Conference Syllabus – Fall Semester 2008
Class Level – 2500
Just a year ago, the Pac-10 was loaded: USC and Oregon were legitimate title contenders, and Arizona State was a upper-second-tier bowl team. This season? Not so much. Catch up on the differences in the suddenly much less dangerous Pac-10 with your favorite Professor, the Right Rev (and make sure you leave the apple on the desk before you leave).
- USC. My personal fear of Rey Maualuga has already been documented. I have nightmares about Maualuga that invoke that scene in Not Another Teen Movie (admit it: you’ve seen it) when they throw the ball to the retarded kid and he gets torn in half (literally) in the end zone. USC’s defense, when healthy, should have a similar effect on opponents. The Trojans’ quarterback play – can a healthy Mark Sanchez keep his hands to himself off the field and succeed on it? Can Mitch Mustain live up to his five-star hype? – will be the difference between USC being the class of the Pac-10 and the class of the country. The defense is so good, all the QBs really need to be is Trent Dilfer, circa Baltimore Ravens, and the national title should be within USC’s reach.
- Oregon. Yes, they collapsed once Dennis Dixon went down, but the Ducks still have a bunch of talent (and Brady Leaf won’t play QB any more). Sadly, this means we’ll get to see plenty more hideous uniforms. WR Jaison Williams is a matchup nightmare, and the Ducks’ secondary might be the best in the country. Won’t be enough to topple USC, but the Ducks should be good for second place.
- Cal. See, this is where MOST people would put Arizona State, citing Dirty Dennis Erickson, etc (more on that momentarily). But the Rev just has a feeling about Cal, folks. QB issues derailed them last year, and they can’t upgrade their stadium because it might wipe out a rare species of bacteria native to the site (no, it isn’t former Cal student and MTV Real World/Road Rules challenge host Johnny Mosely, but good guess). That sucks. But don’t forget there is serious talent in Berkeley. Jahvid Best is greased lightning, and Jeff Tedford knows how to make a bad quarterback look good enough to get drafted in the first round (see: Boller, Kyle).
- Arizona. Tuitama. Say it again, it’s fun: Tuitama. As in Willie Tuitama, who probably is the best quarterback in the Pac-10 this season. Yeah, I know, it’s sad. But if Mike Stoops is ever going to get it done, this is his chance. Arizona has the passing attack to be a factor, and Stoops used to be regarded as a defensive genius (funny how Oklahoma’s talent can make someone look smart, eh?). Plus, the Wildcats are my backup team on NCAA football from EA Sports. Homer pick!
- Arizona State. Dirty Dennis turned the Sun Devils around in year 1, following the banishment of Sam “Best example of how Nebraska fans overhype everything about their team” Keller and the unleashing of Rudy Carpenter. Unfortunately for ASU, defenses also unleashed a ton of punishment on Carpenter. The OL doesn’t look much better, so by the end of this season, Carpenter could remind people of Muhammad Ali (and I’m not talking about his boxing skills). The schedule gets way tougher, too, with Georgia and Oregon at home and road trips to USC, Cal and arch-rival Arizona.
- Oregon State. The Beavers have a few very cool things going for them. 1) Their nickname; 2) coach Mike Riley, a bright young star; 3) The return of stud wideout/return man Sammie Stroughter. It will be enough for them to do what they do: Finish middle-of-the-pack and go to a decent bowl game.
- UCLA. Rick Neuheisel is a dirty bastard. There’s no question he deserves the “Slick Rick” nickname. But he’s also a keen offensive mind who is taking over a program that should be loaded with talent each year. Bad news for the Bruins’ fans (the ones not still mourning the loss of Kevin Love) is that it will take Slick Rick some time to get things moving.
- Washington State. As a Mizzou grad, Wazzu holds a dear little place in the Right Rev’s heart. What a cool nickname. Other than that, the only thing going for them is that NFL great Ryan Leaf went to school the… wait, never mind.
- Washington. OK, let’s be honest. Ty Willingham seems like a nice-enough guy. A good Christian man. But he’s a terrible football coach. He can’t recruit, and he coaches with his tail between his legs. Jake Locker is a stud, but that won’t matter as long as Willingham is the coach.
- Stanford. Probably the last year to pick them at the bottom (at least until Jim Harbaugh bails for a big job). Harbaugh recruits like a maniac, so the Cardinal will rise again. Hey, that’s good. Now the tree will have something to do at games besides getting surreptitiously hammered.
Dean’s List Pac-10 Game of the Year:
Georgia at Arizona State. This is a chance for Dennis Erickson to make a big statement for the Pac-10. Georgia hasn’t traveled out of the South for a nonconference football game since Sherman marched to the sea (at least it seems that way). Will the unavailability of grits for breakfast, the beautiful locale and the desert be enough to throw Georgia – and it’s young, inexperienced OL – off its game?
Paddle Line’s Red-Assed Embarrassment of the Year:
UCLA at Tennessee. Fat Phil might have his problems, but if you think the Vols will be caught with their pants down by a Pac-10 team two years in a row… well, you might be right. Either Jon Crompton is everything he’s made out to be, and this is a blowout win for the Vols, or not-there-yet UCLA pulls the upset. Either way: Embarassing.
