defensive player, something we have lacked in a while. Redding and his huge contract was a welcome relief, although it did leave a hole in the defensive line to be plugged up with a rotation of Grady Jackson, Chuck Darby, Andre Fluellen, Landon Cohen and Sammie Lee Hill. Jon Kitna was treated poorly and was trade bait last deadline but was put on the injured reserve to end his season. Then he was sent to Dallas to provide a strong arm capable backup for Dallas. The Cowboy’s playoff hopes may have been squashed when Brad Johnson could not come through with leading the offense. The Lions received corner Anthony Henry, a cornerback for the new look Lions secondary. Any change on defense was welcomed, as the Lions could not stop Detroit Country Day some Sundays. Gerald Alexander was traded to Jacksonville for veteran receiver Dennis Northcutt. The injury bug bit Alexander often and he was never able to play a full season after his rookie year. Northcutt is now the most veteran wide receiver and provides steady, but not great, play.
Free Agent Signings: B
The Lions did land Maurice Morris to split carries with Kevin Smith. Smith, a workhorse, could use a veteran change of pace back. Larry Foote was a surprise. The Middle Linebacker, fresh of his second Super Bowl with the team that drafted him, the Steelers. The U of M standout brings a winning attitude and veteran leadership to a team that desperately needs it. He is also a great talent returning his home state to anchor a defense. Grady Jackson and Philip Buchanan were brought in to help out on defense. The two were once standouts, and are expected to be stop gap starters with the Lions. Buchanan could also help to return kicks. Jon Jansen and Ephraim Salaam were brought in to help out the offensive line. They were both good starters at one point (Jansen was an exceptional talent before injuries derailed these last few years) and were brought in to start and bring depth to multiple positions and help tutor the younger players. Will Heller, also out of Seattle, was brought in to backup Brandon Pettigrew. A lot of other veteran players were brought in, not with big contracts, but reasonable deals to provide competition for starting spots. Worst case scenario for these players is spot starts, depth and special team duty. Millen never seemed to bring in veteran depth talent and the Lions suffered. Another welcome change, this is something many teams in the league do. You will always lose starts to injuries, and this helps the Lions chances to win.
Overall Grade so far B/B+
Martin Mayhew has the toughest task ever set before him for a General Manager, maybe in any sport. He has to take the worst team of all time and turn them into winners. 0-16 has never been accomplished and it’s an awful hole to climb out of. The draft was proof that this is a three to four year rebuilding plan, as defense and offensive line (arguably the biggest needs) were largely ignored. Those were set aside for years to come, as a QB was taken while we have a veteran to carry the team for at least another year, and tight end, a position the Lions have lacked for almost a decade. The free agents signings were not exceptional but are all solid and should provide depth and production. The trades were all deals where the Lions gave up something they were not going to have for long for more value. To orchestrate that shows talent and experience beyond his years. I am not drinking Kool-Aid or calling him the savior of the franchise. Maybe I am over rating him for the terrible job we saw these last eight years, but I think he is a solid GM who has the potential to be good for this franchise.