Spring practice around the nation is in full swing which means, fans are filling out depth charts, and publications are ranking teams for the upcoming season. This entry is not a ranking but this will be a list of teams that will make a move this year, and a list of programs that may be over sold going into the year.
1. Florida St.- many people in the media were warchanting and tomahawk chopping like Peter Warrick, Marvin Jones, Chris Weinke, Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn were in uniform and on the sidelines last season. What you had last year was a young team with a young coach and a plethora of key injuries. Many college football insiders believed that team was a really a year away, (doesn’t everyone say that every year about the ‘Noles). This Florida State team will be better and will compete for a championship in the conference. Competing for a national championship however remains to be seen, the Nole’s always lose a game they should not lose.
2. Georgia- Every year people hop on the Georgia bandwagon and sometime when the leaves turn brown and orange north of the Mason Dixon, there are grumblings about the direction of the program, then the team recovers to be just good enough to save the head coach’s Job. Georgia is in purgatory, The coach does enough to warrant keeping his job but not enough for the fanbase to be totally committed to him but with that said, the Dawgs should be a contender in the SEC and nationally.
3. New Mexico St.- Who? What? Come on? Anything I forgot? Okay it is a program in the rapidly deteriorating WAC and historically not even been a good WAC program. So how does a 4-9 program gain mention as being a stock up program. Dwayne Walker has this program headed in the right direction, they return a sophomore at quarterback, whom before sustaining a season ending injury was leading his team to heights not attained in many a year in Las Cruces. The Aggies return a phalanx of skilled position talent that would be dangerous in any conference, add in the addition of a decent recruiting class which is heavy on JC transfers, NMSU could be a surprise team in a depleted WAC. Gone are perennial roadblocks Nevada, Fresno St., and Hawaii and are replaced with newcomers to Division 1 football; Texas St. and UT San Antonio.
4. Arizona St- Okay, I am not an ASU homer, but I will be perfectly honest, it shocks me that ASU is not better than it is perennially. Okay here is why I feel this programs stock is rising. Todd Graham is a good coach, and an excellent recruiter. I am not going to say he is a stand up guy, his track record speaks for itself but in terms of pure football, he will have the Sun Devils headed in the right direction. Next year’s schedule has several key games at home; USC, Oregon and Cal are in Tempe. Additionally Dennis Ericson has always been able to recruit, he just could not get players motivated to play. So ASU sits at the nexus of good recruits in the program along with a good x’s and O’s coach.
5. Washington St- Does anybody really believe the pirate will stay docked in Pullman long term? The Palouse river’s south fork along with two other “rivers” are the only water in the area, not exactly a place to raise the battle flag and sail the seven seas looking for booty, but Leach needed a place to re-enter the coaching profession and it doesn’t get much more out of the way than Washington State, well except for Moscow, Idaho, home of the University of Idaho, which is eight miles away. The program should improve. Washing ton St was an improving young team, with young skill talent, they now add a guy who is going to turn those guys loose in his system. My question is how long will it take for the Coogs to roll out in black uniforms? I’m sure the players “fat little girlfriends will enjoy those new unis.”
There will be some obvious programs on this list let us get those out of the way; Stanford, Oklahoma St, LSU, Alabama, all of those programs are in the top four and would be hard pressed to duplicate success, Oklahoma St. and Stanford may lose too many pieces. Alabama and LSU have to play in a rugged conference. Although last year many people believed LSU was a year away.
1. TCU- Great recruiting classes and a shot at the big time, the Horned Frogs have finally arrived. They even have a major scandal with drugs and arrests. Nothing says Big 12 like the local police using the media guide to identify suspects. Unlike many former non-AQ schools that make the jump to AQ status (Utah), TCU is equipped “athlete for athlete” to make the jump. The issue however will be, instead of playing games versus New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State, all programs masquerading as division 1 programs; they will play Kansas, Iowa St., and Texas Tech as the perceived bottom of the Big 12.
2. Boise St- No Kellen Moore says it all. Losing a four year starter who has won more games in his college career than any other quarterback in NCAA history is tough to replace. The issue for Boise St. is that as it moves up the NCAA food chain, there will be more programs in their conference that can match their physicality weekly, as opposed to playing a two game schedule with ten scrimmages in between. Last year, the Broncos lost on the blue turf to a conference foe, and was played tough by several programs for two and half quarters, and that was in the Mountain West Conference.
3. Miami- I don’t know why but I have this feeling that Al Golden is not the right guy for the Miami job, but I do. Great coach, good person, will bring integrity and work ethic to a program where those traits are not the first things you think of when describing the ‘Canes. The Al Golden hire appears to be one of those situations when you see an Eva Longoria clone dating a guy who looks like he ate “Notorious B-I-G”. You have to ask, “what am I missing?” Okay I’ll ask it, what am I missing, because people seem to think Golden will return Miami to its once lofty perch of college football dominance, but I really believe that will come when Golden is coaching at some other school, probably Penn St, and the next guy is hired.
4. Texas Tech- Yes, they were a five win team last season, but the end of this past season should have spoken volumes about where this program is headed. There are now five programs in the State that are in AQ conferences, soon to be seven and when most of your recruiting is in those areas of Texas where those schools are located the question will be asked; “do I really want to spend the next four to five years in Lubbock?” Tech fans should be worried what the answer will be.
5. West Virginia-A dominant program in that eastern corridor. The Mountaineers, were a powerful eastern independent, a very good Big East program and now will be in a conference where of the ten programs, seven schools really care about football which is unlike the Big East where many of the programs viewed football season as a minor inconvenience on the way to basketball season. Good luck visiting Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma St. and Kansas St.