Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Offseason Doldrums, 7/20

The off-season is moving as slow as molasses and there's not a whole lot to talk about. We are still a couple of weeks away from fall camp and I think I've just about had my fill of the situation in Columbus (not to mention other places, like LSU, whose transgressions and resulting punishment elicited nothing but an apathetic nod from me). Given the way the last few off-seasons have gone, I kind of like this. An off-season where the local media and various alumni aren't taking pot shots at the program and its leader? I can get used to this.

Speaking of LSU: When I heard of the aforementioned "punishment"--which consists of a one-year probationary period and a loss of two scholarships--I thought back to The Process and remembered that, even in light of Hoke's lackluster record, I would've taken Hoke over Les in a second. It was a gut feeling that I had a hard time reconciling with conventional ideas like win-loss splits, but I held onto it nonetheless, mostly because of a feeling originating somewhere in the gut vis a vis Les's code of ethics. While Dr. Saturday points out that LSU likely won't see the NCAA's erratic and desultory regulatory hammer come crashing down on LSU as a result of their involvement with Willie Lyles, there is already too much out there on Les not to, at the very least, hold some deep-seated suspicions of him. However, he will never be the head coach at Michigan, so this is just me retroactively patting myself circa January 2011.

Previewin' time is upon us: Hammer & Rails has an early preview of this year's contest in Ann Arbor. The prediction: 31-17, Michigan. Most of the preview is essentially stuff you've already read a million times, but it's always nice to get an outside perspective on things. H&R asks:

How much of last year's success was based on the weather vs. Kerrigan's disruptive presence? Bother were factors in us having a modicum of success against an excellent offense, but since we could do nothing when we had the ball it went for nothing. We'll need a similar defensive effort this season if we're to win our third game in four tries against Michigan.
It's hard to tell, but as someone who attended the game in West-Lafayette last season...the weather was awful. It was just an all-around unpleasant environment for a spread offense (or any offense, really), and the offense struggled after dropping 67 on the Illini. Having been to Ross-Ade several times throughout my childhood, I harbor no ill-will towards Purdue football, but Purdue should not be too good this year once again. Ryan Kerrigan's terrorizing influence having left the program, the defense figures to be a lot less threatening, and that's one less person for Denard to have to evade if things break down.

Pre-season watch lists: Denard, Mike Martin, et al made some pre-season watch lists, for what it's worth (which is not much, in case you were wondering). I don't see any of our candidates winning one of these awards, but Denard and Martin figure to be our best bets (with the former probably being unlikely given the unfortunately inevitable drop in his offensive output).

More previewin': Brian profiles 2011 jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none recruit Frank Clark. I knew he was a guy that didn't have a position but I'm not sure if I've ever heard of a guy with such a wide variance of potential positions on the field. As Brian notes, Clark won't sniff the field for quite a while unless absolute disaster strikes.

Resurrection in Tallahassee?: Dr. Saturday seems to think that it's in the cards for the 2011 season. This season will be much like last year: no clear, absolute favorites. I'm not sure if this is "the year" for FSU, especially given the loss of Christian Ponder (although E.J. Manuel figures to be a good one), but the general lack of any clearly extraordinary teams will make the road much easier for Jimbo Fisher in his second year as the head honcho. For what it's worth, The Wolverine Blog is also high on the Seminoles. I am firmly in the "I'll believe it when I see it" camp when it comes to contemporary FSU football. Their schedule does set them up nicely, though; the ACC slate won't offer any challenges unless they meet Virginia Tech in the ACC title game. The only other tests are a crucial early season showdown against the Sooners and a trip to Gainesville to meet the Muschamp-led Gators, who they absolutely crushed last season.

This year's national champion will likely come from this group of teams: Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida State, and LSU. It's tempting to put a Wilson-led Badgers squad in there, but I just don't think they have enough to compete with the aforementioned (particularly in light of their Rose Bowl performance). Oregon and Stanford are also in the conversation but each have their own issues that make a championship campaign by either somewhat unlikely. Odds are, nobody goes undefeated this year and chaos reigns, as usual. I will say this: as much play as the Davids of the college football world (e.g., Boise State), I think it's good for college football when teams like FSU, Miami (Fl), etc. are good. Of course, that certainly goes for Michigan as well.

Media Day(s) are nigh: SEC Media Day kicks off today in Hoover, AL (Big Ten Media Days kick off next Thursday...don't pretend like you won't painstakingly parse every throwaway comment. You will.). Orson compiles a list of hypothetical questions:
"Coach Petrino, is Ryan Mallett the dankest qb ever? Don't worry about what that means. Just say yes."
Media Day is usually a long boring affair that produces maybe one or two interesting comments at most, but, like the release of Phil Steele's magazine, it represents yet another step towards real live football. That is, unequivocally, a good thing.

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