Never put Syracuse on the cover of your season preview edition.
Bruce Ciskie, the voice of University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey, moderates this edition of the BlogPoll Roundtable. Driven by the recent publication and distribution of Phil Steele's 2006 College Football Preview, Ciskie poses a series of questions focusing on the questionable nature of pre-summer rankings and prognostications.
Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?
There are a lot of great preview magazines available to the college football psychopath. In no particular order, I enjoy reading: Phile Steele's College Football Preview, Athlon Sports Annual (both the Eastern and National compilations), Blue Ribbon Yearbook, and the Sporting News. While each has its own distinctive flair, the magazine that really lights a fire in my belly is Blue Ribbon Yearbook.
With almost 400 pages of college football deliciousness, Blue Ribbon Yearbook is an essential feature in an college football fan's library. Maybe the best way to describe the awesomeness of Blue Ribbon Yearbook is to crib a testimonial from the publisher's website:
"Quite simply the finest research instrument in college football today. I do not know what I’d do without it."The one drawback to Blue Ribbon Yearbook is that the pricetag is fairly heafty at around $22.00 a pop. However, along with your particular team's annual media guide, Blue Ribbon Yearbook will pay dividends to your college football knowledge on a week-to-week basis.
-- Bill Curry, ESPN color analyst
I should also note here that probably the most underrated college football preview tool is local newspapers. While magazines are fun and cover a wide swath of college football nation, local newspapers still provide the up-to-date information necessary for critical analysis and instruction. So, don't let Phil Steele's predictions distract you; stay abreast of happenings occurring in your local rag.
What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?
While the schedule may be conducive to a winning record, I have a hard time understanding how an 8-4 club in 2005 is suddenly going to run roughshod over the Big XII and emerge unscathed as potential National Champions.
College Football News, which is itself an overrated almalgamation of journalistic strife, may have posed the question and corresponding response best in its recent preview of the Sooners:
As things stand now, that does not sound like the makeup of a sure-fire national contender. As such, placing Oklahoma toward or at the top of a pre-season poll seems incredibly dicey.
So is this a national title caliber team? Yes, but there are still too many question marks on the offensive line and with Bomar to get excited about the Sooners' chances at a run to a third title game in four seasons. 2007 is when the team should be truly ready to explode and become a juggernaut again.
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If OU can combine any positive carry-over from the post-season and get all the good young talents to jell, the future, and the recent past, could be now.
Unless, of course, that poll is about the ability of Rhett Bomar to frustrate 80,000 Sooner fans on a week-to-week basis.
Turn the tables. Who is underrated?
Athlon Sports says it best:
Fresh off an 11–1 campaign and a rousing Sugar Bowl win over Southeastern Conference champion Georgia, the Mountaineers are riding the crest of a wave that could carry them through a virtually made-to-order schedule clean into January. A midseason trip to Louisville is the most imposing challenge. But it’s more than just the schedule — sophomore sensations Pat White and Steve Slaton return at quarterback and running back, respectively, and they again will be operating behind a line spearheaded by first-team All-Big East center Dan Mozes.This isn't to say that the Mountaineers haven't been getting their due because they have. Ranked in the top ten in virtually every preseason publication, Morgantown has certainly gotten its fair share of high expectations. However, as I am hopelessly attached to the notion that West Virginia will hoist the crystal at the end of the season, the Mountaineers are my choice for most undervalued team this offseason.
Which conference will be the best in 2006?
The answer to this question needs to be posed in two parts. First, in terms of enjoyability on a week-to-week basis, the Atlantic Coast Conference is the obvious selection. Finishing amongst the nation's leaders in the Parity Index in both 2005 and 2004, the ACC is arguably the most competitively balanced conference in the country. Thus, in terms of "best bet for a great college football game," the ACC will be the best in 2006.
Second, in terms of putting together a host of national title contenders, I think the power resides down in the Souteastern Conference. Boasting legitimate threats in Florida, Lousiana State, and Auburn, the SEC is stockpiled with powerful clubs. In my eyes, the SEC is the conference to fear this year.
Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?
If anybody writes "Big East" as an answer to this question, I will break the internets.
With that aside, I think either the Mountain West Conference or the Western Athletic Conference will vie for this virtual title. The MWC maintains a couple of interesting teams in Texas Christian, Utah, and Brigham Young. Those three clubs may have enough juice to stay within the nation's top 40 if everything breaks right for them.
The WAC also has a handful of burgeoning clubs in Boise State and Fresno State. Everybody saw what Bulldogs did to Southern California last year. There's no reason to believe that this conference can't put together some dangerous teams again this year.
Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?
Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.
As if there was any question to my answer, but I'm going with Brendan Carney.
If you have no idea who Brendan Carney is, I highly suggest clicking the link above. It will change your life. I promise.