coastal - duke, georgia tech, miami, north carolina, virginia, va tech
we are truly talking about conference strength here. obviously they have top recruiting classes every year, but what i think really sets the sec apart from the rest is this: think of how many of their coaches you can name just right off the top of your head: urban meyer, nick saban, steve spurrier, phillip fulmer. those are just the ones that won national titles recently. you've also got tommy tuberville, mark richt, and of course don't you forget their first (and only) black coach, sylvester croom. who says integration doesn't work in the South? anyway, as for the teams, i think lsu should take the west, and fairly easily. arkansas will be good and probably make the cotton bowl, but only because of darren mcfadden, who will then be a lock top 5 pick in the nfl draft next year, and then houston nutt will cry himself to sleep every night. the east will be strong as always. expect good bowl appearances from florida, georgia, tennessee, south carolina, and probably kentucky. kentucky also probably has the conference's best qb in andre woodson. this isn't actually saying all that much though, if you think about it, because the SEC is not exactly known for QB production. if i had to pick one team to win the east i'd have to go with florida, who i'd suspect would also beat lsu in the conference title game. but they'll still probably have 2 losses and thus not play for a national title because michigan didn't lose 2 games to the likes of indiana, northwestern, purdue, etc. just for the record, if michigan or ohio state played in the sec, they'd consistently lose 3 or 4 conference games every season. i will never back down from this statement.
speaking of poop, the big 11 will be same as it always was, michigan and ohio state strong, somebody else (this year, wisconsin) fairly strong, and the media over-rating all three. the other 8 will be fully lousy but still half will make bowls because they play for what is undoubtedly the strongest conference in college football, nay, all of organized football, in all parts of this and every other planet in the solar system. let us bow to their greatness.
back to conferences that can count, thanks to usc's dominance over the past 5+ years, the pac 10 is experiencing an overall conference strengthening in recruiting not unlike what florida state did for the acc back in the middle late 90's. this is still usc's conference to lose though. i'm actually having a difficult time seeing them lose at all in the regular season. the game at cal is a possibility, but even if they were to lose that, it's still very possible that cal would lose 2 conference games, meaning the trojans would likely still win the conference and have a decent shot at a national championship. cal will probably finish 2nd or 3rd, depending on how well oregon state can build on their very good season last year. ucla should improve over last year with an amazing 22 of 24 starters returning. mike stoops is doing really good things at arizona and dennis erickson has a way of turning programs around quickly, so don't be surprised if the sun devils are half-decent too. oregon will probably decline a bit, stanford is still pitiful. i'm probably forgetting some other teams but whatever let's move on, i've still got more to type.
byu is the defending champ but will slide back a little without star QB john beck. still, they will be strong, and should push tcu for the conference title. i'll give a slight edge to the frogs based on their consistently strong defense. tcu is also one to keep an eye on for the annual "who's gonna bust the cartel of greedy conferences" discussion if they can shock texas. think it's impossible (limeade)? how about this tasty lick? will i write anything about the other teams? no i will not.
they are terrible. it's sad face time for bill cosby. or maybe it's jell-o pudding pop face time, who really knows? they started 22 different true freshman last year, which is an astoundingly high number. being in the MAC probably helps them so they can share in bowl money from other teams like miami of ohio and bowling green, since temple themselves will not be going to any sort of bowl, of questionable sponsorship or otherwise, anytime within the next 45 years.
ah what the heck, i'll give you a bonus preview. there's a lot of buzz about hawaii's chances of going undefeated this season, and i've gotta agree they have a good chance. i think their only real loseable game will be vs. boise state, and i think they will lose that game. speaking of the broncos, i'm betting they'll be quite a bit better than the pollsters in general are saying. i like them to win the wac, although not to reach a BCS bowl again. no big deal though, they'll always have this:
done and done