Remember about Friday's mailbag. We have loads to cover. From the "Talks too much studios," here we go.
We're here. Finally.
We have offered a top-five list daily for the last two weeks. Some were light-hearted (we loved the nation's top five coaching pirates) some were more focused.
Today, we offer some of each.
Since college football is all about polls — at least for the next two years — and rankings, let's kick of the season with the first ever 5-at-10 with five top fives. Hang on, and kids, don't try this at home.
1) Alabama will play USC for the national title. And Tennessee fans will have to face the choice of cheering for Bama or Lane Kiffin. That's hardly a reach since those are two of the preseason heavyweights. That said, West Virginia and FSU will be bellyaching greatly — and longing for the playoff on the horizon — when they are narrowly left on the outside looking in at the title game.
2) Tennessee will win eight games. It will be enough for Dooley to keep his job but not enough to quiet the anti-Dooley contingent or sway a big portion of those Johnny Vols Fans who still don't know if Dooley is the guy that can restore the Orange.
3) UTC will win eight regular-season games and make its first playoff appearance since 1984.
4) Georgia will face Alabama in the SEC title game with a chance to play in the BCS championship with a win.
5) Matt Barkley will win the Heisman. He will be sitting with fellow quarterbacks Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel and Aaron Murray and Wisconsin running back Montee Ball in NYC when his name is called.
Fab 4 picks plus one
his April 14, 2012 file photo shows Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, right, yelling at Donte Stewart during their NCAA college football spring game in Clemson, S.C. If Clemson wants to repeat as Atlantic Coast Conference champions, it's got some holes to fix.
Last year we finished 58-30-2 against the spread. And we were 1-8 picking games involving Clemson. (How poorly were we in picking Clemson games? We had them in their bowl match-up against West Virginia when the Mountaineers scored 70 and made Kevin Steele cry.)
Here's three quick things about a 58-30-2 mark against the spread — it likely won't be matched, we definitely won't pick a game involving Clemson, and if it is matched, don't share your source with your "friends" with last names that end in vowels and who answers phones on Saturday morning saying, "Who you got?" We enjoy having functional thumbs. (Side note: As good as we were at picking games last year — 58-30-2 is 66 percent — we were 88 percent wrong on Clemson. So, using inverse principles and "opposite day" logic we all learned in elementary school, we should just pick the Clemson game and everyone go the other way. Makes perfect sense, right?)
Here's our Fab 4 (plus one) picks:
1) Love South Carolina tonight laying the 7 (buy the half point). Three quick reasons why: Vandy is going to be better, but that's a better Vandy, which still has a way to go. Marcus Lattimore is back. And as much as we like James Franklin, he's no Steve Spurrier, who has had all offseason to prep for this one.
2) We like Alabama to cover the 13 against Michigan. Take the colors and logos away so there's no pre-determined views about the Tide, and answer this question: If a team had the best coach in the country, the best offensive line in the country, an experienced quarterback that has already won a title, an All-America safety and no fewer than five defensive starters headed to the NFL, you'd feel good about that team right. Well, that's your 2012 Crimson Tide. And what we said about feeling good about Spurrier spending the whole offseason coming up with a slick offensive game plan, is multiplied by three with Nick Saban and his defensive scheme. Here's saying Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is going to spend a lot of his Labor Day weekend in a long hot bath. Calgon take him away.
3) We like Georgia laying the 37. Buffalo stinks. In a lot of ways. Georgia has five running backs vying for carries, so when the game gets one-sided and Georgia is looking to run clock, the Bulldogs are still going to turn and hand it to a guy who is better than anyone on Buffalo's roster.
4) West Virginia minus 22 against Marshall. We like the over, too, but that's grown to a shade over 63, so that's a little dicey. Buckle up for the Geno Smith show in Morgantown. There's going to be some points scored and couches burned up there this year.
5) We like Ohio State minus the 21 over Miami. There are two real reasons why this game is growing on us: Ohio State needs a fast start and Braxton Miller is made for this offense. There are several more semi-reasons to like this game, too. First, Urban Meyer loves his family. Second, Tim Tebow liklely made a call to the Big Guy upstairs on Meyer's behalf. Third, there are rumors of a special promotion that a big Buckeyes win means tattoos for everyone — including Meyer. (Side question: If Urban got a tat, would it be a) the big "O" for Ohio State; b) the script "THE Ohio State;" c) his last name in stars across his back a la Tyler Bray; d) a portrait of his family or e) the phrase "In Tebow we trust." Thoughts?)
