Now, the list we have today is not necessarily a bunch of tankers, but then again, I don't see these teams getting to the lofty heights spoken about them.
Arizona State Sun DevilsEveryone is loving the Devils like its 1996 all over again and somehow Jake the Snake has returned to campus. Wrong. ASU had a defense in 1996. ASU is also being bandied about as the team to pull off the upset over USC. Wrong again. Last year's game was 42-0 at half.
The bigger problem? I don't know if a program is ready to move on after you have last year's starting tailback, Loren Wade, was arrested on murder charges of a former teammate. Add in a cloud of darkness over a program that swept two earlier complaints made by ASU coeds about Wade under the rug. That is kind of distracting. The Devils will get a full dose of football reality come September 10th when they venture down to Baton Rouge to meet LSU.
Auburn TigersAuburn was your 2004 co-national champions. Forgive me, but I will always see a 12-0, major conference team who didn't get a shot at the title as a co-champ, ala Penn State in 1994. However, you don't replace Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Jason Campbell in one fell swoop. Someone needs to explain this to AU fans who feel that the Rose Bowl is their destiny after last year.
Auburn returns a nice team and you will see them on New Years Day for sure. But, like Arizona State, Auburn has a bit of an off-season shadow lurking over them. Wide receiver Ben Obomanu was the unsuccessful target of a drive-by shooting. The interesting thing in the article is that Obomanu refused to mention who shot him. I don't know about you, but I would be singing like a bird if I knew the guy who wanted to put me six feet under.
But back to the on-field issues. The Tigers return six on their defense, but the names of the D are gone. Junior Rosegreen, Carlos Dansby, and Carlos Rogers, the Thorpe Award winner for top defensive back.
The Tigers will be nice. But not BCS material.
Notre Dame Fighting IrishNotre Dame will be improved. Brady Quinn will have a great year. But there is not enough magic in the Golden Dome itself to get Notre Dame to a BCS bowl in year one under Charlie Weis.
The problem with Notre Dame, beyond their killer schedule is that the Irish are not very good after you get past their first wave. Quality depth at Notre Dame has been lacking since the Clinton administration. Weis has been hard on the recruiting trail addressing the problem. However, those kids wont see campus until 2006, a year too late for such lofty expectations to be realized.
Irish fans however, are convinced that Weis and his Super Bowl rings are the next coming of Ara Parseghian, Knute Rockne, or Frank Leahy. In year one, Lou Holtz went 5-6, yet Irish fans had a sense that the previous year's 5-6 under Gerry Faust was desperation whereas Holtz provided hope. It wasn't until year three that the Irish had their championship. Weis in year three could get Notre Dame back to the BCS. Anything done earlier than that would amaze.
Nebraska CornhuskersSomeone needs to explain to me exactly why Frank Solich was ran out of Lincoln. Bill Callahan, to date, has put forth the greatest farce in college football. Nebraska was horrible last year. Feel free to pick your reason why among the loss to Southern Miss at home, losing 70-10 to Texas Tech, or how about 45-21 to a depleted Kansas State team.
Supposedly Nebraska has recruited well since Callahan's arrival, but in this writer's opinion, signing day means nothing. It's how you develop what you have that counts. Sure, the Huskers will win more than they lose and get back to bowling, after the nations longest bowl streak was handed to Michigan. But, it will be another coach that will lead Nebraska back to national status, not Callahan.
Jason Campbell at Sugar Bowl - Ric Feld/AP
Charlie Weis - USA Today
Bill Callahan - AP
ASU helmet - AP