Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mandel's Contenders

SI.com’s Stewart Mandel has his sleep induced, caffeine driven look at the sixteen (16?) possible contenders for the national title this year, declaring “It's Anybody's Ballgame,” or more to the point: “it’s any of the following sixteen teams I seem to like at the beginning of the year yet will never admit to it at the end when some team I didn’t pick chaps my ass and wins it all,” preseason top 16. Let’s take a quick look at this piece of confusion, shall we?
(in no particular order, or apparent thought)
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Notre Dame
Ohio State
South Carolina
West Virginia

Agree with: Auburn, Cal, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Louisville, Notre Dame, USC, West Virginia.

ND and USC simply have the “it” factor, “it” as in “we want to show these guys as much as possible because their fan base is huge and we’ll sell a lot of garbage we peddle in-between every 5th play” corporate pizzazz. GE execs are currently sitting in their Death Star-esque headquarters located somewhere off the forest moon of Fairfield, Connecticut planning the windfall recompense from the deal by NBC, in the form of commercial compensation sure to take place with Notre Dame’s hyped season.

General Electric and NBC’s Headquarters, hurting after some bad ND seasons

Plan on spoon fed “Ecomagination” and “Imagination at work” spots by the giant, all while trying to sell you light bulbs. ESPN, ABC, et al. will be tripping over themselves to bring you both… like Vampires they are shameless, blood sucking carnivores with no soul. Exposure is key in this day and age. Even with one loss these guys are still in it.

Louisville and West Virginia are in the same boat, that is to say the metaphorical pedal rent-a-boat at the local amusement park that floats around in circles and encounters nothing scarier then the ducks fighting over fish pellets thrown from the bridge above. These guys have nothing to fear in their schedule except the few Carnies along the way (Miami for Louisville & each other).

The rest all have reasonable chances provided the football Gods shine happily upon them.

Iowa has potential, and like most I secretly root for them, but I doubt they will make it out of the Big Ten undefeated, something they must do to be in contention.

Nebraska almost rides along with Louisville and West Virginia on their Big Gay Al’s weak schedule boat ride, but hosting Texas and traveling to USC the third game of the year is just too much Carny for the Huskers to handle.

Texas, and USC!? Ohh, my carrot cake!

Georgia Tech falls under the Reggie Ball commemorative quarter coin flip hypothesis: the theory that your 4th year quarterback will only be as good as 50% or no better then a coin flip. Really, not kidding here, last year he had a 48% pass completion percentage with 11TD’s and 12 INT’s. Look up “average” in Wikipedia and you will probably get his picture.

Ohio State and Florida State were covered previously here, no need to beat a dead horse unless you want to tenderize it.

It’s nice that the mass media are now trying their best to fall in love again with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, almost like the drunk, habitual wife beating neighbor that goes to AA long enough to get his marriage back in line. But just like happy hour at the local Moose club: standing in the way are Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, and Clemson. That’s enough punch to make anyone intoxicated.

That leaves us with Utah. Let me say that again… Utah. U-fucking-tah. U-no national championships ever-tah. U- Stewart Mandel needs to lay off the crack pipe before work-tah. I think you get my point…. Utah… please.

Those left out of Mandel’s whimsical list?
(again, in no particular order)
Texas - Cred and plenty of it, most would consider these guys right there. And why does Mandel think they are weak? For the same thing that SI considers a Myth: Quarterback.
Florida – veteran, and as good a chance as anyone else in the list.
LSU – again, would probably be on most lists with loads of skill.
Penn State – tough early schedule, but if the Lions get through the first 4 weeks, watch out.
Georgia – again, QB concerns, but talented enough to be there.

Oklahoma, Oregon, and TCU are pretty much out of it for various reasons: one for living in a weak conference, one for losing a great car salesman, and one for retina burning uniforms, you be the judge.

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