Title games are for pussies. USC wins the league.
Joe McKnight, USC. He’s the most explosive offensive player on the best team in the league. He’ll win it.
Rey Maualuga, USC. Because he’ll kill you, man.
Sammie Stroughter, Oregon State. He was a stud in 2006; he’ll return to that this year.
Big East Conference
Conference Syllabus – Fall Semester 2008
Class Level – 1500
There’s a reason it is called the Big Least – any conference in which Rutgers and UConn can compete for a conference title is barely worthy of BCS status. Oh, sure, West Virginia and South Florida are legitimate top 20 teams. But beyond that? Welcome to the cesspool, friend.
- West Virgina. The Eers have one more year of Pat White. Which means one more year of Rich Rodriguez-type glory before it all comes tumbling down. New coach Bill Stewart reminds me of someone. Now, who is it? Oh yes. That’s right. Frank Solich: Lifelong assistant who will not be able to sustain the success of his former boss. Enjoy it while it lasts, then let that country road wind you over to the basketball arena, Eer fans.
- USF. The Bulls have a good, heady QB in Matt Groethe, a rising RB in Mike Ford and a fast defense that knows how to handle the spread, led by stud DE George Selvie. Not to mention, their coach has an excellent education…
- Pitt. LeSean McCoy is a great player. Pitt has pretty good talent. But the Panthers also have Dave Wannstedt (call him Wanny, it’s cool!)– who somehow has managed to keep his job despite being a buffoon. Must be the mustache. Yeah, mustaches are cool. Pitt will make a bowl, but the huge “breakout” some are predicting? Keep waiting. Dan Marino has a son or two, right?
- Cincinnati. Cincinnati’s season hinged on QB Ben Mauk returning. With him, they’re an upset threat in the Big East, capable of playing an “A” game and ruining the national hopes of West Virginia or South Florida. Without him? The Bearcats are a former basketball school with an administration that ran off the best part of its athletic department. Cincy’s bowl prospects are only slightly better than Mauk’s chance of winning his lawsuit against the NCAA – slightly less than zero.
- Rutgers. Rutgers fans on Rivals.com message boards will try to tell you Mike Teel is a legitimate quarterback, coach Greg Schiano is the real deal, and Rutgers is here to stay. Well, they’re right about Schiano. The rest? Not so much. Sure, Schiano will lead a hard-nosed team with a solid defense. But without Ray Rice to power the offense… well, Teel will be what he is (not that good) and the talented wideouts will go to waste.
- UConn. Seriously, how anyone was convinced the Huskies were a legitimate team last year needs to think again. Only in the Big East. Coach Randy Edsall is solid, but UConn won’t catch lightning in a bottle again.
- Louisville. Remember a few years ago, when the Cardinals had Bobby Petrino, Brian Brohm and looked like a future power in the Big East. Possibly THE future power in the Big East. It’s possible Hunter Caldwell and Steve Kragthorpe can replace that duo and bring Louisville back to 2006, but it’s also possible Evangeline Lilly will suddenly show up at my apartment with just her surfboard and her bikini.
- Syracuse. If there’s one still-employed coach who is more mind boggling than Wanny, it is ‘Cuse head man Greg Robinson. Robinson’s powers of persuasion must be legendary (or illegal), because the guy has never been an asset. At any job. Not even his part-time job in high school. As the defensive coordinator of the Broncos, his defenses were good – as long as John Elway handed them double-digit leads. Once Elway was gone, Robinson was quickly out the door. As the coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, Robinson’s defenses couldn’t even perform when handed multiple-touchdown leads. And his departure made Dick Vermeil cry (further proving my theory that Dick Vermeil wouldn’t know defense if it hit him in the face). As the coordinator at Texas for one year at Texas, he managed to put a decent unit on the field thanks to insane talent and an offense powered by Vince Young. At Syracuse, he has been an absolute disaster. The team is just … worse … thanks to Robinson. The schemes are worse. The talent is worse (nonexistent). The Orange will be lucky to win more than one game (they’ve got Northeastern). Hey, is Paul Pasqualoni still available?
Dean’s List Big East Game of the Year:
South Florida at West Virginia. This one will decide the league. The Bulls have had WVU’s number of late, but playing the game in Morgantown should make the difference. Provided Pat White stays healthy, of course…
Paddle Line’s Red-Assed Embarrassment of the Year:
Hofstra at UConn. The Huskies want to be taken seriously. Maybe they should play Hosftra circa 1928 then. Because Hofstra 2008 sucks. Of course, because UConn isn’t that good, they probably only win this game 28-10.
Big East Champ
Title games are for pussies. West Virginia wins the league.
Pat White. One of the best four-year players in modern memory, White’s excellence will be on display for one more season before he becomes a corner/wide receiver in the NFL.
George Selvie. Nothing makes a tough defense go like a defensive end that can give the QB night sweats, especially against the spread offense.
Noel Devine, West Virginia. If he return kicks, he will be dynamite. IF.