What a difference a year makes. As a reward for surviving another whole year, Mother Nature has blessed us with another season of college football to enjoy. Although a year can bring a lot of changes, some things never change, like the way all the pre-season hype over which college football teams will still be in the hunt at the end of the season ultimately finds a way of coming unglued after 12 Saturdays worth of games.
Last year the results ended with the most unworthy champion of the modern era of the game hoisting the trophy of the winners. It was a sight that truly illustrated the absurdity that was the 2007 college season, a two loss SEC champion staking a dubious claim to a highly tarnished season's worth of results and the anointing of Les Miles as the most overrated coach in America. Yes, the man who was most notorious for upsetting Bob Stoops before it became a common sight and beginning the end of Larry Coker's time as the head coach in Coral Gables is now YOUR reigning football coaching genius. If that doesn't prepare you to expect anything to happen this season as well nothing will.
To me personally, at the end of last year, only one team seemed like they were championship caliber week in and week out, the mighty Kansas Jayhawks. Yes, in my opinion Randy Shannon went out and hired away the defensive coordinator of the true uncrowned national champions of last year, a man who happened to finish his season calling plays from the box of the venue set to host this year’s title game. Here on the Shortlist once again we'll eliminate teams from the national championship conversation with a simple evaluation of them by the following criteria:
1) A team from a non-BCS conference cannot lose a game. A BCS conference team, or Notre Dame, can only lose one game and only to a BCS conference opponent or Notre Dame and still stay on the Shortlist. (Yes, here on the Shortlist, even after the worse season in Irish history, even NOW the angry Irish little people still get special recognition as the only independent program to play a true national schedule.)
2) Teams with losses will be ranked relative to the circumstances surrounding their losses. A loss on the road by one point is more forgivable than a loss at home by 10.
And that's it. It's by using simple evaluation criteria over a 14 game season that the greatest sport in the world can avoid embarrassing sights like LSU 2007 from happening ever again. Now if only they would hurry up and give me a Harris poll vote I can help ensure such a travesty is relegated to the dustbin of time. Until that happens though, all 119 teams in the division formerly known as 1-A are on the shortlist to open the year.
My picks to be eliminated this week read as follows:
Buffalo, Miami (OH), Middle Tennessee, Army, SMU, ECU, Bowling Green, Hawaii, Ohio, Utah, UAB, New Mexico, LA-Tech, ULM, FIU, NI, WMU, ULL, FAU, Ark. St., UNT, Kent State, Idaho, Utah State, CSU, Fresno State.
These teams face a tough fight right out of the gate to stay relevant in the race for the big prize in Miami Gardens in 2009. One team that isn't relevant to the discussion right away takes the field there Thursday as the sacrificial beginning to a new era in Hurricane football. While the opening weekend sees few interesting showdowns for the discerning college football fan, the onslaught that Mr. Football II, Jacory Harris, is about to unleash will be worth the price of admission for any fan of blowouts.
Things will get much more interesting next week in Gainesville but for pure flashback action to the days of the ruthless posse, Thursday is your night to get your fix in South Florida. I expect great things from the Miami Hurricanes this year and look forward to sorting out all the results next week as we track who stays in and who steps down from the challenge on the Shortlist to South Beach.
Copyright 2008 by Christopher Whelpton for Canespace.com