Five keys to a happy fall
We are blessed with a wonderful, healthy family and that allows us more joy and perspective than we probably deserve. Case in point, five years ago, when our son was born he was a day old when South Florida beat Auburn in overtime. We were holding him at Erlanger as the game ended and he was sleeping. The Tigers' loss did not seem like that big of a deal.
That said, this morning everyone is 0-0 and the future seems somewhat limitless. All is good and right, and everyone has hopes of big finishes and bigger bowl bids. It's the season opener. We can all dream big, right? Plus, anyone can beat anyone on any given Saturday, and as the 5-at-10's Pop likes to remind us, "that's why they play the games."
With that in mind, here are five tips to better enjoy the football madness of this weekend and the rest of the season, whether your boys win 'em all or lose the ones you care about the most.
1) As much as you want want your team to succeed, if/when that fails, remember to embrace, "The anybody but..." philosophy. NASCAR fans know this well. There's a certain amount of sporting joy in rooting against someone. Think back to the glory moments not involving your team. Most of them involved watching a team you're pulling against losing. U.S.S.R. in the old Olympics. Or take the Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Nobody gave two rips about the D-backs, but everyone was pulling against the Yankees except Yankees fans. Plus, when your "The anybody but...." team wins, it hurts way less than when your team loses. In fact, anyone got any ideas on who is the official "Anybody but...." team for the 2012 season. It's probably Lane Kiffin and USC, right?
2) Remember to invite your friends Bud, Jack and Jim to your tailgate. And if you are really polite, maybe Gentleman Jim will show up and all will be right with the world.
3) Come armed with one fact that will make everyone go, "Wow, that's interesting. That P-Davi, knows his college football." Here is one for each day of this opening weekend: (Beyond the obligatory knowledge of the rules changes about kickoffs that include touchbacks coming to the 25.)
Thursday — Vandy rarely beats Steve Spurrier, but the Commodores coaching staff may be the smartest in the league. They have assistants who graduated from Yale, Cornell, Wake Forest and Johns Hopkins. WE ARE VANDY.
Friday — Kellen Moore won 50 games as a college starting quarterback. That's the most ever, beating former Texas star and current Browns back-up Colt McCoy's record. Moore was 50-3 — yes, 50-3 — as starting QB. How big are those shoes Joe Southwick, who replaces Moore as the QB for Boise State?
Saturday — Auburn's offensive line two-deep has nine names on it since starting center Reese Dismukes was suspended for this weekend. Of those nine names, there are six freshmen, two sophomores and a senior. Exactly two of the nine have ever started a college game.
Sunday — Kentucky vs. Louisville. Hmmmm. It's not hoops, so.... Hey, how about this? With all the corporate sponsors Louisville has landed — Papa John's Stadium, the KFC Yum! Center — how is Louisville Slugger not more prominently involved here?
Monday — The winner of the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game has won the ACC Coastal division for seven consecutive seasons. That's a lot riding on the first week.
4) Know that any and every announcer this side of Herbstreit is going to irritate you a lot. In fact, we long for the days of Larry Munson and John Ward. Keep fighting the good fight J.R. Reynolds.
5) Perspective folks. It does not take holding a 1-day-old to know there are many, many things for which to be thankful. Including the start of college football season. So even if come Tuesday, your team is 0-1, remember that it's still college football season. Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
This and that top five
— If you are going to Nashville tonight for the Vandy-South Carolina game, know that the Titans play in Nashville tonight, too. That's a lot of traffic downtown.
— There was some baseball played somewhere, blah.
— We're planning on being on The Show with Chris Goforth around 2 p.m. today on 1370 AM. Swing by, don't cost nothing.
— There were some other sports happenings around as well. It's college football time gang.
— The NFL is close. (Hey, this is the worst this and that ever, but it's college football season. We're distracted.)
It's all about the opening weekend, so here's five questions for you.
What are your predictions?
What do you think the bet game will be?
Is there a crazy season prediction you want to toss out there?
Biggest SEC surprise?
If we set the following win over/unders how would you pick?
UT — 8
UGA — 10
Alabama — 11
UTC — 7.5
Vandy — 6.5
Auburn — 8
We still have a mailbag spot open, so bring it and let's go. Yes, we are wearing eye black in the office today. It's football time.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...